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A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings
By Serena Fox – Imagine a world of monumental mythical beings dressed in surreal costumes: people made of mountains, city streets, rough-sawn logs, or plumes of steam; people who wear houses, bird wings, crystalline geodes, or even the moon.

That was the vision of collage artist Johanna Goodman in 2015 when she embarked on A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings, a personal project inspired by magical realism, surrealism, and symbolism that explores the role of the individual in fashion, history, and the artistic imagination. Four years later, the project has grown into a series of moret than 350 playful and strangely iconic images, and has led to a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, commissions from National Geographic and the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority, and ad campaigns ranging from skateboards to West Elm home furnishings.

“I keep thinking it’s run its course, but it hasn’t,” says Goodman. “I have not run out of ideas, and I keep getting more interest from the outside world.”

A diverse artist, Goodman works in paint, ink, and digital collage, and she brings more than 20 years’ experience in editorial illustration and portraiture to the project. A lifelong freelancer based in Nyack, New York, she creates illustrations for newspapers and magazines, book covers, hotel chains, and product advertising. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Le Monde, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Imaginary Beings are her current passion.

The basic concept is straightforward: a single figure—defined by head, arms, and feet—dressed in unusual objects and placed in a surreal setting. But the resulting images are both humorous and oddly archetypal and statuesque, like pop-culture totems.

Goodman takes photographs of everyday objects and landscapes, cuts them into pieces, and arranges them to “clothe” her characters in bizarre and beautiful outfits. She plays with cumbersome proportions, favors out-of-context facial expressions, and adds innocuous items like iPhones or coffee cups as if they were talismans. more>

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A Creative Stretch with Joe Cavazos
By Serena Fox – Sometimes we all need a creative reset. Whether it’s a summer slump, the December doldrums, or just a grueling workload, it’s easy for artists to get into a rut and lose touch with their creative process..

Last winter, art director/designer Joe Cavazos was feeling the creative blues. So he set himself a challenge: Create something fun for 30 minutes a day for one month, record the process, and post the time-lapse on Instagram. The result was far more than he’d expected: He invented a new circular stretch effect in Adobe Photoshop; boosted his Instagram following seven-fold; met new designers and clients online; and—most importantly—reconnected with the playful side of Photoshop that got him into the business in the first place.

“I started recording my illustration process a long time ago,” says Cavazos. “I don’t have the best memory, so it’s kind of a digital notebook that lets me go back and say, ‘How did I get to here?’ For me, creative warm-ups are a time to do passion project work, to spend 30 minutes to an hour creating something for the fun of it and recording that process. I would do those warm-ups every once in a while, especially when I got into a funk or when I was doing a lot of logo design or branding work, which is careful and exacting and very different than just playing with Photoshop.”

“And then,” he continues, “I decided to challenge myself to do it once a day, for a whole month. That forced me to go through my whole bag of tricks, just to get something done. For me, it’s helpful to have that accountability of posting every day, whether what I do is good or not—it’s part of not being afraid to learn.” Cavazos didn’t land on what he calls the Circular Pixel Stretch effect right away. He started by playing with stretched pixels, seeing what colors he could pull and how he could manipulate the pixels. “Then I thought about using Polar Coordinates—which is an old filter that’s been in Photoshop forever—and I figured out how to marry the two. That looked cool, so I just kept pushing it further and trying out different ways I could use it,” he says.

Because Cavazos recorded and posted his process every day, you can see his progression chronologically if you scroll through his Instagram.
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Reality-Defying Photo Composites Master the Impossible
By Jordan Kushins – Juan José Egúsquiza is based in Brooklyn, New York, but he spends much of his time as a man of the world. From Paris to San Francisco to Barcelona to Lucerne and beyond, the Lima, Peru-born multimedia artist and Adobe Creative Resident makes his way across the globe with his camera in hand. While exploring, he captures ordinary moments with a click, and these images become the basis for what he calls “Impossible Stories”: brain-bending composites that challenge the way we relate to and interpret our surroundings.

When I was young, I played music—percussion, mostly—and was in a band with my twin brother, who’s also an artist. He was so creative, and making things all the time, often grabbing trash and turning it into sculptures or instruments. That idea of recycling—of taking elements that were meant to be for something and then using them to build something else—was super, super cool to me. At some point I realized I wanted to start creating my own special things as well.

I was 19 or 20 when I first started taking pictures. I’d be traveling, mostly alone, and all of a sudden I’d be somewhere I’ve never been before: walking around, seeing new things, observing ordinary moments. I’ve always liked those the most; like, someone throwing a cookie away in a garbage can. Once you take a picture of it, it becomes something totally different.

At first, I wouldn’t edit my images at all, but eventually I started thinking: “What if I grabbed one element from this image and put it on something else?” Now that kind of photo compositing is a daily practice. more>

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Maria Brzozowska Makes Magical Realities
By Jenny Carless – “My aim is to empower my audience as active storytellers,” Maria Brzozowska says. “It’s very valuable for me when my audiences are able to relate to my illustrations and create or find pieces of their own stories. It’s like an invisible connection between us.”

The Ankara-based artist and book illustrator describes her art as a merging point of fantasy and reality—what she calls magical realism.

“My illustrations allow the audience to encounter new, unknown lands where there is no definite time or space, and in doing that, return to a sense of possibility that we lose as we grow up,” she says.

Brzozowska grew up in a household of creatives, so in many ways her career was an inevitability, she says.

“I remember being encouraged to look at the world through different perspectives and to ask myself ‘what if?’,” she recalls. “Many of the answers to that question I found in the endless possibilities of being a visual storyteller.”

She spent time experimenting with various media before finding a balance between a digital and traditional styles. She started with a digital approach, but with practice and patience developed her manual skills. “The more confident I became, the easier it was for me to do most of my work by hand,” she says. more>

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Creative Types: Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh
By Carolyn Gregoire – The creative fuel behind the most powerful duo in the design world today is simple: Boredom.

For Austrian-born Stefan Sagmeister and native New Yorker Jessica Walsh, designers and creative directors of New York-based firm Sagmeister & Walsh, that shared creative restless has led to a collaboration based on the ethos that you can—and indeed, must—be free to follow your interests wherever they lead.

Boredom can be good for creativity—if you do it right. The upside of a restless mind is the fertile ground for creative exploration.

Sagmeister and Walsh embody a personality trait that psychologists have found to be at the very heart of creativity: openness to experience. Psychologists say that openness is the strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement in the arts and sciences.

Openness to experience speaks to our motivation to engage with ideas and emotions: to seek truth and beauty, excitement and novelty. The act of exploring often provides the raw material for true innovation.

People who are high in openness tend to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, artistic, introspective, and intellectual. They’re driven to explore their internal worlds of ideas, emotions, sensations, and fantasies and, outwardly, to constantly seek out and make meaning of new information and experiences.

Research has shown that those who are high in openness to experience actually benefit creatively from the experience of boredom—it leads them to generate more and better ideas—while those who are less open don’t experience the same creative benefits of boredom.

“I love learning and doing new things,” says Walsh. “That keeps things fresh and constantly evolving.” more>

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5 & 3/4 Questions
By Erin Robinson – I am in my head a lot…a perpetual daydreamer of sorts. It’s quite a high when I get truly inspired. My mind goes into overdrive, and I can barely physically keep up! I tend to scribble numerous miscellaneous thoughts on Post-its and on my left hand.

My work, I usually describe as sometimes hauntingly beautiful, bold, graphic, vibrant, textured, and always magical. As a woman of color, I also like to illustrate women that represent me. Living in Brooklyn for numerous years, I found myself surrounded by some of the most incredibly stunning black, brown, and beige women from a variety of different places and different cultures…full of eccentricity.

When I draw for myself, I tend to create illustrations with a story behind them. The stories usually pull from fairy-esque things I believed in as a little girl. You’ll notice hints of red string and lotuses through many of those pieces. I like adding bits of symbolism.

I’ve been drawing since I can remember. My parents are both very creative and made sure I had the tools to nurture my animated mind.

I went into corporate America as a fashion design VP for children. I found myself stifled after a period of time and felt like I wasn’t really expressing who I truly was inside…what my true artistic capabilities were. I felt like I had climbed the corporate ladder as far as I could go, and after a sabbatical, a lot of thinking and stepping out of fear, and encouragement from a handful of friends, I decided to really share my art world. more>

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Nick Rasmussen’s Path to Portrait Photography
By Summer Wilson – Nick Rasmussen moved from Michigan to Los Angeles about nine years ago to attend film school. He became an improv student and performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade; for money, he shot photos for an estate sale company.

Today, instead of photographing people’s knick-knacks, he takes people’s portraits as a way to connect with them. Because Rasmussen has been surrounded by comedians, many of his early photography subjects were actors and professional funny people.

Rasmussen brings several cameras on a shoot, typically starting with a digital camera and then switching to large-format film cameras. A small closet in his living room serves as a makeshift dark room for cutting and loading negatives, and he develops the negatives in his kitchen sink. Once dry, he scans them and brings the scans into Adobe Photoshop for digital editing.

Always pushing his comfort zone and learning new things, Rasmussen feels like he’s a little past the beginning of his career. He’s not content for his portrait photography to exist solely on the Internet.

“The struggle with a lot of this art stuff is you can make it and you can feel good about it, but what do you do with it? How do you make something that goes beyond the Internet?” He’s still working on it. For now, you can see his work on Instagram. more>

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I Can Get Paid for Bike Helmet Art?!
By Jordan Kushins – There’s so much freedom to be found on a bike: hop on, start pedaling, and go go go. But before setting out, adults have an important decision to make: to helmet or not to helmet. Danny Sun understands that despite the fact that strapping one on can literally save your life, helmets can be a tough sell for adults. “I know I work on a product that no one really wants to wear,” he says.

Sun is an art director at Bell, a longtime leader in the motorcycle and bicycle helmet field. He and senior designer Anne Mark have been adorning bike helmets—specifically, “mid-price-point helmets for average everyday riders,” she says—with colors, graphics, finishes, and more for more than a decade. They regularly collaborate with companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, and produce custom lines for major big-box clients. The full-time job of a helmet designer requires far more than digital creative skills; here’s what it takes to make it in the challenging, curvilinear world of helmet art.

Personal reasons for going without headgear varies, but often, it’s an image thing. “There’s a whole generation who feel like helmets are really dorky,” says Sun.

In the quest to get as many riders as possible opting in, helmet designers have got to offer options that cater to that wide range of potential customers. It’s about finding a balance, but also pushing the boundaries a bit on what might spark a potential purchase—but also joy. more>

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Beautiful Disruptions
By Charles Purdy – French artist Arthur-Louis Ignoré, better known as Ali, arrived in the city of Rennes eight years ago to begin his art studies. Since then, his public murals and street art have become well known in the city—and beyond.

Ali’s first works developed in a circular fashion; he describes them as mandalas or kolams. In the early days, he always worked without making sketches or plans, or using tools beyond his painting or drawing implements.

He adds, “Since I wasn’t asking permission to paint in these spaces, I had to work fast. Once I’d chosen a place, I would define a center and then add elements one by one, enlarging the circle.”

As time has progressed, his works have become larger and more complex, so he likes to have an idea of the overall form he’s going to create before he starts working—though he still creates each piece’s patterns and ornamentation as he goes.

A recent example of Ali’s large-scale work is the more than 11,000-square-foot mural on the roof of the family welfare (CAF) building in Rennes, which he created for that city’s Maintenant festival.

“For this project, I first traced out the lines that form the basic structure. Then, as with my smaller works, I filled in the shapes and added motifs and ornamentation, organizing everything in a symmetrical manner.” more>

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Updates from Adobe

By Serena Fox – Laura Zalenga has come full circle. Known for her hauntingly ethereal and hyper-composed conceptual self-portraits, the German art and fashion photographer made a radical departure last year at the start of her tenure as an Adobe Creative Resident. She spent months exploring an opposite direction: completely natural, documentary-style photographs and interviews of elderly subjects for a project called The Beauty of Age.

Now, as her residency ends, Zalenga is returning to self-portraiture but finds herself changed, incorporating insights from the time she spent listening and capturing the stories of 80- and 90-year-olds.

Even people in the stone age, who were painting with charcoal on the walls, were already documenting themselves and their daily life. Painters from centuries ago used the first versions of mirrors that existed to try and draw a self-portrait of themselves. So the need to document ourselves is a fundamental one—the urge of people to show who they are is incredibly old and very deep.

One thing I do in my workshops is explain how different a selfie is from a self-portrait. Especially in today’s world, where selfies are everywhere and often viewed negatively, I think it’s important to recognize that self-portraiture is an art form, and always has been. more>

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