Black & White Heroes

These monochrome super hero interpretations by Marko Manev of are seriously impressive. I think my favourite has to be the silver surfer, closely followed by the Dark Knight…

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Bravery Exists

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The studio smelt clean, but not clinical, looked modern with relaxed lighting and a cool ambience. Rap music boomed somewhere in the back: it spoke of an alien culture to me, another world. A studious thrum filled the air, a high-pitched chatter carefully marking ink on skin in the background. Businesslike.

I asked for Gold Frank, we waited and a head popped up. ‘Can I help?’ Introductions done, a mutual friend. Perching on the edge of a pool table we talked about script, freehand, ‘on the day we’ll just do it’ he said. Trust, I thought. Stripped off, a bicep exposed. Silently impressed. My card marked, deposit left, the flash just a memory.

So my first tattoo, a swift decision made after a long gestation. Wednesday arrives, but the nerves don’t. A late appointment gives my mind plenty of time to work its magic, to no avail. In the pre sitting interview, we discuss what I want and where I want it. He gets down to sketching it out on paper. Freehand curves, traditional methods. Brush pens, red, orange. Biro sharpens the image, tight curves are carefully but swiftly drawn, transferred on to carbon. Transferred onto my skin, it feels cold and smells of alcohol.

The preparation of the equipment takes some time. Meticulous and clinical. The method is reassuring and fascinating. Pots of ink set in vaseline anchors, needles cracked out of pristine packets, bright shiny heads, diamond textured glint in the light. Laid on the bed, the cold vinyl against my skin, I remark. ‘You’ll soon warm up’ comes the knowing reply.

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Clingfilm wraps the resting pad and the silence in the studio before the needle starts is heavy with anticipation. ‘This your first?’ he asks, ‘Yes’ I say, ‘any tips?’ A pause ‘just lay still’. He begins his work, under the lights. I focus on the leaves barely hanging on to the branches outside the window. It’s hard to describe the pain, so conscious was I dealing with it at the time. I can see why people get addicted to this pain: it ebbs and flows, stops and starts, it scratches, burns, sears, tickles. The artist is expert, moving quickly, wiping, seemingly aware of pain thresholds.

I lose track of time; the two-hour session is a blur of concentration and realisation that my skin will never be the same again. The bare bones of the script is worked on and the design takes shape, ‘I’ll do whatever I think when I’m doing it, see how I feel’ he’d said. There is a bond of trust between artist and sitter, unusually for me I am quite relaxed about the end result. It’s out of my hands and I quite like that freedom.

My left eye waters with the pinching pain, palms sweat coldly. He was right: I did warm up. During cool interludes, I steal brief glimpses of the emerging ink amidst swollen red flesh and smeared blood. I have pins and needles in my right arm, quite literally and in turn, loud rap music throbs in time with the dancing of the needle. The main outline was the hardest to bear, the shading a breeze by comparison and at last came the fine detailed work which brought another dimension to the pain, exquisitely short and sharp.

And then, at once, he was finished. Seemingly satisfied with his endless filigree of curves, the artist sets down his needles, cleanly wipes the inside of my arm and invites me to take a look in the mirror. I’m elated, the complex and delicate artwork serves its fleshy canvas properly. Photographs are taken, iPhones at the ready, Instagram images posted.

The vast inky wound (for it is so) is wrapped in cling film and taped top and bottom with masking tape. The instruction is to slather the tattoo in Bepanthen (nappy rash cream, finding a new market clearly) and keep it out of water. I tentatively pull on my jacket, the tight leather sleeves  make me wince. The balance is paid, a handshake and I’m out of the door into the darkened streets, drinking in the cool autumn air.

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Maverick creative thinking shreds marketing nerves

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I’m a huge fan of movie posters and have wittered on endlessly on this blog to anyone who has enough patience to read about my love for them. There are some great and some not so great examples around at the moment and one of the best examples of brilliant creativity in this space  had nothing to do with the actual marketing team, but a street artist.

The dude who goes by the name Poster Boy NYC is known for ‘putting his spin’ on NYC  signage with anti-consumerism, anti-everything satire. What he’s done for a poster of  Hugh Jackman’s latest movie, The Wolverine, however, is a genius work of marketing that should embarrass the studio team assigned to this film for not thinking of it first. The actual poster for the film features the simple image of Wolverine with claws bared. In the his version, however, the posters on either side are made to look as though they have been clawed by Marvel’s hirsute superhero.

It’s a piece of sharp thinking, sure to get the official creative team looking at their shoes and coughing. Sign him up, boys.

Ansel Adams

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If you love photography in any way then you will know all about Ansel Adams. His strikingly beautiful black and white photography of the American wilderness is timeless and majestic.

All students of photography will know his work inside out and those of us who haven’t looked too closely will surely recognise his iconic work from many an office calendar or coffee table book. His most famous images were amazingly shot in the 1920s and 30s and their freshness to this day is testament to the visionary talent of the photographer.

Adams was one of the first photographers to embrace  ‘photographic realism’ – photographs that showed everything pin sharp, as the eye sees it. Up until then, photography was very much an extension of romantic art with blurred, artistic edges and soft focus techniques. Adams was also a founding member of the F64 club – an elite bunch of photographers committed to the realistic depiction of their subject matter using the smallest aperture on the camera lens which delivered the deepest depth of field.

I was also intrigued by Adams’ criticism by fellow documentary photographers who felt that he and his fellow F64ers should be photographing the grim reality of dustbowl recession in America. Adams remained committed to his work and stuck resolutely to nature photography, claiming not unreasonably that his work was art someone had to continue with it amidst the gloom of the period. Some of the most iconic photography comes from this period with Dorothea Lange leading the field with unflinching investigative journalism  and Ansel Adams creating timeless, nourishing images.

A large body of Adams work is currently being shown at The National Maritime museum in Greenwich, with prints that don’t travel cross the Atlantic that often. I made the trip across London not really knowing what to expect as photography exhibitions can leave me a little ambivalent.

The show was beautifully staged and full of drama. Well designed with lots of moments throughout, the exhibition contained a wide selection of water related imagery – which is much of his work to be honest – showcasing the handsome imagery to full effect.

Adams huge body of work must take some interpreting. He was a hugely prolific image maker (not taker, please note) and finding a meaningful narrative in his work must take some doing as many of his images are riffs on texture, time, repetition, movement, reflection and stillness. In some ways his work is documentary in style and to that end, can lack depth in the beauty presented.

But it is the large format prints that take the breath away and this is where he excels. Where the vignettes titillate, the vistas take the viewer by surprise, delivering life-size monochromatic Californian scenery. My personal favourite s winter storm clearing the half dome in Yosemite, an image alive with the unpredictability of a winter storm in the High Sierra.

The show is well worth catching but you’d need to look sharp: it finishes at the end of April, but it is well worth the effort and the rather excellent National Maritime Museum adds to the value of the excursion.

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Branded Superheroes

This is an interesting exercise by Italian designer Roberto Vigati Santos.

Take well-known superheroes. Then add global super brands and make the most appropriate connections.

Hey Presto – we get a result that I’m not 100% comfortable with but one that’s probably closer to the real world.

I like the combination on commercial brand prowess and superpowers.

Enjoyable.

 

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Marvel Pixar-ised

These made me smile. I love Marvel and I love Pixar and these affectionate mash-ups are a joy.

They are the work of artist Phil Postma came up with the idea of interpreting our beloved superheroes in the style of Pixar.

Can you spot which Pixar movie character he has used for each superhero?

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One line portraits

These ultra minimalist portraits created by artist Quibe are stunning in their economy.

They capture so much by leaving so much out.

 

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