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  • 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/

  • "CHILDREN OF THE SUN" BY ANA BAGAYAN

    What do aliens and art have have in common?  Lots of things, but one undeniably is Ana Bagayan's new art exhibit "Children of the Sun." A few weeks ago Prints on Wood stopped by the opening reception at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City to meet Ana and talk about her interest in all things extraterrestrial.

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    Just a few minutes after meeting Ana, her gracious and kind demeanor overcame any nervousness about meeting her in person.  She is as beautiful as the subjects she paints, which interestingly have similar features to her own.  Is it me or does it seem artists unintentionally paint subjects with uncanny resemblances to themselves?  Or maybe it's intentional. Either way Ana was a joy to meet in person.

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    Ana moved to Big Bear, CA a year ago to focus on her painting and upcoming art exhibits.  On her hikes around the mountain Ana collects rocks and flowers which she incorporates into art pieces, either as a frame or added details to the piece.  These little art pieces are often available on her website and a few were available at the opening.

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    With so many great pieces it was hard to pick just one favorite, but this interesting piece titled “Dark Matter” kept catching our eye.  Although our opinion was slightly bias, as it reminded us of our black cat "BK".

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    While walking around the gallery, we stumbled upon a small collection of works by Jeremy Fish.

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    The frame was as equal an art piece as the art it framed!  The attention to detail was evident in every inch of the piece.  It was something to behold in person.

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    Other pieces were unframed but cut out to the shape of the art piece, which start the wheels turning at the R&D department of Prints on Wood.  Hmmm, will the future behold cut out prints on wood???  Only time will tell...

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    Ana Bagayan’s exhibit will close this Saturday, June 14th, if you are in the area, drop by to see “Children of the Sun” in person.  For more information regarding Ana Bagayan or Jeremy Fish art work availability please see www.ThinkspaceGallery.com

  • APP REVIEW: FRENCH GIRLS

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    Having the slightest artistic inclination usually warrants unwanted advances in the workplace. I'm not talking about being on the recipient end of inappropriate suggestions or unwelcomed leers. No, I'm talking about people you secretly hate asking you to illustrate the dumbest crap. "Hey, I hear you like to draw! Can you paint a picture of Tinkerbell in my daughters room?", "Could you design a Christmas Party poster for the breakroom?", or as I've waxed poetically in the past: "KAN U DRAW MY PIKTUR!?".

    The worst part is they expect you to do all of this for free. Would a carpenter build you a beautiful cabinet only for you to post a picture of his work on your Facebook page in lieu of a payment? Would a plumber unclog your toilet for free if you promised him that you would tell all your friends what an awesome job he did instead? Would Nicolas Cage take any film role just because it was offered to him? Yes... yes he would, but those other 2 guys would probably tell you to go pound sand.

    For those of you who might find yourself cornered into a similar situation since you're too timid to reply with a firm "NO!", I've discovered an incredibly passive way of avoiding this. The next time someone wants you to draw a picture of them "with bigger muscles and a smaller forehead" for free, just direct their attention to the app, French Girls.

    What is French Girls you might ask? Well, it's a free community driven app that allows you to upload a selfie to a network of images. From  there, random users are able to choose from this collection of photos, and if you're lucky enough, they'll select your photograph and draw your likeness.

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    When you open up French Girls, you're taken to random collection of 9 photos. Once you select one of these images, you then have the ability to draw the likeness of the image you've selected. Since this eponymous app's namesake is taken from a reference made in the film Titanic, I'll be submitting this sultry photo of myself laying on my side à la Rose Dewitt.

    FGDoes this excite you?

    Alright, so while we're waiting for the birth of my masterpiece, lets take a stab at drawing some of the lovely people who were brave enough to submit pictures!

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    Looking through the submissions, I decided to sketch this picture of a dapper wild-eyed gentleman for my review. Now lets see what French Girls has to offer in terms of drawing.

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    First lets start with the Pencil tool. Tapping on it's respective icon not only accesses the tool itself, but it also open a slider allowing you to adjust the width of your line which is represented by a circle that scales representatively.

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    The next tool over is represented by a cartoon ghost wearing a chain around his neck. (Huh?) Clicking on this pulls up French Girls' shop. Turns out this tool is cleverly titled "Ghostface Fillah". The chain around Fillah's neck means that this tool is "locked" (nyuk-nyuk), and can be unlocked for a mere 99 cents. But what exactly does this tool do you might ask? It allows you to adjust the transparency of your lines and colors for shading/artistic effects while drawing. While this can be a useful feature, I'm not too sure about how much time I want to invest in drawing pictures of complete strangers, so I'll pass.

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    If you look to the center of the tool bar, you'll see a colored circle. This allows you access a basic color pallet that comes free with the app. If you feel the overwhelming need to expand your color palette at any given moment, French Girls allows you to purchase any of 9 additional color libraries for low-low price of $1. Each one of these libraries contains 5 colors each. Once again, I like to draw, but I'm not sure how inspired I can get with the premise of drawing random people making stupid faces.

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    Finally the last two tools to the right of the color picker is the Undo tool (counter clockwise arrow), and an upside-down blue triangle that removes the UI and isolates your illustration. Now that I have the jist of French Girls features, lets see how my illustration of our swarthy friend turned out.

    fg7Close enough.

    Incase you couldn't tell, that illustration took all of 5 minutes to draw, which apparently isn't enough time for someone to draw my picture since I haven't received any updates on my submitted image. I decided to kill some time by drawing some more, hoping that in the meantime someone would take on the challenge of drawing my freakishly large skull on their tiny iPhone screen.

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    So apparently this guy thought it would be a good idea to take a selfie in the dark, sparking my irrational fear of seeing the outline of a face peeking in through my window at night. I thought I would be nice and draw a picture that looks less creepy, but given my fat/shaky drawing hand, I managed to achieve the complete opposite. Although I feel like I was able to capture the fact that this guy would start breathing heavily while hiding in your bushes pretty well.

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    Given the fact I make the same exact face every time I walk into a room with a box of donuts, there's no way to sugarcoat this one... that rabbit is going to get violated. I hope whatever that stuffed rabbit suffered after this picture was taken was quick and painless. :(

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    This looks like one of those pictures some doofus takes after tricking their friend to look directly into the camera. "Hey, does the lens look cracked to you?" *CLICK*. Although the end result of this prank normally doesn't look like a disembodied head floating in the dark.

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    This one reminds me of those Octomom-looking wax lips the ice cream man used to sell, except for the fact that no one ever told me they were wax! I always just assumed they were made out of incredibly stale bubble gum. As inedible as they might have been, they're still nowhere nearly disgusting as candy corns.

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    I realized halfway into drawing this one that a huge double standard exists amongst the way people view the Ginger community. Why is it that fair skinned, red-headed girls are considered to be attractive whereas fair skinned, red-headed boys are considered to be an adopted child deserving of physical abuse? I decided to right this wrong by drawing a picture just as lovely of a guy with red hair... that is until I realized all of the red headed males who submitted a selfie looked like Beaker from Muppet Babies. (ME-me-ME-MEEE!)

    fg13"It took me like three hours to finish the shading on your upper lip"

    Yeah, I know, I'm a jerk. Now that there's at least seven people who now regret the decision of uploading their picture to French Girls, lets see if anyone took my bait and drew a picture of myself nearly as bad as the ones I drew of others.

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    While I can't refute the content of their message, I'm a little disappointed I offered up a cringe-worthy photo for a complete stranger to ridicule and got a factual statement instead. Normally we like to create a wood print in conjunction with my reviews, but I'm not going to waste our precious recources on something I'm constantly reminded of every time I look in the mirror.

    So was French Girls able to stay afloat, or sink to the bottom of the ocean?

    RATE

    Although a bit of a novelty app, French Girls has a unique premise. When browsing through submitted images, there are some truly wonderful artistic interpretations. What I like most about them is how unpredictable these illustrated selfies can get.

    fg15Some people like to break down the fourth wall...

    fg16Others make you feel a little guilty for laughing at them...

    fg17There's a couple of smart-allecks who like to get esoteric...

    fg18And much to my surprise, there actually seems to be a (small) group of people who like to draw pictures nice enough to show your friends.

    Bottom line is if you can take a joke and have a great sense of humor, then French Girls is definitely worth checking out, and if someone is nice enough to draw a cool picture of you, you can send it to us to turn into a wood print! ;)

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    For more information on French Girls, please visit: http://www.frenchgirlsapp.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: VESSDSIGN

    I spent the majority of my twenties working graveyard shifts, lifting boxes, cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash, and changing oil. At the time, the idea of going to college and working a job where I was able to do something I was good at/enjoyed was a far-off distant fantasy. Although it gets suffocating at times, given the option, I'll always choose the opportunity to work in a creative commercial setting over unloading trucks at 3am. Not that there's anything wrong with that type of work, it's just that I was never any good at it.

    Graphic designers are basically blue collared artists. For those who are actually good at design, it can be hard, honest, steady work. Even though it might not be as glamorous as the life of a fine artist, it's more stable. Some people like to take this challenge a step further and work for themselves. While this can prove to be slightly more chaotic, it offers a unprecedented level of freedom in terms of creativity.

    While freelance can become difficult for more simple minded graphic designers (like myself), there's a small group of people who flourish under these particular circumstances. Bulgarian designer, VessDSign, is one such person. To borrow a line from Kevin Durant, in regards to Vess and other freelance graphic designers like herself... "You're the real MVP!"

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    V1

    POW: Some artist's like to paint landscapes, while other's like to work with figures, but you seem to specialize in Geometric patterns. Why is that?

    VESS: I come from a very strong Corporate Design background, and an year ago was looking for a little "escape" from my usual work. As a designer (I consider myself more a designer than an artist) you should try everything, and find out what you enjoy most. I probably should mention that I studied Architecture, so the Geometric Designs came more or less natural to me. They give me the freedom to express emotions using simple forms on the one hand and unlimited color options on the other.

    V2MOUNTAIN SUNSET by VessDSign

    POW: I noticed that a few of your pieces aren't patterns, which also seem to be illustrated in a completely different style. What inspires these artistic deviations?

    VESS: I like to try everything - styles, forms, colors. That is the reason my illustrations are quite different from my pattern work. Music is my usual inspiration, alongside art from the 50's and 60's. I have a huge passion for vintage typography too, just waiting for the right time to create some new designs, which are also going to be totally different from what you have seen until now. :)

    V3MAGIC WOOD by VessDSign

    POW: Most artist's I speak to either begin working in Graphic Design before transitioning into Fine art, or manage to juggle both amongst their professional and personal life (Graphic Design during the day, Fine Art at night). As someone who seems to fall into the latter category, do you feel that one contributes more greatly to the other, or are both mutually beneficial?

    VESS: Both are mutually beneficial and I cannot do one without the other anymore. Some of my Geometric Patterns transitioned and developed into logotypes and some of my typographic work will soon transition into new designs for Prints on Wood.

    V4GET ME TO THE BEACH by VessDSign

    POW: Given the extensive collection of Logos in your body of commercial work, what do you feel are three most important principles of design that make for a good design?

    VESS: Good design comes from the gut, you have to feel it. It doesn't matter if you are creating a logo, an illustration, or a pattern. I know that I've created something good when I get the little butterflies in my stomach. Yeah, some people get that when they're in love... which makes me in love with my job I guess. Ergo, there is one important rule about design: it has to be personal and honest (ok... two rules).

    V5Various Logo Designs by VessDSign

    POW: Assuming that you began your foray into Graphic Design based off of the creation date on your Facebook page (2009), over the past 5 years, what is the most important lesson you've learned to keep yourself happy working as a freelance designer?

    VESS: You just said it . I keep myself happy working as a FREELANCE designer - this gives me the freedom to try out different things, to gather different experiences to be able to say "No, I am not going to work for you!" or "Please, just let me do this one project so I can prove to you how good I am".

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    To learn More about VessDSign, please visit: http://vessdsign.tumblr.com/

  • NEW ELEMENTAL SEEKER: EARTH!

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    Throwing us all for a curve, Jeff Soto is releasing his newest Elemental Seeker: Earth! Wait a minute! Earth? His last one (Life) looked like Earth, this one looks like.... a skull... uh... growing purple hair crystals? Hmm, maybe it's supposed to be like an Iceland / Greenland thing. As in Life looks like Earth, Earth looks like Life? No, that can't be it. Water, Fire, Metal, and Air all looked like their namesakes. What if this is some sort of quasi political piece? Like the skull represents what would happen to the Earth if everyone starts driving SUV's and littering, and the crystals represent.... uh... money or something? I give up, I don't know how it correlates. What I DO know is that  it looks pretty darn cool (definitely digging the skull vibe).

    For those of you who are feelin' it too, we are pleased to inform you that Earth will be offered as a limited edition timed release. Starting this Thursday around 12 pm, this 6x6, 3/4" thick, signed and numbered bright white wood print goes on sale here for 24 hours and will retail for $30.

  • CLARINETS FOR CONSERVATION

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    When I was a child, my Dad thought it was prudent for me to learn how to play an instrument. Awesome! Keyboard? Guitar? Keytar? Nope, the clarinet. While most of my peers spent their free time watching the Disney Afternoon, I was forced to sit in our garage and learn how to play Ain't Misbehavin' to later recite at family gatherings. Clarinets aren't all bad though. In the hands of the right person, they're actually pretty cool. Take Benny Goodman, Kenny G, and Squidward Tentacles... those guys all played the clarinet and they rock!

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    The best part is learning an instrument can actually improve a child's mental development in more ways than one. Playing an instrument can help stimulate a child's brain to increase the capacity of their memory, enhance their eye/hand coordination skills, improves reading comprehension and helps to sharpen their concentration. Clarinets for Conservation understands these principals and has set out on an mission to raise awareness and promote the preservation of the Mpinjo (African Blackwood) tree through the power of music. Used for the creation of woodwind instruments and fine furniture, Mpingo trees are being harvested at an unsustainable rate.

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    Our interest was piqued when we recently printed several wood prints for the organization and discovered their interest in the environment. Based in Moshi, Tanzania, Clarinets for Conservation understands the urgency of this issue as they promote awareness in the community by teaching secondary students how to play the clarinet. The students and teachers involved in Clarinets for Conservation take part in performances and tree plantings throughout Tanzania to reinforce the connection between the Clarinet and the Mpingo tree, fostering a desire for a sustainable future.

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    For more information on this wonderful organization, please visit: http://www.clarinetsforconservation.org/

  • APP REVIEW: FRAGMENT

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    You know a couple of app reviews ago when I said I was sick of Photo apps? Well guess what? I was lying. Now I'm REALLY sick of photo apps! Seriously, how many times can you repackage sepia photo filters?

    Trust me though when I say my loss is your gain. Much like my career as a Graphic Designer, when it comes to app reviews, I now consider myself an expert. Not out of some misguided sense of arrogance, but because I've made every single possible mistake along my journey that I now know what NOT to do. Does that mean every subsequent app review is going to great? Probably not. What I do know is what to look for when avoiding crapps (crappy apps).

    Does it's icon steal from the look and style of Instagrams? It's probably a crapp. Is there a list of "In-App Purchases" included in the App description? More than likely it's a crapp. Has it ever been a Starbucks Pick Of The Week? Then it's definitely crapp. Does that mean every single app that includes one or more of these outliers is automatically a crapp? Of course not. But even the most die-hard college liberal would be hard pressed to deny the fact that most stereotypes are based in truth.

    This week after searching for an app that combined a unique premise with great reviews, I found myself at the feet of Fragment. A photo editing app that features prismatic photo effects. What exactly does that mean? To put it in layman's terms, it basically makes your photos look like an indie rock album cover.

    indieIf your iTunes library resembles this collage, then you're legally required to punch yourself in the face.

    So how does Fragment work? Quite easily. From the user interface all the way down to the app's icon, Fragment has an aesthetically pleasing look and feel, capitalizing on the minimalistic trend that's popular in Graphic Design right now.

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    THIS! Right here. If you're new to graphic design, or you just plain suck, do yourself a favor and study this image. If you're going to ape anyone's style, please let it be Fragment's. The single most defining aspect of great design is simplicity. On the far left we see Fragment's splash page. No company logos, no title, no sign-up page, no notification inquires, no adds, just three options. Two of which are immediately engaging.

    Tapping on the Information icon on the top right corner toggles a legend (center and right image) that efficiently describes every single aspect of Fragment. Seriously! Look at that! The whole entire premise of the app can easily fit onto the front and back side of a business card. Not to mention the presentation lends itself to an incredibly simple / easy to follow format.

    Alright, alright, enough swooning. Lets get started. While peeking through example photos featured in the Inspiration selection, it seems like Fragment works best with landscapes. Unfortunately POW is based in Riverside CA, so the only landscapes you'll find around here are piles of dirt. Luckily, I hopped on my bosses computer while he was away and rifled through his pictures, discovering a beauteous photograph taken of Lake Powell in addition to several compromising selfies.

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    Once you take / upload a picture into Fragment, you're then prompted to select an aspect ratio. When cycling through the different dimensions, the areas that will be cropped out are darkened to give a better indication of where your image will cut off. You also have the ability to rotate your image as well as selecting no aspect, incase you like your photo as is. To keep with the indie record cover theme, I'll be selecting the 1:1 aspect.

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    After making my selection, I can now scrub through Fragment's prismatic filter library. To do so, just swipe your finger to the right or left of the grey boxes to scroll through each option. As you can see, there's a circle at the top of the screen. When it looks like a blue donut, you can edit your image's appearance inside the filter by pinching two fingers and moving them accordingly to adjust placement, rotation, or size. When the icon above looks like two yellow circles, you can edit your filter using the same technique to make similar adjustments to your prism. Tapping on the top circle allows you to switch in between the two.

    The first three icons above the grey filter boxes are representative of these effects. Placement is represented by the 4 dots on the left, rotation/angle is represented by the speedometer / clock icon next to it, and the square within a square icon represents scaling. If at any point you are unsatisfied with your adjustment, tapping each of these icons once returns the image / filter to it's defaults size and position.

    The fourth icon, which looks like a pair of "shuffle" arrows randomizes these effects on both the filter and the image inside of it.

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    After much deliberation, I finally decided on a prismatic filter that looks like a fake-ass Van Halen logo. If you look at the previous image set, you'll notice a grey triangle on the bottom center of the screen. Swiping this triangle upward pulls up Fragment's image editing effects. The effects range from Brightness, Contrast, Additive, Blur, Invert and Desaturate. Keeping with the overall simplistic theme of Fragment, these effects work exactly like they sound. Each effect is represented by a circular icon on the top row of the image effects pull-up menu.

    A liner dial rests on the 2nd row of this menu. This allows you to adjust the intensity of these image effects. Swiping to your left increases the positive value of the dial, which adjusts / applies these effects to your base image. Swiping to your right increases the negative value of the dial, in turn effecting the image inside the filter. Finally, the bottom row features a line of swatches that lets you assign a color to each selected filter.

    After playing around with these tools for a good while, I finally decided on a combination I thought would look excellent on a bright white wood print. It definitely looks like an indie album cover, all that's missing is an indie band name that's just pretentious enough for kids to pretend they've actually heard of me when I play at next year's Coachella!

    Since I've already delved into several Graphic Design tangents throughout this review, every first year design student knows that the shortest distance between you and a finished logo is a crappy amalgamation using the initials of the person / business you're designing it for. Best part is my prismatic filter already looks like one of those stupid logos! Let's see, the shape in the middle looks like a seven, the one on the outside looks like a V, and the one in the center is tilted just enough to look like an A.

    Hmmmmm.... wait! I GOT IT!

    7VAI can already hear the keyboards!

    Yes, unfortunately my old fake band, Mötley Jew, has long since retired. I now urge every POW blog reader (all two of you) to check out my new fake band, Seven Vegan Astronauts. This summer we'll be going on tour with Washed Out and Kurt Vile! That's right! Come watch me strum 3 major chords + 1 minor cord on my Telecaster for 2 hours while whimpering metaphors into a microphone over an electronic drum beat! Did I mention i'm going to have a tambourine taped to my foot the entire time?

    Now let's see how well this holds up on wood...

    7VA_1

    Here I come! Today the internet, tomorrow the Grammys! Honestly, they gave one to Macklemore so it can't be THAT hard, right? (burn)

    So was Fragment able to keep it together or shatter into a million pieces?

    RATING

    Having cycled through several different photo editing apps over the course of these reviews, one aspect that gets frustrating is the amount of backtracking that takes place. Switching through filters in most apps requires navigating in and out of several different interfaces in order to access what you need. This creates a wider margin of error until you start to memorize the rhythm of the app. From the jump, Fragment has all it's features centrally located on one single UI, and what isn't shown is still easily accessible without losing momentum.

    When playing with Fragment, I felt that it's developers achieved a perfect balance between form and function. When apps lean too hard either way, it feels like they skimp on one to permeate the other. They end up being an app that's high on concept, but low on quality. Fragment takes a powerful stance on photo editing and combines it with an equally powerful design, resulting in a clean, fresh app.

    When conducting research for my review, I discovered that Fragment's developers: Pixite LLC, have also created several companion apps that work in conjunction with Fragment. Each of these focus on a different aspects of photo editing. While this might be the case, Fragment (despite it's name) works and feels like a full, complete, stand-alone application. Even more so when compared to standard apps that like to hide it's best features behind a premium.

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    For more information on Fragment, please visit: http://fragmentapp.com/

  • SACRED HEART IS NOW LIVE!

    jb2Prints On Wood is proud to announce our collaboration with Jennybird Alcantara on our very first diagonal wood print: Sacred Heart! 

    This 8" x 8" limited edition timed release will be signed and numbered by Jennybird. Scared Heart retails for $60 and will be offered on our 3/4" Bright White canvas. Sale ends Friday, May 17th at 12:00 pm.

    Order your copy of Scared Heart today!

  • APP REVIEW: HIPSTAMATIC

    app_title

    Do you have a closet full of Toms & Clarks tainted by the smell of never wearing them with a pair of socks? Have you shaved the hair off of one side of your head within the past six months? Do you use Halloween as an excuse to dress up as an obscure character from a Wes Anderson movie? Does Macklemore keep making his way to the top of all your Spotify playlists? Do you intentionally wear hats that are two sizes too small to compliment your greasy bangs? Are you so cool that you listen to bands that don't even exist yet? Have you ever tweeted about the evils of capitalism from your 4th generation iPad while using the free wifi at Starbucks?

    If you answered yes to one of more of those questions, then you're a Hipster. Symptoms include owning an 8' x 8' Ikea Expedit shelf full of old records, cultivating a stylish yet carefully disheveled appearance to distance yourself from your rich parents, and having an extensive collection of old cameras that stopped working long before they were donated to the thrift shop you bought them at.

    While we can't help with ALL of those problems, we can sure take a crack at the last one with Hipstamatic! An app so self-aware, it went from bad to good then back to bad again in a pretentious attempt at becoming ironic.

    HIP2

    Hipstamatic is a very unique app that captures the look and feel of vintage photography combining a clever plastic black gator-skin UI with all the bells and whistles found on the surface of older cameras. Although my support for hipster culture is only exclusive to drinking cheap beer on the weekends, I sincerely enjoyed all of these throwbacks to old school photography. While older technology might be less convenient, there's definitely an existing romance when you think of all the hard work, accuracy, and technique involved when taking pictures with a film camera. Not so much over all the trail error that came with the experience, but more because of the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment one experiences proofing the negatives after developing a good roll of film.

    HIP6

    Given the current state of the whole digital photography/iOS experience, if you want to enhance the look and feel of your photo, all you have to do is swipe through a thumbnail gallery of different image variations before deciding on what filter to use when photographing your pumpkin spice latte to post on Instagram. In the good ol days (before people assumed that everyone wants to look at pictures of their food over social media), you would have to cycle through different types of flash bulbs, rolls of film, and lenses, relying on trail and error to determine the best way to take pictures. Hipstamatic combines the best of both by offering several several different "films", "flashes", and 'lenses" to use when taking pictures. Even though these are just different filters in essence, the overall user experience is presented in a fun way that seems to encourage more involvement in the photo taking process.

    HIP4

    To better differentiate the separate effects each selection is capable of, Hipstamatic has a UI titled Pak Info that displays the icons of every feature included with the base version of the app. Clicking on each icon pulls up a screen that explains in simple detail how each filter works in terms of color and effect.

    HIP5Once again, the presentation is practical and explanatory. I appreciate the use of different photos as examples, I feel like it's a better way to gauge which effect would work best with your photo as opposed to seeing the same stock photo thumbnail over and over again.

    HIP1

    Taking pictures is quick and easy once you settle on which features to combine for your photos. Once a lens is selected, you can adjust the barrel of the lens to increase the resolution of your photo. Now switch back to the viewfinder by clicking the U-Turn arrow at the bottom right, line up your shot within the viewfinder, and tap the yellow button... *KA-CHHH*, you're picture is taken. Hipstamatic also offers a neat feature that catalogs the film, flash, lens, date, and location of your photo.

    Since we've covered the bulk of Hipstamatic's features, instead of my normal step by step overview, lets just jump right into the picture we're going to print on wood! This week's unluckly participant is none other than POW's Rock 'N' Roll Bad-Boy, Michael Rey!

    MIKE_V

    He's got tattoos, he looks great in skinny jeans, and he likes to pretend that he enjoys drinking tea. By hiding him behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and a poncho, we're going to see if we can appeal to our Hipster demographic and trick them into buying a bunch of black and white photo art wood prints! Speaking of wood prints, let's see how good this looks on wood!

    HIP3

    Perfecto! Move over Chapulin Colorado, there's a new mexican superhero on the loose! Riding around town on a fixie bike criticizing the musical tastes of evil doers everywhere, El Inconformista wants the world to know he only drinks IPA Microbrews!

    So is Hipstamatic any good? Or did we think their old stuff is WAY better?

    RATE

    I was leery at first since Hipstamatic seemed like a cheap ploy to bank on the fickle sensibilities of Hipster's everywhere. It even has the word "HIP" in it's name, and given the negative connotation that word has garnered over the years, I assumed that this was going to be another gimmicky photo app. To a certain extent, Hipstamatic WAS gimmicky, but I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. As I've discussed in previous blogposts, developers don't need to invent a brand new premise to create an enjoyable app if they make it fun and unique. For me, the only downside of Hisptamatic was given all the interchangeable features included with the app, you're only allowed to take 1:1 square pictures. Normally I wouldn't care, but given all the Instagram clones I wade through every week for these reviews, the option to take photographs in a more traditional photographic ratio would've been a nice cherry on top.

    As for this week's model, Bad-Boy Mike, I'd like to put out a disclaimer that he is in fact NOT a hipster (despite how convincing he looks in that photo). I'd also like to point out that he's the front man for a totally bad-ass garage-rock band: Michael Rey and The Woebegones!

    If any of you got the Rock 'N' Roll itch, then this video is the only thing that can scratch it!

    For more information on Hipstamatic, please visit: http://hipstamatic.com/

    For more info on Michael Rey and The Woebegones, please visit: www.facebook.com/MichaelReyandTheWoebegones

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: JENNYBIRD ALCANTARA

    For those of us who grew-up with AOL and dial-up, the mere mention of artwork that features the mythological joining of woman and beast makes you wish you and your friend didn't go on the internet that one time his parent's weren't home. While this pairing is more commonly used to solicit cheap thrills, when done correctly, the combination of nature and femininity can make for some truly wonderful art. A perfect example of this would be the tasteful imagery contained in Jennybird Alcantara's oil paintings.

    This week we had the opportunity to speak to Jennybird about her floral interpretations of the capillary system, her affinity towards religious imagery, and her upcoming limited edition timed release with Prints On Wood.

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    JB1

    POW: You frequently unite the female form with different animals in your pantings. Why is that?

    JENNY: I feel very connected to animals, I love their physical beauty and am intrigued by the purity of their nature. I enjoy exploring the symbolism animals embody that have been placed upon them by humans as well creating new relationships with that nature as seen though my artistic lens. Since my paintings come from my own experience of life and I'm female, then it's most natural for me to focus on the female form in my work. When the 2 are fused together the female character is taking on the attributes of the animal character and visa versa.

    JB2THE FIRST BUNNY WAS A DEER by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that you were interested at becoming a veterinarian at some point. Would this explain the stylized dissections of your painted creatures?

    JENNY: I was never seriously interested in being a Veterinarian, I think this must have come from an Interview where I was asked about the animals in my work and I reflected upon being a young child and 'wanting to be a vet' when in my child mind that meant listening to their heartbeat and generally hanging out with them. I remember, at some point, realizing that a Vet had to sometimes 'cut them open' and that completely changed my mind.

    In general in my work I am interested in 'uncovering', the uncovering of what is hidden in the heart and mind, the secret places of the soul, the things beneath these flesh and bones that we all wear. Or as I've said before "what may be beneath the skin or under the petticoats of extraordinary girls" Dissecting the animal, human, plant body's and integrating them, hybridizing them with other parts of living things are in a way my metaphors and symbols of this life journey, they are keys to doors not yet opened, they are about uncovering mystery and finding connection in all living things.

    jb3ANATOMY OF ENDEARMENT by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: Many of your visuals parallel Religious iconography, such as the sunbursts, hand gestures, and suffering expressions in your paintings. Is this done to compliment or caricature the spirit of these themes?

    JENNY: I love the precious nature of classical religious and mythological paintings , the gestures, longing, suffering, Love, Reverie and search for enlightenment. I like to infuse into my paintings the feelings of a holy encounter with ones secret self, nature and the sublime mysterious unknown and 'Canonize' my characters giving them a similar 'Saintly' status as the figures in religious paintings of the past, while remaining separate from religious dogma.

    JB4

    TALISMAN by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: As a self-described feminist, do your thoughts and opinions on gender-equality ever manifest itself through your work?

    JENNY: I don't really see my work as political in nature at all, it's really more of place for my fantasy world to come to life.

    JB5SACRED HEART by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: I understand that your upcoming limited POW release: Sacred Heart, is one from a series of four heart themed paintings. Could you describe the inspiration behind this image? How did this series come to exist?

    JENNY: I've been exploring the heart in different ways in my art for about as long as I can remember. The original idea for these 4 in particular came from the title of a painting I've yet to paint called 'Snow White Inside' the idea was basically what Snow White might look like inside her body. I wanted these pieces to be a mainly rosy and white palette. I have a recurring series of paintings that resemble pink dissections on a black background to enhance the feeling that you are looking at a foreign hybrid specimen of sorts, these 'animal heart' paintings are a continuation of that series.

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    Prints On Wood is proud to present: Sacred Heart, a sign and numbered limited timed release by Jennybird Alcantara. This 8 x 8 diagonal print will be offered on a 3/4" thick bright white wood canvas and retails for $60. Sacred Heart will be available for purchase on May 12th, where it's sale will continue through the week, ending on May 17th.

    For more information on Jennybird Alcantara, please visit her website: http://www.jennybirdart.com/

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