CHECK OUT THE INCREDIBLE PAPER-CUT ART BY EELUS!
We had the pleasure of corresponding with artist Lee Pennington, AKA Eelus, about his process behind the mind-blowing paper-cut artwork that we’ve been admiring over here at Threadless HQ. Below, Eelus goes into depth about his background, creative process, working with Death Waltz Records, and his sources of inspiration. Enjoy!About Eelus:My name is Lee Pennington, but I make art under the name Eelus. I’m from a small town called Wigan in the north of the UK. After ending a career in ‘new media design’ after leaving university with a degree in graphic design, I’ve since crafted myself a new path in the strange world of art.I’ve spent the last 10 years cutting and painting stencils in my studio, in galleries, and on the street all across the world, and have had a jolly old time in the process. I also release a lot of limited edition screen-printed posters, a process and medium that I think I’ll always find exciting and will be involved in.More recently, my focus has moved away from stencils and I’m now putting the majority of my time into establishing myself as a paper-cut artist. I create images from hand cutting smalls holes into single sheets of paper, or by layering many many separate pieces of painted paper together to create more of a 3-D effect that has a lot of depth.About the process:Everything starts with an idea. It may not always be my idea, sometimes I’ll take someone else’s idea and take it to a new place and turn it into something of my own. My 3-D paper pieces evolve over a number of stages. The early stages involve a lot of drawing. Once I’m happy with the pencil work I’ll scan it in and then trace everything in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll give every single piece a unique code so that once everything is printed and cut, I know where it’s all meant to go. Some of my pieces have over 100 pieces of paper, so this allows me to remember where everything is meant to be. After giving everything a code, I’ll then dismantle the vector version of my drawing and print all the separate elements onto sheets of acid free paper. I’m using a Fabriano at the moment, and will use different weights for different pieces depending on where they’ll be placed. So for example, if I know a certain piece will be at the back and will end up having quite a lot of other bits attached, I’ll use a thicker stock to help support everything.Once everything is printed, I’ll hand cut everything with a Swann Morton scalpel using a 10A blade. As soon as the blade loses it’s lovely razor sharpness, I’ll swap it for a new one. Once everything is cut, I’ll place all the paper together and see how everything is looking. This helps me get my head around the next stage, which is the painting. I use spray paint and paint everything in a large fume extractor which is located in a different, much colder part of he building where my studio is. I’ll start with the bottom layers and work my way up, sometimes going back and re-doing pieces if they’re not fitting well.Once everything is dried, I go back to my nice warm room, sit my a** down, stick on a podcast and start assembling everything. I use various types of acid-free adhesives, the most important parts are these sticky foam squares that I’l buy in different sizes and depths. If I want something to have a subtle effect, I’ll attach it using a 1mm deep square, if I want something more dramatic that will cast more shadow, I’ll use a 3mm, or will stick a number of 2 or 3mm square together. That’s pretty much it for that particular style of work, which I’ll be exploring much more from now on.On working with Death Waltz Records:I became involved with DWR as Spencer, the rotting brains behind the company, has bought work from me in the past and so we would email now and then about various horror related weirdness. After he set up the company, he very kindly asked if I’d be up for designing the artwork for their first Hammer Horror soundtrack release, which would be Twins of Evil. I spat my goblet of goat’s blood all over my keyboard and said yes immediately.On inspiration:I like to take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. My main loves are films and books, especially when they fall into the categories of sci-fi and horror. I grew up surrounding myself with work from Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and HR Giger, and I’m still madly in love with all three. But all kinds of art inspires me. A lot of classical and contemporary, in all kinds of different mediums. I adopted a dog just over a year ago, which has forced me to take a lot more walks and that gives me some good time to think. I also meditate once or twice a day to help my mind get some clarity and to help keep me calm and focused. I think it definitely helps me ‘catch the big fish’ as David Lynch, a big advocate of meditation wrote about in his book on meditation and creativity ‘Catching the Big Fish’.I like comics. I creep around online. I’m a bit of a nature lover and find the natural world incredible. I’m fascinated by the microcosm and macrocosm. I’m intrigued by multiple dimensions. I believe the current understanding of the history of Earth is wrong and I day dream about extra-terrestrial intelligence. I’m convinced Bigfoot exists but I don’t think the Queen is a reptile. I own some fragments of meteorites which I hold in my hand and stare at until my mind starts to ache knowing that their age could be countless and they’ve travelled across the gulf of space. I also find it impossible to look at a penguin without smiling.A HUGE thanks to Eelus for taking the time to let us in on all of his little secrets. Check out more of his artwork right here!
INSIDE THE MIND OF A STREET ARTIST: MR PRVRT
We were fortunate enough to have New York Street Artist MR. PRVRT do an amazing piece on one of our garage doors. The process video above was captured by Craig Shimala. Let’s get to know him a little bit more!
(Photo: Craig Shimala)
How about a quick introduction?
I’m originally from Albany, NY; but I have called Rochester, NY home for about 8 years now. I work closely with several groups including Wall Therapy, Bushwick Collective, FUA Krew, and Sweet Meat Co.
What’s your process like?
While all of my smaller works are created using hand cut stencils, my larger scale works and murals are made using nothing except cans of spray paint and a reference image. When painting freehand, I strive to retain the aesthetic of my stenciled work by layering flat colors to create depth instead of using soft shading techniques. It was extremely gratifying to be able to fool the likes of Martha Cooper earlier this year when she saw one of my murals in progress, and was completely convinced it had been made using stencils.
How did you first get involved with doing street art?
I first started cutting stencils about 12 years ago back home in Albany, NY. My first real exposure to street art was through the work of Chris Stain and Brian Scout, who both lived in the area and had been collaborating on projects in one of our city’s most neglected neighborhoods. They were targeting abandoned houses and installing paintings over the boarded up surfaces. While I have done my fair share of writing on things that don’t belong to me, most of my earlier work involved stickers, wheatpastes, screwing up paintings to telephone poles, etc. I was genuinely surprised that people started to notice my work, and even more so when I was asked to paint my first murals. Its really gratifying to know that even after leaving my home town, younger writers and artists still reach out once in a while to let me know that I helped inspire them to get started on the streets, the same way Stain & Scout helped inspire me. Being able to invite Chris Stain to Rochester this year for Wall Therapy was equally rewarding, and in turn, he facilitated my entry in Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, NY. The longer I do this, the more I’ve come to realize that street artists, as a community, are one huge family that stretches to every continent.
What was your inspiration for the piece you did on our garage door?
For a while, all of my mural work involved portraits of wildlife, until a fellow writer named Biles told me he didn’t want me painting “hipster animals” on graff production walls. Ever since then I like to bring out some wicked shit every once in a while!!
What do you hope for people to take away from your art?
I rarely try and attach any sort of deep meaning to my work - if anything I hope it makes people realize that our entire world is a blank canvas. Its amazing how much love people show for you when they see that you are doing something that makes their neighborhood look a little nicer.
How would you describe the difficulty of using a spray can versus a pencil on paper?
Free hand work with spray cans is all about muscle memory. As cheesy as it sounds, its like you are dancing with the wall, its a lot about moving smoothly and with confidence. The larger the wall, the harder the actual drawing becomes. I’ve never projected a freehand piece, so there is usually a period of time when everything looks pretty terrible, before I step way back and start to adjust the proportions. Most of my sketching on walls is done using transparent black or white spray paint, which I find is actually quite similar to drawing with pencils.
Do you think street art needs more appreciation?
Over the past decade the internet really did a lot to make people aware of the fact that there are people doing this in every city and every country. I think street art is most appreciated by the people who will see it from their window every day, or pass by it on their way home. There will always be someone who hates it or finds something to be offended by.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve done?
My favorite piece so far was the Anatomical Cow I did for Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. I really tried to push what I was capable of, and it was an exciting challenge to take on so much detail and deal with so many bright colors. The general goal is to make each next piece the best one ever, and repeat.
What’s the biggest challenge or weirdest encounter you’ve had?
I was painting with a friend in Rochester’s abandoned subway tunnels (yes we have those), a homeless guy stole a can of my paint and used a lighter to make a blowtorch, he proceeded to start lighting anything he could find that was flammable. Things started getting pretty intense, so we actually ended up calling the fire department. Just a couple of vandals helping to do our civic duty!
Do you have a formal art education? Do you have a day job?
I dropped out of school in the middle of my bachelor’s program. I had been taking a lot of printmaking classes at the time, and actually first started using stencils as cheap means of simple printmaking, versus a lot of processes that require a massive press to print. I’m currently lucky enough to say that I do not work a day job anymore. It’s definitely a hustle, and I’m always chasing the next project down the line. I’m always accepting commissions for murals and canvas pieces, and I’ve done a fair amount of print releases as well. It’s never a steady paycheck, but it’s amazing, the idea of actually owning your time.
What would be your advice to young artists trying to find their groove?
First and foremost, I do this because I love it. I’m not getting rich off of this, that’s for sure. I do plenty of pro bono walls, and I think that’s important, because this isn’t just a job, it’s a passion. Also, if you want to learn how to spray paint, please do it on plywood in your backyard, not on top of any real street art or graffiti.
What are some of the trends you’ve found in other cities?
Each city is different, but what remains consistent are the people. I’ve painted in some terrible areas, but most people immediately accept you when they see that you are going to make their neighborhood look a little better.
Have you ever considered submitting to Threadless?
I guess sometimes I neglect to realize that people might actually like the work I’m doing!! Maybe your followers can look forward to a future collaboration!
Any last words or shout outs?
Big thanks go to Dr. Ian Wilson for always having confidence in me. Much love to my friends and collaborators in Rochester at 1975 Gallery and The Yards. Lastly, if you’re in Chicago, make sure to check out my show “SPLATTERHOUSE” at Chicago Truborn, located on W. Division St, the show runs through Nov 13th!
MO KNOWS HALLOWEEN: THREADLESS INSPIRED COSTUMES AND HOW TO EXECUTE THEM.
Oh, Halloween. My favorite holiday. A time of year filled with popping candy corn to horror films, schoolchildren brimming with glee over paying tribute to their favorite monsters or Disney princesses, when it’s not unusual to walk up to a stranger’s house and shriek in delight when they come to the door with a knife.
As Mo, I know Halloween is not about the thrill and possibility of facing a false sense of sudden death, but really about haphazard crafting and scrambling till the very last minute to throw something clever together for a costume. Sure, you might think you’re ahead of the game, tossing around punny ideas for costumes like Were Waldo, or obscure personal references like your D and D character (Atropis Belladonna, the rogue elf), but you still find yourself two hours before your party raiding thrift stores and Jo-Ann Fabrics trying to throw something witty together last minute. Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you’re one of those folks who meticulously plans your Halloween costume pre-October 1st. Maybe you are totally ready for action come party time. If you are that person, I radiate with jealousy of you.
If you’re not that person, this one’s for you.
The last couple Halloweens I hit Walgreens a little too late, after all the good makeup sold out. I ended up finding some creative alternatives. One year, when I still worked at Starbucks, I concocted fake blood from raspberry syrup and mocha powder. Fortunately, it’s rather simple to make homemade face paint, and since many commercial face paints contain [lead and other unsavory toxins], you might have good reason to. Making homemade makeup is not only a piece of cake, it also feels a lot like making a cake since it involves ingredients you can find in your pantry.
White Base Make-up
What it takes:
- 2 ½ tsp of white vegetable shortening
- 5 tsp of cornstarch
- 1 tsp flour
- Glycerin ½ tsp (or more- use it to enhance spreadability)
Colored Face Paint
What it takes:
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp water
- 1 tbsp of white vegetable shortening
- a few drops of food coloring in the desired color
- a few drops of Glycerin
*For black paint, you can follow the colored face paint recipe, except use activated charcoal instead of food coloring. You can find activated charcoal in a health food store, and it serves a wide array of other practical uses from whitening teeth to saving your life from the accidental ingestion of poison. In other words, it’s handy.
Make-up disclaimer: Truth be told, while making the actual make-up is quite easy, applying homemade makeup is not as effortless as the organic mom blogs would have you believe. In fact, you’ll look a little bit like the organic cupcakes the weird, hippy kid’s mom would make in the midst of all the pretty, store bought cupcakes provided by the rest of the class: lumpy, misshapen, and lacking color. I should know. I was that kid. If you can’t get to a Ben Nye supplier, or have intense fears of cosmetic toxins, homemade makeup is a good alternative. If that’s not you, spring for the store bought stuff. I attempted to use the homemade stuff and you’ll see what I mean.
Aside from being Threadless inspired, all six of these costumes can be whipped up in a couple hours and involve pieces you probably already own (or are at least very easy to acquire at a thrift store.)
"Yeah, I was walking dead like back when it was just in Egypt, like in the pyramids? Like in super underground tombs…You probably haven’t heard of them."
Cut the tees in half, as if you’re making a crop top. Cut and rip the bottom half into multiple strips. If you rip the strips (after making a small incision…unless you’re the hulk) you’ll create a slightly different texture to the strips than cutting, so you might want to vary ripping with cutting to increase variety. You should now have several strips you can wrap around your arms, chest, and legs. Once you’ve created the bandage strips, cut several slits from the arm opening to where the sleeve meets the hem, and continue ripping. You’ll create a fringe effect on the sleeves. Once you’ve fringified both sleeves, fold the tee in half and cut several small incisions down the fold. Tearing from the incision, you’ll be able to rip slits in the middle of the tee, still leaving the shoulder structure maintaining easy wear-ability. Cut the neck off when you’re done, and throw the tee over your shoulders. Repeat on the second tee and you’ll have plenty of strips and bandages to play with.
If you’re more of a visual learner, follow the step-by-step pictorial above.
To achieve that oh-so-chic flesh-rotting-off-the-bone look, use toilet paper and Elmer’s glue. Using a paint brush, gently coat your face with Elmer’s glue and apply a piece of toilet paper. Coat the sheet of toilet paper with another light coat of glue so you essentially papier-mâché your face. If you have doubts about removing Elmer’s glue post Halloween, rest assured my very grumpy but helpful boyfriend, non-plussed about his role in this blog post, found the glue and toilet paper concoction very easy to remove. Once you’ve let the glue dry, apply a coat of grey base paint over your facial-mâché. Don your mummy-couture, a blue scarf, and throw on your black rim glasses and you’re all set to party like it’s 1999 (ironically of course).
Zombie at Tiffany’s
A costume for a girl who’s got the reds, and the only thing that does any good is to eat some brains
We chose a purple velvet blazer and orange turtleneck for our costume basics in the above pictorial, but you could rock any brightly colored blazer and contrasting turtleneck or tee to Lisa Frankify your Frankenstein. The higher the neckline on your shirt, the less make-up you’ll have to apply, so you might want to keep that in mind.
Following the colored face paint recipe, use a drop or two of green food coloring and a drop or two of yellow food coloring. Green food coloring alone will produce a nice, spring green, whereas the addition of the yellow achieves that rotting reanimated corpse green you’re looking for. If you don’t have green food coloring you can make green out of blue and yellow, just make sure to add more yellow for that putrefying effect. Spread the rancid green paste over your face. Once covered, wipe a line off the forehead where you can sketch your scar.
Use a black makeup pencil to outline the scar. If you have rainbow sharpies add one or two lines of every color of the rainbow to the scar. Blot a drop of rubbing alcohol on a makeup sponge and watch the colors bleed into each other. The rubbing alcohol also ensures you won’t have to relive your college nightmares of scrubbing sharpie off your face, since the permanent ink is soluble in rubbing alcohol.
While it certainly would be awesome to beckon a posse of iridescent stars and rainbows to illuminate you overhead, you’re probably gonna have to improvise a little with your costume and makeup to achieve that same Lisa Frank effect. You can apply rainbow eyeshadow around the eyes, replace the stitches in Frankie’s forehead with Lisa Frank stickers, or go to town on your face with some good ol’ fashioned glitter.
Mr. Mittens and Celestial Cat
A space cat celebrity power couple
You’ll need to galaxy dye your sweatshirt and black pants for both Mr. Mittens and Celestial Cat. You can follow the galaxy dye how-to found on [this blog] to create that effect. Mr. Mittens and Celestial Cat share the same spacey aesthetic, so you can use the same dye technique for either costume and just switch out the colors. Use blue paint for Mr. Mittens, and purple and pink for Celestial Cat. You can also apply white paint on a toothbrush to spritz and splatter some additional stars.
In order to make the mint make-up needed for Mr. Mittens, add one drop of blue and one drop of green food coloring to the white base make-up recipe listed above. Pop the lenses out of some yellow sunglasses and make homemade red lenses.
How, do you ask?
Since it’s not Christmas, although retail stores will brim with mistletoe and ornaments as early as November 1rst, red cellophane can be tricky to find. Instead of hunting some down, I took a rather unique approach to creating Mr. Mitten’s laser lenses; I traced the lenses on a clear transparency, cut out the shapes, and colored them with a red sharpie. I was pretty shocked to discover that worked at all, but it did splendidly. Glue the homemade red lenses in your yellow frames and your galactic glasses are all set.
For the cloudy nebulas swirling around Celestial Cat’s feline features, take a sponge and dab blue, red, and white face paint in random spots around your face. Going in a circular motion with your sponge, blend the colors together and it should start to look like
If it looks like garbage, maybe because you made your own homemade makeup, throw some glitter on it and you’ll be ok.
In case you’re more the Psycho Killer type (uh…Qu’est ce que?)
If you played hockey and you have a white sweatsuit, you can pull this guy off pretty easily. All you’ll have to do is grab a chainsaw (or make one out of a shoebox) and make some fake blood. Unlike homemade makeup, fake blood actually looks pretty good when made from scratch. You can use the following recipe:
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch for thickening
- 2 tablespoons of red food coloring
- A few drops of green food coloring
- Optional: Tablespoon of chocolate syrup (for darker blood)
Splatter the fake blood over your sweatsuit and mask, and use a black permanent marker to embellish the hockey mask with those cute eyelashes and a frown, and get ready to be really sad about killing people.
If you attempt any of these ideas, or have other Threadless design inspired ideas for your own costumes, I’d love to see them posted in the comments.
THREADLESS DESIGNERS GET SPOOKY! SEE WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY!
Halloween is almost upon us, and we wanted to ask the horror masterminds on Threadless a couple of spooky questions!
Would you rather be trapped in a box full of spiders, snakes, or rats and explain why?
I’d rather not be trapped with any of them! But if I had to, I think rats might not be as bad as the other two. I’m not a big fan of spiders—they can crawl in my ears or up my nose and hatch baby spiders in my brain! Snakes can be poisonous and they can slither up my shorts! Rats aren’t any better, unless they’re the rats from the movie “Ratatouille”. In conclusion, I would rather be trapped in a box full of rats from the movie “Ratatouille” so they can make me dinner.
If you died in a horror movie, how do you think it would happen?
I would be the guy saying, “No you go! I’ll hold them off!” Things would get messy and the screen would fade out. However at the end of the film when all seems lost I burst back in and save the day, everyone asks me how I survived, I turn and look into the distance and say, “Because I bought this cool shirt from Randyotter.”
What weapon(s) would you have during a zombie apocalypse to survive?
My primary weapon would be a fully automatic shotgun for use when I’m in a fix. My sidearm would be a 9mm pistol with suppressor for stealth and precision. My melee weapon would be a machete as a last line of defense when the ammo runs out. I’ll be fine.
What’s the scariest nightmare you’ve ever had?
Being chased by Cruella De Vil through an 8-bit 101 Dalmatians platform video game. This was when I was about 6!
If you were a horror villain, what would be your weapon of choice?
In terms of aesthetics and efficiency you can’t go wrong with a straight razor but seeing as I’m an artist I think I’d have to opt for a sharpened pencil (3B) in the eye and perhaps an additional pencil (say non photo blue) in the other eye if I’m feeling particularly grumpy.
What scares you the most?
Roosters. They’re just unpredictable. Never trust them.
How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
I wouldn’t, so I’m making sure to enjoy the time I have before the inevitable Z-Day ahead of us when we’ll all be worm food.
If you could live through a horror movie, which one would you choose?
Braindead. I would need a good lawnmower of course. And a lot of tranquilizers!