Ever dreamed of seeing your drawings come to life in a fierce battle of wills? Get ready for graFighters, an online fighting game that allows users to create their own avatars by uploading an image of hand-drawn characters directly from a laptop or mobile device. Sign up to be a beta-tester (or simply send in a drawing) and watch as your sketches transform into animated warriors, climbing the ranks as they challenge the drawings of others. "The game is not played with traditional buttons or combinations but rather with the strategic design and creation of the drawing itself," note founders Dave Chenell and Erik Cleckner, recent graduates of Syracuse University. The result? Nothing short of "a new genre of creative gameplay."
Who needs clay or stone when you've got pencils? They're the medium of choice for South African-born, Massachusetts-based artist Jennifer Maestre, who transforms mass quantities of the familiar writing utensils into stunning, spiny sculptures with titles such as "Seethe" and "Chimera." Originally inspired by the form and function of sea urchins, her work evokes rare species discovered at the the bottom of a festively colored sea. Each sculpture begins with hundreds of pencils that Maestre cuts into one-inch square sections, before drilling a hole into each one, sharpening them, and sewing them together. "Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials," she notes. "Pencils are common objects. Here, these anonymous objects become the structure."
Do your part to save the world by becoming a member of Design 21, the burgeoning online community that aims to inspire social consciousness through design. A joint venture of Felissimo and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), Design 21 brings together socially conscious designers, nonprofits, individuals, and organizations from around the world (160 countries and counting). The network's latest initiative is a contest to design a logo for the Award of Excellence for Handicrafts, a 9-year-old UNESCO program that supports craft producers in improving their product design and marketing techniques. Besides global bragging rights, there's $5,000 in prize money up for grabs. You've got until September 7 to craft the winning entry.
Add a dose of reality to your cache of stock images with Citizen Stock, a new library of rights-managed photography that is free of suspiciously attractive professional models. Husband-and-wife team David Katzenstein and Sherrie Nickol, both commercial photographers, founded Citizen Stock to build a library of images of real people, from chefs and artists to skateboarders and grandpas. "We noticed through extensive research that there was a need for high caliber imagery that also had a more real-life sensibility," says Katzenstein, who has marshalled people of all shapes, sizes, and colors into his Manhattan photo studio and posed them against a pure white background. "Our favorite images usually have a great story connected to them," he adds. "In general, the people we photograph are fascinating, and our goal is to bring out their true character."
About 10 years ago, Chris Sammartano (whose nom de paint brush is Eddie Breen) stumbled upon a "horrible" painting at a flea market. He bought it for a dollar, picked up some art supplies, and got to work transforming the staid church scene into his own vibrant vision. An hour or so later, he had created "Piggyback Art," an exuberantly surreal style that reimagines found works with layers of text, color, and offbeat graphic elements. "I take incomplete paintings and insert nuns, flying Jesuses, flame people, politicians, or death elephants and change the meaning of the compositions in ways to suit my visions, to co-opt the elements, and create my own worlds," explains Breen, who has used the Internet to build an enthusiastic following of collectors from Antarctica to Texas. "I'm the guy in school who would sit in the library and deface photos of fashion models and politicians in magazines. I'd black out their teeth, white out their eyes, and scribble in devil horns and beards," notes Breen. "I guess I'm still doing it."
Late last year, AOL swapped its tech-y triangle logo for a fresher look created by branding firm Wolff Olins: a sans-serif "Aol." backed by a constantly changing array of colorful images. This week, the Internet company launched AOL Artists, part of a broader initiative that aims to celebrate both creativity and AOL's twenty-fifth birthday. The new site shines a light on the artists AOL is collaborating with, and they started at the top, with Chuck Close. Look for his AOL-commissioned series of portraits in a forthcoming media campaign. The company has also tapped 41 artists, illustrators, designers, photographers, and other creative types to create original work that will appear behind the AOL logo. Think your work is right for the AOL homepage? Click the "Participate" tab and tell AOL about it.