Art Byte Critique Behind the Scenes

I love a peek behind the curtain. Art Byte Critique is having their tenth anniversary exhibition called “10” at Launch Pad Gallery in Yokohama.

I think installing a show is a lot of fun. A solo show can have a meditative feeling as long as everything goes to plan. 😉 But a group show has a totally different vibe. The energy of a group of people working together to achieve a vision in a short time can be addictive. Add the professionalism and teamwork of ABC members and art life is a lot of fun.

Art Byte Critique member Deanna Gabiga, who is doing intriguing wire sculptures, organized the show for us and did an amazing job! During the install, she also did the hard work of taking a time-lapse video which compressed the 2 hours into a five minute video.

Time Lapse Video of Art Byte Critique’s “10”



I wrote a blog post on my “official” website which you can check out here.

SHOW DETAILS

Launch Pad Gallery is less than 10 minutes away from Ishikawa Cho station on the Keihin Tohoku Negishi Line. But Launch Pad Gallery has more detailed information for other train lines. For those who like to do their own map navi, the street address is:

5-186-8 ISHIKAWACHO, YOKOHAMA 045-641-1511 

FRI-MON 13:00~19:00/ 金-月 13:00-19:00 (the gallery is closed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

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Creating Community and Artist Books. An Interview with Joan Birkett

Joan Birkett, an artist from the UK, has collaborated several times with Art Byte Critique. Currently, she is part of the UK contingent sharing a table with Art Byte Critique at the Tokyo Art Book Fair Ginza Edition at Sony Park in Yurakucho. The TABF Ginza Edition runs from March 8-April 7. The Art Byte Critique tables from March 9-March 10.

In this interview, Joan talks about her work, collaboration and building a community.

You and Arthur Huang were instrumental in creating Reading Between the Lines, and other shows, how did that collaboration come about?
The group of artists connected with the Tokyo St Helens project, came together at my request after I had made contact with Art Byte Critique through Arthur.

What was the purpose of building the artist group in your area?
Some of them belong to Platform Arts studios which was originally formed by Claire and myself linking up with a number of other interested artists, with help from the very active Arts and Library service in the Town. This was about ten years ago now but it has changed over the years to what it is today, most of the artists now involved are new. Other artists involved work individually across the North West but come together for group projects. There has always been a number of individuals and small art groups in St Helens but Platform arts was possibly the first artist network around in St Helens at the time of its conception. Since then there seems to be a number of artists coming together to form collaborative partnerships. The Yellow Door artists are one example.

Not long after Platform started to operate, the Heart of Glass programme began in St Helens with funding from Arts Council England. This was through what is called the People and Places funding which is for artists to work with communities in order to introduce innovative arts and cultural opportunities, hopefully broadening and raising the level of engagement with Art and Culture throughout a particular Town. A number of different organisations in the Town were involved in bringing bidding for the funding and Platform was one of these. It was through this programme that I originally received some funding to look at the possibilities of linking with artists in Japan, it was suggested by one of the Heart of Glass producers because of my family links in Tokyo and my interest in Japanese woodblock print work and how my own work had been influenced by the connection. It was also about providing information to others about how links could be made and the benefits of working in this way on a number of levels, perhaps influencing others to have a go. So I did quite a lot of research about what networks were in Tokyo and I put some information together which I sent off to them. My daughter-in-law helped by translating the letter for me. However, I wasn’t very successful until I discovered an online blog/help site, by an artist working in Tokyo, named Miki Saito, she was very helpful and receptive to what I was trying to do and put me in touch with Arthur Huang and consequently the artist group -Art Byte Critique. Arthur, was from the beginning as I have always found him to be, so positive and resourceful, open to just trying things out, exactly the artist I needed to meet, he has been so such a great person to meet and work with. It is really down to him and all of the other artists involved that we have been able to put on three joint exhibitions as a result of the partnership. I can’t believe how lucky I have been in being able to meet such open and interesting people.

Another artist that I met was Atsu Harada a really talented traditional wild life artist, this was through a friend of my Son, and we keep in touch and have been able to meet up when I have been in Tokyo

How long have you been making art books?
I started to explore making book art objects as part of the Tokyo/St Helens return project, which began in 2014. This was somewhat of a pragmatic decision on my part because of the practical difficulties of sharing larger works between Tokyo and St Helens. Also the fact that a number of the Art Byte Critique artists with whom I had made contact through the artist Arthur Huang, were making books and zines as part of their practice and exhibiting at The Tokyo Art Book Fair.

Why do you like making books?
It has allowed me to explore 3D possibilities on a scale that I am able to cope with easily, experimenting with materials and form, I also like the fact that it can be touched and explored by the viewer. Although not normally working with paper unless I am sketching or drawing from life, I am interested in materials and texture, and book art has inspired me to work with different papers and to explore my interest in print as a process.

What do you like about making books compared to other forms of expression?
My work generally begins from my being inspired by a particular subject or idea, after  which comes the research that informs the work I eventually make, this is often large scale and consists of a visual language type imagery as a depiction of humanity. Book art allows another dimension to this in presenting a number of possibilities, particularly in the size of the work, it makes me think about working on a different scale and with the text in a different way. It does though present certain constraints given I am quite new to the process and book making skills.

Do you have a favourite method or technique to make books?
I am still learning so I haven’t tried many of the techniques yet, my experience to date is limited but I intend to keep exploring the possibilities.

What method of making books do you want to try next?
I have had a long term interest in using text within my work therefore I suppose I would be interested in exploring different types of text and what I can do with it, therefore developing my work in this way.

What was the biggest challenge in making your book?
Definitely for me not getting too expressive in the making, so that the object becomes too fragile for the viewer. Although I have to say this is often really what I am looking for, a depiction of strong and fragile within the same object, so a bit of challenge. I have also attended a number of print making workshops in order to extend my knowledge and skills with printing methods. I don’t deny that this is quite a challenge for me I work expressively, precision and constraint is not something I am necessarily very good at.

Do you have any favorite book artists?
There are so many artist’s work that I find inspiring generally, I haven’t really just looked at artists who concentrate on this medium. I’m interested in how the making of book art can influence the expression and physicality of my ideas.

Where can people find out more about your work?
www.joanbirkettart.com

Interview with Carol Miller about Artist Books

I haven’t met Carol Miller in person… yet. But through another artist, Joan Birkett, we’ve collaborated on a couple of art book exhibitions. Carol is also a very talented illustrator. Her graphite drawings for Drawlloween 2018 are amazing. I was really impressed with her pieces for Reading Between the Lines and Turning the Page, doubly so since they were her first foray into artist books. She answered a few questions about her work. Check out her interview below.

How long have you been making art books?
Before being invited to participate in this project, I had not made any artists books since my Art Foundation Course.

Why do you like making books? / What do you like about making books compared to other forms of expression?
I enjoyed the tactile nature and sculptural quality of the final works.

Producing work which people are actively encouraged to handle and interact with and which would be enhanced by the potential ‘destructive nature’ of that handling added an additional element not possible in my other work.

Do you have a favourite method or technique to make books?
Whenever I start a piece of work the process is always fluid and I never have an end ‘work’ or image in mind, rather letting the work and lead me.

I approached making books in the same way.   I did rediscover the joy of Ink and bleach and produced 3 of the books using this technique.  I’m not sure I would say it was my favourite technique, more that I got slightly obsessed with it for a while.

“Dirty Washing” Photo courtesy of the artist

The books I made using this technique are still amongst some of my favourite work.

What method of making books do you want to try next?
The books I made for the project were originals and I would like to explore the possibility of producing affordable editions.

What was the biggest challenge in making your book?
Honestly, stopping.  My one book contribution to the project turned fairly rapidly into five.

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Do you have any favourite book artists?
As a ‘newbie’ to the world of artists books, not yet but I enjoy the journey of discovery.

Where can people find out more about your work? (Social Media etc)
Website               www.artistcarolmiller.com
Instagram           carol_miller_artist
Facebook            artistcarolmiller
Twitter                @carol_miller1

Photos courtesy of the artist.

Nicosui and Harunobu Aihara: The Couple that Felts Together

aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotographyYuko and Harunobu Aihara felt together. The pair recently had a fiber sculpture exhibition called Ikimono Expo 2 at Gallery Choukou (ギャラリー澄光) near Okusawa station (on the Meguro line) that shows how creative and detailed needle felting can be. The couple started 7 years ago with a small needle felting kit but immediately saw potential for their own designs and started with their own creations almost immediately. One thing that I noticed was the variety of color in the work and I know that they base structure takes a lot of wool. They admit to having a lot of wool roving–two large plastic boxes in fact. For two artists working together and using the same medium, their aesthetic is completely different. And all of the incredible detail (except for Harunobu Aihara’s yarn wrapping), is done with felting needles, not embroidery.

Aihara Yuko uses the artist name Nicosui. Real animals and the animal characters of Grimm’s fairytales inspire her work. She chooses her subjects by how much they intrigue her. Sometimes it is the story, as with the fairytale creatures, but often it is the animal’s face and her desire to try and create a particular shape or feature. She chose the koala because she was interested in recreating the fluffy ears and the shape of the muzzle. She told the most difficult was the giraffe because of the structure. It was surprisingly longer and thinner in the nose than compared to skull.


aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotography-2While Nicosui’s creations look realistic, she seldom chooses the animal’s natural color. Instead she chooses a color palette that represents what she sees the spirit of the animal: red for the lion, and pink and purple for the feminine nature of the giraffe, green for the koala. She also makes more realistically colored animals in small scale for broaches.

What Nicosui wants people to know about her work:

ぜつめつ動物をなくす (prevent extinction of animals)

Many of the characters she creates are endangered animals. She hopes to inspire the viewer to live in peace with animals and take care of the earth so that people and animals have a healthy place to live.

aihara-harunobu-fiber-artist-needlefelting-portrait-lorionophotography
Aihara-san holds “Gokiburi”

 

Harunobu Aihara is an illustrator and graphic designer. He is also a bassist in a 70’s music hard rock band. Nicosui’s work has more realism while Aihara’s work is about unique, fantastical characters. His style is whimsical and humorous. He says his style has almost always been like this. This year was the first he tried making insect-inspired creature. He really enjoyed them so he made a lot.

It’s not just Aihara’s aesthetic that is different from Nicosui’s. His work process is also completely different. He says that Nicosui takes a lot of time with each project working slowly to perfect her details while he prefers いきよいでつくる, making with momentum.

While he often starts with a sketch, which he may or may not adhere to. Sometimes he freestyles with wool. The base of his sculptures are wire armatures. He builds dimension over the armature by wrapping wool roving around it, and using felting needles to refine the shape. The color detail is a layer of needle felting, sometimes wrapping with yarn or fabrics depending on the effect he wants


He also made many angels, which also have insect or avian features. He said that they are slightly disguised to look like a bird if a person looked up to see one flying in the sky.


His goal: たのしと平和.  He wants to bring viewers moments of enjoyment where they can feel peace through happiness.

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Tunnel Book Test

I’m thinking about taking the serialized story in MaiNichi Mushroom, “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom,” and making it into a tunnel book. Here is a test page from the second installment of the story.

Talking About Art

In the middle of writing a blog post reflecting on everything going on this autumn, I end up writing about art and and the way we talk about it. It’s still a work in progress but I thought I would throw out some questions before I finish it.

Ikamura Gessozaburo wants to talk about art.
Ikamura Gessozaburo wants to talk about art.

I know how I feel about art and talking about it, but what about you good people?

  1. How do you feel about art?
  2. Do you feel comfortable about talking about it?
  3. Do you have any notions about what you can or can’t say about it?
  4. Do you think there are requirements or that there should be?
  5. Do you have any stereotypes or specific images about art discourse?
  6. What kind of experiences have you had?

I’m interested in your opinions. Please share them. Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Just be honest. I look forward to hearing from you.

A Tragic Cookie Romance.

While working on other posts, I got the urge to make a stop motion video. I know. Squirrel!-like attention span. Luckily, I remembered some old footage I’d taken using an app called Stop Motion Studio and I put it together on iMovie on my iPhone. The text was done on Over.

So, now I bring to you the tale of two emo gingerbread cookies who take their fate into their own hands.
Disclaimer: Don’t let your cookies try this at home. All cookies in this film were enthusiastically consumed.

Song: black mamba, the academy is- almost here.

My friend Sean made this summary of the video:

It’s like Romeo and Juliet…if they were deliciously dissolved in tea…rather than the whole stabbing and poison. 🙂

Tokyo Artbook Fair 2014: Interview with Lyle Nisenholz

The Zinesmate Tokyo Art Book Fair starts September 19th and I’m interviewing fellow Art Byte Critique artists about their work. The third in the series of eight interviews presents Lyle Nisenholz.

IMG_1079Lyle Nisenholz is an American artist, focusing on painting and illustration. Lyle will be presenting unique one of a kind hand-painted and hand-drawn books as well as multiple, smaller copies of his work. Strategically placed holes unite the pages of Lyle’s work, creating interaction with the surface pages and the pages below.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from the United States, mostly California.  I lived in Japan for 11 years.  I’m a high school sketch book doodler and wanted to draw like Heavy Metal Magazine and Dungeons and Dragons. However somehow I earned a fine art degree from college.  Mostly I sketch and draw images on paper, it’s like a diary of my feelings and ideas.

私はアメリカ人です。カリフォルニアの出身です。日本に11年間住んでます。13歳から宿題の紙にいたずら書きを書いた。イラストレータになりたかったです。大学で芸術を勉強しました。大抵、私はスケッチブックに絵を描きます。それは、私の気持ちや考えの日記のようです。

 Can you describe (briefly) the process of making your book?
I make a book by using a sketchbook or separate pages casually.
As a new drawing develops, I create a hole in the image.
The hole makes a window for the image on the next page.
This window is the starting point for my next page image.
Again using the next page image, I will make a hole and continue as before.

最初
本をつくるように
絵を描くのんびり
そしてあなをあける
このあなはまどです
つぎのページにはまどが見えます
これをもとにして
新しい絵描きます 

Hand-painted book detail courtesy of Lyle Nisenholz.
Hand-painted book detail courtesy of Lyle Nisenholz.

Which is your favourite material/medium to work with?
I love pens and pencils most. They are clean and easy!

I have been doodling in sketchbooks since I was thirteen years old. I see most of my ideas in sketchbooks so I just make them into art

一番好きな物鉛筆とペン

つかいやすくてきれいな材料!!
13歳からスケッチブックで描いています.
私のスケッチブックにはたくさんアイディアがつまっています.
これは本物の作品になります.

Is there a website where we can learn more about you and your work?
http://www.lylefile.com/

Playlist Your Work Habits

A few days ago I wrote a post about music and work habits.

This evening has been an editing evening and I thought I’d share another playlist.

Finally Moving by Pretty Lights is a song I really like to listen to. Electric hip hop soul. Great for thinking or writing a rainy scene set in the city. Maybe you have another idea. I love listening to this song when driving in the car at night except it makes my husband sleepy. He drives and I don’t so that is a problem.

Frohlocker is a staple.  I was listening to Hipbrass and decided to move onto Malaga-la-la-la (Frohlocker’s Sweet Duck Edit). Frohlocker tags are funk, latin, and world music. Hipbrass is a bit more contemplative, a kind of techno-swing but with a steady beat. Malaga-la-la-la is pure energy. Better for cleaning my room. I’m going to try playing it when I’m getting ready for work tomorrow.

I adore Cinnamon Girl by Dunkel Bunt. I think if you can listen to this electro swing song and not become cheerful, there is something seriously wrong. But there are lyrics which, while fun, make it a song for doing something other than writing.

Chambermaid Swing by Parov Stelar cheers me up immensely. I always imagine some kind of heist. It’s been integral to writing an action scene in my graphic novel. Libella Swing by Parov Stelar also will do but it’s less vivid in my imagination.

And more or less, that takes care of tonight’s playlist… except for the Def Lepard and TopGun 80’s flashback that somehow got on my genius playlist.

As always, if you have songs that motivate you or work for you in certain situations, share them and what they do for you.

Burning Out Inspiration: Music While You Work

Music while you work, inspiration or irritation?

I thought everyone liked to listen to music while they worked. Then one day I talked to a friend who said he needs complete quiet to work. It was a revelation to me.

I can deal with a lot of background noise when I’m working on something. But lately, when it comes to music, I’m paying a lot more attention to what I’m listening to in relation to how much I can get done. The results have been interesting.

If it’s housework or working out I need strong beat, vocals are fine and fun. TV in the background is a no-no. I will sit down and watch.

If it’s photography or illustration, anything can be playing in the background. It all pretty much just fades to a buzz.

If I’m writing, music with vocals is the kiss of death to getting anything done. Lyrics get in the way of the words I want to get out of my head. But writing in silence makes me sleepy. I’ve tried to keep writing even when I’m nodding off and the results are not good. Once I sort out the typos, I still end up with unrelated ramblings. This is not redundant. Often my ramblings are at least on the same tangent. Not so when I am almost asleep.

Finding music that inspires me and keeps me awake but doesn’t distract me has been a problem. Movie soundtracks are often the solution for me. When I find something that works, I end up listening to it over and over until I burn it out and can’t listen to it anymore.

My current burnout target is Nero on the album Archangel by Two Steps from Hell. I first heard it when looking at a video of an image developed in Photoshop. The song has a really nice cinematic scope to it and definitely keeps me interested and awake yet able to focus on my own words.

Current Playlist

Nero on by Two Steps from Hell on Archangel

Work by Clint Mansell from The Fountain soundtrack I love every song on this album. It’s not happy music but it’s amazing.

Victor’s Piano Solo by Danny Elfman on The Corpse Bride Soundtrack  Not a big fan of the whole soundtrack but I love piano.

Ruthless Gravity by Craig Armstrong on As If To Nothing

Death is the Road to Awe, The Fountain

Liz on Top of the World by Jea-Yves Thibaudet on Pride and Prejudice soundtrack I bought this album for this song.

Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, Op.18: 1. Moderato, Rachmaninov

Any Chopin Nocturne  I love Chopin. Music for all moods.

L’Autre Valse d’Amelie by Yaan Tiersen Amelie Soundtrack I have burnt this one out so bad I couldn’t listen to it for a couple years.

O-Kagura from the Zato Ichi soundtrack The soundtrack is fascinating and the finale of tap dancing in geta is also worth watching.

Dracula soundtrack the the  Cronos Quartet. DEFINITELY check this out. It’s music from the silent film Dracula.

Blood + soundtrack. Yes, it’s anime but the music is good. A local TV station even uses some tracks as BGM for variety shows and news.

So what music works for you? Is it all good or all a distraction? Do you burn out your inspiration music?

Share your creative work playlist!