Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

26 OCTOBER, 2009

Art of the Toilet Paper Roll

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Simplicity and complexity, human emotion, and the intersection of craft and storytelling.

While Charmin gets busy staffing NYC bathrooms with bloggers this holiday season, we thought we’d focus on the less commercial, more artistic side of the backbone of this whole toilet paper thing: The toilet paper roll. Here are three artists who have turned the inglorious brown tossaway into beautiful and inspired design goodness.

JUNIOR FRITZ JACQUET

French artist Junior Fritz Jacquet has been fascinated by paper since a very young age. Among various other paper and cardboard creations, he transforms plain toilet paper rolls into remarkable miniature masks. His technique is inspired by origami, in that it uses a single piece and folds it into a shape, but has a unique smoothness that deviates from the sharpness and jagged edges of origami, creating shapes that are astonishingly human.

The masks are sculpted by hand, then coated with shellac and different pigments. A testament to the power of taking something incredibly simple and transforming it into something impressively expressive, each piece exudes a complexity of human emotion conveyed in just a few brilliantly orchestrated folds.

ANASTASSIA ELIAS

French artist Anastassia Elias is a master of collage. But her Paper Cuts series is something else entirely. Like a pop-up book that unfolds inside a toilet paper roll, Elias’ work is a beautiful intersection of art, craft and modern storytelling.

YUKEN TERUYA

Japanese artist Yuken Teruya, whom you may recall from our paper art omnibus feature, takes everyday objects and transforms them into works of art. His toilet paper roll mini-sculptures are created just by cutting silhouettes into the paper and folding them out, adding and subtracting nothing.

Teruya’s work is as much an innovation in artistic technique as it is a conceptual criticism of contemporary culture’s preoccupation with adding more and more to our lives while taking more and more from nature — an ode to the brilliance and charm of simplicity.

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23 OCTOBER, 2009

Vintage Album Covers

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Private collections, public perceptions, and all that jazz.

We love jazz. We love album cover art. And we love vintage design. So we’re incredibly excited to bring you three fantastic collections of vintage jazz album and LP cover artwork.

VINTAGE VANGUARD

Vintage Vanguard may be an obscure Japanese website, but it’s brimming with remarkable cover designs of classic and rare Western jazz albums from the iconic Blue Note record label.

LP COVER LOVER

LP Cover Lover is both an archive of “the weird and wonderful world of record covers from the golden age of LPs” and a social bookmarking platform where anyone can submit a cover and everyone votes on the artwork. And while we wish the collection were browsable by rating, it’s still an absolute treat for musicologists and vintage design junkies alike.

BIRKA JAZZ ARCHIVE

In 1938, Columbia Records hired designer Alex Steinweiss who, at the age of 23, invented the concept of the album cover. Until then, records came in plain brown paper wrappers. Steinweiss’ idea was not only a pivotal moment in packaging history, but also a monumental shift in the relationship between music and art which, through the introduction of illustration, typography, vivid color and bold graphics, completely revolutionized the record industry.

Columbia Records’ Birka Jazz Archive houses rare and beautiful album covers by Steinweiss and other iconic designers from the golden age of jazz — some from private collections not previously available to the world. Sorted by label and country, the artwork also features fascinating historical notes about the labels, designers, photographers, and the music itself.

Explore this incredible cultural gem and, if you find yourself fascinated by the history and heritage of jazz, we recommend the Jazz + Culture course on iTunes U, a free podcast from Arizona State University. While it may lack the charm and production value of a TED talk, the course is a densely informative and captivating journey through the evolution of a cultural movement much grander than its musical foundation.

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21 OCTOBER, 2009

Art, Science, Food: Kevin Van Aelst

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The sweet side of the Periodic Table, or what kitty litter has to do with your DNA.

Jackson Pollock’s near-fractal paintings notwithstanding, science and art have always had a tortured Cold War of a relationship. But photographer Kevin Van Aelst is on a mission to change this — his series of food photography presents scientific and mathematical concepts through creative images of donuts, crackers, gummy bears and other such wildly unscientific snackables.

Cantor Set

Chromosomes

The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life — the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence.

Cellular Mitosis

The Golden Mean

We’re also quite taken with his fingerprint series — a visceral reminder of how the physical environments we construct reflect the intimate realities of our personas.

Right Index Finger

Right Middle Finger

While the depictions of information — such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model — are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas.

Left Pinky Finger

Right Ring Finger

via SEED Magazine

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