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Illustration Showcase: 5 Artists to Watch

Shapes, colors, textures, and a whole lotta lovable monsters.

We love illustration. We love innovation. And we love these 5 incredibly innovative illustrators.


Kansas City designer Tad Carpenter‘s character illustrations are what one would call “unique” — the bold colors, crisp lines and subtle 2D texture, combined with the expressive minimalism of the characters’ faces, make for a signature style you couldn’t mistake for another.

Tad Carpenter

Monster Mix-UpsTad’s work spans across posters, identity, installations, packaging, painting, and more. Between his day job at Design Ranch and his personal work, Tad also co-runs Vahalla Studios, a top-notch screen-printing shop.

Tad recently collaborated with a few other artists on a philanthropic project — after visiting 9 orphanages in Vietnam to help paint some murals, they got inspired by the kids’ drawings and paired each kid with one of the artists, who later did his own version of the kid’s drawing. (Remember Child Art for Grown-Ups?)

They then set up an auction for the work, benefiting, of course, the orphanages.

Giving It Back to Kids

Check out Tad’s blog for more about his work, his inspiration, and his rather exciting artist life.

via grain edit


Designer and motion graphics artist Christopher Lee, a.k.a. “The Best Is Back,” has some pretty impressive commercial gigs to his credit: Lucas Arts, TBWA, Disney Consumer Products, Vodafone and Honda, to name but a few.

TBWA: Carbon Figthers

In 2004, Christopher started a conceptual pet project dubbed The Urbanites — a friendly bunch of characters that are almost like the rest of us:

Populated together in that tight knit community you’ve grown to love and hate. Filled with best friends, mortal enemies, summer popsicles, freshly cut lawn, gossip, laughs and the obligatory robot factory.

Except they’re monsters.

The Urbanites: Sketches

Eventually, Christopher developed The Urbanites into lovable characters, each with a unique personality and back story.

The Urbanites

In 2006, Christopher moved to Southern California to look for new inspiration. And we think he’s more than found it.


Christopher now lives in Sacramento and works as an Art Director at motion graphics get-up Buck.


Chicago-based artist Matthew Woodson is the kind of illustrator who doesn’t fall for the latest grunge or “2.0” or magna fad. His minimalistic traditionalism of simple, meticulous pen and brush work somehow creates rather powerfl, almost haunting images.

Something about his ghostly illustration seems to strike a chord with the cultural and commercial A-listers — from nonprofits like UNICEF, to for-as-much-as-possible-profits like American Express, to an impressive lineup of media powerhouses: BusinessWeek, ESPN Magazine, Glamour, Randomhouse, and Wired (which, as you probably know by now, we’re completely obsessed with.)

Check out Matthew’s blog for a glimpse into his creative process.


Designer Alberto Cerriteño is an enviable master of texture, shape and color, whatever medium they dwell in.

The Helium Adventure

His artwork creates nothing short of a whimsical alternate reality, sucking you in one lovable monster at a time.


Born in Mexico City, Alberto is now a Senior Art Director at a Portland-based design shop. His work spans nearly every frontier of design imaginable, from print to motion graphics to apparel and more.


Follow Alberto’s global adventures on his blog for some insight into the fuel of that incredibly imaginative mind.


Honduras-based freelance illustrator Wilmer Murillo‘s artwork is brimming with that rare blend of the bizarre, the delightful and the introspective, all tied with a bow of fantastic aesthetic execution.

Don Pedro Buenaventura

His latest collection, The Messenger of Love Is Old and Tired, juxtaposes the endearing, almost cartoonish nature of the characters with the profound sadness of the conceptual message.

A Walk With a Hot Dog

Wilmer is only 21, which absolutely floors us. Keep your eyes peeled for this guy as he takes the design world by storm in the next couple of years.


The Sky in Motion: 7,000 NASA Images in a Mesmerizing Timelapse

The Earth, the Moon, the stars, and the joys of geekdom.

This being the International Year of Astronomy and all, we thought it would be kind of nice to swap the daily screen stare for a wide look at the open skies. Granted, we can’t really do that, but we can try to do both.

The Sky in Motion is a fascinating, hypnotic project featuring several time-lapse videos, each composed of over 7,000 images revealing the richness of our skies. Featured in NASA‘s Astronomy Picture of the Day, this video blends the romantic obsession over the Moon, the Sun and the stars with the scientific awe of meteors, satellites, and crepuscular rays — all framed by the wonder of Earth’s own rotation. 

Seems like NASA has come a long way from those laughable times we shall not speak of again.

Thanks, @guykawasaki.


Uncovered Gem of the Week: Tarsem’s The Fall

25 years of cinematographic obsession, or what Nike has to do with a 6-year-old Romanian girl.

Chances are, you’re already familiar with legendary director Tarsem (pronounced tar-SAME) and his prolific commercial work for brands like Guinness, Nike, Levi’s and Motorola RAZR, as well as music videos like R.E.M.’s famed Losing My Religion.

thefallWhat you may not be familiar with is his colossal pet project. The Fall, inspired by 1981 Bulgarian movie Yo Ho Ho, took 25 years to make and was shot on 26 locations across 18 countries. The film was quietly released in 2006 and swept the festival circuit, polarizing critics and audiences with its dramatic avant garde style and odd head-scratcher of a plot. And while The Fall sets a whimsical playground for the bizarre, the macabre and the idiosyncratic, what’s even more fascinating than the film itself is the story behind it.

If Tarsem‘s style, however distinctive, seems vaguely familiar, it may be because he keeps rather famous company. His posse includes iconic director Spike Jonze and filmmaker David Fincher of Se7en, Fight Club, and Zodiac fame. The two were, in fact, instrumental to making the The Fall happen by getting Tarsem to finally move from obsession to production.

The FallWe have a hard time pegging The Fall — it’s part The Wizard of Oz, part Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, part Bjork, part something else entirely. And while it’s just as likely to leave you overwhelmed with sheer awe as it is to make you underwhelmed and confused, it’s worth the watch even merely for the breathtaking cinematography, the phenomenal locations, and the brave play of light and color.

Watch The Fall and stay tuned for Tarsem’s new project, Greek epic War of Gods, now in production.


Coming to a Best-of-2009 List Near You

What an Anglo-Irish bard has to do with one of 2009’s yet-to-be-declared greatest albums.

After a roundup of last year’s music best-of’s, it’s time to start filling our 2009 list with hidden gems and discovery goodies. First up, Chicago-based alt-rock getup Company of Thieves.

Company of Thieves

Company of ThievesFull of raw rock power, socially conscious, and brimming with fascination over history’s misunderstood heroes, the trio nails every box on the hipster checklist. Not to mention they’re not too shabby looking, either.

Their sound is distinct yet familiar — Evanescence meets The Cranberries meet an angrier Ingrid Michaelson, with a twist all their own.

Company of Thieves is vocalist Genevieve Schatz, guitarist Marc Walloch and drummer Mike Ortiz.

Ordinary RichesCheck out their Ordinary Riches album and grab “Oscar Wilde,” one of the strongest tracks on it, as a free download on iTunes.

These guys will hit the Big Time in ’09, mark our words – SXSW, primetime drama soundtracks and TV commercial scores, here they come.


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