We’re beyond excited about the work of Paul Soulellis, which is being showcased in a juried photography exhibit at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in January and February. Why, might you ask are we so thrilled about this? Well, beyond the fact that it’s great work, the two pieces that he’s showing were created in our humble little app, Mixel.
This is the first art show featuring work created in Mixel and we’re very proud that Paul selected our app as the tool he used to create his art. We asked Paul about this experience and he shared the following thoughts about Mixel:
For me, playing on Mixel is like creative aerobics. It feels like I’m stretching my eyes and brain, and using my finger as the interface between the two is natural. Using a finger to point and command and make (very basic, very human, child-like) gives Mixel the quality of intuitive meditation/exercise. There’s nothing I’m doing in Mixel that I couldn’t do in Photoshop, but it’s the absence of features that allows me to focus on the point-and-command, gestural quality of making art.
Once he learned that his work was going to be shown in the exhibit he began to consider the printing options. What size should a mixel be? Should it be the same size as an iPad screen? Smaller? Larger? Ultimately, Paul decided to print the images larger, 16 x 24. By printing the mixels larger, the jagged edges and varying amounts of pixelation give the works texture and a painterly feel, and as Paul notes, “the reference to iPad goes away and the work jumps into another realm.”
We also asked Paul if he had any advice to budding collage artists or thoughts on Mixel as a tool:
I strongly believe Mixel should be seen as a valuable tool by anyone who feels compelled to challenge our traditional ideas about art making and digital techniques. It seems like the emphasis has been on Mixel as a fun and humorous thing, almost toy-like. I think it is that and that’s wonderful, but artists should be encouraged to see this as a serious art-making tool as well. From what I’ve seen so far, there are a few artists producing great work on there.
The exhibition at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver opens on January 13 and ends on February 11. If you’re in the Denver area be sure to stop by and check out Paul’s fantastic work in person.
We at Mixel have a deep appreciation for collage that extends far beyond our app. One of our favorite artists in this “real-world” collage space is Charles Wilkin, whom we were lucky enough to chat with after a recent collage show he curated in Brooklyn titled All That Remains.
Untitled (Stain #4), 2010
Mixel: What first kindled your interest in creating collages and when did you create your first collage?
Charles Wilkin: I sort of fell into collage by accident. I was late for a drawing class in college and showed up with nothing more than photo prints I’d made in a previous class. Instead of giving me the smack down for being unprepared, my drawing teacher said, “Well Charles why don’t you try making a collage with those images?” Clearly she saw something in my work that day because she never asked me to bring paper or pencils to that class again.
While I’d made collages before as a kid, I never seriously explored collage as a medium until that serendipitious moment. But it wasn’t until I discovered the inherent similarities between collage and graphic design through the work of artists like Kurt Schwitters and Robert Rauschenberg that I knew this was my medium. Ultimately, collage allows me to mix all of the things I love; pattern, type, photography and found objects.
M: What makes the collage medium so unique?
CW: For me what makes collage so unique and exciting is its immediacy. Collage is essentially a product of its environment with all of its media overload and discarded ephemera. I personally love the challenge of making something out of essentially nothing. This is also what keeps collage in motion, it’s never really the same thing twice. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t take collage and collage artists seriously, but when you look at contemporary collage its clearly become so much more than paper and glue.
M: What inspires your work?
CW: My biggest inspiration is everyday life. It sounds corny but an idle conversation with a friend and getting lost while traveling, have yielded some amazing ideas. I try to be a sponge and just take it all in, even if it doesn’t seem interesting or important at the time. Things always bubble up over time and have a strange way of making their way into my work. The best ideas always seem to be very spontaneous and really play a huge role in how I work. I never know where I’m going with a piece until I get there.
Men Are Pawns, 2010
M: Where do you find the materials that you work with and what tools do you use to create your collages?
CW: You can usually find me at garage sales, flea markets and antique stores trolling for old magazines, books and paper scraps. I’ve also bought boxes of magazines on eBay too, its amazing what people will throw out.
Tape, glue and cacti knives are my basic tools. I also use printers and a scanner when I’m working digitally.
M: How long do you typically work on each piece?
CW: It depends really, small works will sometimes take an hour or maybe all day. When I’m working with large mixed media, it certainly can take me several days. I find that if I’m really focused and feeling inspired, pieces happen very quickly. When I’m stuck and getting nowhere, I’ll just stop or move on to something else. In general I tend to work spontaneously and never really think about the amount of time it takes, I like to just let the process run its course.
M: You recently curated a show of collage art in Brooklyn, All That Remains, could you share with us a little bit about this experience?
CW: Yes, sure. All That Remains was a group show of 25 collage artists from 10 countries. I curated this show with the initial idea to feature contemporary collage and to try and comment on the impending death of print. What I found was that so many of the artists, with all their diversity of cultures and styles, were all analyzing and telling similar stories. Collages it seems have really become a universal language of sorts. Plus, it’s just great to see so many people doing collage. The level of talent in contemporary collage is simple amazing.
M: How do you feel public perception to collage art has changed over the years?
CW: I think it’s getting better, but still has a long way to go. I don’t think collage will ever be considered an equal to painting, which is sad because both mediums require skill and talent. The great thing about collage is it is an approachable and affordable medium. You really can make something amazing out of what you have in hand. This is where I think collage is truly brilliant, since it requires you to look at the mundane in new ways, forcing you to be creative in ways painting is not.
I think too, we live in a world that’s itself a collage of media, languages and culture. So I suspect in some ways collage seems familiar.
Untitled (Stain #1), 2010
M: Any advice to budding collage artists?
CW: Don’t be afraid, just go for it! Collage is never perfect and the crazier your mix-ups the better. I often will start a collage with a simple idea or story and let the images I find help me fill in the blanks. There really are no rules other than to just have fun.
M: Are you on Mixel?
CW:Yes! I love Mixel, I love that I can make collages on the go. It’s become my new sketch book!
Collage Created in Mixel, 2012
Ever wondered if you could capture the social dynamic of Mixel with analog collages? Check out Muxel. Created by Keenan Cummings, a brand and UI designer, Muxel uses the postal service to bring a social spin to collage art.
The resemblance to Mixel is not accidental and while Muxel is not affiliated with Lascaux Co, we are flattered to have served as the inspiration for this fun project.
Muxel works by asking participants to create collages in the traditional way, but instead of gluing the pieces down, the final composition is photographed then posted online. The artist then mails off the pieces to the next person.
Although the project, like Mixel, is very new, some great work has already been created. Take a gander at these collages and check out Muxel for more great collages and info on the project.
Here is something we never thought we would see, a mixel on a credit card. Wanting an image for his credit card that was unique and something that he created, Jordan Duke turned to Mixel.
We asked Jordan about some of his thoughts on Mixel and this is what he had to say:
I think the reason I love Mixel so much is that I’ve always wanted to be an artist/designer but never considered myself to be artistic. I’ve always been interested in design and layout but never knew what to do with it. Mixel lets me be artistic in a way that is fun and doesn’t require any “skill.” I like that everyone is restricted to the same tools and yet people keep pushing the creativity. It’s a fun easy way to share art without feeling vulnerable or worried your technique isn’t on par.
Here is the original Mixel that Jordan used for the credit card:
Have you used a mixel in an unconventional way?
Since this is the last post before Christmas, we wanted to wish everyone a very happy holiday season full of mixel-creating fun times.
Speaking of holidays, last week we issued a “Holiday Challenge” and we are pleased to share some of the mixels created as a result of the challenge. Here are a few of our favorite “Holiday Challenge” remixes:
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa from Team Mixel!
Last Thursday an informal Mixel Mix-up (thanks to Mixel artist Christopher Hiester for the name!) organized by several of Mixel’s most active artists took place at Quarter Bar in Brooklyn.
No one was surprised when folks brought their iPads along for the fun and several mixels were created during the mix-up. In between creating mixels, ideas and techniques were exchanged, like how Chris makes those super straight lines and Ariel those drippy cuts. Remix challenges were issued and here are a few of our favorite mixels that were created and remixed during the event:
We at Team Mixel loved being a part of this gathering and we’re so happy to have created an app that people are passionate enough about to gather together on their own and celebrate. We look forward to future mix-ups and have plans to organize some in the not so distant future.
Where do you think the next mix-up should take place?
Last week we introduced a new feature to Mixel, Save Snapshot. This is for times when you love the mixel you’ve created and want to save it, but only want to share it with your close friends or family. Just tap on Save snapshot in the upper left corner of the editing mode, and your mixel will save as a flat PNG to the Photos app on your iPad.
As we mentioned in the post about the release of Mixel 1.1, we believe that part of the fun of Mixel is sharing the work you’ve created with the community and watching it get re-mixed, and while this remains to be true, we are happy to introduce the new Save snapshot feature for sharing your work on a more private scale.
In the spirit of the holiday season we’ve created a sort of Mixel toolbox with some classic holiday elements that we’d love to see remixed into some holiday themed Mixels. We know that we have one of the most creative communities around and can hardly wait to see what you do with these icons.
Who knows? Maybe your Mixel could become our holiday card…
We’re pleased as punch to announce that Mixel version 1.1 is now live in the App Store. Here are a few things that you can expect in this update:
New Feature - Snapshots of in-progress mixels. Love the mixel you’ve created but don’t want to share it with the network? Now you can save snapshots of your mixels to the Photos app on your iPad. When you save a snapshot, the mixel saves as a flat PNG to the Photos app which makes sharing from there a snap. Of course part of the fun of Mixel is sharing the work you’ve created with the community and watching it get re-mixed, but we thought it was nice to have another option for sharing your work on a more private scale.
Fixes - In this update we’ve tackled the issue where mixels were being posted with unexpected results. We heard from quite a few users in the community that a small but significant number of mixels were posted with pieces that artists had cropped in a different way or deleted. Obviously this is something that just cannot be, so we’ve fixed it.
We’ve also worked on improving memory leaks and overall speed and reliability in this update. We know that many of our artists use Mixel on first generation iPads and we want to make sure that this experience is the best that it can be. Are you on a first generation iPad, how is the update treating you? Email us at support at mixel dot cc.
We’re very excited about this update and we hope that you’ll let us know what you think. Download Mixel 1.1 from the App Store today. Thank you for being a part of the Mixel community and happy collage making.
Juliette Cezzar had some nice things to say about Mixel in her recent post on AIGA’s Design Envy blog:
Mixel, created by designer Khoi Vinh and developer/coder Scott Ostler, is one of the first of what I hope will be many tools created outright by designers. It is beautifully limited, rough and intuitive, a virtual sandbox for collaging and sharing images.
The reception to Mixel has been fantastic, but there have been some complaints about the fact that the app requires a Facebook account in order to be used. There is a good reason for that: Facebook lets us build the Mixel experience around real names, which is powerful for many reasons but most important to us in that it helps protect against the abuse of your personal photos. Lascaux CEO and co-founder Khoi Vinh has posted an explanation of this reasoning here if you’re interested.
By Khoi Vinh
We just made a change to Mixel that should make it easier to find and follow people whose work you like. Starting yesterday evening, when you view a share page like this one on your iPad, you’ll get two extra links, highlighted in the image here:
If you have Mixel installed on your iPad (and everyone should!), tapping on these links will open the app itself. The top link will take you to profile page of the person who made this mixel, and the button highlighted at the bottom will take you to the mixel itself. That’ll make it easier to follow the person or like, love, comment and/or remix the collage. We also have plans to improve overall findability within the app, but that’s for another day. Enjoy!