Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Art of Appropriation Is A Must Read

The Art of Appropriation is an essential artist for any artist or graphic designer to read.

From the article:

The way Vallen tells it, Shepard has based his 20-year art career solely around cashing in on the work of other people. Yet the images that Vallen uses to support this claim are almost all examples of Shepard’s street art from the formative stages of his career (1990s and early 2000s), and were sold only in editions of 100 or 200 at $20 or $25 a pop at the time. Considering that hundreds, maybe thousands of those same posters were pasted up on the street at Fairey’s personal expense, it’s certain the artist never saw a dime of profit from all that printing and in most cases probably failed to even recoup costs. Furthermore, none of Vallen’s reference points come from the art that Shepard has sold in recent years for substantial profit. It can’t be said whether Vallen tried but couldn’t find any clearly plagiarized imagery in that work, or simply didn’t bother to look, but his claims about cash cows simply do not add up, especially since Shepard didn’t have a single solo gallery show for the first 10 years of his career.

Go here. Read this. Now.

That is all.

Oh The Futura Times, They Are A Changin'

Apparently, back in 1992, designers really hated Futura Extra Bold. I guess they couldn't have predicted the rise of David Carson and Grunge, which would bury typefaces like Futura for the better part of the following decade. Now of course, Futura is back, and the design world is better for it.

From back in 1992:

“It’s time for Art Directors the world over to boycott the use of Futura Extra Bold Condensed - the most over-used typeface in advertising history. Destroy the Great Satan of clich├ęs and the Little Satan of convenience, and rally to the cause of a better type selection.

Please fill out the enclosed petition and mail it to our headquarters. It will be used to sway the opinion-makers of our industry toward our just and worthy cause.
Together, we can whip this mother.”

Funny stuff. More here.

Rubik Font Generator Is Super Clever

Wow, this is clever. A Rubik Font Generator - it's like a Rubik's Cube, but for type. So cool.

From Creative Review:

The Font Generator has rubber stamps attached to four faces of the cube, with two faces blank. The modular elements of the stamps can be combined to form characters which can then be printed.

So, so cool.

Music Video of the Week: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave
is one of the greatest songwriters in the world. He is a rarity, in that he becomes more original, more refined with every release, rather than settling in to a mid-career malaise. His last couple of releases have been phenomenal, and the Music Video of the Week is from his latest, the superb Dig Lazarus Dig!!!


Dumas' Measuring Your Own Grave Is Significant

Marlene Dumas
is one of my very favorite contemporary painters. Her work is so visceral and moving - it just tears me apart. Seriously, her work always impacts me, just knocks me out. Watch this film about her big exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City below.

Really, check it out, she's the best.

Mark Wagner's Dollar Bill Deconstructions Are Brilliant

Mark Wagner deconstructs dollar bills to create new and interesting pieces.

Tons of great stuff in his portfolio - take a look here.

Dave Anderson's Roadside Ghosts Are Haunting

Dave Anderson's Roadside Ghosts are haunting and oddly moving.

From his website:

Roadside Ghosts explores the twin themes of hope and loss using familiar and unusual objects from the American Landscape. Ghosts linger on the margins while the images hint at stories partially told. The series began in 2003 and is taken from travels in through over twenty states.

Check out the entire series here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Schnabel Interview Predictably Misunderstood

I love Julian Schnabel. I know, I know. Watch this interview, he is the man.

Jenny Morgan's Abrasions Are Moving, Uneasy, Beautiful

Jenny Morgan paints the people around her, drawing upon her own life to impact the viewer. This work is somewhat similiar to that of Jenny Saville and Ken Currie, who are two of my very favorite contemporary artists.

Check out her portfolio here.


Jane Maxwell Is the Figure Ground Personified

Jane Maxwell utilizes the figure ground relationship to the fullest. Her work is gorgeous - take a look here at her wonderful portfolio.

Please Kill Me Is The Essential Tome of Punk

Just finished Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, written by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. It's a down in the gutter, first person, from the front lines, oral history written by the people who were there. The book was composed from various interviews and other first hand accounts. By constantly changing the voice of the narrator, the book zips along at the breakneck speed of the music itself.

From punkbookreview.com:

To wit: we start with a prologue in which Lou Reed, Nico, John Cale, and various members of Andy Warhol’s factory scene describe the rise and near-miss of the Velvets, who lost their novelty when the Doors stole a march on them. After a quick chapter of anecdotes that delightfully piss on the God Jim Morrison, we cutaway to Detroit, where the nitro that will fuel the movement was just then being distilled. We discover that the Motor City Five were five greasers who thought the hippies had a great idea, and that James “Iggy Pop” Osterberg was once a straight-laced kid in loafers with a passion for blues drumming. Like VU before them, the Five and the Stooges almost conquer the rock world but are simply too raw for the mainstream to handle. They’ve sown well, however, and when we return to New York in 1971 we run into Patti Smith and a handful of guys who come upon the clever gimmick of playing simple three-chord Fifties style rock while wearing lipstick and glitter, known as the New York Dolls. Hilarity ensues.

What’s great about “Please Kill Me” is the almost-offhand way McNeil uses his plethora of sources to remind us of old myths before using other sources to tear them down. For example, the title of the book comes from a legendary T-shirt worn by Richard Hell of Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Only it turns out Hell never wore the shirt, his erstwhile Television band-mate Richard Lloyd did. It’s also interesting to find out that the band who made the scene at CBGB’s wasn’t the Ramones but Television, who was there at least five months before and playing to decent crowds.

Another reason to pick the book up is its cast of characters. Alongside the band members, managers, and critics are a host of fans and other scene-makers. Thus, not only is the book able to simultaneously tell us about the music and musicians from both perspectives, but you generally get to feel like you know what the scene was about, who was actually in CBGB’s on a regular night, and what was going on there. And the stories are truly classic.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

The thing I really loved about reading about my heroes Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Ron Asheton, Johnny Thunders, Wayne Kramer, Patti Smith, Tom Verlaine, etc. in Please Kill Me is that they speak in their own words. But Please Kill Me is essential reading for any music lover, not just punk fans. Even if you aren't a punk fan, or even a music fan, the anecdotes and stories are extremely engaging and entertaining. A classic.

The full review can be found here. Also, buy it from Amazon here.

Brian Detmer Is Totally Spectacular

Wow - Brian Detmer uses books to create unique, three dimensional pieces that are truly unlike anyone else. Take a look at his site to see more work.

D&L Screenprinting Process Is Interesting

D&L Screenprinting is a great little screen shop. Here you can watch them work, from beginning to end, pulling a great poster for Mark Mothersbaugh. I love their stuff.

Check it out here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dinosaur Jr. Rock Fallon Like It's 1989

Dinosaur Jr.
have been back for a couple of years, and have no right being as good as they are. Surely bands that break up and get back together are supposed to have lost something, right? Well not J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph - who continue to rock it like it's 1989.

Check out their performance on Fallon. Jump to the last notch on the timeline and it will take you to their performance - it should load right up.

OMG, Sunny Day Real Estate Is Back!

One of the greatest American bands in history - Sunny Day Real Estate - is back! I discussed them in a previous post, and a full reunion tour is has been slated, as well as a remastered reissue of their eponymous debut album Diary, and their five-star masterpiece follow up, Sunny Day Real Estate (or the Pink Album as us fans call it).

The Pink Album is in that litany of beautiful, dark, impenetrable sophomore albums with Heaven Up Here by Echo & The Bunnymen, Fun House by The Stooges and White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground. Yeah, it's that good.

Here are the complete tour dates:

09/17 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
09/18 - Portland, OR @Crystal Ballroom (Musicfest NW)
09/20 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Murray Theater
09/21 - Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater
09/23 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
09/24 - Chicago, IL @ Metro
09/25 - Detroit, MI @ St Andrews Hall
09/27 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
09/28 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
09/30 - Washington DC @ 930 Club
10/01 - Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
10/03 - Atlanta, GA @ CW Center Stage
10/05 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
10/06 - Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
10/07 - Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
10/09 - Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
10/10 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
10/11 - Los Angeles, CA @Henry Fonda Theater
10/13 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
10/15 - Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
10/16 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre

Seriously, do yourself a favor and go see them!

BTW - Nate Mendel is back in the fold, on hiatus from the Foo Fighters.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vintage Cigarette Ads Are Funny, Disturbing

Another shout out to Well Medicated for this great collection of Vintage Cigarette Ads. Take a look here (my favorite one features an ex-president).

Too funny.

Justin Reed Is A Brilliant Illustrator

Justin Reed is one of the best illustrators working today. Go check out his phenomenal portfolio here.

Saul Bass: The Best There Ever Was

Over at the superb Well Medicated there is a great collection of Saul Bass design. Posters, logos, title sequences - Bass is the best of all time. Tons and tons of great stuff here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

This Aggression Will Not Stand Art Show

I love exhibitions that are themed - several artists creating work which centers around one common theme is always interesting. It's great to see the different artistic visions ruminate on one ideal.

The This Aggression Will Not Stand exhibition was a genius idea, combining cult classic The Big Lebowski with a variety of artist. Such good stuff. Take a look - you will laugh, and be envious that you weren't there.

Check it out here and here.

I Love TStout Prints

I absolutely love TStout prints. His style is a cross between the past and the future - what a fresh take on the retro style. So, so good. Go here to see much more.

New Sylvia Ji Exhibition Is Spectacular

One of my favorite comtemporary artists is Sylvia Ji. Her new show at the Corey Helford Gallery is astoundingly good. If you are not familiar with Ji's work, you should be. Go here to see the exhibition

El Jefe Designo Is Muy Excellante

Yeah, I know this is another post on poster design, but I'm finding tons of new great stuff.

Here I present you with El Jefe - a fantastic designer and artist. Look at the subtlety in the low contrast here. Mmm...that's good stuff.

For more El Jefe, go here.

Mikey Burton Letterpress Video Is Informative

Letterpress Poster Printing from Joshua Gerken on Vimeo.

Mikey Burton is a master of letterpress. Watch his amazing process above. For more great Mikey Burton stuff, go here.

PS - This is the 300th post here at Speak A&D. Pretty cool huh? Another minor milestone for another minor blog. Woo hoo!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

33rpm Design Completely Rocks

33rpm Design is wonderful. Tons of great stuff here. Check it out.

Banksy Versus Bristol: Banksy Show Update

More on the Banksy exhibition making huge waves worldwide. Watch it!

Watch Shepherd Fairey Work

Shepard Fairey from Arkitip on Vimeo.

Ever want to see Shepherd Fairey work on a piece? Well now you can. Watch the video above.

OMG Posters Is OMG Totally Awesome

Great new blog to check out - OMG Posters. Huge collection of posters interspersed with great DIY/Poster Culture posts. So worth your time my friends, so take a look here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 400 Blows Is Devastating, Spectacular

Just watched Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows. It is the story of a 12 year old boy who is misunderstood by all those around him. His brutal teacher, oblivious father, and adulterous mother show no true caring for the boy, and make no legitimate attempt to connect with him. The boy eventually slides down a path of truancy and petty larceny, eventually earning suspensions form school.

The boy is played by Jean Pierre Leaud, and he gives the performance of a lifetime. Angry, broken, sullen, feral, angelic, tough - often within the same scene, and mostly sans dialogue. This surely was an actor beyond his years.

The ending is spectacular, and sure to keep replaying in your mind over and over after the final frame. The 400 Blows is one of the greatest films ever made.

Again, TCM's Month of Great Director's keeps rolling along, consistently providing some of the finest films ever made. I also watched Jules and Jim and The Bride Wore Black as part of the Truffaut feature, and while that film was excellent, The 400 Blows just blew me away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yodabaz Is Killer Flash Design

yodabaz.com is one of the best flash sites I have ever seen. You should check it out, you really should. It's killer.

Rolling Stone Covers Remind Me of When RS Was Good

Over at the solid inspiredology.com they have a three part examination of the design of Rolling Stone covers.

Reading the posts really reminded me of when RS was a quality rock magazine, full of superb interviews with substantive musicians from Joe Strummer (the cover at left) to Marvin Gaye. Now? Zac Efron, The Girls of the Hills, Taylor Swift, or whatever crap is popular that week. Rolling Stone are nothing but a bunch of swill merchants, published by the same group behind Maxim magazine.

I know I sound old, but it makes me truly sad to see what Rolling Stone has become. Often they will attempt to write "serious journalism", but it comes off as a public service message in the middle of the Jonas Brothers TV show - silly, absurd, and impossible to take seriously.

Anyway, head over to the three part posts here.

Banksy Takes Bristol: Banksy Show Update

Seriously, there is no other contemporary artist other than Banksy commands this type of a media response. Too awesome. Watch this video to see several works from the exhibition.

Music Video of the Week: The Horrors

The aforementioned Primary Colours by the Horrors is a fabulous new record, and the Music Video of the Week comes from that record. If this is your first experience with The Horrors, I hope you dig it.


Change The Thought: The BEST There Is

There are literally dozens, dozens of exceptional pieces at the unbelievably great Change The Thought. Wow - I am literally blown away. Often I will point out great designs or great designers, but seriously, this is a must see designer. Go here to have your socks knocked off. Yeah, I said it.

BISON Design Is Killer

Lots more where this came from! Check it out here.

10 Commandments of Good Design Are True

From Vitsoe:

Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?

As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important criteria for what he considered was good design. Subsequently they have become known as the ‘Ten commandments’.

Go check them out here.

BTW - Thanks again Nubby.

Moon Poster Is Great Too

Sorry to have an additional post for Moon, but I'm digging the poster as well. Check it.

Moon Trailer Looks Exciting

New trailer for the film Moon starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones. Anything with Rockwell is worth seeing, and Jones is the son of David Bowie, so there you go. Check it out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Big Sleep Is Seminal

TCM is currently in the midst of their Month of Great Directors. This has allowed me to watch many great films that I had always wanted to see but hadn't - including Bergman's Wild Strawberries and Persona.

Yesterday was Howard Hawks day, and I was able to see a few of his films I had never seen, including The Big Sleep. Taken from the Raymond Chandler novel, The Big Sleep is THE detective film which most gumshoe/detective/film noir cliches are based on (including The Big Lebowski which played with these archetypes). It stars Humphrey Bogart as private eye Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as the femme fatale.

I won't go into detail, as you must see it to truly understand the genre. It is superb, and Bogart in particular is excellent, wise cracking and outsmarting everyone involved, a character which is repeated throughout film history, from Hud (Hud) to John McClane (Die Hard).

Take a look when you can. For the entire TCM Great Directors listings, go here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hillman Curtis Interview Is Insightful

I have been a big fan of designer Hillman Curtis for a long time. His book MTIV: Process Inspiration and Practice For the New Media Designer is now considered a seminal text concerning contemporary design issues. Anyway, I have not heard much about Curtis for awhile, and have been curious about what he's been up to.

Over at the always superb Computer Arts Magazine there is an excellent new interview with Curtis. Take a read here, it's totally worth it.

New Banksy Show Predictably Making Waves

One of the true contemporary art stars, Banksy, is having a massive exhibit of his new work in Bristol, UK. As you probably already know, he does not usually show in museums, making this a very big deal. Watch the video for more.

More here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Perfect World: Eastwood's Lost Masterpiece

Clint Eastwood directed the incredibly underrated film A Perfect World in 1993, and marked a turning point in the career of it's star, Kevin Costner. Costner had just accomplished the highest point of his professional life, having just directed and starred in the multiple Oscar winning Dances With Wolves.

A Perfect World opens with a jailbreak, and the two prisoners (including Costner) break into a neighborhood home and wind up taking a young boy hostage. The men go on the run, stealing cars and robbing to keep on moving through the Texas countryside. Meanwhile, Texas Ranger (Eastwood) and governor appointed criminologist (Laura Dern) remain hot on their trail, zooming along the backroads in a state of the art (for the time) Airstream trailer. The film takes place in the weeks leading up to the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. This distinct point in history is significant as Eastwood uses the post-fifties innocence as a backdrop for horrific events and complicated emotions.

Much of the story focuses on the relationship between the little boy and the criminal on the lamb. Costner is absolutely mesmerizing in the role of the criminal on the run, who is a combination of an injured child and a brutal man whom the audience cannot understand. This shift back and forth is subtle, nuanced, and multi-layered. Critics have spent the better part of the last two decades ridiculing Costner, sometimes with good reason (Firefly, Message In A Bottle).

However, it is his Oscar-worthy performance in A Perfect World that must be seen in order to truly ascertain his abilities as an actor. While being outmatched in roles that require him to take on accents (Robin Hood) or sci-fi (The Postman, Waterworld), Costner excels in midwestern, Gary Cooper-type roles (Field of Dreams, The Untouchables, Silverado). What makes A Perfect World so successful is that Costner uses that heartland association to his advantage, complicating what could have been a straightforward, cliched portrayal of a man on the edge into a complex and unsettleing performance that takes the viewer into uncomfortable territories.

It is these uncomforable positions that most likely kept audiences away at the time. Eastwood masterfully directs the story, paced for maximum impact. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It might cause you to re-evaluate the entire career of Costner, including JFK and The War.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Penguin Sci Fi Covers Are Classic

Nice little collection of classic Penguin Sci Fi Covers. Take a look here. Thanks again Nubby for the heads up.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Horrors Primary Colours: Back To The Future

The Horrors burst onto the British scene a few years ago with their brand of retro/garage/horror rock and roll that hearkens back to the 1960's organ and reverb sound. The endlessly hyping/slagging British press loved them; they were the darlings of the industry for their requisite 15 minutes, yet barely made a dent here in America. Their debut album, Strange House definitely traded on the goth/punk/horror aspect to grab listeners, yet rarely brought them back. Audiences it seemed, came for the horror but rarely stayed for the music.

Their new album, Primary Colours, presents a large step in the evolution of the band. Not quite a The Bends-type leap, but a significant ascension in terms of songwriting, production, and atmospherics. While retaining much of the goth/B movie appeal, the band has clearly spent their time developing the substance to match their style. Much of Primary Colours sounds as if it was produced in 1985 rather than 1965; where rhodes organs groaned and dominated the landscape, now shimmery 1980's synths push back into the light.

Opening with the superb synthetic freak out Mirror's Image, the groundwork is immediately laid. In addition to the requisite Nuggets touchstones like Question Mark and the Mysterions comes a fresh amalgamated stew of influences that begin to boil immediately. My Bloody Valentine's bendy notes show up in the wall of sound on the fantastic Three Decades - a postpunk/garage rock gem that bands like Crystal Stilts touch on without as much success. Ian Curtis pops up intermitantly. Who Can Say features a spoken word Phil Specter/60's Girl Group bridge and a bit of Flaming Lips and Stellastarr** to boot. Echo & the Bunnymen is all over Do You Remember, but title track Primary Colours is the greatest song that the Psychedelic Furs never wrote. Actually, most of the record sounds alot like the Psychedelic Furs. Which to me is not a bad thing - I love Psychedelic Furs, in particular their Talk Talk Talk album, but I digress.

Sometimes a band needs to reach back to move forward; The Horrors have done so with Primary Colours with startling success. This is one of the strongest releases so far this year. This time around audiences should come for the great songs, not any posturing. A superb follow up.

The Verdict: 4 stars out of 5. (Ed. note - this post has been updated).

Motorcycle License Plates From Around The World

This is a bit of an odd post following the epic treatise on the new MSP album. But I had to share this collection of motorcycle license plates from around the world. It is a massive, massive archive, featuring some beautiful typographic specimens. Wander around here.