Art director Nicholas Blechman presents The New York Times' selections for the best book covers of 2013, including The Circle by Dave Eggers, designed by Jessica Hische, Without Their Permission by Reddit founder Alexis Onahian, designed by Oliver Munday, and The Art of Sleeping Alone by Sophie Fontanel, designed by Ben Wiseman.

See some of the year’s favorite books, which also happen to have some pretty great covers, here, here, and here

(HT GalleyCat)

The New York Times has a great animated post on their site, exploring the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano from cow to counter. Art and text are provided by the illustrator Nicholas Blechman. It’s especially timely, given that Parmigiano was one of the cheeses in danger during the FDA’s short-lived “no-cheese-aged-on-wood” #SaveOurCheese fiasco. 


Tigerstripe Camouflage

Of all the camouflage patterns, tigerstripe is probably the most instantly recognizable and visually attractive design there is. Produced in South-East Asia during the Vietnam war in a variety of versions, it was initially issued to US Army Special Forces troops who valued its functionality and concealment properties in jungle environments, and regarded it as a kind of status symbol.

Later, tigerstripe suits became available from local tailor shops, and were privately purchased by other personnel – pilots, reporters, photographers etc – as a distinctive and fashionable alternative to the standard olive-green uniform. Tigerstripe has also gained notoriety in popular culture, being worn by Dennis Hopper’s photojournalist character in Apocalypse Now, and on stage by Joe Strummer.

Tigerstripe Zig Zag

US Army Special forces recruited tribal villagers to assist them in the more inhospitable regions of South Vietnam, and issued them with tigerstripe uniforms. One of the rarest and most interesting patterns has been christened the Zig Zag pattern, because of the way the background colours move diagonally across the horizontal black stripes. Legend has it that it also includes a phallic symbol as a sign of bravado for the ethnic tribesmen.

Maharishi Reproduction Tigerstripe Zig Zag

Nowadays, it is extremely hard to find original tigerstripe garments, and even harder for those of a larger build to find wearable sizes, as the majority were manufactured in small Asian size ranges. Maharishi have faithfully reproduced one of the rarest and most desirable tigerstripes, the Zig Zag pattern, in authentic colours, fabric and cut and incorporated the phallic symbol found in the original pattern.

Specific styles of cut associated with this pattern are the two pocket shirt with straight cuffs, pants with two thigh pockets and boonie hat with foliage loops around the crown. These authentic reproductions are a limited edition of 500 sets only worldwide, and have never been reproduced before. Whilst nobody would doubt Blechman’s camouflage knowledge is bordering the perverse in its depth, he has acknowledged the still deeper artist and re-enactor Neil Holdom as the inspiration and resident expert for this project.

Maharishi SS/2008


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Vintage Alka Seltzer ad by illustrator R.O. Blechman, who is being honored with the 25th annual Masters Series Award and exhibition at SVA. Exhibition up from October 2nd – November 2nd at the SVA Chelsea Gallery; reception next Thursday, October 3rd.

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Hardy Blechman on Norman Wilkinson’s WWI ‘Damdazzle’ camouflage



ICON, New York and everything else

So lots has been happening in the past couple of months! I’ve been crazy busy and have only finally got some time to myself to sit down and update all the internet-thingies. So here’s what’s been happening.

I went to the US in July for several weeks. Firstly, I went to Portland for ICON, the Illustration Conference, a fantastic 4-day event of workshops, panels, speakers and let’s not forget the parties.

I took part in a workshop the 2nd day on Visual Metaphors in Editorial Illustration with the lovely Alexandra Zsigmond, one of the art directors at the NY Times. We did some exercises on brainstorming, word association and how to use this to combat cliches and stereotypes and come up with interesting, new metaphors for concepts. Which can be a challenge when you have a topic like ‘Healthcare for profit’ and you have to fight to NOT draw hospitals with crosses and dollar signs.


That evening I also took part in the Roadshow - a portfolio review/marketplace event, with lots of illustrators all showing their work and wares. I found it pretty helpful and successful to promote my work and meet lots of interesting people and potential clients. Paula Scher (yes, THAT one) was the keynote speaker for the conference and she also paid me a visit at the Roadshow. I was tickled pink that she took one of my Rockaway Summer postcards and got to chat to her about a project she was working on for Rockaway in NY.


The conference itself was really varied and fun, lots of different speakers from various backgrounds in illustration and art, whether it be the illustrators themselves, art directors, animators, you name it. A few faves were Paula, Victo Ngai, Jon Klassen and Damian Kulash (from OK Go).


The conference was really terrific for networking. I’ve made some great friends out of it and also gotten some great contacts and commissions as a result. We don’t really have any events of this scale in Australia that are purely focused on illustration, so it was really nice to be around other like-minded people for an entire weekend.

Portland itself was a realllly nice looking city too. Lots of arty, hipster types, but it was so picturesque and green and everyone was super friendly. I’d really like to go back to visit.

After Portland, we spent a week in NY. I’d been once with my family when I was 11, but never as an adult and I was itching to go. The illustration community in NY (particularly Brooklyn) is really thriving. I got to spend a week in town, meeting art directors and hanging out with friends. What can I say? NY is an exciting place to be. I managed to get my first commission with the NY Times from the visit (thank you Nicholas), a Book Review piece.


I also got to meet and work with SooJin Buzelli (CD/AD for titles Plansponsor, Planadviser, and aiCIO). She was really generous with her time and showed me some of her work and processes in getting the magazines together. I also got to nab a few copies of some of my favourite magazine covers - JooHee Yoon, Jillian Tamaki and my friend Ping Zhu.


SooJin has a reputation for being one of the best art directors around and looking at her work and the illustrators she works with (both seasoned and new, emerging illustrators), it’s not hard to see why. She brings out the best in illustrators and has a great talent for turning what could be fairly boring topics (Business? Stocks? Superannu-something? ) into interesting and engaging pieces.

I’m really chuffed to have gotten to work with both SooJin and Nicholas Blechman as a result of the trip. They were both names on my wish-list and it was a real pleasure to work with people who are not only at the top of their game, but really normal and down to earth. It breaks the illusion a bit, coming from Australia, to realise that NY just happens to be another city, full of normal people like you, trying to do their job and create good work.

I also spent an afternoon in Rockaway catching up with Giovanna from the Rockaway Summer. Hotdogs and beer by the beach! It was really chilled out and lovely and reminded me a lot of the Northern Beaches in Sydney where I grew up.

So now, it’s back to reality and cold, miserable Sydney. We had an amazing time on our trip and just being in the US (even if only for 3 weeks) has really helped give my career a boost. I definitely recommend doing it if you can. Secretly, I’m trying to hint to my other half to let us move to NY, but whether that happens or not, I think we’ll definitely be heading to the next ICON in 2 years.

Disruptive Pattern Material – The definitive work of all things camouflage

Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage
by Hardy Blechman
Firefly Books
2004, 720 pages, 8.7 x 12 x 2.1 inches
$189 (used) Buy a copy on Amazon

In plain words: camouflage. This massive tome features 5,000 images of all things camouflaged, from silly camouflage fashion (bikinis and handbags), to camouflage in contemporary ads, movies, and art, to natural camouflage among wild animals, to its historical uses in wars past, to the most recent scientific research in disruptive pattern materials. Throughout this masterpiece, thousands of different camouflage patterns are examined, displayed, and recorded. This is one of those books which opens up a world that is far larger, deeper, weirder, and more interesting than you would have ever imagined. Who knew WWII ships were painted in angular op-art “dazzle” patterns? Every page leads down another untraveled path. And there are 700 of these pages in this huge folio. Few other books on the subject exists; this one is, and  will be, the definitive work of all matters related to camouflage. It speaks to artist, designers, inventors, biologists, historians, cultural theorists, and anyone who thinks visually. – Kevin Kelly

September 1, 2014

11 track album

Coming out of hibernation to announce our first physical release. Go check this album.  

"Solomonn is the noise project from Pittsburgh’s Max Blechman and Jeffrey Adams. Featuring a variety of samples, harsh noises, and an industrial ambiance, The Inevitable Momentum of Sound is strangely accessible. If Solomonn were the soundtrack to a horror film, it wouldn’t be for shock films with sudden intense moments, but psychological thrillers that will fuck you up in the head for the next ten years of your miserable life."

11 track album

"Solomonn is the noise project from Pittsburgh’s Max Blechman and Jeffrey Adams. Featuring a variety of samples, harsh noises, and an industrial ambiance, The Inevitable Momentum of Sound is strangely accessible. If Solomonn were the soundtrack to a horror film, it wouldn’t be for shock films with sudden intense moments, but psychological thrillers that will fuck you up in the head for the next ten years of your miserable life."

We are now taking pre-orders for Tyburn Woods’ first physical release! Go check this out!


 ロンドンを代表するミリタリーコレクターであり、自然保護の活動家としても知られる、Hardy Blechman(ハーディ・ブレックマン)が1994年より手がけるファッションブランド「maharishi(マハリシ)」から2014年の秋冬コレクションが始動。記念すべき20シーズン目となる今回は、豹、虎、森といったモチーフをピクセルに引き下げた、デジタルとカモフラージュの融合を見事に刺繍で表現。チベット… Source

Reflection: Disruptive pattern material: an introduction

From: DPM - Disruptive Pattern Material, Hardy Blechman , Frances Lincoln; September 1, 2004.


The term camouflage is typically associated with depiction, disguise or concealment. In not ways a new concept, it’s reference can be traced back the writings of Sun Tzu, in The Art of War:

“All warfare is based on deception. When able to attack, we must seem unable, when using our forces, we must seem inactive, when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far way, when far away we must make him believe we are near. Hold the bait, entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him”

The modern day camouflage as we know it was founded on the ideas of a German perceptual psychology movement, Called ‘Gestalt Psychology’. In essence, the Gestalt Psychologist asked “how is an object seen?” and in answering they also responded to the question “how can we prevent the object from being seen?”.
In regard to the latter question, they arrived at three primary answers;

-Make an object blend into its background (high similarity camouflage or figure ground blending)

-Cause the object to be mistaken for some other kind of object (high similarity camouflage through ‘mimicry’)

-Destroy the object’s continuity by applying high contrast, erratic designs to its surface (‘high difference camouflage’ or disruptive patterning’)

What Gestalt Psychologists called ‘perceptual organizing principles’ or ‘unit-forming factors’ are virtually synonymous with what artists, designers and architects call ‘principles of composition’. However, these unit forming factors appear to a universal form principles, tendencies that are not cultural-laden, in a much of a sense they appear to be hard-wired into the human perceptual system, regardless of time or location. The difference of camouflage from nation to nation does not affect the principles of camouflage as the human brain is inherently predisposed to see in ways that are predicted by Gestalt organizing principles.

The principle of ‘Disruptive Camouflage’ could, be applied to gender neutrality. By breaking up the surface of clothing with a mirage of conflicting patterns, the object becomes hard to see as one single continuous unit. The continuity of the object is compromised, leading the eye not knowing where to follow or focus on, thus hiding the true identity of the object due to lack of definition or confirmation.