Tag Archives: London

An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

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Graphic Designer Creates a Different TYPE of Art

What do you call a graphic artist who does not need a computer?

A typewriter artist.

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Álvaro Franca is often called a graphic designer but may be better known as a typographer or type designer. He creates fonts.

What is your favorite font? You might use Calibri, Arial, Tahoma, or Times New Roman. Franca develops fonts that are seen online and in print. He has developed fonts for reading purposes and as parts of advertisements. He even designed labels for beer bottles.

Franca uses a computer to craft font types, but it is what he creates with a vintage typewriter that makes the 22-year-old artist most impressive.

In a collection of work titled, Typewritten Portraits, Franca creates portraits by using a vintage typewriter to strategically placing single characters on a blank sheet of paper. To deepen the complexity of his work, he defines, shapes, and shades the faces of infamous authors so they are recognizable and, in some cases, may be mistaken for sketch art.

The method for creating Typewritten Portraits was conceptualized by Franca in 2013. While he might be the first person to use a typewriter to recreate portraits of Jose Saramago, Charles H. Bukowski, J.D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, and Clarice Lispector, he was not the first artist to use a vintage typewriter as an art medium.

In 2012, Segmation wrote a blog about vintage typewriter collector and artist Keira Rathbone. Rathbone lives in London and uses over 30 typewriters to create original works of art.

While both artists use typewriters, Franca and Rathbone have contrasting approaches to creating art. Using his computer, Franca created a method that allows him to know exactly where to put characters on a typewriter page. For instance, from the start, he maps out where to add the letter “m,” which is the character he uses to add depth and dimension to portraits.

Rathbone, on the other hand, does not sketch or outline any of her art. With a well-trained eye, she is able to create scenes from her imagination and recreate images she sees. By going over parts of a picture multiple times she produces the perfect amount of shading. This gives her images the level of depth and dimension that Franca factors in from the start.

These two artists live a world apart but both use typewriters to create masterpieces. Rathbone truly needs no computer while Franca uses his for precision. Watch the artists at work and let us know which approach you like better. Leave us a comment at the bottom of this page.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/90642350″>Typewritten Portraits</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/alvarofranca”>&Aacute;lvaro Franca</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

Retire in Style with Artistic Flair

Childhood Stories of Paint by Number

How to turn your Passion into Profit

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London – A Town for Art Lovers

Each year visitors from all over the world travel to London to see Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Covent Garden, The London Eye, and Piccadilly Circus. But did you know that London is full of amazing artwork as well as landmarks? It’s true. In fact, art lovers are some of the main people who make their way to London each year. Here are just a few of the most famous pieces of art that are located in London:

Sunflowers, by Vincent Van Gogh

Located in the National Gallery, Sunflowers was painted in 1888. Sunflowers is a still life, oil on canvas painting that was created in Arles. Vincent Van Gogh reportedly painted Sunflowers with the intention of using it to decorate Gauguin’s rented home in the South of France. The National Gallery, Sunflowers’ home, also shelters other pieces of famous artwork from the 13th – 19th Century.  One of the best things about the National Gallery is that its artwork is free for viewing.

The Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott was created by the masterful hands of John William Waterhouse in 1888. The painting is a depiction of Tennyson’s poem entitled The Lady of Shalott. The woman representing the Lady of Shalott in Waterhouse’s painting was, reportedly, his wife. This naturalistic painting is located at Tate Britain, which houses British art made in the past 500 years or so. Contemporary and international modern art can also be found at Tate Britain.

The Raphael Cartoons, by Raphael

Commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X, The Raphael Cartoons are said to be “among the greatest treasures of the High Renaissance.” Created by Raphael and his “assistants,” The Raphael Cartoons were used as tapestry designs for the Vatican. The paintings feature St. Paul and St. Peter. The Raphael Cartoons are currently housed at the Victoria and Albert museum, which is home to 4.5 million pieces of art, clothing, jewelry, ironwork, and much more.

English poet Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Indeed, one of the finest things that life affords is art, and that can be found in abundance in London.

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Plexiglass + Light = Awe Inspiring Art

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Think back to when you were a child, easily fascinated by the tiniest things. Maybe you remember the excitement of finding a rainbow on the wall and the joy of discovering the crystal figurine that seemed to magically create this kaleidoscope of color. Perhaps you even spent the afternoon moving that figurine around the house waiting to see where the rainbow would appear next.

Do you remember the first time you saw a rainbow through the hazy drizzle after a storm? Your first sunset on a beach? Can you recall that first stained glass window that caught your eye and captured your attention?

More importantly, can you call back that simple childlike joy; the pure awe of bearing witness to something so fantastical? It’s hard to do as adults when we are able to wrap our minds around the scientific reasons behind rainbows and light.

Currently on display at the De Pury Gallery in London is a unique style of artwork which calls to the surface that simple, childlike wonder. The image above is part of the “Fly to Baku” Contemporary Art Exhibition.

The effect is achieved by shining light through Plexiglass airplanes. The arrangement of these airplanes creates the image on the wall. If the mobile of hanging airplanes doesn’t stop you in your tracks, then the picture it creates is sure to amaze.

Light has an important relationship with color and with art. Painters go to great lengths to achieve a specific light or a hint of a shadow in their paintings. Those who make stained glass pieces consider how the glass will react to light shining behind it. Sculptures can’t escape light either and seem to constantly change as light rotates around them. Even interior decorators factor in the way light filters through a space when they choose colors and designs.

In the case of “Fly to Baku,” light harnessed in little Plexiglass airplanes is actually creating pieces of art. Take a moment to really look at the image above. You may just find yourself entranced by childlike awe.

Image courtesy of http://www.imgur.com/gallery/86upn

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Vintage Typewriters Create Artwork

Can you believe a vintage typewriter created this image?

Believe it. This unique art is made possible by the ingenuity and creativity of one woman: Keira Rathbone.

Keira Rathbone is a vintage typewriter collector, but as you may be able to  tell, her collection of old typewriters is not at home collecting dust. Her vintage machines are put to good use!

The London based artist creates detailed and unique pieces of art with only a piece of paper and a vintage typewriter. Rathbone has thirty typewriters in her collection. This fact alone is impressive, but how she uses these typewriters to create art is even more inspiring.

Rathbone’s style is similar to a sketch.  It has been praised and called distinctly different because she is able to go over the same area of the page multiple times with the typewriter’s keys. She goes over and over a page to create shaded areas and white spaces. Others have claimed that her style resembles a digital art style, ASCII.  But her typed pieces have an additional dimension that hints at a more traditional artistic style.

Another interesting fact about the creative Keira Rathbone is that she does not only work on her typewriters indoors. She ventures out into the world with paper and typewriter in hand. She also wears clothing that reflects the era each typewriter is from. While she works, she chats with those who admire her artistic talent and appreciate the fact that she has saved these vintage machines from extinction. Rathbone has also encountered many who love to reminisce about the glory days of the typewriter.

Are you impressed yet?  If not, this next piece of information is sure to make your jaw drop: Keira Rathbone doesn’t begin any of her typed pieces with a sketch or an outline.  She has a natural eye for how to shade a space on a page to create an image.  She enjoys the challenge of creating pieces of art on various models of vintage typewriters.

In a day and age when we constantly seem to be doing away with the old, it is nice to know that these vintage typewriters are serving an artistic purpose and delight so many – especially Rathbone.

Do you have a unique interest? Can it become your artistic style?

Read more about Keira Rathborne and her vintage typewriter art here: http://weburbanist.com/2012/04/07/typewriter-artist-creates-prints-one-line-at-a-time/

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Jan van Eyck – Renaissance Realist (www.segmation.com)

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Jan van Eyck (c.1395-1441) was a Flemish painter who is now considered one of the leading Northern European artists of the 15th century.

Van Eyck’s precise date of birth is unknown, and little is known too about his childhood. The earliest surviving record dates to 1422 and describes him as a court painter to John of Bavaria where he held the rank of valet de chambre. It is believed however that he was born in Maaseik in Belgium and learned to paint in the studio of his older brother, Hubert.

Van Eyck probably joined John of Bavaria’s court in 1421. He left in 1424 for the court of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy where he seemed to have found favor. While other painters of his time relied on commissions for their income, Philip paid van Eyck a generous salary which he doubled twice in the first few years and to which he added large bonuses.

Van Eyck’s work at the court involved more than painting, and he was sent on a number of secret missions on the Duke’s behalf. These included being part of a delegation sent in 1428 to arrange the Duke’s marriage to Isabella of Portugal. It’s possible that van Eyck’s portrait of Isabella helped to win the Duke’s agreement to the match.

In 1432, after his return from Lisbon, van Eyck settled in Bruges. He married and had a daughter who would later enter the convent at Maeseyck under the Duke’s sponsorship.

In addition to the work he produced at the court, van Eyck also took private commissions. One of the most famous was the Ghent Altarpiece, a series of panels painted with Hubert van Eyck between 1426 and 1432 for Jodocus Vijdts and his wife, Elisabeth Borluut. While Early Renaissance paintings of the time attempted re-create an ideal form of classical art, van Eyck’s paintings emphasized detail and realism. The van Eyck brothers’ unique use of glazes, “wet-on-wet” and other techniques led later critics to dub Jan van Eyck the “father of oil painting.”

Another famous painting, the Arnolfini Portrait is believed to show Italian merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his apparently pregnant wife at their home in Bruges. Unusually for his time, van Eyck signed and dated his paintings, and this painting, now in London’s National Gallery, was dated 1434.

The painting is one of the most studied works in Western art. Commentators have drawn attention to the level of detail in the reflection in the mirror on the far wall, the realism of the room, as well as the pose of the woman. While she appears to be heavily pregnant, some critics have noted that virgin saints have been depicted in similar stances, including in two of Jan van Eyck’s own works, the Dresden Triptych and the Frick Madonna. Most intriguing is a recent discovery that Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami weren’t married until 1447, thirteen years after the painting was dated and six years after van Eyck’s death. One theory now identifies the couple as Giovanni’s cousin Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfinia and his late first wife Costanza Trenta.

Jan van Eyck died in Bruges in 1441. As early as 1454 Genoese humanist Bartolomeo Facio named him “the leading painter” of his day.

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