Friday, December 11, 2009

todd oldham: enabler of arts and crafts

It took me a second to recognize designer, artist, author Todd Oldham (above), with this long beard, but that's him all right in the November 30th issue of New York Magazine. Remember Oldham from MTV's House of Style, which he co-hosed with model Cindy Crawford? I loved that show! Or maybe you've seen him more recently in Bravo's Top Design, where he was a mentor to designers. I remember falling in love with his fun, colorful designs back in the 1990's, and I'm happy to see that he's incorporated his artistic, crafty talents into books. "Books have always been a great passion of mine since I was very little," he says, in the NY Magazine article. "They kind of ruled my life. And now it's my favorite thing that I do."

Kid Made Modern (Ammo Books, 2009), is Oldham's newest book for kids who are interested in art and creating art. There are 52 simple-to-make, inexpensive craft projects, and a list of design-icons including Alexander Calder, Alvin Lustig and Alexander Girard, among others, which he's pulled inspiration from. If you have a kid or know one who is into art, this would be the perfect holiday gift.

And, the other book I was happy to see is Oldham's "love letter" to artist/illustrator Charley Harper, who I've posted about before. Oldham remembered Harper's illustrations from textbooks he'd read as a kid, but didn't know who the illustrator was until he was an adult and came across Harper's work while shopping in a thrift store. He contacted Harper, and from 2002 to 2007 Oldham worked on restoring and archiving Harper's works. Harper died just days after Oldham presented the complete monograph to him. Ammo Books published Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life in October 2009 for $49.95. This is a book definitely on my wish-list!

But what I personally like best about Todd Oldham, besides his artistic ability and love of books, is that he is reportedly not an art snob. You know how much I dislike rude people, and unfortunately the art world can sometimes be full of them, so it's nice to hear that Oldham is working to make art accessible for all, without pretentiousness.

(Read more about Todd Oldham in New York Magazine, Nov. 30, 2009 issue. The Pied Piper of Craft: Todd Oldham is Creating Art Nerds, One Kid at a Time, by Amy Larocca).

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