Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chris Burkard

"I want people to drift away when they look at my images."

That's exactly what happens to me when I see the photography of Chris Burkard. It's the reason I started following his various social media forums; so that every now and then I get a new, fresh image of some far away, exotic adventure that he's on... and for a moment I am transported with him to that moment when his shutter clicked and froze a moment of time.

A self-taught photographer and artist, based in Central Coast California, Burkard’s images are punctuated by energized landscapes and moments of bliss, by adventure seeking and the lifestyle that ensues... often as a result of his constant searching for the most wild, remotest of destinations and offbeat landscapes. At the somewhat young age of 28 (I'm already 36 by comparison - man, I feel old!!!), Burkard has firmly established himself as a known name in the surf and outdoor industries, currently, serving as Senior Staff Photographer for Surfer Magazine, and contributing regularly to various international publications and is a project photographer for Patagonia as well as several other respected brands.

For an idea of exactly what sort of conditions Chris regularly puts himself through, and for some great insight into his philosophy of adventure, make sure to view the video on his main website page at the moment - a video collaboration with SmugMug Films, part of a behind-the-scenes series highlighting photographers at work.

If you want to slip away in an adventure that most of us can only dream about; make sure you follow this young man and his incredible, raw talent. Oh, and if you want to own a small slice of the adventure, Chris offers up a pretty decent collection of his work available to purchase online through his website.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an artist in Austin, TX. Not being one for biographys, the most I could find out about him on his website was that he is married to Lauren, thinks high-fives are pretty cool, and has "one normal cat, one cross-eyed cat, one blind cat, and a dog who isn't normal, but does have great vision."

Really that's as much as we should know about Mike, as his work speaks for itself. The majority of his portfolio work seems to consist of some pretty awesome pop-culture inspired portraits (there are so many you really have to go through his website to appreciate all of them) to which he is constantly adding. What I really enjoy about Mike's work is that he creates serious portraits, and then offsets that with some pretty crazy outlandish caricatures of the same folk. And an interesting little fellow called "Skully."

To dip into Mike's imagination, click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Water, water, everywhere. And not a drop to drink.

There is something special about water. That is to say, other than the obvious. Oh, its unique properties abound; like how it covers over 70% of the planet, and that without it all life would cease to be.

But there's something more than that.

The human body craves water. It needs it like nothing else. Sometimes I experience a thirst, and will use all sorts of other liquids to try fulfill it; juice, coffee, sodas, anything really... But nothing satisfies. Nothing quenches that thirst than when I get a super tall glass from my cupboard and gulp down a refreshing glass or two. 

Only then do I feel truly satisfied that my hunger for thirst has abated. For a little while at least, for I know that I will have that desire again and again, because I cannot live on this earth without it. And I believe that just as our bodies cannot function without water, so our souls crave a spiritual water and cannot function or even survive without it. 

The psalmist writes: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalm 42:2 ESV)

Just as there are other liquids that will help make our physical thirst subside for a little bit, we would be fooling ourselves - perhaps even putting our lives in danger - if we believed we could survive solely without water at all. All the other things we would try only mask the thirst. They do not quench it.

Likewise, we would try and mask our deep thirst for something meaningful of this life, the mysterious requirements of the human soul. What would we try and pour into it to quench that desire? Money, fame, power, success, popularity, family, drugs, fleeting fits of fancy?

It's at times like this that I remember the words of Jesus Christ when he says of drinking physical water:

"Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Again, Jesus said to his disciples, “... whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV)

We wouldn't pour soda onto a plant and expect it to live. Why then would we pour the things of this world into ourselves and expect it to not kill us slowly as well? To truly flourish, to survive in this world, we need the spiritual water that only Jesus Christ can provide... And this through the Holy Spirit that lives within us the moment we trust on Christ for the nourishment and survival of our souls; from this world to the next.

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:11 ESV)

This is a mystery of this world. That the same God who created all things would dwell in us as well. Nurturing and watering our souls.

I do not fully understand nor comprehend how this could be, even the magnitude and gravity of that verse my mind cannot fully grasp. But I know, that without the Spirit and presence of Jesus in every day of my life, I will wither and die.

Imagine if you will, considering that the average human body is 50-65% water, that your life is a water clock. (Think of an hourglass and replace the sand with water. Same principle but I'm talking about water here today - sand can wait!) There are only so many drops of water that can come out before the clock will stop. Likewise, there are so many days appointed to us before our lives will come to a standstill. 

But a never ending source of living water is available to us. All we have to do is decide to drink from its source or not. Will we decide to flourish, or wither?

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37 ESV)

The image above is from a photographic project by Eric Bellefeuille. I chose it because his captures seem to best represent the majesty and mystery of water and the ephemeral nature of the soul. See more of Eric's work here:

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Relief" by Wolves At The Gate

Since first coming across the band "Wolves At The Gate" a couple years back, I have been blown away not only by the awesome hardcore rock/screamo sound they have, but also by their unapologetic approach to Jesus Christ in their lyrics. You probably wouldn't know it to hear them sing; but if you research some of their song lyrics, you'll find some of the most amazing discussions and professions of the Gospel and Christianity.

For that I applaud them.

And also for releasing a third album that is head and shoulders above anything else they've done yet. These guys are now what I believe Underøath could have been. I only wish them further and further renown and success. And if you aren't listening already to their latest album "VxV"... make sure you get it. I can't stop listening to it.

Lyrics to the video above : "Relief"
All who are burdened and seeking respite
All of the hopeless, wretched, and desperate
All who are worn out and feeling oppressed
Come in and find your rest

We've seen your scars
As it has captured like
Like prison bars
Bitter and sharp it runs down
Runs down your skin
It doesn't ease it hides
Hides wounds within
We aren't deaf we've heard

We've heard your plight
As dark as night
In pain you've cried
That "hope has died"

I know that you're guarded, I've been there before
Sin is crouched at your door
Come find your rest
I've traded all of my sin I once counted worth
For healed wounds and rebirth
Come find your rest

Come in and trade your tears
All worry and ease your fears
Your burden is not unknown
Don't run friend you're not alone

For all confined come be set free
For all the blind that long to see
Come and receive the perfect relief
Come and believe He bore your grief

Rise up as the war has ceased
No bondage you have been released

Come all you weak and contrite
He'll strengthen and clothe you in white

Music Video by Online Revolution Design

Wolves at the Gate's "VxV" out now! Get the Album - Solid State Store or download on iTunes

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ori and the Blind Forest

When I first saw the trailer for this XBOX and PC title, I was blown away by how beautiful the game art was. Not only that, but just the trailer alone was so emotive in its storytelling that I immediately wanted to play this game to seek out a happy ending. I haven't seen a side-scrolling platformer look this lush and incredible in some time. All I can say is that this game looks amazing; and I hope that shortly after its release date, in December of next year, two things will have happened:

1) It will be ported to PS4, and
2) I will be the happy new owner of a PS4 so that I can play this game.

Developer MOON STUDIOS says of the project:

"At Moon Studios, we all grew up playing games like Super Metroid, Zelda: A Link to the Past, etc. and with Ori, we wanted to recapture the magic of these games. Ori and the Blind Forest is a bit of a genremix – It’s a ‘Metroidvania‘, but with a stronger platforming focus and light RPG elements, all set within an atmospheric world. Naturally we tried to push 2D gaming forward on all fronts: We tried to make every single screen in Ori look like a painting come to life while making sure that the controls are still pixel-perfect.

Ori is a bit of a coming-of-age story. The player is put into the role of a forest spirit, who – over the course of his journey – has to find out more about his role within the world he’s living in. We tried to create memorable characters in an atmospheric world and to craft a story that players will truly care about!"

Consider the job well done, MOON, as all I've done is watch the trailer and I feel like I'm already emotionally invested in the characters. Find out more about Ori and the Blind Forest at their official website.

Wojtek Fus

The talent in some illustrators just starts younger and younger these days. Case in point, the 21-year old Polish illustrator and concept-artist, Wojtek Fus. (Good thing you can't hear me attempt to pronounce his name through my typing...)

What's interesting is that I can recall coming across the top illustration, "The Queen's Return", a couple of years back... meaning he started showing off his talent even younger! Looking through his portfolio on various sites, it's great to see how Wojtek has increased in skill, making ever more awesome concept images and art. Being the sci-fi fan that I am, I especially enjoy his latest series of work that appears to show characters with light sabers of some sort.

Working currently as a freelancer for various games and animation clients (Platgie Image, One Pixel Brush, Applibot, Dark Stork Studios) it's in his off time where some of his most interesting work comes out, painting what moves him. Of late - female portraits and cyberpunk themed illustrations and concepts. Having received his masters at Watts Atelier, Wojtek tries to maintain the soul of traditional media in his work by using the latest Photoshop techniques, yet also experimenting with new tools and ideas, such as mixing organic and poetic forms such as feathers, beautiful women and high-tech costumes and equipment.

If an artist can be said to mature with age like a good wine; then I am excited to see what the future holds for Wojtek Fus.

There are several places across the net where you can find examples of Wojtek's art but I prefer his ArtStation profile page and his own website.

(Disclaimer: as with any all most concept artists that deal with the human figure, there are one or two pieces that feature some nudity.)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Surviving D-Day : Omaha Beach

I mentioned to someone the other day that today would be the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and they - incredulously to me at least - responded with a blank look followed with a "What's that?"

So if perhaps the events of history and WW2 (that's World War 2 kids, not World War Z) went over your head and you need a little bit of education about the bravery of the men who invaded the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago today, here's a great documentary for you to enjoy.

Or if you feel like watching something a little less "documentary-like" and something with a little more emotion, drama and gravitas... then rent "Saving Private Ryan" for what is arguably the greatest representation on film of the beach landings; or get the box set of "Bands of Brothers" for a look at the airborne assault.

Either way, I hope this will be a date that will long be remembered; along with other significant dates in this world's history of war.

"Chanson d'automne" ("Autumn Song") : D-Day 70th Anniversary (June 6,1944)

"The long sobs
Of the violins
Of Autumn
Wound my heart
With a monotonous

All choked
And pale, when
The hour chimes,
I remember
Days of old
And I cry

And I'm going
On an ill wind
That carries me
Here and there,
As if a
Dead leaf."

"Chanson d'automne" ("Autumn Song") is a poem by Paul Verlaine, one of the best known in the French language. It is included in Verlaine's first collection, Poèmes saturniens, published in 1866 (see 1866 in poetry). The poem forms part of the "Paysages tristes" ("Sad landscapes") section of the collection.

In preparation for Operation Overlord, the BBC had signaled to the French Resistance that the opening lines of the 1866 Verlaine poem "Chanson d'Automne" were to indicate the start of D-Day operations. The first three lines of the poem, "Les sanglots longs / des violons / de l'automne" ("Long sobs of autumn violins"), meant that Operation Overlord was to start within two weeks. These lines were broadcast on 1 June 1944. The next set of lines, "Blessent mon coeur / d'une langueur / monotone" ("wound my heart with a monotonous languor"), meant that it would start within 48 hours and that the resistance should begin sabotage operations especially on the French railroad system; these lines were broadcast on 5 June at 23:15.

The Last Billboard

"The Last Billboard" is a 36 foot long rooftop billboard located on the corner of Highland and Baum in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Each month a different individual is invited to use the billboard. The custom designed billboard consists of a rail system with heavy wooden letters that are changed by hand.
The project is curated by Jon Rubin and the billboard was designed by Pablo Garcia and Jon Rubin.

If you were given such an opportunity to put your own message up for all that passed by to see... What would it be?

Sort of like the ultimate, real life version of Twitter, but on a building not your smartphone.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Around the World on Kindness ONE

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:5-15 ESV)

I was reading the paragraph above this evening and it struck me; what would it be like to up and leave, without any money to your name, no possessions or anything, and to try and travel as far as possible as Jesus commanded these twelve?

Imagine walking out of your front door or your office right now, this very instant, with nothing but the clothes on your back... It's quite a scary prospect. Which I why I guess there's so much faith involved in such an act.

And yet, there have been people who have done very similar things. Well, the traveling part at least.

Just one such is Leon Logothetis, an amazing man who had a dream to travel around the world on a yellow motorcycle, named Kindness One, financed exclusively by the kindness of strangers. His goal was to leave by the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles and traverse the globe all the way around back to his starting point with no food, no money, no gas, just solely depending on the kindness of strangers.

And he did it too!

The journey began in Los Angeles on August 10, 2013 as planned, and after 132 days on the road, he finally arrived back at the Hollywood sign on December 18, 2013 after an unforgettable adventure. Leon traveled 28,129.4 miles on his vintage yellow motorcycle, spent 132 days on the road, visited 19 countries, and picked up 47 passengers in his side car, making it entirely around the world without a dime—paid for in full by the kindness of strangers.

For more information on this journey, head on over to Leon's personal website ( or to the project website ( for some more insight into his amazing journey.