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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Time to Buy Stock in X-acto Knife?

What should we call this: the Kara Walker effect? Further evidence of the return to handicraft -- or at least what looks like handicraft -- in graphic design? Discuss...

(Monsters of Templeton is new; the others have been featured here within the past 6 months or so. But it seems like I'm seeing silhouettes everywhere; I'll try to find some examples.)



18 comments:

Jonathan said...

Interesting that they're all 18th and 19th century. Some I recognize as Dover clip art. Jon Gray's handdrawn.

Tom Froese said...

It's the next logical step in design from all that iPod ad stuff from a few years ago: How far can you push the silhouette from its over-simplified and -vectorified beginnings?

Any design enthusiast can whip out a silhouette in Illustrator; it takes a real designer to do it by hand.

Anonymous said...

Ah, dont be so quick to dismiss photoshop as a cheating mans design medium.

greg said...

"The Arts and Crafts Movement began primarily as a search for authentic and meaningful styles for the 19th century and as a reaction to the eclectic revival of historic styles of the Victorian era and to "soulless" machine-made production aided by the Industrial Revolution."

I hate to quote Wikipedia...but I wouldn't be able to say it any more succinctly.

It's amazing how, 100 years later, artists and designers are in nearly the exact same situation.

dians said...

I was quite amazed about this trend at the beginning. Then I found out that lots of this paper cutting style cover is actually done by one artist, Rob Ryan. He just recently published his own creation named, This is for you. Some covers that he has done are The Book of Lost Things by John Connoly and The Goddes Guide by Giselse Scanlon. You can check his very recent work at his blog

So I am not so sure where's the originality from. Is it because Rob Ryan has inspired many designers?

Although, The paper cutting or Scherenschnitte is still quite a popular crafting nowadays. You can find lots of blogs about it, like Cindy's.

Joseph said...

Dians: Now *that's* a comment! Thanks for the information.

Sarah said...

I have to add the extremely talented Nikki McClure to this discussion. She has been a paper artist for around 2 decades.
http://www.nikkimcclure.com/

trina said...

Looks like it's inspired by the illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), among many other things he did a beautiful set of silhouette illustrations for Sleeping Beauty. It also reminds me of the work of a guy called Jan Pienkowski. Everything old is new again....

terrypitts said...

Another current reason for the popularity of silhouettes is the work of artist Kara Walker, whose exhibition just ended at the Whitney Museum of American Art February 3. Her work is almost paper-cut b&w silhouette.

Anonymous said...

The best cover of this style is the British version of a new novel by Ben Dolnick called "Zoology": http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zoology-Ben-Dolnick/dp/000725038X

Joseph said...

You guys are great! Keep 'em coming...

Elizabeth Gordon said...

As beautiful as the intricacies of these design are, what makes them truly impactful is the starkness of the use of a single color. The human eye cannot resist being drawn into the negative contrast of black vs. white. Perhaps this due to an innate desire to simplify everything in our universe down to this level of two dichotomous opposites in an attempt to eliminate the grey matter in between as is taxes our intellects. In a world of complication and confusion, there is nothing as striking as black and white. Such designs in any other color would not create near the impact.

Richard said...

Design follows art.

JC said...

Silhouettes are an old art. Walker took it to a contemporary level. If you look at book covers and design of the post WWII period, this technique is used often.
Richard, I would say it is art that is following design for some time now.

Bret said...

Steven Heller has a spread in his book The Antomy of Design that traces back the look of the ipod ad hundreds of years.

Joseph said...

Thanks, Bret. I'll have to check that out.

nancy said...

ummm, designers...

every person who has put their kid through kindergarten probably was invited to craft evening where the kindergarten teacher, one or both of the parents, and the kid comes together for a night, and they craft something. Scherenschnitte a popular craft item in Fensterbilder art (window picture art). Or was this really just the old country?

Before Kindergarten i am sure this was done for centuries around mama's kitchen table. A knife probably a treasured tool of the cooking craft and fruits and veggies from the market were wrapped in paper. When kindergarten started to be domain of the churches and later of the public offering craft night was available as a special treat for everyone to get to know each other. C'mon, where are the people who are next going to laud the transperenzpapier art. (similar to stain glass windows) I can go in the basement and pull something out of my hat. for sure. for free. or for the price of a book, if that's what it takes.

Maggie said...

I think black silhouettes on a pink background are rather fetching.