Freditor likes architecture. Well, everyone likes architecture. I think there’s something humbling about looking up at buildings that were built before you were born, and in most cases, will still be there after you’re gone. If you walk through a city and pay attention to your surroundings, you can see the changes in design over decades. Buildings are as much a part of our culture as music or illustration, and as much as it is built for us, it is built into us.
Peter Ross is a tartan RIBA architect born in Hong Kong – yes, a Scottish dude, born in Hong Kong and working for the British Architectural Institute. If anyone understands how culture can affect construction, it’s this guy. In his own words, Pete “was drawn towards architecture and its relation with people during a time of change and political uncertainty as the territory struggled to find its identity and forge its future.”
His work is a mixture of ball-point and acrylics, fine illustration and pop art. In a juxtaposition of old and new, he layers beautifully detailed, stark images of ornamental and traditional architecture with modern-styled pastel paints that really showcase the heart of cultural architecture.
Limited edition prints are available for sale on his site, LIMITED, and they certainly beat the hell out of that generic NY skyline print everyone else has on their wall. Head on over to his site and fall in love with something different today.
You know what I love? When you ask people questions and they basically write the article for you. God bless you, Domen Kozelj. God bless you.
Was checking through submissions and opened a picture of a big angry hill and loved it instantly. Sometimes you just feel like you’re a big angry hill. Let’s go on a journey with Domen and look at this gorgeous conceptual art from Slovenia.
Where is Slovenia?
Hi Domen! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a freelance concept artist from Slovenia and I have in fact studied art. Originally I enrolled to the Ljubljana college for design and photography and later went to the academy of fine arts in Ljubljana, so I spent a total of 7 years studying art in formal institutions, however I never got to finishing my diploma as I shifted focus to entertainment design in the last couple of years and started getting indie concept art gigs soon after.
How did you start drawing? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. Growing up It was always something I felt good at. I wouldn’t say I was always aware of this being an actual career path but after a while, I decided I would be most excited pursuing visual expression, so I went for that. Despite my drawing since my early childhood and actually dedicating study time to the subject for the better part of 10 years now, I wouldn’t say I’m particularly talented. In fact, I feel like each breakthrough I make in the way I paint, the way I use light and color and the way I design is a hard fought battle and I suppose that in a way, that’s what keeps it so exciting.
Tell us about your artwork.
Well to make a long story short I wouldn’t call most of the paintings I’ve done in recent time artwork as such. Back when I was still studying at the academy, I used to do these large 1.5×2.2m canvas abstract pieces and they were a study of color and personal expression and were (successful or not) pieces of artwork. And without any intention of sounding too cliché, the philosophical nature and social circles that inevitably gather around such material started feeling like they were getting in the way of my enjoying the work itself. So I decided to combine my passion for video games with my training in fine art to focus on design, using visual language as a tool to illustrate ideas. So in a sense when I define my work as “design” or “concept art” rather than “artwork” in the classical sense of the word, I like to think it takes a bit of that heavy weight off my shoulders and enjoy myself. To answer the question more bluntly, I paint the way I do as a result of a lot of time studying color and light and a lot of time playing video games, reading comic books and watching cartoons.
Let’s go on a journey! Take us through the process of one of your images.
Well I try and make it a habit to keep my process fresh so as to not get into a creative rut as I work but there are constants that I try to focus on in each image that I might be able to walk you through.
I use adobe Photoshop CC as my main tool along with a Wacom Intuos 5. The ideas themselves are usually a set of words, sketches and concepts I’ll compile around my clients initial specs. For instance, I’ll take something like a character or an environment spec for a client, write down as many functional or moody details about it such as what the character would carry with them if they were going on a long trip, or who might have passed by this place or what kinds of flora might grow there. Then I’ll proceed to gather visual references such as historical, cultural or nature imagery and do a couple of design passes to bring all of it together in an organised design sheet. In the end I like to do a couple scene shots for mood and atmosphere to tie things together.
Do you have a favourite image? Do you have a particular highlight in your career? Anything you’re proud of or especially loved working on.
I tend not to dwell on the images I produce and make it a habit of moving on and finding ways to improve on what I’ve learned both in terms of design and execution. At the end of the day the images themselves are just there to serve whatever project I work on and If I add a bit of extra charm and character to that, then it’s mission accomplished. In terms of projects, I’d worked on a bunch of upcoming indie games and some tabletop ones as well. The thing is I find each project has its unique set of challenges and I enjoy those equally, however since most of the projects I’ve worked on since I’ve started are still in development, I can’t really talk about them due to NDAs. I will however post progress on these on my blog as they start to trickle in.
A couple of titles I’ve worked on that have either been released or announced are SettleForge (design work and comic rendering), Nephils Fall (environments), Arcania (Box Art and game prop illustrations). There are also a bunch of other projects I can’t speak of yet but will be able to soon enough!
Check out Domen’s art as and news at his blog website!
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams
While the quote about was said by a famous landscape photographer, it aptly applies to the work of Chinese photographer and make up artist, Huainan Li. Huainan is a fantastic and talented photography from Beijing; his high fashion photography and conceptual imagery is recognizable from a distance. To wit – his photography series entitled The World of the Senses is an unique project which combines traditional fashion portraits with the beauty of nature; Huainan uses the sunglasses lenses as a literal lens into another world. Though the images are a little ‘on the nose’; they are no less beautiful and stunning. Take a look at his series below and be sure to visit his portfolio.
Sculptor Kate MacDowell works within the purity of white porcelain, transforming this pristine and beautiful medium – evoking the smoothness and perfection of white marble (think Grecian goddesses or Michelangelo’s David) – into something darker and more challenging. When we think of crisp, clean whiteness, it conjures up words like ‘good’, ‘light’, even ‘heaven’ perhaps; it is traditionally the immaculate yin to the heavy, mulchy yang of black. You would be forgiven, then, for thinking MacDowell’s creations would explore similarly themed subject matter. Not so; instead, she turns our preconceptions on their head by sterilizing what would, in other mediums, be garish, even gruesome subjects: dissected animals, death, rot, destruction, drawing our attention to, in her words, “both the impermanence and fragility of natural forms in a dying ecosystem”
By using such a clinical medium, MacDowell strips the subject of its visceral impact and permits the viewer to see it in a gentler light, more inviting to deeper consideration. Without the glisten of blood, the black shine of chitin, or the pungent greens of rotting vegetation, we can focus on the lines and shapes, the interplay between soft and hard; it enables us to consider meaning and mortality distinct from its physical and often gory trappings. When presented with, for example, a bird cut open to reveal a tiny human skeleton, we are not immediately repulsed or shocked, but are instead struck by, first, the beauty of the sculpture, and second, by the potentiality of metaphor. Mankind’s destructive relationship with his environment? This is MacDowell’s primary concern, and while this is more obvious in a piece such as a hare wearing a gas mask, other pieces are open to a variety of other, equally profound readings. Encaged by our apparent freedoms? Driven to destruction by them? A relationship between our high-flying dreams and the more harrowing reality of life?
The irony of juxtaposition is one which artists have played on for centuries, but rarely does one come across an artist whose pieces are simultaneously beautiful and hauntingly thought-provoking in equal measure and to such degree; pieces which one could see and enjoy daily, while also serving as a constant reminder of our impact on the world and that we must be mindful of such. MacDowell’s brilliance stems from an understanding that to persuade one does not necessarily need to shock. Shock factor dissipates in minutes; deep contemplation, such as these sculptures elicit, lingers much longer in the brain.
I have a very slight ulterior motive in featuring the award-winning Luke Spooner: he produced the cover artwork and illustrations for all of online litjournal freeze frame fiction’s issues to date, and it was on having a piece accepted in their recent experimental volume that I discovered his work. Of course, that’s not the extent of his work – his portfolio of illustration spans an impressive array of publications under the banner of Carrion House with a leaning toward horror, as well as further work aimed at children and young adults under the name Hoodwink House. In this feature I’ll be focusing on his Carrion House work, though his Hoodwink House work is well worth a look, too.
Spooner’s style is loose, scratchy, and inky, somewhere between a Ralph Steadman and a Stephen Gammell, with hints of street art. This style lends itself perfectly to the kind of macabre scene which dominates his work (horror, he says, is his ‘go-to’ genre, for its unrelenting honesty), though he manages to make it work for a vast variety of other scenarios. Nothing is ever quite crystal clear, and even the tamest of subject matter takes on a vaguely uncomfortable air. There is something nightmarish about the work, a broken mirror on reality, which is consistently alluring.
His inspirations come primarily from the story being illustrated, drawing on – to quote a recent interview with freeze frame fiction – “colour, atmosphere or lighting […] tone of a story, as well as character and setting aspects”. This might seem obvious, but all too often in book/cover illustration it seems as if the illustrator has barely skimmed the story if read it at all, never mind picked out such close detail; the end result being something which bears little resemblance to the text. Interestingly in Spooner’s work, oftentimes the image produced is less a direct reference to a specific narrative event, and more of an abstract summing up the work as a whole. It is more akin to a synaesthesia – this story “feels” or “tastes” like this – rather than simply showing us what’s about to happen. It’s a novel approach, and creates a far more engaging body of work than a more pedestrian approach would. His biography states he “believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form […] is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures.” It shows.
Rabarama, known to close friends and loved ones as Paola Epifani, is a contemporary Italian artist with an impressive body of work – pun very much intended. When attempting to wrap my head around Rabarama’s art, I found that it was important to consider the historical influences that can be seen her her sculptures. Rabarama was born in what many may consider the birthplace of sculpture – Rome. Surrounded by not only sculpture, but artwork of all forms, it’s no surprise that she graduated with excellent marks from the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. Rabarama’s sculptures are magical; her level of technical skill when it comes to recreating the human form is nothing short of amazing. Vibrant colors, detailed textures, and control over the human form are what makes Rabarama stand out. She’s also an inspiration to artists looking to strike out on their own. She currently has no publicist or manager; everything she does, she does on her own. She has worked hard to earn her place within acclaimed galleries all over the world and she continues to collaborate with famous artists, institutions, and groups. She is currently working a project entitled Project Blue which she describes as:
A gift to the Oceans and to the ancient social and ecological wisdom of the Cetaceans. This is the symbol of a new covenant between men and nature, between individual lives and the Universe.
Take a look at her work and be sure to visit her website so you can keep up with her upcoming shows.
The art world has come a long way from being something controlled by affluent patrons; thanks to the internet artists are now able to reach out to audiences in ways never before possible, democratizing art, as it were, and putting the power directly into the hands of the audience and the creators. Despite this, the realm of fashion has largely remained unchanged and continues to be driven by commercial interests. Being ‘fashion forward’ is something every label aspires for, yet the majority of fashion reflects only a certain portion of our society. Clothes are geared towards a binary gender structure where your only options are “man” or “woman” styles; and under that, these ‘one-style-fits-all’ fashions are typically aimed at those with money. If you want something different in terms of your clothing, you either pay the premium or you learn how to sew. Garbage!
I was recently able to catch up with writer and creator Kat Haché where we sat down to chat about her take on androgyny, fashion, and society. Her perspective was enlightening, and I encourage you to read through our interview and go follow up with her work.
I recently came across the article Androgyny is Now in Fashion over at Quartz Magazine; the article centers around Gucci’s new menswear line and how its new creative director purposely decided to blur gender lines with not only the clothes, but the fashion presentation. Can you tell me what your initial reaction was to Gucci’s new line?
I want to preface this by saying I’m no fashion expert, nor do I want to give any such pretense, but I found their conceptualization of androgyny to be interesting. “Androgyny” as I tend to see it conceptualized, tends to skew masculine, with tight-fitting clothing hugging (but not too tightly!) svelte bodies. Black and muted colors more often dominate. What Gucci have done is to create a line that seems tied tenuously, at best, to any sort of gender presentation I have seen. It’s not a lack of identity, perhaps, but each model on the run way seems to be portraying a different one, which really makes a lot of sense – we all have our own individual points on the gender spectrum, and we all have our own unique gender identities. I think within a universe of binary language we try and find ways to communicate it with established labels that we feel most comfortable with, but in the end we are unique and complex.
Bouncing off the earlier question, do you think that this is the new (and inevitable) direction fashion is heading towards? Or is this more of a one-off thing where we are unlikely to see it becoming a trend?
I certainly don’t think it’s a one-off sort of thing. Androgyny has been around in fashion for quite a while even so far as I can recall, and I’m not really that tuned into the world of high fashion. Now, with more awareness of non-binary identities and forms of expression, I have to think that there is only going to be more of this. The more “mainstream” andro/dapper androgyny is very much “in” right now, as well.
I’m an avid fan of men’s fashion and while I know a considerable amount about not only men’s but women’s fashion, my knowledge is limited to that binary. Can you tell me about the current options in mainstream clothing for androgynous and non-gendered individuals? Is it hard to find clothing? Is that clothing expensive?
Well, as I’ve said, when people talk about “androgyny”, even though it’s a term that could be used to describe a wide range of possibilities, practically, it tends to skew toward what is a “masculine of center” presentation. I mean, that is more how I like to present a lot of the time, and I would describe it as “andro.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that being an option, but even though it’s what I’m comfortable with, I do agree that it tends to be the dominant option for “androgyny” right now. I can see how this would, in some ways keep people from feeling represented by “androgyny” and unable to find clothes that allow them to express who they are. And, yes, there are few outlets catering to even “mainstream” androgynous looks. For someone like me living in a place like East Tennessee, where the cost of living is low and I don’t make much money, I am unable to really buy anything from any of them. The overwhelming majority of clothes that I own are thrift store finds that I’ve managed to string together into decent outfits that people find fashionable.
Do you ever encounter problems with the public at large when the way you dress does not conform to their expectations? Is it met with positive reactions or does it paint you as a potential target for any type of harassment?
I don’t encounter too many problems, but I am perceived as being designated female at birth, which (unfortunately) I think gives me more latitude. It’s much more taboo, and a lowering in status, most of the time, for men to seek an androgynous appearance. That said, it’s not always easy for me. I was very nervous allowing myself to present androgynously at first, even though I feel comfortable doing so, because I’m transgender, non-op, and gender ambiguity often does make trans women a target. I think trans women are expected to be ultra-femme, but it’s not how I want to present myself. It sends messages that I don’t want to send – that I’m dainty, that I’m into men, both of which are very untrue – and I wish it wouldn’t send those messages, but it does. I had an experience the other night where, for the first time, a woman said it was “awkward” meeting me in the bathroom at my friend’s show, and I’m pretty sure it was discomfort at my androgynous appearance. The choice seems to be that I placate everyone and send inauthentic messages by being super femme, or actually control my appearance and make everyone potentially uncomfortable and put myself at risk by not having the bits to back up their assumptions. It sucks, but I have to choose authenticity because that’s who I am, even if they don’t get it.
Miuccia Prada said in a press release that now is the “perfect moment to analyze this subject more deeply to measure what the genders share, what they take from each other,” Regardless of whether you agree with her stance or not, do you have any thoughts on her statement?
Well, I think we all have our own unique expression or way we want to express ourselves, but I definitely think we find inspiration in the authenticity of others. The people you see reblogged on tumblr a lot are unique looking people with unique presentations, but there are also a lot of comments about people wanting to emulate some, or all of their look – across gender lines. People want to look and feel how they want, and of course there’s a lot we share as humans despite our gender.
Fashion is great at both reflect the attitudes of people within any given society, as well as providing an outlook on where not only fashion, but society is going. Do you think that by pushing boundaries, fashion labels can help change the hearts and minds of the more conservative sections within our national community?
To be quite honest, I don’t think conservative types really think much about fashion. I say that as a person in East Tennessee whose fashion sense makes them stick out like a sore thumb, haha. The world of fashion seems too queer and foreign for most of them to think about. As it percolates and becomes mainstream though, yes, I think they are going to have to confront some of their prejudices. I mean, some people might think a trans woman who dresses like I do is weird, but once they actually talk to me one on one, they will come away with the realization that I’m actually quite normal. So in that way, yes, I think it’ll change minds.
Lastly, do you have any thoughts on how you would like to improve fashion to be more inclusive of androgynous and non-gendered people? How do you think fashion labels can best keep up with our ever-changing gender landscape?
Like the rest of society, which is currently not very accommodating to anyone falling outside of our rigid, binary conception of gender, I think raising consciousness and listening to non-binary, trans, and other gender variant individuals is the way to go. Andreja Pejic, although she’s (as far as I know) binary-identified, did a lot, I think, to make waves and introduce a lot of people to the idea that gender is neither inflexible nor black-and-white. Non-binary people, trans people, and people who blur gender lines aren’t going anywhere, either, and now we have ways to talk about the frustrations we face, including finding clothes that fit our bodies and that we feel comfortable and authentic in. I think the more we make our voices heard, the more things will continue to change
More about Kat Hache’:
Kat (KT) Haché is an androgynous trans woman from East Tennessee. She writes about trans issues and feminism at The Daily Dot and Bustle, and has a column about life in transition at Enchantress Magazine. She tweets often at @papierhache.