Reviews

Reviews of various things from art books, to postcard collections and everything inbetween.

Pick of the Week: Fischerspooner New Truth

fischerspooner new truthFischerspooner: “New Truth”

Fischerspooner: New Truth edited by Meredith Mowder is a book about the art and journey of the band Fischerspooner in the beginning. It`s 336 pages, and large format bombard you with a well curated and exact viewpoint of how Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner formed the band in 1998 and made their amalgamation of sound, art, and everything performance art,  the art pop project that just happened to release music. Fischerspooner is one of those bands of my 20`s who were my soundtrack to everything I did, even though their music itself seems so random and hard to pinpoint what exactly made it brilliant and meaningful. For my group of friends at the time Fischerspooner was EVERYTHING, and I think out of us 10 or so people we had never actually even seen Fischerspooner madness live. We just fed off of the music and videos, insane interviews and the rumblings of what happened live in New York. These two art majors from the Art Institute of Chicago made this happen from what appears to be a shear will to make music and preform, and I can tell you the amount of time in the book during interviews that Casey Spooner talks about experimental theater will make you roll your eyes a little. The book is love letter to this aspect of the band, as it documents the 1998 to 2003 period of their `band ‘career in-depth to an extent I think only a truth lover of art would appreciate (and maybe an appreciation of the band). The art pop performance project entailed a group of 25 performers and artists at the beginning and this book shares much of their story as the two central figures. There are ticket stubs, slides, album artwork, set lists, grainy photos of shows, professional photography of set and props, and wigs. There is also essays by curators and others in the art scene and an interview of Casey and Warren to give context to what you`re viewing. The book is largely trying to give the background to the project itself, and all the little elements that were obsessed about and apart of each unique performance during the beginning. Yes, there is a full page of a fake moustache, followed by a press photograph of a member of the band wearing it. That`s what you should expect when going through this book, if nothing else. And yes, I loved it, every moment of it.

a look at book:

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Review

fujifilm-instax-mini-90Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Review

The Instax Mini 90 by Fujifilm is the newest camera in their credit card sized instant photography range. The Mini 90 is a follow up to the almost forgotten Instax Mini 50 series.  What separates the Mini 90 and 50s before it from the colorful Instax 7(s) and 8 is the ability to customize your shot with advance settings while still being point and shoot. Included on the camera are multiple flash settings, basic lighting options, more shooting modes, a timer, and a tripod socket. New to this version alone however are the bulb and double exposure mode and a rechargeable battery which makes this camera the best they come up with for mini instant photography. The 90 also give offers instead of the bright colors and oddly shaped body of the 7 & 8’s a plastic and leather combination that holds and feels more like a camera (a design they’ve termed Neo Classic). Shoot modes include: Standard, Marco, Party, Kids, Landscape, Double Exposure and Bulb with 4 lighting modes of Normal, Light, Lighter, and Dark. As well you have Flash modes: automatic, forced firing, suppressed, and red eye reduction with option to turn on a self-timer for 1 or two shots.

Now for example photos and my review, you can also check out my Instax Film Guide.

Portraitinstax mini toronto (10)

Self-Portraithamicat instax mini film (1)

Catsinstax mini toronto (12)

Group Shotinstax mini toronto (2)

Landscapelomography instax mini film camping vancouver island long beach (15)

Still Life
instax-mini-film-instant-photography

Double Exposure
instax mini toronto (13)

Motionfuji-instax-mini-lake-ontario

Macromacro fail(I have not good example macro shots because they are all fails)

Sunnyspring instax mini film (14)

Cloudyfuji instax mini film lake ontario (3)

Duskhamicat instax mini film (9)

Sunrise/Sunsetfujifilm instax mini film

Direct Sunfall in instax film (5)

Shadefall in instax (2)

Nightfuji-instax-mini-film-15

Flashhalloween instax mini film (5)

Review

At the time I bought it last summer I was really wondering if it was worth it, especially as I really had my eye on the old Mini 50S in piano finish which was the same price as the Mini 8 and had almost identical features to the Mini 90 besides being the older model. However if shoot often with instant film and enjoy having a new camera with accessibility to film – ­­this camera will make you much happier than its contemporaries. Before I start reviewing and dissecting the Instax Mini 90, I want to state that I emphatically believe that it is the best camera option for mini instant film, even beyond the range of Fujifilm’s own cameras (hello Lomo’Instant) and the price is worth it. The only opposition to buying it over the others is personal preference for how it looks , not wanting to buy the higher price point (I bought mine for $60 more than the Instax Mini 8 but slightly cheaper than the Lomo’Instant) and the biggest one, no accessories (additional lens types and colourful cases). Like with any Instax film camera there is plenty of faults you can find with all of them including manual options, ability to use in all situation, and the viewfinder in name a few. If you want my opinion the best instant camera would be a vintage Polaroid camera compatible with current FujifilmFP100-C film but we are talking about cameras that use mini Instax film so I will digress. In my experience the Instax Mini 90 is the strongest out of them all and there is no element to it that is weaker or inferior to any other model when it comes to its technology.

Modes

The modes works well and allow you to use the camera in almost any situation. My favourite modes are the Party, Landscape and standard which I use constantly and get great results. My least favourite is Macro which I’ve never successful gotten a clear shot with despite trying various distance and subject matter. My second least favourite is Multiple Exposure, I know it might be hard to believe that someone who posts bi-weekly double exposures doesn’t enjoy this mode but I don’t. The results it gives me are easily over exposed with little details and I just can’t get behind it. I also not one to do typical multiple exposures so maybe the average person would still love this (I know it’s why I decided to buy the camera in the end). The other modes, Kids and Bulb I never use – I don’t know why I just don’t. One thing I will mention while I’m talking about the modes is the fact that Party and Kids for some reason do not allow you to shoot with no flash on. It infuriates me because unless I’m indoors or its night I mostly shoot with no flash and for them to arbitrarily not allow you, pisses me off especially since I use Party mode a lot. Although it can be said that the Mini 7/8’s don’t even have real modes so my negatives comments you have to take into perspective anything is better than nothing.

Lighting

The automatic Normal lighting is really good and versatile although it can be tricky as I’ve noticed at certain times in the afternoon you tend you get blue tinted photos for some reason. On bright sunny days when you are not shooting in shadows I recommend Dark as Normal will always be too bright. As for Light it’s good to use when shooting in shadows, but I haven’t had good experience using it in the afternoon as the sun is going down as it tends to make images more blurry and oddly have little contrast. Lighter is useless and blurry and has over exposed all dark situations I’ve used it on. Keep in mind I am referring to shooting by the hand as most people I am assume are not shooting with tripods. The two lighter options would drastically improve if used on a tripod as my biggest concern is the how blurry they are (I haven’t not tried this so I might be wrong). Lastly DON’T point at the sun; you will always get a black hole that ruins the shot.

Flash

For the flash modes as I’ve stated I solo try to shoot with the flash off. However I have used it at night and indoor and the default flash and red eye flash work great. It’s powerful and doesn’t wash out too much if things are at a good distance. However you want to make sure your subjects are not too close, I’d say anything an arm reach away (sorry all selfies will be over exposed ghosts). As for Non-flash I love, I do not trust any camera to know when the lighting is okay for flash or not, one reason why the Mini 90 is amazing because you can turn that off. But by default the automatic flash will be on and if you accidently leave it on, or are in the two modes that you can’t turn off the flash it will be a drunk fool and shoot in the middle of a sunny day just because. Automatic flash is the worst thing in any camera, full stop. Another peeve of mine is that I have to reselect the flash mode anytime I change the shooting mode, it’s annoying and it leads to that automatic flash being on when I didn’t realize and blinding someone during the middle of the day.

Normal mode – flash went of automatically fall in instax flash

No Flashfall in instax film (4)

Viewfinder

The viewfinder for me is the most frustrating part of the camera. I feel like I have a better time shooting if I ignored it completely. However when you are spending so much money per shot, it’d be nice to actually be able to frame it and what you see in the viewfinder is never what you’ll get. I’ve even started to try and figure out how to compensate for it and that just ends me up with worse shots. Now I’ve used the other versions and they are worse but I have to point it out because I’d love a true viewfinder and it’s a sour point in all the Instax cameras.

Other Features

One thing on the camera I cannot fault is the battery. For starts it has a rechargeable battery which I could just stop there as that’s already such an improvement. However not only do you no longer have to buy and carry around replacement batteries that weigh down you and your camera but the battery is amazing. I’ve owned the camera for a year and a half and charged it twice; once when it arrived and again a second time this summer. Now I don’t use the flash that often but it blows my mind that it lasts that long. The camera also has ‘selfie’ mirror on the front which is just the highly reflective shutter button that I didn’t even notice was there (I now no longer wonder why all mine turn out framed so badly). Speaking of things I didn’t notice, there are two shutter buttons on the camera. The top shutter is in the convention shutter button area and the second is on the front acting as the mirror and with the power switch around it – who knew? I use the one on the top exclusively and forgot the other even existed until now. Holding the camera now to test it I don’t know what position I’d be holding the camera in where that button would be more useful and comfortable that the other one. Luckily for me I’ve never accidently used it so it’s still a good design in my books as it’s there for people who want it but it doesn’t get in the way either. Other random features are the back mode screen and the film counter which do their job well. Only thing I can note is the film counter has on occasion told me the incorrect number of film available but that was after the camera was jammed in my bag and took 5 shots of the inside and one other time when I opened the back while having power on the camera. There is also a tripod mount that I have not used but it’s one of those musts and not enough toy cameras have one so I appreciate it. It also came with a very nice, fashionable and long leather neck strap that I love, and you can change it out for any other type of strap like a hand one. It’s also really light which probably in part has to do with not using batteries for power, and being the smallest of Instax camera. The size of it also makes it easy to fit into any of my smaller bags, you can load up with packs of film and still have plenty of room.

10 More Instax Mini 90 Photos:

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Pick of the Week: Haunted Air

haunter airHaunted Air

Haunted Air by Ossian Brown is a 216 paged book that shows off one man’s collection of vintage Halloween photography, from ghosts to ghouls. It includes a foreword by David Lynch and a prologue by Geoff Cox and a brief historical note. It contains hundreds of devilish photographs taken on Halloween from the turn of the last century, and even includes one tintype that is likely dated back before 1900s.  The photographs themselves are haunting and encapsulate the spirit of the holiday and incredible for one man’s personal collection. I enjoyed the way the photographs are presented as is, which I feel is important when showing vintage photography. However and this something I normally don’t talk about in my reviews as monetary value is very subjective to the person, I felt Haunted Air was lacking in the quality and quantity for the price I paid. The book is about two times too big for even the largest of photographs shown inside of it, the photographs are just swimming in white background and I think that greatly detracts from them. Not to mention about 50% of the pages don’t even feature any photography on them at all, leaving so much wasted space and adding to the book feeling lacking; the 216 pages probably yields less than 100 photographs which is kind of absurd to me. As well none of the photographs have any information on them, no dates, no locations, nothing about their historical context except and inferred interpretation that they are taken around Halloween. Not to mention with a quick Google search you can find the finest and creepiest of all vintage Halloween photography that exists that is vastly and far superior to any photograph you will find in this book. I understand one man is not going to have all the greatest Halloween photographs from a certain period of time at his grasp but why create a book of your collection if it isn’t worth being seen in its entirety? As well the foreword by David Lynch is most likely included at the beginning or at all mostly because of whom he is (and I love his movies). It’s not even close to a decent foreword as it basically can be summed up as “I had a friend who showed me these photographs and I like them”, it doesn’t even mention the core of the collection is based around the holiday so if you picked up this book and read the forward and wanted to gleam what the concept was, you couldn’t. And on the other hand the prologue is basically paragraphs and paragraphs about what can be described as poetry about Halloween using even word in the dictionary that is even remotely connected to the holiday. At times I didn’t even know what Geoff Cox was on about, it sounded like he was describing murder half the time. I also have a bone to pick when he says “These are pictures of the dead” – no they are not, they are photos of people who have most likely died but they were very much alive in the photo. It’s a rubbish thing to say when there are many examples of photography of actual dead people, a morbid and fascinating practice of the last 1800s that on its own is far more hauntings and fascinating than this entire collection. The historical note is the only thing I enjoyed reading and should have been at the forward as the photos are nothing without their historical context to begin with. I adore vintage photography, and if this book was half the number of pages and half the price I would be raving about it right now despite not being the greatest example of vintage Halloween photography. I’d love it just because it was one man’s collection and I respect the work he must have done to collect it. However it’s not, it’s a grossly overpriced and completely lacking in almost every way. If you are dying to see more vintage Halloween photography than what you can see for free online, it’s the only book like it so like me you may want to have it anyways despite of what I’ve said but if you don’t fall into the extremely niche subsection – I wouldn’t bother.

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Review: Gil Elvgren All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups

Gil ElvgrenGil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups

Gil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups is a 240 paged 9x12in hardcover book that documents some of the best in pin-up illustrations from the twentieth century. I actually picked up this book not being too familiar with Gil Elvgren himself but just interested in getting an illustration book of pin-ups. I’m really glad I did because not only was Gil Elvgren on the forefront of the pin-up & advertising illustrations period but his work within it was exceptional and he is without a doubt one of the masters of the American Pin-Up era. The book includes a 33 page essay by Charles G. Martignette about Elvgren that is very well written and gives a lot of context to era and other artists at the time. As for the artwork featured in this book it includes his illustrations of pin-ups and mostly does not include any of his photography or advertisement work that didn’t contain pin-ups besides a few. There are a total of 534 illustrations featured in this book, each including the name and date of each piece. While it certainly leaves nothing out I would have preferred that the book was organized differently. Though it still beautifully styled and easy to see each illustration it suffers from being very overcrowded and often having too much going on the in places. I much prefer the pages that feature a solid white background over the ones they choose to add color blocking to. However over all I understand the want to show and feature all his work so it’s easy to overlook the design choices. I honestly love this book and haven’t even given it enough time because there is simply just so much to see. Even though I was not familiar with him prior to buying the book, I was definitely familiar with his work just from seeing it in passing and I’m sure most people recognize classic pin-ups of his so it is a great book if you are interested in pin-up illustrations. I am much happier with this book that I think I would have been buying a pin-up genre book instead. Most genre type books are far too plenty so it’s hard to find one that is of good quality and I think this book even though it only of one artist of the period it really encapsulates what it was all about. I highly recommended if like me you are just dipping your toes into pin-up artwork or a hard-core fan, and if you want to have a sneak peak there is a look below.

a closer look at the book:

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A Year of Reviews

james jean memu postcardsHave a look back at the last year of Reviews and Picks of the Week! Whether it’s an art book or some shop I found on Etsy, I love reviewing cameras and books and showing you postcards, stickers and more that I find online. I also started to do Monthly Treasures this year that show you my online wish list and have really enjoyed it so look forward to that continuing in 2015.   I’m thinking for next year of doing monthly comic/manga reviews as my pile of those keeps growing and also doing a monthly featured zine as well. Don’t know if I can fit it all in on Monday’s post but we will see.

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Pick of the Week: Hell Babies by Junko Mizuno

junko mizuno (1)Pick of the Week: Junko Mizuno’s “Hell Babies”

Hell Babies is a 2006 art book by artists Junko Mizuno that features her illustrations of surreal female characters that can be described as kawaii, disturbing, sexual and gothic all at once. Hell Babies is 94 pages and features her work from 1998 to 2001 with a padded sparkly plastic cover (I love this cover). She divides the book into 3 sections, starting with Hell Babies from 1998-1999, Vulgarity Babies 2000, Baby Files 2001 and an extra Unpublished Babies section that is on shiny cardstock. Each page in most cases features 1 manga/comic style illustration of a particular baby, usually along with her name in English and Japanese. The section for Baby Files is slightly difference and features a short story about each baby which I enjoyed very much. All the illustrations featured are very reminiscent of her currently style although less refined. It’s a good look into the start of her career and each illustration is very unique and indivialistic. The book is very well curated and flows nicely together, each illustration deserves its place in the book and it doesn’t grow boring or repetitive at any point. As an extra bonus at the end of the book there is page that can be cut out to make a paper doll with several outfits and accessories. Hell Babies would be a wonderful addition to your collection if you appreciated Junko Mizuno’s art, however if you are more use to her newer work you might want to pick up Flare instead. I have the Upgraded version which features the extra Unpublished Babies section for those of you wanting to pick this up (some versions are signed by the artists as well). I picked up mine a few months ago from Akatako.

a closer look at the book:

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Pick of the Week: Naoto Hattori “Twisted Surreal” Postcards

Naoto Hattori

Pick of the Week: Twister Surreal Postcards

This week’s pick is artist Naoto Hattori’s postcard book “Twisted Surreal”. Twisted Surreal is a limited edition book signed by Hattori that contains 32 postcards of her paintings. It features various paintings from her backlog mostly dated from 2005 to 2009. Overall I really enjoyed the selection of paintings and found they were very cohesive and went together well. The postcards show a variety of her artwork and include most of the major paintings that she is well known for. The postcards are an okay size for mini prints at 4 by 6inches but do have black framing around so the image is a bit smaller than that. They are printed on quality card stock (thinner than my preferred cardstock) and have a shiny texture front and matt back that is good for writing. The postcards feature a generic address and postcard stamp area, but do contain detailed information about the painting like the name, date, original size and material list.  As well there is a gas mask detail over the writing area that adds some flare to the otherwise standard back. These postcards are a wonderful way to view her work however they are pretty typical postcards and only worth the purchase if you are not a fan of her work.   For more about her artwork, check out her site and for other items beside postcard check out her main shop that features prints, originals and additional items like t-shirts, stickers and more.

a closer look at a few of the postcards:

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Pick of the Week: Hikari Shimoda Postcards

Hikari Shimoda (5)

Pick of the Week: Hikari Shimoda Postcards

This week’s pick is the Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda postcard set available through Akatako. This set includes 10 postcards featuring her paintings from 2013 and a personally signed sticker. Shimoda work is inspired by the anime and manga she grew up with and the idea that children are desired by society to save the world. I’m obsessed with her work and love her unique depiction of children and humanity.  There is so much expression in her portraits that I couldn’t resist picking up these postcards. The postcards are good quality and have a shiny front and back and come in very minimal packaging (a blue envelope). The paintings featured for the most are not full sized which is a shame and for that reason would likely not be as suitable to be used as mini-prints but I do love that she included the name and medium of each painting and displaying them much like she would in a gallery. Over all I think for the price and considering the rarity of being able to see a piece of her art in person let alone how limited her prints are this is a great way to enjoy her work . If you want to see more of her work, check out her website and Akatako also has originals and limited prints of her work as well. Below I have a closer look at each postcard and the sticker signed by Hikari Shimoda.

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Pick of the Week: Junko Mizuno Manga

junko mizuno (14)

Junko Mizuno Manga Review

Today I am reviewing Junko Mizuno’s manga Cinderella and Princess Mermaid. I’ve been familiar with Mizuno’s art and toy designs for a while now so I was excited to check out some of her manga. The first one I read was her adaptation of Cinderella and it was a great introduction into her as a manga artist. The artwork enthralled me from the get go, with its bright vibrant colors to the character design. Everything felt uniquely Mizuno from the start to the end, which is a weird way to describe to someone not familiar to her work but in short – she creates strong women charactores, there is nudity and surreal elements and you will probably want to get a tattoo of it (or at least I do). The story was also really good and I found myself having fun with her play on the classic story and enjoying myself. Even better is there is stickers in the back and a short interview from her about how she got into being a manga artists. It was fun and felt along the lines of Johnny the Homicidal Manic, witty, morbid humour. I would highly recommend it as a manga because it’s feast for your eyes and a really good read on top of that. She does have other adaptations as well like Hansel and Gretel but I wanted to check out one of her original stories next. I went into reading Princess Mermaid with a lot of anticipation off the back of Cinderella and wasn’t met with the same type of excitement. Princess Mermaid is definitely the weaker of the two. It doesn’t help that the color scheme of the manga just felt really muted and flat after the vibrant Cinderella. The artwork itself was still well executed and detailed but it looks like Cinderella color scheme was put through the wash by accident. I wouldn’t have minded that as much if the story has been on par with the other manga. My biggest qualm with it is the story. The character’s themselves do not have a very well fleshed out back story and I found myself not caring what happened to any of the characters later on because there was no sense of loss or connection to them. Without getting into any spoilers it just felt hard to follow the sequence of events presented and the flashbacks weren’t well incorporated into the manga to the point where it was confusing if it was a flashback at all. Overall I still enjoyed the manga however it wouldn’t be something I’d likely read again. Like the first one it does come with extras, in this case a mini illustratored only story and some postcards. I’d encourage you if you like her work or want a manga style verions of twisted fairytales to check out Cinderalla however I’d pass on Princess Mermaid. Hoping to check out more of her manga in the future!

check out the artwork for Princess Mermaid & Cinderalla:

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Lomography Wednesday: Holga Lens Review

holga lens review

The Holga lens for Nikon and Canon is the classic Holga lens with various mount for most DSLR camera. The lens is supposed to transform your digital camera into a toy camera using the unique Holga lens to create distorted and whimsical photos without the need of a full Holga camera or using film. It has the same focusing options as the original lens (mountain, crowd, group, 1 person) and even vignettes. I’ve owned my Holga lens for Nikon for almost 2 years now and actually have the Diana version of it too (review here) and thought it was about time that I review to. I will do a comparison between the two sometime later this summer as well so look out for that. To start I thought I’d show you what’s possible with the lens and show you  side by side comparisons of my Nikon D7000 with a regular DSLR lens to the Holga lens.

Landscape and group photos

holga lens review (8)holga lens review (2)Profile shots holga lens review (2)holga lens review (13)Action Shotsholga lens reviewBlack and Whiteholga lens review (15)Flash
holga lens reviewDouble Exposuresholga lens review (14)

*my Nikon DSLR has a double exposure mode built in so only possible if your camera supports it

 Nikon with regular lens and then Holga lens:

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Review: Contactlenses.co.uk

I had the chance to review a ton of Freshlook contact lens for Contactlenses.co.uk this week so I thought I’d share my opinions with you guys in case like me you wear colored contacts! I was given 4 different colors to check out: gray, pure hazel, green and blue. I was really excited for the gray and brown color because I had never tired contact lens in those colors before but I do have previous experience with the green and blue color of Freshlook contacts.  The contacts are opaque colors so even though I have naturally green/blue eyes these contacts are wearable for any shades. I thought the best way to show them off would be taking photos of each so you can see the difference.

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Pick of the Week: Fables

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Pick of the Week: Fables

Fables is a series of comic books created by writer Bill Willingham with various artists and illustrators starting in 2002 and still on going. There are 140 comics so far in the series but for this review I am looking at the deluxe editions instead of the individual comics. I first heard about Fables because the cover art for the first 81 comics was done by one of my favourite artists, James Jean. It wasn’t until the Telltale Game “The Wolf Among Us”  came out though that I made the leap in to the rich fantasy world of Fables **. The story of Fables is based off of characters found in folklore and fairy tales that have been exiled from their fairy-tale homes and into modern day New York to escape from “The Adversary”. The story is rich in detail and contains many different arcs that switch from a variety of genres like murder mystery and other subgenres common to crime fiction. You are introduced to several interesting characters with well-built back stories to help you understand their current circumstance and motivation within the overall story line. I don’t want to go into the story too much for spoiler reasons but for the first few comics Continue reading %s

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Pick of the Week: Pinhole Press “Valentines Day Addition”

pinhole press 1

Pick of the Week: Pinhole Press

Pinhole Press is an online store that specializes in turning your photos into various gifts from cards to magnets and everything in between. There are plenty of online companies that do this but one thing that Pinhole Press offers that is pretty unique is wall decals made with your favourite photos. That’s why I choose them to be my Valentine’s Day pick of the week. I love decals and combing them with your own photos is a great gift whether for friends, family or your significant other. Having a photo to remind you of the good times is something everyone likes and decals are renter friendly and functional.  They offer 3 sizes of photo decals from 3x4in, 5x7in and 11x17in at a very reasonable price. The shipped mine within a few days and I got them in less than a week so you can get them just in time for Valentine’s Day! Below are the photos of my decals I picked up and a review if you want more information.

pinhole press (1)pinhole press (3)pinhole press (2)

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Pick of the Week: The Polaroid Book

Polaroid Book (5)

Pick of the Week: The Polaroid Book

The Polaroid Book is a hardcover 352 paged book about Polaroid photography dating back from its inception to the 1990’s. The photography within the book is a selection taken from The Polaroid Collection of Photography that was started by the company’s founder Edwin Land and landscape photographer Ansel Adams. The book starts off with a wonderful description about how the Polaroid Collection started and about how these two great men meet. It adds insight to the curating of this collection that is valuable from a historic point of view as well as being very interesting. There is also an incomplete guide to Polaroid cameras which is very silly since it only covers the years from 1954 to 1978. As well there is a great list at the end that gives as many details as possible about each photo like location, date it was taken, title, artist, and the film used. Oddly enough each written part is translated into French and German on top of the English, which explains why this book is over 300 pages long. There are around 250 Polaroid photos contained in the book that cover the gamut and cover pretty much all facets of instant photography. The photography represents use many various film types, sizes, artist techniques, after effects, subject matter, time periods and so much more. There is no rock left unturned with work from great photographers of that time, well known artists, and even amateurs. Edwin Land’s desire to collect Polaroid photography was very fruitful and end up with a magnificent collection of both color photographs and black and white. I can only imagine what viewing the whole collection would be like. This is very much the definitive addition of Polaroid photography and within it you can find a wonderment of photography from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. This book is very much a treasure and is beyond engrossing. It must be said though that this book is not appropriate for all audiences due to its large amount of nudity (not a fan myself of the amount of nudity featured in the book). Regardless the stunning photography contained in this book mixed with the historical journey of Polaroid is worth picking up this book.

a look of some of the pages below:

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Saturday Review: Naughty Girls Paper Dolls

Naughty Girls Paper Dolls (3)Naughty Girls Paper Dolls

Naughty Girls is a book of mature paper dolls styled after the pin art of the 1940’s and 50’s. The book contains 5 paper dolls and 35 costume choices for your titillating pleasure. As an enthusiast of paper dolls and pin-ups I fell in love when I saw this book and had to buy it. The artwork is very faithful to the calendar artwork of the pin-up era so flipping through this book will definitely put a smile on your face if you enjoy that era and the styling is bang on. However if you are viewing this book from a paper doll perspective it is disappointing. The biggest concern I have is the paper quality for the dolls as they are put them on the same paper as the outfits, simply meaning not cardstock. So if you did want to use these as proper paper dolls you will have to adhere them to a more stable cardstock or paper. That is a great disappointment for me to find out (damn online shopping). As well there is no way to remove the outfits or dolls besides carefully cutting out with scissors. Although this is not as big of a deal it is nice when makers of paper dolls put the extra effort into creating pages where you can pop out designs or at least put in an outline for easier cutting.  They do however use one sided pages only and have tabs drawn in so clearly they have intended for people cutting out the dolls and costumes. There is even instructions at the end of the book detailing how to make braces for the dolls, however it should be noted that there is not brace diagrams included merely the 1 example one. So my advice if you want to pick up this book make sure you are willing to do the extra work to make these into paper dolls otherwise you will find this book frustrating or like me simply leave it in its book form. For anyone into pinup art only, my advice is buy a book simply dedicated to that as this book is intended only for paper doll use and although the artwork is good it’s better to view the original work instead.

A closer look at the book:

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Lomography Review: Disderi Robot Camera

lomographyDisderi Robot Camera Review

The Disderi Robot 3 Lens Camera is an all plastic toy camera with a fixed focus, shutter, and aperture (f8) that uses 35mm film. It has 3 lens and roughly cost $10 depending on what store you pick it up from (mine was 10$ with free shipping). There are other robot cameras with 2 or 4 lenses as well but the Robot 3 is the one being reviewed today. There is not much more information about this camera or the company Disderi but it’s a relatively basic operational camera. Lets get into some example shots and then I’ll give my thoughts on the Disderi Robot 3 camera.

Portrait
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Self Portrait
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GroupRobot044 (1024x703)

Bright Sunny Day
Robot051 (1024x698)

Cloudy
Disderi Robot Camera (27) (1024x692)

Shade
Disderi Robot Camera (35) (1024x687)

Dusk
Robot036 (1024x704)

Inside
Disderi Robot Camera (29) (1024x698)
*this by a big window on a sunny day

Still Life
Disderi Robot Camera (2) (1024x690)

Motion
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LandscapesDisderi Robot Camera (18) (1024x702)

Sideways
Disderi Robot Camera (47) (698x1024)

 Well that’s all of the various situations I could think of for the  Disderi Robot Camera in action. I hope that gives a good idea of what the camera is capable of and different ways it can be utilized

Review:

So let’s get into why I love this camera so much. If you are familiar with my blog this will hardly come as a surprise to you since I’ve been posting photos all the time taken with this camera. The Robot 3 for $10 you get a super light easy to use grab and go camera that takes wonderful photos. I’ve used it with 100 and 400 ISO film and had good results with both, as well it adapts well to various lighting scenarios (worst being when it’s sunny and subject is in shade). My biggest complaint about the Oktomat and other multi-lens cameras are they always looks so muddy and there is little wiggle room between getting a photo that turns out either too dark or over exposed. I don’t have this issue however with the Robot 3. It adjusts well to lightening which is surprising considering it has no settings in which to change and I don’t get random light flares in my photos like the Oktomat which is positive. With that said the biggest strength about the Robot 3 is the way the 3 lens meld into each other creating this top full width shot with the two smaller ones below overlapping each other with an almost oval shape. Most multiple lens camera separate the shots on the film with black bars and this creates a disjoint between the shots so I find this blended way so much more appealing and you can create some really neat shots that way. The shots do look a bit funny when taken vertically instead of horizontal but that’s typical to most multi-lens cameras. The camera is also pretty darn cute, I got the white base with the green robot face and highlights but there is a lot of different options out there just in case you were a fan of this particular color scheme (I love it). The quality of the resulting images is also surprisingly good, I found the fixed focus works well and it can be used in many different situations and give good results. Moving the camera or subject does work depending on the speed but I find when it does blur it is usually a nice effect. There no flash or ability to add a flash so this is limited to being a camera that you can only use during the day and outside. As well the viewfinder is useless. So useless that using it will likely cause your photos to be completely the opposite of what you wanted instead of better. As well the obvious is that there is nothing you can manually set on this camera as every setting is fixed.  That is the only negatives I can think of and for a lot of toy camera those are almost standard negatives. Also worth noting is the Robot 3 is not capable of doing double exposures out of the box (perhaps a way to change way I haven’t really looked into that). I love this camera, it’s been my go to camera all summer, it is just so easy to drop into your bag and click away (the sound the shutter makes btw is so satisfying) and you will not be disappointment when the film gets developed. I suggest getting it for taking fun casual photos of life and friends, I really enjoy it and love the results.

My Top 10 Disderi Robot Camera Photos:

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Saturday Review: Edward Burtynsky “ Manufactured Landscapes ”

manufactured landscapes (4)Edward Burtynsky ” Manufactured Landscapes “

Manufactured Landscapes is a 160 pages hard covered book that covers Edward Burtynsky career as a photographer. Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer who has travelled around Canada and the world capturing scenes that most people would be unfamiliar with. Whether it’s shooting ship stripping in Bangladesh or the results of mining in BC, Burtynsky gets access to places often hidden away from view and inaccessible to most. His work focus is the leftovers from man’s industrial relationship with nature.  And his photography is delivered in the style of grand landscapes so instead of nature’s mountains and rivers we are shown tire mountains and rivers of industrial waste. That isn’t to say his work cannot be haunting or that there isn’t beauty too it, the way he captures the shot it takes you a moment to see what it really is. I am obsessed with his work, the grandiose scale of the landscapes are within themselves such a feat and any photography buff or casual observe can see  the value of his contribution to photography. His work simply is breathtaking, but also disturbing for its implication about modern society and our current environmental crisis and almost denial that this is the reality. It’s an important book (and movie) for people to see but that doesn’t mean I don’t have uses with this book. As specular as the photography is the book presentation a less than ideal for viewing Burtynsky’s work. My biggest issue is for a book featuring literal waste the format seems to insist on there being a lot of wasted pages and you cannot help but think about that when you flipping through a book that seems to have empty pages over and over again (or maybe just me). I could easily see this book being 30 pages less if not more. The intros and essays and “Message from the Sponer” are really overbearing and take up the first 55 pages of the book and serve to add context to Burtynsky’s images but tend to be on the excessive side. I am not a big fan of art books that feel they require essays to explain the context of the artist and believe the images should speak for themselves. To give you a run down on a various portions of writting that start off the book we have: Message from the Sponser, Foreword, Auther’s Acknowlegements, Artist’s Acknowledgements, See the Big Picture, Edward Burtynsky: Traditions and Affinites, Form Versus Portent: Edward Burtynsky’s Endangered Landscapes, The Essentials Element: An Interview…I mean come on, it doesn’t help that there is more at the end of the book like List of Works, Chronolgogy, Selected Exhibitions, Public Collections, Selected Bibliography. I don’t believe I have EVER seen a book, art book or not that had in it “A Message from the Sponsers”, that alone literally just makes me cringe. I mean I could go on about the ridiculousness of it all but I wont, I will simply put it out there that this book has a really bad structure to it and even if they kept all of those sections they really should have put all of them at the end of the book and not required people interested in Burtynsky work to flip to page 55 to see his photography. As well I will point out that there is 61 photographs featured in this 160 page book, leaving there to be 66 pages of writing and 29 blank/heading pages. Regardless of the excessive written portion of the book, let us look at the photography portion. To begin with the flow of this book is very stop and start for me over all. They section off the book into various sets sometimes only containing 3 photographs and often only include 1 photo per two pages and never utilize the full two pages to show the largest possible representation of his work which would be ideal consider the scale at which his landscapes are. The size of the book is quiet large so that does help at being able to see the finer details of his work but in my opinion the pages could have been utilized far more and there was no reason that I can see to leave blank pages with nothing on them. Sometimes artist use pages to provide a break between different themes in their work and use the page to provide additional information however that is not the case in this book. I found the pages containing two images far more alluring to the eye than the contrast to the ones left on their own with a white page. His work as well carries one theme throught so the visual breaks are not needed. Despite the issues I have with this book, Burtynsky’s photography is a must see and it’s a really good book if you were interested in photography in general or the ideas that he explores. I have not had a change to look at his other book featuring his photography but I would recommend looking into those ones first before picking up this flawed book.

A selection of pages from the book:

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Pick of the Week: Society6

society6 (10)

Pick of the Week: Society6

Society6 is a store front where you can buy high quality giclée prints and other items like tote bags, mugs, t-shirts, and phone case from artists around the world. I have ordered from Society6 twice before and since I often link to Society6 artists pages in my featured artist posts on Saturdays and will be recommending prints from there on my Christmas picks starting next week I thought I’d share my experience with them. First off though I’d like to mention that this will only be a review of their prints as I’ve never bought any of the other items and will likely not do so in the upcoming future.

The positives:

The giclée prints are definitely high quality and look amazing whether it’s a smaller print or a larger print. The price does depend on the artist however I find the prints across the board are very reasonably priced and since the store often runs a free shipping deal usually once a month it helps with the cost (they actually just finished one this weekend). They also take care when shipping to make sure the prints arrive without any damage, that means smaller prints are shipped with a cardboard square on both sides of the print and for large prints they ship them in a cardboard tube. I’ve never received any damaged prints although you will have to take the time to flatten out the prints if you received them in the tube. My experience with their customer service department was very good as well. The first order I ever got from them I actually noticed imperfections that looked like printing errors in my two large prints and notified customer service. Without any hesitation they notify me that they were sending 2 replacements for the prints in questions at no charge and didn’t requiring me to return the default prints. Although I will mention their contact form is not the easiest to fill out.

society6 (11)closer look at the details of the print: society6 (4)

Minor issues:

It’s very hard to find good artists through their community as the same artists are always featured and even after relooking months later you end up seeing pretty much the same artwork as before. Another minor disappointment is they ship with DHL which is terrible for Canadians because the brokerage price for shipping is very high ($10 consistently regardless of how much you purchased). The second and probably the one that bothers me the most is the 1 inch board…it’s awful. Now I understand the store is aimed at international customers as well as North Americans so the ability to trim down the print to fit a frame is great but…I don’t want to have to do this. It should be a choice. None of the prints will fit any standard frame, in fact some of them are just plain bizarrely sized even if you remove the 1 inch board and when buying you have to remember that they never tell the true size of the actual print as all prints sizes are calculated with the board in mind meaning the print is 2 inches shorter in height and width.

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The Negatives:

The marketplace is not catered but rather generic to satisfy the broadest range of artist’s work as possible. There is no moderation it seems to artists that created their mini stores on the marketplace. Meaning there is no standard sizes it seems between artist and the work itself is not inspected for quality control. As I mention earlier about receiving 2 prints that had printing flaws in them, well after I received the 2nd set of prints with the same errors I look at the original image on the artist’s page and realized that these error were in fact in the image the artist uploaded to Society6 and happened prior to Society6 even printing it off.  It was very disheartening to me that now I have to inspect images very carefully before ordering to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. This seems like something Society6 should have hired employees to do so their customers can enjoy a carefree buying experience of knowing the quality is the same across the marketplace. All in all though these negatives would not persuaded me to stop using Society6 as my main way of buying prints but merely make me more willing to purchase prints in alternative ways if available by that specific artist.


 

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Review: The Gashlycrumb Tinies

the gashlycrumb tiniesUntitled-5

The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a hard covered book by well-known illustrator Edward Gorey from 1963. The book tells the story of the untimely deaths of 26 children. The 26 children are represented of the 26 letters of the alphabet and paired with Gorey’s wonderful black and white illustrations. All of this while using rhyming dactylic couplets of course. Think back to when you were little and all those different alphabet books you had, this one is much more morbid take. It’s such a unique twist and Gorey’s simple illustrations are vivid and such fodder for creative interpretation. When I first read it I vowed to one day do a photo series of all children’s deaths re-enacting each illustrations meticulously. It’s a wonderful read and I thought perfect for the week before Halloween. The morbidness of the book is very much in the seemingly benign ways that they die.  The sort of everyday worries most parents have and not the outlandish fantasies of children. If you are new to Edward Gorey’s illustrations this is a great way to start and one of his most famous books. He has such an imagination for his time and wasn’t afraid to be outside what everyone expected of illustrators at the time, never afraid to be unsettling. I couldn’t do a review series about art books without featuring him, so check out below the Gashlycrumb Tinies!

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Pick of the Week: Crazy Lips

crazy lips (2)Pick of the Week: Crazy Lips

This week’s pick of the week is Crazy Lips, a brand of lip tattoos by the company Crazy Factory who are an online jewelry piercing store. I buy a lot of organic plugs from them and balls for my labret piercings and while browsing their store last year discovered lip tattoos. It may seem a bit out there or one of those weird crazes that just pass by but I thought it was really neat and have bought a ton of them for various events. I thought I’d show you them now because if you are not the type of person who wants to be walking down the street with your lips looking this out there perhaps it’ll perfect for your Halloween costume. Crazy Factory’s versions of lip tattoos are also super cheap and the first time I did them they were super simple and easy to do. I found mine lasted about 4 hours before they started to peel a bit and I was able to put on bit of gloss on top after waiting for awhile. Great not just for Halloween but any holiday really or a super fun night out with the girls. Below are a few pictures of me wearing them.

crazy lips (4)crazy lips (2)crazy lipscrazy lips*just the top lip becuase I applied the bottom wrong

I’ll be doing a give away on my Tumblr and Facebook for a free set Crazy Lips! So make sure you are following me and look out for the post later today.

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Review: The Last Unicorn

the last unicorn

Saturday Review: The Last Unicorn

(graphic novel)

The Last Unicorn is the classic book by Peter B. Gillis transformed into a graphic novel by illustrator Renae De Liz and Ray Dillion. This luscious 167 paged hard covered graphic novel marries the illustrator’s vision with Gillis’s story of the last unicorn on earth. It’s a wonder adaptation of this already amazing tale and brings to life the original work is such a way to heighten the source material. I may be a little bias when it comes to this graphic novel because this happens to be my favourite movie and one of my favourite stories so bare that in mind. For anyone familiar with the 1982 movie it will be easy to draw the similarities between the art style used in the movie with the one used in the graphic novel. I find these similarities soothing as a fan of the movie as that was my first experience with The Last Unicorn and this is tends to be true for many people. It would have been much harder to get into the novel with an art style that was a major department from the movie. Although with that said the similarities are mostly with the red bull and the last unicorn. The human characters of the story have a much more modern look to their face and all in all the feel is much darker then the movie was. I love the use of color in the illustrations, they use color wonderfully to convey the overall mode changes in the story and it’s very effective. It’s very cohesive considering there are multiple illustrators working on it and they put a lot of thought into the characters and the foreground. It appears not small detailed was over looked and the illustrations are spectacular – it is a pleasure to turn the page and be surprised at the beauty of the next scene. Probably one of the most breathtaking graphic novels I’ve read. They have added an interview with the author Peter B. Gillis at the end, as well as a biography which is a nice touch. For anyone who has seen the movie or read the original novel this is still an amazing read and stands out on its own merits. If you are new to The Last Unicorn tale I would advise picking up the graphic novel first as it’s a wonderful way to read to the story and the illustrations adds so much dimension to the already rich story (watch the movie though – the music is irreplaceable). I am personally in love with this book and am tempted to use the artwork for a tattoo that’s how much I adore it. I’ve included a selection of the artwork below from the book but keep in mind it’s a 167 pages so this is only a peak.

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Review: Twinkles by Miss Van

miss van twinkles (2)
Miss Van “Twinkles

Miss Van’s first book “Twinkles” is a 88 paged hard covered book featuring her paintings from the art show of the same name as well as others.   Miss Van or Vanessa Alice Bensimon started out as a graffiti artist in France before moving into paintings around 2004. Her feminine characters have taken a departure from the cartoonish quality of her street art into more mature and refined area and the colors this time around seem to be more dark and intense but as always they remain the focus of her work. “Twinkles” is filled with her known coy and mischievous feminine figures as well as exploring the themes of masks, animals, and the circus/cabaret.   The work is presented in the book almost always on its own with some spanning across both pages and a few side by side. I love the order of her work and how it moves you along to the different ideas she is exploring, dipping in to the brighter paintings before bring you back into the moodier pieces. However the physical layout doesn’t work as much as it could, the paintings spanning across to pages frequently are left with the usual awkward placement of the focus being concealed in the spine of the book. And as most paintings are left simply on one side, I grew a little weary of the bright white page beside it taking me out of her tone. I think they would have been better off doubling up the pages as it works wonderfully when they do and kept me more immersed. They added information of each work to the page with name, year, and material – always a nice touch. The quality of the book is very good and I always enjoy books on the large scale, measuring at 25cm by 32cm. There is a brief intro in the beginning of the book that servers are highlighting the progression of her work and add more context to the paintings. I would have liked to have had something written in her own words instead. All in all “Twinkles” shows a move in her work to a darker tone and it does a great job of showing the reader her work from around that time (2010). This is book for the fan of her later painting work, much like her newer book “Wild at Heart”. It must be said that it is still a great book to pick up even if you are more a fan of her graffiti or earlier brighter colorful paintings. Her work absolutely captures my attention and I am pleased to have added this to my collection.

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Pick of the Week: Left Over Studio

left over studio (5)Pick of the Week: Left Over Studio

Left Over Studio is based out of India and makes handmade bags from recycled goods. When I found this store on Etsy after a long look for the perfect camera bag I thought it was too good to be true. An affordable price ($120), leather and a great satchel look…it was everything I wanted. Its hard finding good quality camera bag that actually looks as good as they are functional. I was really lucky to have found this bag, and when Victor decided to buy it for me for my Christmas present I was so happy. I’ve been dying to have it as a pick of the week but thought I’d wait until I’ve used it good and proper and see if it held up in all kinds of photography scenarios. It’s definitely held up and I haven’t noticed any wear and tear, the leather is subtle and I enjoy the unique coloring of the goat leather.  It comes with a soft cushion insert that you can remove at any time (and even insert into a different bag) and holds for me on a weekly basis my Nikon D7000 with lens attached and a 2nd lens with toy camera, or without the 2nd lens I can usually fit an antique camera in plus all the usually purse stuff like iPod, wallet, cellphone, note pad. It’s great, it even comes with 3 padded inserts that you can move around and adjust.  I’ve never once thought the bag need to be bigger, plus it has easy to adjust front straps to allow you to tighten the bag or loosen depending if what’s inside. It comes with the added bonus of a handle and a shoulder strap that is removable and adjustable in length. But the best things going for this bag are not even the most obvious. The two things I love the most are the shoulder strap and the buckles. There is nothing more annoying than satchel bags that require you to constantly remote the leather straps to open it – it’s time consuming and bothersome and this bag has a set of great quality buckets hidden below the leather straps so you don’t have it. The shoulder strap however is my favourite part of the bag; I don’t how it does it but somehow to makes it so I never feel my camera’s weighing me down. I bring this bag everywhere with me, causal walks, vacation, photo shoots, anywhere and even a few hours in – I am still comfortable.  That’s what stands out in a good camera bag to me, it’s great that its beautiful but even better is that I am not getting a sore back from straining myself from carrying around my camera all day long. I am so happy to share it, check out below for more photos of it in action (and one shot of my commie pin)…

left over studio (3)left over studio (2) left over studio (1)left over studio (4)

my two favourite bags:

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Pick of the Week: Worried Eyes

worried eyes (6)Pick of the Week: Worried Eyes

Worried Eyes is an Etsy shop run by Elaine Williams that features her art is various forms. You can pick up handmade stickers, original paintings and sketches, postcards, and occasionally items like hair clips and pins. My favourite item from her store though has to be her “doodle package”. I love getting snail mail and this is great item to pick up if you do too (and very reasonable priced).  It’s basically a miss mash of random items she has, including a decorated envelop, sketches, photo copied works, stickers, a postcard and all these random little items that will just make you swoon. Her art is very unique as it’s easy to become addicted to her style. I’ve gotten two from her and below will be showing you detailed photos of all the pieces that I got of each doodle package. The great thing is everyone is different and that makes it even more exciting to receive in the mail, I think. I’ve also gotten some original paintings and a pin that I will show in a later Pick of the Week as well (I thought they deserved their own post and I want to have them framed).  Check out her shop to pick of a doodle package of your own and you can check out her tumblr too: here!

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a few of my favourite items from her shop:
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Saturday Review: Mark Ryden Postcards

mark rydenMark Ryden’s “Tree Show” Microportfolio

This is Mark Ryden’s 5th microportfolio with images taken from his 2009 solo exhibit “Tree Show” at the Michael Kohn Gallery. It contains 15 postcards of his beautiful paintings (Allegory of the Four Elements, The Apology, Fetal Trapping in North America, Logging Truck, Yoshi, Tree of Life, California Brown Bear, Ghost Girl, Goodbye Bear, General Sherman, Squirrel Girl, Bear Girl, Stump Baby, and Nurse Sue). These are high quality postcards with a lot of care put towards them and at roughly 5 by 7 inches they can make great mini prints as well. The paintings featured in the microportfolio were very well chosen from the exhibit and there are no real duds in the mix if you are a fan of his unique pop surrealism style. My favourite detail about them is the edge work. Besides that they have a pretty standard postcard back with some stylized detail like the “Tree Show” icon on the bottom corner, and the name of the painting, as well the coloring of older paper (a nice change from the obligatory white). The cost depending on where you pick them up can be a bit pricing for postcards however when you consider that these can easy be used as mini prints that doesn’t seem to be an issue. I for one love artist postcards and find that artists who try and make their work easy available and affordable to fans stand ahead of the pack. “The Tree Show” postcards are engaging with some wonderful pieces of art, and a great pick up for any postcard enthusiast or any fan of pop surrealism.

check out below for a look at each postcard from the series:


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Saturday Review: Camille Rose Garcia “Alice in Wonderland”

Camille Rose Garcia (1)Camille Rose Garcia
“Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland”

“Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” is the classic story by Lewis Carroll featuring illustrations by Camille Rose Garcia, in a hardcover 160 book. When I ordered this book, I thought it might be a graphic novel or just be inspired illustrations taken from scenes in the book. I was delighted to find that this is actually a book featuring the full store of Alice in Wonderland with illustrations through-out of Camille Rose Garcia’s work. There are over 40 full color illustrations included in the book from full paged scenes to characters immersed in the text. There are many small touches incorporated in the book, like stylized gold font for the beginning of chapters and more. It’s easy to see that this was a labour of love and there was a lot of work and thought put behind where the illustrations will go and how to add elements of her style into the book. It’s easy to see why her work has been influenced by her childhood and growing up close to Disneyland. What I like most about this version of the book is the overall style of the book and how her work brings out the more lurid parts of the story closer to the actual acid influence of Lewis Carroll than the Disney version. Her interpretation of the characters will feel alien yet familiar all at the same moment. If you wanted to pick up a refreshing look into Alice’s world or you wanted to pick up a fun fresh version of this classic childhood book you will not be disappoint. Her interpretation is very well executed and you get a good idea of her person style with the imagery and the magic of the Alice in Wonderland. If interest as well she has an illustration book for the story of Snow White.

A look at the book:

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Saturday Review: Fresh Fruits

Fresh Fruits (1)Fresh Fruits by Shoichi Aoki

Fresh Fruits is a collection of postcards compiled from the magazine of the same name by Shoichi Aoki, who also is the sole photographer. Fresh Fruits documents Tokyo street fashion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. There is 45 postcards total included of selected images from the magazine over the years. Tokyo street fashion has long been popular in North America in the kind of voyeuristic way. I’ve been a fan of Fruits fashion since I was in high school myself and grabbed these up to add to my postcard collection. They are very vivid, and are well made postcards with details on the back side about each person and what they are wearing. I find the postcards are a great way to view the fashion of the time, especially since it’s nearly impossible to get the magazine Fresh Fruits here in Canada, and I find the postcard format for me at least works better then the books I’ve seen. The only downside, but also a positive depending on how you look at it, is that there postcards are large format which means they are nearly twice the size of the average 4×6 postcard.  Other than that these are delightful and a fun exciting way to look at Tokyo fashion and there is so many difference styles represented and truly you can tell Aoki toke the time to curate what would make it into this set as it is the best of the best. If you’ve ever been curious about Tokyo fashion or love interesting postcards this is great grab and much cheaper than buying one of the many books out there and its straight from one of the best sources of fashion at the time.

Each postcard:

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Pick of the Week: Sugar Robot

sugar robot (2)

 Pick of the Week: Sugar Robot

Sugar Robot is a store on Etsy that specializes in edible butterflies and decorations for cakes and cupcakes. They are super hands on and when I ordered they were sure to let you know about the whole process and gave me a time line since production can be a few weeks. I really loved this about the store and made me really comfortable ordering from them (and that’s especially important if you are on time crunch). Not to mention I got them quicker then I expected. I picked up two different sets of butterflies for cupcakes.  A set of 25 rainbow ones and a set of 50 of various colors, they are such a great price I just wanted to buy them all and had to stop myself. They are very easy to place and they look great on the cupcakes. I’m not a big fan of the texture (I am very picky about texture) but most people haven’t minded and they have a nice vanilla taste. I really love these and cannot wait to buy more!

sugar robot

Some favourite items from thier shop:

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Saturday Review “Duchamp”

duchamp (1)

Duchamp by Jose Maria Faerna

Duchamp by Jose Maria Faerna is a 64 pages hard-covered book that covers Duchamp’s art throughout his life. It’s apart of Edicones Poligrafa’s collection of books about various turn of the century artists. This is more of academic book that the other art books I usually review and the reason I chose this is because really enjoyed going through this book and there not many good art books about avant-garde artists of his day. As well this was before the norm of artists creating books of their own work and most would usually create a publication or magazine about their thoughts on art instead. As someone who was only aware of his readymades this book goes into great details about his earlier work and the build up to his life’s work. The book is very informative and structured in a way that does not come across as dull or over saturated with facts. He switched from many movements and was always expand his personal definition of what art should be and the book covers all aspects of his artwork and shows his natural progression. The images in this book are what impressed me the most, I have quiet a few books about dadaists and earlier avant-garde movements and usually they are focused solely on text so this one of the few times I’ve seen of Duchamp’s work outside of the readymades I’ve seen in museums and art history classes. The photography of his work is very well done in the book and the layout works great. There is a focus on making the images as large as possible which serves his art well as it is very large in person and usually suited to be viewed that way. Of the various movements that Duchamp went through in his life, none is over looked in this book and they do a thoroughal job at showing the complete body of his work. This book may be hard to get as it has been around for awhile, however I highly suggest if you are interested in earlier 1900’s art and the creation of modern art or looking into cubist, surrealist, dadasist and conceptual art at the time that this is good book to pick up and it does a great job at showing Duchamp’s art. (I got mine for $5 at a used book store)

 a look into the book:

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Lomography Wednesday: Diana F SLR Lens Adaptor Review

diana f+ adapter nikon, Diana F SLR Lens AdaptorDiana F+ SLR Lens Adaptor Review

The Diana F + SLR Lens Adaptor is available for both Nikon and Canon style mounts and allows you to attach a Diana lens to any SLR camera with the corresponding mount type. Its ranges around $10-15 however unlike the Holga version it does not come with the lens itself which means you will also need to own a Diana F+ camera as it is merely a mount. I didn’t realize this myself having purchased the Holga adapter a few months before and actually had this mount sitting around for 7 months before I finally picked up a Diana F+ camera. I will be doing a comparison review of the Diana adaptor and the Holga adaptor at a later time, so look out for that. I haven’t bought any of the additional lens that you can buy for Diana so this is just using the regular Diana F+ lens ( I may pick up a Fish Eye lens at some point).  The best way to show you the effect of a Diana lens is showing you a shot from the same spots with my Nikon 18-55 lens and then with the Diana adapter and lens:

diana f+ adapter (2)diana f+ adapter, Diana F SLR Lens Adaptordiana adapter (1)diana adapter (2)diana f+ adapter (3)diana f+ adapter (4), Diana F SLR Lens Adaptor

Conclusion:

The first thing that struck me about the Diana F+ adapter is how poorly it was made, it does not make a secure bond with the camera and you will catch yourself unscrewing it or it falling off quiet frequently. This is due in part to the fact that the Diana F+ lens requires you to twist the end of the lens to change focusing distance and the adapter was not built with this is mind. It is also due to the fact you have to twist the Diana F+ lens onto the adapter and then twist the adapter onto the Nikon mount.  So what happens is when you are changing focus distance with it you often notice that the adapter gets twisted off of the Nikon mount. It can be quiet distracting having to be conscious that your lens can come unscrewed from the mount at any time. Another downside is that if you want the classic Diana look, you will have to manually convert all your shots into square images. As someone who is use to seeing Holga and Diana shots in the square format I find it looks odd to be a full shot. However the great advantage with the adapter is you can attach it to a DSLR which means you have unlimited shots and it can save you a lot of money not having to buy film or developing cost. I was disappointed that this adapter was not a stand alone product and required you to already own a Diana F+ camera, as a Holga girl myself I was excited to try the Diana F+ lens and compare it to the Holga to get an idea of the different between the camera without having to buy an actual Diana F+ camera. The adapter can be used with other Diana F+ lens, like Fish Eye which is nice as it makes the adapter more versatile. Those additional lens are quiet expensive though ranging around the $25-$45. All in all I really like being able to use my Diana lens with my Nikon as it gives more versatility and the option to preview my shots without having to worry about wasting film, and it can make really cool effects. The shots look they were taken from the cameras everyone had in their house before we all turned digital, the $100 automatic film cameras of the 90’s and early 2000s. Its a nogasgic look and its its fun to play around with. But it doesn’t really feel like the shots you can achieve when you have Diana camera in your hand and 120 film to shoot on. Its more than the large format and the fact that it wasn’t taken with film, I find something missing but at the same time…I still bring my adapter along with me to takes photos as I enjoy the results. I’d say if you already got the Diana F+ camera and wanted to try it out on your SLR camera, then its worth the $15 you will pay for it. Otherwise I’d say maybe just trying a film camera instead – it will be more rewarding.

12 Diana F+ Adapter Shots:

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Pick of the Week: Crazy Factory

crazy factory (4)

Pick of the Week: Crazy Factory

Crazy Factory is an online store for purchasing any kind of piercing accessories from labret balls to tunnels and anything in between. I found out about the store last summer after my facial labret piercings had healed and I was looking to get some more balls for the ends. Buying piercings locally in Montreal is always insanely expensive, even when I find a place that offer deals so I was really excited to find a store that was extremely affordable and with variety. Most of the balls I’ve bought range from $0.30 to $2 and the plugs for my ears are $1-$4. I’ve never had a problem with the size being incorrect and the one time they made a mistake on my order they allowed me to keep the wrong items and shipped for free the correct items. Plus the customer service person was extremely nice and the respond was very quick. I’ve order from them 3 separate times and  have been happy with all my items, also I love that you can get free shipping and received my items within a few weeks. I sometimes get allergic reactions to metal so I only buy plastic, tone, organic or titanium items so I haven’t used any stainless steel items.  Roughly the cost of the items in the photos are $30-$40 which is normally the price I get 2 sets of plugs. I love this store and recommend Crazy Factory if your are looking for piercing accessories just make sure you know the sizes you need and what materials work well for your body.

 crazy factory (3)crazy factory (2)crazy factory

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Saturday Review “Paper Cutting”

papercutting

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

                  Paper Cutting complied by Laura Heyenga highlights the resurgence of paper cutting art in the last few years and featuring 26 international artistes who are currently creating innovative and intricate pieces of work in176 pages. It starts off with a preface by Rob Ryan which is delightful and captivates why people get into paper cutting as a way to express their artistic desires. The preface is followed by a 10 paged introduction by Natalie Avella that is informative and a bit long winded. Natalie’s introduction starts off strong explaining the origins and history of paper cutting and how it started out in China in 600CE up to the current resurgence of interest in the craft. After the strong start, she goes into brief detail about contemporary artists and their choice of mediums and subject matter. At the beginning it feels informative but lags toward the end when it starts to feel like someone gave her the list of what artists were going to be featured in the book and ask her to write a paragraph blurb about their work. This would have work if it had been incorporated into the book in each artist’s section, it is not however and each artist section already contains a blurb describing the same things without Natalie Avella’s personal impressions and to make matters more repetitive there is biography in the back as well. However containing each blurb into the introduction creates this weird flow. In fact the structure of the introduction gives it away as she just uses paragraphs for each artist almost eliminating any flow at all from one artist to the next when reading. It would have been nice if they had insisted on structuring the book this way to also perhaps included artists that were not featuring in the book to give a complete canvas of paper cutting artists. This is a minor issue, as honestly although I do read introductions but I do not get much value from them in art books. The inclusion of artist’s work in the introduction was the only thing really propelling me to the next page. So introduction aside this is a beautifully put together book with a variety of types of paper cutting artists who use a plethora of materials. It does not just single out artists who white stock paper, instead showing colors and installations,  shadow pieces and pretty much all the types of paper cutting that exist currently. The work featured in this book is captivating, and faithfully captured for our eyes. I especially enjoy the installations and the shadow pieces which were shot wonderfully. Each artist is given several pages with multiple pieces of work shown, with the information on each piece like date, name and sometimes materials. I love how they’ve created each artist name in paper cutting font, it is a simple but elegant touch. Speaking of nice touches, the book sleeves include paper cutting in them, with the front sleeve having flowers and the back birds.  It was the first thing I noticed about the book and I adore it. This is a magnificent book and as soon as I caught my eye on the cover at the Architecture Centre’s gift shop I knew I had to have it. My experience before reading this book with paper cutting was always seeing student work at Universities and it always amazed me then and this books gives you a look into a fascinating medium and wonderful pieces of art. Its really must have, and a great way to see fascinating contemporary art.

A look at the book:


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Saturday Review “Postcards from Vogue”

vogue cover postcards (2)

Postcards from Vogue: 100 Iconic Covers

Postcards from Vogue, is a collection of covers taken from their 120 years of being a leading fashion magazine made into postcards. As a collector of postcards I was really excited to see them releasing some with their iconic covers. From timeless photographers, famous artists, and classic illustrations it shows why Vogue has always be in the forefront of making fashion into art. The one thing I appreciate most is how Vogue curates the covers chosen for the postcards. There is a large emphasis in the older covers, which in my opinion was when Vogue was far more adventurous and intriguing and simply didn’t put blank faced actresses on the cover. The 90’s and the 2000’s get kind of swept to the side representing roughly 10 out of the 100 postcards and for me that was a smart choice. Perhaps it’s a bit nostalgic on my part but I’ve always appreciated the older covers, they are far most classic to me than the last 2o years of Vogue covers. Vogue appears to have made the choice to highlight the earlier covers and I agree with their choices. I’m not a frequent reader of Vogue but I have seen most of their covers and do go through their photo spreads, as they’ve always shown willingness to engaged art, and artists and showing interesting and surrealist ideas. And the covers show that, with photography from Irving Penn to a cover made by Salvador Dali…Vogue was always in the forefront. It’s a shame to say that isn’t the case anymore, most covers from Vogue seem the same as last years and as someone who in Art History class was shown Irving Penn’s cover I doubt any of their modern covers will every have the privilege. I think that is why I love this collection so much and why I think they did a really good job with it. And seeing the hand drawn covers from the 1980’s and early 1900s when photography was not predominate was very interesting and I loved looking at these ones the most. It’s a great way to look through the past of Vogue and see their past glories and the iconic pieces.

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Satruday Review: Tara McPherson “Bunny in the Moon”

bunny on the moon (2)Bunny in the Moon by Tara McPherson

The latest hard-covered volume of Tara Mcpherson’s art, Bunny in the Moon complies her art from 2009 to 2012 in 112 pages. She writes in Acknowledgement section “the third time is the charm so they say, and you know what? I agree”, and I agree as well with that sentiment. I thoroughly enjoy her putting the effort to continually publish books of her work, especially in such a digital age where many artists settle for having a website and gallery shows (that are not accessible unless you frequent New York or LA). Bunny in the Moon has much the same format as the previous books except there is no comics included in her latest. Like the previous 2 books there is sketch work and her structure of dividing the book into paintings, posters and sculptures. However unlike her last book Lost Constellation, this comes across as meatier and doesn’t relay as heavily on repeat images in the paintings and the poster sections as well in showing every painting’s sketch. Although keep in mind that most paintings and posters have the sketch work included, and the book is compiled with sketches getting around 40% of the space.  I enjoyed the artwork from Bunny in the Moon and although she does not depart from the symbols that are present in all her earlier work it comes across refreshing.  There is an evolution of her work without missing out on the things fans have come to love about her style. After being disappointed with Lost Constellation, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book and think for any fan of her work that it is a must. If you are new to her artwork, I highly suggest picking this one up as her bright vibrant work will delight you. For the next book, I hope there is not such a focus on sketch work but I guess we have 2 more years to see!

Don’t forget you can check out her website as well, its lovely!

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Pick of the Week: Cambridge Satchel

cambridge satchel

Pick of the Week: Cambridge Satchel

I got my first Cambridge Satchel finally after wanting one for over a year. I was so happy to get it and I got a really great price because it was on sale. Although the shiny blue is not my first choice for color, I love that it stands out. I think if you love satchels its really a must and theirs are good quality. I did notice that the color got a bit scuffed in the back before I had even used it outside the house but its maintained the color well everywhere else, the shine does handling a lot.  A great thing is leather did not have a strong smell when it arrived. The size is probably the biggest concern I have with it, but I knew before I bought it that it’s not a bag made to fit a camera or anything large like a laptop. Mine is the 14inch one and it will definitely fit all the things I need to go to work but for weekends its definitely to small to fit all the essentials.  I love the strap, its very strong and it being adjustable is such a bonus. I highly suggest them if you want a good quality satchel and the price is reasonable (I bought mine from ModCloth which has sales usually every 2 months for them). Having a unique color as well really makes them stand out in the crowd.

citizen erased

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Saturday Review: The Nym Nums

Nym Nums (15)

The Nym Nums

The Nym Nums is a 26 page book collaboration between artist Kristian Adam and author Michael Sasi. The format for the book is mini stories with featured illustrations by Amam for each story. The artwork and the mini stories work well with each other and there are many elements of the illustrations that are featured inside the story. I picked this book up at a gallery back in Vancouver in 2009 on a whim and found it be delightful. The art is what really struck me about the book. The art is very playful and odd. Adam has a unique style and his illustrations are that fine line between adorable and twisted that is present in modern surrealist work. His work becomes even more twisted when you start to read the story and see what is happening in the illustrations unfold. And I love that about The Nym Nums. The short stories themselves are abstract tales of made up creatures that are based off of humans and animals. I love the vivid imagery that Sasi creates with his words, the stories themselves are stand alone and do not collate with the other short stories although you get the sense that these creatures could all be from the same world. I enjoyed all the stories, and found they got more abstract as I continued. Warning though, if you don’t like abstract writing this book will not be your thing. I loved the artwork in this case more than the stories but was not disappointed by either, as this was purchased at an art gallery I am no sure about its availability any more however if you are interested about finding out more about this book, check out the artist’s website: here

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Lomography Wednesday – Oktomat Review

oktomatOktomat Review

The Oktomat is a multi-lens toy camera that takes 8 sequential shots in 2.5 seconds on 35mm film. It works best with lots of light and using the highest possible speed of film like 400 or 800. I got mine a few years ago and have taken many rolls of film with it. Its a typical toy camera in the sense its very light and made with plastic. It also has a view finder that does little to inform you of what you are shooting, and it has no settings, just shoot and go.  I will show some things you can do with the camera before giving you my over all experience with it.

Oktomat (9) (1024x683)The subject moves, and you move. This is probably the funniest mechanic.

oktomat (18) (1024x683)Still life

oktomat (52) (1024x683)You are still and the subject moves

oktomat (46) (1024x683)You move and subject is still

oktomat (7) (1024x683)Shade (both taken on very sunny summer days)

oktomat (3) (1024x683)Sequence shots, you’ll also notice that it shoots backwards to what you’d except. Meaning if you want to have a sequence shot that look like sequence shots….you cant

oktomat (29) (1024x683)Self-portraits are doable

oktomat (51) (720x480)Oh and this happens…..all the time. The first and last square has a knack to going red, the lighting doesn’t matter, no light, lots of light….red corners.

oktomat (31) (683x1024)if you are curious to see what a night shot looks like, this was at dusk

oktomat (26) (1024x683)

Conclusion:

One of the first things you will learn about the Oktomat is it cannot shoot in minimal light or indoors, even a shot taken on a sunny day in the shade will cause shots to be dark. Not to mention pictures taken in the bright sun lead to light flares all over the film. I found the overall quality of the finished pictures whether I toke them in plenty of light or not to be very poor. That is one of the main reasons I do not use this camera any more. Also you will find on the pictures on the  packaging for the camera to be very deceiving, some of them look pretty much impossible to be shot with the actual camera which is unfortunate to say the least. Example: sequence shots (as shown above) the camera takes photos from the bottom left to right and then top right to left….don’t ask me why because I didn’t make the camera, but isn’t that really dumb?  However the camera is fun and you will have will have fun trying to think of interesting ways to use the 8 lens mechanic and the 2.5 seconds of shooting time. However when I got my film back each time I was mostly disappointed. For me it was more fun to take the shots then it was to look at them because they never quiet turn out how I imagined. It is my opinion that this is a fault with the camera itself since after several rolls and experimenting a lot with lighting I got the same results. Despite this I never had any technical problems with this camera until it was about 1 year old. Now it tends to get jams in the middle of the film and wont advance so I have to open it up to get the film unjammed so it will advance and in the process expose that section of film. That might just be from heavy use although I’ve taken pretty good care of it. Otherwise it has held up very well and the plastic is very sturdy, although the jamming is annoying. I think the red square were intended because a quick look of any Oktomat Flickr group shows most people get them, so I can’t claim this to be a technical issue, rather a intended design (a poor one at that). In conclusion the photos are fun and if you aren’t bothered by getting okay photos instead of great photos and just want a cool photo to remind you of a sunny day than this camera will work for you, plus the film can be developed anywhere. If you want a multi-lens camera I suggest trying a different one than Oktomat to begin, there are plenty of different cameras out there do have better resolution and quality.

My Top 10 Oktomat Photos:

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Saturday Review: Bansky “Wall and Piece”

banksy (1)Bansky “Wall and Piece”

Wall and Piece documents Bansky earlier career as a graffiti artist between the years 2001 to 2005 through pictures taken of his work. The book is 240 pages of sometimes crude photography (it’s unclear if all the photos are taken by him) as well as his own insight into his work. He splits the book into sections, Monkeys, Cops, Rats, Cows, Art, Street furniture. My impression of this book on first glance was not good, pictures of graffiti sometimes not that well taken didn’t seem that appealing but going through the book showed me how wrong I was. The first thing that struck me about Wall and Piece when I started going through it was how much of an experience it was instead as my first impression that is simply photos of graffiti. Bansky includes information on as many pieces as possible like how many days or hours it stayed up, the reason behind certain pieces or motifs, political opinions, where it was done and even anecdotes about the people who owned the property where he made it. These offer a unique insight into the mind frame of the artist Banksy and a little to the why’s that surround his art. There is something so telling about him as an artist that he not only goes back to photograph the art he has made but also that he knows how long certain pieces have stayed up for. I was caught off guard about details like that. The photography in parts of the book do a great job at putting you in front of the graffiti like you would see it in person, and showing the surrounding area for certain pieces really elevates the overall impression they give. Since I’m not in the UK, it’s not likely that I will ever see his work in person unless I’m travelling so I really appreciated this detail in his book. Some work needs context, and his work works best with as much context as possible. I found the book humorous and as someone who has always been intrigued by his art and believe in the messages he supports with his graffiti I found the book fantastic. My favourite section was where he showed himself in the middle of museum’s installing fake art. His fake art reminds me of one of my favourite art movement’s the Dadaist and I see Bansky very much to be in the vein of their work. There is a lot of thought and detail put towards his work, and certainly the same thought was put towards this book and it shows. I laughed while going through it which isn’t really an emotion you get often with art books. Honestly anyone who is into current art, art that is changing the world and art that calls for change, I suggest picking up this book.

*below are shots of the book

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Saturday Review: Folk Photography

folk photographyFolk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard 1905-1930

Folk Photography by Luc Sante is a 160 pages book about his personal collection of real-photo postcards taken in the 1900’s. Luc Sante is a writer and critic from New York area who started collecting real-photo postcards in the 80’s and over the years accumulated around 2500 postcards. The book contains over 100 of postcards that he handpicked to display. He also outlines the history of real-photo postcards and their significance in America’s history as well as his criteria for which postcards he decided to show from his collection. He provides a detailed 37 page intro that for any person curious into the real-photo postcard world will find invaluable and interesting. For others it may appear a little long winded. I personally love the intro as it gives the reader a look into the man, Luc Sante himself as a collector and his mindset with putting together this book. It makes it more personal, and this book being a collection of only his collection of postcards is just that, personal. I think it adds a lot to the book knowing more about Sante as real-photo postcards are very prolific and if you’ve ever looked for them in antique stores you’ll know they come in stacks upon stacks. One thing I really love about the book is that under each postcard there is as much information as possible about the individual postcard, photographer, date, anything writing on the back, and sometimes a description about what the photos is depicting taken from historical information. My favourite photographs in the book are the portraits, as I love old portraits as they are usually quiet strange and creepy. There is a great mixture between rural life, still life, events, portraits, and group shots. The one thing he is really missing is landscapes however he explains in the intro why he made the decision to not include. He has an amazing collection and if you are interested in real-photo postcards or antique postcards or history this book will please you and be a delight to flip through. If you are looking to see professional vintage photography from that time, this book may be a bit of a disappointment as none of them will blow you away and that is understandable as real-photo postcards were treated much like we use Instagram today. The book very niche but seeing as there are not many books documenting this hobby it’s an interesting one to have on your shelf.

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Saturday Review : Hi-Fructose Volume 2

hi-fructoseHi-Fructose Volume 2

Hi-Fructose Volume 2 is second collection of Hi-Fructose magazines, this time issues 5-8. It is 300 pages, hard covered and was original released in 2010. There are so many artists featured in it like Camille Rose Garcia, Travis Louie, Audrey Kawasaki, Naoto Hattori, Marion Peck, Yoko d’Holbachie and more. Much like my review of their first volume, the things I love about the Hi-Fructose’s books are the generous size, and the quality of color and paper. The layout is done in much the same as the first Volume 1 and since it worked so well in the first there was no reason to change. I find it such a great way to consume the magazine and it just wonderful to curl up on the couch and flip through on a rainy day (or any day for that matter). For any fan of the new type of contemporary art that has been emerging for the last 10 years, it is really a great way to find new artists or see work by the artist you love. A lot of the artists featured in this book work through their website or art galleries (which is hard if you don’t live in New York or LA). Hi-Fructose really provides a medium in which to have a look into the type of modern art you will not find in your local Contemporary Art gallery.  That is why I really the love about the magazine. Volume 2 also comes with 3 posters by artists James Jean, Marion Peck and Annie Owens, the posters are  found inside the book and removable. I love the inclusion of these extra posters. There is no really negatives I can say about Volume 2, I found the articles very enjoyable to read and the layout is always what stands out to me. Its a wonderful way to find more artists, and to enjoy the ones you love who’s work you may have only seen on a computer monitor. I highly suggest picking it  up if you are a fan of contemporary, low brow, surrealist or any new genre of art really.

 

 Check out select photos of Volume II below:

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Saturday Review: Tara McPherson “Lonely Heart”

lonelyheartsLonely Heart by Tara McPherson

Tara Mcpherson’s first book “Lonely Heart” from 2006 shows us her illustrations, comics, silkscreen posters, and personal art. The hardcover 119 page book captures her beautiful artwork which explores the idea of sexuality, emotions and relationships. The one thing I love most about her illustrations is that she is always fearless and bold and isn’t afraid of showing us confident and strong women. Her work often explores relationships and frequently she uses the image of women/men with their heart removed in a very creative way of an actual shape of heart being removed from their body. I find her use of this imagery as very effective and grapping. Her pieces are very captivating to look at and her use of sketch paper to show her outlines of her illustrations is very innovative. I love the inclusion of this type of material in her art book. Lonely Heart also shows a lot of her silkscreen posters that she has made for a number of rock and indie bands like Green Day, Beck, Liars and others. I absolutely love her posters and I was introduced to her work by them. They are probably my favourite tour posters I have come across. I would be delighted if I could find one to hang on my wall (having the book must do sadly as they usually are for shows in the US) and it helps that she makes them for really great bands. Her work is very modern and feels at home with current surrealist and lowbrow artists, with its mixture of dark and sweet (slightly gothic approach). It’s definitely a good book to flip through and out of her 3 current books it is my favourite. Good for fans or anyone who likes their art with a bit of darkness and bubble gum sweet.

 

 Click below of images of the book:

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Saturday Review “The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer”

theblackapple, the black apple, paper doll primer

The Black Apple’s Paper Doll Primer: Activities and Amusements for the Curious Paper Artist

Paper Doll Primer is a “160 page fully illustrated wondrous oddity – equal parts art and craft book” done by artist Emily Winfield Martin. It explores the world of paper dolls and helps show you how to make your own paper doll and other paper crafts. There is 21 of Emily’s whimsical characters included with accessories and clothing options as well as 16 paper dolls that you can customize and create yourself with her helpful hints and ideas. Her characters are so cute and adorable and the back story that is provided for all of them really sets the tone. Her dolls are much like her artwork and have their own unique personality to them. Its fun to just flip through this book without even taking out the scissors. She provides backdrops as well for the dolls which help creates an overall story. My favourite inclusion though is the customizable dolls,  she even provides useful hints on every page on ways to draw, color and personalize them. There is even clothing and accessories to be customized too and she gives you patterns to use on the clothing. Plus she includes a few other paper activities for you to try. Paper Doll Primer ends up satisfy the sweet tooth for paper dolls you may not even realized you had. I’ve been a fan of paper dolls since I was a kid and have started a small collection of them and was delighted when I found this book from her, especially since I’ve been a long time fan of her artwork. When I received it, it defintly satisfied my expectations. The only downside I could find to her sweet book was that the pages are not made with hard stock, the quality is higher then regular paper (which is used for the clothing sections of the book) but the rigidness is not the type you’d find for most paper dolls. I haven’t had a heart to cut a paper doll out of the pages in the book so I cannot vouch for how sturdy the paper doll would be but definitely it would have been a nice inclusion for some pages to be made with card stock. As well all pages in the book are double sided except the clothing in the first part of the book. It does appears though that the dolls are on opposites sides of the paper to one another so you could cut them both out, however you would loose forever the written stories she created for her dolls as wells as all the tips on how to customize the blank dolls. All of the customized clothing/accessories, scenes, and backdrops are not so lucky, cutting these would mean potential wrecking the opposite side. However the book can be forgiven as its delightful and has so many hints to inspire you to go the further step and trace/create your own dolls on harder card stock. Its simply good to know that Paper Doll Primer  isn’t an one stop shop for paper dolls and if you were wishing to cut into the book you would be potentionally missing out on some parts, however there is plenty of inspiration and ideas for you to start your paper doll project.

Here are some shots of the book:

 

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Saturday Review: Camille Rose Garcia “Tragic Kingdom”

Tragic Kingdom (1), camille rose garcia Tragic Kingdom: The Art of Camille Rose Garcia

Tragic Kingdom is a 131 pages art book by Camille Rose Garcia, a LA based pop surrealist and lowbrow artist. It chronicles her artwork from 2000 to 2006 and has a illustration chronology as well as 4 separate introductions by Susan Landaver, Daniel Keegan, Doug Harver and Carlo McCormick.  The introductions are the usual art critic fodder, I find these really useless for enjoying the art contained in any given book and usually just give a quick read or skip. I’d rather have a book without these  introductions, but it harmless to skip through them. So those aside this is a solid book and covers a large amount of Rose Garcia’s work through the years and contains paintings, prints, drawings, and sketches. Out of all her available art books, this one has the largest body of work and is very thorough and covers the broadest range of her work. Camille Rose Garcia work focuses on “everyday violence that supports the current power structure” with the mixer of her childhood spent near Disneyland. Her artwork is very dark yet contain cartoon imagery and does a phenomenal job at combining these opposites aspects of life together seamlessly to create a unique art form of lowbrow. Not to mention the color scheme, unique and filled with whimsy yet creates such a creepy tone. I adore her artwork and love this book, its massive, the dimensions are 27.9  x 35.5 cm and its the largest book I have on my shelves. I love that about it, such a great way to digest art. The layout is very well thought out and I love the see through sketches pages, I have another art book that contains these and for some reason I just love this inclusion. The illustration chronology is very insightful and cute and I loved reading and learning more about Camille Rose Garcia in this way. Very informative and its done in such a great way. Tragic Kingdom was an amazing few hours spent flipping through and her artwork is the type that even after repeat viewing I still find some new emotion or character lurking in the background. I was over joyed when I got this in the mail having had limited exposure to her artwork and its probably one of my favourite art books. I hope you enjoyed this review! Let me know what you think of Tragic Kingdom in the comments.

Select photos of Tragic Kingdom:

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Saturday Review: James Jean “Rift”

rift, james jean, citizen erasedRift is an accordion-style book that shows off the unique artwork of James Jean, the Taiwanese American visual artist. It’s accordion aspect allows you to bend and fold the book as your want to create different images, or you can lay it out complete and get two large panoramic art printa (double sided, one in color and the other black and white). Its an interesting experience and its a lot of fun to flip through. I really like when artist do stuff outside of the box and experiment and he uses this simple idea very well. I think this is a really lovely way to showcase his art, its works effectively and is very fun. The book is very affordable to make up for the fact that in the end you really are only getting two separate panoramic prints.  I enjoyed it and have pulled it out on many occasions to play around with the scenes.

Check out below for a more detailed look at Rift, and this video shows all the differend possiblities you can do (here):


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Saturday Review: 3D Art Book

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3D Art Book

The 3D Art Book by designer Tristan Eaton is a collection of street art and contemporary art transformed into a 3D version of themselves. With 100 pieces of contemporary artwork this 223 pages book has almost every current artist represented like James Jean, Tara Mcpherson, Shepard Fairey, Junko Mizuno, Miss Van, Ron English and many others from genres like street art, graffiti, pop surrealism and graphic design. Eaton with this book is trying to bring back the 3D popularized in the 50’s, you know the one that needs those retro style red and blue-lens glasses to view. (Dont worry along with the book you receive 2 pairs of 3D glasses to help you view these artworks) As a kid I loved three-dimensional pictures, there is something about the popping out and trippy nature that really always appealed to me, however as an adult beside the occasional 3D movie I haven’t really looked much into 3D world beside a random piece of art here and there. What Eaton has done as taken know artist’s work and transformed them to a whole new piece, using this nostalgic form of 3D. I love this novelty, its very appealing to me and that’s why I picked up this book because it seemed a great way to experience artwork – and it is. The book is fantastic, you feel apart of the artwork and it adds elements never previous felt about each work, however there is some cons with this style. For instant I found a few images never really ‘popped’ for me, despite starting at them for a long time*, instead they came across limp (*you have to look at each image for certain amount of time so you eyes can adjust and actually reveal the 3D effect). As well as a person who has average motion sickness (I wouldn’t consider myself to have extreme or sever motion sickness at all) this book is deadly, after going through the book for 10minutes I manged to give myself a 2 hour long headache and I can mange to watch most 3D movies without issue. However this last con is avoidable, so it is definitely worth hitting up the gravol is you have any issues with motion sickness or 3D effects so this book can be fully enjoyed. I loved it, there is enough artwork in here to satisfy the genre you like, for example if graffiti doesn’t do it for you, there is still plenty of other stuff to look at it. My favourite pieces where James Jean “Shattered”, UPSO “Untitled” and Mint and Serf “Untitled”. The artwork ranges from full page, two pages, and everything in between and it is just plain neat to flip through. I loved it so much and will come back and re-look at it again and again. The novelty of the 3D never wears off while your looking through the book and the pacing  and sequence is very well thought out. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good collection of contemporary artists works or for anyone who’s ever liked 3D, and really as a child of the 80’s and early 90’s didn’t who didn’t love 3D; I remember having comics and stickers and being over the moon when I found something that required those retro 3D glasses.

I’ve added images below of the book so if you have by any chance 3D glasses at home you can have a quick look at some of the artwork.

 

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Saturday Review: Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Somewhere Under the Rainbow, citizen erased, citizen erased photography, tara mcphersonSomewhere Under the Rainbow.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow is a coloring book by Tara McPherson of her artwork through Dark Horse Publications in 2008. I picked mine up two years ago and am still absolutely in love with it. It’s a coloring book mostly but you also get 4 postcards you can color, a sticker set, and with 24 crayons (the colors are custom created by her) in a cute vinyl bag. I collect postcards and stickers so these extra were amazing for me and they do not disappoint. I’ve included below photos of all the extras. It is hard to see how cute the vinyl bag is so you’ll have to trust me and I have already used two of the postcards. That leaves the coloring book itself and the custom crayons. I love coloring books, and this really doesn’t disappoint. She includes most of her artwork that she made before 2008 and the images used are very similar to her art book, “Lonely Heart“ that she put out in … also through Dark Horse. The quality of the paper is very good and it is easy to use markers or pencils crayons with it. I love that it’s in a ring style book so it is easy to flip pages over and color or if you wanted to take out. I’ve colored a few pages and the experience was really fun, you can make your own creation of her work no matter how weird it may end up looking (I am terrible at color theory). She includes all the details of her original pieces and her artwork translates well to the coloring book format. She even included her comic strip work. I guess the only downside to me was the crayons, the custom colors are amazing and I really love them however crayons by nature don’t work as well as they ever should. And anyone over the age of 5 has advance from crayons to pencil crayons so it was really a missed opportunity to not have them instead. And judging from the adult nature of her work, I don’t think the intended audience is anyone under the age of 15. I think it would be a dream to have the custom colors she made in pencil crayons instead. But buying a pack of pencil crayons is hardly a difficult thing to do so this was not a big issue for me at all. It’s simply wonderful, whether you a coloring book enthusiast, love her artwork and want to try your hand color it, or you want to perfect your color theory it’s a great book to do that with, and the extras are the icing on top. High recommended.

For more of her artwork check out here website: Tara Mcpherson

Check out below of photos of the extra items and select pages of the coloring book:

 

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Vintage Tuesday: Polaroid Colorpack Review

polaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpackPolaroid Colorpack III: A Review!

The Polaroid Colorpack III is a rigid-bodied camera with a glass lens that came out in 1970 to 1971 and toke type 100 Polaroid instant film. The great thing about this camera is that it takes AA batteries and is compatible with Fuji FP-100C (color) and FP-3000B (black and white) which means it easy to find film and use it today without any issues. One of the only downsides is that it doesn’t have tripod mount so you cannot use it with a tripod (not a common features in instant cameras) and it uses flashcubes for a flash. Mine came with a pack of flashcubes and you can buy them readily online for a reasonable price so it is not impossible to use this camera with a flash but your limited because flashcubes do run out. It does come with a lot of cool features that I will explain more below, they are all a plus to me, even the ones I don’t use all the time and I love that its not an automatic instant camera. I found taking photos with this camera has really given me joy and it doesn’t frustrate me at all like the Holgaroid, when a photo doesn’t come out perfect its always due to human error not the cameras fault. And the best way to learn is just buy a few packs and play around, even the bad shots will feel rewarding. I really love my Colorpack and love taking photos with it, and its nice using the large Fuji film instead of the newer smaller instant film for modern Fuji Instanx series.

polaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpackpolaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpack
Cool features of the Colorpack III: 

1) A darken and lighten dial to change the exposure for the film allowing you on bright days to make the film not become over exposed and the opposite effect in cloudy weather or indoors. Its fun to play with however I recommend to leave it on the default settings as it works best. On the lightest settings its easy to overexposed shots if your not shooting inside.
polaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpackpolaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpack
(example of me accidently leaving it on the brightest setting outside, and what it looks like when you use it to capture indoor shots)
2&3) A timer for development so you can actually set the camera to ring to tell you when you should pull your film apart and cold clips so can put the clips in your pocket to warm up and then put the film against the warm clip so the photo will develop correctly on colder days. I don’t use this much because I wait until I am home to pull my film apart because you can scan the opposite side of the Fuji film as a negative and scan it as well. Its impossible to do this if you dont wait until you get home because the developer is so sticky so it will get ruined by being touched or get covered in dust.  The cold clips also keep the film straight.polaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpack(this is what the negative side looks like when you pull apart the fiilm)

4) A focus ring that allows you to change the focus from 3.5meters to 50+ (which is Polaroid’s version of infinite), this ring is manual so you do need to move it for each shot.  The closest is 3.5 meters which doesn’t work very well for self-portraits. I’ve tried a few times and the photos are always blurry no matter how far I stretched my arm out and since the release is manual there is no way around that.
polaroid, citizen erased photography, citizen erased, polaroid land camera, polaroid colorpackpolaroid colorpack (7) (1280x957)
(examples of me trying to take the photo with my arm)

5) And the last thing is a viewfinder and a distant measure. The viewfinder works great at showing you what your taking a photo of and is fairly accurate unlike a lot of toy cameras, and when you look through there is a red line going across that helps you can measure the distant in combination with the measuring dial on the right side. I found that all these last two features work really great, and I love the measuring dial. It actually is so perfect for me because I am terrible at judging distant so it takes the guess work out of it. I wish more modern toy cameras had this simply tool in them, it blew my mind when I first found out what it did and it is very accurate. Of course you need to check this on every shoot, which I do forget to do sometimes but when I remember I am rewarded with focused shots.

My Top 10 Polaroid Colorpack Photos:

 

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Saturday Review: Ghosts of the Black Chamber

Ghosts of the Black Chamber (1)

Ghosts of the Black Chamber:
Experimental, Dada & Surrealist Photography 1918-1948

“Surrealism lies at the heart of the photography enterprise: in the very creation of a duplicate world. Of a reality in the second degree, narrower but more dramatic than the one perceived by natural vision” The quote is by Susan Sontag and is how this great little book starts. Featured are 85 different artists who did photography in the early 1900’s from these 3 movements. It starts off with a 5 page introduction into what artists were doing with photography then and about photography in general. Then it gets right into providing you shots taken by these artists and a mini-biography about each. Certainly most are very brief only being 1 page long, biography including example photos. I mean 85 artists in a 128 pages book means there is not a lot of space for more. However the book is really about showing you ALL the artists doing photography back then instead of just highlighting a select few and it makes sense since most of the featured artists were poets, painters, film makers, sculpture and everything in between so sometimes they didn’t have much in the way of photography. That doesn’t mean that their photography was any less important to the movement of photography, which made the most gain as a popular art form in this time due to the camera were becoming more readily available and cheaper. There are also very few artists apart of the surrealist movement as whole who did just one thing. And that’s really the joy of this book, being able to see all the obscure artists or people who I knew for their other work. Not to mention the photography, this book is packed with photography gems, some of the likes haven’t even been investigated further in modern photography so they look fresh and revolutionary still in a time where cameras are something everyone has, and anyone can take digital photos. My breath got taken a way several times while looking through this book especially while looking through the bizarre and strange works of the Dadaist. There is very few works in here that are boring and not worth your time to look at. I don’t think I could have asked for a better book to highlight dada, experimental and surrealist photography. For anyone who is into these movements or wants to see early 1900’s photography I strongly recommend you pick up this book. Or as a fan of any of these artists, Andre Breton, Salvador Dali, Duchamp, Max Ernst, some of the most well-known Dadaists and Surrealists, definitely you will enjoy the artwork featured in this book and seeing maybe a side of them you hadn’t seen before or if you like looking at all black and white photography. For someone who has no interest in these movements or earlier photography it is probably not the best book as that is the clear audience it’s aimed at and you may find, as people do with my own Dadaist photography that its simply not your thing and too bizarre for you.

Check out below for select photos taken of the book:

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Saturday Review: Hi-Fructose Volume I

Hi-Fructose Volume I (1), citizen erased photography, citizen erased blog

 Hi-Fructose: Volume I

Hi-Fructose Volume 1 is a 256 page hard covered collection of the magazine’s volumes 1-4 at $35. It showcases “an eclectic mix of underground artists, pop surrealists, emerging and rediscovered countercultures, and awe-inspiring spectacles from around the world”. The book is a compilation and a ‘best of’ with 52 artists featured like Jeff Soto, Ray Caesar, Mark Ryden, Junko Mizuno, and Space Invader. Now that we got that outta the way, let us start with what I like about this collection from Hi-Fructose. The faithful translation from magazine to book is done wonderfully, for the first 4 additions I only own 1 of them; but quickly comparing what’s in the collection book and what’s in the magazine it appears to me almost identical. Even better without ad space and the usual structure magazines takes. The collection seems an improvement in flow and just in general the reading or flipping through experience. From my understand of their term “best of” it does mean maybe certain articles or not all images made it into the book but they aren’t missed when artist’s work is even bigger or spanning the whole page not just a section. It easy comes across as an art book more than a magazine. Sure there is the same articles featured from the magazine (and if you hadn’t notice in my previous reviews I don’t like too many words in my art books) but the images are so large is dwarfs the print and makes is secondary. I absolutely love it. It is amazing read and great to just flip through, especially when you keep in mind 99% of these artists don’t have their own art books for you to enjoy. And being able to enjoy the hardcover and not trying to keep you magazine volumes in pristine collection is another improvement in my opinion. As well for those of us to live in areas where getting magazines like Hi-Fructose is not always possible or easy, it’s a great way to enjoy their content. Even better they throw in a few perks for you too. I got both this and Volume 2 at the same time so I don’t remember anymore which perk went with what book but I got a set of stickers, a postcard from select artists. The real only negative I could think about this book is that since it’s a collection of a variety of artists, you may not enjoy every one, or agree with how much room certain artists get over your favourite one and minor issues like that. Purchasing only select volumes would really only be the other alternative but at the price the collection is a better deal to just buy it and even though Hi-Fructose does sell previous volumes in their store, the older more sought after ones are often sold out.
In my opinion, if you are into pop surrealism and modern art movements it would be a great addition to your reading list. You will have fun flicking through it and reading the interviews with the artists, especially since you will save yourself from having to seeing all the advertisements that go hand in hand with magazine publications.

For more information about Hi-Fructose magazine click: here!

Below are select pages from the book:

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