Archive for the ‘visual art’ Category

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring’s comics capture dream atmosphere and logic more effectively than any other I’ve come across (with the possible exception of Jesse Reklaw’s “Slow Wave,” which I would also recommend but which is a little different in that it illustrates dreams submitted by the public).

Most of Woodring’s books involve the adventures of a character named “Frank,” who looks almost like something you’d see in a Disney or Looney Tunes cartoon. But while there are amusing moments, these wordless comics tend toward the phantasmagorical.

For a good introduction to Woodring, I’d look for either “The Frank Book,” a large collection of short stories and other art, or “Weathercraft,” a shorter book that tells a single story.

If you’re already familiar with Woodring, what motivated me to create this post now is a new documentary. The film consists primarily of Woodring discussing his art and his background as he works. I found it fascinating. You can watch it for free online if you’re so inclined.

The Illumination of Jim Woodring from Chris Brandt on Vimeo.

Detail from one of my favorite pieces by Woodring:


Jacek Yerka

BeksiƄski isn’t my only favorite painter from Poland. Jacek Yerka has a different style, but his work is also nice and surreal.


“New Age Manhattan”

“The City Is Landing”

“The Spring Labyrinth”

“The Express Delivery”

I have a book called “The Fantastic Art of Jacek Yerka.” It’s a nice collection of 21 of his paintings with commentary. From the book:

In the early 1970s, after my struggle with technique and lack of skills, I took off on my uninterrupted cycle of retrospections, dreams, and imaginings. I systematically painted everything of import to me from my early childhood. Some of these paintings have been ready in my head for many years. I knew exactly which one would follow next.

I hold on to one very key principle. Whatever has not been in my own head cannot be allowed to come into my paintings. For me this is a kind of honesty and genuineness I feel I must attach to my work.

Unfortunately, the book seems to be out of print as of this writing. But fortunately, examples of his work are easy to find on the Internet. The artist’s official site includes an extensive gallery.


ICO and Fumito Ueda

ICO is a video game that delivers an experience unmatched by any other game that I’ve come across before or since. It was designed and directed by Fumito Ueda, whose team went on to also create Shadow of the Colossus.

Ueda’s design philosophy is evident in his work:

I was attracted, not by the idea of playing within a well-constructed set of rules, but by the idea of playing, experiencing, and adventuring within a real world. As a child, what appealed to me more than “the fun of playing games” was the emotion conveyed by the works I experienced, and the way these works brought their worlds to life.1

In creating ICO, Ueda was inspired by Eric Chahi’s Another World (also known as Out of This World and Outer World), as well as by the work of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.

Ueda himself painted the cover art for ICO:

As is often the case with Japanese video games, the North American release had different cover art that was egregiously inferior. I won’t bother including a picture. What I’ll instead include for comparison is “Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” by Giorgio de Chirico:

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were originally released for Playstation 2, but they have also been graphically enhanced and released together for PS3 as The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. It’s a high-quality re-release.

Others at Sony in Japan expanded on Ueda’s original cover art for ICO to create this image, which is used in the title screen for The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (click to enlarge):

I bought a PS3 myself in late 2011 in anticipation of the impending release of Team ICO’s third game, The Last Guardian. There seem to have been a lot of problems with the development of that game, but I still hope to see it eventually. Fortunately, other games (such as Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls) make the PS3 worth owning in the meantime.

In an interview for, Peter Molyneux (creator of Populous and other games) described ICO as follows:

Mystery was part of its mechanic, it didn’t have real power-ups or anything. It was genius and it still remains a work of genius.

If I made something like ICO, I’d be very happy to die.

1 I don’t know the source of this quote. if you do, please let me know.