10 Vector artists to follow on Instagram

Instagram has recently become my new favourite social media platform, and I have been spending maybe too much time on the app. Apart from posting everyday, I also thoroughly enjoy going through the feeds of other designers and illustrators. There are a few that when I see their work I think “dammit, I wish I though of/ did that.” Here is a list of ten of those vector artists that I always keep up with (in no particular order.) Make sure to give them a Follow to be inspired everyday!

1. @MUSKETON– Musketon is an illustrator hailing from Belgium whose working is pretty amazing. He has a lot of give aways and posts regularly so is definitely one to follow.

The Creator #drawing #vector #illustration

A post shared by musketon (@musketon) on

 

2. @THOMCAT23 – It amazes me the amount of work Thomcat 23 puts out on a regular basis. What is really cool is that he shows his process from sketches to finished piece.

Venus Vapors #illustration #illustrator #graphicdesign #graphicdesigner

A post shared by Thomcat23 (@thomcat23) on

 

3. @TAJFRANCIS – A fellow Caribbean illustrator, this Jamaican is doing huge things in the design world with a unique style.

Armor I #tenfold #snippet #illustration Susano'o inspired

A post shared by T Λ J Tenfold ™ (@tajfrancis) on

 

4. @DANMUMFORDDRAWS – The level of detail in Dan Mumford’s work is astonishing, and he works on some really cool clients.

 

5. @SWEYDA – Sweyda’s work epitomizes patience with the pen tool in illustrator. Truly a master of the craft.

Color! #lion #vector #illustration #sweyda #playing

A post shared by Jared Mirabile (@sweyda) on

 

6. ZPREP – This guy is all about the lines, his work is pretty cool and he illustrates a lot of Star Wars characters which is a bonus.

 

7. DLO168 – A modern take on Art Nouveau, DLO168 is a great illustrator.

 

8. THOMAS_DANTHONY – His super simple style definitely stands out. I also love the colour palettes that he uses.

 

9. TIMBASMITS – A sweet 1950’s look makes his work really amazing.

It's Friday afternoon, time for some EXCITING NEWS!! I am super thrilled to announce that I will be having my first solo show in 15 years next month (Opening May 18 – June 11) at the awesome @lamingtondrive Gallery in my hometown, Melbourne. I know, I kept that quiet. The exhibition entitled "Role Models" – a spectacle of equisite portraits is inspired by my deep-rooted love for cinema and movie culture while referencing my work as creative director and illustrator of @lwlies. Expect some weird portraits, man! Can you guess who this is? There is more information over on my website: www.timbasmits (or follow the link in my bio). I'm really happy with how the collection is coming and I'm super looking forward to sharing more with you soon. Stay tuned in for updates. #rolemodels #exquisitecorpses #soloexhibition #exhibition #cinema #movielove #illustration #portrait #tomhanks #arnoldschwarzenegger #timbasmits

A post shared by Timba Smits (@timbasmits) on

 

10. GAKSDESIGNS – A fellow Trini artist, Gaks is the self proclaimed Master Vector Ninja, and his work certainly speaks for itself….seriously, check out that line work.

 

As a bonus, make sure you follow my Instagram page — NICHOLASHUGGINSDESIGN — to see some cool stuff posted daily!

A legendary, bearded Graphic Designer 👉🏼 @draplin

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A few updates

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to share some news/updates here.

Firstly, I am working on a brand new portfolio website so make sure to stay on the look out for that! It will have a ton of new work and projects that I’ve been holding off on posting until I was able to update my site. It’s very exciting, but is proving to be a whole load of extra work to add to an already busy schedule.

Something else that was exciting this year was being featured in two magazines. The first was T&T Entrepreneurs magazine. Click the link to see the feature or just check out the screenshot below.

deftment feature

 

The second magazine is a really cool publication called Bassculture Islands out of Poland. They featured my illustrated portraits alongside an interview as well as using my typographic illustrations throughout the rest of the magazine.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 2.09.05 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 2.09.12 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 2.09.20 PM

I hope you enjoy these, and make sure to look out for the launch of the new website and a few new projects that are currently under wraps!

Nick.

How to write a decent blog post in 10 easy steps

Step 1- Come up with an interesting name that could catch the attention of people. Names such as “Photographing the Mundane” is boring, back to the drawing board.

Step 2- Briefly research your topic.

Step 3- Start writing.

Step 4- Perhaps, include a nice stock photo for impact. Readers respond well when images are included in blog posts.

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Step 5- Think about formatting your blog post as a list. Lists have a proven track record of getting more views! Just look at buzzfeed!

Step 6- Maybe write some more. People love reading stuff.

Step 7- Make sure you proofread for any erors. This is impotent!

Step 8- Double check your accuracy.

Step 9- Upload the blog post and watch the amount of visitors to your site increase exponentially.

 

Trini Christmas & what we can be doing to boost tourism

If, as the popular song goes, Trini Christmas is the best, then why haven’t we as a country embraced this as a possible draw for tourism in the same way as Carnival? During a conversation with a coworker about the John Lewis 2015 Christmas ad (Man on the Moon) we wondered why there is not this type of advertising in Trinidad & Tobago during the christmas season. The sort of heart warming, tear jerking christmas ads that are popular abroad, are not employed here. What is the reason?

The conclusion we came to is that Christmas means something else to us. I don’t mean the general concept of what christmas is; I mean how we celebrate it and what can be broken down as the christmas “vibe.”

Like Carnival and Calypso, we have an endemic music for Our Christmas, Parang. Parang music is played with cuatros, maracas, box bass, claves, toc-toc, guitars and tambourines amongst other instruments. Soca-parang, which is more popularly played on the radio has a very distinct style, and is usually humorous in its nature, with a lot of the songs incorporating sexual innuendos and double entendre.

Men-From-The-Mainland-Carriacou-Parang-Bands-Competition-2005

Parang band

While the malls in the US are softly playing Silent Night etc, our shopping centres are belting out Parang & Soca Parang tunes… “eating, drinking, having a good time; dancing, prancing, having a good time.” All of this uniqueness should really encourage a new brand of tourism where Our Christmas is what we are selling.

Ponchecreme

Ponchecreme

Another main part of our Christmas is of course the food. We have pastelles, ham and hops, sorrel, black cake, and of course the usuals like macaroni pie, corn pie, turkey, stuffing. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

pastels

Pastelles

After I began writing this, the news story of the Piarco Airport Christmas decor went viral. The point of arrival for every tourist into Trinidad was decked out as a white christmas wonderland. Maybe it was the intention of those responsible to make visitors feel at home before they were greeted with the Caribbean warmth as they exited.

decor

Piarco Christmas before outrage

After the social media outrage they acted quickly to replace it with something more “local.” The replacement seemed to be done without much thought, and as one commenter on Facebook said, they thought it looked like they pillaged one of the souvenir stores of their t-shirts and mannequins. It was however, a great improvement from the previous set up.

new decor.1

Piarco Christmas after outrage

What this public outrage showed me is that general population do care about showing off our culture and ensuring that our Christmas traditions are celebrated. We have no need to import the customs of other countries when we have such a strong culture. Trinidad & Tobago should be pushing our Christmas to the world and thereby capitalizing on the potential tourism draw. Can you imagine someone from a cold European country purchasing an all inclusive vacation to a tropical island where the first morning they are treated with Pastelles, Hops and Ham with kuchela washed down with a glass of sorrel. That night they could be taken on a guided tour up to Paramin, or to Sangre Grande to be immersed in the Parang. The rest of the time the all inclusive package could include beach trips, hikes, christmas fetes and other cultural explorations.

This is something that should definitely be looked into as Trinidad & Tobago seek to diversify the economy, and I think as a culture and society we would be proud to see our unique Christmas shared with the world in this way.

Holiday Baked Ham-5

Here’s a picture of a ham

Carnival Vendor Booths and the Trinbagonian Aesthetic

Every year around this time the construction of vendor booths begin around the Queen’s Park Savannah. Their arrival around the Savannah is always something that has intrigued me as they spark an excitement in people as it signals the arrival of Carnival. But their design is also something that captivates me.

2011-11-28-12-1a_CARNIVAL_BOOTHS_27-11-11_(1)

They are designed to be very utilitarian and serve a single purpose- to house vendors for a short space of time, usually a couple of months depending on the length of the Carnival Season, and because of this they are made to be easily installed and have basic amenities that would be needed by the vendor.

They are painted in very basic colours with each section of the booth usually different to the other. They were probably all originally painted in a single, different colour but because of the fact that they are dismantled every year and then rebuilt, each colour was mixed up and now each one is a structure of varying colours.

These booths remind me of the work of Mark Rothko, the abstract expressionist best known for his paintings of different planes of colour.

As you can see in the side by side comparison below, the way the colours are used in all are similar but for very different intention. The vendor booths are painted in these colours by the National Carnival Commission and because of how they are made, have evolved into a multi coloured structure. However once put up, they are usually covered in advertising making the time that they are at their colourful best very short.

The Middle image is of the Rothko painting, done strictly for the purpose of being an art piece with the colours chosen consciously by the artist to be a work of art.

The third image is of a fete sign with a rothko-esque background. These colours were chosen as a design element; meant to convey meaning to the viewer and to make the portrayal of information effective. We have in these 3 images the difference between coincidence, art, and design.

2007-01-12-8-1A

After studying in the US for 4 years and being around designers from all over the world, I always think about the question of what is the Trinbagonian aesthetic. Visually, what is intrinsically Trinbagonian? To answer this is very difficult; where do you find the answer, what do you look at to find this. Does the answer lie in the colours that we come across everyday such as the vendor booths; or the design that we encounter on a daily basis such as the fete signs; maybe it can be found in the work of the many fine artists, photographers, fashion designers, architects, and mas men of the country.

I think though that anything designed or created here (in T&T) must represent the Trinbagonian aesthetic whether intentionally or not. Or, maybe I’m completely wrong, but I will continue to think about this and maybe one day the question will be answered.

 

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Nicholas Huggins is a graphic designer, art director, and painter from Trinidad & Tobago. You can see his work here.

The work of Peter Minshall

This essay will deal with the role and importance of characters and storylines in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and more specifically, in the work of Peter Minshall.

In order to define the work of Peter Minshall, we must first define Carnival. Carnival comes from the Latin Carnis– Flesh and Vale– farewell.[1] Therefore Carnival literally translates to the ‘farewell to the flesh’ period prior to lent. Throughout the history of Carnival, the use of characters to portray different things has been the norm. From the Negue Jardin to the Midnight Robber, and the Pierrot Grenade to the Jab Molassi, the characters are varied and diverse. The work of Peter Minshall is world-renowned and is the epitome of Trinidad and Tobago Mas’ (abbreviated form of masquerade), so much so that he is colloquially known in Trinidad and Tobago as “Mas Man”.[2]

This paper seeks to explore the role and importance of characters in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival through the work of Peter Minshall. Minshall is known for taking the art of Carnival design into choreography and telling stories through his work. Amongst all the carnival artists, it is Minshall who first started breaking boundaries in his work as we will see in his trilogy of bands between 1983 and 1985.

From a very young age he began taking part in Carnival and it was the stories of the characters and what they represented that struck a cord with Minshall. He was riveted with the stories his father told him of the characters and the design of the characters, and how when they moved, the cloth used to make the costume danced, and through this dance, they spoke to him.[3] As a child in the Caribbean, and more specifically Trinidad and Tobago, being around the creativity and experience of Carnival would have influenced the art of Minshall. At the age of 12 he came to Trinidad with his family from British Guiana, and just one year later at the age of 13 he made his first Carnival costume. Throughout his teenage years he started making costumes for friends and family, and at the age of 21, he went to study theatre and performance arts at the Central School of Art and Design in London. In fact, his thesis paper was on the Carnival Character of the Bat; a character that intrigued him and even served as inspiration in his later works.[4]

Carnival has its origins as “Canboulay” (French- Cannes Brulees – Cane Burning) when in the 1800’s, the slaves and indentured laborers were not permitted to take part in Carnival, and they created their own procession.

The dissident slaves would signal their comrades with a hillside fire to burn the cane fields. The Negue Jardin who were field slaves from neighboring estates were the ones in charge of extinguishing the fires. This was eventually reenacted as a street performance annually, and was later joined by the upper class French- Creoles, who, in their torn pants and sooty face, parodied the Negue Jardin. The Canboulay planted the seeds for what is now Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago as there were masquerades, characters, and the early signs of an endemic music from Trinidad and Tobago, including the steel pan.[5]

By the 1940’s the Canboulay was replaced by the Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday with the first Dimanche Gras taking place in 1948. This was when the King and Queen of Carnival were crowned and it began as a way to create a theatrical experience out of the mas or carnival.[6] Of course it wasn’t until 26 years later in 1974 that Minshall’s debut into the this competition would take place, with his band “Land of the Hummingbird,” but it is important to note the history in order to better understand his thinking, and his work.[7]

His first Carnival Band “Land of the Hummingbird” was, to Minshall, everything he sought to embody through his Carnival designs. It was a character where the cloth was dancing.

Peter Minshall’s Hummingbird, 1974. Photo by Noel Norton

Peter Minshall’s Hummingbird, 1974. Photo by Noel Norton

According to Minshall, “At first she looked like nothing, just a little blue and turquoise triangle, bobbing along among those grand plumed and glittering chariots, a little tent bobbing along. And then, the hummingbird burst into life, like a sapphire exploding.”7 He sought, through this costume to make the hummingbird not someone in a hummingbird costume, but a hummingbird itself. The costume wearer became the character and performed a narrative based on that. Throughout the years and in his work that came after Land of the Hummingbird, Minshall’s work began to take on new heights as he sought to find a deeper meaning within his work. He did this by looking at world-wide issues such as environmental problems, homophobia, and other such things in his works, rather than just have his carnival bands be purely about revelry.

Nothing fits this new meaning better than Minshall’s trilogy of bands that he put out between the years 1983-1985. These bands were the epitome of the character usage that Minshall did so well, in 1983, the first band was “River,” followed by “Callaloo” in 1984, and finalized with “The Golden Calabash” in 1985. In 1983,the first band of this trilogy “River” was created. It featured Mancrab as the king and Washerwoman as the queen.[8]

Mancrab and Washerwoman. Photo by Noel Norton

Mancrab and Washerwoman. Photo by Noel Norton

The construction of the king, Mancrab, was quite exquisite. Based on a crab, the costume had six arms that resemble pincers and were able to be moved as if dancing. There were two poles attached to each foot, that were 16 feet in height and attached to a 25-foot square canopy of white silk. The mask was papier-mache and was made to reflect the contours of the human face. Everything from the music played (East Indian- derived Tassa Drums) when the king crossed the stage, to the actions of the dance, were coordinated into a form of theatre never before seen in Trinidad carnival.[9] Washerwoman was the beautiful Queen of Mancrab. She wore a long white skirt, and she had two poles attached to her shoulders where clothes were hung from a clothesline. She also carried a wash basket, which reflected the washing of clothes.

The story of Mancrab and Washerwoman was called “Crab and de Callaloo,” which was derived from a Trinidadian folktale. “Mancrab was jealous of the powers of this beautiful queen, who protected her river people from the crab’s pollution and greed. Through the course of Carnival, the Mancrab was determined to capture the admiration of the river people by offering them technology. Jealous of the power of love symbolized by a magical calabash filled with pure water, which was controlled by the queen, Mancrab planned to destroy that protective love. With slick black oils and beautiful chemicals that composed a rainbow, this villain painted the river. The colors stood for the luxury and profits brought by the technology. The river people were attracted to the promised wealth and fought with one another to fill their basins with the colored water. This turning away from purity by the people broke the heart of the queen, causing her death.”9

The following year with “Callaloo,” the costume was, according to Minshall, “an unprecedented conjunction of celebration and dance.”[10] The importance of story line and character in Minshall’s work at this time were very important. Callaloo is defined as “A thick green soup made from dasheen leaves, ochroes, coconut milk, seasoned to taste. Invariably includes crab. Pot- Pourri. Blending of unlikely elements.”[11] For this piece of the trilogy, the main characters included King Callaloo who was the son of Washerwoman, the Mancrab, the Bird of Paradise as queen symbolized peace and harmony and represented the spirit of Washerwoman, and an individual called Madame Hiroshima who was a creation of Mancrab’s technology. King Callaloo represented the every race of the very diverse Trinidad and Tobago; African, European, Chinese, Indian, mixed. It represented every color, creed, race, and culture.[12]

Madame Hiroshima-Photograph by Jeffrey Chock

Madame Hiroshima-Photograph by Jeffrey Chock

In the finale of the trilogy entitled “The Golden Calabash” in 1985, the concept of good versus evil was explored by Minshall. This was presented as a clash of two bands, the “Lords of the Light “ and the “Princes of Darkness.”12 The battle of these two bands would determine who won the prized Golden Callabash, however it ended inconclusively before an awestruck audience at the Queens Park Savannah.

Historically in Carnival, the characters could be divided into either good or bad, light or dark. Characters such as Clowns, Pierrot Grenades, Fancy Sailors and Dame Lorraines can be considered as the light characters with the dark characters including the Bat, the Midnight Robber, Jab Molassi, and Blue devils. Throughout his career as a Mas Man, Minshall explored both good and bad characters in his bands, and this can be seen clearly in the River trilogy where both good and bad characters are portrayed.[13]

Peter Minshall’s trilogy was perhaps before its time in terms of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival as it failed to win any official titles, but it did win the people’s choice award, which was decided by ordinary spectators.[14] The river trilogy was, in a time when Carnival was being described as a form of mindless and immoral behavior, a type of masquerade that attained a sublime in its art form. Minshall’s artistic ambitions were not recognized this time, however, it opened opportunities for him such as being commissioned to create the opening presentation of the Pan-American Games in Indianapolis in 1987, and of course the 1992 Barcelona Olympics , 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 1994 FIFA World Cup, and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety or Music Program.[15]

Barcelona Olympics-photographer unknown to writer

Barcelona Olympics-photographer unknown to writer

Throughout his career, Minshall has stayed true to the core meaning of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. He has used characters and storylines and made them into yearly productions of Mas. His work defines the meaning of Carnival production in that he doesn’t simply create a Carnival Band; he creates a production of color, costume, sculpture, and music, where the participants also serve as the performers and the characters in his story.

The artist- photo by Trinidad Newsday

The artist- photo by Trinidad Newsday

[1] Mendes, John, “Cote ci Cote la, Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary,” (Port-of-Spain, Medianet Ltd, 1986.)

[2] Narine, Dalton, “Mas Man- The Complete Work, DVD (King Carnival Productions, 2012.)

[3] Ganase, Pat, “Lord of the Dance: Peter Minshall,” (Caribbean Beat Magazine, September/ October 1992.)

[4] Laughlin, Nicholas, “Masman: Peter Minshall,” (Caribbean Beat Magazine, May/ June 2006.)

[5] Mendes, John, “Cote ci Cote la, Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary,” (Port-of-Spain, Medianet Ltd, 1986.)

[6] Trinidad & Tobago National Library and Information System Authority, “Mama Dis is Mas” Accessed October 31st, 2012 http://www2.nalis.gov.tt/Research/SubjectGuide/Carnival/tabid/105/Default.aspx?PageContentMode=1

[7] Ganase, Pat, “Lord of the Dance: Peter Minshall,” (Caribbean Beat Magazine, September/ October 1992.)

[8] Nunley, John, “Peter Minshall- The Good, the Bad, and the Old in Trinidad Carnival,” Imagery & Creativity: Ethnoaesthetcics and Art Worlds in the Americas/ edited by Whitten, Dorothy S. and Whitten, Norman E. (The University of Arizona Press, 1993), 289-307.

[9] Nunley, John, “Peter Minshall- The Good, the Bad, and the Old in Trinidad Carnival,” Imagery & Creativity: Ethnoaesthetcics and Art Worlds in the Americas/ edited by Whitten, Dorothy S. and Whitten, Norman E. (The University of Arizona Press, 1993), 289-307.

[10] Ganase, Pat, “Lord of the Dance: Peter Minshall,” (Caribbean Beat Magazine, September/ October 1992.)

[11] Mendes, John, “Cote ci Cote la, Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary,” (Port-of-Spain, Medianet Ltd, 1986.)

[12] Nunley, John, “Peter Minshall- The Good, the Bad, and the Old in Trinidad Carnival,” Imagery & Creativity: Ethnoaesthetcics and Art Worlds in the Americas/ edited by Whitten, Dorothy S. and Whitten, Norman E. (The University of Arizona Press, 1993), 289-307.

[13] Nunley, John, “Peter Minshall- The Good, the Bad, and the Old in Trinidad Carnival,” Imagery & Creativity: Ethnoaesthetcics and Art Worlds in the Americas/ edited by Whitten, Dorothy S. and Whitten, Norman E. (The University of Arizona Press, 1993), 289-307.

[14] Laughlin, Nicholas, “Masman: Peter Minshall,” (Caribbean Beat Magazine, May/ June 2006.)

[15] Narine, Dalton, “Mas Man- The Complete Work, DVD (King Carnival Productions, 2012.)