Japan Day 2012 Art Contest Submission

© 2012, Original Art by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Decided to interrupt my job search with an art contest submission for Japan Day 2012.

When I decided to create a piece commemorating the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the US, I knew that I wanted to use a graphic style inspired by travel posters of the early 1900’s.  The first cherry trees were planted along the Potomac River in 1912 during the era of ocean liners and passenger railways.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the illustrated vintage posters of that time.  I thought this would be the perfect way to unify the four themes of “Cherry Blossom(s)”, “New York”, ”Japan”, and “Central Park”.

I first created a skyline of famous architectural landmarks from both Tokyo and NYC, including a silhouette of buildings overlooking Central Park — an oasis of trees and ponds.  In contrast to the heavy two-dimensional style of the city scene, I wanted the blossoms to have a light, translucent feel to capture the magical look of a cherry tree in full bloom.  Of the 12 varieties planted in 1912, I specifically used the Fugenzo blossom for its pale pink color and the fact that the original gift of 2,000 trees in 1910 were Fugenzo trees.  (Let’s ignore the fact that those trees had to be burned due to a massive bug infestation.)  The red sun shining on the cityscape represents Japan.  I added the brush stroke to create an organic, Zen-like feel while the overall craft paper texture also aims to add warmth and a tactile quality.  I knew from the get-go that I wanted my piece to be on craft paper to enable the whitest white to pop.  Hence, “JAPAN DAY 2012” is the only 100% white element on the page for better visibility.  To add playfulness and whimsy, the location and date of the event are written on banners derived from antique posters.

If I had given myself more than a day to do this, I would have tried to do an actual gouache painting on paper rather than use Illustrator and Photoshop.

Interview with Ardith on “The Art Directed Life”

© Photo and Art by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

I am proud to be featured this week on the art blog, “The Art Directed Life.”

(The story behind the photo: Here’s a collage that I created with one of my illustrations.  I felt weird submitting a picture without my son, Cedro, so I included his sippy cup.  (a) He is obsessed with Lightning McQueen right now, and (b) I have been known to drink the rest of his drinks at the end of the day straight from his cup.)

Tribute to Freda

© Photo by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Cedro and Freda // October 2010 // San Francisco, CA

My good friend, Freda Koblick, passed away today.

If you know me well, you know how much she meant to me.  She was a great friend and mentor and huge inspiration.  For those of you who don’t know her, here’s a great article describing her life and her work.

I can’t believe she was 90 years old (almost 91)!  I’ve known her for 17 years.  I met her right after graduating from college in ’94.  It was a happy accident.  I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and it just so happened that a good friend wasn’t available to work as her apprentice so I took the position instead.  I always looked forward to visiting her at her space in the Mission District of San Francisco — half of an entire synagogue converted into a loft/gallery above and studio and machine shop down below.

She taught me so much about being an artist and living life to its fullest.  She was infinitely wise and elegant and charming, yet warm and approachable and hysterical at the same time.  I always felt smarter and a better person after hanging out with her.  We spent a lot of time chatting at her dining table over the years.  I smile at the memory of her casually sipping her chilled vodka from a beautiful pewter shot glass at meals. She always seemed so regal but at the core she was always so much fun and so funny.  I loved hearing her adventures from when she was younger.  For example, she would talk about those McCarthyism days when she was certain her phone was tapped.  She and her best friend, Henrietta, would call each other up and just read smut novels out loud to make fun of the FBI agents listening in!

And she continued to have adventures!  Despite all her serious physical ailments from the past 5 years, she was always so sharp and alive and gracious. She would always joke, “I’m gettin’ old!”  But she could recall details about our friendship just like that.  No problem.  No matter how much time had passed since we last spoke, she could always pick right back up from where we left off.

I’m so glad she was able to meet my husband, Brian, and was so supportive of his acting career.  The last time she saw him back in October of 2010, he played the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) for her in her living room and it sounded so amazing resonating through the loft space.  I know she enjoyed it… And I’m so glad that she was able to meet my baby boy, Cedro.  I was so pleased by how much she enjoyed his company and how much she would talk about him afterwards.  It’s a great feeling when important people in your life meet each other!

I’m so glad that I got the chance to know Freda Koblick.  She will always be an important part of my life and who I am.

I was able to visit her one last time a couple weeks ago.  We didn’t say any final good-byes then; more like “See you later…”

See you later, Freda.  I love you!

Portrait by Imogen Cunningham, 1945

Portrait by Imogen Cunningham, 1945

Mally + Manny

It’s quite a week for celebrity Filipinos!

A couple of nights ago was the debut of the Mally Beauty infomercial!  You can re-watch it online.  Don’t blink around minute-19!  You might catch a couple familiar faces.

Barkada(ko) Sisters' Debut on late-late-late-night TV... (trymallybeauty.com)

We are so excited for Mally!!!  This week also marks the re-launch of her mallybeauty.com website AND on Saturday, May 7th, there will be a huge Mally marathon on QVC starting at 12am ET until 10pm ET!  Can’t wait!

Speaking of Saturday, we also want to announce the launch of our latest Manny Pacquiao tshirt designs!!!  Order yours now in time for the Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight!

© Design + Illustration by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

© Design + Illustration by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

“Animal Charm” Movie Poster Design Concept

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design
“Animal Charm” Movie Poster Concept © Design by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Couldn’t resist entering the Talent House design competition for another movie poster.  This one is for the upcoming British indie mini feature starring starring Sadie Frost (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones Diary), Emily Beecham (The Street) with cameo appearances from Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and Boy George.

There are 3 days left to vote!  I appreciate your support!  You can vote via your Facebook account or via SMS.  Just visit my preview page for voting instructions.  Thank you!

Superhero Character for the Stan Lee Foundation

© Illustration by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Super Happy Baby!!!! © Illustration by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

My latest drawing is a submission for the Stan Lee Foundation creative invite to design a superhero.  Of course, this is a perfect excuse for me to use Cedro as a muse.  My superhero is Super Happy Baby!!!!! He can fly!  He can dance!  And he can make ANYONE happy just with his laugh/giggle and golden, sunshine-like radiance.  PLUS he has the ability to make anyone an amazing dancer!  Imagine that!  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone were happy and knew how to dance well?

(Voting starts on February 8th, 2011 and ends on February 14th, 2011.)

Pacquiao Shirts are Here (Again)!

 

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Revised Pacquiao: Living Legend design © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Still Christmas shopping?  Look no further!  We’ve redesigned our Pacquiao shirts to comply with the Zazzle content guidelines.  (We think.)  Hopefully, the new shirts will be up there for more than 24 hours!  For those of you who tried to purchase shirts for the Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight, we apologize for the inconvenience. 

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Revised Pacquiao: Pride of the Philippines design. © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Pacquiao: Shadows Boxing design © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Tito Manny is My Hero! © Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

Pacquiao Shirts Are Here!

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of 11/15/10, Zazzle is removing our t-shirts from their store due to copyright infringement.  We thought we would be able to bust a Shepard Fairey since we did take the photos of Pacquiao and draw the portraits ourselves after all!  [sigh]

We can’t believe that a year has gone by since we met MANNY PACQUIAO! Yes!  THE Manny Pacquiao!  You have been sending your requests for shirts and we finally got around to it! Here are a couple designs with a portrait inspired by our legendary Manny sighting!

Head over to Zazzle to get your one-of-a-kind Pacquiao shirts by Barkada(ko) Art + Design!!!  You can pick between our two new designs AND pick the t-shirt cut and color and size!  That means you can ALSO order Pacquiao shirts for your KIDS and BABIES with the handy-dandy Zazzle technology!

  • Pacquiao: Living Legend Tee
  • Pacquiao: Pride of the Philippines Tee

Since these shirts are brand-spankin’ new and won’t be ready for the Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight tomorrow, we’ll be sporting our Philippine flag shirts instead.  Hope you will, too!  Go, Pacquiao!!!

© Design by Barkada(ko) Art + Design

As an extra bonus, we’d like to share some footage we captured during the private, press-only Pacquiao training session back in November 2009 at the WildCard Boxing Club in Los Angeles.  Enjoy!