One of the habits I’ve developed in the age of instant information is to run ideas through Google or Etsy, to ensure that I’m not unwittingly catching a second-hand bolt of inspiration. It’s no fun to find out someone already shouted your Eureka, so it’s always good to check. At worst you’ll evolve your idea into something else. Ideally, you’ll find that you’ve really got something new. Either way, the process of looking nearly always delivers some interesting stuff. Occasionally you even turn up something wonderful.
Based in Lexington, KY, Sara and Brian Turner have adeptly applied their talents to a diversity of project types – posters, logos, packaging, and not least of all, illustration. Their event posters in particular capture the same spirit that appealed to me in their screenprinted illos. The world they depict is a place of friendly community spirit, where you can pedal your Schwinn past the local movie house to the farmer’s market, spend your weekend at the arts festival, and enjoy the offerings of your hometown craft brewery before taking in the concert at the bandstand in the memorial park downtown.
In their screenprinted illustrations they deliver scenes viewed through the same lens of fond nostalgia, but their subjects spend more time in shadows than in sunshine.
Adult fears are flatly prosaic; they can be photographed under fluorescent light, authenticated with documentation, diagnosed with lab testing. We tiptoe down the cellar stairs not because we’re afraid of skeletal fingers grasping our ankle, but because we don’t have health insurance.
No surprise really that we might regard the bony hand with some degree of fondness by comparison.
Children navigate the edges of the adult world as explorers in a land that’s simultaneously familiar and strange, that continually discloses new mysteries and contradictions. Everything is unverified, and if grownups made up that stuff about Santa to keep you happy, maybe they’re telling you that vampires aren’t real for the same reason.
Anything is possible. There can still be monsters in the shadows. There is still magic in the moonlight. This is the childhood landscape that Cricket Press captures.
The actors are intrepid aventurers, cautious and canny. Their world is familiar: woods, meadows, that one house with the ominous atmosphere. It’s a realm of intensity, where good and evil are stark and simple, unmuddied by blurry greys. Relationships are uncomplicated by conflicting obligations. Quests, blood-brother oaths, and steadfast loyalty are the rule. Friendship really means forever because how could it possibly not? The line from Stand By Me comes to mind: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Cricket Press gets that, and even pays homage to the film with a print.
The prints manage to evoke a sort of meta-childhood nostalgia: not just by reflecting the viewer’s personal experience, but in their ability to decant the sweetness of the best childhoods from literature. They recall the flavor of Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes…
Of Jem and Scout and Dill, casting uncertain glances at Boo Radley’s house…
Of the Losers’ Club in 1958 Derry, Maine, or the Three Investigators, or the Hardy Boys, or Nancy, Bess and George, or any number of old friends.
The artworks’ charm is enhanced by the style of execution. The prints are perfectly respectable vignette illustrations which would be right at home among the pages of juvenile fiction – all they’re missing are page numbers and captions.
Each print is like a postcard across time and imagination. But it’s even better than that, because these are new pieces being created by contemporary artists. It’s a delight to be reminded that even in the grown-up world, there is still magic to unearth and treasure to discover.
Thanks Brian and Sara, for making wonderful art and doing it so well.