Category Archives: Entertainment

Top 5 Macabre Artists

Update:

Hello my goulish friends!! I wanted to first apologize for my neglect.  I recently graduated with a master’s degree and decided to put my focus on job hunting.  Luckily, I landed a public relations job with an agency in the Detroit area and will be moving this weekend!

This post shall be brief because I am supposed to be finishing a book chapter for one of my professors on advertising and the Great Depression… I’m procrastinating at the moment.

Brittni’s Top 5 Macabre Artists

This is in no way accurate, it’s just a list of some of my favorite macabre artists along with a photo of their work and a brief description.  I tend to shy away from gore and surrealism, so you won’t see any of the amazing artists who focus in those areas on this list.  I prefer dreamscapes, psychological horror and skeletal interpretations. http://blog.designnocturne.com/2012/03/01/the-art-of-zdzislaw-beksinski/I’ve written about some of these artists before, but a little reminder never hurt, right?

5. Zdzislaw Beksinski (Feb. 24, 1929-Feb. 21, 2005)- Beksinski was a renowned Polish painter whose work focused on post-apocalyptic landscapes, nightmarish scenery and death. His technique included a dark vs. light color palette of oil paints. Beksinski was found dead in his Warsaw home with 17 stab wounds, two of which were confirmed to be fatal.

4. Edward Gorey (1925-2000)- First of all, what a great name!  Gorey was an American author and artist most known for his Gothic illustrations. His past work includes illustrations for Dracula by Bram Stoker and War of the Worldsby H.G. Wells. My sister bought The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which was written by Gorey, for me because the artwork reminded her of me. ha! It is a small book that lists the alphabet along with a child whose name begins with the accompanying letter and a grim description of that child’s passing.  It has a dark humor to it and reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein mixed with Tim Burton. I highly recommend it.

The first two pages of “The Ghashlycrumb Tinies”

3. Mia Makila (1979-present)- Ms. Makila is a Swedish artist who specializes in mixed media, painting, drawing and digital art.  Her work is FANTASTIC!  It is usually colorful, whimsical and humorous.  In her blog, she says, “You could describe my art as horror pop surrealism or dark lowbrow.” She accepted my friend request on Facebook! I’m excited to stay updated on her latest work! I imagine her status updates will be art-related and sarcastic-my favorite kind! I chose to show this darker artwork because it offers a different side to Mia’s work.

Weird Baby

“Weird Baby” is mixed media on an antique photo.

2. Sylvia Ji (1982-present)- For those of you who know me, it will be easy to see why Ji’s work is one of my favorites.  Not only are her paintings absolutely stunning, her interpretation of the Day of the Dead is engaging, sad and beautiful.  According to her blog, “Sylvia Ji is at once contemplative, spiritual, enigmatic, and yet whimsically funny. Above all else, it is perhaps beauty that emerges as her defining characteristic, and her art reflects this: an extension of herself; a passionate appreciation of simple aesthetic pleasure fused with intimately complex subject matter.”

1. Tim Burton (1958-present)- Tim Burton is probably most known for his work in film.  While he is a successful director, writer and producer for such cult films such as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland and Beetlejuice, he is also a celebrated illustrator.  His partnerships with composer, Danny Elfman and actor, Johnny Depp have proven a recipe for success as he continues to wow audiences all over the world.

His work has been featured at an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Illustrations, film screen shots and sculptures were all available for viewing.  Above is a photo of “Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)” which was on display in another exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles.  His illustration techniques include pen and ink, colored pencil, water color and marker. His high contrast in color creates a whimsical world for his misfit characters to live.

Untitled (Romeo and Juliette)

I leave you with a recorded interview with Tim Burton at MOMA in New York so you can hear for yourself his process, inspiration and character.  He is truly a visionary, and I’m always excited to see what he’ll do next. *cough* Frankenweenie. In conclusion, I love Tim Burton. His work makes me feel better about the scary, awkward, and lonely parts of the adolescent experience I had.

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Tim Burton is Macabre

Tim Burton

Tim Burton

It hit me today that I have yet to pay tribute to my favorite movie director, illustrator and storyteller, Tim Burton.  That was unbelievably rude of me.  If you’ve only experienced his movies, (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, etc.) then I highly suggest you investigate other avenues of his work.   Before you dive into your research, allow me to give you a summarized version of the fantastic journey in which you are about to embark.

According to his bio at IMDB, the California native began his career with a fellowship from Disney.  He worked on mainstream animation (The Fox and the Hound) but was also granted the freedom to pursue his own ideas, thus his 6-minute film, Vincent.  This short production is full of life and sadness with a powerful message.

The Director

I’m not philosopher, but every time I watch a Tim Burton movie, I’m left with lingering thoughts about relationships, time and meaning.  If you let them, the films leave us with so much to think about.  The dialogue, characters and cinematography are only the obvious things.  His use or lack of color and what that means to the story is always fascinating… and I will admit that when I come to these realizations on my own, I feel smart.  For example, one of my favorite claymation films is Corpse Bride because the living world is dark and lonely while the deceased world is colorful and lively.  This is parallel to El Dia de Los Muertos within my own culture and I appreciate that. The truth behind the visual effects is scary, but the storytelling is playful.  Is it ironic?  Yea, I think so.  See for yourself below.

His vision is original, relatable and genius.  The stories are not too far removed from what we experience every day.  Some of his films are dark and creepy (Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) while others are bright and odd (Mars Attacks! and Beetlejuice), some are revisions of classics (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland) while others are hypnotizing tales through life’s journey (Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands).

The Poet

A poet is an artist of words.  Language can be an eerily dividing thing or an incredibly unifying thing.  Crafting a message that’s both full of symbolism and realization takes us on a semantic journey to wherever we want to go.  The power of interpretation creates an individualized experience that can make one stanza more personal than anything else you can think of.  I could spend hours analyzing a line of poetry from Edgar Allen Poe and just get lost in the meaning.  It’s a beautiful thing.

I am the proud owner of a copy of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy which is a roller coaster of epic proportions.  Romance, comedy and tragedy all wrapped into one little book of poems.  One of my favorites is called Voodoo Girl.  Which one is yours? Like all poetry, this book can be interpreted in infinite ways.  It’s simplistic rhymes and smooth rhythms are addicting and the accompanying artwork is beautifully executed.

Opinion Paragraph

I wish I could say that I transform into something more artistic when I experience Tim Burton’s work.  The truth is that I don’t change into what I wish I could be, instead I reflect on where I’ve been, how I want that to change or continue and why I ended up where I am.  That reflection is important in growth.  How can I evolve without understanding where I come from?  All I can say is that I am a collector of Tim Burton’s work for reasons that are beyond visual appeal.  The $300 Deluxe edition of The Art of Tim Burton will grace my bookcase when I get my first big-kid job after graduation.  I don’t worship the guy, but I appreciate his work.


The Horror of Disney

Note:  This post highlights inappropriate content connected to Disney, so please read with caution.

The Walt Disney Company

Believe it or not, there is a lot of horror surrounding the Disney company.  Sex scandals, subliminal messaging and evil villains all feed this growing rep.  I bet you’re unfamiliar with the real stories behind Disney’s fairytales.  Some of the classics are rewrites based on the Grimm Brothers’ stories which are collectively dark and often cruel.  The Walt Disney Company is most known for its animation, theme parks and media channels.  Disney’s persistent use of the Horatio Alger Myth, or rags-to-riches stories, tells us that no dream is too big to achieve and no person to small to achieve it.  Numerous scandals threaten Disney’s very existence, but it’s continued goodwill and outstanding movies continue to keep it afloat without too much scrutiny.

Disney Princesses by Daekazu on DeviantArt.com

Disney Princesses by Daekazu on DeviantArt.com

Subliminal Scandals

Aladdin– During one scene in which Aladdin floats up to Princess Jasmin’s balcony while standing on the magic carpet, a whispering voice says, “Take off your clothes.”  When I first heard about this I didn’t believe it.  I decided to investigate with an old VHS copy of Aladdin and turned up the volume as high as I could.  Lo and behold a creepy voice proved the rumor correct.

The Rescuers– Approximately 38 minutes into the animated feature, two frames of a topless woman can be found in a background window.  This rumor was confirmed by Disney and has since been corrected in later releases.  Anyone with an older version can play the animation in slow motion to see the nudity.  No thanks…

The Little Mermaid– The wedding scene towards the end of the movie portrays an over-excited priest and the original VHS cover art shows what looks like a giant penis drawn into the castle architecture.  I remember watching this movie dozens of times when I was little and never noticed these erections, but now that they’ve been pointed out, it’s clear that someone has a sick sense of humor.

Grimm Brothers

The Brothers Grimm by Fran85 on DeviantArt.com

The Brothers Grimm by Fran85 on DeviantArt.com

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Germany during the 1780s and both were professors and scholars.  Their fairytales include stories featuring royalty, talking animals and magic (just like most of Disney’s stories).  What people are surprised to learn is that the Grimm stories are just that– grim.  They are sad, cruel and sometimes scary.

Cinderella– This a story about an abused girl with horrid stepsisters and an evil stepmother.  Cinderella is constantly ridiculed, forced to work long hours and receives no positive reinforcement.  Cinderella’s fairy godmother grants her a night at the prince’s ball.  He falls in love with her and vows to marry the anonymous party-goer.  A glass slipper is his only clue to her identity, and he scours the village to find her.  The Grimm story is very similar except that the fairy godmother is a bird who brings a dress and gold shoes, the step-mother forced her daughters to cut off their toes in order to fit into Cinderella’s shoe and the step-sisters’ eyes are pecked out by pigeons as punishment for their cruelty.

Cinderella by Jeffery Thomas

This depiction of Cinderella inspired investigation into the horror of Disney.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs–  Snow White is an innocent, beautiful girl whose jealous step-mother hires a hit man to kill her off.  The evil queen tricks Snow White into eating a poisoned apple, and it is up to her new friends (seven hard-working dwarves) to find the prince and rescue her.  The Grimm story is again similar except that the evil queen did not fall off of a cliff to perish, instead she was forced to dance in iron shoes until she fell down dead from exhaustion and infected burns on her feet.

Snow White by Jeffery Thomas

Another inspiring photo by Jeffery Thomas

The Little Mermaid–  We all know about Ariel’s dream to explore the world of humans and her love for the prince.  We know that Ursula, the evil sea witch, is defeated in the end and Ariel is free to marry her true love.  Hans Christian Anderson tells a very different story.  The mermaid falls in love with a prince who is already in love with another woman.  She goes to the witch for a chance to be with him, but a curse causes excruciating pain with every step she takes with her new human legs.  In the end the prince marries the other woman (whom he’s loved the entire time) while the mermaid is offered a knife by her sisters in order to kill him.  Instead she accepts a broken heart and returns to the ocean only to disintegrate into a suicidal sea foam.

For more Grimm stories, I suggest Grim’s Complete Fairy Tales.  It is currently on my Amazon wish list.  Also, for more Disney heroines of horror by Jeffery Thomas, click here.

The Little Mermaid by Jeffery Thomas

Another Disney image by Jeffery Thomas

Whether Disney actresses are in the middle of some nudity scandal, seen scantily clothed or dancing suggestively, the company will always recover.  Poor public relations, ill-humored subliminal messaging and racial stereotypes are no match for this animation god.  Children will continue to enjoy Disney productions and theme parks as long as we are all alive and most likely for hundreds of years to come.  We can all appreciate the art, storytelling and spin-off ideas including the work of Jeffrey Thomas.  Disney will always have a place in my heart and in my memories.


The Music of Macabre and Building a Brand

Musical Nightmares

This week has been all about the music for me.  Nine hours of sleep doesn’t cut it at this point of exhaustion.  In order to stay focused and keep my sanity, I listened to a lot of music.   Fortunately, I came across one of my all-time favorite childhood soundtracks: Walt Disney’s Fantasia.  Below is a video of Night on Bald Mountain. This scene from Fantasia captures a terrifying night in which Chernabog’s demons come out to play in the dark.  It is one of my absolute favorite songs from one of my childhood obsessions.  (I used to pretend that I was the wizard’s apprentice and ran around demanding the broom to do my chores.)

Musical Branding Trends

Masked Band Members

Slipknot Band Photo from Blastro

Since I was listening to so many different bands, I noticed how different they all look.  Some fit the “scene” look,  others wear masks or make-up, and a few are just  cartoon characters.  It got me thinking about branding and reputation for musicians.  Exactly how do they figure out what the best look will be for their market?  Or is it that they actually dress and act like they do in real life?  Maybe it’s a combination of both.

Music branding trends come and go, but there are a few that may just stick.  Mike Boris, svp/executive music producer at McCann Erickson says that social networking with advertising, marketing and public relations companies help build a foundation that a band can leap from.

“The biggest trend [in 2009] was the use of social networking: Artists are being discovered and in turn working with brands. Bands are also becoming popular well before they get a label deal. If a band has an online following of a few hundred thousand fans, it is like a focus group. With the whole music business changing, artists are looking to our industry more than ever, and beyond that 30-second spot, bands can synergize with our brands like never before. (Via Web films, behind the scene’s footage, additional songs, product giveaways, contests, etc.)”

Band Photo from MP3Lyrics.com

Hollywood Undead poses by a gate

Another trend that I’ve noticed has been the use of songs that aren’t on the Top 40 list for TV commercials.  A lot of my own favorite bands and songs have been featured in automotive commercials or spots for Apple products.  Commercials are a great way to get exposure.

Managing Reputation is Important

When there’s not much you can do in the way of big name connections, you always have your online presence.  Managing your online reputation is more than just replying to comments, updating information, and talking about the location of your next gig.  It’s about engaging with your audiences, whether they be fans, industry leaders, or venue owners.  Below you’ll find a list of tips for managing your online brand and reputation.   Unless your band is one who wants a bad rep and plays the villain, these next few bullet points will be useful.

  • Let Someone Else Say It- If you can find a Tweet, blog, or article by someone else that captures what you’d like to say, link to it.  It’s better to align with a third party than to push all of your messages at people.  Pretty soon, they won’t listen anymore.
  • Unify Digital Properties- Link your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Deliscious page and any other social networking sites together.  It’s an effective way to reach a broader audience, and it’s easier to update and monitor everything.
  • Leave Your Ego Behind- When hecklers and D-bags attack you with insults or threats, it’s best to either ignore and delete the messages or CALMLY respond without any hint that it affected you.  Remember that the internet is a free marketplace and anyone will be able to see your responses…
  • Know Your Audience- Your audience is made up of different segments.  It’s impossible to cater to all of them at one time, so we have to divide them up.  One group may not respond the same way as another group so it’s important to tailor messages according to characteristics of each group.
  • Don’t Wallow or Gloat- If you win a music competition or suck it at a tour opener, don’t obsess over it.  Airing dirty laundry or repeated self-praising will only cause people to lose respect for you.  Just keep it simple.