London-based artist Jeremy Hutchinson is a creator of situations that are often absurd. "But embedded in their idiotic logic is a kind of transgression. An almost. A perhaps," he explains. "They might be proposals for an alternative to the world in which we live." Among Hutchinson's latest wacktastic projects is "Err," for which he contacted factories all over the world and requested that one of the line workers produce an incorrect version of the product they make every day. He received plenty of puzzled replies, but some 17 manufacturers were game, sending him busted chairs, step-less ladders, and a pair of pink patent leather shoes that defy description. Photos of the installation, which was part of a group show earlier this year at a London gallery, are posted on his website along with samples of the confused correspondence.
Trying to shore up your art or photography collection in a battered economy? Click over to a new breed of online art gallery that takes original works by up-and-coming artists, designers and photographers and sells them at bargain prices. Back in 2007, New York gallerist Jen Bekman pioneered this growing e-commerce arena with a smart and simple formula: (limited editions x low prices) + the Internet = equal-opportunity art with a tantalizingly low barrier to entry. Bekman's online gallery, 20x200, introduces at least two new pieces a week: one photo and one work on paper. Most are available in three sizes, with prices ranging from the namesake $20 per work in an edition of 200 8"x10" prints, to larger works in smaller runs at price points of $50 and $200. Says Bekman, "We're really excited about creating a place where almost any art lover can be an art collector."
The National Archives fields oodles of requests every year for reproductions of the 1970 photo of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shaking hands at the White House. Those thirsty for more snapshots of amazing celebrity matchups should bookmark "Awesome People Hanging Out Together," a terrifically self-explanatory Tumblr. Venus Williams serves up tennis tips to Wyclef Jean, Helen Keller is pictured hanging out with Mark Twain, and a particularly mesmerizing shot captures Harpo Marx playing the harp -- while being sketched by a young Salvador Dali. The only maddening part about this online image bonanza is the total lack of context. Be prepared to ponder unlikely questions: Who are Björk and Beck talking to on the phone? What were Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Belafonte giggling about?
"Every artist gets asked the question, 'Where do you get your ideas?'" says Austin Kleon. "The honest artist answers, 'I steal them.'" This is the first of 10 pieces of advice that the Austin, Texas-based writer and artist offered to an assembly of college students earlier this year. Kleon is now developing his life lessons into a book, Steal Like an Artist. In the meantime, you can find the annotated lecture slides on his website. They offer valuable tips on everything from achieving professional success ("The Secret: Do good work, then put it where people can see it.") to staying inspired ("Side projects and hobbies are important.").
Graphic design gets its own online gallery with Design Pastime. Launched over the summer, the Fort Worth-based company aims to showcase and sell original printings, historically significant artworks and the occasional wearable piece (Helvetica T-shirts!) by practicing designers, illustrators and other creative types. The first designer/artist to join the Design Pastime fold is Jack Summerford, whose vintage prints of cracked eggs and colorful geometric compositions have been selling briskly.
So many amusing Tumblrs, so little time. Today we direct you to the chuckle-inducing "Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising," in which the distinctly unmemorable humans who inhabit stock photos have their say. As you might expect from compensated endorsers, they are fluent in AdSpeak and marketing jargon, so a bright-eyed young woman in a strappy tank top is made to exclaim "Wow! Your product really helps me to leverage my core competencies!" Two gentlemen in ties join hands in triumph because "That art direction speaks to our demographic perfectly!" Our favorite so far is the bathrobe-wearing lady who gazes at her laptop in disappointment. "If the background had been Pantone 18-2120 it would have sealed the deal for me," reads the text floating beside her head.