curtmerlo-3_0_3_03
The Past Future of Cars

Some of my favorite topics lately have been Past eras predicting future technologies. Some are completely crazy and others are eerily accurate. I even saw an illustration recently from the 1950’s that predicted the state of amazon drone delivery technologies that they are developing right now. Regardless of how accurate they are you can’t help but activate your imagination. The Collage piece above is inspired by those old illustrations and my affinity for the clean automobile styles of the 1950’s 60’s. This piece is assembled by hand from old 1950s car ads and then digitally modified for background enhancements. I hope you like my Past Future Car. Please message me if you would like to see this as a print. 

Apr 11 2014 //
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Parabolis Image Uncovered Part 3

The most satisfying part of this whole process is the last part, implementing natural textures. I tried for years to add texture digitally to my compositions but it never quite looked natural and it would take 10x longer. Sometimes it takes longer to fake it. Since then I have developed a process of creating real textures as the result of many hours of experimentation and frustration. I think every creative person needs to develop the capacity to be continually experimenting, otherwise we rise falling into sameness. For Parabolis My process was to transfer toner from the printer onto a new sheet of paper using acetone. I would print out the shapes from my composition using a Brother laser printer. I placed the paper facedown on a new sheet of matte photo paper and applied an acetone to the back of printed sheet. After a good rub the toner would transfer from the printed sheet onto the photo paper but this time with tiny imperfections that add character and age. A quick scan and  photoshop reassembly would place the image in its final resting place. NOTE: The image will be flipped horizontally after transferring. The last step for me was to collage in some clippings of old 1920s newspapers and erase until the desired affect emerges. There is no secret or  wrong way to create a process but it does require time and experimentation. This experimentation is vital the freshness of my work. If you want to see this process in action here is a video that someone made of this exact thing. A video is worth a thousand words. And here is a video showing a process that Warhol used to implement called the blotted line technique, He was my inspiration in developing my transfer technique. 

Apr 03 2014 //
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Parabolis Image Uncovered Part 2

Next in the Process is the translation of the rough sketch into the rigid Geometry of Adobe Illustrator. The original composition from the sketch gets another round of obsessive rearranging. It Takes a While to get the right balance of flow and tension. What does that mean? Well in any image or photograph there is a path that the viewers eye uses to move around and explore its contents. So The idea here is to let the eye move rapidly around the composition but then slow the movement down once it reaches the focal point. In this image the focal point is the conversation happening in the background. The man in the front is therefore composed of long straight lines. This moves the eye rapidly around him but when the viewer arrives at the two seated in the back the eye slows down due to the shorter more complex shapes. Thus a focus has been achieved. One of the goals in this image was to use the least amount of lines to create the most amount of information. This is directly related to my complete obsession with Charley Harper at the time. You can see my inspiration from him here. Next week I will explain how to apply a texture to create that aged and worn look I love so much. Stay tuned.

Mar 28 2014 //
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Parabolis image uncovered Part 1

When setting out to creating a large uniform body of work process becomes vital. For Parabolis I had to craft an almost assembly line like production process. My process became simple and ridged allowing my brain freedom to explore the conceptual side of visual narrative. Ironically I made some of my most freeing and unique work in this restrictive process. Here is one of my favorite pieces I made for Parabolis, it depicts an investigator listening in on a conversation over coffee. Above is the final image while below is a couple rough sketches that proceed the final steps. As you can see the early sketches are usually rough geometric shapes and outlines in pencil. I usually do about 30 or so small sketches just to define the prominent structure that will direct the eye. You may notice that the principle shape blocks of the piece are there even at an early state and they carry through to the final, even if nothing else is the same. When creating a concept Its important to consider what will take the spot of importance on the page and how ones eye might navigate the shapes. I don’t feel comfortable moving to the next stage until I have a clear vision of what the piece might look like even though it is always different.  Next week I will uncover the middle stage of my production  process during Parabolis. This is usually reserved for wizards, magicians and the others of the sort. Stay tuned.   

Mar 21 2014 //
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SnapThoughts

An artists process is a personal thing. Its what sets them apart from other artist. Some artist paint, some draw, some cut and paste some use a the computer, or a screen printer. There is a million ways to execute a piece and for the last three years I have used Photoshop and some Illustrator to execute mine. My motto should be “IN ADOBE WE TRUST”. I first created this process because I couldn’t achieve the clarity and richness I wanted in paint alone. So i turned to the computer to create a system to help me accomplish more in my process. But like all systems there comes a point when it can hinder you more than help you. The computer is a great time saving tool And I will probably always use it in one form or another but it is not thinking tool. Sometimes I feel like I get more productive thinking done in my car on my way to work than the entire time I am at work. But once you abandon the computer it is quickly discovered just how messy and clumsy your hands can be. I’ve always hated my hand writing and honestly I have hated my drawings too. I know it sounds ridiculous that an artist would hate his own drawing style but it is true. lately however, I’ve been adamantly be trying to overcome these insecurities. Actively excepting my unique mark even if it doesn’t look like my favorite artists. I have tried to be like them, trust me, but I not them. I start my daily process almost like an AA meeting by saying Hi my name is Curt and this is a safe place to express anything. After all, This is about freedom of expression. What I have learned is that My unique view is as permanent as my fingerprints, I can try to hide them but they will always show through. What systems do you still use that have stopped helping you? Are they hindering your unique expression, or slowing down your process? What parts of you do you need to accept today. Like scaffolding around a constructed building some systems have to come down in order to keep moving forward.

Mar 14 2014 //
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Editor and Muse

There are two sides to the human brain. Both sides do very different things, and in the creative process both side are necessary. the Left side is logic and the Right side is intuition. For this exercise lets give these two sides a job title to suit there role in the creative process. The right side will be labeled the Muse and the left side will be the Editor. The Muse is your inspiration and content maker. This is the side that makes interesting connections and thinks outside the box. The Editor is the filter, Its the voice in your head that says that that is a great idea and this isn’t so lets get rid of that and do more of this. Without the Muse the Editor is left with a blank page, and without the Editor the Muse would make content that is chaotic.

Our society favors editors, a lot of jobs in America are editing jobs. Most subjects taught in schools are reasoning subjects, in this age logic is king. But there is a problem that occurs when the editor precedes before the muse is finished. It stops the creative process in its tracks. We have all sat in a room like this. A meeting where there is a problem to get solved but no one wants to suggest anything out of fear that their idea will sound stupid, or its not good enough. Its like sitting in your brain when you have writers block. What would happen if you said the thing you are afraid of saying or made the thing you want to make but are afraid of what people will think. This idea has changed the way I think about my art, and it has opened a new energy I never knew was in me. Although it still takes a lot of effort to quite my Editor, it is a fruitful endeavor. Because in the end, there are many more uncertainties in life than there are “correct answers”. Sometimes you will never know the right thing to do and you just have to close your eyes trust your instincts and move.

This is my interpretation of a chapter in the book FREE PLAY which I highly suggest to anyone wanting to unlock their creative side.

Mar 07 2014 //
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Man-Boy Collage Experiment

Allas another installment of the awkwardly bizarre Friday collage experiments. This weeks episode is the wildly rambunctious MAN-BOY! what tomfoolery will he get into next! Please don’t be creeped out. Happy almost weekend folks. 

Feb 28 2014 //
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The Human Collage Experiment

A couple of weeks back during one of my productive Friday experiment days I made this bizarre collage that I thought was kind of interesting. Hope you find it as interesting and weird as I do. 

Feb 21 2014 //
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Five Great Fears

Buddhist believe that there are five fears that stand in the way of ourselves and our Freedom.

Fear of loss of life, Fear of loss of livelihood, Fear of loss of reputation, Fear of unusual states of mind, and fear of speaking before an assembly.

When I first heard these they struck me as kind of odd but the more I thought about them they became more accurate. Fear of speaking before an assembly is the one I struggle with the most in my art. If art is my voice then there is a fear of judgment of that voice by the surrounding assembly and the internet has only made that assembly even more frightening and mob like. It is only when I can let go of that fear that I will be free to speak what is real and true. At least that is what the Buddhist believe. What fears are holding you back from being free today? 

Feb 14 2014 //
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The Navy Mark IV

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The Mercury Seven was a group of seven astronauts who were the first Americans to venture into space. They without a doubt provided a foundation for the apollo missions that would lead the world in the first Human moon walk. Just as impressive and arguably more dangerous however, are the missions performed by the mercury team in the late 50’s. This handmade collage exploration was inspired by the spacesuit that was worn for the mercury missions. The suit was called the Navy Mark IV and it was designed by B.F. Goodrich to perform for high altitude space flight. What a wonderful time in our countries history, their explorative spirit to accomplish the impossible is truly inspiring.

Feb 07 2014 //
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The Science of Art

There is a certain amount of science that is required in art. To make new discoveries and develop anything new there must be a willingness to embrace the unknown and try something you have never done, an experiment if you will. This makes most people uncomfortable including me, why? Is it because 90% of experiments fail? Is it because this takes loads of mental energy? Or are we just simply to busy to try something that probably won’t work out? What ever it is, everyday I have to take a deep breath and make the decision to push into the discomfort. The last 3 years have been a season of dedicated computer arts and last week I turned off the computer which I have leaned on so much lately. Then I made something with my hands. This was the result, A handmade collage, or an experiment if you will.  Tune in next week if you want to see more discoveries from this art scientist.

Jan 31 2014 //
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Art for FREE, but not for free

Its always a pleasure to get repeat clients. The pressure to prove yourself has evaporated and you are released to navigate your creative skill sets. Ironically the final product is better as a result. I just finished a quarter page illustration for a quarterly financial publication called FREE. Art Directed by the talented Carl Nielson of Exit 10. Due to the incredibly long and time consuming nature of Parabolis (the Novelzine we finished last summer) I only had a handful of editorial jobs last year, and two of them were with Carl. Above is the last piece I did for FREE. Its for an article about How only certain FAs are skilled enough to help with Qualified Retirement Funds (QPRs). Its usually the case that I know nothing about an articles subject until I get the assignment and in the matter of 24 hours have to become an expert on visually representing said subject. QPRs was no exception. Look for my piece in the next issue of FREE, if your into that sort of thing.

Tune in Next Friday, I am trying to make a weekly post… for free.

Jan 24 2014 //
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Own Your Voice, Your Own Voice

Time elapsing is not the same as progressing. You have to actually engage your brain if you want to progress. Human beings are creatures of habit and we will always take the path of least resistance. I learned that from a Vice documentary about tattoo artists called Tattoo Days, check it out if your into tat art.

I have dealt with fear a lot in my career. The fear that says my own ideas aren’t good enough and that I need to take the safe route that has already worked for others. It sounds tempting even now and I think everyone deals with it. I have to remind myself that nothing great has ever been achieved by being comfortable. You have to risk to receive. This lesson keeps coming back to me and maybe one day I will learn it. The freedom to fail is  terrifying but the alternative is even worse, to live your whole life and never hear your own voice. You will always reap what you sow, if you sow sparingly you will also reap sparingly. 

Jan 17 2014 //
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PARABOLIS is here!

Let me introduce you to PARABOLIS. Its a full length novel augmented with editorial art In a Magazine layout Which we are calling a Novelzine. A whopping 336 pages, this monster is a creative collaboration between Eddie Han (Author) and Me (Artist and Designer). Its the reason this blog went dark for over a year. Some describe it as Steampunk meets Russia 1920’s, complete with conspiracies, Invasions, love, propaganda, and plenty of drinking.

If you want to learn more about PARABOLIS please visit parabolis.com.

Thank you all for the enthusiastic support, We truly couldn’t have done this without you.

Jan 10 2014 //
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For those of you who haven’t seen our Parabolis Kickstarter video, here it is in youtube form. And here is the Project page. We are almost 50% funded but have a long way to go. Please help make this real. 

Aug 01 2012 //
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