Global Designers Partner with Absolut for Exclusive Pride-Themed Bottles

SIBLING

In celebration of Pride month across the globe, Absolut and Stonewall—the London LGBTQ charity, not the historic New York bar—have partnered to create a lineup of custom designer bottles, all of which are currently being auctioned off through Givergy. Names like SIBLING, Piers Atkinson, Henry Holland and Gareth Pugh have all given the rainbow #AbsolutPride bottle a fresh, new look, each reflecting their own brand aesthetics. Absolut will then donate a percentage of auction sales over London’s Pride Weekend to Stonewall. Check out a selection, below, and bid for your favorite one-of-a-kind bottle, online.  


Piers Atkinson

Piers Atkinson

Gareth Pugh
Gareth Pugh

Fred Butler
Fred Butler

Frank Strachan
Frank Strachan

Ed Marler
Ed Marler

WATCH: Rafael Grampá’s Eerie Thriller

Absolut Vodka recently launched Transform Today,  a new global campaign that promises to create unique artistic collaborations between artists and audiences both online and offline. #NextFrame was the first in this series of innovative and collaborative projects.

#NextFrame combined the creative talents of brilliant Brazilian cartoonist Rafael Grampá and Absolut’s almost five million Facebook fans—who were called upon to dig into their own creative processes—in co-creating a short 3-D animated film called “Dark Noir.” Facebook fans were invited to submit suggestions at key plot points in the narrative already started by Grampá. Then, Grampá sifted through the thousands of submissions sent in from users in over 20 countries, before tirelessly working to incorporate the selected ideas into his narrative and creating the absolutely original 3-D short animated film.

“Dark Noir” is an dark, eerie thriller that follows Vincent Black, a private eye cursed with the ability to “see the world of ideas” and the “creatures that live in it and plant ideas in people’s minds, using them as puppets.” His cursed ability becomes a blessing when an old man approaches Vincent at a bar and hires him to retrieve the old man’s ideas from the woman who stole them. It’s a twisted tale that’s tangled together with snarling creatures, palpable suspense, and dark themes influenced by the best of Noir. With plenty of twists and turns, evocative illustrations and brilliant colors, “Dark Noir” is in a class of its own.

Watch the making of the film, below:

A private screening of “Dark Noir” was presented to journalists from over 20 countries on Friday, March 14th, in Berlin at the Absolut-sponsored culture space MADE—a unique venue for artists where collaboration, innovation, and demonstration are encouraged and championed, as it can be a gallery, workspace, studio, culture space, performance stage, and all-around creative laboratory. On the following night, a public screening was held and hosted by Grampá himself that resulted in an audience of 300 guests in attendance. Guests were given the opportunity to choose from one of five special cocktails created by Grampá and each inspired by a character from the film.

Jonas Tåhlin, Absolut‘s VP of Global Marketing, said the #NextFrame project “builds on Transform Today’s idea of ‘The future is not a given, it’s yours to create’ by offering an opportunity to those who were inspired by the campaign to actually co-create with of the artists.” He also made note that it “was only half of the project, we also wanted to find a way for Grampá to push his own boundaries…” And Grampá said of this unique artistic accomplishment where he made the transition from cartoonist to animated film director, “I already explore my style through image, sequence, and space. Now I’m  experiencing telling my stories with image, movement, time, and sound.”

Overall, this unique campaign allowed for each participant and established artist involved to collaborate and create outside of their normal process and dig deeper into their imagination.

Watch “Dark Noir” below.

Presented by Absolut

Absolut Brings 2D To Life With Artist Rafael Grampá’s #NextFrame Collaboration

Recently, Absolut launched Transform Today, a global campaign based on looking into the creative process of four established artists in a range of different fields, as a way to inspire others to explore their own creativity. #NextFrame, the first project in this campaign, began in early February, and allows one of the artists to work on a project in a way he ever has before. The project creates a new experience where he solicits ideas from people around the world as a way to collaborate and incorporate them into this creative process.

#NextFrame was a truly global collaboration. The project allowed people from many different countries to send in their story ideas through Facebook to co-create “Dark Noir,” a 3D animated short film by accomplished Brazilian graphic novelist Rafael Grampá. In a world so vast and intricately connected by social media, this is a brilliant new way to go about creating art, as well as inspiring people to tap into their imagination and rummage through their creative caches.

Grampa-Portrait

Since part of #NextFrame‘s goal is to push the boundaries of the artist, this unique collaborative project marks the first time Rafael Grampá has had his 2-D illustrations animated into a 3-D film. Red Knuckles Animation, a UK-based animation duo comprised of Rick Thiele and Mario Ucci (known for their work with Gorillaz) realizes Grampá’s incredibly detailed and polished comic book storyboards and rendered them into a brilliant piece of animation. All of the goals of the campaign were met in that it connected this brilliant Brazilian artist with the creative input of a multitude of people from over 20 different countries, creating a unique collaboration that allowed everyone involved to explore new aspects of their creativity.

“Dark Noir,” the final animated short film, will debut in Berlin on March 14th at MADE, an innovative Absolut-sponsored culture space founded by German artist tadiROCK, partner Nico Zeh, and their team. MADE is a unique venue for artists where collaboration, innovation, and demonstration are encouraged and championed: it can be a gallery, workspace, studio, culture space, performance stage, and laboratory. But above all it’s a place where artists of all ilks can share and create. #NextFrame serves as the first example of a fresh way to create art and advertisement with the assistance of social media.

So what would Vincent Black, Grampá’s character drink? How about an Absolut Vendetta?

An interview with Grampá:

What has it been like adapting your story to the suggestions of a global audience of over 20 countries?

It’s like having thousands of suggestions and paths that your story could follow. For my story to work, I created a very clearly-defined universe and a filter with my style so I could preserve and maintain the atmosphere and aesthetic that I wanted for the film.

What has been the most exciting part of transforming your ideas into a 3D animated film?

I’m making the transition from cartoonist to director. A translation of my art from 2D to 3D. I already explore my style through image, sequence and space. Now I’m experiencing telling my stories with image, movement, time and sound.

broughttolife

What was it like collaborating with the animation studio, Red Knuckles, as you brought to life 3D animated versions of the characters and world that you imagined?

I can say that Red Knuckles is the most promising animation studio that’s emerged in recent times. The idea of Rick Thiele and Mario Ucci, the creative directors of Red Knuckles, is to do collaborations with artists who are renowned for their vision and style, translating all this into 3D animations. They’re passionate about what they do, and that makes all the difference. Rick and Mario led this project with great sureness of touch and respect for my style. I can see my hand in every scene of the film and that’s thanks to both of them. They are great artists, and they are two of the best in the field of animation. I can see Red Knuckles as one of the biggest animation studios in the very near future.

What other ways do you see yourself transforming your work and pushing new boundaries in the future?

Doing cinema was always part of my plans, and it’s one of my objectives for the future.

How has Absolut supported your ideas throughout the creative process of the whole project?

Absolut invited me to take part in the global campaign, and during our first conversations they already told me that they had the idea of doing collaborations with artists on special projects. #NextFrame emerged after a lot of meetings, and during that whole time Absolut always stressed that this project would be completely my own, as author.

Do you see yourself seeking out more opportunities to collaborate with other artists or creators?

As a cartoonist, I intend to continue writing and drawing my own stories, without anyone else’s input. As a script-writer and director, I’m going to seek to always be involved with the most talented people that life puts in my path.

illustration

What was your inspiration for the ‘World of Ideas’ that the #NextFrame story takes place in? How did you come up with each of the characters?

That’s exactly what this short animation is about: where ideas come from. I think people are the instruments of their ideas, that we’re their servants in this world. Otherwise, what is our aim other than to achieve things? And everything starts from an idea. Just as the purpose of a spade is to dig holes, ours is to bring our ideas to life in this world. But a spade doesn’t dig a hole on its own; it needs a strong arm to use it. This film asks the question: Are the ideas that we have really our own or are we merely instruments in the hands of unknown forces? The name of the film, DARK NOIR, makes reference to Plato’s Theory of Forms, which says that our reality is merely a dark shadow of an intangible reality made up of ideas. From that starting-point, I created Vincent Black, a mysterious guy who has the gift – or the curse – of seeing the beings that live in this other reality, the World of Ideas. These beings are the Daimons, who plant ideas in humans’ minds, using us to carry out their whims in the material world. And in the end, the film ends up being a metaphor about the creative process and each character represents an element of that process.

Do you have any plans to continue the story of characters from the #NextFrame story?

I think I’ve created a very rich universe, with infinite possibilities and complex characters. Obviously I have plans to expand it.

How can you get involved?

Scene-1-Intro

Frame-1 Frame-2 Frame-3 Frame-4
Sponsored by Absolut

 

Ry Rocklen’s Absolut Art Bar Deserves A Trophy

L.A. based Ry Rocklen makes sculptures using aqua-resin, deconstructed chairs, futons, bird cages, and other unexpected objects. It’s not an art practice that readily lends itself to corporate mass-production, but Rocklen has recently been recasting himself as a fledgling designer and businessman of sorts, launching Trophy Modern–a “company” that fabricates furniture composed entirely of cheap, faux-gold-and-marble trophy pieces. For this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, Absolut tapped Rocklen to design an “art bar” just off Collins Avenue. (The brand has previously worked on similar commissions with Los Carpinteros and Mickalene Thomas, among others.) Entitled Night Court, the immersive piece is a refreshingly bizarre setting for a week’s worth of live music, cocktail-sipping, and ping-pong playing. I met with the artist in South Beach to talk about basketball and the wild functionality of his latest medium.

How did the commission for Absolut come about?

I did my first set of Trophy Modern furniture at the Art Contemporary Los Angeles fair back in January. Absolut was working with the Parisian curator Marc-Olivier Wahler–he used to be the director of the Palais de Tokyo–and he saw the furniture. They came to meet with me in the studio and gave me the general outline of what this could be. With Trophy Modern, the idea is that you can build anything out of trophy parts. It’s almost a game. You could build a life guard stand! For the art bar in Miami I thought we could do recreational-type games, with a ping-pong table. And I thought it’d be nice to have a court painted onto the floor, so it’s almost set within the architecture of a stadium, indicated by lines on the floor. It came about pretty quickly even in that first meeting.

When you showed Trophy Modern at the fair in L.A., were you billing it as furniture, or sculpture?

I’ve been fleshing it out in my head, but Trophy Modern is a furniture company. The company is an artwork. The fulfillment of the artwork would be opening up a Trophy Modern furniture store. I like to bill Night Court as a corporate partnership between Trophy Modern and Absolut, adopting the language and air of a corporation. And it is truly furniture–people are going to be sitting all over it, putting their drinks on it. It’s formica-laminated plywood. It’s made to be used and wiped down. At Art Contemporary LA the booth ended up becoming a total hangout, people with their feet over everything. Trophy Modern is made to be as comfortable as possible. I really want it to be incredible to look at, but once you sit, it just feels normal, and you can forget what it is.

Why trophies? Were you attracted to the idea of what they mean, or to the artificial materials, the fake gold and fake marble?

All those things are attractive. I often work with found objects. The way it started was that I was in this junk shop I frequent, and I found 150 trophies for sale. All different people and sports, a crazy cornucopia of abandoned trophies. I thought there was something visually stunning, with all this shit-gold and holographic shine, and simultaneously quite haunting and sad. Why are these here? What happens to them now that they’ve been abandoned? There was something quite nice in that duality. I thought it’d be great to do a sculpture, combine them to make one super trophy that celebrates both the uniqueness of each trophy and its former owner and the architecture and aesthetics of that world. I made the sculpture, Second To None–LACMA bought the piece, and it’s on display there now, which is a real highlight of my career.  I became very familiar with the trophy suppliers. There’s two major ones in the US, they both have telephone-book sized supply catalogues. I set up an account with them and realized you can make anything out of trophy parts; they’re raw materials. I thought, if you can make anything out of trophy parts, it’d be an easy and wonderful thing to make furniture. In some ways, your body would become the figurine atop the trophy.

I also thought that there’s something so uniquely American about this particular style of trophy. In Europe, there are a lot more big engraved plates going on, or big cups. But not the plastic columns with the marble base, what Trophy Modern is all about. There’s a  classic low to high material issue. Trophies are supposed to be made of all the most valuable things, because you’re so powerful, you strove so hard, and you were able to obtain that wealth. But now they’re so synonymous with cheapness. You know immediately that it’s bullshit plastic gold, garbage: “My kid got a trophy for taking his first dump.”

It makes me think of the Pinewood Derby. When you’re a kid, everyone gets some sort of trophy–best car design, fastest car–no one leaves without one.

The other tagline of Trophy Modern I’m trying to work out is “On Trophy Modern, Everyone’s A Winner.” In the world of Trophy Modern everyone gets a trophy, a constant barrage of winning thats becoming abstracted; in its multiplicity it starts to lose its value.

Night Court Night - Wide

How does the general idea of sport come into play within Night Court

Basketball is my favorite sport. I thought it would be nice to have a cohesive theme, so a lot of the furnishings have basketball adornments. Basketball court lines to me are the most beautiful–there’s all these arcs and keys. A tennis court could’ve worked, but that’s a bit boring. I’m taking liberties conceptually–there’s chess and ping-pong–but the chess set is basketball-themed. The king is a jump shooter, the queen is a woman doing a hook shot. And I like how the court’s lines necessitates the placement of the furniture, it dictates where things are placed. There’s a symmetry to Night Court: everything is occurring the same on either side.

Is there also a reference to the old TV show, Night Court?

That is there. I’m not that familiar with the show, but it did have a font that’s totally applicable to the aesthetic of the piece. I think the title works on a bunch of levels, it has a playful resonance. I like the multiple meanings for court: A court of law, the court of a king or queen, and a court for playing ball.

Even if you’re selling pieces of Trophy Modern as furniture, I’m guessing most collectors would treat them as sculptures…

It’s parlor room furniture. I don’t ever want to see it on a pedestal, unless 200 years from now there’s the first Trophy Modern American Diner on display as a relic.

As far as how the work is produced, is it in an unlimited edition, the way other furniture would be?

We wanted it to be unlimited, but we’re not there with our clientele. It’s not an IKEA. It’s still being sold by an artist as an extension of his practice, so it’s being bought by art collectors, who always want a limit on things. We’re editioning it. It’s priced in between furniture and sculpture–a funny territory.

Instead of a plaque on each trophy signifying who the winner is, each of these pieces have a nameplate that identify its title, the year of production, and our name. In a way, you’re sort of the winner.

Every artist is trying to come up with a clever way to inscribe their name on a work. I remember that Sterling Ruby had a license plate as his ‘signature’ for a big piece he had at Pace. I thought that was pretty clever.

Have you ever thought of building a whole house out of trophies?

It would be nice to do a Trophy Modern house, one-room, or two stories. I want to do the furniture store, in the pursuit of fully manifesting Trophy Modern as a corporation and a lifestyle. There are other iterations of Trophy Modern that I want to pursue, different lines. At the sort you’d come in and have the Trophy Modern Standard line, what you see here in Miami–the classic columns and faux-gold with gold adornments. Then you’d have Trophy Modern Wood–real wood with patterns carved in it, also probably made in China. That would be beautifully finished wood, with leather upholstered cushions. And then there’d be our most exclusive line, Trophy Ultra Modern: real marble boards, with all the columns taken away, so you’d see the hardware underneath, all chrome-plated.

I’m assuming you’ve encountered some real characters in the trophy industry.

The two big trophy suppliers are monster behemoth warehouse places. They have a huge staff and a huge network of shippers.

Do they know what you’re doing with the stuff you order?

It’s very impersonal with them. “Can we have four SL4579? Next item, five SL72…next item.” It’s super harsh. They don’t give a fuck. They’re like, let’s process this order, I gotta go home. It’s pretty brutal. It’s such volume. “Oh, you want 1,000 marble bases? We only sell them in cases of 1,000.” That kind of shit. They’re supplying trophy shops. To them, I am a trophy shop.

In addition to the sculptural elements of Night Court, you also designed basketball-style jerseys for the bartenders, and you created special Absolut cocktails for the week. Can you tell me a bit about those, and how it has been working with the company in general?

Absolut knows that they can achieve good results by asking someone with a strong vision to fulfill it to the nth degree, without micro-managing or trying to insert the brand. They’re smart about that.

The cocktails are all inspired by sports terminology. There’s the ‘Winning Spirit’: a shot of Absolut on the rocks. And then there’s ‘And One.’ In basketball, when you score a basket and get fouled, you’re able to shoot a free throw–the ‘and one.’ This drink is a cocktail with blueberry and ginger, and on the side you get a shot of vanilla-infused vodka.

So many people in the art world are interested in sports, but not many artists reflect that in their work. 

I like sports, I really do. In some ways there is a kind of comfort that I have with sports which is based on my upbringing. t’s a mutual language people can engage with and understand. I like systems and rules. In a way, Trophy Modern is a sport: there’s a playing field of trophy parts and it’s all problem solving within this strict sense of parameters. In some ways, that’s everybody’s thing, we’re all problem solving within a set of pre-ordained rules.

And there’s something very visually appealing to me about watching sports. I like the spectacle, the stadiums, the symmetries, the great planes of green, the courts, the lines…the manifestation of physics, the cars, the hard hits in football, the tumbling. There’s all sorts of cool stuff going on.

Ry Rocklen’s Night Court art bar for Absolut is open through December 7 from noon until 2AM, with musical performances by Ariel Pink (Dec 4), Night Jewel (Dec 5), Rocklen’s own rap project (Dec 7), and others. The bar is located on the oceanfront in Miami Beach between 21st and 22nd Streets.

Portrait of Ry Rocklen by Rob Chamorro, courtesy of Absolut.

Vodka Visions: Absolut Commissions Artists to Transform Williamsburg

At first, the idea of brands underwriting artists to create large-scale works seems kind of wrong. After all, aren’t artists supposed to be totally independent, free to do their own weird things without the crass interference of money? But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. After all, artists have relied on patrons and benefactors for centuries. And instead of some stuffy duke or prissy countess doing the bankrolling, these days it’s cool companies like Absolut that produce cool products I enjoy, like vodka. And so my existential crisis about covering Absolut Vodka’s artistic takeover of one block of North Sixth Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn–arguably the hippest block on the planet at the moment–lasted all of 7 seconds before I decided that the project–they’re calling it the "Open Canvas Initiative"– was cool, and I’m glad it happened. After all, how else can you get some of the most interesting artists working today to get together and create a wide-scale art free-for-all that anybody can enjoy? Best of all, they were left to do their own things, without a corporate logo in sight. 

And so on June 22, "Transformation Day," Absolut took over N. 6th between Wythe and Kent and let a bunch of artists go nuts, and funky things happened.

Things like Dev Harlan‘s "Parmenides 1" (main image), a large, multi-surfaced, semi-spherical sculpture with loops and lines and shades of black, pink, and blue that suggest to me the idea of infinity–and kind of make me want a martini, because I associate the purity of vodka with outer space. 

All We Need

Things like an 80-foot-long crocheted yarn fence by artist OLEK called "Forgotten Barrier" (above), which espouses the very reasonable message: "All we need is love and money." Seriously, love’s great, but so is a nice apartment to keep that love warm and dry. 

Rostarr

And things like Rostarr‘s "Magnus Solo (The Big Surge)," which recall the calligraphy-based art of Retna, and seems to contain a message that gets more profound the more you try to interpret it. Best to stand back a bit. 

There were other great artists involved too, watch the video above and peruse the microsite they created to see them all. If you’re really into it, get your art-loving self to San Francisco this August to catch the next installment.

In the meantime, you can make some mixological art of your own with the following recipe for the Absolut Open Canvas Cocktail, which sounds pretty good, despite its pinkness. It’s vodka, lemon, Pom, and club soda. It looks refreshing, delicious, and downright inspiring, and I wish I had one in front of me right now. I’m convinced I could accomplish great things. 

Open Canvas Cocktail

[Absolut Open Canvas Official Site; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]