Quick & Painful will feature the work of more than 15 important artists and designers with backgrounds in fine art, graffiti, and illustration in a unique exhibition bringing Fine Art from canvas to skin.
Among the artists anddesigners that will be presenting Tattoo Flash Sets for the exhibition are Alex Pardee, Amanda Visell, Brandt Peters, Camilla D’Errico, David Horvath, Devilrobots, Frank Kozik, Greg “Craola” Simkins, Huck Gee, Joe Ledbetter, Junko Mizuno, Kathie Olivas, Pete Fowler, Ron English, Sam Flores, Shawn “Shawnimals” Smith, TADO, Tara McPherson, and Tokidoki co-founder and Creative Director Simone Legno.
Alex Pardee‘s unique style is one conceived through watching years of horror movies, writing graffiti, and listening to gangster rap. His work best represents that of a circus sideshow cemetery. Final pieces are often brought to life by translating random shapes and colors into signs of torment and absurdity. By juxtaposing these two conflicting moods, Alex makes his works more personal to his viewers, forcing them to project their own feelings and emotions onto each character in his twisted universe.
In the past five years he has continued to release books like The Secrets of Hollywood and the popular Bunnywith series. The comics have spawned an entire plush line, calendars, and art exhibitions. Alex Pardee’s devotion to his art has gained the attention of Warner Bros., Reprise Records, Freeze Management, Hurley International, Kidrobot, Twenty Twenty Skateboards, and more. In 2004 he was tapped by the gold-selling rock group The Used to design the artwork for their album, In Love and Death. Alex’s designs were not only applied to record, but also the band’s merchandise, Website, marketing campaign, and the music video for the single “All That I’ve Got.” More recently, Alex Has been working with Def Jux recording artist CAGE, as well as STREET DRUM CORPS, TOP-R, EL-P, and high-fashion designer Dr. Romanelli. In addition to demeaning celebrities, Alex continues to use his art as a means of self-medication, creating emotionally charged images on canvases, sketchbooks, and any other surfaces he can cover with his bizarre characters.
Amanda Visell‘s fine art career sprouted from continuing failure. A high school drop out and Cal Arts reject, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in traditional animation eventually finding her way to stop motion animation as a designer and sculptor, working on stylized projects for shows like The Simpsons and the feature film Elf. The challenge of mastering new tools and techniques in this medium taught her to be able to visualize her own style. She has been exhibiting her paintings and sculptures internationally since 2005 including Disneyland USA and has created a thriving world of characters as designer toys.
She is half of Switcheroo, a design jamboree she runs with Michelle Valigura. She has never won an award.
Brandt Peters Born in 1974, Santa Monica, CA, Brandt Peters is an illustrator, character, film and animation designer who’s commercial work has thrust him to the attention of the fine art gallery circuit — an internationally exhibited self-taught artist whose work is formed from the eclectic backdrop of his childhood, his work is filled with ancient cartoons, Victorian toys and pre-WWII vintage “Pop” ephemera.
Kathie Olivas is a multi-media artist who resides in Tampa , FL and Albuquerque , NM. She received her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of South Florida in 1999 and is currently working on a book of her work and a line of limited edition vinyl toys.
Camilla d’Errico is a product of her split heritage, Italian and Canadian rolled into one: Italian fiestiness, Canadian politeness, and an early addiction to Saturday morning cartoons, comics and manga. Growing up she was more often doodling sexy damsels and dragons on her textbooks than reading them. In 1998 when Camilla first attended her first San Diego Comic Con she realized that a 9–5 day job would kill her and this was what she wanted to do. Thanks to her relentless energy, dedication, and just enough sleep deprivation, she has followed her dream of working creatively for a living.
Camilla’s unique style continues to be in demand and her client list includes Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Random House, Tokyopop, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, Neil Gaiman and she also works with video game and movie companies on character development. Her own characters and properties, Tanpopo and Helmetgirls, are loved by fans and followers and now inspire Cosplay costumes. She has successfully merchandised and licensed her beautiful artwork across a variety of categories: clothing, stationery and gift, accessories, art prints, etc. and continues to expand her licensing program. Her emotive and eloquent paintings have propelled her to the top of the ranks of the New Contemporary art movement, and she is represented by Opera Gallery of New York.
Camilla can’t live without Holbein’s “DUO” water-soluble oils, green tea lattes, Hello Kitty merchandise, and her daily fix of manga and anime.
Sun-Min Kim and David Horvath have created many stories together, found on TV screens in Tokyo, toy shelves in Manhattan and in book stores around the world. Their works can be found everywhere from the permanent collection at the Louvre and the windows of Barney’s New York to their own section at Giant Robot and in a special corner of Bob’s Toys and Fishing Tackle in Indiana. Their list of collaborative partners includes Disney, Coca Cola, Sony, NHK, Medicom Toy, UVERworld, Merge Records, Schylling Toys, Universal Pictures, Chronicle Books, Abrams, Random House, Procter and Gamble, Amscan, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
Devilrobots is a five-man design team established in 1997 and based in Tokyo. They design graphics, characters, audio-visuals, websites, toys, CD jackets, apparel, and more! Their taste is a mix of a little evil and robotic fun, resulting in an original world of “Cute and Dark.” Their most famous character, TO-FU OYAKO, is well known worldwide. They have collaborated with global brands such as Bandai, Coca-Cola, Levis, Medicom Toy, MoMA Design Store, Nike, Nokia, Paul Smith, Kidrobot, and others. Their major characters are To-Fu Oyako, Evirob, Maffy, and Kiiro to name a few.
Frank Kozik was born near Madrid, Spain in 1962 and immigrated to United States, settling in Austin, Texas in the 70’s. Credited with single-handedly reviving the “lost” art of the concert poster, Kozik’s art career emerged from his connection to Austin’s cultural explosion in the mid 80’s. Starting with band flyers that he posted on telephone poles, Kozik quickly garnered a solid fan-base who dug his graphically compelling and culturally relevant work. To date, Kozik has designed over 1000 concert posters and album covers for artists as diverse as The Sex Pistols and Nirvana; founded Man’s Ruin Records; directed music videos for Soundgarden; staged over 60 gallery shows worldwide; created artwork for some of world’s biggest companies; and published several volumes of his work. Since 2000, Kozik’s main artistic focus has been in the design and production of vinyl art toys. The icon of Kozik’s toy empire is his Smorkin’ Labbit character, but he is also the guy behind Chumps, Mongers and pretty much everything else that smorks.
Greg “Craola” Simkins was born in 1975 in Torrance California, just south of Los Angeles. He grew up with a menagerie of animals including a number of rabbits, which often emerge in his paintings. He began drawing at the early age of three and was inspired by various cartoons and books. Some standout books that still find their way into his art are Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Simkins’ art continued to progress to the age of 18, when he started doing graffiti under the name “CRAOLA”. Graffiti art became his impetus for creating and gave him the confidence to paint large works. In addition it taught him perspective, color theory and further developed artistic skills, which later translated into his work with acrylics.
After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from California State University of Long Beach in 1999, Simkins worked as an Illustrator for various clothing companies. He later moved on to Treyarch/Activision where he worked on video games including Tony Hawk 2X, Spiderman 2 and Ultimate Spiderman while attempting to paint with every free moment he had.
In 2005, Simkins pursued his desire to paint as a full time artist. Since then, he has been featured in numerous group exhibitions has had successfully sold out solo exhibitions. His art is seen in a wide variety of industries from clothing to video games and has also come to life in the form of toys. His client/collaboration list includes Disney, Mattel, Upper Playground, Juxtapoz, To Die For, Vans, Converse, AFI, Saosin, Gym Class Heroes, Pennywise, STRANGEco, Ningyoushi, Kid Robot, Zero Friends, Epitaph, Dark Horse, Iron Fist and Pulse International.
It is his careful weaving of pop culture, the old masters, nature, carnival kitsch, and (most importantly) his warped imagination, that makes Greg Simkins a sought-after surrealist painter today. Simkins’ artwork currently appears in galleries throughout the world.
Huck Gee is a contemporary artist, illustrator, toy maker, and designer best known by toy enthusiasts for his iconic “Skullhead” character and “Gold Life” art creations. Heavily influenced by Japanese and Hong Kong pop art, Gee calls his style “Bastardized Asian Pop Culture”.
The demand for Huck’s Custom Toy Art and illustrations has grown quite immense, with small runs of hand crafted Art Toys and original prints selling out in seconds online and shipping to art collectors worldwide. Huck’s works have been exhibited in galleries worldwide and in 2007 his “Hello My Name Is” 8” Dunny was accepted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. In addition, Huck has also consigned several pieces for one of the world’s leading fine art auction houses: Christie’s Auction House.Most recently Huck collaborated with Ken Block and DC Shoes for Ken’s Monster World Rally Team WRC logo entitled “Blockhead”. Coinciding with this project were several limited edition shoe and clothing runs.
Huck currently maintains a studio in San Francisco and when not busy planning world domination, he spends his free time playing with his daughter and pretending to be a racecar driver. Not necessarily at the same time.
*Huck Gee’s extremely limited edition giclee print will only be available at Hope Gallery in New Haven. Only 25 made!
Joe Ledbetter is influenced by classic animation, graphic design, and daily life. Joe’s art is… well… a lot of things. Light-hearted in its approach, he often combines cute and cuddly creatures with unfortunate — albeit humorous — situations. With a lean on the subversive and absurd, these scenarios are all too familiar, questioning our tendency of taking life (and ourselves) too seriously.
While working as a graphic apparel artist for three years, Ledbetter got involved in the Los Angeles underground art scene, beginning with group shows like Cannibal Flower. By the summer of 2004, he had honed his trademark visual style of emblematic line-work, vibrant colors, and endearing characters to the point of quitting his day job. With international appeal, he has had numerous solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Paris, Rome, Toronto, Taipei, Istanbul, and Amsterdam. His incredible cast of creatures have since been emblazoned on over 100 designer vinyl toys, as well as apparel and lifestyle brands, the world over.
Junko Mizuno self-produced a photocopy booklet called MINA animal DX which brought her to the attention of the publishing industry in Japan in 1996. Her drawing style, which mixes childish sweetness and cuteness with blood and terror has become a sub-genre of the classic manga movement. Mizuno’s original designs were highlighted in the BBC’s acclaimed documentary series, Japanorama, and her artwork is frequently featured in gallery shows around the world. Junko Mizuno currently resides in San Francisco where she produces new comics, illustrations, paintings and design products ranging from toys to clothing.
Pete Fowler‘s inspiration comes from his daily life, psychedelic motifs, monsters and landscapes. Forming a backdrop to his ever growing family of characters and creatures, his work inhabits a world where character design meets music and art in a weird and wonderful way. That world is Monsterism Island, a place where banjos are played by horned owls and synths tweaked by mutant horses. His unique instantly recognizable approach and sense of playfulness and visual adventures that have brought his work to the attention of people around the world.
Ron English, One of the most prolific and recognizable artists alive today, has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images, on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television. English coined the term POPaganda to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, populated with his vast and constantly growing arsenal of original characters, including MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in the hit movie “Supersize Me,” and Abraham Obama, the fusion of America’s 16th and 44th Presidents, an image widely discussed in the media as directly impacting the 2008 election. Other characters carousing through English’s art, in paintings, billboards, and sculpture include three-eyed rabbits, udderly delicious cowgirls and grinning skulls, blending stunning visuals with the bitingly humorous undertones of America’s Premier Pop Iconoclast.
Sam Flores was born in 1975, immersed in the stark beauty of the New Mexico desert. In 1995, he moved to San Francisco seeking life as working artist and the Bohemian lifestyle of the Bay Area. Like most teens of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Sam was involved in street cultures of skateboarding and graffiti writing. From 1995-1998, these roots in urban expression helped him land freelance gigs doing graphics for Adrenalin skateboards and Civilian clothing. He’s shown at Virgin 69, 5024, and Hotel Biron galleries, as well as traveling shows to New York, Canada, Singapore, Tokyo and throughout Europe.
His focal medium is paint on maps, blue prints and canvas. These paintings touch classic themes of “natural beauty,” which is in obvious contrast to his life in the urban landscape. He credits Michael Parkes and Derek Hess as influences. The rich flora of his recent work can be compared to the nouveau stylings of Alphonse Mucha. His figures tend to be somewhat anonymous, even masked in some instances, yet still full of personality and emotion.
He effortlessly combines broad fields of color and finely rendered detail, creating paintings that are engaged on many levels. This palette tends to lean toward earth tones, perhaps an homage to the colors of his youth in New Mexico.
Shawn “Shawnimal” Smith, the visionary behind Shawnimals and Ninjatown, began to develop his distinctive style of art as a kid obsessed with cartoons, video games, and drawing pictures. Not satisfied with simply drawing his favorite cartoon and comic book characters, he felt compelled to create his own, inspired by all that he loved.
Smith’s interest in toys and video game culture eventually landed him a job at popular US gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly as a game reviewer and gadget editor but, naturally, his love for art and design led him back to school where he earned his BFA in Painting.
Surrounded by his own massive creative output, including dozens upon dozens of sketchbooks filled with original – if not peculiar – character designs, Smith began to hand make one-of-a-kind plush toys that he sold to friends. As the word spread via the internet and his pals in the video game industry, the overall popularity increased. In early 2004 the once part-time hobby became a full-time business, spreading imaginative creations around the world.
Smith maintains an active studio practice creating drawings, paintings, sculpture and collage that have been featured in galleries and exhibitions all over the world. Drawing influence from a variety of pop-cultural movements like cartoons and video games, the artwork of Shawn Smith can be described as endearing, and humorous while maintaining a simple quality that makes it universally relatable.
*Shawnimal’s extremely limited edition giclee print will only be available at Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, IL. Only 25 made!
TADO is Mike and Katie, two happy and rather small people who stay up too late, work too much and drink too much coffee. From their tiny home studio the pair work across a huge range of projects, from advertising work to animation, toys, childrens books and fashion for clients both big and small. When they’re not drawing pictures for other people they enjoy putting on exhibitions of their work, including solo shows in the LA, Chicago, Toronto and Paris. They like to play with cars and one day they hope to own a zoo of miniature animals.
Tara McPherson is a New York-based artist who holds a BFA from the prestigious Art Center in Pasadena, CA. Named the crown princess of poster art by ELLE Magazine, she has created numerous posters for rock bands like Beck and Modest Mouse and often has her paintings and sculptures exhibited in galleries around the world. Her array of art also includes painted comics and toy design, plus advertising illustrations for some of the leading brands and publications in the world. Recently, her art was featured in the Oscar Award-winning film, Juno, as well as the hit TV show, Veronica Mars. Known for creating art about people and their odd ways, her characters exude an idealized innocence with a glimpse of hard-earned wisdom in their eyes. Recalling many issues from childhood and good old life experience, she produces images that are both thought provoking and seductive.
Tokidoki Co-founder and Creative Director Simone Legno Meaning “sometimes” in Japanese, Tokidoki pays homage to Italian artist Simone Legno’s obsession with all things Japan. Simone not only specialises in fantastically cute toys, but also in clothing, skateboards and accessories. This includes an incredibly desirable series of bags with LeSportsSac.