8 vinyl album covers I would like to decorate my living room with

I don’t own a record player, but I collect vinyl nonetheless. Some people think that weird, but look at all these beautiful album covers! I would gladly own all of them, but as of this moment, I only own Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine. I’m saving money for a copy of Brasshopper by the Broken Brass Ensemble, which I hope to buy next month.

Do you have a favorite album? Which albums have great cover art? Let me know in the comments!

Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days (singer-songwriter, folk)

Muse, the resistance
Muse – The Resistance (progressive rock)
Continue reading 8 vinyl album covers I would like to decorate my living room with

Biographical comics

For those that only know comics as a source of entertainment for children, be sure to look into serious graphic novels like Maus and Persepolis. Comics are an excellent medium to tell a story in a personal manner. Telling a story in panels and quirky illustration can also serve as an easy approach to heavy or difficult subjects.

Maus is a biographical graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. It tells the story of the father of the artist, a Polish Jew, who lived in Poland during the Second World War. It deals with the war itself but also the long-term personal consequences for those that were in it. I believe it is a required read for first-year history students at the University of Amsterdam.

Art Spiegelman, Maus

One of my personal favorites is the book Achter de Kawat (Behind the Fence) by Charles Burki. Burki was interned on Java in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War. During his stay he kept a diary with illustrations and humorous notes, which he published when he returned to the Netherlands after the war. The illustrations depict the difficulties of daily life in the war camp, and the book is interesting from both historical and artistic perspective.

Charles Burki, Achter de Kawat

BBAX: Aral Balkan on the future of the internet

Yesterday evening designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan gave a great keynote on what we can and must to do to make the internet a better place.
Balkan gave the talk in the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, at the award ceremony of the Big Brother Awards, an award for the most appalling privacy infringement in The Netherlands. The event was organized by Bits of Freedom, a Dutch digital rights organization that cares a lot about privacy and communications freedom.

Unfortunately, there is no clip of the keynote yet, only a recording of the livestream of the whole event. Balkans talk starts at 51:15.

[NL] Terug in de tijd met Het Geheugen van Nederland

Ik ben sinds kort helemaal verslaafd aan de Britse serie Downton Abbey. De serie speelt zich af in de periode 1912-1925 en na een aantal afleveringen vroeg ik me af hoe het leven in Nederland eruitzag in die tijd. Om het antwoord op mijn vraag te vinden ging ik op zoek naar oud beeldmateriaal in digitale beeldbanken.
Het Geheugen van Nederland is zo’n beeldbank, maar dan speciaal voor de Nederlandse geschiedenis. De website bevat een groot aantal collecties van Nederlandse musea, bibiliotheken en archieven en als je het (net als ik) ontzettend leuk vind om rond te neuzen in oud beeldmateriaal, dan zit je hier goed.

Het Geheugen van Nederland heeft nu een digitale expositie van 101 topstukken gemaakt die een fantastische kijk geeft in het dagelijks leven en belangrijke gebeurtenissen van de Twintigste eeuw. Er komt van alles voorbij: oude foto’s, politieke spotprenten en reclameposters.
Het leuke aan deze expositie is dat ik me opeens bewust werd van het feit dat sommige dingen die we als vanzelfsprekend ervaren nog helemaal niet zo lang bestaan. En dan heb ik het niet over het internet of mobiele telefoons, maar: vrouwenkiesrecht, de vrije zaterdag, koelkasten, Albert Heijn… Al die dingen, concepten en ideeën zijn nog geen 100 jaar oud!

ah vrijezaterdag
koelkast vrouwenkiesrecht

Let op: de navigatie van de digital expositie laat iets te wensen over, maar de begeleidende tekst bij elk plaatje is de extra moeite zeker waard! Om de begeleidende teksten te zien: Open een plaatje en hover met de muis over het pijltje. Klik op ‘toon/verberg tekst’.

Vintage posters from The Netherlands

It turns out you can find cool stuff in the digital image libraries of the Netherlands. The following vintage posters are from the 19th and 20th century. I found them on a website called Het Geheugen van Nederland. If you click on a thumbnail, you will be directed to the image library, where you can view or download a high resolution version. I really like this type of vintage illustrations. I hope you do too. Enjoy!

vintage-affiche-van-ysendyk-koffie-thee vintage-affiche-ballon-nijmegen vintage-affiche-thee-eureka vintage-affiche-chocolade-melk vintage-affiche-kat-lezen-boek vintage-affiche-eekhoorn-lezen vintage-affiche-burgers-fiets

Summer read for motivation: Brick by Brick by Stephen McCranie

I have a hard time finding the motivation to finish my huge list of projects during the summer break.

I survived my first year of my masters studies and the summer holidays are finally here. After the exams in June, I desperately needed some downtime so I took a week off. But now, after a week of no deadlines, no obligations, only parties and days of leisurely strolling around the city, I find that it is very hard start working again. It’s not a lack of discipline, mind you — although I think the lack of deadlines certainly doesn’t help.

But something happened to me today when I found the website Doodle-alley by Stephen McCranie. The website contains an online book, “Brick by Brick”, that contains motivational essays and comics about being a creator, based on McCranie’s experience as a cartoon artist. I can definitely relate to the feelings and pitfalls described in the book and the comics are both well-drawn and inspirational. Read the the first chapter of Brick by Brick.

Goals are scary, a panel from Brick-by-Brick by Stephen McCranie
A panel from Brick-by-Brick by Stephen McCranie

I can recommend this book as a inspirational summer read that will also (hopefully) provide some motivation. I hope you will be as inspired and motivated by Brick-by-Brick as me. Enjoy!

Ukiyo-e reference books

I’ve been an admirer of Japanese wood block prints ever since I bought my first art postcards in Paris. When I went to the Kuniyoshi exposition in Leiden, I looked around for a good reference book. The Siebold Huis sells art books with large Ukiyo-e prints, but the prices for those books started at 60 euro’s! :O

Eventually I found Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art, a gigantic book that’s so large that it doesn’t fit in my bookcase! It normally costs around 60 pounds, but luckily I was able to get it second-hand. It offers an overview of Ukiyo-e prints through the times, which means it contains traditional images such as portraits of actors and famous warriors, but also more modern work.

book Cover of Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art
Cover of Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art

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Animation: the adventures of Prince Achmed

the adventures of prince achmed

Friday I went to see the oldest animation in the world — that still exists. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a hotchpotch of themes and characters from the stories of Thousand and One Nights. Although the original is from 1926 (!), it has not lost any of its charm.

Since the movie is so old that it’s in the public domain, you can view the entire movie on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUV81QZaqZ4

The movie was made in the course of three years by the German artist Lotte Reiniger. She used cut-outs from black paper and lightboxes to create silhouettes reminiscent of wajang dolls. Given that the movie counts 24 frames per second and lasts over one hour, that means Reiniger assembled at least 24 * 3600 frames by hand in total!

The figures are beautifully detailed and expressively animated. I can tell you that it was really impressive to watch!

The movie is meant to view with a score — for example provided by a live piano player in the theatre. For this particular occasion, a local jazz trio had composed a new soundtrack for the movie with vocals and music from piano, percussion, and guitar.

adventuresofprinceachmed

Kuniyoshi exhibition

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit het SieboldHuis in Leiden, a small museum devoted entirely to Japan and Japanese arts. They had a great exhibition on Utagawa Kuniyoshi and his art.

Kuniyoshi made a lot of cat prints. He also used cats to counter the censorship in Japan: some of his satirical cartoons are filled with anthropomorphic cats instead of people.

kuniyoshi-cats

Another interesting thing is his experimentation with ‘wide screen’ illustrations for a more dramatic effect:

kuniyoshi_Takiyasha_the_Witch_and_the_Skeleton_Spectre

Here you can read more about the exhibition of ukiyo-e prints by Kuniyoshi.

Sadly, in Japan the art of making wood block prints is slowly disappearing. The awesome kickstarter project Ukiyo-e Heroes, in which the creators planned to make wood block prints of Japanese video game characters, proved that the demand for original wood block prints still exists — but maybe from a different audience.
Below are some examples of prints from the Ukiyo-e Heroes project, with Samus (Metroid series), Mario and Donkey Kong and Link (The Legend of Zelda). I think this is a great way to revive and promote traditional wood block printing. It’s such a shame this art form is on the brink of extinction!

ukiyoeheroes1
ukiyoeheroes2

If you like the illustrations, you can buy prints in the store of the official website.

Adventures in reading

This week I was in the local library. I go there every now and then, especially after processing a lot of theoretical theory, to clear my head. I just sit somewhere with a pile of interesting books and breathe the quiet library air, or I wander from bookcase to bookcase drinking in titles and subjects and genres. I love getting lost in a library. For me, every book is a door. I get high on books. My favourite thing to do is hiding myself in my room with a weeks supply of food and then binge-reading for hours and hours and hours on end.

I felt adventurous, so I decided to check out a part of the library where I had never been: the section for graphic novels.

I normally don’t read graphic novels. I’m a bit of a nerd, so I’ve read V for Vendetta and some of the Sandman and Death stories by Neil Gaiman and Maus because I love history, but that’s it. The collection in my local (medium-sized city) library is not extensive or anything, but there certainly were interesting (storywise and graphicwise) books to be found. I ended up reading half a graphic novel while standing next to the bookcase because I was so engrossed. Eventually I sat down and finished the whole thing.

shenzhen book cover
The cover of Shenzen by Guy Delisle
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