Category Archives: Art

Interview: Jeff Thompson

I did an interview with Jeff Thompson last month, which is up at Curator magazine. Officially he’s the Assistant Professor and Program Director of Visual Art Technology at Stephens Institute of Technology, but what that means is that he’s an artist who prefers to mess around with computer code. He does fascinating work. We talked about abusing Photoshop, Twitter bots, Andy Warhol, and why Nokia will probably never hire him to write a ringtone. Check it out!


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Art Basel 2013: Miami

I went to Art Basel Miami Beach for the first time last week. It was definitely fun to get an eyeful of the Warhols and Picassos that you’ll probably never see otherwise, because they’re essentially moving from one private collection to another. But, since I’m not really in the market to buy a $20M Jeff Koons, I was less interested in that big convention center hoopla (I did an “intentionally poorly taken iPhone photo” review of that exhibit over at Curator Magazine). Luckily, there are tons of other things going on during Basel, and there’s something for everybody, even in loo options, as evidenced by these:


Also during Basel week there are incredible art fairs showcasing lots of other up-and-coming artists, one-off installations like FAILE & Bast’s vintage video game arcade, memorable parties like this one, and the orgy of street art going on in the Wynwood area.

I’m guessing that Wynwood has the highest concentration of street art in the country – even more than Brooklyn – and click here to continue


Filed under Art, events, street art

Full Frontal


I did my first magazine cover last fall, for this hotel trade magazine (which just went to press). It was a nice change to work in color instead of black and white, but it can be intimidating – there are almost twenty different colors out there that you can work with, I bet. back me up on this, illustrators! It was also refreshing in that I had to show something besides an obvious sight gag. So, no talking elephants at bars. The image had to match the tone of the article, which was a fairly straightforward piece about what American hotel chains are doing to appeal to foreign travelers.

A snapshot of the working process is below. At first I drew a single business traveler, then we decided upon a family instead. Also, my gestures (like the man with the remote) were initially a bit too overstated. And after dropping in the logo of a specific airline on the shopping bag, we decided it would be better to show a fictional airline, whose logo I had to create. My friend commented that it reminded her of Adrian Tomine, which I was pretty happy about. It all worked out in the end, don’t you think?


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Filed under Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine cover

James Bond vs. Godzilla

Whenever a new James Bond movie comes out, there’s always the tiresome talk about how he’s merely the projection of a typical male fantasy, running around the world combatting evil dudes with amazing weapons and effortlessly scoring the hottest chicks. There’s a lot to like about that, but that’s not every male’s fantasy. After all, he’s always got to wear suits and keep track of his aliases and I don’t even know if he even has a place to go home to at night to watch Parks & Recreation. Sometimes I wonder if the ideal male fantasy character isn’t Godzilla. For one thing, he doesn’t have “M” checking up on him all the time. But you can decide for yourself: here’s how the two compare in the “male fantasy” department.


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iPhone Mania

This is a thing Jason Mustian and I did for Enjoy, unless you see yourself here.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About the Flag

The other day while I was looking at the ol’ Star Spangled Banner I thought to myself, it’s also spangled with stripes, so why isn’t it called the Stripe Spangled Banner? And then I thought, why do we ever call it the Flag, which is the most boring term of all for the national symbol? So, here is a list of nicknames I’ve adopted for the red, white and blue. Happy Independence Day, everybody!

  • The Forever Symbol
  • Broadstripe & Brightstar’s Excellent Adventure
  • Community Cloth
  • The White Represents Sarah Palin and the Red Represents Michael Moore and the Blue Field is All the Rest Of Us Waiting for Them to Shut Up
  • Old Glory, Recent Shame
  • Suck it, Yellow, You Symbolizer of Stupid Stuff
  • Navajo Nation (NOT! HAHAHA!!)
  • Betsywear
  • Francis ScottTowel

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Filed under Art, Found objects, Graphic Design

ROTFL at the Whitney Biennial

The funniest thing I read all year was a description of a piece of art at the Whitney Biennial that I saw this week. I don’t think it was intended that way.

The piece of art in question was Cameron Crawford’s Sick Sic Six Sic ((Not)Moving): Seagullsssssssssssssssssssssssssss:

You could describe it as maybe a minimalist volleyball net, made of thread and plastic and framed by unfinished wood, but titled like a prog rock song from the 1970s. Are we still giving things titles like this? Is he channeling Fiona Apple? Did his keyboard get stuck? The blurb accompanying the work did not answer these questions. Luckily the description is online at the Whitney’s web site:

Oh. Let me see if I’ve got the stages right: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Using Homophones, Exhibiting at the Whitney Biennial. Homophones are nonsensical and fun, but an art museum can’t say they’re nonsensical and fun, so they say they “skirt the edge of comprehension.”

More significantly, this annotation weakens the piece, because it lets you know that the work needs “explaining” in order to be understood. It tells you that it’s supposed to be a performance, not a sculpture. It’s a response to death. The writing does the work that the art should have done. Come on – let the thing fail on its own terms!

This is a genius spin. next year I’m submitting an “invisible painting in an invisible frame” – that way it will always be relevant to any theme!

Another hilarious move! I wish, though, that the artist would have fully committed to the gag, a la Dali or Duchamp, and not let the work be displayed or reviewed until always six years in the future. Then it would seem more like a real idea and a lot less like a bullshit one, right?

There you go! “By imposing this ridiculous date and title, Crawford is suggesting that the work possibly has no good ideas in it. We agreed, which is why we included it in this exhibit. Now it at least appears to have some kind of meaning.”

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The Reviewer of Light

For the record, I’m not a snob. I don’t think the tastes and values of middle America (whatever that means) are a punchline, and I don’t dismiss anything just because it’s popular. Many years ago, when I saw a landscape by the ubiquitous Thomas Kinkade I concluded that it wasn’t really my thing, although I recognized the obvious talent. Also, I have an appreciation for somebody who can humbly dedicate himself to a particular craft. But shortly after, when I found about Kinkade comparing himself favorably with Monet, and the pseudo-Messianic sense of mission, and the brazenly manipulative marketing scheme, I thought – for real? This Godzilla full of clichés is  clamoring for a retrospective at the Met during his lifetime? That’s fair game for abuse. He might be right about the failings of modernity, but he’s totally wrong about his own work.

The Kinkade empire has caved in on itself during the past few years, and yeah – it’s probably bad form to kick a guy when he’s down. Nonetheless, I saw the “Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light” 2012 calendar while at Barnes & Noble last December, and decided that it would be great fun to do a monthly review, especially if I got to make a fancy title for myself like the “Reviewer of Light.” The Awl took me up on it. There you can see the April version and the previous months, and return for the rest.

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