Child Art for Grown-Ups
What Superman, Tim Burton and 1,000 South Korean Children have in common.
By Maria Popova
There’s a reason why creative types often envy the imagination of a child, with its boundless freedom and its anything-is-possible vision. Some artists take that envy and turn it into creative fuel, using the whimsical world of children’s imagination as inspiration. Here are our top picks for child-centric art.
THE MONSTER ENGINE
Oh, those days when a piece of a paper and a pen or…imagine that…a crayon was all we needed to create fascinating stories and magical characters that could rival some of Hollywood’s most blockbustery output.
In The Monster Engine, NJ-based artist Dave DeVries takes those whimsical doodles and drawlings, and recreates them “realistically” with a grown-up artist’s eye.
The best part is that he only adds graphical sophistication and 3D realism to the images, without altering the child-artist’s creative vision.
This being said, some of the renditions interpret elements of the child’s drawings in peculiar ways, adding a new creative layer to the artwork. Like the fish flying out of this witch’s hand, a far stretch from the original doodle, which makes the image all the more interesting.
The Monster Engine is also available as a 48-page coffeetable book, covering the backstory of the 7-year project and featuring interviews with the children who inspired Dave’s artwork.
Korean artist Yeondoo Jung explores a different translation of children’s art. In his photoseries Wonderland, which you may recall from our Re:Perception issue, he takes those simple shapes and colors, and transforms them into high-impact, surrealist fashion photography.
The project is based on a the drawings of 5-to-7-year-old South Korean children, reconceived with live models, dramatic costumes and flamboyant colors.
Besides the stunning art direction, we’re somehow drawn to that eerie grownup-child wold the images create, a place where wonder and magic are only limited by how we choose to perceive our subjective reality.
TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
The creative link between the world of children and high fashion emerges once again in the December issue of Vogue UK’s with the Tales of the Unexpected editorial: a tribute to Roald Dahl’s, one of the most celebrated children’s book authors of the 20th century.
Starring the infamous Tim Burton and a slew of celebrity actors and musicians, the editorial recreates scenes and characters from some of Dahl’s most famous stories.
Shot by legendary fashion photographer Tim Walker, the spread brilliantly captures the very escapism that only high fashion can offer — an aspirational costume that outfits us for our grand dramatic performance in a staged world more beautiful and imaginative than our mundane reality.
Published November 11, 2008