Category Archives: Graphic Design / Illustration

The Works of Lora Zombie Present Vibrant Colours, Inspiring Designs and Skulls

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Girls Loves Skulls – Lora Zombie

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been particularly interested in Lora Zombie, a painter / illustrator from Russia who has created a series of colourful, eclectic designs that are combined with influential icons and pop culture references. At first I was amazed by the artist’s intricate style including the high level of detail or craftsmanship as well as the dripping paint that oozes towards the bottom of each individual painting / illustration.

According to Lora Zombie’s official website, the artist is internationally renowned through various social media platforms, blogs and exhibitions within Russia and the United States. I decided to search through Lora Zombie’s inspiring online portfolio and I have recently discovered that the skull is a popular symbol within the artist’s work.

Zombie’s illustrations are often categorised as ‘grunge art,’ however there is limited information in regards to this particular style, this is definitely something I’ll have to research later down the track; from a personal perspective, Lora Zombie’s work features a similar appearance to graffiti art.

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Puppies and Skulls – Lora Zombie

‘Girls Loves Skulls’ for instance features a young girl embracing a large multicoloured skull within the centre of the image. This is one of my favourite illustrations by Lora Zombie; the combination of vibrant colours and paint splatters create a remarkable, yet dynamic style that successfully delivers a playful, optimistic approach towards death and the human skull, this is just my personal point of view anyway.

The visual aesthetics provide a level of curiosity and fascination; the skull in particular becomes a significant focal point that instantly attracts the viewer’s attention. The bold, vibrant colours compliment the contour of the skull as well as the young girl on the left hand side; her plain white dress along with her black, knee-length socks provides a dramatic composition with the other elements within the image.

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Pugs and Skulls – Lora Zombie

The young girl appears to be rather excited or pleased to be holding this multicoloured skull that features a rather concerned expression. The refined detail definitely provides the subjects with a unique personality that are emphasised through the loud, vibrant colours as well as the harsh brush strokes.

There is another work in particular that has captured my attention; Lora Zombie’s ‘Puppies and Skulls’ is colourful, playful and absolutely gorgeous! The name summarises the work pretty well, this illustration features at least three colourful skulls that are surrounded by a range of adorable puppies, this is such a cute, yet artistic combination.

‘Pugs and Skulls’ also features a similar style and aesthetic; the work features a pile of small multicoloured skulls that are integrated with a crowd of energetic puppies, this is just too adorable! I could honestly write about the artist’s work for hours, as I thoroughly enjoy the humorous, yet comical twist within these imaginative designs. Overall, Lora Zombie’s work delivers a high level of creativity and innovation that is combined with a lively, yet vivacious characteristic.

If you would like to view Lora Zombie’s portfolio or website, just click on the links below.

References

http://lorazombie.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LoraZombie (Images from Facebook)

http://lora-zombie.tumblr.com/

http://instagram.com/lorazombie

https://www.threadless.com/made/lora-zombie


Mike Makatron: The McDeath Burger on Smith Street, Fitzroy

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Last week, I decided to walk through Smith Street in Melbourne Fitzroy, where I discovered a piece of graffiti on the side of the wall. I immediately stopped at the side of the road and continued to stare at this vibrant and creative design.

The image features a skull along with an Australian flag, cigarette butts, piano keys, USB cables and a range of dollar notes that are enclosed within a burger bun. These items are combined with lettuce, tomato and mustard, all the elements you would normally find in a traditional beef burger.

The use of colour, shape and composition is striking, especially if you’re standing on the opposite side of the road. I was on my way to buy ice cream, however I decided to cross the road to take a closer look at the graffiti. The skull appears quite pixelated up close and the graffiti directs your gaze towards the very top of the building. From a distance the dots almost blend together to create a tonal effect, this also creates a unique perspective!

The detail is incredible and the design is quite different to anything I have seen before. I then began to wonder who designed this piece of graffiti and I suddenly recognised the artist’s tag / signature right next to the skull.

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Mike Maka aka Makatron is a local artist from Melbourne who specialises in graffiti, street art and illustration that often explores the relationship between mankind, technology and the natural world. This design in particular has questioned whether these consumable items affect our environment or our natural surroundings.

One could argue that the work reflects consumerism and mass production within contemporary western society, however the skull presents the notion of death, decay and decomposition. This creates a very innovative composition; each element appears to feature some kind of meaning or representation. I was intrigued with the connection between nature, death and commercialism; as a result I decided to search for additional information in regards to Makatron’s work.

According to Makatron’s Facebook page the design is also known as the McDeath Burger. This title definitely provides context towards the overall work, these commercial products could potentially cause death or fatality later down the track. The design directs the viewer’s attention towards each individual element and it quite difficult to focus on one specific area.

I decided to take some photographs of Makatron’s McDeath Burger and I began to search through the images on my computer. After a couple of weeks, I recognised an aboriginal flag at the very top of the burger and I cannot believe that I haven’t noticed this before. I began to question whether the flag would have any connection or association with the overall image.

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There is limited information in regards to the McDeath Burger, however the flag may represent the way the indigenous culture is used as a commercial attraction. I begin to search for all the possible meanings or explanations behind the work and this is what I enjoy the most, the McDeath burger definitely invites the viewer to consider how these material products may potentially affect the world around us.

The design bursts with colour and Makatron’s street art definitely adds vibrancy to Melbourne’s inner CBD. This is what I love about Melbourne, you can find the most extraordinary designs or creations with an abandoned alley way or the side of the street; once you go exploring, it’s surprising what you’ll actually find.

I would definitely recommend taking a walk down Smith Street to see Makatron’s design; if you live too far away, check out the artist’s website / portfolio, as there are some great designs on display!

References

http://www.makatron.com/biopropaganda/

https://www.facebook.com/MikeMakatronArt

http://mike-maka.tumblr.com/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikemaka/page1/


Interesting Skull Illustration in Melbourne

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Illustration I discovered in Melbourne – Artist Unknown

While I was walking through Melbourne, I have discovered quite an interesting illustration that has been posted onto the back of a road sign. Most of the alley ways in Melbourne do contain graffiti and some other quirky illustrations; there some incredible designs especially in Hosier Lane! This illustration in particular features a skull, while the design itself is rather simple, the skull does feature some interesting characteristics.

I’m not too sure who has created this illustration, although I was definitely intrigued by this particular image, I decided to take a quick snap shot on my to the train station. So I have noticed something very interesting, I have suddenly decided that Melbourne is saturated with skulls! Every time I visit the city I cannot help recognising all the skull t-shirts, illustrations, graffiti art, coffee mugs, paintings, books, pencil cases and yes the list will just keep going and going!

Every time I walk down an alley way, I notice skulls imprinted onto the wall, they are just everywhere. Why is that? why are we all so fascinated with the skull? It’s who we are, under the layer of skin is a human skull and all of these images may encourage us to realise that death is an inevitable thing.

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Illustration – Artist Unknown

Well that’s not all to say that every person in this world is attracted to skulls, of course popular culture is completely saturated with the image of the skull that may emphasise our fascination with something that we all fear the most, the idea that we will never live forever, the idea that we can die at any given moment, as referenced by Elizabeth Klaver’s publication ‘ Sites of Autopsy in Contemporary Culture’1

Ok so I don’t want to go too deep, I was purely fascinated by this one particular illustration that I stumbled upon in the city. The image is quite minimal and there are some humorous features / attributes, to be honest the design would make a fantastic t-shirt design! Why it has been attached to the back of a road sign, I’m not entirely sure, although I do enjoy finding all these quirky patterns and designs around Melbourne. Stay tuned as I will try to find some information about the artist who has produced this image!

1. Klaver, Elizabeth. Sites of Autospy in Contemporary Culture.  New York: State University of New York 2005.


Sean Breasley’s Halloween Pumpkin 2013

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Vector Illustration produced by Sean Breasley, 2013

Hey Everyone,

So a couple of weeks ago, Sean designed a Pumpkin Skull specifically for Halloween, this is my favourite piece so far. The texture does provide an interesting effect, the shape of the pumpkin appears rather sinister, although the use of colour definitely adds a level of vibrancy!

All the different lines provide a unique composition, the pumpkin does appear distressed and deteriorated, which actually suits the theme of Halloween. In a way, the pumpkin features a wrinkly appearance, for some particular reason the image reminds me of Nightmare on Elm Street, which is a rather strange correlation!

The circular patterns and designs also provide a level of depth to the image, the circular shapes behind the pumpkin also adds another interesting element to the overall design,

Sean does create a range of vibrant vector illustrations that are inspired by the depiction of the human skull in contemporary art, design and popular culture. Sean also assists me with the Black Calavera blog and Facebook page, today I thought I would write about Sean’s illustration as they primarily focus upon the image of the skull.

If you would like to view Sean’s collection, then I would definitely recommend visiting Sean’s WordPress site or you can either view the Black Calavera Facebook page.

That’s everything for now, stay tuned for further updates!

http://seanbreasley.wordpress.com/

http://seanbreasley.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/halloween-pumpkin-2013/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


Skullavera showcases unique ceramic skulls at Melbourne’s Day of the Dead Festival

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All the skulls in the photographs are produced by Skullavera

Last Saturday, I attended a Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne that featured a range of hand crafted skulls, printed t-shirts, altars, traditional Aztec dancing, Mexican street food and face painting! The event was located at the Trust Bar and Restaurant in Flinders street that was full of visitors with their faces painted as the Mexican sugar skulls, it was fascinating as there were so many different patterns and designs!

It was interesting to see how each person had interpreted the Mexican sugar skulls, some had used colourful face paint while others had decided to go with a  minimalist approach. Furthermore, I did find the event particularly fascinating as I have never been to a Day of the Dead festival in Melbourne and the event was quite different to what I was expecting! At first the venue was rather crowded, although I throughly enjoyed watching visitors passing by with their sugar skull face paint!

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As I was walking through the venue, there was one stall that had captured my attention. There were a range of colourful and illustrative skulls that were displayed onto a wooden surface along with a selection of skeletal figurines including Frida Kahlo and Marlyin Monroe. These hand crafted skulls featured elaborate and decorative designs that are quite unique compared to the other ceramic skulls that I have seen throughout the city of Melbourne.

These incredible hand crafted skulls are produced by a company known as Skullavera that is currently based in Sydney, Australia. BME Melbourne have conducted an interview with the artist who explains that the skulls are inspired by Chicano / latino tattoo designs as well as “the Mexican Drug Cartels.” 1 Each skull features a completely different style, there were so many different patterns, designs and illustrations, in fact the stall at the Day of the Dead celebration was definitely vibrant and decorative.

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In a way, the artist applies a unique and distinctive style to the ceramic skulls, the level of detail and craftsmanship is incredible! The illustrations provides each skull with a unique characteristic, these models appear to have an individual personality, a personal style!

While there were bright and colourful designs available, there were other skulls that featured a range of black and while illustrations, the stall at the Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne featured some extraordinary ceramic skulls in all different shapes and sizes, I was seriously tempted to buy one for myself!

The official Skullavera blog does mention that the hand crafted skulls are inspired by the Day of the Dead celebration; from a personal perspective the ceramic skulls do feature both Mexican and European influences, there are various designs that do remind me of Western popular culture. 2 The way the skulls were displayed do feature similarities to a traditional Mexican altar that is usually installed during the Day of the Dead in order to welcome spirits to the celebration, as referenced by Maria Herrera Sobek. 3

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In fact the display in general was creative and inspiring, it was seriously hard to walk past the stall without taking a dozen photos, I was in awe for at least 30 minutes, I just could not take my eyes off these hand crafted skulls! I f you haven’t seen Skullavera’s work, then I would strongly suggest to visit the Facebook page or the blog, there is some incredible work displayed online.

For those who have never even heard of this Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne, I would recommend buying a ticket for next year! As if you can go wrong with beer, tequila, nachos and ceramic skulls all in the same venue? While the event itself was crowded to begin with, the works on display were definitely worth seeing!

1. BME Melbourne, “Skullavera Interview”, June 28th 2013, http://www.bmemelbourne.com/bmeinterviews/skullavera-interview/ (accessed 5/11/13)
2.  Skullavera Official Blog, http://skullavera.blogspot.com.au/ (accessed 5/11/13)
3. Sobek, Maria Herrera (ed) “Altars” in Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions, Volume 1 (California: ABC – CLIO, 2012) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=bDIwZ8BieWcC&pg=PA423&dq=traditional+mexican+altars+
celebration+latino+folklore&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6hR6UpbuJMO2kgWqh
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Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=traditional%20mexican%20altars%20
celebration%20latino%
20folklore&f=false

Other References:

https://www.facebook.com/Skullavera73

http://skullavera.bigcartel.com/

http://www.dotdfestival.com.au/


Tarot Grenache, 2009 by Alpha Box & Dice

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So yesterday I decided to go out for lunch in Geelong and right opposite the cafe was a unique liquor store named Randal’s, which is located at the very end of Packington Street. What I do like about Randal’s is the fact that you can find a range of good quality wine, cinder and beer that isn’t available at the local liquor store or the supermarket. You know it’s always nice to have a change from time to time!

While I was browsing through the selection, I eventually discovered a very interesting bottle of wine. Tarot Grenache, 2009 is produced by Alpha Box & Dice in South Australia; I was very impressed with the label on the very front of the bottle. The label features a unique design and the multicoloured skulls immediately captured my attention, I picked up the bottle just to examine the detail.

The label also features a snake wrapped around a Giant Capital T that features a range of different colours, patterns and designs. In fact, the label does feature similarities to a tarot card, which does add a creative and artistic edge to the design. Ok so you’re properly thinking, what does the wine even taste like? well the first couple of sips was quite strong, overpowering, even bitter, although I’ve never really tried Grenache until this particular moment in time.

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I wasn’t overly keen on the taste of the wine, which was rather surprising as I was expecting something smooth and palatable. While the label is rather inspiring and imaginative, the wine itself does take a while to get used to.  I absolutely love anything related to skulls so there was no way I could have walked out of Randal’s without buying this bottle of wine. It’s not everyday you see skulls printed onto a wine bottle, this is what makes the label so extraordinary!

So the next question, you will properly ask is….would you really rely on the label or the design of the bottle to determine whether you were actually buying decent quality wine? I remember walking into a supermarket and buying a bottle of wine with four sheep jumping a fence, while the wine was absolutely dreadful, at least the Tarot Grenache wasn’t quite as bad as this experience.

I’ve always assumed that the design would indicate that the wine was high quality, I suppose this is the time where you actually read the bottle before you make the final purchase. What fascinates me about the Tarot Grenache is the reference to death and the human skull, especially in the label, I actually discovered a short statement on the bottle that captured my interest.

The label by Alpha Box & Dice states, “The card that has the face of death – fear? No! Let the changes sweep over you, like the blade cuts away dead wood to allow fresh fruit to spring forth”. This wasn’t the best wine I have ever had, although the advertising and the graphic design is very clever! It’s actually interesting to see the way the skull is used in alcohol packaging, what else can I say really? The skull still appears to be one of the most popular symbols in advertising and product design!

http://www.alphaboxdice.com.au/abnd_tarot.html

URL Links

http://www.frugalmacdoogal.com/wine_features/wine_selection.php?wine_id_selected=677

http://www.vsimports.com/wine.php?id=427


Ben Sanders, Skull Thief

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Last week, the Australian Centre of Moving Image presented the second annual creative arts conference in Melbourne, known as Field Trip. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the conference this year, although I did manage to get my hands on a catalogue with all the different artists and illustrators that have presented their work at the event.

Ok so I have been to the very first field trip in 2012 and it was great to listen to all the artists, photographers, illustrators, animators and film makers from around the world! I was actually sitting on the edge of my set frantically writing ideas in my note pad, the guest speakers were very inspiring, in fact I was inspired for the entire weekend after Field Trip.

While I was browsing through the latest catalogue, I recognised the works of Ben Sanders, an artist / illustrator based in Melbourne, Victoria. Sanders illustrations are renowned within the advertising industry and the artist has worked for many international corporations such as Vodaphone, Visa, Libra and Time Magazine.

There is one illustration in particular that has captured my attention, Sander’s “skull thief” features the shape of a human skull that is juxtaposed with a dark, textured surface. This two-dimensional skull does feature a very interesting design and the curves invite me to take a closer look at the image. In fact I discovered something rather remarkable the night before, I suddenly realised that the illustration features two different images!

If you take a closer look at Sander’s illustration, you will recognise a dark figure holding a very large sack behind his shoulders. Honestly, I have been looking at this particular illustration for the past few days and I didn’t even realise the ambiguous figure within the very centre of the image. Sander’s illustration is rather clever, the artist has used the shape of the skull to create a dark silhouette of a person carrying some kind of bag or sack.

I began to question how does the skull relates to the figure within the image? According to Sander’s official website and blog, “Skull Thief” reflects a particular moment in time, where museums were taking skeletal remains from “indigenous communities” and preserving them as artefacts within their own establishment, the story was also mentioned in the Australian Geographic who have released a very interesting article in relation to these ethical and cultural issues.

Scott Mitchell from the Australian Geographic believes that the Museums should return the skeletal remains to the ‘indigenous communities’ who have been affected by these practises or procedures. In the article, “Return Aboriginal Sacred Objects”, Scott Mitchell quotes “The first is the active trade in Aboriginal sacred objects. Search online and you are almost guaranteed to find pictures of objects for sale – a distressing violation of cultural protocol”.

In a way, I do agree with Mitchell’s argument, as the skull for instance can contain social and cultural ‘value’, the skull has the power to reflect a person’s identity, this is also mentioned in Mitchell’s article on the National Geographic Website.

So this leads me to my next question….is this a form of grave robbing? Well yes it is, these museums were taking something that did not belong to them in the first place! 

Once you begin to examine Sander’s illustration, you’ll suddenly begin to realise that the image does tell a story, a story that reflects the loss of cultural integrity  across many aboriginal communities, where the skeletal remains are removed and restored as artefacts within Western society.

In fact, I find Sanders illustration so intriguing, I just cannot stop reading about this subject, the juxtaposition between the skull and the mysterious figure does successfully communicates these issues within a creative and innovative manner. 

For more information please click on the URL links below.

Ben Sanders Website: http://www.bensanders.com.au/

Ben Sanders Blog: http://bensillustrations.blogspot.com.au/search?q=skull

Mitchell, Scott, “Opinion Return Sacred Objects”, The Australian Geographic, 2012, accessed 17/4/12, http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/should-museums-hold-aboriginal-sacred-objects.htm