Prints on Wood Blog

  • 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.

    Pop!-Goes-the-WeaselPop! Goes the Weasel by Nathan Ota

    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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    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/

  • APP REVIEW: VINTAGE DECO

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    Another free app, guys! And this one’s purpose seems to be to make your photo as obnoxious as humanly possible! Marketed as the “only vintage deco app on the AppStore!!” (those exclamation points are not even mine), this app is probably something worth looking into for its photo editing options, even if you don’t feel like attacking your photo with corny looking clip art.

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    I started with this lovely picture of Alex. Actually, I don’t think that anything needs to be done: this picture is already perfection. But just for you people, I’ll change it.

    The actually cool thing about this app, in my opinion, is that it has some decent photo editing options for a free app. Crop is standard, but you can reduce red eye, smooth blemishes, whiten teeth, draw or insert text, etc. Then come the filters. Again, it was very difficult to make Alex look better, but I finally settled on this filter that highlights the great contrast between her wonderful red hair and pink shirt. A note: don’t forget to save your edits after every step, or be prepared to redo them.

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    This is what I now have to work with. Along the bottom of the display are several options to um, improve the photo. First, you can choose from a variety of frames to put around your photo. There’s plenty of options, so play around with them. Don’t settle, people. Similarly, there are plenty of stickers and random pieces of clip art to add to your photo. Don’t worry; all these gaudy options are free, too.

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    Once you’ve beautified your picture, you can export it to the social media site of your choice or your own camera roll. Here’s the finished product:

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    Sure it looks great on screen, but wait until its printed on wood.

    Alex Funny Face

    Now that is perfection!

    Over all this app gets a score of 2.  Sure, it’s fun to play around with, and has decent editing options, but really.  How many of your friends want a picture of themselves liberally sprinkled with bad clip art?

    RATE

    Cute idea, but all in all, not a spectacular novelty app.

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    For more information on Vintage Deco, please visit: http://appovision.com/vintagedeco/

  • APP REVIEW: FRAMETASTIC

    APP_TITLE

    As a starving college student, I’m always looking for free or cheap things. This app fits into the first category, and is actually none too shabby. What I really liked about it is that it basically gave me the option of combining several photos into one, both with a variety of frames or a collage option.

    When you first open Frametastic, this is basically what you see.

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    To start, you can either choose to arrange your pictures in frames or a collage. I chose frames, purely because, well, the app is named for its fantastic frames. Out of 9 pages of frames for you to chose, there are 3 ½ free pages, which I decided to stick with for the above mentioned reasons. Again, though, the free options basically covered every kind of frame I’d want to stick pictures of my cats, I mean, friends in anyway. If you are richer than I and do want to buy the bonus frames, they’re pretty reasonable; just $0.99 for all 62.

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    Click on your favorite frame, and this is what you get, these wonderful grapes. Yep, those are the first thing to go. As the app instructs, the way to add your photos is to tap on the photo you want to replace. Simple enough, and you get to choose between taking photos with the app or using some from your library.
    Not going to lie, I got really excited when I first downloaded this app because POSSIBILITIES. With several ideas already in mind, I made the mistake of going on Pinterest. Yes, I’m a teenage girl. Sue me.

    Now overly excited, and with far too many ideas in mind, I decided to go with the simplest option just stick with the first idea that popped into my head when I gazed upon this wonderful app: a photo montage of LOVE spelled out by bodies. That. . . sounded unintentionally gruesome. But really, this is a classic. I know my mother has forced my siblings and I into this exact photo op at least twice in the last 19 years, usually for Christmas cards and the like. Or, you know, if she felt like it. Anyway, I decided to share the love (no pun intended) in this particular case and recruit some of my coworkers for help.

    Some of our studly production team was more than up to the task, immediately agreeing to pose. Using my regular camera app on the iPhone, I snapped all of their pictures against a plain background and set to work. As mentioned above, all it takes is a tap to replace those grapes.

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    Then the real fun begins. At the bottom of the interface is a toolbar of sorts with basic features, allowing you to change the width and color of the frame, round the corners, etc. Another tap of the already replaced picture allows you to alter the photo itself, either magnifying or changing the filters. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the options presented. I mean, the standard iPhone camera app has cooler filters. Instagram definitely does. Most of the crappy filters are free (good.) though there are also several additional ones that you can purchase. Again, it’s not too pricey; you can get all 18 extra filters for another $0.99. I stuck with the free ones.

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    Come on, moms of the world. That’s totally something that you can brag about to all of your friends over coffee. Better yet, just keep your beautiful wood print in your purse so you can drag it out the second someone claims that their kids are cuter. We definitely thought it was worth printing on wood:

    app review

    Overall, I’d give this app a 2.5 out of 4.

    RATE

    It was very functional and simplistic, which is not a bad thing considering that it was free to start with. It was easy to use, and I was reasonably pleased with the finished product. The filters sucked, which was my only real complaint, though if you really wanted to, you could probably edit them with some other app before you stuck them in your frame.

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    For more information on Frametastic, please visit: http://imaginaryfeet.com/frametastic/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: TRAVIS LOUIE

    Before our sit down interview, I was only familiar with the works of Travis Louie, not the man. Given the aesthetic of his art and involvement with burlesque-esque art shows (and his... uh... *ahem* "anglo" sounding name) I naturally assumed Travis Louie was some buffalo-plaid wearing rockabilly doofus you'd see pounding quarters on a table top at some crummy dive bar in Long Beach every time "The Wanderer" played on the jukebox. You know, the kind of guy who still owns a chain wallet with an 8-ball embroidered on the front because he thinks it compliments his Rottweiler tattoo.

    Much to my surprise, the man that actually showed up to our building was a stout, well dressed Asian gentleman with a killer ponytail and a cartoonish Brooklyn accent. During his visit, I was able to squeeze in a few interview questions while he was signing his limited edition wood print that was going to be available at Beyond Brookledge.

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    TL1

    POW: We're all familiar with your vintage styled monster portraits, but what I'd really like to know is how your artwork looked like before you settled on this particular style. Where you always painting monsters?

    TRAVIS: Yeah, in one way or another. I think my work, like a lot of other artists, is about identity. One of the reason why I paint these monsters is because it's sort of like a veiled take on racism. Instead of making my artwork really political and putting people of color or of other ethnicities, I chose something that could represent everyone, which would be these unusual characters and their stories. Most of the characters are immigrants. It's sort of like... you ever see that TV show Taxi with that character Andy Kaufman played?

    POW: Latka?

    TRAVIS: Yeah! Latka Gravas. He's not even from a real country but we accept it because we know that before World War I, that part of the world was many countries. Many little countries that were changing constantly, then all of a sudden *BOOM*, this one's gone another one's here. Just like that. They just made up a country just like I made up these monsters, these characters, and they would have the same problems that anybody would have if they were different. As human beings we gravitate toward people that are like us, right? That's why we even have racism in the first place. It wasn't always just full of malice, at first it was more like a protection thing. That's why a zebra knows that "Hey, that's a lion! It doesn't look like us. Stay away from the lions, they've eaten us.". Same thing, just not exactly.

    TL2ZOMBIES by Travis Louie

    POW:  was watching an interview that when asked about the biographies that accompany some of your portrait pieces, you said that you spend a lot of time writing about your characters before painting them. Has there ever been an instance where you spent more time writing than you actually did painting for a particular piece?

    TRAVIS: Sometimes. It's funny, I just have notebooks full of, sometimes simple descriptions, and some of these things never become paintings. I'm always people watching wherever I am and I spend a lot of time in Chinatown, in Queens, and through parts of Manhattan looking around at people, especially during rush hour.

    It's best when it's the summer. When it's 98 degrees outside and I'm just kind of watching the subway, it's amazing. People look just so... defeated, but some people don't. They're like "Hey man, I'm not working now! This is great!" you know, freedom. So I always try to imagine "What did that guy do for a living?" or "Where did he come from? What is that person's story?" I think we all kind of do that don't we? You do that don't you? You know, you'll be at like a McDonalds or something and some guy walks in and he's got a gimpy leg and you think "I wonder how that happened? Was it always like that?"

    POW: "Maybe he was a pirate?"

    TRAVIS: Yeah, you see what I mean? You always just try to imagine these things. So then I write these little stories because I imagine somebody sorta/kinda like that. Also, a bunch of the characters are based on people that I actually know that have little quirks, and I expand on those.

    POW: Touching on that... does anyone you know ever sort of bother you and ask "Oh, hey! Draw my picture!" or "I've got a cool idea for a painting.... me!" ?

    TRAVIS: It happens. I think that's kind of normal. It's like your on Facebook and you post something and your friends will respond like they're your friends, but every now and then you get someone who will respond where it's always about them somehow and you're like "I didn't even talk about that." People are like that, they can't help it.

    TL3FLOWER SISTERS by Travis Louie

    POW: When I look at your artwork, I'm immediately reminded of Felix Nadar's photographic portraits.  I know people like to ask "who's your biggest influence" in terms of artists, but is there a specific photographer you would say that inspired your current style of painting?

    TRAVIS: A guy who lived across the street from me. His name was Elliot Schierer, he was a photo-retoucher who worked in the 1950's. I used to go over there and watch him when I was a little kid. The guy was terrific, and I think he had the most influence on me. It was a different time back then, computers didn't exist, so he would do his retouching right on the negatives. I mean, who does that anymore? It was pretty remarkable, the stuff that he did, and I learned a lot from him. That's probably the biggest influence in terms of photographers.

    As far as a visual style is concerned, it's more about everything that I've ever seen from that time. It all started with those Julian Margaret Cameron photographs I saw years ago as well as all these numerous cabinet cards that I would see in peoples houses. Photographers who were like that was just their job, anyone who would just take portraits. Back then it was more complicated, but it was a way that anybody could get a portrait done because it wasn't as expensive as hiring a painter. Getting a portrait painted was a big deal, it still is today. Most people didn't have that kind of money, but photography was the great equalizer, so a lot of people could just get that done. That's been quite of an influence on my work.

    TL4MONTYS DAY OF THE DEAD by Travis Louie

    POW: I've read that you said you settled on this style of imagery 6 years ago. As an artist, where do you see yourself 6 years from now? Do you still think you'll be continuing this theme by then?

    TRAVIS: I don't know. Things evolve, or devolve, who knows, things change. I see the stories expanding. I also see more complicated paintings with more figures in them than just one or two. I'll probably be doing less paintings at that point because of the time it takes to paint that many characters. I always wanted to do a painting like a Bruegel painting. There's one really great Bruegel painting called Children's Games. It's not a gigantic painting, but throughout the painting there's all these wonderful little old games that we used to play in the streets. There must be a hundred kids in this painting, it's pretty amazing!

    TL5THE AMAZING MORT by Travis Louie

    POW: You recently reached out to POW to produce 100 limited edition wood prints for Beyond Brookledge, an event you'll be attending. Could you tell us a little bit about this event, your limited edition print, and the connection between the two?

    TRAVIS: The connection is through Baby Tattoo and Bob Self. He's the publisher of my book and I always participate in the Baby Tattooville project, so I consider this event as a sister or brother to that. As far as the image chosen, we wanted something that was a lot like what Beyond Brookledge is. To me, Beyond Brookledge is like Vaudeville. I just imagine all these jewish families getting on buses or getting in their cars and traveling to the Catskills in the 1940s to stay at one of the resorts so they could see Henny Youngman, or... who else was around back then? Shecky Greene, George Gobel... they were these stand-up comics that showed up in the early 1950s.

    But it was more than just that, you could see many kinds of variety acts, and that's what this is like. You got people that are doing magic, you got people that'll be doing a mime act... I mean, a mime! How cool is that!? Where do you see a mime? It's a great mime! It's Billy the Mime, and he's amazing! Have you ever seen The Aristocrats? That's him, and that's pretty awesome.

    POW: How would your fans be able to get one of these?

    TRAVIS: They got to come here (Beyond Brookledge). They got to participate and become part of the show, then they can get a print.

    POW: Cool, thanks Travis.

    TRAVIS: No problem.

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    Unfortunately, Beyond Brookledge has come and gone. (I was too busy designing the booth for Dwell to post this interview.) Those of you who were able to get one by attending, congrats! As for the rest of you... there's always next year. ;)

    For more information on Travis Louie, please visit: http://www.travislouie.com/

    For more information on Beyond Brookledge, please visit: http://www.beyondbrookledge.com/

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