Astronauts and Dinosaurs: sci-fi/consumerism art by Scott Listfield

American artist Scott Listfield’s Astronaut Dinosaur series is a breath of fresh air in the world of traditional painting (even though the series started in 1999) tackling pop culture and consumerism in using a traditional art method.

No one explains the series better than Listfield himself…

I paint astronauts and, sometimes, dinosaurs.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, well before I was born, so I have no firsthand knowledge of how it was received. I don’t know if people really believed we’d be living in space in 2001, if we’d have robot butlers and flying cars, geodesic lunar homes, and genetically reconstituted dinosaurs helping or eating us. But from Lost in Space to the Jetsons to Jurassic Park, it seems that popular culture has fostered this space-age perception of the future. Generations raised on these TV shows, movies, comic books, and novels are now grown and living in a future filled with mini vans, Starbucks, iPads, and Hip Hop videos. In many ways, the year 2001 failed to live up to expectations. And yet the world today is peculiar in ways unimagined in 1957, when Sputnik was launched, or in 1968, when 2001 was released, or even in 1994, at the dawn of the internet. The present is in fact a very unusual place, and it’s strangest in the ubiquity of things we take for granted.

The astronaut in my paintings is simply here to explore the present.

Moebius & Miyazaki – the end of an era

As a sci-fi fan I am ashamed to say I’ve only recently discovered the work of French artist Moebius. Considering he has worked on films such as The Fifth Element, Tron and Alien you think he would be a prominent household name; for sci-fi fans, he is. Moebius earned his reputation as the king of sci-fi during his early career illustrating comics.

Moebius and Miyazaki
Moebius and Miyazaki

Upon researching his life I felt great joy to learn that Moebius and Miyazaki held each others work in high-esteem, took influence from each other and even had recorded conversations together about art.

Mr Moebius’ Arzach you know… Yes, Arzach, I think he created it in 1975. I first saw it around 1980. It had a great impact on me. By then, unfortunately, my style was fairly established. So I couldn’t use it as effectively as I’d have otherwise done in my creative development. But it’s definitely true that I created Nausicaa with Moebius’ influence.

– Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki’s film Nausicaa (left) influenced by Moebuis’ comic Arzach (right)

It strikes me that in the last few years we have reached the end of an era for both anime and sci-fi. With Moebius passing away in 2012 and Miyazaki announcing his retirement earlier this year, two of the greats are no-longer creating.

A new era is underway for each of their genres, all we can do is hope the next kings can live up to the magic and talent of their predecessors.

Moebuis’ sci-fi

Miyazaki’s anime

Lim Cheol Hee

South Korean artist Lim Cheol Hee‘s paintings have caught the attention of many art-lovers around the world – including the king of art, Saatchi.

Lim Cheol HeeIt’s no wonder why when you see his paintings. With the paint applied to canvas using a brush and knife, Saatchi’s site says ‘His art style reflects people’s inner consciousness, using repeated strokes’.

Personally I love the aggression and erratic style that contrasts with the stillness of certain facial features. A contrast that is also present in his tools, a soft canvas-caressing brush and a deadly knife.

See more of his artwork here.

Takashi Murakami – In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow

Photo by Shin Suzuki. Artwork © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
Photo by Shin Suzuki. Artwork © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Murakami is at it again (yay!). The superflat artist of our time is back with a new exhibition.

The Japanese artists work usually tackles ideas of consumerism and war, man-made destruction so-to-say. However his latest work has taken a turn, this time looking at natural disasters; the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in particular.

In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow‘ is the title of the NY show, the title itself consistent with the contradiction between childhood and destruction Murakami’s work so often focusses on.

His past series ‘Little Brother’ represented how the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in WWII forced Japan into the position of the child and America the overpowering parent. As much ‘Little Brother’ did, ‘In the Land of the Dead…’ also uses destruction and innocence in such a way that once you dig beneath the aesthetically beautiful surface dark themes and ideas arise to the surface.

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One new theme creeping into this series is religion, Murakami uses his art to explore how human use faith to cope with destruction.

To me, religions are a narrative…Natural catastrophes, earthquakes, are things caused by nature. Such chaos is natural, but we have to make sense of it somehow, and so we had to invent these stories. That is what I wanted to paint.
—Takashi Murakami

And so this new exhibition further ignites my admiration for Murakami, a connection with his work and a want to have a piece of his work hanging on my walls. For now the postcards I bought at the Mori tower in Tokyo will have to suffice.

Read more about this exhibition in Artsy’s write up for The Huff post

Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co.
Photo by Shin Suzuki. Artwork © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

PSYCHO-PASS

Words cannot describe how excited I am to start Psycho-pass, it’s next on my list and will most definitely require a full day of duvet and tea so I can marathon it out. From what I’ve read online it’ll be something like a combo of Dredd’s weaponry / themes of future oppression and surveillance meets Minority Report’s ideas of violence and punishment for future crimes that are yet to happen. Let’s hope my impression is right!

This post is just a quick collection of Psych-pass content before I begin and to give you fans some great imagery and videos.

The series takes place in the near future, when it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person’s state of mind and personality. This information is recorded and processed, and the term “Psycho-Pass” refers to a standard used to measure an individual’s being. The story centers around the “enforcement officer” Shinya Kougami, who is tasked with managing crime in such a world. In the future, it is possible to quantitatively measure a person’s emotions, desires, and every inclination. In this way, it is also possible to measure a person’s criminal tendency factor, which is used to judge criminals.” myanimelist.net

CosplayGen X Cristian Dîrstar

Cosplay Gen is the bible of cosplay, from interviews to tutorials, the magazine showcases the best of cosplay and gives you an insight into the minds of dedicated cosplayers – and best of all it is made by fans for fans.

Below are promo cards for issue 3, taking some of the best cosplays from the issue and mixing them up with illustrations by Cristian Dîrstar – it’s interesting to see cosplayers who dress as real life versions of drawn characters being drawn themselves, seems like a weird paradox but we love it.

See the full series here.

The artwork of Natsumi Eguchi (Hōzuki no Reitetsu)

Can we just take a moment to observe the beauty of mangaka Natsumi Eguchi’s illustrations for Hōzuki no Reitetsu. I mean seriously!!

Combining traditional Japanese art and manga in a modern way, Natsumi Eguchi’s drawings combined with the dark comedy storyline makes this Manga/Anime so original. I want the books purely for the covers, and immerse myself in this stunning world he has created. His work gives me ideas for a cosplay shoot… watch this space!

From aspirations of beauty to intelligence

I’m a big believer in how childhood can profoundly shape your adult life, particularly in regards to the toys you play with. Even though society has progressed to almost equal pay for boys and girls it seems that toy shops are still insisting little girls grow up to be princesses and mummies whereas boys be train drivers and fire fighters.

Goldieblox is one company who are trying to change this – by launching engineering kits for little girls. Let’s be honest most kids would be happy with a cardboard box, so they only reason girls are given dolls and plastic ovens is because that’s what society tells them they should play with and aspire too.

I am all for this product and am excited that the future generation of girls will be empowered and intelligence encouraged over beauty.

Rags to Riches: The Fangirl Phenomena by PopMatters

Written by Faith Korpi – PopMatters.com
See the original article here.

Urbandictionary.com defines “fangirls” as “young fanatical females… (who) suffer an absurd affinity for a randomly chosen object of obsession and base their life/daily schedule around it.” But we think of them as the girls who line up for hours and even days before meet and greets, book or CD signings, ticket sales openings, or some such event where their dearly beloveds are involved. Armed with homemade signs, T-Shirts and brain-splitting screams, fangirls can turn critically un-acclaimed albums double platinum and make shakily written fiction into a worldwide phenomenon. I can’t help but feel that if these girls gathered at the edge of the Red Sea, it would part.

What distinguishes a fangirl from the average fan are unrivaled displays of devotion and a willingness to spend countless hours and dollars paying homage to those they love. Fangirls are typically ages 12 -18, or as The New York Times put it, “old enough to be culturally aware but not old enough to second-guess themselves.” (“Cue the Shrieking Girls for the Band of Their Moment”, by Jon Caramanica, 10 August 2008) Mostly from suburban middle-class homes, they have the time and the disposable income to devote to their chosen stars. It may start as a crush or admiration, but what these girls end up being are the best publicists any celebrity could hope for. They will spread accolades all over the media free of charge. And to top it all off, they (or rather, their parents) will fund an artist’s big fat paycheck just by purchasing everything they put out on the market.

We don’t typically credit fangirls with being an astonishing breed of Super Fan – they’re not quite in the same category as people who dress up like hobbits or attend Star Trek conventions. Usually, we just roll our eyes at them, get annoyed when they occupy a row in the movie theater in front of us and “oh-em-gee” at trailers, and yes, we get upset when musical artists we like endorse things they like (cough) New Moon soundtrack (cough, cough). But take a quick look at fangirl history and you will realize that fangirls’ devotion has “made” some of the most significant players in pop culture history.

Consider the very first modern pop superstar: Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was the one millions of hearts beat for. Today, Michael Bublé’s crooning voice is a pop rarity, but in the ‘40s, the big band style wasn’t a genre that you had to look very hard for. Because popular music had until then been targeted primarily at adults, Sinatra and his teen fans offered up a previously untapped market. This is arguably what earned Sinatra his contract as a solo artist with Capital Records. Today, we remember him for Fly Me to the Moon, or My Way, but it was the intangible quality fangirls eat up like chocolate, that made Frank Sinatra become Frank Sinatra. Just take it from The New Yorker:

“Most of his fans are plain, lonely girls from lower-middle class homes. They are dazzled by the life Sinatra leads and wish they could share in it. They insist that they love him, but they do not use the verb in its ordinary sense. As they apply it to him, it is synonymous with ‘worship’ or ‘idealize.’” —E.J. Kahn Jr. (“Here’s to Sinatra and the Ladies who Lust”, 1946)

Even the Beatles quit touring after their third album because the fangirl frenzy around them made their live performances so difficult. Pat O’Day introduced the Beatles at what was then the Seattle Center Coliseum in August of 1964. He recalls catching a glance from George Harrison, “George looked at me and he reached down and pulled the electrical plug out of the bottom of his guitar for a minute. And then he put it back in and kept playing, and he shrugged like ‘What difference does it make? No one can hear us anyway.’”

The Beatles had the type of following that today garners more eye rolls from those with “refined” taste in music. But we can’t just dismiss the validity of something merely because the initial fan base is female and has a mean age of 14. After all, that would mean throwing out your copy ofThe White Album.

Even Johnny Depp, the eccentricity King himself, started out as a teen heartthrob on 21 Jump Street. Now he’s an Oscar nominated, highly respected actor and Hollywood icon of all that is badass. We just choose to forgive him of his previous dealings with tweens. But why is that even something that needs forgiving?

The same goes for Elvis. According to Rolling Stone, “it was Elvis who made rock ‘n’ roll the international language of pop.” (This quote is so commonly used on a range of online bios of Elvis, its proper citation is uncertain.) Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what all those girls were “tweeting” about back in the day. I’m going to go out on a limb here. At the time, the Elvis phenomenon wasn’t just about his music. The great icons of pop may be remembered for their music now, but it was largely a fangirl thing at the time. Today we don’t take things with a fangirl following seriously as high art.

So, what I’m proposing here is that we separate the phenomenon from its following before forming an opinion about its validity. I’m not saying that everything fangirls like is fit to be legendary, but historically speaking, fangirls have been largely, if not wholly responsible for cementing the status of many, many, cultural icons. Which begs the question: without them, where would all those icons be?

And what makes a fangirl tick? If there is a formula, it is deep in the minds of teenage girls. Oh, we females can be a fickle bunch. We can talk about why we like what we do, but can that then be applied to production and marketing? Eh, maybe not so much. Amy, the owner of the largest fan site dedicated to Robert Pattinson, was asked simply, “Why Robert?” And she responds, “Because he’s gorgeous.” Yep. That’s all.

Looking for more answers, I set to figure out the Fangirl equation. This past summer I went to a Jonas Brothers concert, and about halfway through it I became distracted from worrying about if I’d ever be able to hear again when I noticed something, or rather someone. Who was that dude on the bass? Out came the Blackberry. Google “Jonas Brothers bass player” and BAM. Greg Garbowsky. Hails from New Jersey, is allergic to peanuts, and is two days younger than I am.

Not that I expected to be the first to have noticed the guy, but I was a little surprised to find he has over 60,000 followers on Twitter (that’s more than Al Roker, people). Having learned from Garbowsky’s fanpage that he was going to be in Bass Player magazine, I proceeded to the bookstore to buy it.

If a wee crush had driven me to seek out needless information and to buy a magazine I would have never even glanced at before, this estrogen flowing through my body had more power over me than I was willing to admit. This was as close to being a fangirl as I had ever been. “You play bass?” the check out guy at Books-A-Million asked me, “Um… no. My little brother does.” Well, hedoes.

Imagine it as unbridled devotion floating around the atmosphere just waiting for a subject to fix itself upon. Therein lies the real power of fangirls. No subject is too small to be deemed worthy of obsession. That’s one really fascinating part about the Jonas craze. The brothers each have their own base of manic fans down to their little brother Frankie (the “bonus Jonas”).

In an essay entitled “1,000 True Fans” Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.” (The Technium.com) Kelly’s theory is that all any artist needs to survive in the “long tail” environment of the web is a core of one thousand true fans who will spend one hundred dollars on the artist’s products each year. That’s about one concert ticket and a couple of CDs, which by my calculations would put a fangirl at least one notch above a “true fan” in the hierarchy of fanhood. And that is precisely why the earth shakes when girls decide that something is likable. Greater than just buying power, true fanhood is about participation, and the web presents a multitude of fangirl opportunities both to consume and produce idol information. Of course all this includes a willingness to follow a band, artist, or celebrity until they are no longer working in the industry – well, maybe even a little after that too.

Hoping to find out more, I asked girls who ran fanpages how long they saw themselves being active fans. And acting a little taken aback, they had to pause to think, but then they all said something to the effect of, “until the artist makes it known that they don’t want to be in the spotlight anymore.” In fact, my favorite quote was, “I guess until (he) gets married and has babies or something.”

Fangirls are one of the primary drivers in popular media and today they are more empowered than ever before. History suggests that appealing to this special type of super fan and their unparalleled loyalty is one of the best ways to achieve superstardom (even if the mania doesn’t last, your retirement is funded). Yes, fangirls can be loud, perhaps obnoxious, and not all their picks end up at exalted heights in the artistic pantheon, but it is unfair to dismiss fangirls merely as a gaggle of girls suffering from puppy love.

They raised the likes of James Dean, Heath Ledger, Michael J. Fox (who interestingly enough, changed his middle initial from “A” to “J”, because he didn’t want teen magazines referring to him as “Michael, A Fox!”), Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, and kept them in the spotlight long enough for the rest of us to fall in love with them too. Thank you, fangirls.

Reversed Music Icons Fandom Project by Butcher Billy

Butcher Billy’s project ‘Reversed Music Icons Fandom‘ is a graphic designers version of time travel, what if the influncer becomes the influenced? This is an idea Butcher Billy explores through the used of band tee’s, an apparel which is common amongst music fans. It’s a great idea and a lovely graphic based project. Check out the images and Butcher Billy’s statement:

This is a series that reverses the natural course of pop culture hierarchy – the influencer will sport the shirt of the influenced – completely messing with space time continuum and raising the question: What if the most influential rock icons in pop culture history met, when alive or in an early stage of their careers, the new acts that came decades after inspired by their own legacy?

Escape on the Pokémon with YOU train

Escapism has always fascinated me, even before technology developed to its current state today people used to escape through music and spoken word stories dating right back to the ancient Greek and Roman times. This idea of whether we really are constantly needing to escape from reality or if the world we escape to has become part of our reality is always on my mind. So when I see something like the Pokémon train I can’t resist singing it’s praises, most of us are wanting to escape from our jobs or our daily routine, but for the riders of the Pokémon Train they are given a unique opportunity to escape from the still destructive and mundane aftermath of 2011’s Tsunami in Tohoku, Japan.

The train is called the ‘Pokémon with YOU train’ and journeys between Narutō and Chōshi. Such a simple idea and a few licks of paint and cushions could make such a difference to any child or adult who really needs to escape from reality but has no means to. 

‘Badass’ fan art by Tohad

deviantArt legend Tohad has been creating ‘Badass’ fan art, taking pop culture icons and turning them on their heads, it’s an idea that has been done but never in this way. Tohad keeps the cartoon nature and bright colours, creating a collection of badass characters presented in similar ways. Props to Tohad, I love this series.

Naruto x Fashion

Every once in a while you come across a very special blog – this is one of them! Let me introduce all you Naruto nuts out there to Naruto x Fashion – a hybrid of high fashion and pop culture. As a fan of Naruto I love how not only has an appropriate outfit been chosen using colours and styles but also how the body language and facial expressions are a perfect match, these images have undoubtedly been made by a fan who knows each characters personality.

These images are just the tip of the iceberg, check out Naruto x Fashion for more characters and their runway looks.

Stahli Cosplay

One of my new favourite things to do on instagram at the moment is to find cosplayers – they’re great to follow as you get to see some behind the makeup shots and characters in everyday situations, it’s awesome to see people showing the non-convention side of cosplaying.

Stahli Cosplay first came to my attention on a search for Attack On Titan cosplay – the Levi costume made me stop scrolling a take notice. Who can ignore those epic Levi brows & Titan PJ’s?!

See all of Stahli’s osplayC here: facebook.com/StahliCosplay and don’t forget to follow @stahlicosplay on instagram.

The Wolf Among Us

Before I start this isn’t a game review – I’m not a die hard gamer who wants to analyse this game – I thought it was cool so I wanted to share it with you guys.

The Wolf Among Us‘ is popping up everywhere, which is no surprise as it’s pretty awesome to play. A great storyline based on Bill Willingham’s comic book series ‘Fables’. The game does the beauty of comic book art justice with an almost rotoscoped/ Tarnation-esque look it’s mesmerising to watch and enchanting to play. The story sees you playing Bigby the Sherif (The big bad wolf from red riding hood in human form) who is in charge of keeping all the other fables characters from killing and making sure they maintain their human form. The game follows a series of murders for which you aka Bigby make all the important decisions in regards to solving them, all of which have massive consequences – the gaming experience is sure to be different for every player. Part 1 was epic so bring on parts 2-5!

AnimeTrakr

Like a lot of anime lovers when I come across a new anime I always make a note of it so that once I’ve finished what I’m watching I can move onto the new one – this lead to a looooooong list on my phones notes – not handy as sometimes I delete it by accident or write so many down I forget which ones which (too lazy to google them all :P).

However last night I discovered AnimeTrakr – a much needed free app that allows you to browse through each anime seasons new releases. You can then add them to any of the following lists; Planning, Watching, Completed, On Hold and most importantly Dropped.

I had hours of fun browsing through this seasons new releases and checking out some past seasons – I created a great list of anime to watch! – I recommend this app to all anime lovers who scramble on their phones to write a list of anime to watch and struggle to find release dates that aren’t for Naruto or Bleach.

15 again

I’ve recently been reflecting on the past and wondering where my life will go in the future, during which I found myself thinking of all the activities I did before uni that I quickly replaced with alcohol and studying. Tonight I decided to channel my inner 15 year old; with nowhere to go and strict curfews I used to do a ridiculous amount of drawing to fill up time so why did I ever stop?

One reason might be that I’m not that good. I seem to have a knack for copying other peoples work well but my original ideas are a flop; so here is the result of my boredom and life pondering mindset tonight. I just thought I would share with the World Wide Web – (This adds a sense of purpose to an evening of procrastination.) ^_^

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Shiro from Deadman Wonderland drawn in an A6 notebook – whilst watching Catfish: The TV show.

The Last Acceptable Prejudice

I’ve been hearing a lot about this issue lately… fan girls being put down and judged by the communities they are part of. I’ve also been hearing (first hand at conventions in particular) how attractive slimmer girls are being labelled “sluts” for doing the same. Great post…

The Teresa Jusino Experience

First of all, can we just talk about how AMAZING this TARDIS dress is?! This photo has been making the rounds on BoingBoing, Facebook, and Tumblr, and with good reason. This dress is awesome, and its model/creator, Sasha Trabane, should be SO PROUD. I wish I could make things…

Sadly, it appears no woman can cosplay without some sort of backlash. I saw this composite on my friend Andrea’s FB feed. She got it from Tumblr:

Apparently, a woman cosplaying at ALL, no matter what she looks like, is risking some kind of backlash. If she’s thin (and thus, “hot”), she’s criticized for being “fake.” If she’s overweight, she’s criticized for not being “hot” enough. It seems that women in the geek community just can’t win.

This started as a feminist post, and I could go on and on about the double-standards that women face when it comes to…

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Figurines in Akihabara

Akihabara is Japans if not the world anime and manga Capital. A district obsessed with technology and the future, the inhabitants of Akihabara work hard and the majority of them are mega fans of anime and manga. I have been talking about creating a figurine of my character to compliment my final piece images. So whilst in figurine heaven thought I would conduct some research, in particular to the characters with different looks and interchangeable outfits and body parts.

I also made a purchase of my own. In a second hand figurine shop I purchased a chibi Blue Rose from Tiger and Bunny. I wanted to buy a full figurine just like the one I want to make as reference but they were too big to fit in my case as I had all my final piece outfits to fit in too. So tonight I will be online hunting for a cheap second hand figurine I can buy.

One thing the experience has made me think about it wether I want packaging or not. Is the figurine something that people look at and can’t touch? The packaging is always an important part of figurines, some never leave their boxes. I thought about this for a while but soon realised I need interaction within this piece to make it relevant to the issue and themes of participation and consumption.