By Eric Huang
“Spirits on Forest,” an exhibition of work by Bay Area art collective Animal Spirit Design, is currently on view at Philz Coffee on Forest Avenue. This past Friday, the café hosted an opening party for the exhibition, in which the artists behind the work were available to introduce their illustrations to art enthusiasts and coffee-lovers alike. The works on display feature a range of stylized, contemporary renditions of various wildlife.
Animal Spirit Design is a partnership between Asha Raval and Juliana Stoy, whose experience with fashion and graphic design inform their current illustrative practice. Raval and Stoy combine traditional drawing techniques with digital illustration to create colorful, mesmerizing compositions inspired by forms in nature.
The duo’s work at “Spirits on Forest” showcases their iconic visual style through portrayals of animals, some representational and some heavily abstracted. The pieces are spaced evenly throughout the makeshift gallery space, and the casual ambiance of the café serves to further accentuate the loudness of their colors and shapes.
In works such as “Peacock,” “Ocean Jungle” and “Porcupine,” Raval and Stoy construct animals out of irregular, hard-edged shapes, situating them on top of jarring, color-infused backgrounds. Their work can be characterized as a sort of organized chaos, wherein seemingly random forms come together to create crisp illustrations. Other pieces are more abstract and pattern-based; “Cool Jellyfish,” for instance, uses complementary colors and repeating jellyfish contours to create an intricate design.
One outlier among the animal-centric prints on display is Raval and Stoy’s stunning graphic illustration of Kate Moss. The model’s face is painted a singular shade of bright yellow, while her upper body is filled in entirely with crimson floral print. Here, Raval and Stoy exhibit the breadth of their talent and the running motif of natural, organic forms in their work.
“Spirits on Forest” is an excellent way of showcasing Animal Spirit Design’s one-of-a-kind aesthetic. Visitors ought to grab a cup of coffee and ogle at the limited edition prints lining the walls of the space.
“Spirits on Forest” is on view at Philz Coffee on Forest Ave., Palo Alto until July 11.