Flesk Prime

I’ve written before about Flesk Publications, a small specialty art book publisher that concentrates on presenting illustrators and comics artists. Among the artists are many that I’ve featured here on Lines and Colors.

Flesk has published a book called Flesk Prime in which five artists are highlighted in the same volume. Four are artists who have been featured in previous dedicated books: William Stout, Petar Meseldžija, Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni (links to my posts); one, Craig Elliott, is the subject of an upcoming title.

The book serves both as an introduction to those artists and as a kind of sampler and introduction to the Flesk line of books — in that the artists exemplify the kind of terrific and often underappreciated talent Flesk spotlights, and the book’s beautiful production values are consistent with the publisher’s consistently high standards.

Flesk Prime also serves as an art book on its own, a beautiful selection of work from five talented illustrators and comics artists. For those like me who already have many of the books in the Flesk line, the features and images are not redundant, each showcasing work that has not appeared in the publisher’s other volumes on these artists.

Unfortunately, the previews of the book on the Flesk site, while they do give you an idea of the book’s appearance, don’t show the artwork itself to best advantage and don’t do the book justice (though the images certainly look better there than in the limited space I have to show them above). If you’re not familiar with these artists, you would do better to look through the site for the individual volumes on them for better examples of their work.

Flesk Prime is available through the Flesk Publications store.

Régis Loisel

Regis Loisel
One of the most renowned and influential French comics artists, Régis Loisel is known in particular for his work in the fantasy genre. Along with Jean Giraud (“Moebius”) and several other pioneers, he helped set the stylistic standards that became the foundation of Franco-Belgian comics (“bandes desinees”) from the mid 20th century to today.

Most comics readers here in the US, despite the fascination with Japanese manga in some circles, aren’t aware of how vibrant (and different) the comics scene is in other parts of the world, like France, Belgium, the UK, Italy and South America.

Loisel is perhaps best known for his work on La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps (“The Quest for the Time Bird”, published at one point in English as Roxanna and The Quest for the Time Bird), a multi-volume fantasy epic written by Serge Le Tendre.

Loisel worked on numerous short projects, as well as the multi-volume series Le Grand Mort and a striking adaptation of Peter Pan (images above, second from bottom). He also did visual development art for the Disney animated features Mulan (above, bottom) and Atlantis.

His comics pages manage to feel detailed and open at the same time, with passages of intense detail balanced by well spotted blacks and flat areas of color, all used to dramatic effect. He has a wonderful command of the environments in which he places his characters, both natural and architectural.

He uses visual texture to great advantage in creating atmosphere, mood and a sense of scale and distance, as well as controlling how long the reader’s eye lingers on a given panel,

Loisel’s website, though in French, is easy enough for non-French speakers to navigate. The major comics series, Peter Pan, La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps and Le Grand Mort, each have a drop down menu to pages about each volume in the series. These are usually accompanied by a few sample pages that open in pop-ups.

Some of the volumes, in particular La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps volumes 7 and 5 have more extensive previews. Volume 5 is supplemented with images of pages in their penciled or inked states in addition to finished art.

I find Loisel’s pencil drawings for comics pages particularly appealing; even though they are intended to be finished in ink and printed in color, they have a wonderful quality just as pencil drawings.

You can sometimes find Loisel’s comics albums on Amazon.com, both in English and in French, as well as through importers like Stuart Ng Books.

You can find larger images of some of Loisel’s pages from Peter Pan, along with samples of his visual development drawings for Mulan on Animation Treasures: One1More2time3’s Weblog, the superb blog of Hans Bacher.

Bacher is the production designer who, while working on Mulan, suggested to producer Pam Coats that he bring Loisel in on the project. Bacher has an excellent series of posts on Loisel and his work.

You can also find some larger images of pages from Le Grand Mort on Vincent Mallié’s site (also here, here, here and here)

New Metropolitan Museum of Art website

New Metropolitan Museum of Art website
The websites of the world’s great art museums, as well as those for numerous smaller museums, serve as a resource both for visitors to the institution and for those who are interested in viewing and accessing online information about the artworks in the museum’s collections.

As someone who routinely scours the web in search of great art images, I can testify that art museum websites vary in quality and usefulness on those counts from good to disappointing to appallingly bad. It’s astonishing how many major museums allow their online presence to fall into the latter two categories.

The website for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the world’s great art museums and one that has been fairly adept in its adaptation of modern technology, has always been something of a mixed bag — professional and competent, with lots of information online, some of it very well presented, but with a somewhat clunky search system, some frustrating dead ends, disappointingly small images and an overall feeling that things could somehow be better.

Evidently those responsible for the museum’s website have also been of the opinion that it could be better, and after what is undoubtedly a great deal of thought, planning and hard work, have just unveiled a new website that is likely the best major art museum website in the world.

The redesigned interface is elegant, understated and when presenting the artworks, quietly beautiful. The website has been reorganized, streamlined and made more usable at almost every level.

The new home page, which thankfully dispenses with the pointless splash page from the old site, offers easy access to a number of paths into the site’s contents without overwhelming or confusing the visitor.

The listings for exhibitions are likewise simplified and at the same time more graphically appealing, the search feature is drastically improved and much more useful than its predecessor, and the listings for individual objects are a brilliant combination of clear, uncluttered presentation and easy access to deeper levels of information.

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, an online feature I have written about before, is not dramatically changed, but has been integrated into the other parts of the site more fully, putting this great resource to even better use.

A new MetMedia section collects videos, podcasts and web interactive features into an easy to use central interface.

Best of all perhaps, is the new image enlargement feature, in many cases replacing the disappointingly small images that used to represent the objects at their most detailed with a new full screen image viewer that is lightning fast and a joy to use.

I don’t know if the work was done in-house or by a third party design firm. If the latter, they deserve more recognition than the site gives them, but if the new site was created by museum staff, which I believe is the case, they just handed numerous high-end website design firms their lunch and sent them packing by showing them how a large scale website (of any kind) should be done. [Addendum: Lines and Colors reader Caz was kind enough to inform me that the site was designed by Cogapp, a design firm from Brighton, UK with offices in New York. The also designed the new website for the Barnes Foundation here in Philadelphia. My hat’s off to them.]

In the process there are few trade-offs; the horrible long-string URLs (web page addresses) for individual pages utilized by the old site, which were difficult to copy and paste, send to a friend, or add to an article, have been replaced by short, human-readable addresses. The downside for someone like me is that the dozens, if not hundreds of links I’ve made to the Met’s site over the last 6 years are now broken and have to be replaced, but I’ll gladly accept that for the easier to use addresses going forward.

For those who can physically visit the museum, not only are the exhibition listings and visitor information sections much improved, there is a new zoomable interactive museum map that allows you to pinpoint specific galleries within the museum and explore their contents, as well as suggested itineraries for those who can’t devote a week or two to exploring the museum’s extensive and extraordinarily rich collections.

Exploring the collections and works online is now a genuine pleasure, so much so that I will issue my Major Timesink Warning about visiting.

The elegance, ease of use and intelligent application of sophisticated interface design principles throughout make the new Metropolitan Museum of Art website a shining example that we can only hope many other art museums will aspire to emulate.

There is a press release about the new site here.

El Mac

Miles 'Mac' MacGregor, AKA
Miles ‘Mac’ MacGregor, AKA “El Mac” is an artist based between Los Angeles and Phoenix. He started out painting with acrylics and doing graffiti, moved into murals and developed a focus on faces and portraits, both in a photorealist style and in his unique signature style.

He sometimes collaborates with an artist known as Retna who adds abstract lettering and design to Mac’s portraits and faces. Mac’s signature style involves a fascinating use of patterns and lines that simultaneously add texture and definition to the forms, along with gradations, following the form like topographical maps.

Mac’s website has galleries of murals (“spraypaint”), photorealism, acrylic on canvas (“Brushwork”) and pencil drawings. Most of the paintings are accompanied by larger images and detail crops in which you can see the patterns as paint strokes. In addition, there are some photos of Mac working on the paintings that give you an idea of scale.

The scale of his mural images is likewise revealed in supplementary photos that pull back from the wall and show the surrounding environment.

El Mac also maintains a blog with additional images of murals, paintings and work in progress. He states his influences as “…Mexican & Chicano culture of Phoenix and the American Southwest, religious art, pin-up art, graffiti, and a wide range of classic artists such as Caravaggio, Mucha, and Vermeer”.

[Via MetaFilter]

Museum Day 2011

Museum Day 2011: Morgan Library and Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum
Museum Day, a day each year on which hundreds of participating museums around the US offer free admission (for those who have gotten tickets in advance), is tomorrow, Saturday, September 24, 2011.

The event is sponsored and coordinated by Smithsonian magazine. From the website description:

In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket…for free.

You must order tickets in advance, which can easily be done online, for one of the participating museums, two tickets per household.

The venues page lets you search for nearby (or distant) participating museums by way of typing in an address, searching a Google Map, or using a drop-down menu to search by state.

For more (and information on the North American Reciprocal Museum Program), see my post on Museum Day 2010.

(Images above, some participating art museums in the NYC area: Morgan Library and Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum)

David Fuhrer

David Fuhrer
David Fuhrer is a Swiss concept artist, illustrator and designer based in Bern. His website showcases a range of his illustration, design and other images, both fanciful personal projects and more practical work for clients.

When visiting his site you can choose between Flash or HTML versions, but in either case, open your browser to full screen as the images scale up with the window, and Fuhrer’s digital paintings are intricately detailed and work on an expansive range of scale.

In both his freeform constructions in which fantastic landscape elements seem to melt and grow in wildly sculptural shapes and his glistening space scenes in which the lights of technological elements dot oddly shaped planes and structures, Fuhrer uses detail to convey a dramatic sense of scale.

I’ve tried to show this with detail crops accompanying each of the images above. Viewing them in large size on his site, however, gives a much better effect.

Fuhrer also has a gallery on Behance Network that includes work not currently on his site.

[Via io9]