Erik Johansson is a young and talented photographer and retouch artist from Sweden. He is a self-taught artist who transitioned from a noob into a master image manipulator in just a few years. Erik’s creative process starts with an idea, usually a weird or wacky one. He loves putting his subjects into an alternate universe where the laws of physics are defied at every turn. Here’s a rundown of some of the concepts he dreamed up and managed to execute perfectly: hand-stitched winters, boating on grassy plain, Mobius bridges, and dreams that somehow creep into your reality. I have to agree with one website when they described Erik’s work as ‘Echoing the mathematical preciseness of M.C. Escher and the jocularity of Salvador Dalí.’ Erik is now based in Berlin, Germany.
Ilya Kalimuli is a Moscow-based designer who decided to redesign a couple of famous brands. His work is clever, funny, and practically oozing with creativity. A McDonald’s laptop, M&M bullets, Adobe beauty products, Dropbox specimen cups, Heinz blood products (still in 57 varieties), Tic Tac time bombs, a holey Crocs umbrella, and my personal favorite: Kinder Surprise condoms. Ilya was an engineer before devoting his time to design. He currently lives and works in Russia.
The premise of Jeff’s Wars on Kinkade series is simple: What happens if the Empire decide to invade Kinkade’s paintings? The result is somewhat hilarious as Imperial Star Destroyers, clone storm troopers, and Hoth-crushing AT-ATs ruin the totally idyllic mood of the paintings. Jeff’s photomanipulation is so subtle, the intruders look like they were in the original paintings. You’d expect the idyllic to clash with the violent, but oddly enough, they it in well together. One of my favorites is an unsuspecting house being stalked by an AT walker.
Chris LaBrooy is the artist behind these amazing automobile-inspired installations. The series, called Auto Aerobics is set in an unused basketball court. It features a classic cars gracefully interlocked with each other. Some of them seem to float in midair or are firmly planted with all four wheels on the ground. Chris is currently based in the UK where he specializes in 3D design.
Jaap Vliegenthar is an imaginative digital image manipulator who is known for his humorous, often satirical images featuring well-known celebrities. So far, he has managed to put the Pope, Vladimir Putin, and Queen Elizabeth II in some of the most unlikely scenarios. While his scenes are highly amusing, they’re not at all derogatory. They simply show these high-profile celebrities in ordinary, everyday situations. Jaap also has a series where he re-imagined foggy scenes with gigantic plugs for air-conditioning units. He currently lives and works in Amsterdam.
Daryna Kossar is an outstanding photographer and designer from Ukraine. Now, we’ve featured a lot of food art before but Daryna stands out with her creative use of everything that happens to be at hand. the list of things she’s used include: lipstick, mascara, blueberries, cookies, coffee, bread, and sugar cubes. According to her, her inspiration comes from the little things she saw everyday. It’s not so much a matter of creative arrangement as it is seeing the artistic potential of the most ordinary, everyday objects. I’ll definitely be watching out for her work from now on.
Javier Perez (not to be confused with another artist of the same name) is a multi-talented artist currently based in Ecuador. He is an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, and photographer. He also does typography, branding, and awesome bits of animation. One of his most popular series in his Instagram account is an ode to the little everyday objects we take for granted. With a few strokes of his pen, he has turned a pair of pliers into a dueling cowboy, a paperclip into a tank, a penny into a full portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and a handful of nails into a porcupine. One of my favorites is a harmless stapler he turned into an alien Predator.
Charles Leval is a French street artist whose art is starting to crop up in some of the most unexpected places. Levalet, as he is known in the artistic circles, likes to use props in some of his work. The props are usually the only spots of color to be found in his art. Unlike most street artists, his work is entirely in black and white. Charles’ work is unique in the way it is cleverly incorporated into the walls and objects that they are placed on. The placement of his work is definitely not random. It takes him quite a lot of wandering around to find the perfect spot which brims with artistic potential. Measurements are taken before he heads back to his shop to create the images. The finished product is then integrated into the location using wheat paste. One of his most recent work features a guy aiming a real cue stick at a hand grenade. he calls it “Demineur”, which is the French word for minesweeper.
“The Fallen” is the brainchild of two British artists to commemorate those who fell during the WWII in the beaches of Normandy. Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss traveled all the way to the historic beach and together with hundreds of volunteers, proceeded to scratch stencils of soldiers into the sand. The initial number of volunteers was around 60, but as word got around, their numbers swelled to more than 500. The images were washed away by the tide after nearly five hours but the effort was definitely worth it. According to Jamie, ‘The idea is to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Second World War Normandy landings.’ he added, ‘People understand that so many lives were lost that day but it’s incredibly difficult to picture that number. You could see the horrific casualty of war when you stood on the cliff looking down at the beach. Watching the tide come in and wash the bodies away was symbolic of all the lives lost in all wars, not just during the Normandy Landings.’
Natalia Rak is a street artist whose ‘territory’ covers most of her native Poland. Her work is mostly large-scare and covers entire walls of buildings. Natalia is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz and has been a painter before she became a street artist. One of her most famous pieces is “The Legend of the Giants” where a gigantic young girl dressed in a colorful beribboned dress, waters what appears to be a small plant, or full-grown tree, depending on your perspective. It is the sheer scale of this project as well as Natalia’s signature soft-toned, feminist approach that makes it stand out.