Inside the studio with artist Eric Blum

Eric Blum’s pieces are so complex they offer up more interpretations than a Sia music video. Born in Fresno, California, Blum grew up in Los Angeles and now calls the East Coast home. He has an intimate studio in New York City where he creates his enigmatic works. Blum began his artistic career as a photographer but currently works with transparent layers of ink and wax-infused silk. You might be able to categorize Blum’s play of light and shapes as abstraction, but his stunning forms have a story to tell and we’re totally hooked. He has been a recipient of grants from The Pollack-Krasner Foundation and New York Foundation for the Arts, and continues to exhibit widely throughout the United States. We were lucky enough to grab a moment of his time to find out more. Blum talked to us about his medium, what his work has to say and more.

THE LAYERS ARE JUST STUNNING. IS THERE A UNIFYING THEME FOR YOUR PAINTINGS IN TERMS OF INSPIRATION OR FEELING? I didn’t know it when I started out, but the unifying theme turns out to be uncertainty: seeing without looking, which expands the possibilities of interpretation… how a form viewed peripherally or in the background can be felt as something other than itself, something potentially more desirable, poetic or preposterous. Like anagrams, parts are mixed up and reassembled to become something that ultimately appears foreign; no longer resembling one’s own preconceived ideas.

Artist Ola Volo on modern folklore and traditional storytelling

Every work of art by Vancouver-based illustrator Ola Volo tells a story. Her intricate works weave a narrative motif with animals, people, elements of nature and architecture, all with a distinct style that is drawn from the traditions of her heritage and contemporary whimsy. Lucky for us Ola regularly shows her work around town while working on commissions from such clients as Hootsuite, Lululemon and the Vancouver Opera House. We love what she does, so we had to find out more.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST IDENTIFY AS AN ARTIST? I grew up attending art classes in school and out of school all my life. However, it was my final year of university where I completely fell in love with art. From that point, I couldn’t wait to dedicate all my time towards illustration and fine art.

YOU’RE ORIGINALLY FROM KAZAKHSTAN. HOW DOES THAT INSPIRE YOUR WORK? My world has been greatly influenced due to being raised in Kazakhstan and Canada. A big part of Kazakh culture is storytelling and use of intricate patterns. Blend this with multiculturalism, and often that’s where the root of my concepts are inspired from.  Having had the chance to live in Asia, Europe and North America, I’ve been directly impacted by the cultural styles and themes from these diverse regions. In fact, at the moment I’m visiting Kazakhstan and writing from a small town near China called Tekeli.

The ceramic artists on Instagram inspiring our next #OOTD

One of the cool things about Instagram is that we get to find out about the lives of the people making the things we love. Our recent ceramics obsession led us to these three babes who not only handcraft incredible wares for the home, but have that easy, “just stepped out of the studio” kind of artist style we wish we could pull off at the office.

How to pick art for your home like a boutique hotel

As a full-service art consulting firm, Vancouver’s Farmboy Fine Arts is a team behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest hospitality chains and coolest boutique hotels. Their role? To curate art collections and dress up the decor with some incredible graphic work and design. Every time we travel we wonder how we can bring a little of that boutique hotel feel home, so we quizzed Design Director Craig David Long to give us a behind the scenes look at the hotel art world and how we can expand our horizons beyond Ikea Klimts and MoMA posters.

ARE THERE ANY MOVEMENTS OR TRENDS IN THE ART WORLD RIGHT NOW? It is very hard to pinpoint thematic or aesthetic trends that span the art world at large, because art is such a vast and expansive thing. Art can be decorative or conceptual, contemporary or historic, and there is great variety within between artistic practices, such as style, medium, or what an individual artist’s thematic interests are. There are also many regional differences between art communities, based on social and cultural factors, the local market’s appetite for art, and the maturity of that artistic community.

Within hospitality, however, that is definitely where trends start to emerge. For hotels in the three- and four-star range, we are beginning to see some departure from traditional hung artwork, like framed art and canvases, though those will always be present. We are seeing art take on more architectural applications, such as printing imagery on substrates like metal, glass, mirror and textiles; the trend toward large graphic wall murals; as well as incorporating three dimensional and modular wall art in the guest rooms and public areas.

At the higher end, we have definitely seen hotels really begin to understand and appreciate the cultural, social and investment value of collecting fine and contemporary art as a long-term strategy. Our company has been a long believer that collecting fine art originals not only enhances the guest experience, but it can also foster dialogue with the local community and even yield financial return over time as well.

 

Current Inspiration: Artist Dustin Yellin

L-R: From ‘Dust in the Brain Attic’ via No Where Limited, Misha Nonoo and Dustin Yellin collaborate for Spring 2015 via Harpers Bazaar, Dustin Yellin’s prints for Misha Nonoo Spring 2015 collection via Style, From exhibit ‘Dust in the Brain Attic’ via No Where Limited, Tribute to Diane von Furstenberg via W

Portland artist tackles fashion and politics

Consider this next level knitwear. Portland artist Ellen Lesperance recreates historic sweaters sourced from archival images and film footage of women involved in protests, sit-ins, demonstrations and civil disobedience into beautiful painted patterns on paper. By translating and transforming the knitwear into something abstract and universal, the works speak to the personal aspect of participation and protest. They also serve as a colliding point of fashion and politics. She has exhibited her work all over the US, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Dahl Arts Center. Who knew that it would be Ellen’s one-time job as an editor at Vogue Knitting magazine that would inform her career as an artist? We had to find out more.

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ARTIST? A pretty traditional route: I got an undergraduate degree in painting, I got a master’s degree in visual art. But I’ve really been a “maker” as far back as I can remember, although that “making” frequently related more to sewing and knitting and patterning-making than traditional “high art” practices. I think it was at graduate school at Rutgers University when I finally came to understand that many women artists of the Feminist Art Movement were trying to conflate that concept – the concept of there being “high” and “low” art practices, and that craft techniques belonged in that “low” category – and these women artists were doing this decades ago. This recognition really freed me up to make the work that I wanted to make, work that has ended up as a real hybrid of craft and painting practices.

YOUR WORK IS SO UNIQUE. HOW DID YOU START PAINTING THIS WAY? I was a pretty traditional painter in school, oil on canvas, you know, but then ended up in New York City working for Vogue Knitting magazine in the late 1990s. I was a copy editor there, primarily, but I also sample-knitted, and ended up proofing both the magazine’s copy and its sweater patterns. Needless to say, I fell in love with the garment patterns – both the American Symbolcraft language that a person follows as a set of written instructions, but also the gridded pattern repeats, and the shapes that the pattern pieces formed – all of it! My painting technique really borrows from this knitting vernacular. My formal innovation is really just laying the pattern pieces on top of each other and trying to achieve transparency at those overlaps. To do this, I’ve studied Josef Albers color theory, and we’re back at that conflation of “high” and “low.”

TELL US ABOUT THE IDEA OF KNITTED MESSAGES. So, the project really took off when I started studying an anti-nuke protest camp that formed in England in the 1980s and 1990s called the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. In researching the camp, I started confronting more and more garments that the women activists wore that were hand-knit and designed to reflect the woman’s protest ideology. The campers lived outdoors, many for years at a time, so there was time to make these garments and certainly necessity. I’ve found sweaters from Greenham Common that incorporated the feminist fist icon, the female sign, peace signs, labrys symbols, rainbows, sunrises, phoenixes, hearts, knit-in words, etc. These sweaters were exciting and very inspirational to me as moments of “Creative Direct Action”, very similar to other activist tactics that utilize creative making to argue points that combat war, violence and hate (like banner drops, signage, street theater, etc). Since researching Greenham Commons, I’ve started looking for instances of these “knitted messages” in a variety of protest actions, and when I find them, these are collected and ultimately hopefully turned into a painting.

ellenlesperance.com

(left) Ellen Lesperance, Land of Feminye II, 2014, gouache and graphite on tea-stained paper, 40 x 29 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Adams and Ollman.

(right) Ellen Lesperance, February 7, 1983, 2014, gouache and graphite on tea-stained paper, 40 x 29 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Adams and Ollman.

Kalen Hollomon on art, fashion and Instagram

There’s collage and then there’s Kalen Hollomon. The New York artist has taken the fashion world by storm with his provocative mixed media images that juxtapose day to day images with cutouts from fashion magazines and vintage pornography. He can make Rudy Giuliani the face of Céline, put heels on a subway cop, all seeking to explore and reveal the constant relativity of perception. “Above all,” says Hollomon. “I try to capture a sense of romance in images that are spontaneous and slightly unnerving.” He’s been snapped up by many for collaborations but most recently he partnered with Vogue for a project following Paris Fashion Week. Suffice it to say we’re just one of his 77,000 Instagram followers and totally obsessed. We caught up with him to find out more.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN ART? Sometime in elementary school, maybe fourth grade, one of my classmates, Juan Sandoval purchased a drawing of mine. He paid with fake school money but still, it was an eye opener. Last I heard Juan was robbing banks in Texas. Anyway, making art was my main focus throughout high school and college — I did anything that would keep me working in some artistic capacity, from writing bad graffiti to figure drawing classes. I attended three different colleges with decent art programs but I doubt I ever graduated. I’ve always tried to have jobs that allowed me some creative freedom. Right now I’m just working on art, all the time.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO USING MIXED MEDIA? Mixing mediums spawns new ideas and lends fresh perspectives to things. I’m always thinking about perspective and shifting perception. Collage — either photographic or using images on paper feels right and gives me a lot of freedom to do that. Even when I’m painting I tend to utilize a lot of layers and some found imagery. I like the act of adding or subtracting things and seeing how perspective and perception can change. Altering preconceived notions and exploring things that lie beneath the surface interests me.

WHAT DREW YOU TO FASHION AS SUCH A LART PART OF YOUR WORK TO EXPLORE THEMES OF COMMERCE GENDER AND SEXUALITY? I’ve always been really into fashion — of course I love how clothing can alter one’s perception of a person, or even alter how you perceive yourself. Fashion imagery often comes with such a strong story or vibe because of the designer, the brand-name, the photographer. I try to pay homage to the people who originally created “the story” when I work with fashion imagery and I’ve usually chosen something because it resonates with me. Fashion is constantly playing with themes of commerce, gender and sex and by altering those images, you can go pretty deep into some thought provoking terrain. Well, at least I hope so.

kalenhollomon.com

Seattle collective CMRTYZ on collage art and the bands we need to know

Download your FREE CMRTYZ x Garmentory iPad and iPhone wallpaper below!

Seattle-based artistic omni-media collective CMRTYZ is kind of an enigma. Founders CM Ruiz and TY Ziskis have a client list that includes clients like the New York Times, Totokaelo, Converse and Vice but their operation keeps it on the down low. We think it might be because they’re busy churning out an insane volume of original artwork and graphic design, running an independent record label, organizing press events and launch parties, developing brand strategy for clients and producing a cult t-shirt label that is stocked at MoMA. We love their offbeat analog aesthetic so we tracked them down and asked them questions. Here’s what they said.

HOW DID YOU GUYS END UP BEING PARTNERS? CM: Ty and I met at a gallery show he was running PR for that I was helping to curate. After the show ended, he broke away from the gallery and we continued working together.

YOU GUYS HAVE A CRAZY AMOUNT OF PROJECTS ON THE GO. HOW DO YOU MANAGE? CM: We have different skill sets so we spread a lot of work out. Luckily I work super fast on making art and when Ty likes it, we can agree to art application. We like staying busy and active with the art scene, music scene, and fashion scene.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DREAM PROJECTS. CM: Cover of The New Yorker or drawing comics or designing for Marvel. TYZ: Life is but a dream.

NAME THE TOP THREE BANDS WE SHOULD BE LISTENING TO. Detective Agency, So Pitted and Wand.

And finally, we had to ask them to work with us. So they designed two rad wallpapers that only exist here, just for you! To download your FREE CMRTYZ X Garmentory wallpaper: Pick one (or both!) and click the appropriate link below to save the image. Then save it to your device.

COLLAGE WALLPAPER (LEFT)

For your iPad

For your iPhone 4

For your iPhone 5

FOREST WALLPAPER (RIGHT)

For your iPad

For your iPhone 4

For your iPhone 5

Wanna know more about this mysterious design duo? Visit cmrtyz.com