Friday, October 19, 2018

Happy Birthday Peter Max

For the past five decades, Max has been part of the fabric of American pop culture, spreading peace, love and his universally recognized art across generations, cultures and eras. His work was and is for all—a democratization of art—from museum walls and painted airplanes to album covers, clothing lines and postage stamp art. On October 19th, Max celebrates his 81st birthday.

Acclaimed for his bold, cosmic art from the '60s and '70s and for his colorful, expressionist paintings that he creates to this day, Max has been the official artist for six Grammy Awards, five Super Bowls, the NHL All-Star Game, the U.S. Winter Olympics, World Cup USA, the Indy 500, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and NBC’s The Voice, among many other notable events in sports, global initiatives and music.

His portraits have honored U.S. Presidents, foreign dignitaries, rock stars and jazz musicians, movie stars and sports icons. He is also acknowledged for his global charity work—being an active environmentalist and defender of animal and human rights, and for helping to bring yoga to the United States by co-founding the Integral Yoga Institute with Swami Satchidananda.

Peter Max captured the zeitgeist of the psychedelic '60s youth movement with his cosmic paintings, posters, serigraphs and popular licensed products. Over his decades long career, with gallery and museum shows around the world, Peter Max became is often called “America's Painter Laureate.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Viktor Koen Named Educator of the Year

Sit across from Viktor Koen at lunch and you’ll receive a whirlwind account of all the projects, assignments, classes he’s teaching, solo or group exhibits and TED talks he’s either done or is going to do. One might question when he has time to sleep. Is he a mixed-media artist, photographer or illustrator, educator, graphic designer or art director? The answer is all the above. Look on his site and you’ll see that he’s participated in well over 140 group exhibitions and more than 35 solo exhibits around the globe. Look at his client list and you’ll see a mix of editorial and book publishers that include Random House, Doubleday, Harper Collins, Rizzoli, Houghton Mifflin, Tor, Time, Newsweek, Esquire, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Wired, ESPN, Men’s Journal, Bloomberg, Fortune, Money, Forbes, Nation, BusinessWeek, to name a few.

Tackling complicated scientific or financial concepts are his forte. His ability of incorporate several messages within a concept makes him the darling of art directors. For an assignment for the New York Times he combined a series of layered vintage photos and shattered glass to illustrate the fragmentation of biographer Michael Holroyd’s own eccentric family in his book Basil Street Blues. There is a surrealist bent to the work along with odd juxtapositions that make Viktor’s work truly unique. No one has copied his way of working, his work remains timeless.

Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, Viktor found he couldn’t get into an art school in Greece so he emigrated to Israel where he enrolled in the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Jerusalem, received a bachelors of fine arts and then on to the School of Visual Arts in New York to receive a master of fine arts, graduating with honors. He’s now on the faculty teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—at two art schools, and until recently a continuing education program, not to mention his leadership of the dual summer residency programs that attracts students from all over the world. Again, when does he sleep?

He’s noted as a mixed-media artist with an uncanny knack for blending the monstrous, playful and absurd, creating photorealistic composite illustrations of things that don’t exist. While his commercial assignments are toned-down a bit for a wider audience, he really lets loose with his personal projects.

Whether they end up as publications or gallery works he is never at a loss for new projects. He’ll tell you, “Ideas usually address a strong urge to produce images outside the commissioned project sphere. Longer, research-oriented bodies of work complete the need to externalize the ideas and visual obsessions of a workaholic personality. Coming up with ideas when living in an intense environment like New York City is not brain surgery. There is no lack of stimuli, high-brow, low-brow or uni-brow, bizarre or mind-numbingly common, museums or underground zines. Not to mention my brilliant students who never cease to surprise me with references to the obscure and magic.”

While the commercial assignments rely on computer manipulations, his personal work turns towards fine arts where an image may be etched on acetate and then colored with acrylics. “Whether it’s acrylic or the computer they are the tool, and the tool sometimes works with your hand in a way that your brain doesn’t know about until it's before your eyes,” he explains. “You then choose to keep [an element] or choose to discard it. I don’t believe the computer to be a cold, clinical tool, it’s whatever you make it to be.” Source material can range from visiting the halls of museums here and abroad with his trusty camera, or source material from the Library of Congress, to flea markets for copyright-free photos, images from old advertisements, to in rare cases, stock photography. Not to mention the chaos of his studio where his collections of toys, gas masks, antique weapons and tools that fill all four walls.

He is not a believer in inspiration, “Inspiration is for amateurs,” says Koen. “Professionals generate inspiration. You will never catch me sitting in front of a blank screen.” For every project always starts with research, which can lasts days or months. For his personal work, the next step is to decide on a title, then determines the number of drawings followed by pencil sketches, then he heads out to find the beginnings of his compositions. “Working with titles resolves that question of inspiration,” he says. “To me inspiration is something coming into your head and having to channel it out of your hands. I like being very methodical about my work, because I’m entering into it and allowing for these accidents to happen, for strange combinations. The only way I will to, to the machine is knowing what I’m going to do with it.”

Viewing the finished product you cannot see the massive amount of time and energy spent on their development. You can, however, observe the artist’s obsession with Greek mythology and vintage photographs and their juxtaposition. “The more serious an image is, the deeper the funny part is," says Koen. “Looking at a funny sketch is one thing, but making a serious joke has a certain beauty to it.”

Koen credits his graphic design education at the Bezalel Academy their three obligatory interdisciplinary art history classes per semester in their curriculum. “[It] allows for much subconscious art conditioning, building an aesthetic instinct and allows one occasionally showing off to their family on museum visits. Also develops a solid appreciation for older methods of photo reproduction and their timeless allure.” As painter Xenis Sachinis, his mentor and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki says, “Fifty years later, maybe less, Viktor Koen’s daring prophecies may be the proof of a predicted present; the chronicle of predicted disorder, disharmony or even an abuse by science and government.” He adds, “Those prophecies are manifested through images. While his technique matured through technology—with noticeably worthwhile results—it goes back to a previous type of narrative painting.”

We are pleased to add Viktor Koen as our 2018 Illustrator/Educator of the Year. You’ll be able to find out even more about Viktor in our upcoming Annual. Just one more thing Viktor can add to his to-do list.

Friday, July 27, 2018

3x3 Illustration Annual No. 15 - Pre-Order

We’re beginning the design process which always starts with the cover. This year we had quite a number of potential cover images which we narrowed down to a select few before selecting Brian Stauffer's winning image from our show. This is a bit of a departure for us as we always look at each new cover in context with previous years—this image doesn’t fit our mold which we’re rather excited about.

As our founder Charles Hively said, “I feel at 3x3 we always look for new trends in illustration, unfortunately the recession slowed down that progress. Art directors were avoiding taking chances so while the work was strong there wasn’t much movement toward new work. That’s changed over the past couple of years and we’re pleased to see a number of really wonderful examples in this year’s show that push illustration forward. Brian’s work exemplifies that direction.”

Our annual is slatted for delivery in early December but we’re taking orders now for both the printed Annual and the digital edition. Winners and art directors will receive a complimentary eBook of the Annual once it’s released. Winners receive a discount on the print edition, our Best of Show winners receive a free copy.

The 3x3 Illustration Annual No.15 will be available on select newsstands and bookstores worldwide. Order your copy today.

3x3 Illustration Annual No.15
ISBN: 978-1-946750-08-2
Published early-December
480+ pages

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Funny Ladies at The New Yorker - This Thursday

The Society of Illustrators is holding a panel discussion featuring your favorite funny ladies!

Hosted by Liza Donnelly the curator of Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Cartoonists Then and Now, and a cartoonist herself. She'll be joined by cartoonists Roz Chast, Liana Finck, Carolita Johnson and The New Yorker Cartoon Editor Emma Allen.

This event will be followed with a reception to celebrate the exhibit.

Open to the public. Free to attend. Cash bar.

Thursday, July 26
Begins at 6:30pm
Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators 
128 East 63rd Street
New York, New York

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rich Tu Talks Tomorrow

MFA Visual Narrative and SVA Library present a talk by MTV's Vice President of Design Rich Tu (MFA 2009 Illustration as Visual Essay), who will present his work, process and the story behind it all.

Storyteller's Series: Rich Tu
Wednesday, July 11
6:30 – 8:00pm
SVA Library West, 133/141 West 21st Street


Open to the Public

Rich Tu is currently a VP of Design at MTV. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’ prestigious Illustration as Visual Essay program and received the “Young Guns” award from the Art Directors Club. He has exhibited at galleries and festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, as well as the SCOPE Miami festival, during Miami’s Art Basel week. Commercially, his clients include the New York Times, The New Yorker, Business Week, Alfa Romeo, Bombay Sapphire, G-Shock, Nike, Converse, American Express, NPR, NorthFace Purple Label, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Skype, Fuse TV and Hamilton The Musical, among others.

Chris Ware Featured on Art21

Happened to stumble onto a segment of Artists of the 21st Century, aka Art21, which is a wonderful series covering contemporary art. And surprise, surprise their Chicago segment featured comic artist and illustrator Chris Ware.

Take a look. And a interesting write-up. Also check out Nick Cave, also in the Chicago segment.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pictoplasma Contest for Young Artists

Create the characters you wish were there!
Pictoplasma, the world’s leading festival of character design and art, has teamed up with Adobe Project 1324 to invite all global youth (ages 18—24) to augment the banality of everyday by giving a face to their imaginary friends and secret sidekicks! 

Starting with a regular photograph of a typical setting like a nearby grocery store, the office elevator, the school gates, or the front doorstep, entrants are invited to add a character (or characters) to the scene. Any medium or style can be used to alter the original photo—from drawing and collage to digital painting or vector illustration.

Five winners will be awarded with a fellowship, including travel costs and attendance at the 15th Pictoplasma Berlin Conference May 2019—and the opportunity to exhibit in an exclusive group show.

The Secret Sidekick Challenge deadline for submissions is June 25, 2018.

About Pictoplasma 
Each spring, Pictoplasma transforms Berlin into the international meeting point for a diverse scene of artists and creatives, trailblazing the face of tomorrow's visual culture. The annual festival showcases the latest character design trends in fine and urban arts, illustration, animation, and graphic design. 

Creators and producers meet for a fun-filled and offbeat conference, cutting-edge screenings bring the latest animation eye-candy to the big screen, and exhibitions invite the general public to experience original works and outstanding character craftsmanship. 

A second conference takes place later in the year in New York. As the educational counterpart, each fall the Pictoplasma Academy masterclass in Berlin invites a selected group of international graduate students and young professionals to kick-start their careers as character designers in close collaboration with high-profile artists, filmmakers, and producers. 

Lars Denicke and Peter Thaler
Plantagenstr. 31
13347 Berlin
Phone + 49 30 4611 2611

Art by Bakea