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Tomorrow we’re participating in a double event. It consists of a promotion of the book Fête funèbre or Art and Death, which is published by the Painting Department of the Academy of Fine Arts and which we designed. The book follows an exhibition catalog that we designed a few years ago and includes essays on the subject of how death influences art. (We will obviously show you the book once we have it.)

The other event is an opening of an exhibition titled Hamlet’s Prop: Skull in Visual Arts and among some great works there will be also our modest poster from the Iconic Painters series, on de La Tour.

We also had the pleasure of designing the poster for the event: it combines a plant motif used for the book cover with a skull invoked by the exhibition’s title. You can see a simplified version above (with way less text than in the printed version but the same illustration). If you’re in Gdańsk and in a slightly morbid mood, come join us!

This used to be a guessing game but we already told you the answer.

We feel that we don’t share nearly enough cool work that we come upon and just as this thought arose Google gifted us with a charming Google Doodle by Matthew Cruiskshank. As it was not featured worldwide (or even very broadly), we thought we’d share it with you.

The doodle celebrates the iconic US highway Route 66 that ran from Chicago to California and features so prominently in the culture that even us non-Americans are very aware of it. In a charming mix of painted illustration and animation Cruickshank captures the atmosphere of the states the road crosses and some particular attractions on the way. As this official website claims, the illustrations were developed outside, during an actual road trip along the Route. (You can see the whole animation there, too.)

The work charmed us with its mix of light-hearted painterly illustrations, collage and very simple animation that feels unforced and humorous. It has fun typographic (and other) details and is wonderfully matched with Nat King Cole’s “Route 66”. There are one or two moments when the vector elements in the animation style felt a bit jarring to us but they’re quite offset by the fragments of the actual sketchbook and the liveliness of the whole thing. Overall, it was a charming, little morning surprise in our browser that made us happy.

Last week we took our kids to a rather lovely exhibition, another one in a series organized by the Museum of Gdynia to celebrate the work of classic Polish illustrators of children’s books. This one presents the work of Bożena Truchanowska, an artist most active in the 1960s and 1970s, who illustrated scores of children’s and young adults’ books. The exhibition was designed as an interactive experience where kids could move things around, draw on a wall (or on paper) and literally get in touch with the world of Truchanowska’s drawings. It didn’t overwhelm with information (perhaps, in fact, adults could stand to learn a little more theory about the work of the artist) and our kids were delighted. In fact, it’s become a returning topic of discussion why you can’t draw on the walls at home if you can in the museum. The striking thing about Truchanowska’s work is how she never limited herself to a single style, as illustrators usually do, and if you look at a number of her illustrations it’s not always easy to tell they were created by the same person. While our kids enjoyed demolishing the exhibition, we were most interested in the original drawings and even book layouts exhibited on glass panes.

A movable structure with elements of illustrations from which you can build your own creatures.
Ants stuck on the floor.
The whole exhibition space turned colorful and chaotic with stickers.
Animals you could peek at through holes in a wooden structure (that was actually fun regardless of age).
The biggest hit with our kids: a board with movable illustration elements.
Elevator transformed.
Truchanowska has a real way with drawing animals.
One of the original drawigns exhibited on a glass pane.
“Why can’t we draw on the walls at home???”

May you all have a beautiful Christmas time full of warmth and joy that fills you with peace!

(And this year’s card includes a nativity scene that our son had to construct for preschool. We helped with the building but the holy family and the animals are his work. It looks cool under the Christmas tree.)

We know, we know. We still don’t update regularly – but we will, once the seasonal madness is over (which mostly means everyone wants to finish everything before New Year). However, we have a treat for you today. A while ago the Museum of Gdynia showed an exhibition of old Christmas cards from the time of People’s Republic of Poland (which we missed) and then printed a book about the phenomenon (which we failed to buy – still beating ourselves up about that). But we did buy a few of the reprinted cards in the gift shop and wanted to share them with you.

They were drawn by amazing Polish illustrators, working in traditional techniques and evoking an atmosphere of Christmases long ago: snowy countrysides, carollers, things that were already becoming a thing of the past as the cards were drawn. This generation of illustrators also coupled skilled observation with a subtle sense of humor. Enjoy!

Józef Wilkoń and a countryside sleigh ride.

Zbigniew Rychlicki, depicting a Christmas decorations stall – the thing that has definitely not become one of the past and is even multiplying, together with all the Christmas fairs.

And our favorite, Adam Kilian, working in his own, unique technique reminiscent of classic etching.

Check back later this week for our own Christmas card of this year and have a good pre-Christmas time!