Wherefore ART thou?
April 10, 2007 1:23 AM   Subscribe

What is this kind of art called, and where can I find it when I actually want to find it?

For the last year or so, there has been a type of art present in home decor (on pillows, dishes, wall art) and even in web design. The salient features are some sort of foliage set as a silhouette (usually white, but sometimes other colors) on a solid-colored background. It's a very minimalistic, modern (but retro at the same time) type of look...exactly my style). I've seen cherry blossoms, onion flowers, hibiscus, random flowering branches, and many other variations on flora used. I see it everywhere, but nowhere specific at the same time. Recently, I decided I wanted to project one of these designs onto my bedroom wall and paint it in, but upon heading to Google, I realized I had no idea what to call this art, what to search for, where to begin.
What is the type of art, how can I find it, and how can I create it myself?
posted by messylissa to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It's similar to chinese brush painting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 AM on April 10, 2007

Searching somewhere like istockphoto.com for "vector flowers silhouette" will get you a whole bunch of examples. (The cynic in me wants to say the style should be called "easy to do in Illustrator")
posted by Leon at 2:09 AM on April 10, 2007

To elaborate on Leon's comment a little, silhouettes have been a staple of decorative design throughout history, however vector based software has made their production easier than ever to create, and hardware, such as vinyl cutters or laser cutters have made it easy to apply these vector illustrations in new ways.

As far as a resource for visual inspiration, you can do no better than the Print and Pattern blog which has been around for awhile and has a great archive.

In terms of creating it yourself, if you have a projector, and the lines aren't too fine for your hand, projecting is a good way to go to get the art on your wall.

Other solutions can be relatively expensive depending on your budget.

For example, you can create your own art in any vector based program, and have your own vinyl mask made, (or just make vinyl stickers like these).
posted by extrabox at 4:01 AM on April 10, 2007

Try searching for botanical stencils. And here's a related concept, with directions. (If searching for art styles, as BB indicated, Chinese and Japanese landscape painting is an obvious forerunner, as were the later Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements.)
posted by rob511 at 4:11 AM on April 10, 2007

If you love this type of art as still images, you might REALLY love it as moving images. A great place to see the most inventive vector-based shorts is Resfest (Resfest.com), if there's a showing of Resfest in your town... or try the most recent "Best of Resfest" DVDs...
posted by sparrows at 4:17 AM on April 10, 2007

Here is a collection of silhouette photos. You could use just about any simple image though.

how can I create it myself?

I'm not sure what you mean by this - you already have the idea of projecting it at the wall and painting it. Do you want to know how to paint something on a wall? Do you want to create an image to project? Just take a picture of something with the source of light coming from behind, and you will get a silhouette.
posted by yohko at 5:21 AM on April 10, 2007

Check out the design site notcot.org. They have a ton of designer eye-candy in all flavors, much of it for sale, and I'm sure I've seen lots of silhouetted flowers. Although, if you're looking for something specific you may have to hunt for it.
posted by pepcorn at 7:06 AM on April 10, 2007

Check out the wall stickers section at ferm.
posted by carmen at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2007

Really, I think this is exactly what you're looking for.

Download the free PNGs, and open them in Photoshop (or Firefox, or whatever). Print them onto transparencies, and project them onto the wall.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2007

Ferm, is beautiful, but I can't find where they might ship to anywhere in North America.

Blik has some similar stuff for North America, but nothing as droolworthy as that wall paper.
posted by stormygrey at 9:30 AM on April 10, 2007

"vector art" is the general term - more general than just plant silhouettes, but it describes that smooth computer-generated but semi-photographic look. You can get a sense of the variety of art that fits under this name by going to deviant art (not a dirty site; a site where artists can post their art for others to see) and searching for "vector". A few examples of the technique that I gather are sort of close to what you want (silhouettes of planty forms with no outline): 1, 2, 3

If you want to make your own vector images in Photoshop, one place to start is with books of images from Dover Press. They reprint Victorian and other old images in affordable sourcebooks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:28 AM on April 10, 2007

If you're only going to use it to project and trace, you don't need a silhouetted image at all. Find an image of plant life that you like—and that has edges you will be able to discern once projected—and trace away. Heck, get an overhead projector and just throw some flowers up on the table—insta-silhouette.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2007

messylissa, you may be very interested in the Summer 2007 issue of Creative Home magazine. Be sure to look for the Summer issue, I think the website is showing Spring's edition. Starting on page 58 there is a look very similar to the look you desire. It's a painted mural. There are instructions too.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:46 PM on April 10, 2007

yohko - I essentially wanted to know how to create my own vector art, but I didn't know the term. Thanks to LobsterMitten, I've got that one nailed.

Alt F4 - I actually LOVE a different DesignFruit brush (the Fresh Foliage), but as I am running a dinosaur version of Photoshop, I'm not able to use Gaylor's designs.

LobsterMitten - Thanks for your clear and direct answer!

LoriFLA - I will def. be checking out that issue. Thanks!

Anyone know of a good vector tutorial for older issues of Photoshop?
posted by messylissa at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2007

Messylissa -

You might already know this, but DesignFruit's PNGs are there for older versions of Photoshop. I use Photoshop 7 and am able to use them. Maybe yours is so old it won't be able to read PNGs. But he makes those available for people with older versions of Photoshop.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2007

I've got Photoshop 6.0, and I long ago exhausted my CS2 demo. Were I not a poor grad student, I would get the upgrade. Maybe someday...
posted by messylissa at 4:15 PM on April 10, 2007

It seems Scandanavian to me. At least, much of the European designs I've seen from (esp. Denmark) have been of that taste. Very minimal and reminiscent of retro art. If you search for European/Danish design, I think you'll see those type of prints quite common. Look at magazines like Wallpaper, dwell, and other interior/design mags for inspiration.
posted by loquat at 8:22 PM on April 10, 2007

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