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A FEW CRESCENT MOONS


"Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt at being told that it is a fragment awaiting perfection."                                -- Rabindranath Tagore Most people realize by now that a quick, rough sketch...

SOME THINGS I LIKE ABOUT H. J. MOWAT


At the end of last year I offered one lovely drawing by an illustrator you've never heard of, H. J. Mowat.   Mowat has been lost in the sea of anonymous illustrators of the 1920s and 30s who worked in the loose, scribbly fashion of the day.  But I think he was really good.

THE END OF 2017


When I was a young boy, before I'd heard the names Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Jack Davis or Frank Frazetta, there was something about Playboy's comic strip, Little Annie Fanny, that mesmerized me.

ONE LOVELY DRAWNG, part 55


You've never heard of the illustrator H. J. Mowat (1879-1949).   He was lost in the sea of anonymous illustrators of the 1920s and 30s who worked in the style of the famous Henry Raleigh.

IT'S WAY PAST TIME TO TALK ABOUT SAUL TEPPER


When I started this blog, my plan was to publicize my favorite works by great illustrators of the past.  I had a long list, starting with illustrators such as Leyendecker, Rockwell and Cornwell-- and figured I would soon get to the talented Saul Tepper.  Then 12 years went by.

TOMER HANUKA'S PRELIMINARY SKETCHES


This week the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a major new retrospective of the work of David Hockney,  described as "one of the most notable painters of the 20th century."  The BBC tells us that Hockney's "greatest subject [was] private swimming pools," where he captures "something as impossible to fix as light on water." Personally, I think illustrator Tomer Hanuka did a better job of capturing light on a swimming pool in this preliminary sketch for a movie poster: Note how Hanuka's loose, quicksilver line suggests the essence of his subject: Until the Metropolitan Museum of Art announces its major retrospective of Hanuka's work, I'll use this space to share a few things.

TIME AND CHANCE HAPPENETH TO THEM ALL, part 2


Walter Appleton Clark was one of the most promising young talents in the illustration field in 1900.  He painted this beautiful and subtle watercolor illustration at the age of 23.    Note how he mastered the values in what might have been a muddy scene.  The light source creates a sharp contrast against that profile, and the structure of the whole picture flows from there.

LECTURE ON THE ART OF BERNIE FUCHS


For those of you who will be in the Los Angeles area this Sunday, the nice folks at the CTN Animation Expo have kindly invited me to give a talk about the life and art of Bernie Fuchs.  I'm looking forward to it.

INSPIRING WORDS FROM CHRIS PAYNE


Illustrator Chris Payne has long been renowned for his beautifully crafted pictures.  A generation of adoring art students closely studied his technique.  But more important than technique,  a new documentary about Payne's life gives us insight into the attitude responsible for motivating such work.  The film is available on vimeo on demand and is well worth seeing.

COUNTING HAIRS


The Renaissance brought fresh excitement about the physical world.  Art awoke from its long medieval fixation on the afterlife, and began to study the details of nature with an almost fanatical obsession.  Durer (detail) Centuries later there are still artists who find meaning painting individual hairs with a fine brush.

PIONEERS OF GERMAN GRAPHIC DESIGN


"The early twentieth century was the most significant period of all in the development of modern design.  The groundbreaking stylistic innovations that emerged in the first three decades engendered a new visual language."      ---Jens Müller The first few decades in 20th century Germany were tumultuous years, a veritable Cambrian explosion of innovation which shaped the world of visual communication that we now take for granted.  They introduced the "object poster" which filled public spaces with large colorful images for the first time.

FOUR THINGS THAT RALPH BARTON KNEW


1.  Sometimes the best way to exaggerate legs is to contrast them with a normal arm:  Those high-stepping legs seem even crazier because Barton gave us a baseline for normalcy.  He shows us he understands the bones and muscles of that arm; that emphasizes how he has detached the bones and added more joints to those legs.  That wonderful flowing tunic is like a magician's cape, concealing how he has sawed a lady in half.

HEINRICH KLEY FEEDS POMEGRANATE SEEDS TO THE MUSE


If a man wishes to be worthy of the best that a woman has to offer, he must have the patience to feed her a pomegranate, one seed at a time.

BEING EASY IN YOUR HARNESS


The poet Robert Frost understood that freedom is not the absence of any constraint.  There is no such thing.  "You have freedom," he said, "when you're easy in your harness." The illustrator Mort Kunstler used to work for men's adventure magazines such as Stag or For Men Only.   Illustration for Men magazine: "Get to Comrade Zoltan with Girls." (1965)  Cheap and lurid, these magazines were printed on a low budget.  They couldn't afford full color reproduction on every page.  In the double page illustration above, Kunstler was told he could use full color on the right side, but only two colors (red and black) on the left side.  Didn't notice Kunstler's sleight of hand, did you?

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 54


You probably don't know the work of illustrator Charles Sarka but you probably should. Sarka (1879-1960) started out as an apprentice to an engraver and became a staff artist for newspapers (first for the Chicago Record and then for the New York Herald).

ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK


This is the cover of yesterday's New York Times magazine: The NYT explained its goal for the cover:  "Like all great athletes, Roger Federer makes the impossible look easy.

NEW REFLECTIONS ON OLD COMBAT ART, part 4


In the last few posts we discussed combat art from World War I.   In the comments, a lot seemed to depend on the fact that these artists, whether illustrators or "fine" artists, were first-hand witnesses to the trauma of war.

NEW REFLECTIONS ON OLD COMBAT ART, part 3


For me, the work of Harry Townsend was among the most impressive art in the Smithsonian's exhibition of World War I art.

NEW REFLECTIONS ON OLD COMBART ART, part 2


Did fine artists and illustrators react differently to World War I? Many historians believe that World War I changed the path of fine art.

NEW REFLECTIONS ON OLD COMBAT ART, part 1


One of the rich and remarkable stories of American illustration has remained buried in museum vaults for many decades.


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