artist fridays: mike bertino

Here’s an artist I’ve been following for quite some time:

Mike Bertino

Mike Bertino is an illustrator from Los Angeles (although I think he might be living in Portland now, but I’m not completely sure about that).  I started following his work many years ago (as he was graduating from college) and instantly fell in love with his work.  He has some great imagery –  I really love his visual language.  He also successfully blends a lot of different ideas and characters together in one epic scene, something I struggle to do in my own art.

It’s been a while since I have looked at his work, and he’s changed his colors a bit – they are a little more neon, a little brighter than a couple of years ago.

Check out his website here.

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ca dreamin

It has been a week since I’ve been back from CA, and I figured I would post some pictures and write a little bit about my trip.

Overall, the trip was go, go, go.  I flew into Oakland on Thursday around 1pm west coast time (after leaving Baltimore at 9am eastern time).  I was promptly picked up by Steph, had lunch, and we set out on our drive:

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(note the tattoo on her arm.  So beautiful. Garfield?)

It took us approximately 9 hours to reach LA, bringing us in at 11pm that night.  This was a drive down the 101 and a few stops.  One of them was to eat dinner at Pismo Beach.

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Once in LA, we spent all of Friday and part of Saturday there.  Thursday night I collapsed upon our arrival since it was nearly 2am my time.  I don’t usually stay up that late!

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Steph and I went to Giant Robot and ate at gr/eatswhich is apart of Giant Robot.  I wish I was hungrier when I was there.  I just had the spring rolls and fries because Jess (our hostess in LA) made us a wonderfully big breakfast that morning.  We also made it to GR2, which is the gallery space for Giant Robot.  I love those places.  I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for vinyl toys.  I picked up a book at GR – the Moomins!  If you are not familiar with the Moomins, I suggest you be.  To describe them simply, they are the Finnish version of the Peanuts (based on their popularity and reverence for the characters), but have this wonderful world that’s full of quiet moments.

We also saw, later that night, Le monde du silenceat the Silent Movie Theatre in LA.  The 1956 documentary detailed Jacques Cousteau and his crew’s adventures on the deep seas.  The film was experience was interesting.  On one hand, I viewed it as ridiculous.  The way the members of the ship treated the ocean (ransacking coral, using dynamite to blow up fish, etc.) was appalling.  Had this been filmed in present day, it would have been a mockumentary, since given what we know about the inhabitants of the ocean and our society’s attitude on preservation.  On the other hand, it was a really interesting look into the 1950′s and 1960′s and to think that the documentary was probably groundbreaking at the time (it won an academy award for best documentary).  It was also a big inspiration for Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic, and you could see where he drew some elements of his movie from this film. 

Saturday was spent getting brunch in Echo Park and looking around LA’s Chinatown before Steph and I hit the road.

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Jess, our gracious hostess (who made some really great food) and me with my child-sized dress (notice how the top button is unbuttoned because it won’t fit).

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Lanterns.

Chinatown had some neat little galleries.  We went in to one that I really enjoyed.  The artist (who also works for the MTA in LA) made a collection of buildings shaped from dominoes, legos, marbles and any other materials.  Some were ornate and some were simple.  The buildings sat on the wall and the viewer was invited to take the small pieces (chess piece size) off the wall and place them on a large 3d map of Chinatown.  The pieces could be placed anywhere, so it was re-imagining Chinatown.  While this was all going on, a time-lapse video was being made to show the process of rebuilding part of the city. 

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At Giant Robot, Steph picked up Treeson, who became a mascot for the rest of the trip.  Here he is, insuring our safe return back to NorCal.  Driving back, we ended up taking the 101 again! (much to Jeremy Leung’s dismay) and stopped in Solvang, CA.  This small town is near Santa Barabra and (we thought) right off the 101, so it would be an easy pit stop.  The GPS ended up routing us through a national forest/senic byway, which, while nice, added approximately 45 minutes on to our trip.

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Solvang was weird.  It was a mix of Pleasantville, Gilmore Girl’s Stars Hollow, and a Thomas Kinkade painting (I actually think he paints pictures of this town).  Solvang models its architecture and culture off the Danish, but it didn’t come across as all that Danish to me and left me with a weird feeling.  There were no chain stores (not that I was complaining), but it just seemed to be in its own secluded world.  Everything was so clean and neatly-kept that there must be some dark secret of that town!

Ended up getting to Oakland around midnight on Saturday/Sunday.  I left at 12:20pm (barely making it on the first flight!)  But, before I left, I got to see a mural Steph is working on.

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Overall,  a good trip.  A lot of driving, a lot of time spent in traffic (and reaffirms that I could never live in LA), but it was nice to get out of Baltimore for a long weekend!


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