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Child Art for Grown-Ups

What Superman, Tim Burton and 1,000 South Korean Children have in common.

There’s a reason why creative types often envy the imagination of a child, with its boundless freedom and its anything-is-possible vision. Some artists take that envy and turn it into creative fuel, using the whimsical world of children’s imagination as inspiration. Here are our top picks for child-centric art.

THE MONSTER ENGINE

Oh, those days when a piece of a paper and a pen or…imagine that…a crayon was all we needed to create fascinating stories and magical characters that could rival some of Hollywood’s most blockbustery output.

In The Monster Engine, NJ-based artist Dave DeVries takes those whimsical doodles and drawlings, and recreates them “realistically” with a grown-up artist’s eye.

The Monster Engine: Superman by Michael

The best part is that he only adds graphical sophistication and 3D realism to the images, without altering the child-artist’s creative vision.

This being said, some of the renditions interpret elements of the child’s drawings in peculiar ways, adding a new creative layer to the artwork. Like the fish flying out of this witch’s hand, a far stretch from the original doodle, which makes the image all the more interesting.

The Monster Engine: Witch & Fish

The Monster Engine is also available as a 48-page coffeetable book, covering the backstory of the 7-year project and featuring interviews with the children who inspired Dave’s artwork.

via shape+color

WONDERLAND

Korean artist Yeondoo Jung explores a different translation of children’s art. In his photoseries Wonderland, which you may recall from our Re:Perception issue, he takes those simple shapes and colors, and transforms them into high-impact, surrealist fashion photography.

Wonderland

The project is based on a the drawings of 5-to-7-year-old South Korean children, reconceived with live models, dramatic costumes and flamboyant colors.

Wonderland: Fox's Magic Trick

Besides the stunning art direction, we’re somehow drawn to that eerie grownup-child wold the images create, a place where wonder and magic are only limited by how we choose to perceive our subjective reality.

TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

The creative link between the world of children and high fashion emerges once again in the December issue of Vogue UK’s with the Tales of the Unexpected editorial: a tribute to Roald Dahl’s, one of the most celebrated children’s book authors of the 20th century.

Vogue UK: Tales of the Unexpected

Starring the infamous Tim Burton and a slew of celebrity actors and musicians, the editorial recreates scenes and characters from some of Dahl’s most famous stories.

Vogue UK: Tales of the Unexpected

Shot by legendary fashion photographer Tim Walker, the spread brilliantly captures the very escapism that only high fashion can offer — an aspirational costume that outfits us for our grand dramatic performance in a staged world more beautiful and imaginative than our mundane reality.

via wickedhalo

BP

Buddhist Bottle Temple

Beer, Buddhism, and $100,000 worth of world-changing photography.

Heineken WOBOIn 1963, Alfred Heineken traveled to the Caribbean, where he got a bright idea for a two-birds-with-one-stone solution to the region’s littering problem and the lack of affordable building materials. He contacted Dutch architect John Habraken and the Heineken WOBO was born — a beer bottle that can be reused as a “brick” after the bacchanalia.

Great idea. Except it never reached critical mass.

Half a century later, Thai Buddhist monks have resurrected the idea with the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple, built entirely out glass bottles. Over a million of them.

Bottle Temple: Inside

Every minute detail of the temple is made entirely from bottles, from the roofing to the washrooms to the crematorium.

Monks first began using bottles to decorate their shelters and the temple’s murals in 1984, which inspired people to donate more bottles, eventually amassing enough to build entire buildings like pagodas and ceremony halls.

Buddhist Bottle Temple

We think the temple is a stunning reminder of the pressing need for recycling, repurposing, and rethinking our global drinking problem. After all, it takes 700 years for a single plastic bottle to even begin decomposing, and at a consumption rate of 30 billion plastic bottles per year, the we need more than prayers to move towards a more sustainable relationship with water. (Remember Blue Planet Run?)

Speaking of, the winner of the £53,000 Prix Pictet photography award was just announced — this year’s theme was water sustainability. Check it out.

BP

Blooper Troopers

Droops, bloopers and what geeks, babies and whales have in common.

Coolness often comes down to how well you handle the uncool stuff that inevitably happens. On the intertubes, that stuff is known by one infamous, universally hated number: 404. Today, we look at those coolest error pages that manage to inject some irreverent fun into all the frustration.

SMASHING MAGAZINE

SMASHING MAGAZINE 404

This lovable big droop extracts an “awww” from even the most cynical and web-raged of us, making us wanna hug him and tell him it’s okay.

GEEK SQUAD

GEEK SQUAD 404

Who can get mad at an awkward know-it-all geek? Okay, plenty of people. But this one aptly walks the fine line between know-it-all self-righteousness and it’s-all-in-good-fun self-derision.

MIXX

In terms of “personality,” Mixx has long been our favorite of the social bookmarking platforms. Their irreverent humor comes through here with both the clever pun and the sheer hilarity of the video.

TWITTER

Twitter Error Page

Most of us have been hit with the dreaded “Twitter down” message. And, come SXSW time or another major live blogging event, we’ll no doubt be hit again. (And again. And again.) But nothing softens the “Grrr!” like a simple image of serene empathy. Bonus points for using pastels to dampen the reds and yellows you’re feeling.

LOOK IT’S ME

This one goes all the way with a flash animation. Watch this little guy as he jumps around, wiggles a reprimanding finger at you, then finally gives up on your obvious idiocy and stomps away.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There you have it, a cool error page can make the difference between “ugh” and “heh,” and works wonders for fostering that elusive devil’s-in-the-details emotional connection we have with our favorite sites.

We’re actually quite disappointed with the lack of clever 404 pages in some of our favorite, should-know-better web dwellings. (Wired, PSFK and Creativity, we’re looking at you.)

BP

Best of Election Season Innovation

Private confessions, citizen voyeurism, a shot at redemption, why it pays to have famous friends, and how graphic design changed politics forever.

In the year of the YouTube election, innovation in political communication spanned virtually every medium. As the big day is upon is, we look back on an incredibly tumultuous political season with our selection of the smartest, most revolutionary election-related ideas.

THE SAYHEAR PROJECT

In a political climate where the “get out and vote” message seems to be spewing out of everywhere (and rightfully so), it’s worth taking a step back and asking ourselves the simple question: Why are we voting today?

That’s exactly what design studio Gershoni did with their experimental sayHear project, which assigns a toll-free number to each of the 4 voting options – Obama, McCain, 3rd party, and non-voter – and invites people to call with the reason for their choice, then displays the results in a neatly designed interface.

You can hear all the confessionals on the project website, ranging from the fully serious to the giggles-in-the-background prank calls. Listen to one particularly funny one here.

>>> via BoingBoing

NYT’S POLLING PLACE PHOTO PROJECT

The best documentaries record monumental events that change the course of history. That’s exactly what The New York Times is out to do with their Polling Place Photo Project, the first-ever nationwide experiment in citizen journalism.

Polling Place Photo ProjectThe project aims to create the largest photographic archive of the actual battleground of every presidential election — hum-drum polling places — capturing the richness and complexity of voting, a visual record of human behavior in that final stretch of choosing our political destiny.

You can already browse photos from this year’s primaries and caucuses, or upload your own. So don’t forget your camera today.

MICHAEL MOORE’S SLACKER UPRISING

Slacker Uprising DVDNotorious filmmaker and whistle-blower Michael Moore made movie distribution history this year with his latest political documentary, Slacker Uprising, which became the world’s first feature-length film to launch as a legal free release.

The film, covering the filmmaker’s failed attempt to save the Democrats from themselves in the 2004 election by rallying people to vote with a grassroots tour of 60 cities in the battleground states, is above all a call to action in hope for redemption this time around.

(We covered it in detail here.)

WILL.I.AM’S YES WE CAN SONG

After Barack Obama’s New Hampshire primary speech in January, artist will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas got overwhelmed with the desire to prevent the “unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful, corrupt” process of the last election. So he called up a massive lineup of celebrities to produce a revolutionary music video based on Obama’s speech. (We first covered it here.)

The video became the most-watched election-related video on YouTube, with over 30 million views across its various uploads, and set off an avalanche of buzz across the social web. It inspired an equally moving spinoff, the HOPE.ACT.CHANGE. project, which invites Obama supporters to upload images of themselves and rebuilds the video into a gloriously designed multimedia mosaic of them.

SHEPARD FAIREY’S OBAMA POSTERS

Shepard Fairey's Obama Poster

In January 2008, artist Shepard Fairey did what he does best to show his support for Barack Obama – he designed a poster.

Little did he know the 350 limited-edition PROGRESS screenprints would sell out in minutes, the HOPE print would go on to become part of the Obama camp’s awareness campaign, and the posters would become the most iconic images associated with this presidential campaign.

Here’s to the power of supreme graphic design and art direction.

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There were, of course, a ton of other tremendously innovative efforts. A few more of our favorites included the Obama social network; the efforts to give voice to those who are impacted by the American election but can’t vote, like the nation’s 29.1 million home-owning, tax-paying legal aliens or, you know, the world; the clever and tremendously amusing Things Younger Than McCain site-turned-book (which is funnier if you skip back through the archives); and the Field of Hope crop circle in Pennsylvania.

But what we really hope is that all this innovation is indicative of a greater cultural hunger for change. And as the 11th hour of this grand race is upon us, we can almost taste it.

So get out and vote today — and enjoy it. Your children will read about it in the history books.

BP

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