It is not a simple task to branch out from an established medium and create something new. Late night hours, artist wages, and ramen noodles join the blood, sweat, and tears of growing a new art concept from a classic medium. But all of the hard work and long hours can pay off when combined with a vision for telling stories in enameled wall art. Houston Llew started his venture inside a hot garage in Atlanta in the summer of 2008- at the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
A combined vision for art and an eternal optimism turned a dreary economic situation into an opportunity as Spiritiles deliver a beautifully handmade art product to a market looking for affordable pieces to show their fine art collectors. Today, Houston no longer makes Spiritiles out of a garage -“Llewtopia,” as he calls it, is an expanding art studio near downtown Atlanta employing ten full-time artists and artisans as of October 2013.
Each Spiritile is carefully handmade using a series of intricate stencil techniques. From the beginning, Houston’s vision for his enameled artworks drew from the beauty of simplicity. He sought after an imagistic theme for his work rather than pursuing the abstract often seen in other enameled wall art. The image is just the beginning - each piece is paired with a quote sgraffitoed around the sides to create an inspiring story through words and images in glass.
Like Norman Rockwell, Seuss personally created every rough sketch, preliminary drawing, final line drawing and finished work for each page of every project he illustrated. Despite the technical and budgetary limitations of color printing during the early and mid-twentieth century, Dr. Seuss the artist was meticulous about color selection. He created specially numbered color charts and elaborate color call-outs to precisely accomplish his vision for each book. Saturated reds and blues, for example, were carefully chosen for The Cat in the Hat to attract and maintain the visual attention of a six-year-old audience. By the time Seuss’s book career took off, sharp draftsman skills were evident in drawings. His ability to move a storyline ahead via illustrations filled with tension, movement and color became a hallmark component of his work, and the surreal images that unfolded over six decades became the catalyst for a humorous and inspired learning experience.
Artist Leo Rijn, the inaugural sculptor for the Dr. Seuss Tribute Collection I, was selected to launch this project due to his prized work with some of today’s top talent in the world of film, entertainment and the visual arts (including Tim Burton, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg). Rijn has been identified as one of today’s brightest sculpting talents because of his ability to breathe life into the written word and successfully transform two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional works of art. Universal Studios commissioned Leo to develop and oversee the creation of numerous maquette scale models for the Monumental Dr. Seuss Sculptures at Seuss Landing in Orlando, Florida. Leo was instrumental in the art direction for many of the sculpted characters and buildings now on display at this permanent Seuss attraction. His strikingly accurate Seuss works embody a masterful and intuitive Seussian sensibility, establishing him as a leading talent in interpretive sculpting.
Seuss embarked on an ingenious project in the early 1930s as he evolved from two-dimensional artworks to three-dimensional sculptures. What was most unusual for these mixed-media sculptures was the use of real animal parts including beaks, antlers and horns from deceased Forest Park Zoo animals where Seuss’s father was superintendent. Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy was born in a cramped New York apartment and included a menagerie of inventive creatures with names like the “Two Horned Drouberhannis,” “Andulovian Grackler,” and “Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn.” Shortly after Seuss created this unique collection of artworks, Look Magazine dubbed Seuss “The World’s Most Eminent Authority on Unheard-Of Animals.” To this day, Seuss’s Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy remains as some of the finest examples of his inventive and multi-dimensional creativity.
Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Seuss created a body of irrepressible work that redefines this American icon as an iconographic American artist. Yet, the Secret Art often shows a side of the artist that most readers, familiar with him through his classic children’s books, have never seen. This collection, created over a period of more than 60 years, encompasses the entirety of Seuss’s multi-dimensional talent. The artistic golden thread highlighted throughout this collection is apparent in each wildly imaginative and surreal Secret Art image. The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss is an inimitable collection of artworks created at night for his own personal enjoyment. These works were rarely, if ever, exhibited during his lifetime and provide a deeper glimpse into the art and life of this celebrated American Icon.