Instagram Graphic Novel Shines Critical Light on American Corporate Business

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Los Angeles born artist touches global nerve with endearing character who calls out polluters, chemical companies, and corrupt government officials.

SANTA BARBARA, CA (Sept. 1, 2016) — The Creature NU” has blossomed into an international phenomenon on Instagram, currently considered leading social media outlet for the Arts. Los Angeles native, Metrov—painter, filmmaker, writer, & designer—chose Instagram to launch his sustainability awareness campaign. With strong support from #organicmoms and other eco-friendly groups, Metrov’s unorthodox tale has quickly garnered an army of passionate “Green” followers.

“For quite some time,” says Metrov, I’d been looking for ways to integrate messages of sustainability into my work. I wanted to do my part as an artist. When Leonardo DiCaprio purchased an artwork on Instagram, the entire art world, it seemed, boarded the burgeoning social media platform. Artist Amalia Ulman’s make-believe Instagram story about a troubled Beverly Hills socialite landed her a show at London’s Tate Museum. I knew Instagram would be The Creature NU’s stage.

   NU, a small, loveable, noble savage, embarks on a mission to Earth to “find out what’s gone wrong.” In the beginning, he discovers spectacular, natural grandeur. But as he travels across America, he falls ill from toxic drinking water. He witnesses the horrors of strip mining, morbid obesity, and land forever destroyed by oil production. He meets other creatures who tell him he must go to Wall Street to find the perpetrators. When he arrives, however, he’s taken in by a gang of uber rich, subterranean rats who secretly control the stock market. It’s not until he falls for the allure of materialism, acquires his own wealth, then becomes homeless and nearly dies from cancer, that the Creature NU finally awakens to his destiny—to become a sustainability role model for the youth of the world.

Metrov began his career as portraitist for superstars like Margaux Hemingway and Mick Jagger. His work is exhibited and collected internationally, though his priority is to explorethe ever-evolving potential of artistic mediums and technologies.” Learn about All Things NU at: www.DoYouNU.com.


THE SAGA OF NU by Metrov: EXPLORE THE “NU” SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT

THE SAGA OF NU by Metrovwww.DoYouNU.com

Researching megastar artist, Takashi Murakami, I learned he first made millions from his business, Kaikaikiki, a commercial art production company. He was able to use this money to create larger scale works for the Fine Art arena. Similarly, Jeff Koons became a Wall Street broker to earn the money to finance his early works. This strategy of creating multiple income streams to survive and prosper as an artist applies not only to superstars, but to us every day creators as well.

I set out to produce what I call a “Commercial Fine Art” product… something I could readily manufacture in small quantities on my own in order to get the ball rolling; something, however, that could eventually sell in volume to develop a substantial revenue stream; something that would be a fit for high-end gift shops, department stores, and other outlets. In the past, this would have been frowned upon in the Fine Art World. Now it is not only acceptable, but expected. I spent the last several years trying a variety of ideas and experimenting with all the materials (traditional and new) I could lay my hands on. The road was rockier than expected.

Among the first products I developed were 3D acrylic works. I had my own designs and artwork printed on clear, Plexiglas panels, then used stand-offs to arrange them two or three panels deep.

"3D Tara Goddess Supreme with Pink Dots." (2015) Three layers of acrylic art held apart by brushed nickel stand-offs mounted to a wall; 36" x 52"

“3D Tara Goddess Supreme with Pink Dots.” (2015)
Three layers of acrylic art held apart by brushed nickel stand-offs mounted to a wall; 36″ x 52″

 

I also layered translucent, acrylic artwork inside shadow boxes, and as free-standing pieces, edge-lit with LED strip lighting.

 

"3D Tara Goddess Lightbox-Dot Gate" (2014) Three layers of acrylic art in black wooden box, edge-lit by adjustable LED lighting.

“3D Tara Goddess Lightbox-Dot Gate” (2014)
Three layers of acrylic art in black wooden box, edge-lit by adjustable LED lighting.

 

The results were often lovely, but acrylic prints are quirky and don’t always end up looking the way they are visualized in Photoshop, particularly when employing translucent effects and adding LED edge lighting (fyi, some acrylic sheets distribute the edge lighting evenly, some do not). And if the visual effect doesn’t work, guess what… the printed acrylic sheets are a bust, meaning money down the drain. But the biggest challenge was working with the acrylic itself. Without precision manufacturing equipment, it’s difficult to cut or drill, and often breaks where it should not. Additionally, cutting acrylic makes a huge mess… dust goes everywhere. My studio was not the ideal place to construct these pieces. I’d need a full-blown factory style workshop. Back to the drawing board.

I decided to see if I could reasonably produce one of my 3D models. I’d been creating sculptures in “Blender,” a free, open source, 3D modeling/animation software that’s equivalent to its professional counterparts costing many thousands of dollars. Not an easy learning curve, but very rewarding once you figure it out. (It only took me about five years, off and on, but that was learning on my own via Youtube tutorials.) The awesome thing about creating digital-based sculpture is that I can email the computer file to a foundry in China where they will 3D print it any size, and from that 3D print, form a mold. And from that, the work can be cast in a wide range of materials.

I’d created a character called “NU,” deceptively naïve, even cartoon-like in appearance, but part of a much larger installation series, “MYTH OF PAX: BEAR GODDESS,” 

which is very much on the frontiers of cutting edge fine art. Previously, I’d ordered the first casting as a nine inch, stainless steel sculpture. The results were magnificent, but costly. The stainless steel version of NU would have to retail at around $6,000.00, not exactly commercial department store faire.

 

Metrov with first stainless steel “NU”

Metrov with first stainless steel “NU”

At any rate, I decided NU would be my first “Commercial Fine Art” product, as it seems to have the “cute” factor going for it, and everyone loves “cute.”

So, how to produce the Commercial Fine Art version of NU? I began to experiment with materials and processes… wood, clay, metal, concrete, cardboard, Styrofoam, and more. Because of his unique shapes, NU would be difficult to make using any of these materials. Either that, or the materials just wouldn’t work at all. For example, I thought ceramic was surely the answer. After experimenting with various, slipcasting prototypes, I found out my design would not hold up in the “firing” process. I won’t go into detail about all the different things I tried, but when you’re researching, and ordering stuff, and waiting for it to arrive, and then finding time to actually assemble your ideas, time passes quickly… in this case, R&D, including the acrylic works, took years.

At last, I discovered “Ponoko,” a company that can cut out small designs from a variety of materials using a standard laser cutting technique. A lot of artists use Ponoko to produce jewelry and small figurines. Ponoko also does 3D printing, but sadly 3D printing is not yet ready for prime time—you end up with a rough, gritty surface. It also gets quite expensive. For example, I would have loved to have small NUs 3D printed in a metal like stainless steel or bronze, but the cost was in the thousands for a single 5” inch high figure.

However, laser cutting, which employs a 2D design format (even something as simple as an Illustrator .eps file), is far more cost-effective. I placed my first order for a 4” NU. The results were promising. Laser cutting is precise, and I was able to order ten figures cut from bamboo for around $200. So cost, not including my labor to finish, is around $20 each. And these days Fine Art Toys are selling anywhere between $150-250 bucks (and that’s for mass-produced, injection mold figures which are never touched by the artist’s hands). I also wanted something a little fancier than just a cut-out. Laser cutting can also make engraved areas which allowed me to have inlays made from a different material. This was getting exciting now. I really wanted the inlay pieces to be made from some kind of metal. Alas, Ponoko can’t laser cut metal. I reluctantly settled for black plastic in my excitement to get something finished.

I decided to “distress” the wooden bodies so they had an antique look. I also had to glue feet on because the cut-outs (only 1/4” thick) won’t stand on their own. After staining the wood, I glued the plastic inlay parts on by hand. I thought I’d done it, at lasta product I could reasonably produce on my own without a lot of initial headache and expenditure. (Injection molding runs around $20-30k for a minimum run.)

 

Early NU’s—waiting for the stain to dry. Note the engraved areas where inlays will be inserted.

Early NU’s—waiting for the stain to dry. Note the engraved areas where inlays will be inserted.

One of my plans for these figurines is to send them as gifts to gallery owners in New York and Los Angeles. After a couple of weeks, I realized, no matter how cute, I couldn’t send a hand-finished figurine that used plastic. Damn! I really wanted those metal inlays. Back to research. Fortunately, I found a company called “Pololu,” similar to Ponoko, but they laser cut metal! I ordered another batch of wooden figures with thin steel inlay parts. They arrived… and everything was magnificent, perfect, beyond my expectations. Still, I had to distress the wood, stain the metal, and glue everything together, but the parts fit together perfectly.

Meanwhile, during all this R & D, I was also researching the best gift packaging materials… another grueling excursion into the unknown. After looking at literally thousands of styles of gift boxes and stuffing materials, I finally found the perfect one—and this is big—one that was the perfect dimensions. AND I was able to order them in small quantities whereas most companies have minimum orders of hundreds. After years of sweat and failures, the NU Fine Art Figurine was ready at last.

 

Frame #23 from the Instagram Series: SAGA OF NU

Frame #23 from the Instagram Series: SAGA OF NU

 

 Next: How to sell NUs? I knew I wanted to eventually sell the figurines in large quantities… that’s where the real income would beincome potentially large enough to support my household, studio operations, and my more ambitious fine art projects. I knew you could submit products to high-end retail chains like “Restoration Hardware” and others. I also figured I could put them into museum and other gift shops. Still, it would be an “iffy” proposition. What if, after all that work, they didn’t sell? Unacceptable.

Because of my background writing film and novels, it occurred to me I might craft a kind of graphic novel using still images. I thought if I could capture the attention of my target audience, and get them emotionally involved with NU, they would help me spread the word. I could also have NU contests and give some away free. I decided to go this route… and I would not even hint at selling anything… not until my customers were hooked.

Crafting a compelling story using small still frames means you have to come up with a very succinct way of writing. You must convey as much as possible in one or two short phrases. Not to mention, of course, your visuals better be pretty damned exciting. I love taking photographs, especially of natural beauty, and have done so in my travels for many years, so I have a large archive of images I could use as backgrounds. I also had experience combining digital characters with real photos (sort of like the FX process used in LORD OF THE RINGS.)

 

Frame #37 from the Instagram Series: SAGA OF NU

Frame #37 from the Instagram Series: SAGA OF NU

I put “selling” aside, and got to work writing the SAGA OF NU. From my past experience in online marketing, I knew that it can typically take three years for something to catch on with a target audience. I also knew that “marketing” was something you’d have to keep doing for a long time, conceivably for the rest of your life if you’re talking about your art. So you’d better be marketing something you’re really passionate about; it had better be your Primary Mission in Lifethe Reason You’re On This Planetif you’re going to stick with it. Otherwise, you’re gonna burn out on the process, something I’d also experienced in the past.

I decided to start writing without a detailed outline… I wanted the story to be spontaneous. Early on, I realized NU could be a champion for things that are dear to my heart… socio-political causes which, fortunately, are embraced by the Art World. The Creature NU, quickly became an advocate for the environment, sustainability, love vs fear, the value of Living in the Now, and my vision of reinstating dignity and integrity to the Human Race (as opposed to the superficial, sickness-ridden, Market Society that is now the Mainstream).

Like the character, the SAGA OF NU starts off seemingly childlike and innocent. But the tale gradually grows darker and more surreal. NU himself falls victim to the allure of materialism. He will forget his ideals, succumb to greed, and eventually get a terrible, but common disease. It’s not until he almost dies, that he has an epiphany and evolves into the true hero he is meant to be.

So that’s where we are today. Fortunately, the Creature NU is gaining momentum on Instagram with over 35k followers at the time of this writing. The hub for the NU Project is www.DoYouNU.com where you can see the NU video, as well as visit the Instagram graphic novel and the NU Gear Etsy store. If you like NU, and share his ideals, then your support would be much appreciated. Follow NU, and invite your friends to do the same. As we all know, the artist who thrives off his art is the artist who establishes multiple revenue streams. This is true even for the fortunate few who have top tier gallery and museum representation. Whether I can sell figurines in the thousands, even millions, remains to be seen. But I sure plan to give him my best shot. (Move over Murakami!) I’ll start off with a Special Limited Edition until enough financing comes in for mass-produced versions.

Wish me luck, folks. I hope you find this story inspirational for your own creative endeavors in supporting your Art. Be Positive, Confident, and Never Give Up! And perhaps most importantly… HAVE FUN!

“NU—Vintage Series” Special Limited Edition 1500; wood and stained steel; 5” high—now available at Etsy! Gift wrapped with Hang Tag (also included on cards: Legend & Certificate of Ownership)

“NU—Vintage Series” Special Limited Edition 1500; wood and stained steel; 5” high—now available at Etsy!
Gift wrapped with Hang Tag (also included on cards: Legend & Certificate of Ownership)

     

Now an international symbol of Sustainability, the Creature
without compromising ours.

DOWNLOAD THE NU LOGO

INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL OF SUSTAINABILITY

Do You NU?


From the lineage of the great Gregory Gillespie, Metrov has been impacting the Fine Arts for over 35 years. His work resides in collections around the world, including those of celebrities like Mick Jagger, the Hemingways, and Academy Award winner, Robert Zemeckis. He is also an author, filmmaker, and environmental advocate who lives in Southern California.

Please watch the video on www.DoYouNU.com. We can use your Youtube “views.” Any comments on the Youtube video would also be much appreciated! To leave a comment just click the Youtube icon under the video. Thanks”

Metrov: Commission A Portrait to Rival #AndyWarhol

Born in Los Angeles and schooled in art at UCLA, Metrov began his career in New York City doing illustrations for major publishers such as MacMillan, McGraw-Hill, New York Magazine, and ultimately Push Pin Studios, the only graphic designers to ever exhibit in the Paris Louvre. He eventually segued into Fine Art painting after studying with Prix di Rome scholar, Gilbert Stone. Metrov began doing portraits of celebrities and international socialites. He quickly became renowned for his uncanny ability to capture his subject’s “spiritual essence.” “It’s not something I try to do, it’s simply what comes naturally. Some have called it a psychic ability,” says Metrov, now living and working in Santa Barbara, California, America’s  “Côte d’Azur.”

When Margaux Hemingway saw her finished portrait, she couldn’t stop crying for an hour. Ben Vereen stood speechless before his likeness. Mick Jagger hired Metrov to paint his wife, Bianca. Metrov began competing with his neighbor, Andy Warhol, as portraitist of New York’s elite high society. Growing restless, however, with static artwork, Metrov became fascinated by the potential of motion pictures to be “paintings that moved and made sound.”

 metrovportraitmarqaux
“Margaux” by Metrov (1977)

After spending many years in the motion picture business, Metrov once again began accepting portrait commissions in 2012. His style has evolved over time, but his art, whether digital (as seen  below) or photographic with synthetic polymers, continues to reflect his subject’s inner nature as well as their common human struggle to balance the often chaotic energies around them.

 

metrovportrait_5
Digital portrait of the artist’s wife, Dr. Maureen O’Brien (2014)

Metrov was recently invited to conduct a public portrait session at the Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art as part of Marinella Senatore’s, highly acclaimed “Building Communities” exhibition. The event was a huge success. Some of the portraits from the exhibit may be seen on his website: http://www.metrov.org/mcasb-portraits/


To learn more about this exciting opportunity to commission Metrov for your portrait, please contact Marie Kazalia via email here.

Australian Artist Invents the New ARTristic Easel

ARTristic easel Mark 4 with canvas in horizontal position, April 2014

ARTristic easel Mark 4 with canvas in horizontal position, April 2014

For the past four years, Tony Barber, Australian artist, critic, teacher, and member of the 1960’s rock band Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, has been working on a new easel design. Encouraged by his fellow artists and students to develop this new easel, Tony Barber has been specifically designing it to eradicate the symptoms artists suffer from long hours of work, such as lower back pain, neck pain, sore arms, aching shoulders or weary legs.

ARTristic Easel from back with medium size canvas attached, 2014

Mark 4 ARTristic Easel from back with medium size canvas attached, 2014

His latest and vastly improved Mark 4 version has just been completed. He named it the ARTristic Easel, and judging by the comments and testimonials coming from both experienced and beginner artists lucky enough to have painted with the easel, it certainly appears to be able to do what its inventor claims it can, and so much more!

Designed around the principle that if you remove all the physical and visual impediments and barriers that traditional A and H frame easels place in the way of artists and their work, the benefits combine to such a degree that it allows artists of all mediums to discover and reach their full creative potential.

ARTristic easel rotated so all 4 edges can be painted

ARTristic easel rotated so all 4 edges can be painted

Tony Barber is a man of many talents. He considers himself to be proficient as an artist/painter/illustrator, as a sculptor in paper, as a sculptor in fabric, and as a designer/inventor. Tony is well aware that not all artists are receptive to change. But when art teachers, gallery owners, student and professional artists who used his new easel make bold statements such as … “My art abilities instantly took a giant leap forward.” “Since painting with this easel I have won two art awards.” “There is simply no turning back. This easel has changed my life.” “I wanted an easel I could attach drawing boards, wood panels and stretched canvas to. For me this easel ticks every single box.” “The versatility of the easel is truly revolutionary, taking artists into the 21st century with its ingenious but practical design.” ……….they endorse these words spoken recently by an artist of a different kind. “I respect and have learnt from the traditions of the past, but I’m not going to let them stop me exploring future ones.”  Mick Jagger. Singer. Rolling Stones Rock n Roll band. For more information and to order one or more of these amazing easels for your studio, visit the ARTristic website: http://www.artristic.com/ Questions and enquires to Tony at Email: easyarteasel@gmail.com  For more from the artists who have used the easel, watch this video– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg9W6BZHSuA

ARTristic easel Mark 4, arms fully extended for large canvas to be attached

ARTristic easel Mark 4, arms fully extended for large canvas to be attached