My Hero: Artist Laurie Lipton

When I came across Laurie Lipton, I was just absolutely blown away by her work. It is rare for me to come across an artist whose technical skills and content are equally brilliant, drenched in my favorite type of macabre loveliness. After spending some wide-eyed time poring through her work, I scream-Tweeted at her in all caps: @laurielipton – YOUR ART IS SO INSPIRING AND AWESOME. I’M IN AWE OF YOUR WORK. JUST SPEECHLESS. THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY. And I fanned her on Facebook. Because that is what fellow artists do when they are star-struck by such juggernauts of talent.

Watch this terrific video of her explaining the reasoning behind some of her pieces – which makes me want to give her a gigantic hug to thank her for “asking the questions rather than answering them”. Her inspiration surfaces through her sense of social responsibility and appropriate outrage towards the media and society which is so delicately expressed in shades of black, white and gray. Her quiet artistic aggression appeals to me as a feminist and her work’s sharp social commentary is nothing short of brilliant. There are artists and then there are smart artists…and Ms. Lipton is a smart one. Her tools of choice are mostly charcoal and pencil on paper for her art but she also has lovely commissioned color pieces. One could spend hours gorging on her gallery drawings – they are like a 7-course gourmet feast of artly awesomeness.

When you are done viewing this clip visit her gallery at www.LaurieLipton.com. God, if I could amass a mere FRACTION of her talent by my life’s end, I would be ecstatic.

According to her website, LaurieLipton.com, she was born in New York and began drawing at the age of  four. She was the first person to  graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine  Arts Degree in Drawing (with honours).  She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France and has made  her home in London since 1986. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA.

Lipton was inspired by the religious paintings of  the Flemish School. She tried to teach herself how to paint  in the style of the 16th century Dutch Masters and failed. When  traveling around Europe as a student, she began  developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone  with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines  like an egg tempera painting. “It’s an insane way to draw”, she  says, “but the resulting  detail and luminosity  is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create  than a painting of equal size and detail.”

“It was all abstract and conceptual art when I  attended university.  My teachers told me that figurative art went  ‘out’ in the Middle Ages and that I should express myself using  form and shapes, but splashes on canvas and rocks  on the floor bored me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to create  something no one had ever seen before, something  that was brewing in the back of my brain. I used to sit for hours  in the library copying Durer, Memling,Van Eyck,  Goya and Rembrandt. The photographer, Diane Arbus, was another of  my inspirations. Her use of black and white hit me at the core of my Being. Black and white is the color of ancient  photographs and old TV shows… it is the color  of ghosts, longing, time passing, memory, and madness. Black and white ached. I realized that it was perfect for the  imagery in my work.”

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An Interview with Chicago Graphic Designer Brooke Becker

I was lucky enough to sit down with the lovely and talented Brooke Becker. In this interview she gives some insight into her design-rich background, what she digs about art, and how she stays sane as a graduate student and professional.

……

SARAH: Brooke, you’ve got a great sense of design. Did growing up around art influence your education?

BROOKE: My mom was an art teacher; I was exposed to art at an early age. Other than elementary and middle school art classes, my first art class was my senior year of high school. I played the viola and my mom insisted that I be in the orchestra all four years and take four years of math! So, this was the first year I had extra electives that I could take an art class. Thankfully, the teacher knew my mom and allowed me to join with the other senior classes, Illustration and Commercial Design. In college, I was a Visual Art major with a concentration in Graphic Design. This program didn’t really get established until my junior year, when they built a new Mac lab and brought in adjunct teachers who were in the industry. Currently, I am getting my Masters in Arts in New Media at DePaul University.

SARAH: What’s your favorite kind of art?

BROOKE: I have always been drawn to photography. I like the idea that the moment captured by the photographer will be forever saved and documented.

SARAH: What is your key advice to others just getting into the creative arts field?

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BROOKE: I recommend getting exposed to creative environments and industries by doing internships or summer jobs. I wish I would have been a bit more focused on the types of creative companies out there and tried to get in at the ones that excited me.

SARAH: What is your “expertise specialty”? Has this stemmed or grown from something else?

BROOKE: I consider myself an expert in design for print and web. I am much better executing print work. However, I feel I have become more of a design consultant for print and web projects. Assessing bad design and making it better. I think this has just stemmed from being exposed to both print and web design for so long, and having a strong art background helps me communicate my ideas.

SARAH: What have you found to be most valuable being in the New Media Studies Program?

BROOKE: I love the fact that the NMS program is interdisciplinary allowing each NMS student to explore their own interests. I also have enjoyed the people I have met and collaborated with on projects.

SARAH: How do you keep life balance as a “constantly connected” new media artist?

BROOKE:  I used to do a lot of improv comedy…I’m still doing a little here and there. I play volleyball. I’m also trying to take more fine art classes. I took an oil painting class last summer and it was amazing the amount of anxiety I had from starting the painting. You can always delete or create multiple versions in digital art, so I feel that pushing my creativity to be more decisive is a good thing.

SARAH: And lastly…where can we view your current portfolio?

BROOKE:  www.brookebeckerdesign.com – I use WordPress for my site which allows me to easily update work and include descriptions.

[And be sure to follow Brooke on Twitter]

Social Network Geekery

In one of my graduate classes an assignment is to map out our Twitter network. A couple of the online tools used for this produce some pretty cool images (at least I think so) with regards to the nodes and ties, it almost looks like a universe of stars or constellations. I like to see data in visual form anyway and, while I do not follow a ton of peeps (and have even less followers) it shows the strength of your network and where to possibly beef up. I would recommend trying it out with your own network just to see a map of your connections. Both applications are free (require no download) and take literally 10 seconds to generate your map. Go!

Here is what my Twitter network looks like according to Twitter Browser by Neuro Productions.

I'm sure your network will be bigger than mine. And I'm fine with that.

There is also a tool that helps map Twitter mentions. Shockingly, it is called Mention Map. I don’t do a ton of this, but here is the visual product:

You're happy I'm pointing out this app? Ah, don't mention it.

If you would like to be part of my future maps, I invite you to follow me on Twitter – I will most certainly follow you back. Cheers!

What’s Black and White and Read All Over?

qrcode

Please enjoy my website : )

A shout out and thanks to fellow grad student Zoe Kind for the heads up on the very timely and interesting topic of QR code (or, Quick Response code) generators. You see these black and white blocky patterns everywhere. Fodder for smartphones, these little information thumb prints link to further information and websites once scanned. They are on billboards, fliers, menus and even clothing. I’m guessing tattoos are next. Acting as a redirect for details, these unique image blocks can be generated online through sites such as http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ among several others. The patterned blocks can connect to text, URLs and other information and the aforementioned generator offers code blocks in sizes tall, grande and venti — sorry, still jacked up on caffeine. With so many carriers of smartphones and the future of mobile tech, it is crucial that traditional marketing utilize these codes. The QR code is the Rorschach inkblot of the Web 2.0 generation. And we’re all going crazy for it.