Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Harold and Maude

April 11, 2014

I could talk for hours about “Harold and Maude”, the 1971 dark comedy about one of the most unlikely romances in cinema. It’s about embracing death to get the most out of life, and embracing life to get the most out of death. It’s about choices; living in the world prescribed for you by society, or forging your own, consequences be damned. Ultimately it’s about choosing to somersault, or to suicide. It’s one of those films you just have to see to believe, and if you haven’t watched it, you should go do so right now!
I created this piece, “Somersault Suicide”, as an exploration of those choices that Harold faces. I rarely center my figures in a composition, but for this one it seemed conceptually appropriate to highlight the two worlds he straddles as he searches for the secret to living.

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“Somersault Suicide”, 2014

You can buy a print here (or a pillow if Bud Cort’s creepy visage is your idea of home decor)!

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8-Bit Escorts

June 17, 2013

I feel like I should start this post by warning you that there’s a good chance you might be offended by it. In fact, I sort of hope that you are. It’s possible you will simply be offended by the content of the artwork, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but it’s my hope that rather you’ll get a little chuckle out of it, but be offended by the current state of video games that the art speaks to.

The role of women in video games, both as players and as characters in the games themselves, is one of the most contentious issues in gaming at the moment. While much has been written about the subject, a good place to start is Anita Sarkeesian’s video series Tropes vs Women. You can watch the first video here:

The basic gist of Sarkeesian’s video is that women in games are most frequently portrayed as a “damsel in distress”, a situation which robs them of any power or free will, depending instead on a male character to save her from danger. In many games, the female character, for example Princess Peach in the Super Mario Brothers games, is quite literally objectified, becoming an object of possession (much like a ball in a game of sport) that the villain steals and the hero must retrieve.

And if you’re first reaction is “Well yeah games used to be sexist like that but there’s a lot more strong female lead characters now” then you should probably go ahead and watch the second video:

In her second video she discusses how the “damsel in distress” trope is not only alive and well, but in an effort to outperform one another, game publishers have been ratcheting up the violence against these female characters in increasingly disturbing ways that, she argues, contribute to the attitudes in our culture that normalize domestic violence.

Every year or two, iam8bit hosts their flagship art exhibition, and I’ve been honored to participate in all but one of them. The show is visited by thousands of people, many of them gamers and people in the gaming industry, so I always try and create art that speaks to that crowd specifically. So, for the 2013 show, I decided to focus on the commodification of women in video games.

I began thinking about those damsel in distress scenarios and how, as a child, they were one of my earliest fantasies involving the opposite sex. At six years old, the prospect of rescuing a pretty girl from a giant monkey was very empowering, and I can’t help but wonder how that virtual scenario, played out in game after game, affected the way millions of young boys like myself grew up to view women in the real world. When a generation of boys, raised on the fantasy of rescuing helpless princess after princess, comes face to face with the most independent and empowered generation of women in the history of the human race, is it any wonder the sexes seem at such odds within the relatively young medium known as the video game?

I recalled my first trip to Las Vegas, and the “escort” cards they hand out on the strip. If you’re not familiar with what I’m referring to, there are these very shady looking individuals on the main strip who hand out business card-sized flyers with naked women on them (their nipples and other parts covered by little starbursts) and phone numbers you can call to have them come to your room. It was then that I had the idea to create “escort” cards for well-known video game icons; it was the perfect way to “commodify” them the way the industry does.

Please click below to view each piece, but be warned they contain nudity.

For a Good Time, Call Peach

“For a Good Time, Call Peach” – Click to view

For a Good Time, Call Zelda

“For a Good Time, Call Zelda” – Click to view

"For a Good Time, Call Samus" - Click to view

“For a Good Time, Call Samus” – Click to view

I even went so far as to print a fake escort service t-shirt and hand out fake “escort” cards at the opening. The reactions ranged from loudly amused to horribly offended. One guy actually thought I was a real pimp.

Photo ©Shannon Cottrell 2013 http://www.shannoncottrell.com

Photo ©Shannon Cottrell 2013 http://www.shannoncottrell.com

I realize it’s not a perfect metaphor; even within the feminist movement there are opposing views on whether sex workers are being exploited or empowered, but you can’t argue that the Vegas style cards are crass and exploitive, much like the “damsel in distress” motif in most games, both vintage and modern. Furthermore, the escort’s job is to satisfy the male ego, to fulfill fantasy. By contrasting those early childhood fantasies with the much darker ones that men have once they have reached sexual maturity (to use the term loosely), I hope to start a conversation about how the portrayal of women in video games affects all of us, inside and outside the game.

iam8bit entertainment system
June 7–30, 2013
2147 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

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Tribe Magazine 16 Interview

April 28, 2013

The latest issue of Tribe magazine (Issue 16) features an interview with yours truly, starting on page 12. After May 28th, 2013, you may need to click this link instead.

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Janet Reno’s Dance Dance Party

April 2, 2013

For Gallery 1988‘s second annual “Is This Thing On?” exhibition, they asked artists to pay tribute to long-running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. Though I’m more a fan of the early years, I really enjoyed the more recent “Janet Reno’s Dance Party” sketch with Will Ferrell and, in one episode, the former Attorney General herself. For my contribution, I imagined their epic dance-off as a DDR-style video game.

Janet Reno's Dance Dance Party

Janet Reno’s Dance Dance Party
Giclee print on canvas  •  19.75″ x 9″  •  S/N Edition of 25

Janet Reno's Dance Dance Party

Janet Reno's Dance Dance Party

Is This Thing On #2 Too: A Tribute to SNL
March 29th–April 20th, 2013
Gallery 1988: West
7308 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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Sweet Relief – A Benefit for the Avelar Family

October 11, 2012

Another charity auction I currently have some work available in is “Sweet Relief”, a silent auction to raise money for the Avelar family’s medical bills for their daughter Monica. The auction will continue in person at the exhibition on October 20th, but until then you can bid online. Prints of mine available include Belmont Terrarium, Last Call, and the sold out (I kept a few copies for just such an occasion) Stapler.

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8-Bit Brigade Fundraiser to Benefit Child’s Play

October 10, 2012

The nice folks over at 8-Bit Brigade are hosting their 7th Annual Fundraiser for Child’s Play. For those of you who don’t know about Child’s Play, you can read more about it here, but basically it’s an awesome organization that lets people donate video games and toys to hospitals to improve the otherwise generally unpleasant experience for the children there. You can even choose from a map which hospital to donate to and pick out various items to buy for the hospital. While I believe charity should be sacrifice, there is something extremely fun about picking out a video game system and some games and knowing how many sick kids are going to have their hospital stay exponentially improved because of it.

Anyway, back to the charity event… 8-Bit Brigade has collected a TON of donated items ranging from a collector’s edition of Skyrim to Zelda-themed jewelry to a large original painting by yours truly. The best part is, you can chip in as little as one dollar and be entered to win one of the hundreds of available prizes; for each dollar you donate you get one virtual raffle ticket. So what are you waiting for? Go donate!

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Fangamer VERSUS Attractmode

August 31, 2012

If you live in Seattle, or are there now for PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) you absolutely must check out Fangamer VERSUS Attractmode tomorrow night! Video games, music and beautiful game-related artwork! What more could you ask for?
Play indie games like Super Time Force and Cumulo Nimblers, rock out to chiptune musicians, including hip hop genius Mega Ran, and feast your eyes on artwork from over 40 amazing artists, all available for purchase!
For my contribution, I created the piece below, titled “Couples Counseling”, as a commentary on the use of virtual space within the context of relationships, and how that affects and dehumanizes communication.


Couples Counseling
9.125″ x 9.125″ / Edition of 25 / Giclee print on canvas

Fangamer VERSUS Attractmode

Saturday, September 1st
7pm until 11pm

1927 Events
1927 3rd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

You can RSVP for the event on Facebook.

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The Battle of Wits – Crazy 4 Cult NY

August 1, 2012

One of my favorite annual shows to participate in is Gallery 1988‘s Crazy 4 Cult, an exhibition of over 100 artists paying tribute to their favorite pop culture films. I’m super excited this year because they’re branching out to the east coast and holding it in New York City!

For this year I chose to illustrate one of my favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride. One of the best scenes in the film is when Wesley confronts Vizzini after besting his “Spaniard” and his “giant”. He agrees to a “battle of wits”, and what follows in one of the most hilariously long-winded speeches in cinematic villainy.

The Battle of Wits
19.5″ x 9″
Giclee print on canvas, edition of 25

Crazy 4 Cult: New York
Opening Thursday, August 9th 6–9pm

Gallery 1988 NY Pop-Up Store
64 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014

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Magna Arbor Vitae Deku

October 3, 2011

I don’t normally blog when I add a new item to my shop, but the demand for posters of Magna Arbor Vitae Deku were so great that I felt I could make an exception! The 15 giclee canvas prints from SUPER iam8bit are nearly sold out, so for those of you who couldn’t make it, or wanted a more affordable option, I have an open edition (no limit) poster of the piece. You can purchase it from my shop HERE!

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8-Bit Champions

September 15, 2011

Tonight marks the Autumn Society’s first international exhibit! 8-Bit Champions opens tonight at La Flaq gallery in Paris, France.

Curated by Chogrin and Thomas Olivri, 8-Bit Champions pays homage to classic 8-bit video games such as Super Mario Bros and Pac-man.

My piece is called Blue is Always Stronger, and is a reference to the 8-bit Legend of Zelda games where the blue version of an enemy always dealt out, and could withstand, more damage. It’s a 9″x9″ giclee print on canvas, edition of 30.

8-Bit Champions
LA FLAQ GALLERY
36 rue Quincampoix ( 75004 )
Paris, France

Opening reception
Thursday, September 15th
7:00pm–10:oopm

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