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28 OCTOBER, 2011

Shel Silverstein Duets with Johnny Cash, 1970

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A meditation on fatherhood from Uncle Shelby.

Last week, we were delighted to discover that legendary children’s author Shel Silverstein, of The Giving Tree fame, was also a prolific songwriter, whose songs were recently — and beautifully — covered by contemporary indie icons. On April 1, 1970, Silverstein appeared on The Johnny Cash Show. After quick and playful duet with Cash on his song “Boy Named Sue,” Silverstein does a charming solo performance of a children’s song he wrote called “Daddy, What If,” prefaced by a moving aside about his relationship with his own father. Enjoy.

I’m really proud of the relationship I have with my dad, I really love him a lot.” ~ Shel Silverstein

Also of note is Silverstein’s fantastic recent posthumous anthology of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings.

via Al Gunn

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28 OCTOBER, 2011

Studio on Fire: Iron Beasts Make Great Beauty

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Labors of Victorian love, or how to make typography with spare bicycle parts.

Last year, my studiomate Erica introduced me to the wonderful Studio on Fire, a Minneapolis-based design studio, workshop, and printer crafting some of the most heart-stopping letterpress and screenprint gems I’ve ever seen. They use old-timey printing machines and techniques to produce a kind of haptic magic, the product of founder Ben Levitz’s lifelong obsession with the tactile world of analog design, who has amassed a formidable collection of vintage and antique printing presses and has mastered some of the most labor-intensive techniques, from letterpress and screen-printing to hot foil stamping and blind embossing. This month, the fine folks at Gestalten () are capturing Studio on Fire’s spark in a glorious volume titled Studio on Fire: Iron Beasts Make Great Beauty, gathering the studio’s most delightful printed ephemera — posters, flyers, wedding invitations, business cards, book covers, wallpaper, and more.

Here’s a peek at the obsessive grit the fuels the studio’s vision and process:

There’s a tactility to what we do and the creation of the design object. In a sense, that’s what print design is — good print design is objects that we remember because of visually seeing them and having a connection with them, and that’s why letter press is gonna be around.” ~ Ben Levitz

For a taste of the eerily hypnotic analog magic-making, here’s a video of how the book’s cover was made:

An absolute treat from cover to gloriously letterpressed cover, Studio on Fire: Iron Beasts Make Great Beauty is chock-full of just what the tin says and makes it hard to resist the urge to get up and make something beautiful and papery with your own two hands.

Images courtesy of Gestalten / Studio on Fire

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27 OCTOBER, 2011

The Little Book of Hindu Deities: Pixar Animator Rethinks Mythology

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What the goth Goddess of Time has to do with elephant head transplants and Pixar’s pastimes.

What if you could cross The Night Life of Trees, the magical artwork based on Indian mythology, with The Ancient Book of Myth and War, that delightful side project by a team of Pixar animators? You’d get The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow — an impossibly charming illustrated almanac of gods and goddesses by Pixar animator Sanjay Patel. These beautiful stories from Indian mythology span the entire spectrum of human experience — petty quarrels and epic battles, love and betrayal, happiness and loss — with equal parts humor and respect, pairing each full-color illustration with a lively profile of that deity.

In the book’s introduction, Patel notes his fascination with Japanese animation, which influenced his style in depicting the Hindu deities — a curious case of creative cross-pollination across cultures. For an added smile, Patel originally self-published the book before Plume picked it up.

A playful morphology of a mythological pantheon, The Little Book of Hindu Deities is as captivating and entertaining as it is informative without being encyclopedic — a light and joyful journey into Hinduism by way of the contemporary pop culture aesthetic.

Patel’s follow-up, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities, featuring 12 stunning removable prints, is also very much worth a look.

HT @ShamilaJiwa; images courtesy of Sanjay Patel

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