Blogs We Like | Mercedes Carmona
At first glance, Mercedes Carmona's work seems almost fragmentary. Not the pieces themselves, but her output: combing back through her chronology, periodization and media variation combine to structure distinct and wholly original (even disruptive) shifts from one epoch to the next.
Carmona’s recent work, for instance, includes spare and somewhat challenging marker illustrations, whereas her painting a few years ago boasts much more thickly colored figures. Woodcuts, sculpture, and other media additionally punctuate these larger shifts, all combining to form a kind of swerving, unpredictable, and immensely beautiful galaxy.
The effect of these many, varied orbiting bodies? Not only one of the most engrossing and continually surprising bodies of visual art, but also one of the most analytically challenging. There are a few common themes, but these are seemingly more suggestive than they are directly symbolic. And that disorientation, the inability to pigeonhole or genre-fy Carmona’s art, is a rare and wonderful thing.
Blogs We Like | Neil France
It’s been relatively balmy here in Victoria, BC. The air is soupy, sleep is sparse, and the perennial summer scent—human waste evaporating off the pavement—is everywhere. We’re staunch defenders of summah, but it has its exhausting moments.
What’s the point of that non-problem smalltalk? Summer heightens cities. Urban environments seem to absorb and hum with the extra heat and movement (literally absorbing other stuff), and it makes wandering around in them even more psychedelic than usual.
Neil France's photography is the epitome of this heightened wanderer-subject in American photography. An incredibly gifted portraitist, France also spends what seems like a great deal of time combing his surroundings (most often his Long Beach home) and shooting deeply attentive and subtly charactered urban scenes.
Like fellow rambler Uchihara, France’s urban landscape work maintains a shocking level of compositional precision despite its overwhelming quantity. France’s work is the photographic equivalent of Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”—a sublimely saturated and fluid aesthetic assemblage. Equally infused with sly deadpan and unabashed fondness, Neil France’s photographs are beautiful, inspiring, and viscerally evocative of the finest feelings a city can offer.
Blogs We Like | Chris Ozer
Isolating a single, central strength in Chris Ozer's work is impossible. It's some of the least gimmicky and most earnest photography around, made even more amazing by its continual originality. Many of Ozer's subjects are already insanely beautiful, even majestic if we wanna get fluffy. But his images, either through a genuinely magic eye or toil, consistently present new and evocative dimensions to seemingly familiar scenes.
Whereas most images of SF’s Bay Bridge, for instance, seem interchangeable, Ozer’s shot above feels singular without obscuring its subject. There’s a saturation and intensity that, despite Ozer’s statements to the contrary, seem directly influenced by his former outlet—jazz piano. Like improvisation-heavy music, Ozer’s photography is undeniably present, seemingly pouring every atom of a place or person into a crystal-clear and fully-formed flow that’s simultaneously overwhelming and euphoric, even at its darkest.
Be sure to check out Chris’ main site too.
New Shopify feature: Variant Image Switching
If you have a product that comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, or styles, letting customers view their options just got much simpler. Shopify’s new variant images feature shows you that shirt in blue automatically. Just select the “Blue” option on your product page, and your black shirt image will switch to your blue shirt image. All you need to do is add images to your product variants.
Some of our themes already had something like this built in, but we’ve removed that feature because this one is perfect. We’re excited about this. We feel it should have been in there a long, long time ago. To take advantage of variant image switching, make sure you’ve updated your Shopify theme to the latest version. And of course let us know if you need any help.
Blogs We Like | Laura Manfre
During university, I enrolled in a painting and drawing course. In one of our many critique sessions, a classmate described my sketches as “childish.” The professor interrupted, “I think what you meant to say was child-like.” Childish was definite criticism, whereas child-like seemed like a solid compliment. This difference stuck with me.
Now whenever I come across art with that child-like quality, I understand the complexities involved in creating an image that evokes youthful feelings, like Laura Manfre’s entire portfolio of watercolor illustrations.
I’m drawn in by Manfre’s earnest but detailed approach to her subjects. A comforting repetition of the little things in life proven to make us momentarily happy. Slices of cake swirled with frosting. Little toasts smeared with jam or topped with a fried egg. Cookies and donuts. Heart-shaped lollipops. My Little Pony dolls. Avocados. Cheese burgers, pancakes, hot dogs and ramen. Baby fawns and pineapple drinks.
There’s a vintage gloss to each illustration, a yesteryear cleanliness. I like to imagine the objects plucked from obscurity on an antique store shelf or a backroad diner menu, dusted and cleaned until they’re ready for exhibition.
Maintaining the spotless presentation, Manfre keeps her online bios brief.
“A self-taught illustrator and kitsch lover from France.”
Kitsch completely describes Manfre’s vision, but I’d never assign her that descriptor. Like the fine line between childish and child-like, kitsch teeters between corny and enduring. I’m glad Manfre is confident in her kitsch.
Her work has made appearances in the Sunday Times Magazine, ADH Paper Co. and the Stay Home Club. Immerse yourself in Manfre’s world on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, where hashtags #donut #toast and #candyland are common vocabulary.
User Spotlight | Jason Fontana
One of the cool things about choosing your own subjects to review is satisfying the inherent need for variation. Changing foci from painting to sculpture to paper art to photography week in and out is very pleasantly mentally engaging. Writers, I tell you: if you can/want to write art reviews, do it. It makes your brain quite happy.
Chasing variation can end up showing you a lot about the artists you’re orbiting too. In Jason Fontana's case, we were immediately drawn to the sense of concentration in both quantity and quality. Following yesterday's excavation of Ian Moore's massive output, it felt logical to spend some time with an artist whose portfolio is a bit less massive. At 8 images, Fontana's blog is inarguably a tightly-wound ball of beauty.
Intense precision is maybe the most striking element in Fontana’s work. That aforementioned sense of concentration is something exuded not only by the work’s presentation but in its composition as well. A small portfolio, yes, but one of such staggering, crystal clarity and technical proficiency that each image seems to communicate volumes more than many similar projects. It’s gorgeous, potent work and we’re supremely honored to help present it on Tumblr.
User Spotlight | Ian Moore
Ian Moore's work is a diverse assembly of the furious and curious. His illustration has a surprisingly beneficial split not only between color and black and white work, but also between the modern and postmodern. A touch of Steadman and Basquiat, a smattering of cubism, and good ole' surrealist face-mutations form a thick blanket of reference that only enhances Moore's novelty and intensity.
Moore’s work appears deeply attuned to this kind of cross-pollination, having produced waterolor, ink drawings, and even street art. A few common elements help give an identity to these varied media, but the strongest is Moore’s incredible mastery of abstraction to add a frenetic depth to each piece. Even at its most viscerally weird and chaotic, Moore’s art never completely effaces its subjects/figures—there is in almost every case some core of divinely mad sentience undulating beneath the many gorgeous, absurdist strata. Moore’s work is, for these and many other reasons, wonderfully challenging and resonant.
Blogs We Like | Ulan-Bator
It seems like we’re finally past the inane argument over whether video games “are art.” There’s been a kind of tidal cycle of thinkpieces arguing one side or the other during the last few years, each utilizing either cherrypicked definitions of art or simply remaining vague, going nowhere and basically just preaching to the converted. It’s an argument that went nowhere.
Of course, a big part of the problem is considering games in total. Most of what we call art is firmly planted in a single medium, and analyzing a complex assemblage of design, animation, and story requires much more room than a 2-page blog post. Isolating and curating still visual content from games, on the other hand, yields more traditional aesthetic arguments and more direct comparisons to traditional art.
The ongoing project at Ulan-Bator (an arbitrary name) does exactly this. Its founder-curator scours the nether-est regions of the internet to find rare and rarely-played roms and presents his findings nearly daily. Fueled by a desire to show “the importance of cultural expressions from areas that sometimes get overlooked in this globalized time-period,” UB is a wide-reaching and deeply intriguing panoply of gaming uncanniness.
And like other well-curated projects, UB appears to find not only the best gems in esoteric storehouses, but manages to isolate some of their most unique details. UB’s GIF work is solid but restrained, only rarely dipping into epileptic chaos. Instead, what comes through is a sense of uncanniness and familiarity, a sense of the near-universal invariants of games design and its undeniable humor and artistry. Ulan-Bator is a project whose intrinsic fun shows through in every post, whether dazzling, plain, or simply odd.
We’re Hiring! Support staff
Pixel Union is looking for a new support person to join our team in Victoria B.C. We’re a small team, dedicated to refining the experience of prefabricated design on the web. We’ve got some great customers, and we want to provide them with the best support that we can.
What we’re looking for:
- You’re passionate about design and functionality on the internet.
- You have at least an entry-level knowledge of HTML and CSS, and are familiar with the platforms that we work on. (Wordpress, Shopify, Tumblr, Ghost)
- Strong communication and problem solving skills.
- You’re creative, fun, and enjoy working with others.
What you’ll be doing:
- Communicating first hand with our customers. The workload jumps from sales, to problem solving, to design advice.
- Helping our customers make the best things on the Internet, and get the most out of our products.
- Collaborating with our management, design and development teams to help create the best new products that we can.
- Drafting support articles and tutorials for our support centre
What we offer:
- Exciting work. The White House, MoMa and Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion? I don’t even know anymore!) all use our themes. You’ll be working on products that people know and love.
- Flexible work hours. We all try to meet at the office between 2 and 4 but otherwise, you set your own work hours based on when you feel most creative. It’s all about maintaining quality and knocking off deadlines.
- Flexible work. We don’t want you to get burnt out or bored. You’ll be working with some pretty interesting and smart people. There’s a wealth of knowledge and advice at your fingertips.
- Unlimited vacation time. Let’s be honest: two weeks a year is bullshit. We want you to be doing the best work of your life. That means managing burn out and taking some time to develop yourself culturally.
- A brief introduction without any jargon or cover letter awkwardness.
- Resume in MS Word or PDF Format.
- A link to your blog, or a website that you like. (optional)
Send the team an email at email@example.com. Thanks for reading!
Reorder your storefront sections in Startup 3.0
We’ve had a ton of feature requests from those of you using our Startup theme. Most of you wanted a single feature: the ability to customize the order of the sections on your Shopify storefront. You can now do this with the Startup 3.0 update. The updated settings make it extremely simple to reorder your sections in any combination and quickly publish the changes to your store.
We want to support you in making the best store possible by making all our ecommerce themes more flexible than you’ll need them to be. It’s your feedback that makes our work the best it can be. We hope you’ll keep sending it our way.
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