October 18 - December 10, 2010
Photo by Alex Comeau '11
Picto This! presents character-based prints, designer toys and skateboard decks — all expressions of a vibrant contemporary art movement that is global in scope and personal in attitude. In this genre, artists, illustrators, graphic designers and animators create iconic cult-like characters that can be variously menacing, cuddly, one-eyed, authoritarian, soft, monstrous, lazy, hyperactive, spiky, friendly, loving, alien, childlike, vocal or mute.
Typically made of cloth, plush fabric, resin or soft vinyl, designer toys usually appear in collectible, limited editions that are marketed in large part to adults. A sense of “cute” and “play” is readily evident in character-based art, which on the one hand appeals to an urban underground audience. On the other, such work has made its way to brand commercial airlines and also serves as mascots for 47 government prefectures in Japan.
Motomichi Nakamura, Dream Texture 10,
screenprint, SLU 2008.37
Pictoplasma is a biennial conference in Berlin that includes artists’ lectures, screenings and roundtable discussions focused on character design. Every Pictoplasma begins with a “character walk,” in which galleries are open to the public for visitors to see multimedia art installations, encounter large soft mutants on the sidewalk, or take photographs of their friends wearing oversized panda masks.
The “brain fathers” of Pictoplasma, Lars Denicke and Peter Thaler, write, “characters are not representations of living beings, but have a more animistic quality, of giving objects or mere thoughts the appearance of life.
As such, characters are often nothing less than projections of guardians to unknown territories and worlds.”
Deth P. Sun
Friends with You
and Jason Bacon