I’m so thrilled to share an interview I recently did with Damon Kowarsky – an artist who has exhibited regularly in Australia and abroad and worked as a scientific, courtroom, and archaeological illustrator. His latest exhibition is currently held from 7 – 30 March 2014, entitled “Life Along the River“, and is installed at the Aesop headquarters in Hong Kong while also being shown at the Odd One Out gallery.
Collaboration is the the focus of my interview this time – Damon has worked with Kyoko Imazu and Muhammad Atif Khan, and I dig a little deeper to find out more about how he works with others, how the collaboration with Aesop came about, and what advice he has for young artists.
I’m primarily a printmaker and make etchings from copper plates. It’s a very old technique – 500 years or so – and has evolved from a commercial process into one that is used exclusively for fine art. I tend to make images of people, places and things. These could be models from local life drawing classes, cityscapes of New York or Cairo, airplanes, plants or portraits of friends.
Hugely! Travel is when I do the research for all my images. There is nothing like being a stranger in a new place to force you to look around. I was fortunate to work on an archaeological dig in Egypt and study miniature painting in Pakistan. These experiences changed the way I make pictures and opened all sorts of unexpected doors.
In terms of the meaning of the work I have no idea. I simply make images that I like to look at and say something about the places that inspired them. If there is a larger message it is that picture making is critically important, and that hand crafted images are even more essential in these days of everyone having a camera and access to everything you could ever have seen with a few clicks of a mouse.
The collaboration with Kyoko began because we were both working in the open studio of Australian Print Workshop. One day Kyoko came up and said that she’d like to ‘vandalise’ my work. It was impossible to say no. This was in 2008 and we’ve been working together ever since.
A few years later Atif saw the work Kyoko and I made on the web and suggested doing a project with him. This was a great opportunity to get further involved with the country after having taught and studied there. Atif and I produced 20 prints for ‘Hybrid’ in 2012, and in the process become very good friends. We are working on part two of the project for when I return to Lahore in September.
With Kyoko I generally give her a drawing that she then modifies in some way. In the series ‘Along the River’ those drawings came from a 3m panorama that I made of Kyoto. Once we have both worked on the drawings and are happy with the results we process and print the copper plates together.
With Atif there is a bit more back and forth as we each take turns to provide the first drawing. Atif works mostly with found and appropriated images and I work mostly with drawing. In ‘Hybrid’ we tried to synthesise these two languages. We are sticking to a similar plan for ‘Hybrid II’ as we wanted the images rather than the process to be central focus.
With both collaborative projects we’ve been lucky to have support from partners including the Japan Foundation Sydney, Arts Victoria and the Australian High Commission Islamabad. We have also used our own resources to make sure things happen. Sales are divided equally between the artists.
They can be. If you are lucky to find one that works that’s great. But there is no pressure to do so, and there are many artists for whom collaboration would just be a bad idea. Collaborating is like have a conversation. Some people are easy to talk to, others are not. And there are always times when you prefer to be alone with your thoughts for a while.
I teach very little really. Most of what I do is in Pakistan where there is a strong sense of responsibility between practicing artists and students. Even artists with enormously successful international careers [like Imran Qureshi who recently won the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year Award] are still involved in the education system. I can’t imagine artists of equivalent stature teaching in Australia.
Teaching is demanding, but it is also fun. It is a chance to pass on what you were taught. For me many of those lessons came from Godwin Bradbeer during my time at RMIT. Godwin is a brilliant artist and educator, and has influenced generations of young artists in Melbourne.
The collaborations with Aesop began in 2009. The Australian Print Workshop was then under renovation and I was doing a paste up of proofs [the trial copies and mistakes in any edition] on the hoarding outside the building.
Just as I was finishing a man asked if I’d like to do a paste up in his shop. Without asking who he was or which shop I said yes. The man turned out to be the founder of Aesop and the shop was their Gertrude Street store. Since then I have installed work in six Aesop stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo and Hong Kong. It’s been great to work with a company that has such a strong focus on contemporary art and design, and is keen to support it in concrete ways.
Odd One Out represents my work in Hong Kong. Phemie Chong, Odd One Out’s director, is extremely dynamic and is always looking for partners and opportunities to promote the gallery and the artists she represents. Phemie is also a lot of fun, and was happy to spend a day with her hands in wallpaper glue sticking proofs to Aesop’s walls.
Keep going! Too many people stop too soon after graduating. Say yes to stuff. The projects with Aesop happened because I was out on the street doing wacky things with old prints.
Be nice. Or failing that be damn good.
Read Paul Arden’s “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite” and “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” and take his advice. Especially the bits about working hard, setting your standards high, and showing an utter disregard for where you think your abilities end.
Listen to or read Neil Gaiman’s 2012 speech to the University of the Arts Philadelphia.
Work hard. Make the most beautiful things you can. Remember that beautiful is not always pretty. Or even nice.
Go out and look at the world. Draw from life. Travel. Visit museums and galleries but also listen to music and read books. Learn from the past but don’t be a slave to the present. Tell anyone who tells you it can’t be done to f*** off. And mean it by making those impossible things happen.
Work hard. Have fun, but work hard. Really hard. Really, really hard.
Pssst… have you signed up for our free newsletter yet? It’s a once-a-week update where I let you know what’s happening here at Pikaland (among many other exciting, inspiring news and projects!)
Today’s post is courtesy of Jaime Pih of The Bride Gene. Jaime posted up lots of pictures of Melbourne Now on her Facebook page and I was really inspired by the amazing work that was done by the artists. It’s an event that’s happening in Australia from 22 November 2013 to 23 March 2014 that celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne. I wasn’t able to head there, so I did the next best thing – I asked if she would be willing to share the pictures (and words alongside them) on Pikaland so that others may be able to experience it as well. And she said yes, hurrah! Enjoy! ~ Amy
*** NOTE: All text are taken from the exhibition, which includes the artist’s statement and/or an introduction to each artist’s work.
You, Me and the Flock – Juan Ford, 2013
“The huge sky above us holds many secrets. I enjoy trying to understand how the natural world constantly changes and how we are a part of that process. I have often watched birds in flight, flocking and flying apart. It has made me think about how we do a similar thing but in a very different way.
Join in my experiment and add some birds to the flock. As you place each bird, think about the changing shape of the flock and the feeling of movement. Also think about what it might mean as the flock becomes populated with more and more birds over time.”
You Ask Me About That Country – Sangeeta Sandrasegar, 2012-13
Born to Malaysian and Australian parents, Sangeeta Sandrasegar lived in both countries before settling in Melbourne at the age of ten. Her work explores perceptions of homeland and diaspora, belonging and identity. These works form part of a series “You Ask Me About That Country” which takes its title from a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz about the effect of time on memories. Created following her return to Malaysia after twenty-five years, each suite of exquisitely detailed filigree paper-cuts comprises a self-portrait confronted by three other portraits representing different Malaysian cultural groups.
The beautiful patterns of flowers, leaves and butterflies that form her hair are inspired by traditional batik designs from Malaysia. Batik is an ancient art of making patterns using wax and coloured dyes on fabric that is found in many countries across Asia.
The shadows cast on the walls by the paper cut-outs are like an echo of the artist’s memories and suggest there are different ways we can think about who we are.
dontworry – Mark Hilton, 2013
Extending across nine intricately detailed wall-mounted panels, each corresponding to a formative event in Mark Hilton’s life, dontworry is a personal memoir exploring the complicated transition from childhood to adulthood. However this dark representation of events witnessed while growing up in suburban Melbourne, including violence committed by mobs of people and unnerving depictions of adolescent bad behaviour, also poses broader questions around “normal” codes of behaviour.
Co Workers, Hanging Sculpture – Meredith Turnbull
When I am making sculpture and jewellery, I enjoy experimenting with different shapes, sizes, colour and texture. My work ranges from large scale sculptural installations to much smaller jewellery pieces. I often compare sculpture and jewellery and I wonder about the similarities and differences between them. When I make necklaces and bracelets I sometimes think of them as small wearable sculptures.
For Melbourne Now I have selected a range of wooden components, tube and laminated card for you to work with. You can also draw on these with coloured pencils. Think about the different ways you can arrange the colours, textures and shapes to create your own wearable sculpture.
For you – Darren Sylvester, 2013
Darren Sylvester’s multidisciplinary practice reflects upon the tropes and convention of consumer culture, advertising, pop music and cinema, appropriating international products as “readymades” as a way of considering how we are shaped and affected by branding. “For you” is an illuminated dance floor that appropriates current make-up palettes offered by Yves Saint Laurent, colours “proven” by market research to appear flattering on the widest cross-section of people. Shy-dancers should not fear – everyone looks good on this dance floor.
The Gallery of Air
Best experienced than captured on camera, this amazing gallery exhibited just about anything and everything that involved air – a remote control to an air-con unit, a book (Up In The Air by Walter Kirn), a vintage vinyl (Wind on the Water by Crosby and Nash), a Rhett Butler doll (Gone with the Wind), airplanes, a resuscitation doll, a shoe (Nike Air), Chinese foldable paper fans, and a print of a vintage hot air balloon, just to name a few. Ever wondered how so much of what we do, use and enjoy involves air?
Melbourne Now is happening from 22 November 2013 – 23 March 2014 at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). If you’ve taken some pictures or have written about the event (or know of anyone who does), do drop your links below so that we can see more of the action happening over at Melbourne!
If you would like to share some of the recent events in your area – whether it’s an exhibition, an art event or a fun gallery, feel free to get in touch with me (Amy) and I’d love to put it up here on the blog to share with our readers!
Apart from being a Whatsapp user, I also use LINE to keep in touch with my family through bursts of free short messaging. However, the big draw of using LINE over Whatsapp has got to be the availability of silly stickers among some other things too, like how I can have the same LINE account on my computer so I won’t have to use my phone to message my contacts (having a 5-year old iPhone 3GS will do that to you!)
So when I heard that the people at LINE are opening a Creator’s Market last week – I thought that it was a great idea! It basically opens up the opportunity for artists to create their very own line of stickers (40) to convey a wide range of emotions that can sell for 100 yen (or about USD1). You get to keep 50% and the rest goes to LINE.
From The Next Web:
The Line Creators Market, a brand new platform launched today, will only start accepting submissions from April onwards. It is free for all users to register on the Line Creators Market. Creators can sell sets of 40 stickers at 100 yen (about $1) per set once the graphics are approved by Line, and they will receive 50 percent of the proceeds.
The possibilities for this is endless – think of the characters that you’ll be creating, and also the amount of new fans (and eyeballs) you’ll garner through LINE’s 360 million user base.
Ready, set, sketch!
Finding unconventional methods of spreading your name out there is one of the exciting topics that make up the Work/Art/Play online class that I’m teaching this year – if you’re interested to know more, head on over to the website and sign up to be the first to know when the next class begins!
Pikaland turns 6 this month, and all I could think of was how amazing you guys are.
Forgive me for the bit of a soppy post, but I thought I should get stuff of my chest instead of holding it all in (I think I’m allowed to do so since I do this here blog!) So here it is: I wanted to thank you for following me on this personal, enlightening journey on Pikaland – and I hope that it has helped you in some ways too. When I first started this blog back in 2008, it was to serve as a personal “scrapbook” of sorts. Not knowing much about illustration, I decided to start a blog where I collected the artists and pieces that I love where I could access it in one place – a place where I could learn and hopefully to reveal what is it about illustrations that makes my heart beat a little faster, and my eyes a lot more sensitive to what’s being said. I learned so much through self-discovery, by putting it into practice, and by teaching others about what I’ve learned: how important it is to see beyond just images.
One of the most fulfilling projects I’ve started is the Good to Know project. It’s a series of zines that shares advice among creatives – artists, designers and illustrators on various subjects on creativity, business and life. It was started in 2009, and our first ever issue on creativity is one of my favorites. I’d like to share this with you as a free downloadable PDF (and viewable online too right below via Scribd!) I’m looking to expand on this project this year, and I’ll be making these older copies available to mailing list subscribers free of charge along the way (p/s: if you haven’t signed up yet, it’s never too late – you can do that by clicking here!)
I’ve started projects, and said goodbye to some. But the one thing that has stayed the same is that you aren’t alone in figuring all of this out. I’m still doing that too. And I’m glad that we’re going to do that together.
Without further ado, here’s the first zine that launched it all – the very first issue of the Good to Know zine series; one that documents the musings of over 40 artists on how they’ve unblocked their creativity.
I hope you enjoy the read, and I look forward to our journey together along this amazing road ahead. Let’s enjoy the ride, shall we?
I have to admit that I’m not adventurous with music. I like my playlists as they are, and any new music is one that I find through the radio, or through a recommendation through Spotify. The only way I’ll be able to accept new music if it’s been played at least 5 times – subliminal as it may sound.
I forgot about the days of MTV. And I realized how important images are when they go hand in hand with music – especially if the visuals are eye-catching illustrations that not only follow the beats of a sound, but enhances it too. I’m reminded of this through Catch of the Day music video; a song by Sally Seltmann and illustrated by Isobel Knowles who used stop-motion animation to produce the playful motions of the characters. And the catch? There was no brief.
“The animations are shot frame by frame using a camera and a light box,” Knowles told Dezeen. “I shot most of the elements separately and then composited them, changed colours and added effects digitally, layering up each scene from small parts.”
It’s a beautiful work that warrants a watch – or 5. Happy Monday folks!
I was walking past Prada in Singapore when I chanced on their display window for the Spring/Summer 2014 line, and all I could do was to just stand there and take it all in. I think the exact response was a loud gasp and me clutching Mr. T’s hand in my stop-walking-because-I’m-going-to-ogle-this-for-5-minutes stare, along with me
jabbing pointing excitedly at the window.
If you’re a regular here you’d know that I’m long drawn to abstracts and color, and the happiness that the combination of these two can create – hence my fascination with their current line. While it looks great on the store display, I wasn’t quite sure if all of the pieces are wearable in real life (yes, after I settled down for a bit) – some of it are a little too embellished and out-there for my tastes – I’ve always approached fashion interspersed with visual art with an eye that scopes out what looks editorial first and foremost. Having embraced color and pattern only for the past 5 years in my wardrobe has made me inch closer to wearing the colors and patterns that match the insides of my brain, but there’s only so far I’d go. I might need a bit more time!
The model’s accompanying boxy bags reminded me of small canvases that had somehow doubled as a bag too (though obviously less chunky), bringing the decoration of the female form to a complete artistic display.
I did a big of digging to see the entire collection online, and while I’m not a fan of some of their pieces (particularly the realistic portraits smacked center in some pieces and bags), I do adore the more minimalistic pieces, with their playful mix of color and abstracts. Also worth noting are the murals done up for the runway, done by muralists El Mac, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet. It’s like the models were walking through a gallery!
Prada had commissioned these artists to do ‘something strong, to paint faces and bodies of women, but in the end they only painted faces, so I thought I had to provide the bodies’. And provide she did.
This was an orgy of colour, embellishment, sportswear, streetwear, glamour, elegance and cool. What better way to zero in on female empowerment than to focus on the bra? They came festooned with jewels, embedded on coats in jet beading, worn over skinny sweaters with striped sporty ribbed collars and cuffs, as a bejewelled top in sunflower yellow, as a black detail on a green dress, or forming a scarlet bra-shape on an orange fur coat.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and it’s an extra special day because it coincides with Chap Goh Meh – the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, which is also the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. Have a lovely day folks, and I’ll catch you next week!
Send love and hugs and wish a very Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Selamat Hari Valentine!
¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!
Alles Gute zum Valentins Tag!
Joyeuse Saint Valentin!
해피 발렌타인 데이!
С Днём Святого Валентина!
Feliz Dia Dos Namorados!
Sevgililer Günü Kutlu Olsun!
Love is the most wonderful of all feelings in this world
ps: Please correct me if I translated the languages wrongly.
#happy #happyvalentine #couple #finger #love #heart #drawing #cute #情人节快乐 #minifanfan
With every art exhibition I go to, I always look forward to personal reflections that will follow. And so this Chinese New Year, I went AWOL for a bit (sorry guys!) but with a good reason – I went on a trip down south to visit friends and relatives for CNY, and also to visit the Singapore Biennale 2013 which was happening from 26 October 2013 to 16th February 2014.
Biennales are large exhibitions that are held every 2 years. And what I love about large art exhibitions is that they feature the work of many artists all packed into one place, although it may not be technically be in the same building. This can be due to the size of the installations, and the nature of it (whether it’s an outdoor, indoor; whether it needs for a more complex mechanism to run it, etc).
For Singapore’s 2013 Biennale, the exhibitions were spread out across the Bras Basah area, with one installation at Taman Jurong. There were 82 artists whose work were spread out across the venue, and Mr. T and I had so much fun tracking them all down with the help of the guidebook (it came with the entry ticket) that documented each and every work available. I loved the variety of the artists work shown this year, and I wanted to share some of my favorites:
Shieko Reto’s Waiting Room installation featured paper cut outs that mimic the waiting room of a slightly seedy transgender/cosmetic surgery waiting room through illustration. It echoes the many episodes of “waiting” that they have to undergo (family’s acceptance, confirmation of regular employment, and even into society). The social messages are further spread by the zines and pamphlets that Shieko illustrated herself, and forms a big part of the installation in its entirety.
Eko Prawoto’s Wormhole is a grand installation made out of bamboo that punctuates the front of the National Museum of Singapore. Resembling a series of mountains, it’s a landscape that Prawoto is familiar with in his homeland of Indonesia, and yet alien to Singapore. Wormhole refers to the theoretical opening of a galaxy which allows one to traverse through time and space, as well as the insignificant passage through earth created by a burrowing earthworm. One is invited into the Wormhole, and in turn, are made to feel as though they’re part of the landscape – we are the worms. Through a glimpse of the outside world through the clouds and sun above, it offers shelter and respite, and a complete sensory experience from the modern world outside.
Jainal Amambing’s experience of growing up in a Rungus longhouse in Kudat, Sabah is illustrated in a collection of artworks entitled My Longhouse Story. Bold, bright and filled with textures, these paintings seem to also belong among the pages of a children’s book. There’s mischief and adventure, with sidekicks and pets thrown in for good measure.
Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salina’s Urban Play is a series of interventions in public spaces that the artists have devised by using the element of play to connect communities and individuals to respond to specific problems. Their work is one of my favorites! Although not an installation, their ideas were expressed mainly through various videos taken of their project, which took place in different places around Indonesia and Singapore. One example of this was how they started a ball of trash (I’m not kidding!) by taping all sorts of wrappers, tins, paper, etc with tape and got the community to participate by picking up the trash around their neighbourhood to add to this ball. It snowballed to a size of a van or a small truck! And the best part was how they rolled the ball on its journey through the small streets and eventually, rolled it onto a busy road, as if it had a life of its own. It was fantastic and inspiring on so many levels – particularly if you’re living in places where civic consciousness isn’t as far along as it should be; especially when trash is a glaring by-product of such an environment.
I also appreciated how the information was presented, especially the artists statement – which was done professionally (with I assume was done with the help of a copywriter/writer). It was brief and simple to understand, and really gave great context to a work that might otherwise not have been understood easily. There’s nothing worse (at least in my eyes!) than trying to decipher big words which can alienate people from understanding art.
Here’s our route (plus tips!):
The Biennale is held from 26 October 2013 to 16th February 2014 (which means that this is the last week to catch it!), so if you haven’t made the tour already, I suggest you hop on over!
For more information, visit the Singapore Biennale website at http://ift.tt/Nto6S5.