Creative Chain: Connecting creatives one link at a time, week one

[Emily Potts] Felt & Wire is pleased to introduce a new weekly series called Creative Chain. Each Wednesday we’ll feature three bold designers whose work is unique, impactful and fresh. The inspirational “chain” links each person to the next. The chain could go in any direction at any time: From designers and illustrators to photographers and printers and everyone in between, the journey will unfold before our eyes. The featured work is beautiful, chaotic, sometimes confusing, but always fun. We hope this series inspires and delights you on your creative path.

Today we kick off the chain with a duo that we at Felt & Wire admire and respect. John Gurtin and Katie Wilson of Dude and Chick create cheeky, beautifully letterpressed greeting cards that are irresistibly funny. Based in St. Paul, Minn., John and Katie systematically bounce ideas off each other until one sticks and then it ultimately finds its way letterpressed into a card. Some of the illustrations that accompany the messages are quite literal, while others are a wink and a nudge at the topic. All are cheeky and will elicit an instant smile to the lucky recipient one of the cards.

Socks & Sandals
This card has special appeal, because it’s a pet peeve of mine. I love how John and Katie take something that we’re all thinking about but too afraid to say—those of us with taste—and beautifully execute it. If you’re wearing socks and sandals, do us all a favor and remove one or the other. They do not go together.

The letterpress intricacies and lovely, flowery typeface of this card juxtapose perfectly with the word itself, which is often used in crass terms. The breasts are blind printed so in the right lighting they fade away completely. As Wilson notes, “The idea was to encourage our customers to really feel ‘em up.”

Katie Wilson of Dude and Chick is inspired by  …

Kelly Abeln
“Kelly Abeln is my definition of ‘Illustration by a Lady.’ Her style is strong and no-nonsense, with a tendency toward wonk, and an ability to work in lots of little secrets to her illustrations. She runs head-on into different mediums, mixing textures, digital and painting with her hand-drawn type, but somehow it always comes together perfectly. Her tumblr is a constant source of inspiration—she posts new and old sketchbook work regularly at her website, as well as a slew of images at Cult of Flowers. The combination of female-centric girly things with a heavy dose of modern feminism is a balance that’s tough to come by, but oh-so-perfect when it’s done right. It’s no wonder that she’s currently illustrating for Rookie Mag. Kelly’s aesthetic inspires me to keep the chick side of Dude and Chick looking sharp.”

Twin Peaks
“This illustration has so much going on—it’s a spread from Laura Palmer’s diary that Kelly created after binge-watching the television series Twin Peaks. Though I’ve yet to fall down the Twin Peaks rabbit hole, all the little bits of wonder in here are enough to do it. The color palette is just right, rich but restrained. The overall treatment of the various elements ties them all together well, with bits painted, digitally colored, and the drop shadow pushing everything right off the page. I struggle with complicated pieces—particularly since I am often stuck in an A2 size restriction, drawing for cards—and Kelly handles a lot of subject matter here with ease. I love the realistic diary feel that she’s created within a collection of things drawn in such an off-kilter, oddball style.”

“My favorite works of Kelly’s always feature her fantastic portrait work. I draw a lot of ladies and dudes, but I’ve yet to conquer an original style that feels illustrated but true to the subject. Kelly does just that in her Rodarte work, capturing a great likeness of the fashionable Mulleavy sisters who are behind the Rodarte line. Also that hand-drawn type is perfect.”

Kelly Abeln is inspired by …

Andres Guzman
Andres Guzman has been blowing my mind with his artistic abilities since he sat next to me in an illustration class at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design five years ago. I’ve had the chance to see his work grow and change mediums—from oil painting to digital, and now somewhere in between. Since day one his amazingly intuitive command of a brush, pen and pencil has been an inspiration. For someone like me, whose hand is clunky and clumsy (but charming in it’s own right), I dream of having ideas flow from my brain to paper like Andres. Although our styles are pretty different, I look at Andres’ practice as a great example. His work ethic, nonstop sketchbooking, experimentation and belief that an artist doesn’t have to have to be limited to one style to be successful, is influential.”

Sketchbook spread
“This is just one of countless sketchbook selections I could have made from the Andres archives. He lays down every medium imaginable in his sketchbooks, and they end up looking as magical as any ‘finished’ piece of work. Looking through Andres’ sketchbooks and process on his Tumblr site instantly makes me want to get off the computer and draw. It’s been said among friends that you can’t compare yourself to Andres, because he is not human. Here is the proof.”

Teleported Man
“One of Andres’ recent acrylic and ink paintings, ‘Teleported Man,’ was inspired by a lonely musician outside of his grocery store. I think this is a noble homage to a local character. I’m always drawn in by Andres’ use of color texture. In this painting, the man’s mysterious features and strange suburban setting keep me looking. This is one example of what Andres can create with some scrap wood, discarded house paint and a mental snapshot.” (Check out his artist collective Steakmob*for more work and some great music podcasts.)

A big thank you to designer Fred Schaub for creating visualizations of each person in the chain. Next Wednesday, Andres Guzman’s selection will be featured, along with two other links in the chain.

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by Chandra Greer on 05.29.12 at 9:36 am

    This is very cool. Glad to see Dude & Chick at the top of the creative chain.

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