Hi. I'm Matt Maldre. Every weekday spudart.org shares a new idea. Be sure to stop by daily to see what's happening.
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How to make a surrealist sculpture with office supplies and a finger monster
If you had to make a surrealist sculpture only with office supplies and a finger monster, what would you make? Walking around the 14th floor of the Tribune Tower with a finger monster wedged onto my finger, I weighed my options.
Surrealism is all about irrational juxtaposition of images and words. So simply take one object and merge it with another object. Finger monster + office supply = surrealist object.
Picking the supplies
Perhaps the arms of the finger monster could be cut off and reattached to a stapler. But how to attach the arms? A cardboard box of staples could easily hold the arms. Simply cut a hole into a small cardboard box. But that didn't have enough surrealist impact.
Using office supplies is a challenge when making artwork. No matter what office supply you use, the resulting artwork still looks like an office supply.
Rummaging around through tape dispensers, sticky notes, whiteboard markers, the one obvious office supply stood out. White-out. The finger monster would fit perfectly atop the brush/cap. Then I could paint the monster all-white. The fact that this would have PAINT on it helps to make it look more like an artwork, because artwork has paint. Paint = art. Or in this case, Finger monster + office supply + paint = surrealist object.
Painting a finger monster with white-out sounds simple, right? No. Actually it's quite challenging.
First, you want to paint the finger monster when it's on the white-out bottle. But if the finger monster is already on the white-out bottle's cap and brush, how do you paint the finger monster? You can't. UNLESS you have a second white-out bottle. Thankfully one of my co-workers had an extra white-out bottle squirreled away in his desk. (Curtis, I owe you one white-out bottle tomorrow!)
Now that you have a second bottle of white-out, let's get to painting. This should be fast, because white-out dries fast, right? No. white-out does not dry on rubbery plastic. It doesn't dry at all. When applied on paper, white-out absorbs into the paper. When applied on rubbery plastic, it sits on the surface, unsure what to do. Even the space heater from my work desk could do no good to make the white-out dry.
You can make a white-out monster surrealist sculpture creation just for the fun of it, but I had an extra reason. The Art Institute of Chicago that night was giving free passes to the Magritte show from 5pm-8pm if you brought a "surrealist object" to the museum
. Totally awesome promotion, right? That's right. But I couldn't hand in a sticky, wet artwork. The Art Institute has super strict rules. In fact, I blogged about them earlier this week
. They are a crazy long list of restrictions. Things like, no feathers, no sequins.
Showing up with a sticky monster would simply be unacceptable. Wet paint surely is on their list of unacceptable materials. Time was running out. The Tute's deal was to show up between 5-8pm for free access. It was already 6:30.pm I had to get my artwork dry!
Rushing to meet the deadline brought back memories of being an art major trying to finish paintings before critique. The paint has to be dry! He professor doesn't accept wet paintings! Get out the hair dryer and point it at the canvas while you paint!
Now 20 years later I'm doing the corporate equivalent with my desk's space heater drying a white-out sculpture. Thankfully I just so happened to have a tube of white acrylic paint at my desk--a gift from my former manager, part of a yo-yo customization kit. PERFECT!
Of all things, I just so happened to have ACRYLIC paint at my corporate desk inside Tribune Tower. Not oil paint for that would not dry in time. Not watercolor for that wouldn't cover the monster. Not that other crap craft paint that chalks up. But good ole reliable acrylic. On top of that it was WHITE, perfectly imitating white-out.
If you happen to be making a white-out monster at work, make sure to bring some white acrylic paint to work first. It will make your job a whole lot easier. The space heater speeds drying up too. Now the White-out Monster is ready to attack!
Stay tuned for the next blog post where the White Out Monster attacks Chicago as it gallops down Michigan Avenue towards the Art Institute. Rawr!
LEGO bricks or limestone: which is more durable?
Old skyscrapers falling apart because of their limestone exterior. Over time the limestone becomes weak and crumbles. Restoration projects take quite some time to replace the damaged limestone.
The Crains Communication building in Chicago is going through an extensive limestone removal process. The past couple months I've been watching the process outside my work window at the Tribune Tower. The scaffolding moves up and down the facade of the building installing a brighter limestone.
This whiter limestone looks like LEGO bricks being inserted next to the darker older limestone. This begs a fun question...
What if they installed actual LEGO bricks into the gaps? Does the plastic of LEGO have a longer life than the porous nature of limestone? Public artists across the world have been using LEGO bricks to fill in gaps in architecture
Imagine an ENTIRE BUILDING with colorful LEGO bricks along the edges.
Free admission to Art Institute's Magritte show
Bring a "Surrealist-inspired object" to gain free admission to the Art Institute's Magritte show on July 24, 2014.
In the fine print the Art Institute outlines the rules
for what cannot be accepted. One of things they do not accept are "objects longer than 8 feet." Makes me want to show up with an object that is 7 feet 11 inches.
What if you show up with a person who is 7 feet tall?
The rest of the rules state:
We are also unable to accept any Objects that AIC deems in its sole discretion to be hazardous, perishable, unlawful, and/or which contains any of the following items: organic matter that may harbor pests (such as potted plants, soil, sand, grasses, feather, moss, branches, bark, rose petals, hay, etc.), animals, confetti, rice, bird seed, balloons, bubbles, glitter, sequins, fireworks, sparklers, smoke/fog machines, dry ice, aerosol products (i.e. spray glue, spray glitter, spray snow, spray string, spray paint), vessels containing water, open flames.
They don't outright ban humans. However, we can interpret the rules and say they might ban a human as surrealist object because humans are:
1) organic matter that may harbor pests
2) vessels containing water.
Make sure you don't have any pests and purge yourself of all water. Simple!
It would be fun if someone came with me and wear all sequins and feathers? (those materials are also banned). Or I should give them an object that combines every single item on their list.
But seriously, I need to think of a good surrealist object to bring. What is your "Surrealist-inspired object"?
Doorstop public art
Art museum bathrooms. Clean, sharply designed, austere. Much like the white walls of a museum, most bathrooms within art museums have a modern, contemporary yet neutral feel.
Among the granite tiles and light gray walls of the bathroom in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art lays an object on the floor next to the door. A doorstop, wooden, worn, and intensely red.
Such a firehouse red, it screams out for attention more so than the artwork officially hanging on the walls. Unlike the artwork worth thousands of dollars which has been declared "art" by a curator, the doorstop sits on the floor, functional. Unlike the artwork which is outside the touch of its viewers, the doorstop can be manipulated by a bathroom visitor.
The doorstop keeps the door open, symbolizing access and openness.
I'd like to make a series of doorstop artworks and leave them in art museum bathrooms. This red doorstop made me stop and consider it for a longer period of time than any of the artworks currently on display in the museum. If this simple wooden triangle can hold my attention for so long, I am inspired to make more of such doorstops for others to enjoy.
What a public artist learned from cute motivational sticky notes on the train
October Jones (real name Joe Butcher), the prolific writer and illustrator... is at it again with a fun series of sticky notes featuring a grimly determined cat named Peppy posing next to motivational messages. He draws them and leaves them in the trays of the train he takes for unsuspecting fellow commuters.The cute
If you’re having a case of the Mondays (or of any other day of your work week, for that matter), these images are perfect for getting inspired and pepped up!
I am also a public artist that uses sticky notes in public spaces, so I'm very excited to see another artist using sticky notes in public. Seeing this series reported in many places online makes me excited to see the success it's having.
Beyond the medium and success of the series, what do I think of this artwork as a fellow public artist?
Bored Panda posted 15 photos of the sticky notes, the majority of the notes are extremely positive, which is great. This series is really effective by using a cute drawing in each sticky note. That gives me ideas for my own public art. I have been leaving just a message in my work, but to have a cute animal spokesman, gives the work greater impact.
This series is also very VERY pointed at the reader. The artwork is very successful at playing at the viewer's emotions.
The straight-up compliments about being "awesome" are nice, buuuuut... I feel like the compliments are rather empty. That might be my rational INTJ personality coming out. But I like compliments that are real.
I might be getting too philosophical, but part of what makes me a joyful person is accepting that I'm not always "awesome." Not everything can be awesome. I can be a person who does wrong things. When I start from that foundation, things become simpler and more honest. I then have the courage to break out.
But to not overthink it, these sticky notes would be fun to come across and brighten up someone's day. So for that simple notion, they are wonderful.
They also inspire me to think of how to make my public artwork more emotional. Most times the goal of my work is to make people THINK deeper or to THINK creatively. Rarely do I consider about how my artwork makes people FEEL.
These motivational sticky notes make people FEEL better, even though rational thought says that we don't always have to be awesome.
The artist is expressing love for others by encouraging others, which is a great idea. However the sort of encouragement is artificially bloating up individuals with inauthentic praise. How does this artist really know you are awesome? When I compliment someone, it's a personal direct compliment. It has authenticity.
Man. Am I a big jerk for critiquing these wonderful positive sticky notes? I should let them be nice positive notes.
But what about the "You are beautiful" stickers?
I love the "You are beautiful" project. Isn't that project in the same line as the commuter sticky notes? The artist behind "you are beautiful" doesn't know if you are a beautiful person, or does he?
Perhaps this is an individual belief, but I believe that every human is beautiful. We all may have ugly sides. We all may do ugly things. But we are beautiful creations.
Now, beautiful creations also be awesome? Hmm, perhaps. But I hold the word "awesome" in a more literal sense of awe. Like a, strike-you-down-to-your-knees awesome.
"I am a superfly success machine," declares another sticky note. Well, we aren't always successful. We are workers. We at times succeed and other times fail. I see great growth in failing.
Another sticky note jokes, "Lick the back of your hand. That's what a winner tastes like." Ok, so this one is funny, because of the cat pun. But the underlying philosophy is there, that we must always be winners. I disagree. We don't always have to be winners. I enjoy and thrive on daily live with its ups AND downs. Life isn't all about the ups. Life isn't all about happiness. Life is about growth.
Perhaps the phrase on one of the sticky notes "Kicking Monday in the face" is what turns me off. I don't believe in kicking Monday in the face. I believe in hugging Monday. Embracing it. Giving Monday love. The Monday sticky notes in this series strike me as a "F-- you world. I'm the best there ever is." When you view the rest of the sticky notes with that attitude, you start to see why I have a hard time with these notes. That or I just need to lighten up.
There are many things I learned from this series.
1) To use a cute cartoon animal in my public artwork. I'm not being sarcastic. This is really a good technique.
2) To think about how I would like the viewer of my work to FEEL when seeing my work, not just how they THINK.
3) Love and embrace your imperfect self. We don't have to always be awesome, or always be winners, or kick Monday in the face.
4) Srsly, I should just lighten up.
Would you rather get paid with coins or chocolate?
Laying on my desk this morning were a stack of coins and a collection of chocolate. Why would both of these be on my desk?
I run a the Maldre Post Office at my desk on the 14th floor of the Tribune Tower. Tribune employees flock to my desk to purchase from a wide variety of postage stamps. Often times when people don't come to my desk, they'll pull some stamps and leave the payments in coins on my desk.
This morning a stack of coins was sitting to the left of my laptop. To the right of my laptop was a collection of Hershey's chocolates. The juxtaposition of the shiny coins next to the shiny purple foil wrappers was too much for me to not capture. I slid over the Hershey's chocolates next to the coins for this photo.
It's fun to think that people could use chocolate as a supplemental currency.
How to count to ten in Estonian and Ewokese
Learn how to count to ten in Ewokese, or Estonian. Which is which?
One language is spoken by short furry creatures on the Forest Moon of Endor.
The other language is spoken by Finnic people in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.
One language is based on Chalmuk, a Mongolian, nomadic tribal dialect.
The other language belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family.
In attempt to learn both lists of one through ten, I have them hanging up in my cube at work.
0 null (nool)
1 üks (ewks)
2 kaks (kahks)
3 kolm (kohlm)
4 neli (NEH-lee)
5 viis (veess)
6 kuus (kooss)
7 seitse (SAYT-seh)
8 kaheksa (KAH-hek-sah)
9 üheksa (EW-hek-sah)
10 kümme (KEWM-meh)
1 chu (choo)
2 fic (fic)
3 chim (chim)
4 hoji (ho jee)
5 n'la (nah la)
6 n'dla (nah dla)
7 voo (voo)
8 j'voo (ja voo)
9 coki (coke ee)
10 eedeeza (ee dee zah)
How many languages do you know how to say one through ten?
Stunningly beautiful Walgreens inside landmark Wrigley Building
Do you love amazing views? Do you love amazing architecture details? The next place you should visit is--surprise! Walgreens.
Walgreens recently moved 40 steps from its cramped quarters above the Billy Goat into the first and second floor of the landmark Wrigley Building next-door.
Despite challenges with the layout, the store is absolutely amazing to walk through.
Initially the entrance is overly subtle. You might even miss it walking by. No signed is attached to the outside of the building. Instead a Walgreens logo hangs in one front window, and a golden-painted "W" is displayed above the revolving doors on the side.
The lack of merchandise in the front store windows might lead one to believe there is nothing inside. But oh the beauties that are to behold inside on the second floor. You just have to get beyond the sparse entrance.
The layout of the store is really strange—-not just because I'm not used to it, but when you enter, your initial first thought is, "hmm, there's really not that much at this Walgreens." I guarantee you that tourists will walk into there and then walk right out, because they think that it's just a dinky-nothing-there Walgreens. Walgreens works, because when you walk in, you see all the vast array of aisles. This particular Walgreens has nothing when you walk in.
Walking deeper into the store beyond the front registers you first encounter three or four sushi chefs were busy cranking out sushi creations. All these new Walgreens employees. It's kinda crazy. It makes me concerned for this Walgreens location. I'm not sure that Walgreens will get more traffic to support all the additional employees. One kind Walgreens employee informed me that the old location got two shipments a day. This one is so busy it gets five shipments a day. They really want to make sure all their product is constantly restocked so people can rely on this location for their sun tan lotion and M&M fix.
Walking past the sushi aisle, you'll get to the heart of what everyone wants at any Walgreens, the candy aisle. Unfortunately, one of the most important candies was missing. Dark chocolate peanut M&M's. The regular chocolate peanut M&M's was also out of stock. But they do have frozen yogurt machines with EIGHT flavors:
* French vanilla
* Triple chocolate
* Birthday cake
* Cookies n creme
* White chocolate mousse
* Sea salt caramel pretzel
* Tropical sourbet
* Strawberry sensations
Grab a frozen yogurt, then sit outside in Pioneer Court or by the river walk by Trump Tower.
Perhaps you want some beer, wine, or hard liquor. Hit up the "Beer Cave" with magical sliding doors. At first walking down the aisles, I didn't realize the "Beer Cave" existed until suddenly doors opened up to a magical room full of beer, beer, and more beer. Did I remind you we are inside a Walgreens?
Perhaps you can appreciate the fine details of remodeling. Check out the embossed patterned wallpaper throughout the store. Much better than the white-wash job Target did in the history Carson Pirie Scott building.
Once you are done adoring wallpaper, you'll encounter something more amazing on the second floor. Ride the escalators up and watch the architecture of the beautiful courtyard unfold. Views like this on the second floor of the Wrigley Building have never been seen before by the general public.
This second floor is reason enough itself to become a tourist attraction in Chicago. Have fun comparing the views outside the windows with the products being sold in the store.
The beauty products section just so happens to be facing the plaza by Trump Tower and the Chicago River. Beauty products next to the beautiful river plaza.
The north side of the second floor holds one of the greatest aisles in American store history. This uninterrupted aisle runs parallel to the Plaza of the Americas with its 45 country flags. Since this aisle is on the second floor, the large windows put 18 of the country flags with direct view. The bright colors of the flags complement the bright colors of the construction paper being sold in the aisle.
Walk further down the aisle and you get to the bright fun colors of gift bags next to the waving flags.
With Independence day coming up, the season aisle has American flags being sold. So fitting to see American flags inside the store with the assortment of country flags outside.
Walking down the seasonal aisle in Walgreens was always fun as an indicator for the time of year. Now the fun factor is ramped up in this greatest store aisle ever in America.
The aisle ends with the tourist section, extremely fitting that the view is out onto Michigan Avenue with tourists standing around looking at the street performers and beautiful architecture.
The views out every window are amazing to see the artistry of detail in the Wrigley Building. Ornate flowers rim every window. Every few windows you'll catch phoenixes with fruit. Delight in the sight of infants holding pedestals. Or horses intertwined in flowers. This sort of terra cotta architectural detail just isn't done anymore. All outside the tourist section in Walgreens.
While the location for the tourist section is a fantastic complement to the views outside the windows, I miss all the touristy trinkets right by check-out. The trinkets are buried on the 2nd floor in the corner. I guarantee you that by the end of the year those tourist trinkets will be lining the walls by the checkouts at the front door. GOTTA CAPTURE THOSE TOURISTS!
I rather liked the compact Walgreens in the previous location. I was much more urban in style, very efficient. This store is so immensely spread out, that it almost feels suburban in style. Thankfully the surrounding windows always put you back into context of the city.
Walk over to the condom aisle, and admire the beautiful view of the Wrigley Building architecture. To your left is an aisle display with colorful packages of condoms, to your right is a window displaying with beautiful French Renaissance details inspired by Seville's Cathedral. Nowhere in the world can you get such a contrast of the world's beauty and pleasures.
The most important thing this new did not have on my first visit was my favorite cashier, Pilar. I asked if she was still there, and she is. She has off today. Phew. That's a relief. A Walgreens without Pilar would not be Walgreens.
How everyone's opinion is like an essential color in the spectrum
Without one color in the spectrum of light, everything looks much different. We need the range of all the colors in the spectrum to see the immense possibility of everything.
Are you an expert in something? If you aren't, do you like giving your opinion on things? How about at your job? When someone else who is not an expert in your area comes up and gives you an opinion on your work. Can it be hard to swallow?
Or perhaps you are afraid of giving your opinion on something because you aren't an expert in a particular area.
In either case looking at the spectrum of light as a metaphor should encourage you to both give and take feedback.
I'm not an expert at copywriting and editing. I know that I have an opinion, but there are people who are truly experts at in these fields. In fact, I work at Tribune Content Agency where we have editors who are at the top of the industry in editing. I highly respect their opinions and I'm often cautious of expressing my opinions about articles with them. But whenever I do, they are always incredibly receptive and enjoy hearing my thoughts.
As a graphic designer, I like when people respect that there is an expertise to graphic design. (and I do get that respect at work) However, just because I am an expert at graphic design doesn't mean I can shut off and not listen to other people's opinons about my designs. To close off someone's opinion is to like close off one of the colors of light in the spectrum.
You know how white light is actually comprised of a whole spectrum of colors? If you were to close off one of the channels... let's say you close off the red channel in white light. Anything that red-less light shines upon, will now all of the sudden look more cyan. All because I'm not listening to another person's opinion.
People's opinions are like spectrums within light. There's a wide range of perspectives. One person cannot possibly have an entire spectrum of interpretations when looking at something. We can strive to try to be as understanding as possible, and to have an immense capacity of creativity when it comes to having an internal toolbox that can create a spectrum of understandings. But we need other people to bring these wide-ranging set of interpretations to our work.
There are millions of colors in the rainbow. There are million possibilities of looking at everything. With all this potential, we can see things more illuminated.
Having more light shed on a subject always brings greater understanding.
17 years ago I decided to use the name 'spudart' instead of 'krankekunst'
The spudart name came from a problem most college graduates faced in the mid-1990s: losing your school email address after graduation.
Email had just gained widespread use during the 90s, so for most college students at the time, it was their only email address. Schools like mine (Illinois Wesleyan University) didn't allow graduates to keep their email address. Thankfully there was a startup email service named "hotmail" that everyone was signing up in droves.
This was before Microsoft bought hotmail and made it one of their corporate drones. Back in the day hotmail was cool. Note: back in the day IN THE 1990s. 17 years later, a hotmail email address is only cool if you use it ironically. +Looking at all my friends and colleagues who still use hotmail as their primary personal email address+
Back to 1997. I was graduating from IWU and therefore losing my one and only email address I ever had. Needing a new email address, I hopped on the hotmail bandwagon. But what to name my email address? I came up with the "spudart" name because of the great german artists who spoke of art and potatoes.
"Well if there is anything at all which manifests everything artists are supposed to be or have - the delight in innovativity, creativity, spontaneity, productivity, creating entirely out of oneself and so on - then it is the potato." Sigmar Polke
Spudart it became.
My other option besides spudart was krankekunst. My freshman year my school job was working in the sculpture lab. The seniors that year in the sculpture lab would say KRANKEKUNST as a fun phrase. They would be working on some artwork and then all of the sudden they would exclaim KRANKEKUNST!
It's fun to say. Krankekunst. However, the meaning isn't as fun. Krankekunst means sick art.
I'm glad I went with spudart.
Almost as many marketing managers as graphic designers in America
Think of a creative department. How many designers are normally on staff? A couple. Maybe up to six or eight. You'd normally have one manager for these two to eight designers. Just how many graphic designers are there in America and how many marketing managers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of jobs in 2012 for each position:
: Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
: Graphic Designers
Wow. That's almost one manager for every graphic designer. Are creative departments going to just one designer now?
Certainly the trends would show that the ratio would improve, but it's actually the opposite. The job outlook for these managers from 2012-2022 is predicted to grow by 12%. Whereas graphic designers is set for a 7% increase. It seems strange to me that we'll have more managers than workers. Although, yes the managers manage more than designers. There's copywriters, analytics reporters, database specialists, programmers, PR specialists, etc.
But it always seems that when you have a team of people like this, you have more than one designer underneath the manager. What are your experiences with the manager/designer ratio?
Interpreting a yellow painting of a dog in Panera
A dog sits in a kitchen and smells unseen fresh bread. He patiently waits for this delicious treat.
For the past couple hours here at Panera I've been looking up at the painting, appreciating how the yellow in the painting matches the yellow Panera wall. It's almost as though the painting is a mini mural.
Being curious who the artist is behind the dog painting in Panera, I took a photo of the painting and did a reverse Google Image search.
The only result on Google is a blog post about a day trip
by a mother and her young daughter. The mother and daughter give their interpretation of the painting, "the dog did, indeed, get the bread--without breaking a dish--and without getting caught." The internet is a great place where you can discover stories like this while sitting in the very same booth.
The identity of the artist still remains a mystery. But I do like the Hopper-esque qualities of the painting with it's simplicity of scene, single character, flash washes of monochromatic color, and delicate shadows. The dog himself almost appears as a shadow and a formal element in the painting. His nose pointing upwards aligns with the right edge of the painting. The desired bread is unseen to the dog, but seen to the viewer, giving the viewer an inside scoop over the story.
If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know. This painting is a print on canvas, so it seems like something that many other Panera restaurants might also have hanging.
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Funny seeing these two photos
next to each other in my flickr photostream. One a tower built of glass and steel. The other, made of plastic magazine racks. Both have a gleaming highlight stream across their surface.
One a desirable high-end place to live. The other, unwanted garbage from a goneby print era.
Making art from stacking
Stack many objects together, the final result transforms into a whole that is different than the parts.
Take a brick building. At the start, bricks are individual units. Rectangles of hardened clay. Stack them together in a planned fashion and walls emerge. Soon you have a house or a factory. Tear the house or factory down and you are left with clumps of bricks, broken bricks, piles and piles of bricks. An empty lot that looks like a war happened. Meaning and life is gone.
Enter brick salvagers. They come to literally pick up the pieces. Not only do they clear the area, they stack the bricks onto palettes. These immensely squared cubed solid forms are like some sort of modern artwork.
But which modern artwork? Not quite Donald Judd. His "brick" stacking was too clean. Artsy.net has an entire category dedicated to Piles and Stacks
with 449 artworks. My favorite six pieces are on a pinterest board Stacks and piles
These stacks and piles probably resonated with me, because on Mother's Day my 4-year-old nephew and I were playing with blocks. There is something very human to want to stack objects to create something new. The stacking theme is one that I will be thinking about in the months to come.
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