Monday, January 25, 2010

Danielle Buerli

Danielle Buerli is an illustrator living and working in Los Angeles. 

How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I have always loved to make things. I'd knit hats for everyone I knew. It was a way to relax between school assignments at art school. So then I came up with ways to incorporate making things for my assignments. Everyone was painting and sketching and I wanted to do that too but maybe knit a little bit on the side. And then it hit me I can.  

What or who has influenced the way you work?
So many artists and they are are all so talented. I guess I just wanted it all and this was the best idea I could come up with to show that. 

Please describe your working process. 
I like to experiment with materials and see what happens. Sometimes something really great happens, other times it just goes to a box under the bed. But usually I will find a material I really want to use or have an idea for a character and see where it takes me. I try and slip some knitting in every time. 

What do you the enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
I get to try new things all the time. It never gets boring and every time you make something it is better than last. I guess that down side is time. There never seems enough of it to make everything you want.

Danielle Buerli
All images and content © Danielle Buerli

Friday, January 22, 2010

Margaret Cusack

Check out Margaret Cusack, an artist in Brooklyn who creates unique stitched artwork! Margaret told me, "Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed creating artwork. I had minimal art training in grammar school and high school, but was accepted at Pratt Institute and graduated in 1968 with a BFA cum laude degree in graphic design. In 1972, after working for four years as a designer/art director in advertising and publishing, I began exploring fabric collage--doing portraits, pillows and hangings. As an illustrator with an unusual technique, I had an agent for the first six years, However, since 1978, I have represented myself. My clients include AT&T, Aunt Millie's Spaghetti Sauce, Harcourt, Macmillan, Random House, Absolut Vodka, The Village Voice and Vanity Fair."

How or why did you start working dimensionally? 
I have always been intrigued with dimensional artwork and I am delighted to have been able to create a career with my appliquéd, embroidered and soft sculpture artwork.

What or who has influenced the way you work? 
I have always been interested in realism. Artists that have influenced me are: Norman Rockwell, Edward Hicks, Milton Glaser, Toulouse Lautrec, Edward Hopper, Grandma Moses, etc.

Please describe your working process.
With both my flat appliquéd artwork commissions and my dimensional soft sculptural images: I discuss the concepts and the project itself with the art director. Then I create pencil sketches and we discuss them. Once the sketch and the direction is chosen, I do a line drawing, which becomes my pattern.
For the flat appliquéd artwork: To show the juxtaposition of the fabrics, I create a "rough color paste-up" of the fabrics chosen for the image. I prepare the fabrics (ironing them and adhering iron-on "paper-backed fusible webbing" onto the back of the fabrics). I trace the outlines of the pattern's shapes onto the back of the fabrics. Then I cut out the shapes, peel off the paper backing and spray the back of the shapes with spray glue. Using the light box I position the fabric shapes onto a backing fabric and then iron them in place. I stitch them down with a zig zag stitch on my Bernina sewing machine. Usually, the image is stretched on canvas stretchers. Throughout this process, the art director can have input.

For the soft sculpture images like the "Bill Gates Voodoo Doll," I show sketches and fabric swatches to the client and then stitch the image and stuff it as needed. In some of the soft sculpture images, I include embroidery and or/other elements.  All of these techniques are included in my book, "Picture Your World in Apppliqué".  The photography is very important. 

My flat stitched artwork is photographed either digitally or as an 8 x 10 chrome (usually by Gamma One Conversions in Manhattan. Their process captures all the detail of the fabrics' texture and yet their lighting technique does not create harsh or uneven shadows).  I also work with my husband Frank Cusack and Brooklyn photographer, Michael Hnatov, who both shoot my dimensional images (soft sculpture, pillows, etc.) and some of my flat appliquéd  artwork.

What do you the enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
Most: I enjoy the challenge of working with fabric--its instant color, texture, pattern. In many cases, my fabrics connect the viewer to nostalgic moments in their past. I like the fact that dimensional artwork will stop the viewer for a moment longer than traditional illustration or computer art.
Least: Fabric can be quirky and difficult at times. And though most of the time I have enough of a chosen fabric, there is always the chance that, at midnight, I might run out of a particular fabric or thread color that is crucial to the project.

124 Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill
Brooklyn, New York 11217-2215
phone: 718.237.0145
cell: 718.909.4402
fax: 718.237.0145

All images and content © Margaret Cusack

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jayme McGowan

Jayme McGowan (aka Roadside Projects) is a freelance artist and 3D illustrator cited for her whimsical imagery and unique methods of working with cut paper. She is based in Sacramento, California. 

How or why did you start working dimensionally?
I started working dimensionally during college, but separately from my studies. I went to a state school with a general studio art program where you had to take a certain number of classes in each department, learning a little bit of everything. But the focus was on “fine art” and sadly there was no room in the curriculum for traditional crafts like papercutting, and no illustration courses, so I’m self-taught in those areas.  I started cutting paper while trying to quit smoking. I needed something to occupy my time (and bide my hands) and was looking for an art project where I could just sort of obsessively play with the materials. My earliest efforts were relief, on wood panels or mat board just as I continue to work today, but the imagery was more abstract and I was primarily focused on just finding different ways of laying down the paper. Most pieces were made from cut-up pages of old thrift store books. I found the construction method of cutting and gluing, cutting and gluing, over and over - requiring extended periods of focused concentration - to be pleasantly meditative. My very first instinct was to work dimensionally for some reason, maybe stemming from a love of dioramas/shadowboxes.

What or who has influenced the way you work?
In 2007 I saw a Joseph Cornell retrospective, a massive collection of 150 or so of his box constructions, at the SF MOMA right around the time I started working dimensionally. Those were a huge inspiration. I remember there was a quote in the exhibition catalog stating that it was his goal as an artist “to inspire others to pursue uplifting voyages into the imagination”. I just love that – it’s what I aspire to.  As far as contemporary artists go, Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio was one of the first 3d illustrators I discovered and still a favorite. Elsa Mora is an artist I just found fairly recently, who does a wide range of dimensional work, with paper, clay, and even plants - all of it amazing. 

Please describe your working process.
I start with a sketch to get the basic composition down before I begin. Since there’s no going back after the paper is cut, this helps eliminate waste. Next, I spend some time sorting through materials (an ever-growing collection of new and re-purposed paper) to find the right palette for the piece. Having to decide on color at such an early stage is something that I’m still getting used to. There’s a lot of trial and error - making things, destroying them and starting over.
Everything I do is cut by hand with an X-acto knife and a few different sizes of scissors. I use a quick-drying glue to assemble the piece, building up layers slowly and adding dimension with handmade paper supports. My work tends to be pretty tiny and I often use tweezers to place the individual paper pieces.
When the dimensional cut paper work is done, I photograph it digitally and bring the image into Photoshop.  I try to keep the digital manipulation to a minimum though, and all of the shadows in my images are actual cast shadows from the original photographs. 

What do you enjoy most / least about working dimensionally?
Least: It’s really labor intensive! And I’m still at an early stage in my career where I haven’t quite figured out how to create the images as I envision them. I’ve got a lot to learn about photography, which is an (often frustrating) endeavor I hadn’t anticipated when I set out on this journey. I look forward to a day when it doesn’t take 200+ shots to get a usable image.
The only other downside I can think of is that storage is becoming a serious problem. No more throwing old work in a flat file.
Most: Working in 3d creates a unique look that can’t be achieved with drawing or painting (and working with just paper means much cheaper materials). Also, I’m constantly being challenged with new problems to solve, which keeps it interesting.

Being a self-taught illustrator, it is nice to be part of a smaller niche community of 3d artists; it’s made breaking into the field less intimidating and more welcoming. I also feel like there’s still a lot of territory left to be explored with dimensional illustration (as opposed to the feeling that “it’s all been done before”) and nothing beats that sense of discovery.  

Jayme McGowan
images and content © Jayme McGowan

Monday, January 18, 2010

Luís Ditter

Meet Luis DitterLuis is a 3D artist living in Canoas City, in the Rio Grande do Sul State of Brazil. He is 40 years old and just in the beginning stages of his art career. In 2008, after 20 years working in another profession, he decided it was time to follow his heart and create life from his hands. He remembered the clay that he had loved as a child.

How or why did you start working dimensionally?
When I was younger I created my toys from clay... Superman, Ironman... all the heroes that I liked I sculpted and painted them for the joy of it. Actually, that was when I discovered polymer clay... it changed my life!

What or who has influenced the way you work?
My influences started as a kid with Disney magazines. Mickey and Donald were a part of me. Today, the artist that I identify with most is Liz Lomax.

Please describe your working process.
I begin with a sketch to draw out the idea and define the positions of the figure. I create the sculpture using Bozzi Polymer Clay, then I paint it with acrylics.

What do you enjoy the most/least about working dimensionally?
For me it is one of the best things in life! I love creating my own world, my own objects, animals and people. 
Luis Ditter
all images and content © Luis Ditter

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Karen Caldicott

Karen Caldicott shares a recent interview with us.
You started out in the art world as an illustrator, how did you end up making plasticine sculptures?
I actually started out as a painter and sculptor, I received my BA in Fine Art from Hornsey school of art in North London. I did go on to study illustration at the Royal College, but those RCA years, great though they were, did nothing to develop me as a commercial artist. When I first moved to NY in the late 80’s, I made weird and whacky sculptures out of sponge and masking tape, I curated some group shows and lived in a bohemian rat infested Brooklyn loft. Eventually however I decided I had to adapt my work to be able to make a living and illustration was the answer. The model-making started as a personal project, my family members who were so many miles away from me back in England were my first subjects. I soon realized that this style could be used commercially. At that time as a young illustrator trying to make a name for my self (with seemingly constant reinvention) this was a logical step. 

Do you know of any celebrities who have wanted to buy their plasticine representations? Or have you had any direct feedback from the subject of your art?
A few years ago New York magazine commissioned a bust of NY politician Elliot Spitzer who was  running for governor at the time. I made a somewhat distinguished looking rendering of him and he did contact me via his campaign manager. It tuned out my price was too high for him. A few months later the then NY governor Spitzer was in the news again, this time referred to as client #9 in the infamous prostitution ring. So being the opportunist I am, I reworked his bust to fit the moment. The new version being an animated gif with a very red face.  However this is not a rendering that he would like to have on his shelf, so I’m not expecting to hear from him again. Even though it turns out he’s now a neighbour of mine!

Why plasticine?
Its not just any plasticine, its Roma #1 .... soft enough but still great for working in fine detail. The fact that it doesn’t harden is also a big plus, I often end up reworking a model months later, this wouldn’t be possible with most other modeling clay. It also gives me the option of completely destroying a head and recycling it in to a different character. (though this isn’t often!)

What tools do you use?
A knife comes out for the dramatic cuts, other wise I have a set of wood modeling tools, and then last but not least is a little dose of spit to smooth and shine the surface.

The busts are made from plasticine, would you consider working with other materials? Ice? Metal? Soap?
I’ve been considering simple balsa wood. I’d also like to get my hands on some human or animal hair and a big box of dolls eyes, at the moment I use glass marbles and white paint, more realistic eyes would be great! Its been wonderful to see my models reproduced in bronze I’d like to see more of them taken to this level.

How do you begin the process?
Normally I do my own web searches on the subject. I need to find exactly the right reference material, I’m looking for something along the lines of a police mug shot, full profile, front face etc. As big a file as possible and no blurry snapshots please! An actual sitting with the person would be the best way to go but is usually not possible. The clay process is a rapid cutting away and building up. there's nothing precious about the beginning stage, this is the most enjoyable part in fact!

What's the oddest commission you've ever received?
Well I wouldn’t say this was really odd, but it was different for me.
Last year at the heart of the US elections I was asked by the Nation (A US left wing political mag) to make a cover lampooning the infamous Barry Blitt New Yorker cover.....You may remember it depicted the Obamas as terrorists in the white house, assault rifle and all. I decided the best way to approach this was to collage together two styles. The heads of Palin and McCain, (plus a moose head and rifle.) were made in clay, the background and bodies were drawn and all was put together in photoshop. The cover was well received if not as controversial as the original. The oddest “job” I ever had was "lambing" With absolutely no knowledge or experience I was given the task of looking after a couple dozen ewes. Being as though this took place in the depth of an upstate NY winter I unfortunately lost most of the baby lambs by virtue of them being frozen to the snow covered fields. Hellish!
Who or what are your influences?
I’m constantly stumbling upon artists on the web whos work is of interest and I admire, there's so much great stuff out there! I post the links to many of these artists on my blog “little clay bits
Living in the country (the middle of nowhere) I’m able to clear my head with long walks, riding a bike or skiing (depending on the time of year) this is really beneficial to my sanity and can also help with straightening out work related problems. The occasional trip to the frenetic New York City is needed every now and then also.
Who would you like to model next?
Queen Elizabeth II. Maybe a series of tyrants, and I'd love to do some fashion spreads.
What's your personal favourite?
I love them all. They sit on shelf's surrounding me whilst I sleep, just quietly keeping an eye on me.
Karen Caldicott
images and content © Karen Caldicott

Monday, January 11, 2010

Foxy windows & R.I.P. Gumby!

There are a couple of things I wanted to share with you that I wasn't able to share whilst being away...

Before I left town I was slammed with work so I didn't get out at all, but luckily I have friends that do! My friend Michael De Brito (an incredible painter who was once my student- but I can't take any credit for his talents) sent me these pics of the holiday windows at Bergdorf-Goodman. They were done by the creators of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and include the character puppets made by the UK’s acclaimed puppet makers, Ian MacKinnon and Peter Saunders...

... And sadly, last week we lost Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby. I used to watch this show when I was little and it inspired me to make 3D things!

Click here to read the NY Times obit for Art Clokey.
R.I.P. Art!

Friday, January 8, 2010

studio visit with Chris Walsh

I have just returned from a month in the UK visiting family and friends. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting fellow sculptor Chris Walsh in his hometown of Liverpool! He shared his work and process info with us back in October so if you missed it, please click here. He was kind enough to share his time and work with me in person, so I wanted to pass it on to you.

Chris is insanely talented and extremely modest.... and his Amy Winehouse sculpture kicks ass!

It was a treat to see Chris's sculptures close up. They are so much bigger than I'd expected.

There's something amazing everywhere you turn. Hiding up on one of the shelves I saw Bill Shankly, a legend in Liverpool but if you don't follow football (as in soccer) then you may not be familiar with him.

Chris was commissioned to make Shankly for a client and then created a mould so he could cast several of them.

Chris taught himself how to do this by watching a mould making & casting workshop dvd. This process has always intrigued and terrified me at the same time. I don't know that I'm brave enough to try it but Chris made it look and sound so easy.

His cake toppers blew me away! He's working on one right now of a rock climbing couple.

Chris pulled out some sculptures that have been hiding away for too long, like this lovely lady who's a bit dusty but totally incredible...

...and this fascinating fella lurking in the corner.

The visit with Chris was so inspiring and fun. Thanks Chris for letting us into your world!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Natalie Russo

Meet Natalie Russo, a 3D artist in New England. 

"As a child my artwork often got me in trouble.  I had a bad habit of rummaging through my family’s belongings for interesting fabrics and jewelry. Always looking for anything shiny or fuzzy that could be cut up and used for my own creations. I now spend my time rummaging through hardware and thrift shops and combing art stores endlessly."

How did you start working dimensionally?
As a child I had taken sculpture and ceramics classes.  It wasn’t until college that I began to learn more traditional two dimensional styles. I was never totally satisfied with producing two dimensional artwork.  I found it limiting. Instructors encouraged me to work out my illustrations in polymer clay. There was more freedom working with clay.

What or who has influenced the way you work?
My favorite children’s book illustrator is Nicoletta Ceccoli. I love her characters and concepts. Other illustrators whose work I enjoy include Raul Colon, Anita Kunz, and Yuko Shimizu. 3D Artists who have influenced my work include Chris Sickles, Jason Mecier and Liz Lomax.

Please describe your working process
Everything starts with a sketch and a color comp in Photoshop. Scene development starts with wire armatures, foil, polymer clay and acrylics, followed by building sets, placing characters and props, and photographing the scene. A final polish is done using Adobe Photoshop.  

What do you enjoy the most / least about working dimensionally?
I love that there is an endless variety of materials available.  I collect interesting objects such as copper pipes, buttons, and LED lights. I put them away until I find a special place for them in my work.  There are so many options and so many ways to create special effects.  I welcome and sometimes need challenges in my life and this medium certainly satisfies that.  Working in the third dimension forces me to learn new ways of solving problems with every illustration.  I’m constantly learning about new tools and new solutions. I love it!
Natalie Russo
images and content © Natalie Russo