The best thing about college is Halloween lasts more than one night.

It’s almost October, which means it’s almost Halloween, which means its almost the best holiday of all!

I absolutely love Halloween, because it means three things:

1) Costumes

2) Scary Movies

3) Candy

I really like things with a spooky vibe, and around Halloween, everyone seems to share that sentiment. In lieu of a countdown to my favorite night of the year, I’ll be posting someone whose work helps set the mood.

For my first, I present to you- Mark Ryden.

Ryden is known as the godfather of pop surrealism, and he was my introduction to the genre. I’ll be eternally thankful to him, as pop surrealism has been a mainstay favorite of mine since I first saw his work back in middle school. Sometimes referred to as “lowbrow”, Ryden’s work, in the words of his artist bio, “ranges from cryptic to cute, treading a fine line between nostalgic cliché and disturbing archetype”. His pieces are marked with precision, an element of creep, and a sweet, snarky innocence.

I have to assume you love his work as much as I do, and want a Double Feature. Well, you’re in luck- his instagram is just as kooky cute as his paintings. Check it out- instagram.com/markryden

You can LITERALLY share it.

I love a funny, tongue-in-cheek ad as much as the next guy, but when its an ad blatantly making good, clean fun of another ad? I’ll be laughing the loudest. It might be a David and Goliath thing, but I love it when the big player gets poked at a little bit. That being said, I hate when ads deliberately call out their competitor. To me, it comes off as desperate and frankly- lame. If you can’t come up with anything besides saying “me too!” to a competitor’s advertising, I really think you’re better off saving your media budget until you can.

However, I think Ikea’s BookBook campaign for their 2014 campaign is hilarious. They’re not competitors, so its not a “Call Out” campaign. We all know Apple’s ads are pretentious, but they aren’t selling themselves as the Less Pretentious Apple. We* love Apple, and we all know exactly what Ikea’s doing, but it doesn’t detract from Apple while benefitting them. They’re playing off that iconic, Myriad-centric, cool tech guy Apple vibe in a way that totally works.

Check out Ikea’s BookBook video below:

*”We” here meaning American society at large; I personally have been working with a shattered iPhone screen for about a month because I’m a poor college student who can’t afford repairs. I really don’t love them at all right now.

#FF: Jeff Brouws

I may be a member of gen Y, and have an account on nearly every social media outlet, but I have to be honest: I didn’t know what #ff meant for the longest time. In case you don’t either, it stands for Follow Friday (or Friday Follow, depending on your preference!). By the same token, I’m a member of gen y, so please excuse my inactivity on this blog! We’ve resumed classes for the fall, and so I’ve had my hands tied for a while. However, I am back, and I’ve decided bring you a #ff of my own. Every (…) Friday, I’ll bring you an artist I think you should know about.

For my first: Jeff Brouws.

Jeff Brouws is a self-taught artist, starting photography at age 13. He works with the Historical Contemporary subject, starting with American highways in the 80s and moving towards the “franchised landscapes” of the American environment for his later work. Brouws’s work illuminates the reality of the American lifestyle. I am so interested in capturing the American Landscape, and I love that the man-madeness of the space makes any landscape seem more like a still life. His work has an eerie stillness, while remaining inviting through their familiarity. I really love the way he captures light in each of his works, in such beautifully mundane captures.

He’s written seven books, and exhibits in top galleries all around the country. Visit his website to learn more about him, and let me know what you think of his work!

While you’re at it, who are your favorite artists? Let me know your all time favorite photographer, or for an added challenge- your favorite work by a photographer.

Best in Class: Liu Ye

Liu Ye is one of my all-time favorite artists. Based in Beijing, his pieces are instantly recognizable. His work is at once both realistic and dreamlike. Initially, I was taken back by the characters in his paintings- Liu Ye has found the medium between realism and surrealism; his characters exude childlike naiveté but also a complacency thats hard to describe.

Catch Miffy in a number of his paintings, as well as work inspired by Mondrian; his inspiration is evident in many works, taking the forefront. His work draws inspiration from the kitschiness of propaganda art of post-revolution China, but rarely has a political message behind the piece.

Watch this interview with Nicole Schoeni of the Schoeni Gallery to learn more about him.

Best in Class: Kirsten Lepore

There’s something about stop motion film that makes it absolutely magical for me. Maybe it was rediscovering it after growing up with Gumby and Wallace and Gromit, but maybe its simply the fact that the artists making it these days are so beautifully skilled storytellers.

Kirsten Lepore never ceases to amaze me. Her work is endearing, sweet, and always adorably clever. She works in a variety of mediums, from 2D flash to claymation, and she hand makes all of film sets and characters. She’s one of those rare geniuses whose client work is just as beautiful as her personal work, and remains true to her artistic aesthetic.

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Don’t forget to check out her site to watch all of her work: kirstenlepore.com