Creating images of our children, families, and lives is something we have been doing since back when some hairy caveman picked up a leg bone and decided to paint on a wall.

Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, (below) painted in 1434 is a classic example of this type of representation that I studied in Art History Class in College.  We learn about this new family by looking at the painting, their style, relationship and social class.  Take a quick history lesson by checking out some other classic versions of this same visual message.  Mind you, I use the word “classic” loosely.

the Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck painted in 1434 is a classic example of portraiture.

1883 Pierre Auguste Renoir's "Sailor Boy Portrait of Robert Nunes"

Now lets move to our century.  “Classic” Portraits of our loved ones, families and lives become accessible helping to popularize this practice.

1940′s

Classic Child Portriat from 1943 by Ira Frost, you might have seen one like this in your parents home.

1960′s

A Family Portrait for approx 1968. Hats off to mom and her monumental hair do.

1970′s

in the 1970's a brandy snifter somehow relates to this portrait of a little girl.

1980′s

The understated hairstyles of this charming 1980s family really reflects this humble and modest decade.

1990s

The Classic (and now cliche) baby in Hands Black and White photograph made popular by Anne Geddes.

2000

Tattoos became increasingly popular, not only for bikers and punks anymore. This "stylish" Mom decided to have the image of her tot tattooed on her shoulder. The likeness is frightening....seriously frightening.

Now we are in 2010.  Personalization is hot and trendy. The desire to express ourselves and be the designers is great, however we don’t want to end up with something we might regret like some of the “classic” images above.

With the popularity of facebook , twitter and digital photography we far to often forget to take these images, and make them into something lasting, something more tangible than the display on your laptop.  I try to point my style savvy readers in the direction of ways to be creative without being a cliche.  The photo studio at Sears just doesn’t really cut it anymore.  It is my pleasure to introduce you to Modern Bird Studios.  Not a big chain store outfit, quite the opposite actually.

Modern Bird Studio's utilizes your photos as a basis for their digital artwork.

Meet Gregg Deal. Gregg could have easily been one of the guys I went to art school with, sitting a couple seats away in Art History, renaissance to modern.  Clad in plaid and a knit cap, his voice is calm. He tells me about his business, life as a father and as designer.

Meet Gregg Deal of Modern Bird Studios

Gregg’s business Modern Bird Studios was born out of the result of getting laid off from his graphic design job when the economy crashed.  One door closed and another one opened, in this case,  a new nest was built for a Modern Bird Studios.  Graffiti, Graphic Design, and life as a father of 2 literally coming together in his home studio just outside of Washington DC.  He starts his story after taking a drink of a freshly brewed glass of Yerba Mate (an Argentinian tea like drink).  The steam wafts up, and in the background I hear the familiar slow first chords of BECK’s Sea Change spilling from the speakers.  The music, and the tea provide a calm familiar moment as Gregg talks me through his process.  This moment is much like his work: calm, calculated, and familiar.  He takes images from our lives and gives them back newified, coolified and simplified.  With their coolness, they are still oh so comfortably familiar, to borrow a line from the the Muppet Movie, these pieces are like “old friends who’ve just met”

to borrow a line from the Muppets, these pieces are like "old friends who've just met"

How it works: Clients send in a photograph, the shot is then color separated into 2-5 various hues.  Gregg then painstakingly creates a template which is laid on a painted wood panel.  For each color, there is a separate template and manipulation of form, line and shape.

A view over Gregg's shoulder as he works with a razor sharp exacto blade, literally cutting into the image, to achieve razor sharp details.

You may choose from the many colors available- or my suggestion is trust the expert, have Gregg’s keen eye pick a color combo, that lends itself best to the image at hand.

Graffiti is in Gregg's past, and future. High Quality spray paints provide a gorgeous multitude of opaque color.

Prices for these pieces start at a very reasonable $165 for a 6″x12″ piece.  Larger pieces with 5 colors go for still- the very reasonable $655.  Take a look at several more examples from Modern Bird Studios below.  The images are modern, however my personal style is to blend the classic with the current. A piece like this would look even more striking over a traditional piece of furniture- so very chic.

The A line silhouette of this baby, creates a gorgeous shape against the filigree of her new world.

The A line silhouette of this baby, creates a gorgeous shape against the filigree of her new world.

Mother and child in rich red on a warm neutral background.

A family portrait done well, and with very cool style.

Most of us are watching our wallets right now, and no matter what your budget, my personal belief is: the smartest design dollar goes into what you see most, i.e your furniture and the artwork, (this will not make me popular with bedding manufacturers, but I gots to call it as I see it).  Here’s my take, custom bedding goes easily for around 1,000 dollars, and lasts for about 2-3 years, mainly hiding behind the bars of a crib.  Wall art is the most visible part of your space.  They create focal points and promote discussion and creativity.  The right choice in wall art for your child’s space can easily be part of your interior far longer then any crib bedding.

Modern Bird Studio's Artwork is at home in your home.

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About Sam Simon

Sam Simon is a beloved NYC artist and designer - creating beautiful murals and paintings on canvas. Sam launched a boutique line of limited edition artworks in 2007, and a line of lighting in 2009. Check out www.samsimonprojects.com or follow sam on twitter @ http://twitter.com/1samsimon
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6 Responses to Big Hair, Graffiti, Muppets and a Modern Bird…and go.

  1. Dawn Carlson says:

    LOVE me some Modern Bird! Great artwork, great people…

  2. I have oogled MB pieces a million times over…but loved seeing pictures of the process. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Sam Simon says:

    Hi Dawn and Tracy! Thank you both so much for your comments! It is GREAT to hear some feedback- especially NICE feedback!

    The people at Modern Bird are very nice- and running my own small business, motivates me to support other small businesses. As I said in my last post….Pottery Barn can suck it.

    xoxosamsimon

  4. noelle d says:

    thanks for the inside scoop
    love some modern bird!

  5. Great post! I love MB! They are incredibly nice and amazingly talented. It was fun to see behind the scenes!

    xox
    Jen

  6. You have put me onto something that I am now in love with…I am dying over these pieces.

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