pen, pencil, stylus…digital or vellum.
Theodor Kittelsen was a Norwegian painter and book illustrator (1857-1914). He illustrated the Scandinavian bestiary of legend and fairy tales, and his work has scared countless children (myself included). He drew and painted trolls, the black death, sea monsters, nøkken (“water spirit”), and anthropomorphised natural phenomena such as the echo. His work can be rather […]
A Bosch painting is a marvel to look at, regardless of how familiar someone is with their creator. But once you realize when and perhaps why they were made, they become truly uncanny. Luckily for those new with the language, the town of s’-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands is normally referred to as “Den Bosch” (pronounced “Den […]
There is a fairy tale here in Norway, called the twelve wild ducks. The story is not really important, it a fairly classic good versus evil, patience, purity and deceit. I think it is a pretty convoluted story, and I always found it dissatisfying that there is no attempt at explaining why the princes are […]
I have fallen in love with a machine. The laser cutter at the uni. Well; actually, it is what it can do, that captivates me. I am craftsperson – I have two educations in crafts. I am a potter and bookbinder. So I have a sense for materials, how they act, what you can and […]
Audubon’s birds have been released to Public Domain! John James Audubon’s book Birds of America is usually listed among the rarest books in existence. The reason for this is that the French ornithologist used the laborious technique of hand-coloured etched and aquatint plates, which means that there only about 200 complete sets done. A set fetched £7.3m at auction […]
Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was a very talented scientific illustrator and had a passion for insects. According to David Attenborough, she contributed immensely to taxonomy in entomology and the understanding of metamorphosis, and she was the first person who travelled on purely scientific grounds. Though she was […]
Here at the visual squirrels, we are not in the habit of promoting stuff, but Calamityware is simply too funny. Taking the classic language of cobalt and porcelain decoration, the artist Don Moyer adds – well – calamity. Volcanoes, robots, tentacles, and all manner of funny creatures hide in the china. The only problem with […]
Doodling is a great habit to generate new ideas through keeping active. Sketches, drawings and experiments without any objective allow the mind to roam free and prompt new ideas. That’s how inspiration is born. Sometimes it’s hard to make time for doodling in between all the serious work for customers. That’s why I created my […]
The network. The most common question I get when people see my drawings are “how long did that take you?!” The next question is “what is it?” Neither question being relevant or interesting. It seems a piece of work is weighted and valued by time and meaning must be figurative. I find this very odd, this need for everything to […]
I write this blog together with Yisela (and Vincent). I have never met either, but Yisela was such a dear that I figured she deserved a gift. So in the tradition of Sofie’s book and Adam’s book, I made Yisela’s book. But you have to be supersupernice to me to get one; well over and […]
Listening to the QI No such thing as a fish podcast, I was alerted to the story of a Japanese girl, while clearing her caretaker-fathers stuff, found this amazing work. Apparently, he spent seven years doing this. I doff my hat. You can buy a print – more on this story here.
In a lot of medieval manuscripts, there are depictions of knights fighting snails. No one seems to know why this is. There are some theories, but so far nothing really conclusive. It might look like some sort of insider thing, maybe among scribes or illuminators. I love that sort of thing: mysteries in plain sight. Delightful. […]
As mentioned in a previous post, I have dragged out some old tools and materials and started gilding again. In my previous life as a bookbinder, I bought a very old gilder’s cushion that actually sits on top of a drawer. I have not seen this anywhere else; it seems a well spent USD30. Supposedly, […]
This stack-exchange question inspired me to dig out old skills and tools. Untouched for years, I got out my bookbinders gilding cushion and related paraphernalia. Getting back into the fiddlyness of handling gold leaf, I have squandered a few sheets. But it is fun. One thing: you cannot be impatient handling it, breathing is forbidden, […]
I can’t talk about inspirational art for very long until I brush the subject of Magic: the Gathering. I’ve been playing this geekery-heavy card game for almost twenty years now. In that period, a humonguous amount of fantasy art has been produced by a myriad of artists. It was this art that drew me to […]
…and perfection is not a detail. I am a great fan of the work of Amanita design and their games, in particular, Machinarium. Because of this enthusiasm, I have been told that my drawings are heavily influenced by Machinarium and Samorost. But here is the thing; I loved that sort of humour, aesthetics, whimsy and craft […]
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” I only discovered Shel Silverstein a few years ago… I can only blame it on not having grown up in an […]
Thore Hansen was one of my childhood heroes. His drawings were magic then, and they are still magic now. The best known of his children’s books illustrations are the ones accompanying Thor Åge Bringsværd’s stories about Ruffen. Ruffen is a “small” sea dragon, and the books tells the story of his adventures. This post was […]
Many moons ago, when a friend of mine acquired his first nephew, he wanted to give him a story. We co-wrote the story in google docs, and I was to do the illustrations. I forgot all about it, until the day before I was due to fly to the US (and the deadline for producing […]
I posted about stylisation before, and I’d like to show where I got my inspiration. So without further ado, some of the ‘plates’ from J.H. Boot’s book on how to take some natural object and turn it into something of mathematically precise art. It still amazes me that Boot did not just take the time […]
Since we are on a roll with old books and manuscripts, I give you the 240-page Voynich manuscript. It is an unsolved enigma: a manuscript found in Italy; the paper has been dated to between 1404-1438. It contains text in an unknown script, unknown language, and illustrations of non-existing plants, constellations and humans apparently doing inexplicable […]
Back in the mist of time, I did my apprenticeship in hand bookbinding. There are basically two directions; two different apprenticeships: literature binder, or ledger binder. I am a literature binder (also called publishing or library binding). But back then it was considered essential to have a broad understanding. So part of the apprenticeship was […]
Little trick in Illustrator. One group of half-transparent objects, mirrored and rotated for a twelve-fold symmetry effect. Change one object, all eleven others follow suit. Goodness ensues.
I have a thing about drawing skulls and bones. Not of any morbid fascination (I think), but because they can really be a challenge. The texture and colour of bones are interesting, and the ultimate challenge is to draw a skull first with graphite on white paper, then with white pencil on black paper. This […]
Came across Dangerdust; anonymous students at Columbus College of Art & Design. Each week they make a new piece of art on a blackboard. Head over to their Bēhance page, and take a look at their stunning work. Here is a quote from Paul Klee and classic from Calvin and Hobbes.
Both my father and his father have been interested in art and decoration. Apparently, things like those are in the blood. Recently, my father passed me along scans of a book by one J.H. Boot he found in his archives, which must have belonged to my grandfather. It’s a book about stylisation, the art of […]
Doodly deck of cards: Being a big fan of doodles, I got the idea some time back of making a deck of cards. The idea came when I found a few places that will print your custom deck of cards; and what is cool is that you could use it for business cards and such, […]
William Buelow Gould (1801 – 1853) was an English artist convicted for stealing a coat and was sentenced to seven years of labour in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). He constantly got into trouble, also in the penal colonies, and was regularly punished for offences such as drunkenness, petty theft and forgery. His talent, however, got him assigned as a house […]
During an extended period of the depression in USA (between 1935-1942), the US federal government supported artists by commissioning artwork for non-federal places and activities. Early on in the project, posters were painted by hand, each individually created. Later on, they were printed with silk screen. According to the US library of congress, “over two […]
Yisela Utopias. The no-places. I’ve always been attracted by them. The first utopia ever written could have been Plato’s Republic. Or the Genesis. However, the first one I discovered was Thomas More’s Utopia. I still can’t believe it was written 498 years ago, in 1516. Utopia is a strange book. Most scholars agree it’s a satire, a criticism […]