Archives for posts with tag: upcycle

Love is in the air on this Valentine’s Day, but Los Angeles-based artists DJ Neff and Paul Ramirez promote a different kind of love. Started in 2011, this collaboration has blossomed into a full-fledged non-profit organization, CANLOVE, whose mission is to upcycle otherwise discarded or abandoned spray paint cans. Over the years, they have saved (by hand!) some 15,000+ spray paint cans from the landfill. And in the process created some beautiful, innovative and intriguing artwork. Armed with “spray bouquets”, blooming flower creations and heart-shaped works, CANLOVE can suit all your Valentine’s Day needs (visit their Flower Shop here). Not only do we love their work on a purely artistic level, but the fact that this work also has a purpose really makes our hearts pound.



Some “tree huggers” may view paper art (here and here and here) as a gratuitous use of precious paper. But Spanish paper artist Malena Valcárcel may just have found a way to please art lovers and environmentalists alike. Valcárcel “upcycles” discarded or recycled books into quite beautiful sculptures. She is astoundingly self-taught, and her work is intricate and delicate in a way that serves the fine print of her chosen medium (printed matter) really well. She even utilizes lighting in some of her pieces, which adds an entirely new magical dimension. In her own words, “My main inspirations come from nature and everyday life, and I often return to certain ideas again and again. Flowers, trees, butterflies, houses, clouds … without forgetting the sea, really fascinate me. Turning books into sculptures, cutting and shaping paper into different shapes or abstract forms never ceases to amaze me, and when the work is finished, just contemplating it brings a smile to my face. Making things has always been incredibly important to me and it is often an amazing release to get it out of my system. It’s a joy to hunt for things for my work…the lost, found and forgotten all have places in what I make. Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm.” Charming, indeed.

Via Behance and Etsy

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On this Earth Day, we thought it appropriate to feature work that promotes that trendy buzz word: upcycling. In other words, reusing objects that would otherwise be discarded in such a way as to create something of higher quality or value than the original. In this case, it’s the inventive work of UK photographer Dan Tobin Smith. For his project entitled The First Law of Kipple, Smith basically collected a very wide array of rubbish, then painstakingly chromatically arranged it with such attention, that he achieved pleasing gradients from color to color (no Photoshop filters here, folks). And we’re not talking a handful of objects, but thousands upon thousands. What’s this peculiar word “kipple”, you ask? It’s actually a fictional word that was coined by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick in his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the film adaptation was Blade Runner), and is used to describe useless, pointless stuff that humans accumulate. It’s sort of odd even saying it, but Smith’s creative display of such junk is quite beautiful and thought-provoking. This project certainly appeals to our own nerdy desire for order and color harmony.

More chromatic-centric posts here and here and here.

Via and Instagram

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Serial projects, that is, ones that are repeated at daily intervals for a set period of time, are really an exemplification of self discipline and ferocious creativity. One such example is a project called 100 Hoopties by Detroit-bred, Los Angeles-based designer and cyclist Jenny Beatty. While completing a masters program at SVA in NYC, Beatty spent one hundred consecutive days immersed in her two loves: design and cycling. Beatty exercised her stellar design skills and unending creativity while reimagining iconic pieces of artwork using only scrapped bicycle parts. In her own words, “The idea came about very serendipitously. I was living above a bike shop that was going out of business, and would walk past coming home every night to a sidewalk filled with left over “junk”. One day I came across a pretty much new set of mustache handlebars with butchers basket and snapped the gem up for future use. The bars/basket sat on my landing for the next 5 months – taunting me to do something with them. When the time came to submit our ideas for 100 days – I tried to think of something that would summarize my life of cyclist and graphic designer. As I was writing out my thoughts, I kept trying to find ways to use this basket and handlebars but it wasn’t until I started thinking about taking it apart that the magic happened.” Magical, indeed. Here are a few of our favorites.

More serial projects here and here and here.


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Trash versus treasure is all relative, as everyone pretty much knows by now. Rhode Island-based artist Tom Deininger takes the old adage to heart through his remarkable collage work. From idealistic landscapes (one of which is inspired by Impressionist master Monet), to detailed portraiture, to denim seascapes, to large-scale commissions, Deininger truly transforms found, often discarded, objects into things of beauty and awe. We imagine his workspace to look like The Island of Misfit Toys. It takes true skill, an acute sense of space and color, to compose these stunning pieces. To say that Deininger is an accomplished collage artist is an understatement. Incredible work.

More killer collage work here, here and here.



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