Toriyama Sekien was an 18th-century ukiyo-e artist of Japanese folklore and scholar. He was the teacher of Utamaro and, a painter of the Kanō school. He was also a printmaking. He is most famous for his attempt to catalogue all species of yōkai in the Hyakki Yagyō series. His work is mostly back and white with an astounding amount of detail. His work is very classically japanese. He attempted to let the reader know about every type of yokai he could and spent a lot of time when making his books working on vivid descriptions and details about each one.
His work is very popular amongst Japanese rare book collectors. It was also very popular in the time people where alive. I wanted to including hi in my journal to show the contrast between the the modern Japanese monster book published by No Brow and the one here, it’s ancient counterpart. Whilst the Bento Bestiary was very fun and simplistic, Toriyama Sekien’s work was very detailed and complicated. Toriyama Sekien focused on giving as much information as possible whilst the Bento Bestiary is all about quite light hearted education. I preder the way of the Bento Bestiary, but I can also very much respect this older way of working. The lines on his prints are so precise and thought out, much like the Bento Bestiary. But of course Toriyama Sekien’s work is filled with much more drama and texture, one that gives life the the creatures in less of the ay of character, but focusing more on their characteristics.
Ben Newman and Scott Donaldson created this beautiful book which has been published through No Brow, the purpose of the book is similar to what I wish my book to be about; educating people about different types of monsters. However this is just based on Japanese monsters.
The interior of the book is beautiful and simplistic, leaving just the description of the creature, the creatures name, and the illustration on the opposing page. The illustrations are beautiful vector based drawings that use simple line and shape to create beautiful and iconic representations of the creatures. These illustrations are very successful because they are simplistic and give the reader a very nice and simple image to attach to a creature they may not know at all. The limited pallet colour schemes for each creature are also very beautiful and eye catching, the colours are quite cool, but use enough warm colours to highlight and balance out the illustrations.
I am also very fond of the way the book keeps the titles of the monster a similar colour to the main colour used in the opposite illustration, I think it really pulls the book together and makes sure the whiteness of the opposite page isn’t too glaring or obvious.
The book is not too long or overly complicated which i think makes it a very successful piece. People can just pick it up, quickly read the descriptions and look at the illustrations and come out more educated than before they have read it about Japanese monsters. The style of the book is also mature but also fun enough to attract both adults and children. (Although the descriptions may not be too suitable for younger children.) Scott Donaldson’s writing to go with it is very creative and funny and goes along well beside the illustrations.
Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio makes strange and curious creatures who seem to have somehow escaped from a childrens story. Her creatures are glittering eyed and have strange faces with horns and fanged overbites. Despite their strange and sometimes almost scary looks, these creatures give off no sense of harm or malice. There is no reason to fear them, even if they do look strange. Perhaps the more closely you look at them the more you see something slightly endearing and almost gentle. They give the feeling of being semi-feral creatues from a scary wood in a fairytale yet they seem fairly earnest. Perhaps its the slight sadness they have in their eyes which seems to say that they too want a happily ever after.
Action figures had always been a huge part of my playtime as a child, but I had little interest in dolls (with the exception of a much-loved Holly Hobbie rag doll) and a tendency to gravitate towards stuffed animals. Oddly enough, my desire to learn more about stop-motion ended up sparking a desire to create dolls. Before then, I concentrated on illustrating, mostly for fantasy card games and children’s books, but sculpted tiny creatures on the side as a hobby. (http://coilhouse.net/2011/05/carisa-swensons-curious-creatures-and-aberrant-animals/)
Taking a stop motion animation class helped Swenson realise she loved making posable dolls, but also her love of illustration also shines through. Her creations do have a kind of soul about them which is very evident. Her style of creating them also looks like they could have popped out of a fairytale illustration.
My process of sculpting starts with a vague notion of what a doll will look like, or sometimes what their personality will be. However, the dolls often suggest to me what they want to be as I sculpt— often switching gender, species or disposition halfway through their creation. As somewhat of an introvert, my attraction to the trickster mythos seeps into many of my characters. (http://coilhouse.net/2011/05/carisa-swensons-curious-creatures-and-aberrant-animals/)
Swenson is quite fluid in her creative process, often letting the character take shape as she sculpts it, this leads to some very natural looking sculptures and characters. She often also keeps characters to be used again later.
Birds and creatures of the forest all work their way into my creations, in addition to the influence of fairytales and classical mythology. Empty, decaying buildings, rooms and houses stir my imagination with their dusty pasts or potential futures. (http://coilhouse.net/2011/05/carisa-swensons-curious-creatures-and-aberrant-animals/)
I think the idea of abandoned buildings is quite and interesting idea, Swenson’s creations often do look like they’ve been living or trapped in a decaying building, they usually have an ugly side and a lot of the time covered in dust or dirt, as if they’ve been living in the rooms she has taken inspiration from.
Megan Baehr creates cute and quirky felt creatures, my favourite of which are these centaurs, with their adorable short legs and button eyes. These felt pieces are small one of creations meant to be sold. They do not hold much purpose but I love the variety of different centaurs she has created. The simple stitching and the way the seams show make them seem cute and kitschy, whilst they still maintain a beautiful sense of craftmanship.
I have been a member of the Etsy Plush Street Team nearly the entire time I have been in business. My extremely talented teammates are an endless source of inspiration. They have become my dearest friends and the absolute best support network I have. If I ever need a pep talk, business advise, or simply a shoulder to cry on, the Plush Team is there for me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. (http://dearsukiegetscrafty.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/photo-interview-with-plush-doll.html)
Her involvement with a circle of other plush markers inspires her work a lot, she often consults them and asks them for support or advice.
Her style in which she does the plushies also carries across to the way she draws, a lot of her plushie character feature in her illustration work.
Joe Ledbetter’s Chaos Bunnies are a collection of bunny shaped collectable vinyl figurines. Another set of “designer toys” Joe Ledbetter’s toys are not made for children but they do probably appeal to them as well. His style is very bold and graphic and somehow seems to be able to make his 3D pieces look 2D from certain angles. The characters draw on Ledbetter’s constant use of bright colours that contrast well with the dark lines and light highlights to create something that would pop out on the page, but in 3D makes the craftmanship of his work shine.
deeply influenced by classic animation, underground comics, skateboarding and 1980′s video games (http://www.joeledbetter.com/about/)
His work is fun and purely decorative, and for the fun of owning something playful and designer. The Chaos Bunnies are sold similarly to how other children’s toys are sold, on little cardboard stands in small card boxes. This gives a charm to them as although they are expensive, they don’t try to be overly fancy, once again focusing on having fun and reigniting memories of childhood. These stands are supposed to be displayed on the shelves of designer shops, so they are easy to pick up and appreciate. The individual toy packaging also includes an illustration of the toys character on the back, which reinforced them as being separate characters that have been well designed and thought out and not just quick thoughtless design.
Having the door slammed in my face by art schools was a bitter experience. I lost my faith in the system [that decides what is art and what isn’t], but I didn’t lose faith in what I wanted to do. I continued to pursue what I loved doing, but I knew I had to take a different approach. If you persist in doing something that you really want to do, even though the whole world tells you that you can’t, you’ll succeed. (http://www.menshealth.com.sg/guy-wisdom/mh-interview-joe-ledbetter)
Joe Ledbetter has been influenced a lot by how he was rejected from multiple art schools, he stopped caring so much about how he was judged for his art and how his art was seen and instead went with what he wanted to do, which gave him great passion and optimism.
Ledbetter will also photograph his work and draw back over the photographs again and again until he gets his characteristic dynamic shapes which his figures and art are made up of. (http://www.vinylpulse.com/2014/01/joe-ledbetter-designing-a-vinyl-toy-the-chaos-bunnies-video.html) which shows his tendency to revise and revise again until he gets the shapes he feels suits the characters best.
YumYum is a designer toy label who operate on the premise as being light hearted and fun. Their work is very simple looking and smooth. Their figures are usually released in series’ like most toy makers,
They are aimed at whoever would like to own something that makes them smile. (http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/the-story-behind-yum-yums)
YumYum’s toys are designed with the sole purpose of making whoever sees them laugh because of their cartoon like humour and surrealism.
Some design are inspired by characters in films, for example the action hero holding the chicken is inspired by Bruce Willis crossed with Arnie. The Kung Fu Granny was inspired by an article we read in the Newspaper about a Granny who scared off some thieves by jumping into a Kung Fu stance. Other characters like the Hotdog, Cactus and Octopus were designed because they were something we would like to have on our shelves and simply because they are some of our favourite things to draw. (http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/the-story-behind-yum-yums)
YumYum’s is also heavily inspired by pop culture and situations they find in real life, they try capture things that already make us laugh and turn them into toys. They mostly focus on things they would like to own themselves, which gives them a passion for their work which is relfected in their finished work.
YumYum’s work is mostly sold in shops and so their bright colours stand out nicely to catch people’s attention and also look fun whilst doing so.
I’ve been following Alison Woodward words work for some time now and I’ve always loved her small paper craft pieces, above is a small paper craft piece which is layered to show the internal organs of a dead deer, each layer goes back to finally reveal behind the blog and bone, rock and flowers and nature , and at the very end a small painting of the forrest at night. This piece is a small decorative piece and is probably the first thing she has produced multiples of to sell. In her work she always seems to try communicate that even in death and gore nature is beautiful and will always shine through. A lot of her pieces remind me of how fungi and flowers will sometimes grow over the bodies of animals.
Her work was originally inspired by tattoos, however Alison says now she likes to think of it more as inspired by her coworkers who have backgrounds in tattooing. (http://hotartwetcity.com/alison-woodward/)
Alison spends her time split between working as an illustrator, working in a tattoo parlour and studying at art school, she says she loves both the openness of the tattoo shop and how it compares to art school, both are very different to her but she appreciates the input on both levels. It’s easy to see her influence from tattoos with looking at the way she works too. She often used ink washes in her piece to shade, similar to how black ink is used to shade line work of tattoos. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3oUFXq6Msc)
The pieces in which she used interactive paperwork such as this are the favourite of her pieces. I like the way the viewer has to look inside the piece to see the intricate details, similar to how we must look at the brutality of nature and see past it to see that it actually is beautiful all along.
With the dead animals in her pieces, Alison’s work can look very creepy, however in her work I don’t feel that these illustrations of them are meant to show animals for gore’s sake or to be intentionally creepy, the way she decorates the animals with flowers and the way they always looks so serene seems to lean more towards her being respectful of the creatures she’s drawing, rather than using them simply to scare the viewer.