Another year down

So, 2014, how were you?

Design
Videos! Gifs! Animation! Websites are getting movement, and it’s not just parallax scrolling anymore. OK, so it’s a bandwidth killer for some of us, but it adds another curious element to a page. Do we have the attention span to take note of video background, or are they a more acceptable form of the autoplaying music? Tumblr is effectively spilling out onto the rest of the internet. The good: it’s different and another layer of interest. The bad: slow internet speeds are actually a problem for the majority of users without “super-fast” broadband (or even broadband in some areas), rendering some sites as painfully slow as 2005 MySpace covered with animated Flash banners urging you to hit the mosquito.
We’re also still big on the Metro squares and flat design (colours seem to be going to the extremes of either very pale or very bold to the point of clashing) only with more elements. Full screen landing pages with big text and a button is quite a big thing, but there’s more to it than that. Hand lettering, flat illustration, “real” photography over obviously staged stock images, images creatively cut out… It’s all natural progression from what started to appear last year. There’s nothing amazingly new here, but it’s evolving.

K-pop (Oh you knew it was coming)

Not bad at all. Not the best year, but some nice packaging and decent music to go with it. I present my award for The Most K-pop Video of 2014: Red Light by f(x). Dancing in a laser-filled box-room set, check. Pretty people wearing slightly odd clothing, check. Strange potentially symbolic imagery that has no meaning, check. A strange, disjointed song that on first listen is bizarre but will grow on you even when you still think it’s not quite your thing, check. You get the picture. I never thought I would like f(x), but after listening to the rest of the album on Spotify (yes, K-pop on Spotify happened this year) I was won over. Track 3, Nabi (Butterfly) sounds essentially like a pop song based on the Jill of the Jungle soundtrack, so consider me a fan. It’s also got quite nice packaging

Packaging-wise, special mentions for TVXQ’s two releases Spellbound and Tense, Super Junior’s Mamacita (another good album, also on Spotify) and Boyfriend’s WITCH. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but these come to mind (and as I’ve said before, I’m a little bit biased towards SMEnt artists).

And me
Turns out 2014 was not wonderful. On a personal level things got pretty bad, particularly round September time (hence the lack of updates). Out of the blue I ended up in hospital. I’ve had one operation, so now I’m looking at a bit of a battle and a long waiting list for the one I really need to ensure I’m well again. I might even need hospital treatment before I get that far. It’s not a particularly stable time. But while it’s disappointing, perhaps there is some kind of opportunity here. Time to learn more, do more (albeit carefully), and just generally be prepared for when I can take control of my life again. Sometimes these things just happen and all you can do is try to make the most of a bad situation.

Happy New Year! Fingers crossed for 2015 🙂

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Pick Me Up 2014 Part 1 : Individuals

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I had quite a lot of art viewing. I saw a few of the open houses down in Brighton, then on Monday went into town to see Pick Me Up to Somerset House. For those who don’t know, PMU is the big contemporary design/illustration show for the year. If you like screen prints and fine liner drawings, you would love it. The only downside is that in the big rooms shared by collectives, I couldn’t always see who had done an individual piece of work (the problem with low lighting, crowding and writing in pencil on the wall really tiny).

In my first blogging of this year’s Pick Me Up, here are some highlights of individual artists from the Pick Me Up Selects area.

Thibaud Herem
Thibaud Herem
An illustrator who focuses on extremely detailed architectural subjects. At the show there was the most amazing one of Liberty’s (sadly no photo) and the London skyline.

Lynnie Zulu
Lynnie Zulu
Her combination of bright colours and bold, African-inspired patterns was really eye catching.

Andrew Groves
Andrew Groves
Minimal illustrations with bright colours, his set for PMU was inspired by wooden objects. They style looked like what happens when Japan meets Scandinavia.

Jessica Das
Jessica Das
Very simple illustrations, mainly featuring cats (her theme was “Cat Island”). The styles of the prints varied, but all were bright and striking with their contrast.

Jack Hudson
Jack Hudson
This illustrator’s work centers around scale, imagining small people alongside oversize everyday objects. I loved the playful take on the Cowboys & Indians battle being played out around potted cacti!