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Traveling all over the world, street artist No Touching Ground wheat pastes compelling imagery amidst various cities architecture that adds depth to the context of our time and place. Recently, in Greece, he posted work concerning their social political climate under the title “Ingredients Of An Uprising”. In one of them, an Axe body spray bottle, re-worked to say “Anarchy for Him” floats over other graffiti on a busy street.
No Touching Ground creates a nearly optical illusion as his work is so photorealistic that it blends into its surroundings in an uncanny way. He began by working around images of animals from the wild, and people dressed up like animals. His work has since become more political, ranging from symbolic elements indicative of social tensions, to portraits and quotes of protestors met at a demonstration. In Seattle he voiced many of the emotions surrounding the tragic death of John T. Williams at the hand of a Seattle police officer. His work is aesthetically lush and important for our social consciousness.
A rather mysterious artist, No Touching Ground has work all over the world. Alaska, Seattle, South America, Europe, and now Greece, there is no saying where his work will show up next.
The altered visions of Lori Nix have led to the creation of transfixing dioramas, which she photographs to look like reality. Often building an entire scene around one object or piece she finds compelling, these worlds are pain-stakingly intricate. The body of work featured, City, offers glances into a post-apocalyptic city, one devoid of human life and beyond collapse. Vegetation and foliage crawl into the scenes, taking over the man-made aspects. Debris everywhere, the rooms appear untouched from how they were before. All the details and minutae indicating human life is there, strewn about.
The dioramas are a time-consuming creation; Nix spends about seven months constructing and photographing a single work. Each diorama is built only to be photographed from a single angle, and she controls and manipulates all of the lighting until she arrives at her desired outcome. A film purist, Nix shoots on an 8×10 large format camera, allowing her to make massive prints of her work.
“Since my earliest days I have always worked with fabrication, either through darkroom manipulations or even room sized installations. My strength lies in my ability to build and construct my world rather than seek out an existing world. Inspiration comes from reading the daily newspaper The New York Times, science fiction paperbacks and magazine articles. I get most of my ideas during my morning subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go to my day job. Something about the morning light, the rocking of the subway, seeing the cityscape pass by opens my mind up to inspiration.”
Seattle artist Joe Vollan has an inventive imagination that lies somewhere between Edward Gorey, children’s fairy tales, with perhaps a little Tim Burton mixed in there. Mechanized skeletons of birds, wild beasts, a cat dancing around a fire, all forming splices of what could be either a tall tale or a nightmare, depending on your take. His work involves the dead moving about in a world where they continue to interact, and this playful imagery is embedded in a fictionalized version of Seattle, as the Space Needle is present in one particular painting.
As said on his website: “His works describe tales of heartache and adventure. The bulk of his paintings take place in the city of Rusted Gallows, a post apocalyptic, rundown factory town populated by secret skeleton societies and strange but friendly creatures. The characters in his works demonstrate that there can be contentment and hope in an otherwise dilapidated world.”
Australian artist Justine Khamara embeds portraits of people in fractured wood sculptures. By cutting the photographs into pieces and then assembling them either on plywood or weaving them through one another, Khamara changes the experience of the portraits. Taking what is usually one dimensional and making it approachable in a whole new level, Khamara brings a sense of life to the pictures she takes.
“Khamara says she used to cut up photographs and rearrange them into montages that she would rephotograph, ‘but I eventually found the montages to be more interesting as sculptural objects,’ she explains. The act itself, slicing up photos and piecing them back together, has always been something Khamara relished. ‘I loved the butteriness, the physicality of the photographic paper a quality that reveals itself when one slices into the surface of it with a very fine, sharp blade,’ she says.” (Excerpt from Source)
New York painter Monica Cook depicts absurd, messy scenes in these paintings of women playing and posing with food and sea creatures. Often referred to as “absurd,” her work tells of women, sometimes not naked, covered in liquids and slime, fruit pulp, and cradling octopi. There is no arguing her painterly talent at narrating the viscosity of the elements in the frame, but she leaves it up to the viewer as to how they will interpret the contents of the scene. Meaning, she has no implied meaning:
“When I’m painting, it’s more about my relationship with the object than it is about me. It’s hard for me to separate myself from the experience. It could be a fish or an octopus. I handle it until it becomes unfamiliar to me so I can see it in a new way. People might want to read into those paintings but for me, it’s just about finding magic in the mundane and exploring further. I’m sure if I stumbled upon the work I’d see it differently.” (Excerpt from Source)
Colombian photographer Adriana Duque uses digital photography to illuminate bizarre narratives taken from myth and the fantastical. Combining both the context of Western lifestyle with that of the rural Colombian world, Duque explores the uncharted territory of her mind through carefully crafted scenes and settings. This series, Anthology of an Obsession, features highly polished photographs, nearly monochromatic, of children interacting with a world before the one we know.
As said within her artist statement:
“Duque treats her medium as a kind of mis en scene in which she projects her child-centered concerns, in an apparently static dramatization of actions in which a sense of astonishment and anxiety is present that also points out to a collision between the normal and paranormal. Some of her photographs build illusions of mythical proportions developed with an almost religious ritual sense; photography in this terrain is a kind of romantic gesture that directs the viewer towards a transcendental experience. In the fictional fairy tale references there lurks a disquieting subtext of sadistic overtones related to notions of childhood identity.” (Excerpt from Source)
Seattle artist Kyler Martz is an illustrator, painter, and tattoo artist with an expressionist style so unique within his field that it seems to take the whole concept of tattoo work into uncharted territory. While the work of famous tattoo personas like Ed Hardy has mass commercialized the basic styles of sailor tattoo art and tattoo graphics into a nearly bland generalized version of itself, Martz is pushing the genre forward and taking it back to weird, in the best way possible. Having mastered the basics of line work and image building, what stands out about Martz is his use of layered objects and elements to create a woven narrative that is surprisingly dense within a compact space. Using both abstract and figurative symbology, Martz has found an interesting balance between the literal and the ethereal that makes his work conceptually vivid and involved. Many hidden aspects lie in wait: faces and skulls within landscapes, pocket knives folding open into mountainscapes, and often you can find the Eye of Hamsa nestled within the architecture of the piece. Russian nesting dolls, houses on snails backs, and boats made of sea creatures are other strange metaphorical pockets Martz’s work has inhabited and enlivened. Allusions to the omnipresent spirit of the northwest drift in and out of his work: campfires, trees, The Puget Sound, log cabins, mountains, and wildlife; items detailing the Filson/Pendleton lifestyle that is deeply embedded in the historical northwest culture. These abstract notions add a sense of timeless mystery and allow his work to be interpreted on multiple tiers of thought. It will be really fun to see where he is at and what he is making a few years from now.