art design graphic arts

This is a one minute clip from a BBC Documentary entitled “The Secret World of Haute Couture.” You can watch it in its entirety in many places on the internet, including YouTube and Vimeo. Here, I’ve upscaled the video using Movavi’s A/I to better show off Karl’s drawing. You can see artifacts, however, when his hand is moving quickly. This may be the best we can do with current technology unless the BBC releases the original print for people to work with. They should. Watching Karl’s “quick sketch technique” is like watching the hand of God. And, just like God would do, Karl left 1.5 million dollars in his will to his cat.

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And Then Sometimes You Just Want to Make Something Colorful

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One of Cleopatra’s Chicks

The year is 1963 and the film is Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. Over-the-top extravaganza. Playboy Magazine was around the back lot taking pictures of the extras. I liked the self-assured stance of this woman.
As usual, however, I didn’t know what to do with it and I still don’t, as far as an element of a larger design. So, I played around with colors and then went with some collages to see if that would lead anywhere. Still not sure that it does. I usually alter the appearance of people but not here. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Leaving it uncorrected for now. And I could have color corrected and done better light adjustment but that goes toward the world of the photographer and not the graphic designer.

These were done with Photoshop Express on an iPad. The collage feature on Photoshop Express for the Mac desktop is so inexplicably limited and crippled that it needs crutches. Matter of fact, the collage feature on the iPad is far more creative than I am, these designs are very simple compared to what it can do. And I fed the program four different sizes of this same image, hoping to better accommodate the collage program.

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The Wright Room at the Doubletree Hotel in Tempe, Arizona

Difficult to arrange a tour since the room must be sanitized by a cleaning crew after every visit.

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Expert in a Single Color?

A recent Wallpaper* post (external link) made me remember a design niche so small I think few ever contemplate it: designers and artists skilled in a single color.

First, a dip into the world of Chanel Beauty. Yes, I am discussing makeup. Hold on, life gets better.

Fiona Mahon post is entitled, “A Nomadic Journey Through the Desert with Chanel Beauty: Lucia Pica’s S/S 2020 make-up collection is inspired by the Namibian sands”. Okay.

The designer built this collection primarily on mauve. Mahon quotes Pica. “In the desert, there is almost a universe of one single, dominant color – mauve – which really came to life with the particular photographic process we used” she says of the ethereal polaroid images which helped her define the collection.

Mahon then writes, “Across 15 pieces – including two eye shadow palettes, and a curation of lipsticks, blushes and nail polishes, Pica brings a soft focus, esoteric mood to S/S 2020 that evokes the quiet contemplation she experienced on her own nomadic trek.”

A few photos from the article. Here, we have a designer working mauve.

When I worked for a landscape contractor in the 1980s, our designers made up presentation plans with felt pens. A designer remarked, to the effect, “We get really good with greens. Since our plans depict so many plants, we have to get good at distinguishing one green plant from another.” Back then, these plans were really works of art, as a customer’s acceptance depended on the quality of the ink work on vellum.

I don’t know how computer aided drafting software impacts today’s landscape presentation plans. Likely, poorly, but I suspect high dollar projects are still pitched by hand drawn work. In any case, a designer in the green trade must still be battling it out with green, pouring over a selection of shades of a single color. Do you know any other trades that specialize in a single color? Let me know by commenting below.

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Follow up on The New Ornamentalism

A few posts ago I mentioned what I called the New Ornamentalism. (internal link) I worked around a skyscraper in the 80s that was in that style. I just got the 1983 title Ornamentalism by Jensen and Conway. Ten dollars will get you a copy at I don’t know what happened to this trend, although some of the more outrageous elements are fully on view here in Las Vegas. Oh, and if you look closely you will see my socked feet!

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Good Clip Art Goes A Long Way

While searching my paper files and folders I came across this graphic I did in the mid-1990’s. I had gone to Def Con II the previous summer and I was getting ready to go again. Dark Tangent called for poster ideas and I thought this would be fun. Or as we used to write it, pHun.

Good clip art was freely available through many zines and all I had to do was to mashup two images and type in some stencil font lettering. I never did submit it. Poorly representing hacking I thought. Still, I liked it.

Click image to enlarge. Those are dollar signs in the eyes of that corporate greedhead.

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Architecture and Writing and Compromises

Tom Wolfe once said that we all have to live with an architect’s mistakes. How true. My bad writing won’t assault your senses (and that of the public) every time you drive to work. That’s unlike the concrete tilt ups that litter every office park and too often the close-in urban landscape. Along with buildings that had a decent budget, could do design right, and instead belong in a river like the library below.

Idea Exchange, Old Post Office
RDHA, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Wallpaper* Magazine is out with another great article on design. Library architecture and design: a worldwide guide (external link) shows off some very pretty buildings that complement their subject and others that indulge in a fascination with fashion that can impact any art.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, a building facade called stacked stone has been popular for years. It is literally everywhere and will be around until people move back to stucco or stamped concrete or slate shingles for siding or whatever next becomes popular. And then all of these old buildings will start looking dated, be torn down eventually, and a new cycle begun. In Vegas every new major building, churches included, demand a curved front. No more square buildings, there has to be a front facing hemisphere for anything to get built.

Tecnológico de Monterrey New Main Library
Sasaki, Monterrey, Mexico

As I mentioned, the Wallpaper* article features some terrific looking buildings, many set like this one in Monterrey. I find HDR photography fascinating as it recalls postcard photography, where everything is pictured in, literally, its best light. Professional photographers are so good they can make a pig farm compelling, artfully playing with mud and filth.

Like architecture, writing is a compromise. Budget, orientation, acceptance. My book topic wasn’t my first choice, it was my publisher’s marketable choice. Similarly, few architects can design what they want with the budget they want. Compromises or outright lies follow.

When California wanted a new State Fairgrounds it went big. Literally. Instead of the small, tree and lawn studded old state fair ground, this new place would sprawl over whatever acreage was needed to satisfy the wish list of every exhibitor and concessionaire. Walking anywhere would become a death march in the unshaded August heat.

Relieving that somewhat would be the generous use of brick pavers. Alas, the State Fair project went over budget and acres of concrete were installed instead. And then the money ran out for that and blacktop substituted. To this day, walking the Midway is no different than walking in a 110 degree asphalt parking lot. Last year, the State Fair installed misting stations  as attendance dropped due to the heat.

Adding to this misery was the miserly maintenance budget. Ordinary state employees with little gardening skills proved unable to coax the new, poorly planted trees to good growth. Hundreds of Canary Island Pines were installed for inexplicable reasons, those slow to grow and only thin shade providers. Scores of trees died outright and were never replanted. Forty years on, the grounds resemble a pygmy forest.

This present day happy graphic shows a green and blue oasis that the architects may have originally envisioned. That blue includes a splash fountain that has now been fenced off for play by sweltering children, perhaps to prevent slip and fall lawsuits. Look but don’t touch.

As Eliot said,

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

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Happy Jewelry From Jwinaia

This is high-end and fun costume jewelry from Jwinaia in Italy. Freshwater pearls to make Happy and Sad ghost earrings? Very pretty stuff.

I found out Jwinai through Wallpaper Magazine. You don’t have to be a subscriber to get on Wallpaer’s e-mail list. Their issues are well laid out although all of the furniture and merchandise they show is affordable. They are best at architecture. I do wish they hadn’t gotten into fashion but they did.

Here’s what they say about Jiwinaia:

“Jiwinaia: There’s something spooky about the Milan-based jewellery label’s most recent collection – new to Dover Street Market London this Autumn. Korea-born Marisa Jiwi Seok’s latest offering features freshwater pearl earrings hand-painted with bright enamel. Pairs resemble floating ghosts or freaky frowning clowns. Boo!”

“Happy & Sad Clown Chunky Earrings in 18-ct gold plated rhodium and brass with baroque pearls hand-painted with enamel, by Jiwinaia.”

More, with a spider theme working for Halloween.











This is a link to their page but most of the fun pieces are sold out. I wish them well.


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Wallpaper* magazine

I first discovered Wallpaper* magazine in 1999. It was a thin volume then, all about design. “The Stuff That Surrounds You.” I think they now say, “The Stuff That Refines You.” It has grown into a massive tome, hundreds of pages each issue, with print subscriptions over $100.

It is totally globally focused, with stories from so many obscure locations that you’ll need Google at all times to find out where they are. The name dropping is outrageous as this example shows:

“Take Stella McCartney, who created a Beano-inspired comic to educate guests about her sustainable footprint at S/S 2019’s fashion week, complete with speech bubble sound bites from Minnie the Minx, Dennis the Menace and the designer herself.” I think that’s five obscure references in one sentence. Although I do recognize Dennis the Menace, although I have no idea how he fits into the world of fashion or belongs with the daughter of a Beatle. (external link)

The architecture pieces are particularly well done, although all interiors seem to be revisions of mid-century modern. There are many good, free articles online at their website and anyone interested in design should check them out there or at a magazine dealer. This is an excellent piece on Jony Ivy and Apple’s new headquarters: (external link)

I broke down for a subscription recently and am awaiting my first issue. I think the heft and scope of the magazine appeals, although in a lost hope sort of way. It’s like the massive IKEA catalogs: surely somewhere in all those photos and pages must be something useful Something inspiring. If all else fails, I can cut it up for collages. It is certainly a broadening magazine as it introduces a world-wide view in every category it covers. This is their list:

Watches and Jewelry

Worth a look.