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Monthly Archives: March 2015

  • Chopping Block: Dan May

    While browsing through the dreamlike work of this week’s artist, I couldn’t help but feel like I was pulled into one of the crazy, whimsical storybooks I used to read as a kid. Each painting possesses a unique and captivating story of its own. The painter of these tale-like images, Dan May, is in high demand around the world for his mysterious imagery and flowing style. Currently residing in Michigan with his wife, Kendal and son, Max, Dan continues to create paintings, many of which  feature gentle creatures exuding deep, mysterious emotion.  Intrigued by his original style and highly detailed technique, we had Dan tell us a bit about the process behind his creations.



    POW: We’ve really been looking forward to the release of our first wood print with you, “April Showers.” Like a majority of your artwork, the painting features a creature and its encounter with nature.  Can you tell us more about the the symbolism behind this character, the leaf on his head and the rain drops coming down all around him?

    May: Thanks! So happy to be working together on this release. While there is not any specific symbolism with this painting, I painted it as the snow is melting, uncovering leaves left behind from last fall. Thankfully, there are plenty of signs that spring is just around the corner. I would say that creatures tend to experience some of the things I see and feel!


    April Showers by Dan May

    POW: I’ve found that some artists incorporate personal elements into their paintings, elements that aren’t easily recognizable to the viewer. Can you let us in on any discrete elements in your artwork that the average reader might not pick up on?

    May: While my work is not entirely autobiographical, I do use the world that I have created to convey issues that I have personally experienced as well as my observations of the world at large. I do like to keep a certain degree of ambiguity with the work, but I can say that some of my work deals with the loss of my father. I think that most of us have dealt with loss on some level. My hope is that although the images have a personal meaning, they will also transcend my interpretation and seep into the viewers mind, inspiring stories that they can connect with.


    Where Time Beckons the Wicked by Dan May

    POW: Viewing your work, I can’t help but to be reminded of children’s books like Where The Wild Things Are and pretty much every Doctor Seuss book. Now that you have a young son, have you given thought to creating and/or illustrating a children’s book? one? Any Ideas for a storyline?

    May: Those were some of my favorite books as a child, I am certainly looking forward to sharing them with my son. I have a few stories in mind that I would love to turn into books at some point. I am enjoying watching my son grow, no doubt he will inspire plenty of stories/paintings in the years to come. Honestly, there are not enough hours in the day... I just really wish I could stop time so that I could write and illustrate a bunch of books!


    POW: Speaking of books, you have a book of your art coming out this year, can you tell us more about it and when it will be available?

    May: Yes, my wife and I are collaborating on a book compiling the last few years of 'Gentle Creatures' paintings. The book will feature the paintings, sketches, short stories, etc. The birth of our son slowed down the process a bit, but we have been working on it whenever we find the time. We do not have an exact release date, but when we do you'll certainly hear about it!

    Dan May, ContemplationofJupiterRose

    POW:“The Imagination of Dan May”, is a closed Facebook page one of your devout fans created as “a safe place to enjoy the art of one of my favorite artists. His imagination and the emotion it brings out is fascinating to me and many others.”  What an incredible compliment to say the least, what does it feel like to have that kind of impact on people?

    May: This was very nice! The fact that people take time out of their day to enjoy an image that I created, share my work with friends and family, or invest their hard earned money to hang my art in their home is truly humbling to me. I am so grateful to have such amazing fans. As a child, I could not have even imagined that my work could have such an affect on others.


    Wish You Were Here by Dan May

    POW: You offer an art subscription for your collectors which sounds like a great way to get an art collection started, how has the response been to the subscription?  Are there still spots available?

    May: Yes, we offered a subscription featuring this years Gentle Creatures prints along with a few other bonuses. Figured it would be a nice way for collectors to secure all of the prints, build their collection, and get a little discount for their loyalty. We offered 50 spots at the beginning of the year and we currently have 9 spots remaining. Once the spots are full we will close it out for the year.


    Echoes of Existence by Dan May

    POW: This winter was particularly severe through the mid-west and east coast states.  Do you think the weather affected your work more than usual this year?  How does it affect, if at all, the characters and their surroundings in your paintings?

    May: Surprisingly, this year in Northern Michigan was not nearly as bad as last year, snow-wise. We had several days below zero, but there was plenty of sun. This was refreshing as anyone who has lived in an area that is grey and cold knows! The weather definitely affects my work and overall mood. It always has. Living in an area that has four distinct seasons (all very beautiful) it definitely seeps into my work. I love nature and outdoor activities and I'm constantly taking in my surroundings and making mental notes for future paintings.


    For more information on Dan May, please visit: http://danmay.net/

  • App Review: Afterlight


    If you’re anything like me, you probably get a kick out of tinkering with photos on editing apps, while playing the game, “ooh, what does this button do?” Well, photo effect fanatics rejoice! Because app I’ll be reviewing today is said to be a photo-tinkerer’s dream. Ranking at number 5 in the top paid apps on iTunes, Afterlight seems to be a crowd pleaser. Curious to find out why, I downloaded the app and began dabbling around.

    The Afterlight homepage is simple and straightforward. It presents two buttons that offer the options to either take a picture or open one from your photo stream. I went with the in-app camera and was pleasantly surprised by my decision.

    photo 1

    The camera provides a few digital camera-like functions such as a self-timer, aperture adjustments, focus controls and ISO controls. After a few trials, I pulled, from my photo stream, a photo I took while roaming ‘round LA.

    photo 1

    The photo-editing page was just as direct as the homepage in providing options.

    Aside from the basic tools like cropping, exposure, saturation, etc., there is a wide range of editing options available. Remember when I said VSCO Cam had the largest filter selection I have ever seen? I lied. This app takes the cake, with over 40 filters, all of which are adjustable AND combinable.

    photo 3

    This app is LOADED with photo effects like quality textures, light leaks, photo layering, and text options, to mention a few. After playing around with contrast and temperature, I kept it simple with the Dallas filter and added a letter silhouette. Guess what the M stands for.

    photo 4

    I found that share page also had an array of options like creating a photo book, sharing to Instagram, or even having your photo made to a post card and shipped anywhere in the world.

    photo 5

    Pretty pleased with my creation, I ended my Afterlight adventure with a sendoff to Instagram and gave them the best rating possible, 4.


    The only test left was to see it printed on wood, which turned out beautifully on Natural Gloss finish.  The wood grain added a nice touch to the background and the file size was plenty big enough to print a large or small wood print.


    I’ve got to say, I can see how Afterlight holds a place on the top ten paid apps on iTunes. With no glitches and lots of creative freedom, Afterlight could definitely serve as a one-stop shop for your photo-editing desires. The only thing I noticed missing was the ability to change the background color when using a silhouettes and types. This, however isn’t a pressing need for me. Though the app hosts a plethora of editing options, the interface is super easy to navigate. Without a doubt, I’ll be adding Afterlight to my photo-editing arsenal.


    For more information on the Afterlight app, please visit:  http://afterlight.us/

  • Megan Majewski - 100 paintings in 100 days

    From folks dressed to nines for a night out on the town to college kids on a casual bar crawl, you can always count on LA to be buzzing with energy on a Friday night. A couple of weeks ago, our friend and talented artist, Megan Majewski, celebrated the opening of her latest exhibition at Gallery 1988, in Los Angeles.

    LA natives and travelers alike flocked to Gallery 1988 on Melrose Avenue to witness the reveal of Megan’s latest project: 100 Paintings in 100 Days.

    While chatting with Megan about the event we caught an inside glimpse of her big night and some interesting details about her cute n' creepy creations.

    We asked if she painted in 100 consecutive days, she exclaims, "Yes! Day one was September 1st, day 100 was December 9th.  No weekends and long days for 100 days straight."


    But the wheels on this whole project started turning long before day one. Megan says she started brainstorming about the show over a year ago.

    "I used that time to book the show with Gallery 1988, do some concept sketches, get myself organized the best I could, and collect 100 frames before the painting start date.  As soon as the show was booked a year ago, I started looking for frames. It took a long time to find that many frames that I was happy with. I had them all just before I started painting. That way I could match each frame to the paintings with which ones brought out the best in each piece."


    She describes the hardest part of painting 100 pieces, and tells us, "It was definitely having no days off while working 10-15 hour days. You start to get run down working that many days consecutively, and having no weekends to recharge was very difficult. Especially when life throws curve balls at you. There were only two days that I didn't paint that I had to take off, when my cat and my aunt both sadly passed away. Which was even more difficult because I had to work even harder afterwards to catch up so I could still finish on my 100 day deadline. 

    It truly made me work to my limits and far past them."



    While creating the pieces for the show there were a few things she simply couldn’t live without, "My perfect wood panels from Trekell and a Golden open medium were things that are in all the pieces.  The paintings wouldn't have looked as amazing without either of those things. 

    Also cookies. Cookies helped get me through the long days."


    unnamed-5This wasn't the first time that Megan took on the 100 day challenge, paintbrush in hand and cookie in the other. Her first ever exhibit back in 2005, featured 100 paintings was also done in 100 days straight.  The difference between her first exhibit and her most recent one? A WHOLE LOT.

    "My work from my first 100 paintings from 10 years ago is unrecognizable as the same artist.  That was my first time ever showing my work and I was still figuring out my style and learning a lot.  My pieces now are so much more detailed and have a lot more story and thought put into each piece."


    Just a week before the debut of her 100 Paintings exhibit,  Megan caught an early flight down from Canada to visit us the POW office!

    She also stopped by the Trekell Brush Factory and bagged an impressive haul of brushes and things. The quest to snag some stuff for her arsenal was a success, so let the 100 paintings celebration commence!

    Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 11.16.12 AM


    Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 12.25.13 PMLooking back on the opening night's festivities at Gallery 1988,  Megan gushes about the most memorable part, "finally seeing all the pieces hung together on the wall."

    "Katie at Gallery 1988 did an amazing job with that part.  It is so much different seeing them all hung up together in order on the gallery walls.  My studio is way to small that I could only really see a few together at the same time.  It was quite the sight to see 100 pieces together finally."


    Just as great a sight for Megan were her friends, who flew out all the way from Vancouver to celebrate the opening with her. "It was heartwarming that they would come that far to support me."

    One of the models that Megan painted in two of the pieces (Nikiski Noir) dropped by.  Also, Courtney from Trekell came out to see the show.  "It was nice to show off the pieces that I created on their beautiful panels."



    When it comes to her artwork, Megan might play favorites. But she tells us " I don't know if I would say I am more proud of any pieces than the others.  Each piece had its own struggles and triumphs to get it to the quality I wanted.  I'm pretty proud of the show as a whole."

    unnamed-8Finally, we had to ask if she would do it again. She replied, "I remember the first time I did it ten years ago was very difficult and exhausting, so was this time. I might be open to doing it again, but maybe not for another ten years!"

    Another 100 day project may not be in the cards for the next couple of years but we're excited to see what Megan Majewski comes up with next. It's been a pleasure catching a rare view on the story behind her 100 paintings 100 days, 10 year celebration.


    Click here to see Megan Majewski's current prints available with Prints on Wood.

    For more information on available artwork from the show, please visit: http://nineteeneightyeight.com/collections/megan-majewski-100-paintings-in-100-days

    For more information on Megan Majewski, head to http://www.deadkittie.com/






  • Chopping Block: Ben Kwok "Bioworkz"

    Resident Alien, Living Dead, unbiased opinion: We all love a good oxymoron. While “Ornate Minimalism” may sound like one to add to the list, anyone who has ever seen the polished work of Bioworkz aka Ben Kwok can attest to his ability to blend the two styles seamlessly. Possessing a natural gift for the arts and a REALLY steady hand, The Taiwan born, LA based artist sat with us for a few to talk a bit about his unique style and a couple of other things.
    BIOWORKZ_BW_CROP ____________________________________________

    POW:  Most artists dabble around until they find a niche they feel extremely comfortable in. Can you walk us through a bit of your experience as a young artist striving to carve out your niche?

    KWOK: It all started when I got abruptly laid after only 1 week at a new job. I was dumbfounded, and didn't have a back up plan. So I just started drawing for myself for the first time in a long long time. It was awesome because I didn't have to answer to anyone, no endless revisions, no one to please. It was so liberating and I fell in love with art all over again. I got into art because I'm passionate about it. But turning it into a career as a commercial artist in the apparel industry really sucked the life out of me.

    The current style which I call "ornate" was heavily inspired by Lain Macarthur. When I saw his work, it really spoke to me and I gave it a go. I fell in love with this style and kept going with it. Three years later, here I am doing my own thing and I love it. In retrospect, being laid off was the best thing to happen to me. Now I get to draw whatever I like, and still work in the apparel industry. I'm so grateful about this new phase in my career.

    Ornate_Elephant_Print_Signature-crop-4x5.jpg.thumbnail_3Ornate Elephant V2 by Bioworkz

    POW:   Telling by your precise detail and shading techniques, a great deal of time and attention must have been put into each piece. What is your creative process?

    KWOK: It all starts with a digital or graphite sketch. I would draw the basic image and add grid lines to show the form of the animal. Then I would add in various patterns. There are no rules to what kind of patterns I use. It's basically whatever I feel like drawing at the moment. I do care about the patterns forming the shape of the animal. When I'm happy with the sketch, I would scan it into the computer (if it's a graphite sketch) and size it to the illustration board I'm using. I would then print out the sketch in non-photo blue, cover the back of the print with 8B graphite, then trace the sketch onto the illustration board to transfer the image. Once that's done, I would outline everything with a fine liner, usually with Micron or Copic pens. Then I would use diluted black non-waterproof black india ink to cover big sections of the drawing. Once that's done, I would go in with a ballpoint pen and black colored pencils to add more shading. Most of my drawings range from 18-24 hours. Some drawings are over 100 hours.

    S6-print-crop-4x5.jpg.thumbnail_3Valykyrie by Bioworkz

    POW:  I noticed while scrolling through your Instagram page that you’re a collector! toys, pens-LOTS of pens. You’d be sold within the first 2 seconds of asking “can you sell me this pen?” Could you tell us a bit about your pen collection?

    Some of them are still in their packages. Will you break into them eventually?

    KWOK: My pen collection has been ongoing since I was 11. The Pilot Precise V5 was what started it all for me. The line quality, and the design of the pen really caught my interest. From then, I've been collecting pens, fine liners, mechanical pencils, and now fountain pens. Yes there are still lots of brand new pens in their original packages because I simply haven't gotten around to using them. I would like to use them all eventually, but with my growing collection, I don't know if that will ever happen. I'm like a kid in a candy store when I'm at the art store or stationary supply section. I will never have enough pens. What you saw on my instagram page is only a portion of my collection. It really is getting out of hand and I love it.

    POW-Print-crop-2x3.jpg.thumbnail_3Orante Grizzly Bear by Bioworkz

    POW:  You made a post recommending a bunch of great reads on creativity. Of those, I’ve read Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky-definitely a good one for learning to lasso all that high charged creative energy and whip it into an organized plan.  That’s one that I refer to every now and then when I start losing touch. Is there a book that you would say really resonates with you? How so?

    KWOK: The most important book to me for the creative process is "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. It's an easy read but has tons of important tips and advice that resonates with me. The book talks about showing up and allowing the muse to work through you for creative projects. I think this book is great for anyone regardless of their profession because it forces you to see the resistance that shows up to avoid the task at hand. Resistance is a monster we must slay on a daily basis to get our creative juices flowing. Now I consciously sit in front of my desk to work even when I don't feel like it. Do this enough times and something magical will happen. Good or bad, half of the battle is showing up.


    Ornate Owl Head by Bioworkz

    POW:  Can you tell us a bit about a current or new project you’re excited to take on?

    KWOK: I plan on taking my drawings to the next level by using color and adding a background. I'm not comfortable with colors and that's exactly why I should practice that more often. It's really nice to draw for myself, and every piece is exciting because I don't know exactly how it will turn out. It's hard to explain, but there's a certain fulfillment, peace, satisfaction I get from drawing for myself.


    For more information on Ben Kwok (Bioworkz), please visit: bioworkz.com

  • App Review: TouchRetouch


    Pictures are worth a thousand words and maybe even more! With so much up for interpretation in each picture, the less interference by surrounding objects or people, the better!   It's that perfect beach sunset in Maui interrupted by the old wrinkly man tanning behind you, or the amazing seafood you’re dying to post to instagram so your followers can envy your meal instead of your friend scrolling through his timeline across the table. Now as much as I would have loved to have been on a Maui beach or enjoying some scrumptious seafood (TRUST me), these two DREAM pictures would only be able to be corrected with photoshop which would require sending the picture to my email, saving it onto my computer,then once in photoshop the editing would begin (headache…..headache…..headache).

    Now, what if I told you that you could make photoshop-esque edits straight from your device with a few clicks. (Inception, right?) No, unfortunately we are not blessed with the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio or Joseph Gordon-Levitt but this is just as spectacular. This is the app that everyone’s been waiting for...the one-click photoshop for your mobile device is here! Unlike the difficult and hard to navigate program that photoshop is, TouchRetouch allows you to remove any unwanted objects or material in a picture with the touch of a finger! The old wrinkly man can finally be removed!

    Let's go back in time to the VSCO Cam app review, the image we used was a beautiful skyline partially obscured by stop lights and telephone lines, it will be the perfect test for this app.  Just in case you forgot, here it is again to refresh your memory:


    Ok, first stop is the Landing page:

    Upon opening TouchRetouch, they give you exactly what you want. They use a sleek black user interface with everything you need.They provide the options of uploading a photo from your gallery, taking a new photo, watching a tutorial for beginners, or watching an advanced tutorial. What first caught my eye was how efficient and simple the home screen was.

    They give you all the options you need without obfuscating the process for the user by giving you too much to deal with. The developers created this with the everyday user in mind and this makes the process better for everyone.

    landing page

    At the bottom of the landing page, you can share this app to any of you social networks through the “thumbs up” button or see what the developer has added to new versions with the “lightbulb” button.

    In the top right corner you can access the settings and help where you can change the settings, email the developers, or read help articles on specific issues. The landing page is very simple and efficient, providing ease of use for new users of the app.


    Editing Page:

    Whether you upload or take a picture, the first step before heading to the editing screen is selecting the output resolution of the image. With 4 options: Original (3264 x 2448), High (2581 x 1936), Medium (1600 x 1200), and Low (1024 x 768), I’m going to select the highest resolution (original) to get the best quality image.


    Nothing exemplifies California better than palm trees and skies as blue as the ocean, which is why this is the perfect photo to edit.  As pretty as this picture is, it would be a lot more appealing without the ugly street signs in the way, so this will be what we remove.


    After you have your picture present, you are provided with an array of editing tools such as the lasso, brush, and clone stamp. The lasso and brush tool allow you to remove any object in the picture. With the lasso you draw around the object and it will remove the area inside this while the brush tool requires you to draw over what you would like removed. The brush tool is generally more useful because you can select how large or small you would like the brush to be as well as be more precise.

    To start, I’ll use a brush to draw over both the stop light and the street sign using as thin of a brush as possible to make the retouch as unnoticeable as possible.


    Once I’ve drawn over what I want removed with the brush, I press the play button (hand symbol) to make the changes and voila! Just like that TouchRetouch worked its Houdini like magic and removed both the street sign and the stoplight, and we didn’t even have to pay admission! 


    Now that our ugly street signs are gone, the last, and most detail oriented step in this editing process would be using the clone stamp.The clone stamp allows you to copy from one source to the destination location on the picture. This can be used to clone objects in your image, but more importantly can fill in the background of whatever object you have removed.

    The first step is setting your source. This is done by choosing what part of the picture you want to copy and setting that as your source. For background retouching purposes we would set another part of the background with the same color as the source. From here, you can choose between solid, smooth, and semi-transparent brushes to do your cloning. Now all you do is draw with your brush and your source will be what is drawn. I’ve realized the cloning tool is the most difficult to use and will most likely require the most time just because it calls for very precise drawing. For the image of paradise, I will use a source on the pavement for the street sign since that is what it has left revealed. The source for the stoplight would be a combination of different hues of the sky.

    Unfortunately, in the midst of my cloning process the app crashed and I now have to start all over again. This is something that I hate to see happen and that any user would hate dealing with but is understandable due to the nature of the software.

    Aside from all the cool ways you can edit your picture, the editing page has useful add-ins like an info tab in the top right corner if you need any help, a back and forward button to undo and redo any changes, and link to your photo gallery if you want to start over from scratch. 


    Finally all of our hard work is done and we have turned an average intersection into a California paradise waiting to be explored!

    Rating: 3 logs


    Is TouchRetouch the mobile photo editing app of the future, or is the old wrinkly man tanning a reality that will never leave?

    The combination of effective and versatile tools that accommodate the basic picture editing needs along with very few options provided make this app superb for the everyday user like you and I editing objects or blemishes out of their pictures. Whether you are perfecting an image by moving background objects, or removing things to create funny pictures TouchRetouch gives you plenty of flexibility.

    Personally, I would improve the clone stamp tool to allow you to lock onto a source. After choosing a source, my source would follow the same movement as my brush, creating a huge mess and almost doubling the amount of time it took to use the clone stamp tool.

    The app crashing in the middle of my editing was also frustrating, causing the oversized tips of my fingers to do a lot more work than they wanted retracing over what I needed to delete.

    The plus is the file size and image quality were perfect to print on wood, the wood grain in the blue sky looks even better with out the stop lights and traffic signs. (natural gloss finish)


    Overall, TouchRetouch does an excellent job creating an efficient photo editing platform on your mobile device. Taking all this into consideration, TouchRetouch is a very effective app that almost anyone can use, warranting a rating of 3. These minor flaws can be easily fixed, and that beach on Maui can look as stunning as it was, or as you want it to be.


    For more information on Touch Retouch please visit: http://adva-soft.com/products/touch-retouch/

  • Chopping Block: Robert Bellm

    Flora and fauna are the order of the day for multi-talented artist, Robert Bellm. Using nature and its inhabitants as the main characters, The Pacific Northwest resident tells stimulating stories that illuminate the experiences of wildlife. When he came by the office the other day to sign the release of his print "Colibri" we stole a few minutes from him to find out more about his captivatingly purposeful creations.


    POW: We are beyond excited about our current print release with you, “Colibri.” Settling in perfectly with the other pieces in your online gallery with us, the piece features a beautifully painted bird as the main focal point. What inspired your use of nature as a thematic thread running through your artwork?

    Bellm: Well I guess it’s part of my “roots”. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle Washington. In Seattle nature is everywhere. We are surrounded by two amazing mountain ranges; the Olympics and the North cascades. Also water is a major player with lakes, rivers and the ocean on the west part of the state. I grew up camping and hiking all around Washington, Oregon and throughout Canada. When it comes to birds I am drawn their unique qualities, such as color, variety in species, size and shape. There is also different connotation that comes with each type of bird, weather its predator or prey or beauty or beast. Birds to me represent beauty and freedom. Birds have freedom to soar as high as they can and then come back down and live amongst the rest of us. I produce art based on subject matter that calls out to me and challenges me to try to understand it and interpret it.


    11043155_875538855835815_4753049561735445963_nColibri by Robert Bellm

    POW: Any viewer can easily identify your effortlessly brilliant use of color. It seems as though this style has remained consistent for a good amount of time. Some might say your pieces have grown slightly more vivid over time but how would you say your style has changed in, say, the past ten years?

    Bellm:Color has always been something that I used, but not always understood. A close friend once commented on my work and my use and understanding of color. I guess from that point I was more aware of what I was doing and embraced my strength. As far as my growth in the last ten years … I have worked on some much larger paintings, because I usually work very small. Also my subject matter has slowly changed; more recently I have tried to branch out into other subject matter

    samurai-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_3Samurai by Robert Bellm

    POW: From spray paint, to silkscreen, you mentioned that you’ve experimented with a plethora of mediums and techniques. Of them all, what would you say is the most enjoyable for you and why?

    Bellm: It would have to be cardboard and tape, its low cost versatile. You can work big, small, 2-d, 3-d, you can draw on it, paint it or leave it plain. You can make art, things to wear, forts anything your imagination can think of. It also allows you the ability to sketch out ideas before you move to more permanent materials.

    birdcutroll-r057-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_3Bird Cut Roll by Robert Bellm

    POW: Speaking of wood, (we kind of like talking about it) how did your interest in the medium come about?

    Bellm: I spent 5 years working in a woodshop so I was able to collect wood scraps to paint and print on. Before I really became a painter I would cut up 4’ x 8’ foot shipping boards and directly screen-print on them. I also experimented in building bird sculptures by laminating pieces wood together and even built a 125lb wooden elephant. Coincidentally I use the same grade of furniture grade birch that Prints on Wood prints on. Currently I paint on wood surfaces… I like the ability to paint on a smooth surface that allows me to get great details. Canvas is too rough and bouncy.imposters500-c4587d174a-crop-1x1.jpg.thumbnail_4

    Bird Horse by Robert Bellm

    POW: Just for second, we’re going to get a little philosophical and “what is the true meaning of life-y.” I read an inspiring quote in your bio that led you to begin developing your philosophy on life. Have you come to define it? And how does the philosophy influence your creations?

    Bellm: I think the quote you are thinking of is one by Jacob Lawrence. " My Belief is that it is most important for an artist to develop an approach and philosophy about life. If he has developed this philosophy, he does not put paint on canvas, he puts himself on canvas." So I guess the philosophy I developed is to express my opinions and ideas through nature. I try to do this in subtle way that is masked behind the beauty and color nature. But if you look long enough you can begin to see and feel a message come out filtered through your own life experiences and ideas.wood_pecker_400-5c569c06f8-crop-4x5.jpg.thumbnail_3

    Pileated Woodpecker by Robert Bellm

    POW: You’ve exhibited your work some of the most major cities across the U.S. New York, Los Angeles, Orlando…the list goes on. Was there one that hosted an important memory for you in your art career?

    Bellm: I did a show with Kozy n Dan and Heisuke Kitazawa at Giant Robot 2 in LA in 2008. The show meant a great deal to me for many reasons. Giant Robot put me on the map as far as exposing my art to a larger audience. Eric over there has an amazing vision and has opened the door for my younger and newer artists and provided them with the opportunity to been seen by a diverse crowd both online and in person. I have participated over 20 shows at their New York, San Francisco and LA location but that one was my favorite. Also at the time I turn down an opportunity to be exclusive with another gallery, but I turned it down because did not want to burn a bridge just so I can cross another.  I have extreme respect for all those who have guided me and helped me along the way. Last but not Least Kozy N Dan… Really down to earth people fun to hang out with. And to have a chance to be on the same stage even for just a month was a great honor.


    For more information on Robert Bellm, please visit: www.robertbellm.com
  • chopping block: alan kocharian

    For this week's artist interview we chatted it up with California based artist Alan Kocharian, whose incredibly detailed works of art are sure to make you look twice. Although abandoned by his biological father, this young artist has been able to manifest his past tragedies into dark, beautiful pieces. We got to talking about his early start as an artist, inspirations, and how he manages art and family life.

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    POW: On your Facebook it states you are originally from Mexico but grew up in Montebello, California, which is where you started drawing. Is your artistic style influenced by your surroundings and upbringing in Southern California?

    Alan: Yes, I was born and raised my first 4 years in Jalisco, Mx. by my grandparents because my mom had to come to the states to work as a single mom. My birth-father abandoned her when he found out she was with child. It wasn't until I was about 5 years old or so when my mother met my now step-father Andy Kocharian. Andy married my mother, adopted me, and moved us to Montebello CA. It was when we lived in Montebello my uncle Hugo (also an artist) mailed me poster size drawings he had made for me of my favorite comic book heroes such as Spiderman and the Green Lantern. I must have been 5 years old and remarkably, at this young age... his kind gesture changed me and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

    I do believe that my artistic style must have been influenced by my surroundings, schooling and other artists but mostly by experimenting. I hone my craft and made a conscious decision to create dream like qualities to my pieces.

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    Beauty Blue Nightmare by Alan Kocharian

    POW: I saw that you attended DesignerCon this year as well! Any particular artists that you were excited to see and meet?

    Alan: Of course! I was excited to meet artist Jeff Soto and his brother Tim. What I admire about him is first is, he's extremely friendly and very easy to approach. Second that I find most admirable, is he's also an artist from the IE and continues to expand the art this way. I ran into 2 of my old teachers there as well, JT Steiny and Nathan Ota. It was great to reconnect with them and to show them my life after graduation.

    POW: What is your biggest inspiration for you art?

    Alan: If you asked me this 8 months ago, I would have said to capture the mental and emotional hindrances that we face together as human-beings. But now... my biggest inspiration, pride, and joy is my beautiful baby daughter Zara Sophie Kocharian. She and my wife gave me what many artists spend their whole lives longing for. I know this because I was one of them. They make me better everyday.

    Sultry by Alan Kocharian

    POW: You use a lot of different mediums to create your art. What medium would you say you like working with the most and why?

    Alan: I enjoy mostly using watercolor and color pencil on wood surface. The watercolor allows me to use broad strokes of color and gives the piece some spontaneity and energy that can be lost when refining a piece. The colored pencils let me get back in control of the piece. To refine, detail and highlight.

    POW: In your opinion, what has been the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

    Alan: For me personally, it's networking and speaking to people. I am naturally introverted but what I've experienced is networking paves many paths. My nerves get the best of me sometimes and literally, I get physically ill when I think of having to speak to people. My stomach starts to hurt and my lunch starts to surface.


    When Pigs Fly by Alan Kocharian

    POW: Looking through your Instagram, I noticed you’re a family man with a wife and a baby girl. Do they ever make their way into your pieces? Is it tough to balance your artistic side with your real life?

    Alan: Yes, of course. Love is the greatest gift and inspiration. My wife is actually in many of my pieces. We share all interest,  yet we are so different. Vanessa is colorful, comforting, inviting and warm. Being her partner, has brought alot of that out of myself that I didn't know existed. Together we have Sophie, who allows us to explore our child like side.

    POW: Is it tough to balance life and art?

    Alan: ...not at all. Creating is my real life. In our home it never stops. We cook, organize, design, and constantly create new ways to include arts in our life for our family.


    For more information on Alan Kocharian, please visit:  alankocharian.com

  • Community Cup: The Documentary

    There’s no question. we love what we do. And when we team up with people who are just as passionate about their craft, it’s a recipe for a beautiful turnout. Back in December a turnout took place in Summit County, Colorado, where 15 professional female snowboarders gathered along with the county’s locals for the global release of Community Cup: The Documentary. While learning more about the film and preparing prints for it’s debut, we were given a totally new perspective into the world of snowboarding, thanks to these inspiring ladies, who reached out to us to be apart of the celebration at the release of their film.    CC14_poster9_itunes_pdf

    To call a spade a spade, it’d be fair to say lots of sports are geared towards, and overshadowed by men. Right?  Well, in the newly released film, 16 world famous female snowboarders change the game by contributing to the groundbreaking creation of the first rider-designed course and zero-waste snowboard competition ever.

    We had the honor of making prints of each one of the skilled athletes who shared their stories in the documentary.

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    With their Purps (Organic Energy Drink) and Breckenridge Distillery Vodka cocktails in hand, attendants made their way around where our wood prints were filtered all over and illuminated by candlelight.

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    The event was presented by Keystone at the Brekenridge Backstage Theatre, where attendees sipped on cocktails through Simply Straws (reusable glass straws) and craft beer from Denver Beer CO.  Staying true to their commitment to zero waste and support of sustainable, local companies.

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    The night was definitely a great kickoff to the movement in women's snowboarding. We are excited to take part in the legacy that is being built and look forward to the progress that’s being made to showcase women’s snowboarding at its best.  Be sure to look for Community Cup: The Documentary now available on HULU and iTunes.


    For more information on Community Cup: The Documentary, please visit:  www.community-cup.com

  • Craft Beerd Wood Prints

    Ah…sunny San Diego, home of the boards, beaches, and of course, BEER. This city has seen an explosion of craft breweries in recent years. With the constant emersion of new breweries, its highly likely that brewery owners take time to chew over the question, “what sets mine apart from the rest?”

    Well, one of our recent clients, Rudy Pollorena Jr., answers this question with craft beerd art prints. The artist and and owner of Craft Beerd reached out to us with his idea for making wooden art prints that revolved around the beverage.


    Beer...and...art?? We were on it in no time. Hitting the ground running with the project, we got started by printing his custom illustrations on half-inch raw maple wood.


    Variations of woodprints were made, sanded and shipped off to be sold online and at various craft brewing facilities.


    Featuring two of our favorite things, good beer and good art, this project's been a fun one for us. We don’t know about other answers to the question asked but one thing’s for sure, Rudy’s is taking a leap forward in defining what makes Craft Beerd unique. We wish him the best of luck in continuing to use creativity and quality to define Craft Beerd.

  • Chopping Block: Michael Cook "Cookie"

    With a nickname that works up an appetite and a playful, refreshing style, Michael Cook AKA "Cookie"  gave us something we could really sink our teeth into for an article. First and only pun, I couldn't  resist. But really, this guy marches to the beat of his own drum and has been since his days watching Saturday morning cartoons. Intrigued by the the inspiration he draws from these cartoons, we sat down with the Southern California native and found out much more than we expected to.



    POW: Though many may describe your work as high-energy and nostalgic, how would you describe your style?

    COOK: I would describe my work as pop surrealism.  My work to me has been a reflection of my personality, hopes and desires as an artist. I try to imagine what it would be like to be the Dr. Seuss of Street Art and I go from there.

    GstoneFeeling G by Aka Cookie

    POW: Someone viewing your work for the very first time might say you have a serious penchant for pandas. Does the panda represent someone or some concept perhaps?

    COOK: I think that is a great response to my work. I want my audience to feel the panda’s overwhelming the room as if they were my little panda minions. I don’t know why I came to start drawing and painting panda’s and not some other animal but it was about 7 years and I just ran with it. I believe the characters I illustrate are a reflection of the different aspects of my personality. Therefore, as time goes on and I continue to paint these characters, the more I am learning about myself.

    Picture 5No Exit by Aka Cookie

    POW: Almost as recurrent in your compositions are robots and mechanics. Is there a message you aim to convey with the mechanical contraptions?

    COOK: I have always loved the combination of man-made objects alongside nature.  I have just been searching for something different. I started experimenting with many different industrial contraptions over the years, trying to find the right balance of what would compliment the panda characters I have been developing.  It wasn’t until I created the urban robot painting I call “Joy Ride”, that I noticed the face had a gutter like appearance, which is now what I call “ Gutter Mouth”.  So I decided to focus on that and spent 6 months seeing where that would take me.  Gutter Mouth since then has become a symbol for my love of Street Art.  A symbol for all the art that emerges from places we would never expect to look.  Gutter Mouth is going to be a symbol that will inspire people with his hypnotic black stare and the different colorful ooze’s that emerges from his grille.

    guttermouthGutter Mouth by Aka Cookie

    POW: Your simple yet vivid use of color is just captivating, in all respects of the word. What materials do you reach for first to create the vibrant pieces?

    COOK: I reach for a few cans of Montana Black Spray Paint and a combination of acrylic paints.  I usually do brush work or spray on my paintings.

    POW: Having engaged in an apprenticeship with Justin Bua, what was one of, if not, the best piece of advice you learned from him? How about from your experiences? What advice would you give to someone hoping to penetrate the art scene like you have?

    COOK: I don’t think there was one piece of advice I can remember over any other since he was such a giving mentor.  He was always teaching me something, from how to properly clean my brushes, to designing and developing concepts.  My best experience and best lesson were the same, it was to just hang out and paint together, watching him just dance at his easel to the music and feeling his energy I realized how fun this could really be and from that point on painting became a place where I really could let loose and have fun.

    I would say if someone wants to penetrate the art scene it can be very intimidating but you have to push yourself and create more work than anyone you know and keep pushing it out there, whether it’s on social media or at art shows. Your work will improve and people will notice how serious you are and that you will never stop.

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    POW: How did your interest in street art come about?

    COOK: I have always been a huge admirer of city culture but I would say it was actually during the same time I worked under Bua in his studio in the Arts District of Down Town Los Angeles.  I would drive around there every day and see amazing legendary artists laying down so many amazing murals.  I was hooked instantly and became obsessed with the scene ever since.

    POW: If you could create a collaborative piece with any artist in the world, who would they be and why?

    COOK: Out of all of the artists I love and follow I believe DABS MYLA collaboration would be the most rewarding right now. They have a style that I think would parallel well with my own.  I think if we could collaborate on an installation for an event it would be wild!

    For more information on Mike Cook AKA "Cookie", please visit: http://www.akacookie.com/ 

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