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March 28, 2011 / margikimball

♥ Niki Pilkington

So remember when Crayola came out with neon colors and it basically changed the experience of drawing and thereby cemented all of my memories of the 90s in neon? And remember those cootie catchers and linked ribbons of cut construction paper? I am totally in love with the work of Niki Pilkington.

A quick glance through Niki’s portfolio is enough to tell us that she absolutely loves what she’s doing. The consideration of each of her marks, the refined quality of the compositions, the sense of play, a mixture of the classical with the new…my heart is aflutter.

It’s worth noting the accessibility of the images, that there is something of home and innocence in the work. And well there is something plainly fun about them. A lack of concern for the canon in a way (neon, crayons, cootie catchers, bubbles, balloons!) while at the same time there is a foundation of the classical at work here. This is what makes these portraits as much about us as they are about their subjects.

Fun seems to be emerging as a trend in illustration. And humor. Not in an escapist sort of way, but often paired with a sense of innocence and/or childhood (at least, the childhoods of my generation).

And maybe too there’s something about engagement with the spectacle. Like when I see that neon jacket, those construction-paper-ribbons, they reference for me at least very specific memories of school and shopping and identity. The identity my friends and I collectively laughed at years later. And so employing it here acknowledges-I think-that past funniness. Or something.

At any rate, Niki’s work moves me, for its craft, for its intellect, its references. And I’m delighted to have found it. Make sure to check out her more of her illustrations and keep your eyes open for the prints forthcoming in her shop!

March 24, 2011 / margikimball

♥ Nick White

Well so let’s depart from this week’s program and check out the excellent, the dedicated-to-the-handmade Nick White. A London-based illustrator, Nick’s work combines images of the real world with super expressive, almost wild hand-crafted lines.

Many of the pieces are backdropped with old book pages or other unexpected surfaces like photographs of curtains. At least one illustration uses a scan of corrugated cardboard (!).

I think what I’m drawn to so deeply is the sense of a mind at work. Like a thought happened, Nick started drawing and the work emerged from that sort of sense of play. His use of color and composition suggest an intense reflection, orchestration.

Nick’s website is as fun to navigate as his work, with scanned notebooks, collaged headers and a ton of content. And there’s even more work in his shop. Check him out!

March 23, 2011 / margikimball

♥ Scott Daros

Next up in our week of Uconn folks is Scott Daros, who I did have the pleasure of having several classes with. Several times, I’d show up to critique mainly just to see what he’d come up with. In short, he rocks. Here is some of his recent work.

A versatile illustrator, Scott spans the worlds of animation, print and 3D, all with an inclination toward the narrative, the story. (You can see videos of his animations and images of his visual narratives on his site.) Anyway, there’s an attention to texture in his work. I feel like I can pet the mammoth, be somewhat grossed out by the arm hair of Hairy Morgan and touch the smooth surface of the claymation skin.

So this in interesting in the way the senses are heightened, like I’m not just seeing the work, but also my hands are preparing themselves for touch. If that makes sense. He’s also playful in his illustrations, layered in meaning and sometimes rather sweet.

There’s something subtle about Scott’s work. So the Uconn program is structured in a classical way (figure drawing, concept development, a foundation in various mediums, etc.) and you can see evidence of that here. Scott knows the human form. And he also departs from it. Elongated limbs, ridiculously small feet, legs too far apart to work. Yet the characters seem real in some alternate reality at least. These moments of departure give the work personality, give it life. Am I rambling? Anyway, see a ton more of Scott’s excellent work on his site.

March 22, 2011 / margikimball

♥ Meg Hunt

And we’re back from spring break, friends. This week I’m going to try something out. I haven’t planned ahead, and so I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’m interested in looking at folks coming out of the illustration program at the University of Connecticut. That is, my alma mater. I shall admit to you here that I am shy and so have not mingled with these folks; I just saw work in studios or found them after graduation. Without further ado…

First up is the lovely, the playful Meg Hunt, a major player in the illustration game, living in Portland. Meg’s work is fun, is wild, patterned and decorative. Her sophisticated, fresh use of color kind of blows my mind. The details and relationships rendered in her work allows the viewer to engage in the images for days.

She’s also funny. See for instance the pattern below. Llamas?! Nay, llamas with personalities. Hilarious. And smart. The mind that is able to create a sort of ordered chaos such that the panel can be arranged into a repeating pattern is impressive, methinks.

There’s infinitely more to say here about color and sort of vintage references as a way of creating meaning, but in the interest of sending you over to her site, I’ll end here, in awe. Note that Meg has little captions with her work so you can learn about her intentions and interests. And based on my Twitter-stalking slash research, it appears she’s hard at work on a book. Very, very exciting.

March 14, 2011 / margikimball

♥ Ko. Machiyama

Heading back to Japan this week (you know, via the internet), we are looking at the beautiful, the abstract, the intimate work of Ko. Machiyama. In these images, shapes (outlines) are controlled, are realistic in the way they sort of sit (like an arm, so truly an arm) and these areas of control are offset by moments of sort of wild gestures.

Colors are rendered through textures and combined in subdued ways, almost vintage-y but the shall we say detailed abstractions suggest a contemporary-ness placing them in the now.

I think maybe there’s a sense of isolation in the work. Figures frequently sit alone or sort of stare off into nothing. And yet we (I) believe in their existence because of their careful rendering.

And well I am moved by these pieces, by the characters herein. I want to know of their lives of these frozen moments. The work communicates a cool remove but the very act of their rendering suggests an intimacy, an interest.

I learned of Machiyama through a tweet by Wataru Yoshida and a blog post by Living Design. Also check out Machiyama’s portfolio on Behance. And it must be said too that my thoughts are with those in Japan, that I am hoping for safety and calm weather and warmth and food. And speaking of, check out some aid-related designs here.

March 11, 2011 / margikimball

♥ :: Keepa

Keepa is a prolific duo made up of Irena Zablotska and Eugene Ruddy and based in Ukraine who like to think and feel and allow their work to manifest as a kind of adventure. (By the way, is anyone else loving the accessibility of seeing work from around the world?)

Their work maintains an intensity while suggesting a charming, crafted naivete. For instance the wild perspectives, the letter forms which move fluidly and unexpectedly, the all-over compositions. I think these elements create a sense of wildness, of fun.

The image below is particularly interesting for the way it engages with the form of its container, ie. a book. This kind of interaction is so interesting to me because it acknowledges (meta-style) its space in the world. And in a way, the illustration might even emerge in response to its space. Anyway, this self-consciousness is really appealing in a frequently objective-seeming world. If that makes sense.

Anyhow, these images are tip of the iceberg for Keepa’s studio. Make sure to check out their claymation type illustrations and their design/work and their merch. A very interesting team, indeed.

March 10, 2011 / margikimball

♥ :: Natsuki Otani

This morning, I just found the work of Natsuki Otani, an illustrator from Tokyo living in England. And so I had to interrupt the regularly scheduled program to share her work. Anyway, she owns hamsters and her clients range from Urban Outfitters to local record labels.

What is striking/beautiful about Natsuki’s work is, I think, her use of color and control of her marks. There’s something totally lovely in the idea of using a rainbow to draw a person, something universalizing in the message of this approach.

I also want to note that while these marks are entirely contained, entirely controlled, they maintain a gestural quality which makes the images move or come alive. We get the sense that the girl might smirk at us or that butterfly might continue across the page.

Oh, my. I’m sort of admittedly breathless here. So make sure to check out Natsuki’s website, where there are even more illustrations. More color, more surprises. And also see her work in Zouch Magazine.