‘Behind The American Dream’ Alejandro Magallanes (Mexico 2001)
This mini post marks the start of a new Sci-Fi-O-Rama strategic initiative designed to increase the general yield of blog output. In english then what that means is we’re going to mix up the larger articles with smaller more image focused selections, tactical posts if you will.
This first selection is a book sampler ‘New Poster Art’ published by Thames & Hudson in 2008. I picked up a copy after spying a fellow commuter thumbing through it on my regular morning train journey. As the title suggests Its a fairly weighty compendium of selected poster Design, Typography and Illustration pulling in artists from across the planet…
The books global nature makes it interesting by default, encompassing an extremely varied selection of art and applied graphical technique. Here’s a taster with a few notes…
‘Unknown Land’ AGI Poster (Netherlands 2007) Bob van Dijk
An interesting abstract blend of bold primary colours and grungy line work, lovely stuff.
’Maria Stuart by Friedrich Schiller’ - Dieter Feseke, Theatre Poster (Germany 2002-3)
As the above example demonstrates ‘New Post Art’ is full of examples of Silkscreen printed work, and thus many excellent references for contrasting, complimenting or accented colour swatches.
‘Manascreen’ Shinnoske Sugisaki (Japan 2004)|
25th Anniverary, poster a silkscreen company
This is one of those scans that no matter how long you try to tweak it’s never going to look a patch on the original, though I hope this gives an indication. A wonderful abstract piece of minimalism.
‘Printed Matter No.1′ (The Life and Death Issue) promotional poster.
Russell Warren-Fisher (UK 2002)
Again this is another thats subtle details have been lost a little in the translation back to screen. Lovely soft texturing and considered layering of warm grey hues underpin an image thats though stunning creates quite a feeling of discomfort.
As mentioned in the intro the ‘New Poster Art’ features global poster design, particularly interesting from the collection is the work of Iranian Graphic Artist Reza Abedini and his take on modern Persian Typography. He’s produced some really jaw dropping poster art, see more at www.rezaabedini.com.
’100 Best Posters 02′ Dieter Fiedler, Cyan (Germany 2003)
Finish up with another bold coloured typographical selection from Dieter Fiedler, a pretty cool demonstration of the use of positive and negative space.
So then, that pretty much wraps things up. A book I’d heartily recommend to any Graphic Designer or Artist, particularly so if you have an interest in silkscreen printing or similar.
‘New Poster Art’ was published in 2008 by Thames Hudson and is the work of authors Cees W. de Jong and Stefanie Burger. I picked up my copy via Amazon, here’s a link: New Post Art
Once again please forgive the slight delay in posing new material. The blame lays solely with Supercell’s ‘Clash of Clans’ of which I was introduced through work. What started out as a study of the UI has since evolved into spending almost £30 on in app purchases! Digital crack it most certainly is… So then pithy excuses aside lets begin the post.
Sci-Fi-O-Rama is proud to present a selection of ‘far out’ imagery sequestered from the fantastically titled ‘Electrical Banana’ Psychedelic art book – and yes that title is indeed derived from a reference to a certain type of ladies sex toy.
This article was originally planned as a feature on 60′s Psychedelic Music Posters by artists such as Bonnie Maclean, Victor Moscoso and Wes Wilson and you may well have spotted samples appearing in the Sci-Fi Overflow . Upon searching for an appropriate book to feature I came across Electrical Banana and a selection of artists I was less familiar with so I thought I’d give it punt. Here’s the blurb:
Electrical Banana is the first definitive examination of the international language of psychedelia, focusing on the most important practitioners in their respective fields with a deft combination of hundreds of unseen images and exclusive interviews and essays, Electrical Banana aims to revise the common perception of psychedelic art, showing it to be more innovative, compelling, and revolutionary than was ever thought before.
The artists include: Marijke Kroger, a Dutch artist responsible for dressing the Beatles; Mati Klarwein, who painted the cover for Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew; Keiichi Taanami, the Japanese master of psychedelic posters; Heinz Edelmann, the German illustrator and designer of the Yellow Submarine animated film; Tadanori Yokoo, whose prints and books, defined the ’6os in Japan; Dudley Edwards, a painter, car designer, and graphic embellisher for the London rock scene, and the enigmatic Australian Martin Sharp, whose work for Cream and underground magazines made him a ‘hippie household name in Europe.
As you can imagine the book is impeccably researched and is laced with some excellent, fairly unique content. What I’ll do here then is run through each of the artists and add a couple of samples. Before starting I’ll stress that this barely skims the surface, and if your even the slightest bit interesting in the swinging 60′s and psychedelia in general Electrical Banana is an absolute must have.
Lets begin then…
‘Yellow Submarine Stills’
Heinz Edelmann (20 June 1934 – 21 July 2009) was a German illustrator and designer, most famous for his art direction and character designs for the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. An immensely talented individual Edelmann’s career spanned four decades, and utilised many styles. It is however the playful and gloriously vividly coloured work with The Beatles that will remain his most famous work.
As with all featured artists, Electrical Banana includes an extensive interview with the artist, in his Edelmann explains he had little love for the Psychedelic scene and his work of the period. As the compiling authors Norman Hathaway & Dan Nadel note “Never of the scene, Edelmann instead invented it, imparting his visual language to a culture he was barely interested in”. It’s a fascinating read and you can’t help but wonder why the disdain for something so wonderful, of course though the strive for perfectionism and purity of ones artistic vision are crosses all artists half to bare – who are we to judge.
It feels a little strange too then to underline this fact by choosing two more illustrations from another project Edelmann reflects upon with unfond feelings. ‘Andromeda SR1′ was illustrated children’s book about a voyage to Mars, again featuring the dynamic iridescent and totally unmistakable style. I love the way the Ink bleeds and blooms, this effect was achieved apparently by using Dr. Ph Martins Dyes.
‘Andromedar SR1′ Book Illustrations – 1970.
Moving on from Andromedar SR1, a quick mention with regards to this articles header image. This is Edelmanns Book jacket for a German edition of Tolkiens legendary ‘Lord of the Rings’ which gained traction and was popularised by the hippy movement. The publishers thus wanted psychedelic styled Illustrations, and approached Edelmann who was by this point ”Fed up of this entire flower power thing”. Persevering anyway he states that for the book jacket (which I love) he “unforgivably parodied” Milton Glaser’s famous Dylan Poster.
There’s no doubt then that Heinz Edelmann was supremely talented if slightly hesitant individual, (with regards to Psychedelia) and I’d love to write and research more but that’ll be the subject of a future post….
The books next selected artist is Australian Martin Sharp (born 1942), these days considered one of the finest Antipodeans Pop Artists. As opposed to Edelmann Sharp was very much part of the scene, becoming roomates with Eric Claption during his swinging London years.
As is demonstrated below, Sharp was capable of extremely trippy draughtsmanship and Electrical Banana compiles a varied selection of his portfolio including work from his long dedication to Oz Magazine, the infamous counter culture magazine that ran (in it’s 2nd guise) from 1967 to 1973.
Interesting to note that apparently Sharp did not apparently plan nor pencil his hyper-detailed drawings and would rather populate a page with just the right amount of line and the fill out the composition.
‘London Oz’ – Offset Promotional Poster 1967
Here’s a perfect demonstration of Martin’s playful, swooping linework and zealful hand cut typography, the above image was designed for the first edition of London Oz, but however was not released at the time.
‘Dantalians Chariot’ - Silkscreen poster on foil 1967
On this poster Sharp notes “It was an image Inspired by Syd Barret and Pink Floyd and my experiences at the U.F.O Club. Mark Boyle did wonderful lightshows there over Floyd’s music. The Speakeasy, for example, was a typical night club where musicians met and played. The U.F.O Club was a weekly event and total psychedelic experience. Pink Floyd always amazed me”…..
‘Float’ - Offset/silkscreen poster 1969
With far more than one string to his metaphorical bow the above bold and vivid abstract print serves as a fine example of Sharp’s more Pop Art slanted minimalism.
For more on Martin check his either his Facebook Page, or shy of purchasing a copy of Electrical Banana read more via his Wiki page.
West Yorkshire’s Dudley Edwards (born 1944) first came to prominence as co-founder of the ground-breaking ‘Pop’ design collective with fellow artists Douglas Binder and David Vaughan (Binder, Edwards & Vaughan).
To quote from Electrical Banana: “Binder, Edwards & Vaughan exploded into the creative carnival that was 1960′s London with it’s brightly coloured and electrified take on traditional fairground painting. Applying the awe-inspiring hand skills onto heretofore unvisited areas of applied art such as pianos, shop fronts and automobiles”
In layman’s terms Binder, Edwards & Vaughan perhaps defined the look of swinging 60′s London more than any other. And though their collaborative time together was short their work would propel them to the lofty heights of collaborating with The Beatles. It’s also doubtful (for better or for worse) that Austin Powers would ever of come to conception for it not for the craftsmanship of the trio.
‘Carnaby Street’ - Mural 1967
‘Dragon Cafe’ - [With Mike McInnery] Mural 1968
‘Cosmicomics’ - Book Jacket 1968
Edwards also went on to a stint in Record Sleeve and Book Jacket Design of which the interesting above Graphic illustration is a sample.
Marijke Koger (Born 1943) was the primary visual artist behind the four-person art group ‘The Fool’ a Dutch design collective (and later band) who rose to prominence in late 1960′s London. Alongside Koger ‘The Fool’ consisted of fellow artist Simon Posthuma, Fashion Designer Yosha Leeger and Barry Finch, the groups name being derived as a reference to the Tarot Card. The Fool made a tremendous impact at the time via there work for the Beatles, Cream and The Move to name but a few. In fact such was the popularity of the group that despite having few musical inclinations they record a Psych-Folk album produced by Graham Nash – I’ve got to track that one down!
Electrical Banana contains many of Koger’s rainbow coloured illustrations, murals designs and more, carefully documenting the huge influence she had on defining the Technicolor hippy look. Here’s a pretty cool quote from the book when describing her style:
“She did not engage with modernism or pop art, preferring a more accessible, almost colloquial approach to art-making. This is not psychedelic art made by a designer or psychedelic designs made by an illustrator, but rather full-blown psychedelic visuals made by a woman who inhabited that space in her mind’
Next up is the first of two Japanese Designer / Illustrators featured in Electrical Banana, and all seven artists featured here I’d have to say that Keeichi Tanaami (born 1932) is definitely my favourite. Tanaami’s style, characterised by beautiful and distinctive line work was to continually evolve and adapt throughout the 60′s becoming increasingly fluid and hedonistically playful thus mirroring the mood of the subcultures he was so fascinated with at the time. Today Tanaami is considered one of Japans leading pop artists, with back catalogue of work that’s meandered between a variety of mediums, following the doctrine of Andy Warhol whom he met and became fascinated with in 1968.
As with Heinz Edelmann, Taanami’s definitely an artist I’ll be revisiting this year, for now here’s a small taster of his wonderfully kitsch draughtmanship.
‘Happening’ [projection on models and car] 1966
A projected coloured transparency, essentially a Tanaami piece wrapped over models and car and captured again on film. I have to say I loved this kind of Photograph Installation, a really interesting way to extend an Illustration. The style of work is very similar to ‘After Bathing At Baxter’s’ a Jefferson Airplane cover that you can see below.
‘After Bathing At Baxter’s' Jefferson Airplane Record Sleeve – 1967
’1967 Tokyo: C’ Silkscreen edition – 1967
’1967 Tokyo: C’ Silkscreen edition – 1967
The Tokyo series give you a good sense of the flavour of Tanaami’s pop art sensibilities. These are strikingly printed pieces of art, with a almost viscous contrasting colour palette, stare longer and pick out the subtle texturing and gradient fills, instilling a level of depth and movement.
‘The Savage Eye: A’ Silkscreen edition – 1966
‘The Savage Eye: B’Silkscreen edition – 1966
With an extremely obvious sexual theme ‘The Savage Eyes’ builds upon techniques applied in in the prior ‘Tokyo’ set, but the volume here is now cranked up to 11. Fantastic stuff.
Read more about Keiichi Tanaami in an extensive article on him over at Wikipedia or check this tumblr tag search for more imagery.
Abdul Mati Klarwein (April 9, 1932 – March 7, 2002) was a painter best know for his many album covers of the 60′s and 70′s. As you can see below, Klarwein’s work has a strong surrealist curve, in fact the samples I’ve selected from Electrical Banana probably owe more to that genre than Psychedelia, though lets face it the two are closely intertwined. It’s no surprise then to learn that Klarwein actually studied with Salvador Dali at Viennese Fantastic RealistErnst Fuchs.
Whilst much of Klarwein’s famous work is inspired by Surrealism and Pop Culture, it’s also catagorised and reflected by his interest in non-Western deities, symbolism, and landscapes. Klarwein was also friends of LSD Guru and prophet of counter culture Timothy Leary and of the artist Leary stated that based on the character of his paintings, that Klarwein “didn’t need psychedelics”.
Once again really just a taster of some of the super-far-out work, if you’d like to read more on Mati Klarwien check his wikipedia article or visit his nicely designed official site matiklarweinart.com
‘Bitches Brew’ (commissioned by Miles Davis for his album Bitches Brew) 1970
‘Jimi Hendrix’ (commissioned by Hendrix for incomplete Gil Evans collaboration album) 1970
And so we come to the final of Electrical Banana’s featured artists, Japanese graphic designer, illustrator, printmaker and painter Tadanori Yokoo (born 27 June 1936).
Yokoo is interesting and similar to Heinz Edelmann in that he was not absorbed by psychedelia but rather was influenced strongly by the zeitgeist. This is typified in an extensive body of work typified by the use of searing colors, off-kilter contrasts and optical illusions. Yokoo is also something of a chameleon of style, seemingly able to turn his hand to different disciplines with consumate ease. He’s has produced some stunning work through the years, and you can see much more at his official Japanese site tadanoriyokoo.com.
‘A Ballad Dedicated to the Little Finger Cutting Ceremony’ Silkscreen poster – 1966
‘Sho wp Suteyo e Deyo [Throw Away Your Books, Rally in The Street]‘ Shuji Terayama, Book Jacket Design – 1967
So then lets draw to a close this special feature, with a couple of notes for further reading / viewing.
Firstly of course a big shout out to author Norman Hathaway and Dan Nadel. Electrical Banana is a fascinating book and impeccably researched. If your even the slightest bit interested in Psychedelia, the swinging 60′s or just graphical history in general you need to own a copy of this book! As usual I’d recommend Amazon to pick up a copy though I actually picked mine up via an independent online store.
Finally here’s the youtube movie of the Electrical Banana book launch seminar at MoMA PS1.
Though perhaps memorable using Sci-Fi-O-Rama as a blog name does throw up a few problems. It’s hard to spell, even harder to type, especially as a URL, and in general throws up more than the occasional snigger when I’m state the concept to peers and friends. “The titles supposed to be ironic” I’ll frustratedly protest!
Anyway those trivial matters aside boundaries of selected content is the final matter of contention. First and foremost I set up Sci-Fi-O-Rama as a design and illustration inspiration blog, and though it’s bursting at the seams with Sci-Fi and geek related articles this really is just a flavouring. What I’m getting at is; whilst this Tamiya post might be one of the less Sci-Fi tainted (there’s no glowing spacecraft here) it does however contain plenty of top notch retro Japanese graphic art spun back fro my favourite decade, the 1980′s.
As is customary with subject I don’t pertain to with overarching knowledge I’ll issue a quick disclaimer; I’m not a RC car aficionado nor Dirt Buggy enthusiast so we are really only skimming the surface here. What I do have though are vivid memories of these Tamiya models and the craze they stirred remember the craze they stirred through the mid to late 80′s.
Before I start I’d like to point out that it’s entirely possible that all the below renderings are the work of one (highly talented) illustrator. That person I believe is Yoshiyuki Takani, but at the moment I cannot confirm. If anyone knows more please drop me a line.
Right then, to give the article a little structure I’ve done my best to assemble the vehicles in a chronological order. Scrolling through you’ll notice I’ve chosen to focus solely on Tamiya’s 1/10th scale Radio Controlled Dirt Buggy range. Reason being is simple, not only do they look the coolest with their beautifully sculpted chassis’s and humorous, brash liveries. Look a little closer and there there’s as graphical language that totally set them apart, some truly wonderful design work that’s quite like nothing else. It’s little surprise then that they captured and enthralled a generation, at least for a little while….
Lets begin with some history first.
Tamiya’s roots date back to 1946 postwar Japan, and the city of Shizuoka. The company was founded in 1946 as Tamiya Shoji & Co by Yoshio Tamiya (15 May 1905 – 2 November 1988) and was originally in fact a sawmill a lumber supply company. Model production began in earnest in 1947 with the construction of wooden models of ships and airplanes. By 1953 Tamiya had switched all focus away from lumber sales and were focussed solely on model making, with the concept of being “easy to understand and build, even for beginners”.
By the early 60′s Tamiya had really started take off, thanks in part to the early Box art of Shigeru Komatsuzaki. Plastic model kits of aircraft and military equipment were soon joined by highly detail reproductions of famous sports cars. Originally Tamiya packaging was designed as ”compositions of achievement” or “a story contained in a picture”. This would change in 1968, super detailed scenes were dumped in favour of focusing purely on the vehicle, still painstakingly rendered but now placed on just a plain white background. It’s an iconic style that stuck.
A quick side note on the famous Tamiya Star Mark logo, first designed in 1960 by Yoshio’s son-in-law. The left, red star stands for passion and the right, blue star stands for precision.
In 1976, Tamiya entered the Radio Controlled market with their first RC model, the Porsche 934, a racing version of the 911. According to legend Tamiya actually purchased a original 911 which they promptly dismantled in order for their engineers to better under the vehicles inner workings. Attention to detail, Japanese style.
A series of both on and off road vehicles were to follow, there’s many types and styles, but for the purpose of this post we are going to fast forward through to December 1983…
The Frog (1983)
Though it wasn’t their first off road RC vehicle, The Frog marked a shift in Tamiya’s design ethos. Rather than replicating real life cars like they had with the Sand Scorcher or Rally car copies, effort was channelled into designing bespoke dirt buggies. Essentially then, despite the kinetic realism the box art oozes with, all Buggies featured here are 1/10th Scale models of vehicles that never actually existed at full size.
The Frog also marked the start of a series of wildlife inspired designs, each buggy taking subtle styling hint’s from it’s animal namesake. Note here the prominent headlamps, and general allround slightly bulbous nature of the monocoque. Oh and by the way, KC Daylighters actually are a real product.
Any adults that once as children drooled over the thought of owning one of these 2WD classics will no doubt be pleased to learn that Tamiya recently reissued The Frog. A quick browse through Amazon, show prices starting at $150…
The Grasshopper (1984)
Next up we have The Grasshopper, originally released in May 1984. The namesake designed cues are obvious, sharp wedged lines cut a spindly frame that’s complimented with forceful go faster stripes.
The Grasshopper was Tamiya’s entry level model, and ran a weaker motor which could however be upgraded. Less power did however mean easier handling and longer battery life, and the buggy proved to be immensely popular. In fact today it’s seen as one of the out classics. As the cheaper option I do have hazy memories them being ridiculed, but I guess that’s just how snobby kids can be…
Once again The Grasshopper has enjoyed a re-release, with pricing starting at around the $140 mark.
The Hornet (1984)
Following on from The Grasshopper came the legendary Hornet with it’s unmistakable black and gold livery Hornet, as you can see above. With it’s high performance, durability and ease of maintenance The Hornet quickly became one Tamiya’s most popular ever models. Any of you anxious to get there hands on this slice of pure 80′s Nostalgia, will be pleased to learn it’s still available from Tamiya priced at $170 upwards.
In fact to further more highlight just how deep into the pubic psyche The Hornet has buried Tamiya (recently-ish) released a limited edition with a wild custom paint job by Japanese designer Jun Watanabe. As you can see, no expense was spared with this completely wacky and somewhat bovine take on things. It’s camp as christmas and I love it.
Also check Tamiya’s original ‘The Hornet’ promotional video
This was Tamiya’s first attempt at a 4WD buggy, featuring a mid mounted engine for stability. It’s not one I particularly remember, but as it spawned several successors (shown later) the Hotshot is included for chronologic. Livery wise this tough looking little vehicle is a little bland, with small decals that applied somewhat sparingly. Still whilst it sadly lacks a cheesy slogan, the Hotshot’s general butch presence gets a big thumbs up, in fact it almost looks like a Transformers ready to make that robotic fart noiseand spring into action. I’m waffling again.
The Fox (1985)
October 1985 saw the release 2WD ‘The Fox’ with it’s unfussy sweeping livery and gleaming gold wheels it is considered another design classic and is highly sought after today. Tamiya obviously took design cues from the animal counterpart giving the vehicle an elongated, slender snout and all round svelte appearance. Presumably there also must have also been some sort of tie in here with the real ‘Fox Racing‘ Team…
Nothing more to add other than I’ll have to say this is pretty much my favourite. If I had a son, this is what I’d be buying him for christmas, pretty much for me to play with.
Super Shot (1986)
The Super Shot was something of an evolution of the previously mentioned Hot Shot using the same chassis but alternate suspension system. There’s definitely something fairly menacing about it, especially the vehicles gaping maw, presumably great for catching pebbles in.
If your tempted at all, Tamiya re-released the Supershot in 2012.
The Boomerang was an affordable 4WD entry point for many first time RC Buyers. Slick and Simple livery nicely complimenting the wedge like bodyshell.
The Falcon (1986)
Sporting a swooping nose cone and two tone, flaming paint job ‘The Falcon’ was another popular animal inspired design. Renowned for it’s ruggedness the chassis would be reused as the basis for other subsequent designs.
The Bigwig (1987)
With it’s bright, if slightly sickly colour scheme and aggressively postured 4WD chassis ‘The Bigwig’ was another memorable addition to the Tamiya stable. Built to commemorate Tamiya’s 10 year involvement with RC model building ‘The Bigwig’ was created by actual buggy Racing design boffin Dick Cepek, his stylised name appering on the rear wing.
Hot Shot II (1987)
Released two years after the original 4WD Hot Shot, this update featured numerous minor enhancements and a new Hornet-esque colour scheme.
Vanessa’s Lunchbox (1987)
Next up we have a slight deviation away from the theme with the famous ‘Lunchbox’, a 1/12 scale RC Monster Truck. Despite relatively poor stability and handling due to the large tyres and high centre of gravity Tamiya’s ‘stunt vehicles’ were extremely popular, and none more so than the competitively priced Lunchbox.
Super Sabre (1987)
The Super Sabre was essentially The Boomerang with red plastic parts and a new futuristic looking body shell. Interesting to note how much the styling has change since from the earlier boxy look, something that gets even wilder as you’ll see further down.
Thunder Shot (1987)
Looking something like a fighter jet with it’s wings removed The Thundershot’s wild appearance marks the shift towards pure Sci-Fi buggies. Great logo too.
The over engineered 4WD Avante was a technological masterpiece that very advanced for it’s time. As you might expect such engineering came with a high price tag, still it’s a fantastic looking vehicle.
Thunder Dragon (1988)
If you could some how capture and sequester the essence of all 80′s Paleo futurism and then wickedly beat it into a space buggy styled shape you’d probably end up with something not too dissimilar to the Thunder Dragon. It’s a truly wild design, part top loading VCR, part attack drone, looking like it’s fallen to earth off the back of a passing battlecruiser.
In true wacky Japanese style the Thunder Dragon was tied into a a strip that ran in the Manga comic ‘Coro Coro‘. Not entirely sure how but basically that’s what this quirky little character is about.
Grasshopper II (1988)
Tamiya updated there entry level buggy in August 1988 with a more streamlined shell.
Grasshopper II (1988)
The fantastically titled ‘Terra Scorcher’ was essentially the same as the 4WD Thunder Shot with a different bright blue paintjob.
The Vanquish (1988)
The attractive looking Vanquish was a slightly simplified reworking of the The Avante, but with a cheaper price point.
Fire Dragon (1989)
Based on the Thunder Dragon Chassis, the Fire Dragon was the second of the ‘Coro Coro’ Buggies. Another literally out of the this world design, though on closer inspection I did have to wonder where exactly the drivers leg were? The swing arm suspension seems to take the place they should be. Hmmmmm.
We finish off with probably the best looking buggy of them all, and certainly the best tagline ‘Way Out Running!’
The Egress was a top end 4wd model that is still a much respected and sought after to this day.
I’m going to wrap up the post here, there are of course many other Tamiya Buggies, produced after these and actually a few from the 80′s managed to miss out.
Originally I’d planned this just a quick article, but the more research I did on Tamiya I realised only a comprehensive overview would suffice. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
For further reading on Tamiya, including details on pretty much every model and component check out the following sites: