There have been more and more incredible group art exhibits popping up over the last couple of years and they don’t appear to show any signs of slowing down. The benefits of these shows is obvious; providing variety, by showcasing the skills and perspectives of a number of different artists. The benefits to the artists, on the other hand, can become a double-edged sword. Being included among a crowd of established and burgeoning talent can provide a forum to demonstrate one’s abilities that they’ve never had before. The downside with such a platform is that it can be far too easy to get lost in the mix and have your work drowned out by the rest of all the exceptional pieces on display. Even if you contribute a piece that is arguably stronger, a more recognizable name can easily divert the attention away from it and steal the spotlight. The hope is that, if you continue to create quality work and continue to find a format to display it, the work should undoubtedly speak for itself and your talents will eventually become difficult to continue to ignore. One such artist whose efforts and consistency are managing to prove that theory and push him to the forefront of his profession, is Kevin Tong.
Like a number of artists, the Los Angeles-based designer has found a decent amount of work creating concert posters, but, throughout the last year, he has really made some big moves, raising his stock as an independent artist in the gallery world and an immediate “go to” for contributions to group shows and series. In the last 4 months alone, he has entered our radar with some impressive creations for organizations/clients that range from All City Media, Mondo Tees/LucasFilm LTD, Gallery 1988, and ChuckPalahniuk.net. What first brought Kevin‘s work to our attention, however, were his contributions to the Wes Anderson-themed “Bad Dads” exhibit at the Lopo Gallery, which we posted a preview for back in October. Now, as Gallery 1988‘s “Is This Thing On?” exhibit comes to a close (feat. Tong as one of 100 artists paying tribute to comedy legends), Spoke Art is reissuing Kevin Tong‘s trio of Wes Anderson prints in a variant that we haven’t seen before: wood.
Here is a video demonstrating the screenprint process of the originals:
When, Hi–Fructose managing online editor, Ken Harman launched Spoke Art last year, it hit the ground running and, although they continue to host more new and wonderful montly exhibits at LOPO, the Bad Dads show was so successful and Spoke Art has been able to retain enough interest in the pieces to continue gradually releasing their availability to the public up through now, months later. In fact, If you jump to the 2:57 mark in the above video, the wood versions of Tong‘s pieces are clearly shown, suggesting that a variant release has been planned since very early on.
It’s not uncommon for artists to issue smaller/more limited versions of their prints in variants. Sometimes a smaller run is simply created in another color option and, at other times, they are even released with specialty inks, such as glow-in-the-dark or metallics. For Tong‘s new wood variants, the prints were screen-printed directly onto their wood backdrops, not simply wood mounted after the fact. This new variant offers the benefit of the natural wood grain’s integration into the print, as well as an increased sturdiness that makes additional framing/mounting unnecessary. More than a simple gimmick, the style of these prints actually looks like they belong in this format. Tong‘s aesthetic often contains a blue-print-like precision, as showcased through his very technical MOON print for All City Media‘s “Redrawn” series (re-imagining film work that the design firm has worked on in the past), the components of his Palahniuk RANT print, and with the schematic breakdown of R2D2 in his “A Linch Pin Droid” piece for Mondo Tees‘ officially licensed Lucas Film Star Wars series. It’s no surprise that, while the Bad Dads exhibit drew it’s name from the underlying theme of “father issues” that many of Anderson‘s films possess, Tong ‘s prints are focused primarily on another important element in the auteur’s work: the architecture. Incorporating Anderson‘s dollhouse-esque views into the building infrastructures with his own personal style, Tong created pieces featuring open-walled views into the family home from The Royal Tenenbaums and the Hinckley Cold Storage (aka: robbery site) from Bottle Rocket. If it seems out of place and/or surprising for the Rushmore print not to involve a structural breakdown of the academy, that may be due to the fact that it’s actually more of an alteration to another Rushmore print, previously created by the artist for Gallery 1988‘s 4th annual “Crazy 4 Cult” show back in July, 2010. The bottom of each print features images of the characters from each of the corresponding films, with illustrations that lend themselves more to the childlike approach used in Tong‘s Conan O’Brien inspired, “With Strings Attached” print.
All prints measure in at 19″ x 25″. They are signed and numbered with the Rushmore and Bottle Rocket prints limited to a total number of 30 each and the Tenenbaums print with a run of 40. With the original prints priced at $60 with runs of 150 each, the wood variants’ $80 price tag is surprisingly low. If you’d like a set of all 3 wood variants, there is also a super limited supply of matching number sets set aside at a further reduced price of $200 total.
With their matching bold color schemes and wooden backdrop, the set reminds me heavily of wooden childrens toys and puzzles. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a follow up 3 set series, including a breakdown of the Belafonte, The Darjeeling Limited, and the Fantastic Mr. Fox underground tunnels/farms/treehouse.
Check out detail shots of the prints below.
BOTTLE ROCKET – (BUY)
RUSHMORE – (BUY)
ROYAL TENENBAUM – (BUY)