“We don’t want to have to worry about what we’re wearing in the studio,” explain artist Doug Johnston. “Eventually all of our clothes become ‘studio’ clothes because we wear them to the studio and they get oil stains or resin or wax or liquid foam on them, or they get ripped.” Doug’s work oscillates between art and design, primarily utilizing a process of coiling and machine-stitching cordage creating an array of functional sculptural objects. He often collaborates with his wife, artist and designer Tomoe Matsuoka, whose work varies from furniture to wearables, space design, performance and photography. Yes, they’re the definition of power couple and, yes, they both rep the Ilana Kohn coveralls well. “We can change into these coveralls when we get to the studio and not worry about ruining our entire wardrobe,” explains Doug Johnston. Plus, they’re super comfortable, simple and stylish, while being truly durable and useful with several big, easily-accessible pockets where we can keep our phones, keys, notes, and snacks!”
Get to know Doug and Tomoe below as they put the coveralls to work.
With so much talent out there, it is truly exciting when you discover an artist whose work makes your jaw drop and your mind race. Well, that was our exact reaction when we came across the two artists featured below: Katie Bell and Andrea Bergart. With each a distinct aesthetic of their own, these artists are creating captivating art that goes way beyond your typical understanding of art. Their manipulation of everyday materials and objects is straight up beautiful. One of these talented women can takes garbage scraps and turns them into a 9 ft tall sculptural painting and the other transforms working cement trucks into moving public murals. So, without further ado, let your artist crushes begin.
The moment we caught sight of Katie Bell’s large-scale paintings we couldn’t look away. Her art goes above and beyond, outwards and upwards, literally. Katie creates her pieces with found materials that she herself went digging for. From ceiling tiles to hot tub fragments, she turns so-called garbage into unreal art. Her color composition, structural thought and innate attention to placement detail will blow your mind. Not to mention, this bad-ass woman can haul bounds of material and somehow get them all on a wall.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. My name is Katie Bell and I am originally from Rockford, Illinois. I have been living and working in Brooklyn, NY for the past six years. I make large sculptural paintings out of found material.
HAS ART BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE SINCE YOU WERE LITTLE? I have a twin brother who is also an artist, and I think growing up we fostered that creative interest in each other. We were always making drawings, games, costumes, piñatas, plays, forts, obstacle courses, etc. We were collaborators on all kinds of things and our parents were always encouraging us to make things. I began making paintings in college and started making still-lives to paint from. The still-lives eventually grew larger and larger and turned into the work I am making now. I have always come to art from an interest in painting.
ALL YOUR SCULPTURAL PAINTINGS ARE MADE FROM FOUND MATERIALS. WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS OF SOURCING LIKE? I am constantly looking for materials and try to find one thing everyday to bring back to the studio. I am mostly finding things on the street, in dumpsters, and at construction sites. My studio acts as a catch-all for all my finds. Things will be rolling around the studio a while before I figure out what to do with them.
HAS YOUR HUNT FOR MATERIAL BECOME EASIER AS YOU’VE GROWN AS AN ARTIST? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE / GO-TO SOURCE? The hunt is different every time, but it is always a very physical task. As my work has grown I have gotten more specific, so I am looking for particular things now. My favorite part of gathering materials is the looking. I have so many places that I go to regularly to find materials, but one of the best spots is Bartos Pools and Spas. I have made friends with the owner and she saves old hot tubs for me to cut apart.
WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER FOUND? THE BEST THING? Weirdest: A three-foot tall rawhide bone. Best: A faux blue geode bookend.
Top image: ‘Backsplash’, cork, foam, drywall, laminate, wood, plexiglass, rocks, plastic, Kleenex box, rubber, springs, steel, and hot tub fragments, 144 x 276 x 108, 2016 Photo cred: Zack Balber with Ginger Photography Inc.
Middle image: ‘Broadcast’, acrylic, wood, ceiling tiles, foam, drywall, plexiglass, nails, laminate, rocks, and plastic on wall, 264 x 156 x 22,2016. Photo cred: Zack Balber with Ginger Photography Inc.
Bottom image: Breakout’, acrylic, wood, laminate, foam, ceiling tiles, rope, drywall, marble, and nails on wall, 144 x 108 x 108, 2016
Our love for Andrea Bergart’s work may be new but it’s already very serious. It was just the beginning of May when we started seeing these seriously cool basketball handbags all over our Instagram feed and on all our favorite online magazines. If you didn’t already guess, Andrea is the one behind these bags. We then discovered this was in fact her first design project and that she is also an incredible artist with a long list of talents.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and the woods of Maine, I live in Ridgewood, Queens and I am an artist.
YOU DO A LOT OF LARGE-SCALE PUBLIC MURALS. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PRESENTING YOUR ART THIS WAY? I have a steady studio practice but occasionally my work will take me to the streets where I can make something extra large. My last series of public works involved painting murals on working cement truck barrels. This idea came to me after spending a year living in West Africa where people paint on everything- signs, walls, houses and buses. Painting on cement trucks seemed like an exciting extension of this way of thinking about images in public spaces. I love how the cement trucks travel throughout NYC and reach so many different audiences. It’s cool that they are also delivering cement and going into construction sites. I like mixing high and low- fine art and working trucks. I also enjoy seeing the paint decay and get grimey – art dealing with the daily grind.
YOU RECENTLY LAUNCHED A LINE OF BASKETBALL HANDBAGS. HOW DID IT FEEL TO STEP ASIDE FROM PAINTING AND INTO DESIGN? I’m into hybrids right now- things with multiple functions- sort of like the cement truck with art on it. Designing an object that has a function is a lot different than making art. You can be very creative but you are always considering the practicality of the design. It’s fun to play with people’s expectations of objects and form.
SO, WE’VE HEARD YOU’RE KIND OF AMAZING AT PLAYING THE GAME. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM YOU’RE A PART OF? Ha! I’m okay. : ) Downtown girls basketball is conceived by artist Aria McManus. Aria has created and attracted such a cool community. Sure we ball but we also talk about what’s going on in our lives, go to each other’s art openings, collaborate, and bring and reflect positive vibes.
HAS THIS TEAM BECOME A CREATIVE HUB FOR YOUR LADIES? We meet up once a week and having that consistent hang out schedule makes the team an important part of my life. The routine helps it feel like a family. I think we have a sense of loyalty to each other and that helps me be bolder in my life than I would otherwise be.
Images from top left to bottom right:‘Trident’, dye and wax on silk mounted on paper, 108″ x 56″; ‘Cheetos’, cement truck mural; Basketball Purse (Skills) Photo Cred: Maddy Talias; Basketball Purse (OG) Photo Cred: Maddy Talias; ‘Swamp Sunset’, acrylic on canvas, 72″ x 60″; Embossed leather strap detail Photo Cred: Maddy Talias.
Remember when you were little and (if you weren’t a spoiled brat) your parents made you save your money to buy the toys you wanted? Well, time to break out those piggy banks again. Jason Freeny’s anatomically correct sculptures are going to make to want to save up to buy one. Who doesn’t want to see Mickey Mouse’s skeletal structure? Come on. His work is so rad; we can actually vomit out of excitement.
WHEN DID YOU START MAKING THESE SCULPTURES?
I started with illustrations of dissected characters around 2007; the sculptures started began around 2009. It began with me wanting to explore what a balloon animal would look like on the insides.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SCULPTURE?
I don’t really have any favorites but the ones I feel are most successful are the characters that produce grotesquely interesting skeletons.
IS THERE A PART OF THE CREATION PROCESS THAT YOU LIKE MOST?
Finishing a piece is the most enjoyable part; I also enjoy trying new approaches and a challenge.
HOW CAN ONE ACQUIRE YOUR ITEMS?
Most of the pieces are one-offs. The sculptures are always for sale but they are pricey. The Gummi Bear Anatomy is mass-produced, but stock sells out quick. I have a few toys that were produced in a limited edition, but I always offer prints for sale on my website. Think Geek and Marbles the Brain Store have my Brain Cube. You’ll have to google to find a Gummi Anatomy.