Prints on Wood Blog

  • ComicCon 2014

    Embarking on our first Comiccon experience, we had little idea of the madness that was about to consume the entire downtown Gas Lamp District of San Diego.  Well over 300,000 people convened at the 4 day convention to honor all manners of comic book and pop culture genres.

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    Thankfully we had a few friends who had been down this road before and prepared us what was to come!  But somethings you can't prepare for...

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    Our first stop was Tara McPherson's booth, who had sold out of the Inerita and Cosmic Serpent wood prints during the first few days of ComicCon.  Stay tuned for two more wood print releases in August with Tara both featuring art from her Merry Karnowsky show opening August 2nd.  If your in LA come by the gallery on Saturday, RSVP to RSVP@mkgallery.com.

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    At 3DRetro's booth we found Nathan Ota signing a new toy release, Suited Birds, of which we could not pass up the opportunity to make sure we got one of these cool figures.  Those who missed the opportunity to get one at ComicCon, a few are still available at 3DRetro.com

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    A few steps away we found the booth belonging to Prints on Wood gallery artist Jose Emroca Flores, who was having a very successful first show at ComicCon.  Jose will be the next featured artist interview where we will here more about his ComicCon experience.

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    About now our 8 year old son was pleading to head over to the LEGO booth to learn all about the NEW LEGO BATMAN 3 - BEYOND GOTHEM video game.  He was more then thrilled to be one of the first to play the unreleased game, but frosting on the cake was listening to one of the creators of the game talk about the new levels and characters introduced in this version of the game.

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    After several hours of video games and lego building we were back to the fine art and toys section where were found Jeff Soto's new stackable toy by DKE Toys.  There were only a few left, if you hurry you may be able to get one too!

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    On our way out, we stopped by Scott Tolleson's booth and picked up this little zombie character.  In the end, I guess the zombies weren't that scary after all.

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    Until next year ComicCon...

  • APP REVIEW: TANGENT

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    This week I’ve decided to give the app “Tangent” a chance at some photography fun seeing as it was voted one of the best apps for this past year.

    What I liked about the initial screen was that it was nice and neat. I hate when apps have a million buttons and more ads than a late night TV informercial. What’s cool is that the small lightbulb icon pictured took me to an inspiration page with some awesome user created photos. Thanks for the ideas!

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    I went ahead and chose a picture I had taken of the Space Needle during my trip to Seattle this past month.

    Once you choose the picture and size you’d want to use, the app gives you the option of  either starting your own fresh design or using one of their already set up templates, which you can then alter to your taste.

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    I chose the start fresh option myself but I did look around their templates and saw that a majority of them were very well put together.

    The app then gives you three icons from which to choose from: shapes, textures, and color schemes. Many designs are included in the initial purchase, but you can also buy more intricate shapes and patterns. I found I already had a ton of options to work with in the starter pack and stuck with that.

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    After messing around with the various color schemes and shapes, I decided on a simple line frame for my picture. I noticed that the app doesn’t have a “filter” setting like Instagram does, where you can change the color of the actual image to black & white, etc. You would first have to alter it on another app and then work from there.

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    Once you hit done, you are given the ability to choose from various saving and storing options. I really liked that the Instagram feature was integrated for us addicts, but you can also stick with traditional features such as email and text message. There are also other Pixite LLC apps to choose from for a seamless integration.

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    Overall I would give this app a 4, it was great to use and I was able to create a lovely design in no time.

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    Now, on to the wood!

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    I am really impressed with how this app printed on wood!  The app saved my image in a file size large enough to print this 6x6 wood print with Natural Gloss finish in great resolution.  This app is well worth the $2 to add some fun designs to your photos.

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    For more information on Tangent, please visit:  http://tangentapp.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: MAT MILLER

    In this digital age where computers are credited for making everything better, easier and simpler, one wonders if the art of illustration using good ole fashion pen and paper will eventually be lost?   What would fine art become with out the hand drawn images on textured panels?  I for one hope we never find out.  As we sit down with UK illustrator Mat Miller, we find the passion for creating, learning, questioning will never be lost in him as he blends the art of illustration and technology seamlessly.

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    POW:  First and foremost I have to say your art is amazing! It's so intricate and vivid. Is there a central message you intend to communicate with your pieces?

    Mat:  Thanks very much!  There isn’t so much a central message but I do hope to create pieces that enable the viewer to take a little time out and explore some of the detail that I enjoy putting in there.  I try to combine this with compositions and subject matter that are dream like in appearance.  I’m not one for heavy themes in my work but if it enables others to ponder on their own questions surrounding a piece then I’d like to think I’m doing my job properly.

     

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    Forest Warden by Mat Miller

    POW:  I noticed many of your subjects are animals, but never ordinary zoo animals. Your animals seem to almost have special powers…. is there a reason for this?

    Mat:  I always feel like there is more to our animal cousins than meets the eye.  I like to think that they have altogether different purposes on this planet than we presume and I try to illustrate this in my work.  This is where the fun comes in and I can and ask questions of myself creatively and technically.

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    Land of the Sleeping Giant by Mat Miller

    POW:  I understand you're originally from the U.K where you studied Creative Imaging at the University of Huddersfield. Have you always known you wanted to be an artist? Was there a particular moment and experience you can remember as the turning point where you realized this is what you wanted to be?

    Mat:  I think I’ve always known that I’d like to pursue a career in art and design in some shape or form. When you enjoy something from an early age and have the added bonus of being told that you’re quite good at it by your friends and teachers then it kind of becomes part of who you are.

    In 2009, a year after graduation and completely out of the blue, I received an email from Digital Arts Magazine here in the UK. They asked if I wanted to be included in the best young illustrators feature in their upcoming issue and I was over the moon.  At this point in my life I was quite low with my father having died a few years previous and I was lacking any real direction in terms of my artwork and life in general.  Seeing the final printed page spread gave me a real kick up the backside and a lot of confidence to move forward with my work.  This was without doubt the biggest catalyst to moving me to the place I’m at today.  I should stress that this place still only feels like the start of where I want to be.  There are so many things that I want to refine and do better and lots of things I want to achieve.

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    Journeying Spirit by Mat Miller

    POW:  Looking at several of your pieces, one of them being "Terror from Above", which is more traditional, and then comparing and contrasting it with "Doom and Bloom" for example, which is heavily influenced by surrealism, which style would you say you relate to most?

    Mat:  I definitely relate to a surrealist approach in my work today more than ever.  ‘Doom and Bloom’ however, was quite an early piece of mine and although I’ve taken something forward from creating it as I do with every piece I make, I’m working in much different style now.  I think you can see this from my most recent works in my Prints On Wood gallery. To me it’s a better representation of the work I enjoy making as opposed to the work I thought I ought to be making when I was a little more naive.

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    Journeying Spirit by Mat Miller

    POW:  There is no doubt that you find inspiration in other artists and their works. Such is apparent in "The Unstoppabull Force", where you channel Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave of Kanagawa". Are there any other artists that you look up to and are moved by?

    Mat:  Absolutely!  Some of them are also on Prints On Wood.  Jeff Soto’s work is always an inspiration.  He is truly one of a kind and I think his influence on a new generation of artists will be very apparent in the future.  Rodney Matthews is also a man in a league of his own.  I discovered him back in school when researching imagery for Lewis Carroll’s poem, ‘Jabberwocky’.  He has remained a favourite since then and I hope to meet him one day.  Others in no particular order include Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha, Camille Rose Garcia, Yves Klein, Greg Simkins, Aaron Horkey, H.R.Giger, Yuko Shimizu and Joe Fenton.

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    Seeking New Heights by Mat Miller

    POW:  Where do you come up with most of your ideas? Are you ever swayed by other art such as music and films?

    Mat:  Most of my ideas come as a result of daydreaming at inappropriate moments and taking the odd walk out into nature.  Scribbling down words and doing good old-fashioned brainstorming is a big part of my creative process and a fun part of it too.

    I constantly have music playing as I’m working.  It’s not directly inspiring for me but is very conducive for creativity.  I’m a big film and anime fan.  I love the worlds that Guillermo Del Toro and Hiyao Miyazaki make.  I think they should work together.

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    Thank you Mat for taking the time to answer a few questions and inspire us to find more creativity in our everyday life.

    For more information on Mat Miller, please visit his website: http://www.matmillerillustration.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: JONATHAN HABENS

    Is life all that different on the other side of the ocean?  We share the same obsessions, fane over the same designs, find a common ground of passion for the arts.   After a few minutes with Jonathan Habens, I forget he is half a world away and realize what a wonderfully small world the internet has made us.

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    POW:  Is it inappropriate to tell you how much I fangirled over your Game of Thrones synopsis/illustration? Do you get that reaction from many of your collectors/fans?

    Jonathan:  Yes I did, but I am a fan myself so I completely overlook the fan-girl hysteria and usually join in with Game of Thrones chat. I would love to create some work that would be featured at one of the Mondo/HBO art show.

    POW:  Apart from your art talent, I read both you and your mother have a talent for singing. Is this something you have ever pursued?

    Jonathan: Yes, My mother is very musical, and growing up I was involved quite heavily in Musical Theater and dabbled with some instruments. However I must confess, I am nowhere near as good as her, and although I love to sing it has become a rather private love affair.

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     The Green Knight by Jonathan Habens

    POW:  A lot of your work seems focused on androgyny and gender expression. Has this always threaded through your artwork or has it evolved, becoming more previvalent in recent years?

    Jonathan:  I wouldn't say a lot of my work, I have always been fascinated by portraits. Androgyny worked its way into my work from trying to capture more of a fantasy, ethereal look. Old oil portraits of angels and even some Greek statues have this combination of beautiful & strong human forms.

    Whilst at university I met lots of people with so many varied styles & aesthetics, I realized that someone’s aesthetic could really tell their story through a portrait. From there the peaces just fell into place.

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     Forest Guardian by Jonathan Habens

    POW:  You mentioned still preferring to start with pencil and paper. Is this considered ‘old-fashioned’ in the art world? At what point in the creation of your art pieces do your images become digital?

    Jonathan:  I think their will always be a place for traditional techniques; printmaking, drawing and painting onto canvas. I personally enjoy working away from the computer, there is so much you can create with technology and I do appreciate how talented many digital artists are, but for me it’s almost too much. I can’t edit/undo my ink drawings and I like that restriction!

    POW:  A lot of your work featured on your Tumblr is on t-shirts. How did you become interested in working with textiles? Do you see yourself with a clothing line someday?

    Jonathan: Absolutely, it's a big dream of mine to design for fabrics, even wallpapers. I love seeing the application of my drawings onto different textures and mediums, I have actually spend the last month screen-printing T-shirts to showcase at some ‘art to sell events’ this summer.

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     Squirrels by Jonathan Habens

    POW: On that same line, how do you think the print on demand art sites has changed the art community? Do you think it has a positive or negative effect or neither?

    Jonathan:  I think it's a great way for new artists to test the waters, I was so excited when I first realized how easy it was to set up and account and have the potential to sell world-wide.

    POW:  I understand you are on several print on demand websites, how has your experience with Prints on Wood differed from the other print on demand art sites?

    Jonathan:  I love the look of Prints on Wood, I've featured the link button first in the top left of my website. It’s nice that they are able to specialize to art-prints, and I have noticed they really celebrate the artist’s story. I do think it takes time to build up an audience for each different platform, I am hoping that by collating my different shops, all linking back to my new website, it will become easier for people to find what they want.

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    For more information on Jonathan Habens, please visit his website at:  http://www.jonhabens.com/

  • Comic-Con Exclusive with Tara McPherson

    Tara McPherson stopped by the office today to sign a couple limited edition wood prints to be released exclusively at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

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    What is Comic-Con?  Simply described as the ultimate gathering place for nerds and followers of every fandom imaginable.  Almost as notable as the guests and stars that attend the show are the elaborate costumes of the fans who come from all over the world to attend and show to off their interpretation of their favorite character.   Needless to say, prime people watching opportunity.

    How do you get a ticket?  Well if you don't have one already, your best bet is to start planning for next year.  The final round of tickets were sold out in just a few hours over 4 months ago!

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    For those who were fortunate enough to buy/win/finagle a couple of tickets to San Diego ComicCon make sure to stop by Tara McPherson's booth #4922 to check out the two Prints on Wood, "Inertia" and "Cosmic Serpent"  plus she will have 3 new t-shirt designs and a whole lot more!

    If you cannot make it to ComicCon and live in the Los Angeles area, mark your calendars for Saturday, August 2nd, a opening reception at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery featuring Tara McPherson, Audrey Kawasaki and Deedee Cheriel.

    And stay tuned for a coming Prints on Wood release with Tara in early August.

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    For more information about Tara McPherson, please visit: http://www.taramcpherson.com/

    For more information on San Diego Comic-Con, please visit http://www.comic-con.org/

  • APP REVIEW: MOMENTAGE

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    Call me old fashioned, but my primary social media site is still Facebook. That’s right. The grandaddy of all social media, and I’m still on it. That’s not to say I don’t have a Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. but Facebook is still the first thing I browse when I wake up in the morning.

    However, an event last week finally prompted me to start looking beyond good old Facebook and start exploring my options. It was a conversation with my grandmother that went a little bit like this:

    “I’m on this website now. Book face, or something like that. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

    Know? Well, I just about fell out of my chair. My 80+ year old grandmother, who has not yet embraced the concept of texting, is now on Facebook. But it got better:

    “Do you know how to work this thing? My cousin says she wants to be my friend. What does that mean? Can I be your friend? I don’t want too many people on mine, so don’t tell your friends, okay?”

    Yep. I’m going to be Facebook friends with my grandmother. Scary, right?

    So in my epic (and hasty) quest to find a new social media site, I stumbled upon Momentage.

    You’ve never heard of Momentage. Heck, I’ve never heard of Momentage. But it’s one of those things you’ll get interested in, and fast.

    When I first opened the app, I was greeted with this sight:

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    Kind of adorable, right? The shoes, not the girls. This is basically the overall newsfeed for Momentage, where you can see and be jealous of the wonderful photography featured. Now sufficiently humbled, I followed the prompts to swipe right.  With the first right swipe you see the newsfeed specifically of people you are following, the next swipe displays your account activity, and the final swipe shows your brand new account. Since I chose to set mine up using Facebook, (I know, I know) my current profile picture was just transferred, as was my name and information.

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    Next on my list was to create my own moment. The plus sign in the top right corner gives you the choice of taking a picture through the app or uploading from your camera. Since I had just visited lovely San Diego, I decided to use some of pictures from that trip.

    I chose six pictures, which I then beautified using Momentage’s standard touch up options. My advice to all you budding photographers? Filters aren’t the only way to edit your photos. Play around with all the other options, like brightness, color saturation, etc.

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    As I mentioned, I have Instagram and often get frustrated with it. Why can I only post one photo at a time? Momentage doesn’t limit you, nor does it flood your timeline if you want to post more than one photo. There is also the opportunity to post video/sound clips, which is cool if you want to expand the impact of your collection. You get to name your moment, write a description, and create hashtags. #because #yesican #whoevencameupwiththesestupidthings?

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    For your critiquing pleasure:

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    Then, just to rub it in all your friends’ faces that you’re on a cooler app than them, you can share your moment to various other social media platforms.

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    Momentage is like Instagram’s sleeker, cooler cousin. If you are interested in art or photography, or just like to see good art and photography, then this is your app. Plus, for all you hipsters, there is the added bonus of joining before it becomes cool.

    Now let's check out how this Moment looks printed on wood!  Hey, wait a minute, I have six photos in my moment, do you know what this means?  I can take advantage of Prints on Wood's 6 prints for $75 special offer.  Just add six 5x7 or 6x6 prints at ¼” thickness and any finish to your cart, enter the promo code 6FOR75 then check out.

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    Ta da! My beautiful moment paired with spectacular wood canvases is sure to be a winning combination!

    As far as social media apps go, this is a gem. Didn’t I already bore you with praises of the photographic quality of everything on this app? Cause I wasn’t kidding. If you want any kind of inspiration or to see real artistic talent, then I highly encourage you to try this out. I freely admit that I’m not tech savvy (to my father’s disappointment) but this interface is sleek and completely intuitive. Every comment I’ve seen so far is kind and constructive, and did I mention that most of the photography is jaw dropping? Overall, I’d give this app 4 stars, and I’ve already recommended it to my friends. Not my Facebook friends, mind you.

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    Move over, Instagram. Momentage is on its way up.

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    For more information on Momentage, please visit: http://www.momentage.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: NATHAN OTA

    There are few things more humbling then when an artist comes back to release more prints on wood with us and none more amazing then Mr. Nathan Ota.

    We are thrilled to announce an upcoming timed release of On My Mind by Nathan Ota.  This 3/4" thick, 24" x 24" square print on bright white finish for $250 will debut on Wednesday, July 16th around noon PST.

    This week we were able to grab a few minutes from Nathan to ask him questions about life, art, teaching and why he is called a "hard-ass" by his students.

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    Whiplash by Nathan Ota

    POW: Geometric shapes seem to appear in many of your works, including “On My Mind.”  Was this born out of your early graffiti days?

    Nathan: Although geometric shapes appeared in my early works as graffiti artist, the box that appears in this painting and reappears in others derived from the idea of being confined in a box, my studio.  Most of all my work gets done within the 4 walls that make up my studio and always thought of it as a comfortable safe space where I can be creative and not bothered.  I do still use elements that appeared in my early works as a graph artist like drips, bubbles, clouds, circles and sparkles.

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    On My Mind by Nathan Ota

    POW:  I read that your passion for traditional arts did not come quickly, it wasn’t until college that you really started to get “inspired by the masters.”  Why do you think you were resistant to traditional arts at first?

    Nathan:  I was always intrigued by popular culture and even though the traditional arts was always looked at and admired, artists like Olivia, Robert Williams and Street Art kind of took precedence over the traditional.

    POW: Was there a moment or a particular artist/teacher that ignited the passion for traditional arts in you?

    Nathan: Yes, it wasn't until I took Art History in college where the stories and the backgrounds of the artists were talked about where I really started to take an interest.

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    Early Bird by Nathan Ota

    POW: It is interesting that you credit your college years as the most formative years of growth as an artist/illustrator, and now you dedicate so much of your time to teaching.  Is this a coincidence?

    Nathan: I never thought I would see myself as a teacher.  I'm a really quiet person by nature and it all came unnaturally at first but when I started to realize that these students really wanted to hear and learn what I know, then it became a little more comfortable.

    POW: In student reviews, your classes are described using the words: demanding, challenging, rewarding, A LOT of work, hard-ass, helpful and fair.  But every review gave you high scores, does this surprise you?

    Nathan: I take teaching very seriously. The ride I took in my college years was so strenuous, serious and demanding but it trained me to be a professional with good work ethics.  When I get students that think what I do is simple, I get offended by that.  Those are the ones that I have the most trouble with.  This is not a field that you can let up in, one day you can be hot and the other, totally forgotten.  That's a scary thought and what I try to teach them is to stay hungry and always thrive to do better.

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    Fuzzy Egg by Nathan Ota

    POW: If you could say one thing to an aspiring art student, what would it be?

    Nathan: Be very passionate with what you do.  Don't forget that this all started with a love to create.  If you can make a living doing what you love that's great but if you can't, will you stop creating?  I think every artist should ask themselves that question, students or not.

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    POW: We are excited for the upcoming Prints on Wood release of “On My Mind”, which originally debuted at your La Luz de Jesus solo show in November, 2012.  Can you tell us more about this piece and why it was chosen for a print on wood release.

    Nathan: This was a new type of piece for me.  I'm always getting people telling me to do a female character, this one was my answer to that.  It also got a lot of attention at my show.  This print will be printed exactly the size as the original and am really excited to see how it all comes out.

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    On My Mind will be offered as a 6 day timed release of up to 50 signed and numbered prints starting on Wednesday, July 16th around noon PST and continue until Tuesday, July 22nd at noon PST.

    For more information on Nathan, please visit his website at:  http://www.nathanota.com/

  • APP REVIEW: FACETUNE

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    The progressive march of technology is always something that will amaze me. I mean, a mere three years ago, I had one of those sliding keyboard phones. You know, the brick-like ones that didn’t crack when you dropped them, only had rear facing cameras, and that you actually had to turn around, hope to god that your aim was good, and fumble around for the button to take the picture?

    Yes, that’s right. Selfies were a real struggle in those days. That is the reason that Steve Jobs invented the iPhone with a front facing camera. To make the #selfie struggle not as life threatening.

    Anyway, now we as a society are facing a new problem- the unflattering selfie. When I take selfies, I am always expecting one glamorous picture- and then cringing when I look at the screen and discover another. Well, that zit wasn’t that big this morning. It must be the lighting. Am I right?

    That is the precisely why Facetune was invented, a miracle app that is basically everything a novice photo editor like myself could dream of. I figured the starving college student excuse was wearing a little thin, so for the not too hefty price of $2.99, I splurged on this app.

    Now, for some reason, my coworkers scattered when I went downstairs with my camera ready, so instead, I decided to dig into the archives and use this picture of my lovely family.

    Obviously, there’s a lot to fix with this photo. I mean, my sisters are in it after all. In other words, this will be the ultimate test of Facetune.

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    Similar to many picture editing apps, the features are all arranged across the bottom. As tempting as it was, no one was cropped out of this selfie, and so I moved on. Next up is the whitening tool, which does come in handy, especially with close up photos such as this one. Since it is my first time using this app, helpful little directions kept popping up along with the options to change anything.

    Most of my frustration with other photo editing apps, other than their clear limitations, I mean, is that it is an all or nothing deal. Mess up with the blemish remover? Get over excited with that red eye tool? Start from the beginning. Facetune not only lets you go back one step at any time, but also gives you the option to compare your work in progress to the original. Wonderful. (That wasn’t even sarcastic.)

    So now that we’re all done with whitening and wishing that it was that easy at the dentist’s, we can move on to smoothing. Is that a zit I see on my sister’s face? It’s more than one that doesn’t need to be there. Here’s a helpful before and after.

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    Now that you’re all blinded by that horrifying image, we can move on. The detail tool is another cool one, making you look like you put way more time into your makeup than you actually did. As great as this tool is, it’s one that you need to keep a light touch on, otherwise you end up with freaky light splotches across the shadows you were trying to lighten. This worked wonders on the shadows under our eyes and otherwise highlighting those particular features, but I did end up using the eraser button a few times.

    The reshape tool is another one that you need to have a light touch on, otherwise you’re going to end up looking like someone stood you in front of some funhouse mirrors before taking your picture. In other words, not flattering. If you want your grandma to recognize your picture when you’re done, do not go crazy with this tool.

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    Now, I won’t go in detail on the other tools, except to say that they are pretty great as well. Facetune’s helpful tutorials guided me through their tones (another way to get rid of the bags under your eyes), and their artful defocus and filtering tools.

    Here’s the before and after:

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    Now I wouldn’t go as far as to call us supermodels, but even I’m not cringing at my sisters’ faces anymore. Hard to believe, I know. Good thing we’re related and I have blackmail material, or they might even sue me for this post. For now, though, I’ll appease them with this beautiful photo that is definitely worthy of being printed on wood:

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    I’m in love. With this app. As I stated before, I’m a complete novice at this whole retouching thing, but I’d like to think I have at least a decent eye for photography. For an incredibly reasonable price, this app provided all the retouching features I could dream of, and packaged them in an easy-to-use, intuitive interface with tutorials and help available every step of the way. Despite all of my #selfie jokes earlier, this app is actually incredibly useful, and applicable to any portrait photo you could want to improve. For you, Facetune, four stars and a letter of recommendation to anyone who asks.

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    For more information on Facetune, please visit http://www.facetuneapp.com/

  • Chogrin Munoz X Guillermo Del Toro

    Most fans can only dream of meeting their idols, but Joseph Game, know in the art world as Chogrin Munoz, is living that dream. Last year, the famous film director Guillermo Del Toro personally visited a gallery that Chogrin curated in tribute to his films. This year, he was invited to participate in the exhibit for the first ever DelToroCon, which will be happening online this weekend, July 10-13.

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    Guillermo Del Toro at Chogrin's show

    Chogrin, whose works for this specific exhibit focus on Del Toro’s original films including Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth, was ecstatic to receive an invitation to the con. Most of the other artists were invited because they had worked on Del Toro’s films, which he jokingly described as being in the “Del Toro circle.”

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    “Guillermo is so great to fans. A lot of the time he ends up working with them, hiring artists like myself to do concept art or storyboards for his films.”

    Chogrin’s own interest in Del Toro’s work began about ten years ago when he got Blade II on dvd and watched the special features (which featured del Toro).

    “I saw a Mexican director who was passionate about his work. As somebody from latin America, I was immediately inspired and moved as an artists and began to study his original film work, and what he had to say. I’m just an artist / fan that hopes to be able to work / collaborate with Del Toro someday. That is one of my dreams. I have such respect and appreciation for that man, a true master.

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    Chogrin is an established curator in addition to being an artist.

    “It started as kind of a joke of doing art galleries for everything we liked,” he laughed. “My friends and I graduated from art school about seven years ago and were saying that we should do art shows about what we were passionate about.”

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    The West Coast had galleries featuring pop art and culture, which is what the Philadelphia-based graduates wanted to replicate on the East Coast.

    “We found a comic book store with a gallery area- well, a blank wall- and that was kind of our opening ground for experimentation.”

    After their first successful show, Chogrin and his friends were asked back, which has multiplied into over thirty art shows in the last six years.

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    “It’s kind of like being a band,” he said, “and art shows are like going on tour.”

    The majority of artists he features in his shows return every year, which produces a sort of rapport, and drives him to keep improving his shows. Each year, the shows get a little more refined, and everybody goes up a level.

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    “We try to make works that everybody talks about, that they want to keep coming back to,” he explained.

    For more information about Chogrin, please visit:  http://chogrin.tumblr.com/.

    If you are interested in learning more about DELTOROCON2014, please visit: http://deltorocon.com/.

  • Chopping Block: Richard J. Oliver

    In the day to day hum of life; raising early, heading off to work, returning late only to repeat it all again the next day, you might be fortunate enough to run into the likes of Richard Oliver, who see the hustle and bustle of life in a completely different way.  An obstacle becomes a hurdle, idle time an opportunity to gather with friends (alive or dead), art and fatherhood the highest priority.

    In the midst of his current whirlwind of art, music, tour and family, Richard's humor and gratitude is not lost.

    You can imagine our excitement to partner with him on the fine art wood print release of "Young Seiren", limited to 20 signed and numbered prints, available now.

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    Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 12.21.29 AM

     

    POW:  The whole world is currently captivated with the World Cup. Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?

    Richard:  If I had time to watch soccer, I would definitely put that time to better use and read a book or exercise my body and mind. I take nothing away from football the sport but even as a boy, I'd always prefer to play it than watch it. Anyway, Rugby is the only sport I deem worth watching. That's a mans game!!! I kid. In all honesty, being a father of two young lads, and a struggling artist my time is completely stretched between the two, and besides finding ways to stay healthy for my sons, I simply can't justify the luxury of watching tv when I have a home to keep and a family to be with.

    POW:  I've read you love to run, what got you interested in running? Where is the most amazing place you’ve run?

    Richard:  I started to run because all my other sporting loves were cut short when I herniated a bunch of disks in my neck. I was an avid surfer, snowboarder, skateboarder, mountain-biker and trained in the art of Muay Thai. In fact I am surprised that my injuries are this limited. I have come to know myself and I am so lucky to have a wife who also understands me. I am gifted/cursed with an overactive mind and body, and left unreleased I am like a dog locked in a small room - I would destroy everything! I have to burn excess energy each day in order to quiet my mind enough to allow true inspiration and wisdom to come through the silence. Running turned out to be the least neck impact sport especially after I adopted a mid foot minimal running style. I use running as my meditation and can often be found laughing or bawling on a trail somewhere in the wilderness in rapture of the beauty of life. I have run all over the world, but I think the most memorable rain I made was in a breathtaking city called Bologna in Italy. I didn't expect such beauty and run for 4-5 hours. It's the best way in my opinion to really see and get a feel for place. I'm happy to say I've started riding a little again and I am glad to find that my neck has improved almost 90%.

    THE ICE LAKE SWAN by Richard J. Oliver

    POW:  You’ve lived in the U.S. for awhile. Coffee or tea?

    Richard:  Coffee. but sh*t coffee. Don't get me wrong, I love a quality cup of coffee but if I allow myself to become accustomed to quality coffee, I'm sure it would break the bank. What can I say, you can take the boy out of Wales but you can't take Wales out of the boy!!

    POW:  You mentioned that several of your works were influenced by Welsh folklore. Was folklore a big part of your childhood? 

    Richard:  My early works were often based on the welsh stories found in the Mabinogion. Historically, before writing was an available skill adopted by the working peasant, the Welsh used oral narrative to pass on information and tales, therefore often the translations and way the tales were interpreted changed when passed from generation to generation. I discovered the Mabinogion in my teens and I was both baffled and inspired by the content and visuals they describe. Nowadays I prefer Sufi poetry and the works of the Brothers Grimm to fuel my imagination and some of my paintings.

    POW:  Do you have a favorite Welsh tale?

    Richard:  Not a favorite tale as such but I find myself often returning to the mythical creature the Minotaur. As a young student I was exposed to a sculpture of a seated minotaur looking intently at his human hand desperately trying to make sense of it. This image resonated deeply with me. I feel that the dichotomy and struggle of our human condition and our being condemned to spend our lives trying to balance and reunite our animal physical side with our spiritual side is a journey most self aware people will be forced to take.

    'The Escape' RJO 32x42 framed 2013 Oil and mixed media on canvas

     THE ESCAPE by Richard J. Oliver

    POW:  The images in your works are often of children, have any of them been your own children?

    Richard:  I have painted my elder son a few times but find that I bring too much emotional baggage to the work and it stifles me. In fact, many of my paintings are not meant to be children. I completely understand that exaggeration of certain features give my characters a childlike look and I of course harness this to some extent to tap into an instinctive response in the viewer but at closer look, many of the figures I paint have adolescent or even young adult body structure. Many aspects of my work have questionable perspective, spatial and gravitational elements which I hope adds to the fantasy of the paintings and unworldliness.

     

    (Photo by ©Jon Lake 2014)

     

    POW:  You often quote classic literature authors such as Emerson and Holmes, in what way has their influence shaped your art over the years.

    Richard:  All my friends (yes I call these teachers my friends even though most of them are dead) have been fundamental to my growth as an adult. I can not begin to stress how much their genius and guidance has given me lifted me, dropped me, torn me a parts and stitched me back together again. I love these people and am so grateful that they came to me as teachers when I, the pupil was deemed ready and worthy. However for all the words and messages they share with me, I know and fully understand that they are only sign posts and maps and the real discoveries will come from within. All their wisdom point to the inner spirit within man and all the worlds words can only show a route but will never walk it for you, we all have to take the journey ourselves. I am so grateful that these masters have come to accompany me on my journey and the strength and courage I get from them keeps my path straight.

     

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    POW:  We feel so honored to release the limited edition print "Young Seiren" with you while at the same time you are having a gallery opening in New York and then embarking on a European tour with your band "No Devotion." How do you balance your success, family and still remain so gracious and humble?

    Richard:  Stop it, the honour is all mine! For starters it is not my place to accept the label humble, though gratitude has become a massive part of my life and development. I have been guided to see that my expressions and my experiences are actually the expressions of the source of all life itself albeit, through me. I can not be other than gracious for such a blessed and sacred role of the creative with the added privilege of experiencing not only said creation, but all creation. As an instrument of life, this fragile existence, when known as such, can only be experienced with authentic gratitude.

    Believe it or not, I do not speak of religion here and have for many years studied both theology and atheism, I speak from only myself and of the place, the un-namable place behind where our mind resides. My reading lead me to the water and with a feverish thirst I drank, and in the quiet and by way of the innocence before judgement I awakened for a moment to see some truth. Einstein said "try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value". I hold this wisdom close.

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    Thank you Richard for sharing so much of your wisdom with us.

    Prints on Wood is proud to present:"Young Seiren", a sign and numbered limited edition release by Richard J. Oliver. This 12 x 12 print will be offered on a 1/2" thick bright white wood canvas and retails for $175

    For more information on Richard J. Oliver, please visit his website: http://www.richardjoliver.com/

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