Tag Archives: Advertising

Unique Sugar Skull Tea Spoon by Hundred Million Features a Captivating motive.

skullspoonmainbannerSugar Skull Spoon by Hundred Million

I never thought I would find a spoon in the shape of a skull, although Facebook has proved me wrong! Allow me to introduce this very fascinating sugar skull spoon by Kelvin Dodds who operates a design studio based in London known as Hundred Million.

According to the East London Small Business Centre, Dodds created a Kickstarted campaign in order to raise funds for this quirky, yet inspiring design. I’ve recently discovered this intriguing sugar skull spoon through a stream of Facebook comments, although this isn’t just an ordinary spoon that you can find in your local supermarket, this particular design has a really captivating motive.

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While I do admire the overall style, I began to question the practicability and the usability, as there are three holes within the middle of the spoon that represent the characteristics of a human skull including the eye sockets and the nose. In reference to the Kickstarter campaign, the spoon is meant to encourage the consumer to add less sugar to their tea or coffee. Now I get the idea, this is a tea-spoon is designed to minimise your sugar intake, I just couldn’t imagine using the spoon for an actual meal.

Now this is quite an innovative idea, I could do with the will power to eat less sugar and now I know there is a spoon that can assist with my ambitions, what more could you ask for in life! At first, I wondered whether the person using the spoon would need to balance or rearrange the sugar into a specific place, as there are holes within the spoon that could easily cause the contents to fall back into the container. In reference to Dodd’s Kickstarter campaign, this particular spoon would make a fantastic novelty or collectors item for all those skull admirers out there.

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However, the shape of the spoon is highly creative and the packaging is very stylish and professional; the mugs have definitely captured my attention and the stylised patterns do feature an artistic aesthetic.

The sugar skull spoon has accumulated a large audience through various social media sites including Facebook and Twitter and the Kickstarter campaign has raised £45,076, which is an amazing achievement! Dodds has managed to create a quirky, yet stylish creation that features a very interesting objective, if you need one of these fantastic sugar skull spoons in your life, just click on the link below.

http://www.hundredmillion.co.uk/

References

Kickstarter, “Sugar Skull Spoon by Hundred Million” (Accessed 17/3/15) https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hundredmillion/sugar-skull-spoon

East London Small Business Centre, “East London’s Kickstarter Wiz Kid” (Accessed 17/3/15) http://smallbusinesscentre.org.uk/portfolio/east-londons-kickstarter-wiz-kid/

Hundred Million, “Skull-Shaped Tea Spoons Encourage You To Use Less Sugar,” Bored Panda (Accessed 17/3/15) http://www.boredpanda.com/sugar-skull-spoons/


Skeletons promote diversity in an uplifting campaign, “Love Has No Labels”

Promotional Video by the Ad Council

Today I just discovered the most inspiring, yet heartwarming promotional campaign by the AD council that delivers a very powerful message to the wider community locally and internationally. This remarkable three-minute video, “Love Has No Label” features a range of skeletal figures behind a X-ray screen embracing one another and the overall campaign tackles some of the biased assumptions regarding ‘sexual orientation, same-sex relationships, age, race and disability,’ as referenced by Amy Lewis from the Dailymail.1

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This is such a uplighting campaign that does raise some very significant concerns regarding our prejudices or preconceptions. According to Cameron Keady, “the skeleton is a symbolic reminder — simply put — we’re all human, despite our varying identities.”2 I agree with Keady’s comment, while we may have our differences or discrepancies, the X-ray screen becomes an expression of humanity, we are human inside and out.

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The skeleton is used to create a remarkable campaign in order to promote diversity that has captured the hearts of the audience as well as millions of viewers worldwide. Katie Richards from ADWeek explains that the campaign has accumulated “more than 11 million views, 50,000 likes and 100,000 shares.”3 This is quite an astonishing number that demonstrates the impact of social media and viral advertising. The campaign was installed in Santa Monica on Valentine’s Day and the video has established an ongoing debate amongst a range of non for profit organisations including the media and the online community.

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I’m fascinated with the intention behind the promotional video and the Ad Council have suggested that “we do 98 per cent of thinking in our subconscious mind.”5 This particular type of thinking may produce assumptions or biased opinions that may impact the way we communicate with others. Amy Lewis cites the Ad Council who suggest that “Many of us unintentionally make snap judgements about people based on what we see – whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability.”4

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Overall the skeleton has become a very powerful form of communication that successfully unites friends, families, partners, couples, parents and siblings in this delightful, yet captivating campaign. Skulls and skeletons don’t always have a scary or frightening connotation, they can be used to promote something quite positive or uplifting.

References

http://lovehasnolabels.com/

1.Amy Lewis, “Same sex couples, inter-racial love and pensioner passion: Moving video uses SKELETONS of people kissing behind an X-ray screen to challenge prejudice,” 5 March 2015, The Daily Mail Australia, 2014 (Accessed 7/3/15) http://goo.gl/jPwy6x
2.Cameron Keady, “Giant X-Ray Screen Erases Gender, Age, Race To Prove ‘We Are All Human,” 3 March 2015, The Huffington Post (Accessed 7/5/15) http://goo.gl/VhzJXg
3.Katie Richards, “Ad of the Day: This Beautiful Ad Council PSA Reminds Us We’re All Human Underneath,” March 3 2015, Ad Week, (Accessed 7/5/15) http://goo.gl/f2sgFK
4.The Ad Council, “The Truth About Bias and Prejudice,” 2015 (Accessed 7/5/14) http://lovehasnolabels.com/about-bias

5.Amy Lewis, “Same sex couples, inter-racial love and pensioner passion: Moving video uses SKELETONS of people kissing behind an X-ray screen to challenge prejudice,”


Skulls, Skeletons and Tequila, Espolón has it all!

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Espolón Advertising by Steven Noble 

Espolón Tequila is one unique, innovative brand that features a smooth, delicate flavour along with a creative label that will leave a very memorable impression! As soon as I recognised the bottle of Espolón, I instantly developed to the urge to purchase a bottle for myself and the product design immediately attracted my attention. While I was tempted to try the tequila, I wanted to keep the bottle for the inspiring label / packaging.

So what makes this bottle of tequila so interesting? Well, the tequila isn’t too overpowering, Espolón does create some fantastic Paloma’s on a warm summers day, the packaging is inspiring and the overall brand features a very compelling story! The label features a range of lively, animated skeletons and the overall style does feature similarities to the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that invites deceased family members and spirits to partake in the celebration, as referenced by Regina.M Marchi.1 I’ve mentioned these particular elements in my previous posts but I’ll briefly mention some of the most important points. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts just click on the links to Part I and Part II

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Espolón Advertising – Steven Noble

Espolón’s product design features similarities to the works of José Guadalupe Posada and there is an illustration known as the “The Calavera of Don Quixote 1910” that appears almost identical to the label; Espolon’s design presents a very distinctive appropriation that reflect’s Mexico’s cultural and historical background.2 I’m assuming that Posada’s prints would be available under ‘free use,’ this would be a very interesting area to explore or research in the next week. According to Regina.M.Marchi, Posada is an influential artist / printmaker from Mexico who produced a range of delightful prints or illustrations featuring a range of enthusiastic, animated skeletons during the 19th century.

In the illustrations, the playful skeletons partake in a range of activities or events wearing a range of outfits or accessories and Posada’s distinctive style provides a humorous perspective of death, as referenced by Marchi.3 Espolón have used these lively skeletons to advertise their tequila, although I can’t see anything wrong with this, the story does feature some cultural associations or symbology that provides context to the overall brand. Espolón delivers a level of authenticity through the packaging or product design that is inspired by one unique symbol.

espolon-revolutionEspolón Product Design / Labelling 

According to the Espolón official website, “Master Distiller, Cirilo Oropeza” created a brand of Tequila that was named after the spur found on the back of a Rooster’s heal and “Espolón pays tribute to the legendary bird so important within Mexican culture.”4 This is a very fascinating concept that has invited me to research the significance behind the rooster and Elías Domínguez Barajas in the ‘Function of Proverbs in Discourse’ explains that the rooster features a connection to “bravery, pride and confidence” within Mexican Culture.5

This is a very interesting discovery that definitely adds a level of interest towards Espolón and the brand’s overall history. While I’m interested in researching the cultural and historical associations related to the brand, I do enjoy a glass of Blanco with a slice of lime. This particular type of Tequila works exceptionally well as a cocktail or a mixed drink and I would definitely recommend Espolón if you intend to create a Paloma or an Espresso Martini.

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José Guadalupe Posada – Print / Illustration: 
The Calavera of Don Quixote, 1910

The tequila also works as a delicious alcoholic beverage just by itself with some ice and a slice of lime. While there are other brands of tequila that feature an outstanding flavour, Espolón is exceptional for the price and it’s very affordable, especially for the overall quality! So if you’re planning a dinner party and you need Tequila for a dozen Paloma’s, this is definitely the one to go for!

According to Espolon’s website, the tequila features “100% pure agave” that is created / distilled in “Los Altos, Mexico.” From a personal opinion, I do enjoy the Blanco compared the Respado that is aged for several months in an “oak barrel,” as referenced by Espolón.6 This is just my personal preference and I prefer something with a smooth flavour or texture. If you’re new to tequila, I would recommend the Blanco to start off with, if you’re searching for something with a strong, full-bodied flavour then the Respado is an excellent choice.

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Espolón features some very compelling, yet distinctive advertisements that are very admirable and the designs are created by Steven Noble. Last but not least, I thought I would briefly mention my recent discovery in regards to my statistics on my WordPress profile.

This year so far, I’ve received 482 views for my previous post in regards to Espolón tequila that ranked number six on my top posts for 2015. This is a very interesting conclusion that demonstrates Espolón’s increase in popularity. Perhaps there is a demand for skulls and tequila, it’ll be interesting to observe the statistics overtime in order to view any significant changes.

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So if you enjoy relaxing on the deck chair with a refreshing glass of tequila, I would recommend Espolón! Not only will you receive a high quality product, you’ll obtain an awesome bottle with some incredible designs including skulls, skeletons and a rooster, what more could you possibly ask for? If you love skulls and tequila, this is the brand for you.

Espolón also features a Facebook Page and a Twitter Page that is worth viewing if you wish to acquire further information! These amazing advertisements are created by Steven Noble, click on the link to view the artist’s Behance Portfolio.

References

1.Marchi, Regina.M, The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009) p.26-27
2.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
3.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
4.Espolón Tequila, “A Legend in the Making,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified
5.Barajas, Elías Domínguez, The Function of Proverbs in Discourse: The Case of a Mexican Transnational Social Network (New York: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 2010) p.100
6.Espolón Tequila, “Tasting Notes,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified


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/


The Black Calavera Facebook Page

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Ok so the other day, I created a Facebook Page for Black Calavera, I had this planned for a while, although I was incredibly busy at the time. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to add to the page, although I decided to include a photograph of the Mexican beaded skulls that I received as a birthday present. The photograph I have taken is displayed next to the logo that Sean has designed, Sean is also apart of Black Calavera who does quite a lot of the design work.

So you are properly wondering….doesn’t Black Calavera already have a logo? it sure does, although the logo on the Facebook page is specifically designed for both our design and photography work, you could say the skulls project has become a sub brand of Black Calavera.

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The page is primarily used to advertise the Skulls Project and Sean’s blog, Art&Stuff is also linked to the Facebook site aswell. I guess you could say the page contains everything all on the one site so the viewer can visit various social media profiles.

We’re still currently working on an official website, which should be finished in the next week that will contain a range of work associated with the skulls project as well as other design / photography projects. The Facebook link is attached below if you would like to have a look, if you would please be able to like the Facebook page that would be fantastic! Don’t forget to tell your friends, enjoy! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


Ed Hardy’s Skull Perfume Bottles

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During my Monday afternoon shopping trip in Geelong, I discovered a very large display of perfume at the very front entrance of a cosmetics store. I was seriously tempted to buy Katie Perry’s latest perfume, although I discovered a range black and white perfume bottles in the shape of a skull with a rose in between the teeth. I was definitely intrigued by the shape and the size of the perfume bottles, they were small enough to actually fit into the palm of your hand!

The fragrance is produced by Ed Hardy, a popular tattooist and fashion designer who often incorporates the skull into a range of contemporary designs. I’ve never really seen these particular perfume bottles before, I didn’t even know that Ed Hardy produced his own fragrance! These bottles are everywhere, every cosmetic store I have walked into will have a pile of these skull perfume bottles at the front entrance!

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I must admit, the skull perfume bottles have a very sweet fragrance, it’s a little too sweet for my liking, although the smell was quite different to what I was expecting! I only tested the white bottle, which is the female fragrance, the black bottle is men’s cologne, I did not realise this until I actually researched the perfume online.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything sweet nor fruity, although it was quite a pleasant surprise! The black and silver packaging also has a unique appearance, the skull is printed onto the front of each box and the design reminds me of 1950’s tattoo art.

I was close to actually purchasing a bottle for myself, I’m just completely fascinated with the bottle and the design is quite different from any other perfume bottle I have seen before! You know, I have actually realised that the skull is still a very popular and recognisable image, it’s actually hard for me to walk into a store without finding at least one product with a skull printed onto the front!

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It was only time until someone decided to design a skull perfume bottle, almost every other company has found a way to use the skull in some shape or form. Well not every company, but there are many corporations that have depicted the human skull in a contemporary context through advertising and product design. Are skull perfume bottles the next in thing? We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next!

For further information, please visit the links below!

http://edhardyshop.com/

Image Citations:

http://www.beautezine.com/new-ed-hardy-skulls-roses-fragrances-for-him-her/

http://www.fragrancex.com/products/_cid_cologne-am-lid_s-am-pid_69868m__products.html


Rick Genest & Savon Photography

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Photo Shoot featuring Rick Genest by Savon Photography

Throughout the majority of last year, I was particularly fascinated in Rick Genest, an American artist and performer who has covered his entire body in tattoos in portray his own interpretations of death / mortality.

In fact I have spent almost half a year following Genest’s Facebook Page that features recent campaigns, projects and photo shoots. It’s also interesting to track the artists popularity within contemporary art, fashion and design, the website in particular has now developed into an online store, that’s right Genest now sells his own merchandise!

So I am currently inspired by one photo shoot in particular that is displayed on Genest’s official website. Rick Genest has collaborated with Savon Photography in order to create a macabre, yet creative body of work. Unfortunately I was unable to find information in relation to Savon Photography, I was only able to find the photo shoot on Genest’s website.

To be specific the are two photographs that have captured my attention, as a matter of fact this is the most compelling photo shoot I have seen so far! The images features Genest laying face down on the ground with a white sheet and a sledge-hammer, the model appears to be covered in blood that creates an effective contrast with the snow within the foreground. There are red clumps surrounding the models head, it’s as if Genest decided to hit himself with a sledgehammer across the head, the image in general reminds me of something you would normally see in a horror film.

If you look closely at the image there are tyre marks on the ground, the model within the image may have been involved in a hit and run scenario? In fact this image in particular does create quite a lot of questions, there’s obviously a storyline but it’s quite difficult determine one specific meaning or representation, the image itself does invite the viewer to create their own interpretation in a way.

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Another photo shoot by Savon Photography

The angle and the composition are very interesting, I actually decided to rotate the image on each side that did create a completely different response or reaction. Genest is cropped at the waistline and this particular pose can be viewed at any angle which is another very interesting observation. The tattoo’s on Genest’s back become the main focal point within the entire image that also compliment the bright, red blood splatters on the ground. The way Genest’s arms are positioned also creates a unique composition, the position reminds me of a fallen angel, I know it’s quite a strange interpretation really.

The image does evoke a sense of isolation and disembodiment, it’s as if the model is left to die on a deserted highway. While the subject matter is rather gruesome and macabre, the photograph itself features a stylised effect that is almost whimsical in a way. So what I find interesting is the fact that Genest’s tattoo’s depict death, although Genest is also portraying a death like position, the actual meaning features a double layer!

Ok so there is another photograph that features a completely different perspective, this photo in particular does emphasise the face along with a bright, red substance opposite Genest’s head. It’s as if Genest’s brains have oozed from his head onto the ground, in fact the liquidy red substance significantly contrasts with the monochromatic tones within the overall image. I have also noticed the word ‘Dead’ is tattooed to Genest’s fingers that also becomes one of the main focal points, this one tattoo in particular does correspond with Genest’s motionless form. To be honest, I don’t have any emotional connection to the image, I’m just fascinated with the style and the composition!

I don’t find these images disturbing or unsettling, as a matter of fact I find this particular photo shoot creative and inspiring! The photograph does provide a unique and artistic representation of death, the photo shoot also questions the way death is portrayed within the contemporary visual culture. Do we accept the idea of death? Well death can be a sensitive subject for some, although it’s sometimes difficult to feel a strong connection to death when your completely surrounded by ghastly horror films and skull printed merchandise.

I would definitely recommend visiting Genest’s website and I would also recommend viewing Genest’s online gallery! The online portfolio also displays a range of photographs featuring Rick Genest, if you have the chance I would strongly suggest browsing through some of the images online especially if you are looking for ideas or inspiration.

http://rickgenest.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&layout=category&task=category&id=9&Itemid=1

http://rickgenest.com/index.php?option=com_phocagallery&view=category&id=26:savon&Itemid=115


Skull Frenzy in Melbourne CBD!

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Skull Merchandise in Typo

Ok so I know I haven’t posted in a while with moving house and working full-time, life has been pretty hectic at the moment! so where do I begin? well at the very start of the year, I posted a blog post each day and now I am convinced that I should start posting more regularly. I know I haven’t posted for a least a few months, so I began to wonder…..where do i even start?!

So I started to browse through the images I have taken on my mobile phone, I normally take photos with my SLR camera although there are several times where I have found something interesting and I didn’t have all my equipment with me at the time. In Melbourne there is always something new or interesting to find, I remember taking a short cut to the station, at first I was just walking down a dull, dark and grungy alleyway until a recognised an entire wall of graffiti that featured vibrant and intricate designs.

So here I am standing in awe in a deserted alleyway admiring some of the extraordinary and incredible designs that were right in front of me, this is what I enjoy about the city, there’s always something new to discover.

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Ceramic Skulls in Window Display

So I use my phone to take snap shots and then I revisit the same place with the proper equipment including my SLR camera, gee what would we do without mobile phones? Ok so I know my trip to the station is slightly off topic, although I have come to realise that my phone has been used to document graffiti, window displays, billboards, posters and even those random events or festivals that I occasionally walk into on a saturday afternoon.

So as many of you know by now I am particularly fascinated with the skull in popular culture, contemporary art and design, as a matter of fact the skull is everywhere, you could be eating a taco and you’ll see a skeletal figurine next to the hot chilli sauce! So what is the first photograph I find stored in my mobile phone?

I discovered a photo of two ceramic skulls outside a two dollar shop within the middle of a small shopping centre, the entire window display was rather strange there were ceramic skulls placed with crystal ornaments, I wasn’t too sure what was going on.

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The reason why I had taken this photograph is because I was particularly fascinated in the way the skull is commercialised, the skull has become a product, a commoditized item that can be purchased for only a few dollars. It’s quite strange to think that our skull that holds all of our most precious and vital organs has become a mass-produced item. I have often wondered whether all of these skull t-shirts, banners, posters, figurines etc actually remind us of our own humanity or existence?

So do I think of my own mortality when I view an image of the human skull? for me this is a hard question, at times I do start to contemplate upon life and death, then there are times where I feel nothing at all. Personally the context would have a strong impact, a two dollar ceramic skull in a shopping mall would surely generate a completely different interpretation to a skull that is displayed in a film or an exhibition space?

Ok so these cheap ceramic skulls were rather eclectic but I was interested in the random and unusual display, so I decided to take a photograph for future reference.

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Clear It Warehouse / Factory: Dangerfield & Pulp Kitchen Collection – Melbourne, Fitzory 

As I browse through my photographs, I have realised that I do take quite a lot of photos of Typo. Typo is a retro stationery store that often sells a range of popular skull merchandise, in fact every time I walk into Typo I instantly find an entire display of skull notebooks, pencil cases, pens, cups and metallic storage containers. It appears that Typo have used the skull because it’s a popular image, in fact I’m convinced the skull will never loose popularity as this anatomical part of our body is something we can all relate to.

I also remember taking photographs of a retail warehouse in Fitzroy, I remember finding skull printed scarfs, jeans, bandannas, t-shirts, skirts, dresses, even swim suits, in fact the entire warehouse was full of skull printed outfits! Ok so Fitzroy is a fantastic place to find random and spontaneous items, it’s the type of place where you’ll find sofa’s, old bicycles and stacks of milk crates placed on every street corner.

Fitzroy have all sorts of quirky stores and gallery spaces, almost every second window featured a skull, my phone definitely ran out of battery life towards the end of the day!

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Skull Painting in Window Display, Artist Unknown – Melbourne, Fitzroy 

So there we are the skull is everywhere, I suppose I’m continually trying to find new and interesting representations of the skull. It’s actually interesting to think how the symbol of death and mortality has become one of the most popular commercial products within the contemporary visual culture! I can’t walk to the end of the street without recognising at least one person wearing a skull printed scarf, jumper or t-shirt, we just continually purchase these products and never really stop to consider the actual meaning or significance behind the image or the item we’ve just bought!

It’s ironic really, death is still considered as a taboo subject within Western culture, although the majority of products are literally plastered with images of skulls, even baby clothes have skulls on the front! None the less, it’s just a bit of fun just to wear a skull printed t-shirt or a scarf to the supermarket, well everyone else wears the same thing now!

So if you are bored and want to find something interesting to do, take your camera and travel to Melbourne, you’ll be surprised with how many random objects you’ll find 🙂 I know I haven’t posted regularly in a while, now that I have some extra time on my hands I be able to keep on top of things, stay tuned!


Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino

So where do I even begin with Quentin Tarantino’s, Death Proof? This 2007 production was completely different from what I was expecting, towards the end I began to wonder whether I was still watching the same film. Death Proof features a psychotic stunt man who deliberately kills a group of young women in a horrific and gruesome car accident; this is his main agenda really, “Stunt Man Mike” drives around in his indestructible ‘death proof’ car that is used to terrorise and mutilate young women.

Ok so, it’s really not to bad, as there is only one or two gruesome scenes throughout the entire film, in fact I was actually expecting a massacre with blood and amputated limbs flying left right and centre, after all it is a Quentin Tarantino Film! The ending featured a rather unexpected twist, as stunt man Mike finds himself in a vicious car chase with three young women who refuse to be victimized; Death Proof makes a rapid transition from an American slasher to an action, thriller. There was one stage where I was wondering whether I accidentally pressed the wrong button on the remote control, I soon realised I was still watching the same film!

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Death Proof, DVD Cover 

So why am I even talking about Death Proof in the first place? Well I was fascinated with the skull that was imprinted onto the front of Mike’s ‘Death Proof’ Car. The skull is quite a striking image, especially on top of the car and the symbol continually reappears throughout the majority of the film. I have actually wondered how the skull relates to the storyline or the narrative, in fact the film was rather disjointed and the dialogue was rather confusing, it was rather difficult to determine what was actually going on.

It was quite difficult to determine the most important aspects of the film as the three protagonists at the very start changed to three completely different characters towards the end of the film. At least the narrative wasn’t boring or predictable and the dialogue was rather entertaining to watch! The random conversations between the different characters also adds a humorous twist to the film, Kurt Russell also plays an excellent role as Stunt Man Mike, his psychotic and irrational behaviour is rather comical.

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Car Crash in Death Proof

I have noticed that Tarantino’s films feature a stylised effect, especially the violence that isn’t really shocking or horrifying at all! The violence is exaggerated to the extent where the blood splatters and the amputated limbs become humorous and entertaining! The violence is extremely unrealistic, it’s almost cartoonish, although I do believe that these particular effects add a unique style to Tarantino’s films. I must admit Death Proof features the most violent car accident I have ever seen, you don’t just see two cars colliding into one another, you actually see arms, legs, torso’s cut in half with blood splattering in every direction.

The violence in Death Proof was very brief, there was only one particular scene that was gory, other than that the film was quite tame for a Tarantino film. Overall, I do find the skull on Mike’s ‘death proof’ car intriguing, I personally believe that the skull signifies danger as the symbol only reappears when something violent is about to occur. I decided to search for Death Proof through the internet and I have realised that the skull has been used for car stickers, t-shirt designs, jewellery, key rings, even coffee mugs; the symbol has become a form of visual merchandising!

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Kurt Russell and Rose McGowan

Grindhouse Cinema

Ok so I didn’t really understand the concept behind Death Proof until I decided to research ‘Grindhouse Cinema’, that was introduced in the 1970’s. According to Sarah Wharton in American Independent Cinema, the Grindhouse genre does feature exploitative films that significantly emphasise sex, gore and violence. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ and Robert Rodriquez’s ‘Planet Terror’ are heavily inspired by the Grindhouse genre; the special effects feature quite an old, deteriorated appearance and the colours are over saturated, it’s as if you have been brought back in time to watch a 1970’s slasher film.

Both films feature disjointed lines that distorts the quality and the appearance, just imagine you’re watching a film at the cinema and there’s a roll of film  that is about to explode or set on fire, now just imagine the quality of the film you are watching, it’s as if the film is about to stop at any second. This is the kind of anticipation I experience when I begin to watch Death Proof or Planet Terror, the special effects do add a very distinctive and unique style. So Tarantino and Rodriquez have produced a ‘double feature’ named Grindhouse that includes Death Proof and Planet Terror, as well as other films such as Machete, Machete Kills and Hobo with a Shotgun.

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Grindhouse Poster for Death Proof and Planet Terror

So Planet Terror features a hardcore go-go dancer who is attacked by a flesh-eating zombie, Cherry Darling is immediately rushed into hospital, where her leg is amputated and replaced with a machine gun. Both Cherry and her ex – boyfriend, Wray begin to brutally kill an army of zombies that begin to take over the world along with the other survivors including a nurse, a sheriff and a crazy chef from a deserted steakhouse.

I have noticed that some of the characters in Planet Terror do make an appearance in Death Proof, some of the scenes are quite familiar and it is interesting to observe the parallel between these two particular films. Tarantino and Rodriquez’s version of Grindhouse provides a unique perspective of the genre and the story lines also features a level of humour, parody and satire that is throughly entertaining to watch.

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Planet Terror by Robert Rodriquez 

While Planet Terror features blood, gore and violence in every minute of the film, Death Proof focuses on the dialogue, which becomes a significant part of the narrative. According to Jay McRoy Tarantino and Rodriquez have used Grindhouse within a contemporary context, the sex, the violence, even the visual effects appear rather similar to a 1970’s B-Grade Horror Movie or an exploitative film with no budget. Ironically these two influential directors have used the visual effects in order to replicate certain elements from B-Grade, exploitative films, both Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a surreal, unconventional style that I haven’t really seen before.

Exploitative films such as Salo or I Spit on your Grave feature highly graphic depictions of sexual violence, in comparison Death Proof and Planet Terror feature a level of humour, irony as well as impressive special effects that combine contemporary Hollywood Cinema with the American Grindhouse genre. Overall Death Proof can be rather confusing and disjointed within certain aspects of the film, although it is interesting to see Tarantino’s interpretations of American Grindhouse and the B-Grade exploitation genre from the 1970’s.

If you are looking for something different to watch, then I would definitely recommend Rodriquez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof, If you are patient, the dialogue will suddenly transform into a brutal, violent car chase!

References

Mcroy, Jay, in Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear (ed) Steffen Hantke, (USA: University of Mississippi Press,2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=tYiGERS4fKoC&pg=PA226&dq=grind
house+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zKfKUbrWJIPIl

AXo74DIAQ&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=grindhouse%20tarantino&f=false

Wharton, Sarah, “Welcome to the Neo Grindhouse: Sex, Violence and the Indie Film” in American Independent Cinema,
Indie, Indewood and Beyond (eds) 
Geoff King, Claire Molloy and Yannis Tzioumakis (Oxon: Routledge, 2013) 

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=7ibUEeJMNCYC&pg=PA200&dq=
grindhouse+tarantino&hl=en&sa=X&ei=

86bKUdyhBoHFkAWzpoCgDw&ved=0CE4Q6AEw
BjgK#v=onepage&q=grindhouse%20tarantino&f=false

Cline, John and Weiner. G . Robert (eds), From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow in Transgressive in Cinema’s 21st Century 
(Scarecrow Press, 2010) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=VKhqh3HFH8AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=grindhouse&hl=en&sa=X&ei=
GKzKUaucJoyGkQWn2IGgDQ&ved=0CDcQ6wEwAg

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1028528/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1077258/

Image Citations

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwlAqIfuwgQ
2. http://www.last.fm/music/Grindhouse:+Quentin+Tarantino’s+Death+Proof
+Soundtrack/+images/22405301

3. http://lefthandhorror.com/2012/02/29/grindhouse-movie-review-planet-terror-death-proof/
4. http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/flower/death-proof-rose-mcgowan-grindhouse-kurt-russell-russel-desktop-hd-wallpaper-749977
5. http://collider.com/grindhouse-blu-ray-review/
6. http://www.dbcovers.com/image-of-grindhouse-planet-terror-2007-grindhouse_planet_terror_2007_1


Neuw Denim use skull to Advertise their Latest Collection.

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While I was wondering the street’s of Melbourne, I discovered a poster in one of the side alley ways in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. There’s always something interesting to find in Flinders Lane,the last time I walked down one of the alley ways I was lucky enough to find an entire wall of graffiti. It wasn’t just any old graffiti, some of the patterns and designs were just incredible!

That is the best thing about Melbourne, there is always something new to discover; In fact, every time I walk down Flinders Lane I always find something different, nothing really stays the same. Over the weekend, I recognised a poster for Neuw Denim that featured a human skull within the very centre of the advertisement. I noticed the poster out of the corner of my eye and I immediately walked into the side alley just so I could take a closer look at Neuw Denim’s latest campaign.

So many of you are properly wondering, what is Neuw Denim and why have they used a skull for their advertisements? While I was browsing a clothes store in Geelong, I removed a pair of jeans from the top self and I was immediately impressed with the quality, as I removed the label from the back pocket, I began to ask myself…..what is Neuw Denim?

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Of course, Google has most of the answers straight at our fingertips, so I decided to type the name into the search engine. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to search to far, Neuw Denim’s official website appeared at the very top of the screen, so what is Neuw Denim, why am I even writing about Denim in the first place? According to the official website, Neuw is a brand / company that was originally based in Melbourne, Victoria, the brand name refers to a town / street name within the Netherlands, known as ‘Nieuwlandstraat’.

Neuw reconstruct and tailor ‘traditional denim’ in order to create a unique, innovative style. All the branding and product design is minimal, yet contemporary, even the price tag is well designed! The advertisement in the side ally way features a modern, yet sophisticated design that is currently advertising Neuw Denim’s latest collection, “Goldmine”.

According to the D’Marge Magazine, Neuw Denim’s most recent collection is inspired by the denim or the canvas worn by Goldminers who continuously work underground within stressful and intense working environments. Neuw have examined how the environment impacts the denim, Luc Wiesman suggests “In addition they researched how their environment made their jeans dark and rich with multiple layers of colour and authentic wear patterns”. (Luc Wiesman, D’Marge Magazine, 2013) Wiesman’s article is particularly interesting to read, even if there is only a few short paragraphs, the online magazine does provide some very interesting information in regards to Neuw Denim’s recent collection.

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The advertisement within Flinders Lane a skull with golden tones that immediately defines the eye sockets and the jaw line. The advertisement does add a spark of creativity, in fact it is the golden skull on the side of the wall that has motivated me to undertake further research into Neuw Denim. I’m assuming the skull is used as a symbol of youth and rebellion, this advertisement would definitely appeal to a young demographic.

It’s also interesting to note that the skull has become a popular symbol in contemporary fashion, but why wouldn’t you use the skull? As you can all see, Neuw Denim’s most recent advertising campaign has definitely gained some street cred within Melbourne’s Urban culture. I have wondered whether the posters are intentionally placed within Melbourne’s most prominent lane ways, I wonder whether this has turned into a marketing strategy that specifically targets a niche audience who are interested in Urban street wear. Who knows really, I would recommend going for a walk around Melbourne, you’ll be surprised how many skulls you will find along the way.

If you are interested in high quality denim, I would definitely recommend visiting Neuw’s official website.

Neuw Denim, http://neuwdenim.com/

Luc Wiesman, “Neuw Denim Goldmine Collection” D’Marge Magazine, 2013,