virtualDavis

ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.
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3D Chalk Art Revisited

3D Chalk Art by Leon Keer (via streetpainting3d.com)

3D Chalk Art by Leon Keer (via buzzfeed.com)

A recent trip to Paris rekindled my fascination with 3D chalk art. Half performance art, half epic mural… Witnessing a completed image is amazing, but watching the process of creating something like that snake charmer scene above is spellbinding. Before diving in, here’s a micro-intro for newbies:

3d Street Art, often known as 3d chalk art is 2-dimensional artwork drawn on the street itself that gives you a 3-dimensional optical illusion from a certain perspective. (hongkiat.com)

Sidewalk Art Flashback

I first posted about 3D chalk art that will blow your mind a few years ago. I saw it as a form of street art, or street performance art since observing the creation of 3D sidewalk art can be so enthralling. I even acknowledged the crossover with another form of public art that is often decried.

3D sidewalk art makes the best graffiti ever! ~ virtualDavis

I even wondered if a great gaping 3D chalk art chasm or some similar dramatic scene sprawling across the road in front of our house might slow speeding cars and trucks. Maybe an arresting scene of a police barricade with armored swat team? Or Champ, the friendly Lake Champlain monster, rearing up and pretending to be super unfriendly. Am I pushing too far? Yes. But I’m not being flip. I’m trying to remember that there’s an exciting alternative on the flip side of most coins.

In a subsequent post I revisited the graffiti question but inevitably slipped into a reflection the 3D chalk art as a form of storytelling. Not that I’m obsessed with storytelling or anything… ;-)

[3D chalk art] transcends mere graffiti and many other art forms in its capacity for interactive storytelling. 3D art on sidewalks introduces a narrative possibility that engages viewers. Pedestrians and drivers stop and look. Perhaps they reorient themselves to better appreciate the optical illusion. They pause and let their eyes wander over the mural, actively suspending disbelief in order to engage with the image. In many cases the audience/viewer even choose to step into the image, playing along with the illusion, often posing for friends with cameras to memorialize the encounter. ~ virtualDavis

Maybe you’ve had the is experience. If not, make time for it the next time you come across 3D chalk art. It could very well change your day. (Your mileage may vary.)

3D Chalk Art Goes Mainstream

While I’m not yet able to report that street chalk artists and law enforcement have partnered up, it’s fair to say that 3d chalk art has entered the mainstream. I mean, any time advertising adopts a new art form, you know that it must be on its way into the mainstream. If you feed the Google monster a search string related to three dimensional chalk art, you’ll discover millions of hits, and a surprisingly high number of them are directly or indirectly related to advertising.

For example, the team at We Talk Chalk can transform your marketing campaign into crowd-stopping marketing.

Creative Visual Solutions for your event or marketing needs through the innovative use of 3D Street Painting and 3D Chalk Art. (wetalkchalk.com)

Many of the most successful street chalk artists like Manfred Stader now have slick promotional websites touting their work. And scan any of the top articles (i.e. 33 Brain-Melting Works Of 3-D Sidewalk Chalk Art), videos, etc. celebrating three dimensional sidewalk and street artwork many of the biggest dazzlers are actually promoting a product or brand. Johnnie Walker scotch and Coca Cola were among the early adopters.

But despite the migration of 3D chalk art from the margin to the mainstream, I remain intrigued. No, more than intrigued. A little obsessed. One benefit of the widespread popularity is more artists creating more inspiring projects, and celebration/recognition of top street artists. Result? 3D chalk art is improving in leaps and bounds.

Creating 3D Chalk Art

The increasingly massive, intricate, sometimes beautiful (though often grotesque) murals are often magnificent once completed. No doubt about it. But for me, the most appealing aspect is observing the process of creating the 3D chalk art murals. In public. Often under considerably less than ideal conditions. With the threat of rain, snow, wind, pedestrians, and even police or other authorities who consider the art form graffiti, etc. From soiled ground to transcendent illusion. With chalk, a straight edge or two and an unshackled imagination.

Rather than than blathering on, I’ll finish with two examples. Enjoy!

Illustrator Eric Maruscak creates a chalk mural at the 2013 Utica Music and Arts Festival, September 14th, 2013. The mural was 10 feet square and took approximately 8 hours to complete over the course of the Festival. The art is known as an anamorphic drawing, where a distorted perspective is used to create the illusion of a 3D image when viewed from the proper angle. For more illustrations, cartooning, chalk art and time lapse photography visit Eric’s site at www.pepperink.com. (YouTube)

Chalk Urban Art Festival, Sydney 2014 – Australia’s largest 3D Street Art ‘Wasting Time’ designed by Artists Jenny McCracken and Leon Keer. Support artists Rudy Kistler, Bernardo von Hessberg, Mealie Batchelor, Dom Intelisano, Brian Tisdall, Mike Walton. Creative Producer Andi Mether. (YouTube)

Illiterate: Lost Narratives

Discourse is dead. Soundbite hypnosis prevails. We’ve forgotten how to hear, watch, and read the lost narratives that swim around us, that weave us together. We’ve forgotten.

The lion's head from the side of the lost and found bin... (Photo: virtualDavis)

The lion’s head from the side of the lost and found bin…

Or we’ve chosen to forget, to be illiterate, to ignore the narratives. Chosen to muddle them, to mask them, to distort them.

This is what I see when my optimism is smudged with soot and grease. This is what I was seeing when I came across Tim Akimoff’s thoughts on lost narratives. Or narrative illiteracy.

The saddest thing in the whole world right now is that we’re illiterate.

We’ve lost our sense of narrative. We only remember a few basic things, and into these things we try to cram every thing that makes us happy or sad.

If they fit nicely, we are comforted. If they don’t fit nicely, we re-write them or try to bury them…

The world is full of narratives. It is not ours to decide if they fit something we already understand…

It is ours to listen, to read, to watch. To look beyond the craftsmanship of story to the truths that tie us all together into one big, ugly, beautiful tribe…

And sometimes ours is to suffer in the lack of knowledge. Sometimes ours is to feel, with others, the tragedy that defies explanation. This too is story. (The Narrative, by Tim Akimoff on October 28, 2014, Medium)

Perhaps we can create a lost and found bin for narratives. Perhaps we are that bin… And we can filter through the lost narratives, listening and feeling, even suffering, the truths. And then perhaps we will wipe the smudge from our optimism with a hankie. And sally forth!

Free High-Resolution Photos

Free High-Resolution Photos

Free High-Resolution Photos

I create a lot of images. I photograph. I doodle. I collage.

But I also create a lot of blog posts for a lot of blogs, and sometimes I don’t have the time, access, resources, or skills to create the right image(s) for a post. Fortunately there are more and more ace sources for free high-resolution photos online these days. In fact, there are so many I’ve begun to lose track. So I’m going to follow the lead of Dustin Senos who’s compiling a list of his favorite sites for downloading free high-resolution photos called, “Stock photos that don’t suck“.

I’ll include some of his go-to sources below, but first I want to lead off with one of my favorites (and second on Dustin’s list), a simple but well stocked stock photo site called Unsplash. This isn’t the best site for finding ultra specific free high-resolution photos of a Canada Goose or a fresh-roasted poblano chile. But if you’re looking for evocative nature, travel, environment, residential, monumental stock photos that will arrest readers/viewers, you’ll like what you find at Unsplash. They offer the same Creative Commons licensing terms that most of these sites use, so I’ll share that to help you see what a motherload these sites can be.

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. (Unsplash)

Amazing! And super helpful for bloggers, designers and artists who have an insatiable appetite for free high-resolution photos.

Another personal favorite that serves quite well for the ultra specific scenarios I describe above is Pixabay. It offers a user-friendly search engine, lots of options, and simple, easy-to-use interface.

Here is Dustin Senos‘s list, “Stock photos that don’t suck“. (Nota bene: This is current as of Nov. 6, 2014, but I’ve edited slightly.)

More Free High-Resolution Photos

It’s been 2+ years since I published this post and it’s still the go-to resource for me — and a daily flood of bloggers and other creatives — hunting for free high-resolution photos. So I’m updating the page with another excellent post/list to help you find the perfect images for your project:

Keri Smith on Creativity (and Book Midwifery)

Who is Keri Smith?

Who is Keri Smith?

I’m long overdue with a post about Keri Smith (kerismith.com), and what better way to make up for that then by sharing some of her awesome advice on creativity. Both of the pointers I’m quoting below actually come from a post called, Seven Steps to Getting Published, but as far as I’m concerned they’re all about creativity, creativity, creativity. And maybe even more than “publishing” they read like wise tips for successful book “midwifery”!

But first, by way of introduction it’s time to meet one of the most innovative book artists currently in the game, Keri Smith. It’s not too far a stretch to say that she is reinventing the concept of bookness, silly-putty-ing it into one of the most unconventional vehicles for creativity and adventure bound up between covers.

Here’s a more official blurb from her website:

Keri Smith is a Canadian conceptual artist and author of several bestselling books and apps about creativity including Wreck This Journal (Penguin) [check out her readers’ cool creations here: @WreckThisBook], This is Not a Book (Penguin), How to be an Explorer of the World -the Portable Life/Art Museum,(Penguin), Mess: A Manual of Accidents and Mistakes (Penguin), The Guerrilla Art Kit (Princeton Architectural Press), Finish This Book (Penguin), and The Pocket Scavenger (Penguin). (KeriSmith.com)

Keri Smith on the Carpet

Keri Smith on the Carpet

I’m a little obsessed. For the last year I’ve been pouring over her work, each time feeling like I’m come across a co-conspirator. In fact, some of her books feel like they were born out of my own head. Only they weren’t. And her head’s done it better.

That said, I feel like these two creativity tips might have been borrowed from my head. They sound so familiar I could have written them myself. Only, I didn’t. She did. Again. So I’ll defer to Keri Smith.

Keri Smith on the Shelf

Keri Smith on the Shelf

1. Let your idea have it’s own life. This sounds a little strange but what I mean by this is once you have the idea in your head don’t try to control it too much. Let it tell you what form it should take. It really helps at this point to go for a long walk and just LISTEN it may be several long walks. Let the words and images evolve. With my most recent book it took over a year for me to know what form it would take. I had ideas for content and had begun writing but no overall format to tie it all together. I didn’t worry about it too much but just let it “be” for a while. One day while reading a book on “intuition in business”, a concept popped into my head. This concept was “play”, and it tied the whole book together and became my focus from that moment on.

2. Really enjoy yourself and the process of creating, the best work will flow out of you. People will respond the most to things you did with passion, as opposed to things you forced. Don’t worry about whether it would sell, or what’s hot in the moment your target market, or what a family member recommends. Be honest with yourself and the process. (KeriSmith.com)

See why I think that they’re both really more about book midwifery? They address the creative process from first flickering vision through generations of revising and refocusing and wrong turns and Ah-ha moments. They are all about the creative flow state that I’ve been discovering/pursuing over the last couple of years.

Listen. Play. Be honest. The rest will take care of itself.

Thanks, Keri Smith!

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