Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Page 1251

Creative Pause: Todd St. John & HunterGatherer

What preschoolers have to do with a dancing robot and Jack Johnson.

They had us at the brilliant Buckminster Fuller portrait for Mined Magazine.

In 2000, NYC-based designer, animator and filmmaker Todd St. John founded HunterGatherer — a bleeding-edge design, illustration, animation and production studio. Their shtick is combining experimental and hand-built techniques with more complex methods. And they do it brilliantly.

From a phenomenal stop-motion music video for preschoolers, to an incredible visual interpretation of Nike’s “Considered” manifesto of sustainability, to a delightful poster for Jack Johnson’s music label, their work is nothing short of stride-stopping.

They even collaborated with our favorite magazine in the educational Transparency series.

Take a look at the entirety of HunterGatherer‘s portoflio or quick-sample their showreel, and be sure to check out Todd St. John‘s personal site for some compellint experimental and noncommercial work.

You’re bound to find radically new ways of doing — of combining materials and techniques, of animating, of visualizing the expected in unexpected ways.


Monday Music Muse: Anathallo

What a flugelhor has to do with the existential quest of twentysomethings.

We’ve had our eye on Anathallo ever since their fantastic Coachella 2007 performance. Their brand of chamber indie-pop is simply unlike anything else out there — vocals that blend the lightness of youth with the intensity of life and lyrics that speak to the troubled enlightenment of the quintessential twentysomething, all wrapped in superb multi-instrumentalist percussion.

This year, we were delighted to find Anathallo equally fantastic at SXSW — be your own judge with this free copy of The River.

Taken from Greek, anathallo means “bloom again” — a fitting allegory for the band, which was conceived in 2000 only to live through several line-up changes over the next six years, until it was finally reborn in 2006 as the current 7-member neo-orchestra.

Anathallo‘s latest album, Canopy Glow, is a captivating cascade of vocal harmonies, chamber magic, and lyrical sensibility that makes you want to go out and just live. It’s part Vampire Weekend, part Kings of Convenience, part Fleet Foxes, part something else entirely.

So give Canopy Glow a listen — if for no other reason, then just because it’s not every day you hear a trombone, a flugelhor AND an autoharp in an indie band.



Why egocentricity is the new philanthropy, or how to turn your city know-how into a child’s bright future.

It’s a well-known fact that the advertising industry is a self-revolving beehive that buzzes solely about itself, glorifying and aggrandizing every effort that leads to awards meaning nothing to anyone else. Or so the stereotype goes.

But regardless of its veracity, we applaud it when someone takes a perceived fault and turns it into something that benefits others.

lbbThat’s exactly what Little Black Book, the publisher of guide books and online city directories for ad folk, is doing in their charity partnership with One Laptop Per Child. (Which, as we all know, we’re big proponents of.) All you have to do is recommend a restaurant, bar, hotel, squash club — any good place to take a client — in a major advertising city. LBB has pledged to donate £1 for every new recommendation, up to £20,000.

In essence, all you’re donating is your time, and a child in the developing world gets a shot at a life of knowledge and self-sufficiency. You’ll never feel better about your bar-hopping expertise.

via Creativity Online


Paper Whimsy: Top 5 Artists

The best thing to die for if you’re a tree, or what Darwin has to do with the visual scent of winter.

Let’s get one thing straight. We aren’t fans of “pointless paper” — we take our toilet paper recycled, our notes digital, and our magazines online. And while the waste of paper is frowned upon around here, its artistic uses are a whole different story. Here are 5 fascinating instances of paper-centric creativity.


Russian-born, UK-based artist Yulia Brodskaya is a creative force to be reckoned with.

Her meticulously detailed, brilliantly crafted paper typography is unlike anything else we’ve seen. Not coincidentally, clients like Wired, Starbucks, Nokia, The New York Times Magazine, and many more seem to share our sentiment — Brodskaya’s work has graced the covers of various top-tier magazines and has appeared in multiple ad campaigns by the world’s leading creative agencies.

For us, it’s just a testament to the fact that you can take something utterly mundane, douse it in your unique brand of creativity, and transform it into something utterly original.


This has to be the most innovative fragrance advertising we’ve ever seen.

Swiss visual communication student Adrian Merz decided to capture the essence of the fragrance Winter 1972 in an elaborate kit that comes with every 100ml bottle of the perfume. In it, there’s a poster that unfolds into a room transformed into a whimsical winterscape composed of thousands of white Post-It notes.

Adrian actually created the scene in his own living room — an undertaking just as laborious as you’d imagine it to be. But the end result is nothing short of phenomenal, both visually compelling and conceptually brilliant.

See more of the impressive making-of, and never look at a Post-It the same way again.


UK-based artist Helen Musselwhite has the imaginative prowess of a brilliant art director and the hands of a skilled craftsman. Her hand-cut paper sculptures are as impactful as they are visually stunning, drawing you into intricate and whimsical scenes that take on a life of their own.

Each sculpture has at least 4 layers of different-colored paper, assembled on top of each other to give the image dimension.

You can order some of Helen’s artwork online — the one tricky thing about appreciating paper art from a digital distance is that you lose out on all the rich tactile and dimensional detail of the piece.

via Design*Sponge


We’ve always had an odd fascination with toilet paper rolls. Unfortunately, we never did much with it. But Japanese artist Yuken Teruya did.

In his signature style of taking everyday objects and transforming them into works of art reflecting on contemporary culture, Teruya creates intricate trees without adding or removing anything, just by cutting silhouettes into the paper and folding them out — a conceptual critique of contemporary consumerism and our tendency to add more to our lives while taking away from nature.

Teruya also works with paper bags, crafting objects of visual irony by juxtaposing the very resources that consumerism depletes with its quintessential symbol — the shopping bag.

via BOOM


Most of us don’t see A4 paper. To us, it’s just a carrier for whatever message is typed and printed on it. Not so for artist Peter Callesen, who has a special relationship with the materiality of A4 paper — a literal tabula rasa, each neutral and unassuming sheet allows him to create paper sculptures brimming with romance, tragedy and offbeat humor.

The sculptures are an exploration of probability — what the paper could be, how it could expand into the space surrounding it.

The negative and absent 2 dimensional space left by the cut, points out the contrast to the 3 dimensional reality it creates, even though the figures still stick to their origin without the possibility of escaping. In that sense there is also an aspect of something tragic in many of the cuts.

See more of Callesen’s creations and revel in the artistic potential of your office space.


View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support Brain Pickings by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated