Archive for the 'Digital Concepts' Category

a birthday salute . . .

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

“In 1998, Ma founded Silkroad, a nonprofit outfit that connects diverse cultures and musicians not only through Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble (for which more than 80 pieces have been commissioned), but also by supporting education and cross-cultural business and artistic partnerships.”
– NPR.org
 

Today is the 60th birthday of Yo-Yo Ma, among the world’s most impressive creative individuals. When he brought his Silk Road Ensemble to my hometown in 2013, I was inspired to begin a series of collage poems dedicated to East-West understanding. I can think of no living artist with a greater curiosity for diverse influences, or a wider versatility, fusing cultural traditions with innovative experimentation.
 

Silk Road Details
digital compilation by J A Dixon
a birthday salute to Yo-Yo Ma

G A B B F

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

“Design is moving an existing condition to a preferred one.”
— Milton Glaser

I attended the first Great American Brass Band Festival in 1990 with my wife and partner, Dana, the same summer that we relocated our home-based design business to Danville, Kentucky. Big portions of the previous year had been spent apart, as I developed business contacts in Central Kentucky while she held the fort at our studio in Dayton, Ohio. That inaugural Festival was an opportunity to spend time together in downtown Danville, and the ambiance of that weekend supported all that we were discovering about our new home community. We have been devoted fans of the Festival ever since, and it is now impossible for us to imagine a June in Danville without world-class brass music within walking distance. After that first Festival, my capabilities as a graphic designer and lettering artist came to the attention of the organizers. I have since worked closely with them on establishing the visual identity of the event and creating designs for nine commemorative posters.

The 25th Great American Brass Band Festival will be held next weekend, and I shall be signing posters at the kick-off Gallery Hop Stop. Coming up with a suitable theme for this year’s poster was a challenge. We recognized that the milestone 25th Festival demanded a visual approach that would pay bold tribute to its heritage. No single aspect would do that, so I built a montage of images to salute the key elements of the Festival: the musicians, the parade, the picnic, the patriotism, the balloons, the fireworks, and the long history of enthusiasm for brass. With a quarter century of photography on file, it was a tough editing task. The result is a colorful, celebratory design intended to bring a smile to the face of every fan of the event.

The visual montage and the traditional collage are close cousins, and both techniques inform the other in my work as a fine and applied artist. The blurred boundary between graphic illustration and fine-art collage — conventional and digital — is an intriguing subject that I shall explore from time to time at this site. Please stop back here again (and do drop in at the Community Arts Center on Thursday evening, 5:30 to 7 pm, if you are in the Danville area).

Celebrating 25 Years
commemorative poster design by J A Dixon
available for purchase

this thing we all do . . .

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

In response to an assertion that his environmental works are impossible to visually document—

James Turrell: “Well, someone has to make up for all the work that photographs better than it is.”
 

Mr. Turrell’s recent quip brings to the forefront a distinct feature of representing or documenting one’s artwork. Does it really look like the image being included with a call for entries, posted at an online marketplace, or shared on a social network? Of course, the photographing of artwork to enhance its appeal did not begin with digital devices or the World Wide Web. Most of us are familiar with the curator’s disclaimer that reserves their right to reject artwork which arrives substantially different than visually represented when proposed. Even non-artists know how easy it is to boost the contrast or color saturation of a digital image. Setting apart from our discussion works that are essentially digital from the outset, it is important for anyone working in the medium of traditional collage to squarely meet this challenge: How do we properly interpret the visual experience of seeing our artwork firsthand?

Needless to say, faithfully photographing or scanning conventional artwork is something that professionals face every day, but how can it ever be an exact science? What is the “true” appearance of anything? As the three examples below demonstrate, one of my recent collage artworks photographed differently under three different lighting conditions, before it was delivered. The more neutral version is closer to how it might “typically” appear, but perhaps the most faithful rendition would be an image made in the setting for which the piece was commissioned, under the unique lighting conditions of that particular environment, and then subsequently balanced for a reasonable match to the naked eye.

I review nearly a hundred collage artworks a day, as my eye passes over numerous online displays each week. What percentage of these creations actually look like the corresponding digital image? We all know what it’s like to see something and think, “I wonder if it really looks like that.” On the other hand, we also know what it’s like to scan a piece and think, “Wow. That looks better than I expected.”

All that any of us can do is establish a level of integrity about representing work to others. For those who routinely cheat or push an ethical boundary? Rest assured; the habit will eventually come back to haunt their studios.

And now, a few words about today’s collage example. I must first express my appreciation to Lee and David Simpson for the commission that resulted in this thing we all do, a mixed media and collage artwork on canvas. To infuse the composition with images that represent aspects of significance to their lives, this piece was personalized by using the clients’ own artifacts and memorabilia, as well as additional ingredients carefully selected from my morgue. Creating works with special meaning to those for which they were intended has always been some of the most fulfilling time I have spent as an artist.
 

   

this thing we all do (three different digitals)
collage with combined mediums on canvas by J A Dixon
15.75 x 27.75 inches (22.50 x 34.50 inches, framed)
collection of L and D Simpson

this thing we all do (detail)
collage with combined mediums on canvas by J A Dixon
(photographed and digitally balanced to match original)
 

150 years ago today . . .

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

“That is what he said.
That is what Abraham Lincoln said.”
 

Dixon_Nov19

On collage derivations . . .

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

“I believe that it is better to be receptive to correction than to be satisfied with one’s own imperfection, and to think that one is oh so original!”
— Piet Mondrian

As I mentioned in a welcome statement from over a year ago (and perhaps more recently), I have nothing against digital collage, although I do maintain a bias in favor of conventional (so-called analogue) techniques, especially at this site, but don’t expect me to become “all blogmatic” about the topic, since I have been known to gratefully accept commissions for digital montage and affirm my respect for those who do collage illustration at a high level. The point I want to make today is that, so far, I have not generated much enthusiasm for manipulating or reproducing my “tear and glue” artworks as digital prints or “art merchandise.” Someone recently asked if I sold note-card versions of my miniatures, and I had to admit that “I have never quite gotten around to that.”

There are many reasons, both good and bad, to produce derivations of one’s own work for the marketplace. There are also many reasons, both good and bad, to restrain oneself. I would hope to be open-minded about the subject. Not everyone who enjoys collage can afford to collect originals. In addition, I often get ideas about how to combine separate works into a composite digital design, exploring in the process a distinctive aesthetic resonance that might not be discovered in other ways. I occasionally imagine how one of my miniatures would look as a super-enlargement, or I envision an exhibition of large canvases created from Giclée blow-ups of small works. No doubt, there is an appropriate place for digital technology in the medium, whether on the front- or back-end of the process. The digital image is, of course, the stock in trade of any artist with an active presence on the Interet. That comes with its own set of issues that I plan to cover in my next discussion. Meanwhile, I hope to preserve my emphasis on a traditional methodology and observe how other collage practitioners adopt emerging technology to enhance their fine-art investigations.
 

Microcosmic Moments
compilation of nine miniatures by J A Dixon
proposed digital concept, variable in dimensions

Modular Zowee
composite of collage details by J A Dixon
proposed digital concept, variable in dimensions

Mystery Solved (detail)
super-enlargement of collage detail by J A Dixon
proposed digital concept, variable in dimensions

Mystery Solved (set of four cards)
merchandise with collage details by J A Dixon
proposed digital reproductions, 5.75 x 4.5 inches

Broadband Access
digital montage by J A Dixon
editorial illustration for ACUTA Journal

Remember . . .

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Dixon_Remember