Launched in 2010, Colossal is a Webby-nominated blog that explores art and other aspects of visual culture. You’ll find posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world.
Since 2016, Japanese tea company Ocean Tea Bag has been elevating an everyday ritual into an animal adventure. Intricate tea bag designs range from giant squids and otters to red pandas and cephalopods. Layers, folds, and perforations help to create the details of each creature’s body, which also doubles as a pouch for the tea blend inside. The company was created by Takahashi Shota and launched its first product, a dolphin design, with a crowdfunding campaign in 2015. Since then, Shota has added a vast menagerie of animals to the product line. Luckily, the company started accepting overseas orders just a few weeks ago. Sets of individual animals/flavors and variety packs are available on the Ocean Tea Bag website.
“Where Are You?” is a new customized search-and-find book illustrated by Marija Tiurina (previously). The children’s book combines elements from “I Spy,” Where’s Waldo?,” and video game avatars to create personalized pages that invite readers to search for themselves across six different universes. Adults can choose from one of 12 avatars that best match their child, which will be printed into a book with the child’s name on the cover. Kids can then hunt through Tiurina’s crowded scenes to find alternative versions of their themselves as chefs, archaeologists, paranormal investigators, and more. You can customize your own book on Wonderbly, where the book has currently sold over 160,000 copies worldwide. Take a look at Tiurina’s personal artwork and behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram.
After a successful career in accounting and higher education entrepreneurship, Chicago-based artist Devi Vallabhaneni reconnected with her youthful passion for creativity and working with her hands. Vallabhaneni now brings together her twin interests in fashion and mathematics in her botanical beadwork. Using an algorithm she created in Excel, and working with haute couture materials like French sequins and beads, she creates dense fields of color and texture. “I innovated embroidery to be sculptural expressions that breathe new life into traditional materials, enabling them to live in unexpected spaces,” the artist explains.
Vallabhaneni works within the constraints of squares and rectangles, and more recently has moved away from abstraction and towards realism with her garden series. Inspired by fashion designer and garden enthusiast Hubert de Givenchy, Vallabhaneni situated her recent artworks in the Hollywood Hills, documenting each piece nestled amongst natural plants and flowers.
Over the past several years, the artist has delved into her creative practice with the same fervor she brought to her business career, and has completed coursework in weaving, textiles, embroidery, and apparel construction. Vallabhaneni is in the current cohort of artists in the Center Program at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center and is represented by Galerie Bettina von Arnim in Paris. The artist shares new work along with her wide-ranging visual inspirations on Instagram.
“Water Lillies”. Photos by Rytis Seskaitis, Aldas Kazlauskas
Lithuanian artist Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė (previously) continues her practice of employing the traditionally delicate process of cross-stitching to adorn hard metal objects with similarly delicate imagery. Her recent works include a rusty tanker decorated with water lilies and a series of found cans embellished with studies of colorful butterflies and insects. While playing on the irony of the juxtaposition, Severija is also able to tell a story about the objects and their respective histories.
Installed in the public space of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, “Water Lilies” references motifs by Claude Monet and speaks to the history of the region, the power of water to sustain and destroy, and the changing utilitarian use of objects. Previously used to transport water from natural springs to reservoirs, gardens, baths, and streets, tankers are now more commonly used to transport waste; clean water has become the more rare and expensive substance. Severija’s “Tourist’s Delight” series uses flattened cans found discarded in the Caucasus Mountains as a commentary on the butterfly effect of disturbing natural environments. Though partially decayed, the objects will still outlast the creatures whose images have been stitched into them.
To see more Severija’s socially engaged embroidery, visit the artist’s website.
This summer in Limoges, France, the Fondation Bernardaud presents a feast of cakes, pies, ice cream, and other life-like treats made by a group of 14 ceramic sculptors from around the world. Titled Céramiques Gourmandes and curated by Olivier Castaing, the exhibition explores the sometimes unsavory topics of mass consumption, desire, and cultural identity.
The sculptures in the exhibition are visually and conceptually packed with detail—from seemingly forkable slices of moist pecan pie by Shayna Leib (previously) to uncut and unreal fruit by Kaori Kurihara (previously). An impossibly tall overflowing sundae by Anna Barlow‘s impossibly tall sundae overflows with sweet ingredients, and a 168 doughnut array by Jae Yong Kim (previously) pays homage to artists like Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, and Jackson Pollock.
“No food is as powerful as dessert or gets as tied up in our issues of guilt, longing, abstinence, and turn,” said Leib in a press release for the exhibition. “We celebrate birthdays with it. Grandparents spoil children with it. It’s the first to get cut from a diet and the first some turn to for comfort.”
Illustrator and paper artist Katrin Rodegast fused human anatomy and city maps in her editorial work for Globe, the magazine of ETH Zurich, a Swiss science, technology, engineering and mathematics university. Rodegast rolled, coiled, cut, and scored colorful maps to form a heart, brain, lungs, spine, and knee joint. Curving highways and waterways seem to mimic the intricate network of capillaries that surround our organs, while also highlighting the innovation that arises from different systems and organizations working together.
The anatomical creations were made to showcase “Zurich Heart,” a flagship project involving nearly 20 research groups, which aims to develop a fully implantable artificial heart. Rodegast works with a wide variety of brands with a focus on magazine covers and editorials, often in the realm of health and science. You can see more of the Berlin-based artist’s paper illustrations on Instagram and Behance.
Illustrator Luis Coehlo uses cross-hatching and stippling to form wide-eyed and bushy-tailed cats, armadillos, and flying squirrels. The seemingly surprised stylized animals are built using carefully placed short lines that build texture and volume. Coehlo, who lives in his hometown of Guimarães, Portugal, shares with Colossal that he has had a lifelong affinity for art. After studying painting and illustration in college and in Barcelona, he explored other paths for several years. Coehlo returned to art in seeking the meditative qualities of the practice:
One day I gave both my two nieces a blank sheet and I told them that they would have to decide what animals should appear on those white papers and that then I would have to draw those animals for them. I also told that those animals would be the guardians of their dreams and whenever they needed to get out of a nightmare they just needed to call them. What I didn’t know at that moment was that those two drawings marked the very beginning of the style that I’m working today.
Inspired by the delight he felt in collaborating with his nieces, Coehlo has focused his formerly wide-ranging art practice on animal interpretations for the young and young at heart. “Maybe because it started this way, I feel like all my creatures seem to have come out of a dream world, somewhat obscure but also adorable,” Coehlo explains. Through sharing his work online, the artist has been able to leave his office job and pursue illustration full-time. You can see more from Coehlo on his web shop and Instagram, where he accepts commissions. If you enjoy these critters, also look into the work of Kamwei Fong and Lindsey Thomas.
In her series of sewn together and crocheted leaves and twigs, Susanna Bauer (previously) considers the fragility of nature and humans’ inextricable tie to its survival. The Cornwall, England-based artist combines the found elements with fine cotton thread to produce unique objects steeped in the history of craft. Intimate marks add detail to small patches or the complete outline of browned leaves, drawing our attention the natural growth pattens found in their interior. A selection of her free-standing and framed sculptures are currently on view with Le Salon Vert at VOLTA Basel in Switzerland through June 15, 2019. You can view more of Bauer’s works formed from leaves, thread, and twigs on her website and Instagram.
The grand plazas, towering monuments, and majestic architecture of Russian cities are seen from a new perspective in warped photographs by Lestnica. The Vladimir-based production studio, which was founded by Artem Prudentov, creates still and moving images for clients. For this project, which Prudentov explains is inspired by the movie Inception, Lestnica started out by planning out the final structure of the future photograph based on the principles of perspective. Each image is anchored by an architectural feature as the focal point, with sidewalks and streets fanning outward at a stomach-churning tilt.
Prudentov shares that the team used a software algorithm for their camera and set it in semi-automatic mode to capture each dramatically swooping landscape. Each image involved about a dozen hours of work, and the experimental process resulted in over a thousand test images as Lestnica honed their process. You can see more images from the series on the Lestnica website. If you enjoy these, also check out the work of Aydın Büyüktaş. (via Jeroen Apers)
Netherlands-based artist Redmer Hoekstra (previously) presents surreal depictions of animals merged with architectural exteriors and everyday objects. The illustrator combines hawks and bell towers, giraffes and toothbrushes, and imagines a goose composed of saxophones rather than feathers. The playful drawings are both literal and abstract: one sad wiener dog is tied in the middle like an edible frank, and pair of swans’ soft tufted feathers fly off like dandelion seeds. Soon Hoekstra will begin a large-scale drawing titled “Noah’s Ark II,” a reimagining of the famous boat occupied by the animals “that didn’t make it,” he explains to Colossal. You can see more of the artist’s work on Behance and Instagram, and view works for sale in his shop.