Thomas Britton

Artist/Coder, Austin, TX

Art of Carnivalesque

Carnivalesque Flier Last Friday was Carnivalesque.  It was a burlesque performance put on by Smoke and Mirrors Cabaret.  The show was quite a bit different from most burlesque performances that I've seen.  We tried a few experimental ideas with the performance that are not normally seen in burlesque performances.  There was a narrative to the show instead of a disconnected series of performances.  We incorporated some live digital painting into the event.  I made some images that were projected as backgrounds in the performances.

I also did the event flier.  For some reason, when it came time to do the flier my main source of inspiration was the Drew Struzan Blade Runner movie poster.  Because nothing says burlesque like 80's sci-fi and Rutger Hauer.  It was digitally painted in Photoshop and sized for print at 11x17.  I didn't know if my computer could handle that many pixels, but it managed.  I based it on photos of the cast from prior events.

live-tent Originally the idea was to digitally paint the backgrounds as the show was happening.  But after playing with the computer and the projector a bit during a rehearsal we decided that having the painting happening during all of the routines would be too much of a distraction from the focal point of the performance.  That and the fact that most of the performances were only a few minutes long wouldn't give me time for much more than scribbles on the screen.  So I ended up doing a lot of that art for the show before hand.  Since we waited until the weekend before the show to actually hookthe laptop up to a projector, I did the images in two very late nights.  I did have the chance to do a live painting before the show started as people were filtering in to the show.

These are the images that were projected behind the performers.  I had thought that since I wouldn't be able to do paintings during the performances that I would instead do illustrations for each of the backgrounds.  After I spent and evening on a horrible attempt at painting a carnival ground I decided on photo-manipulations instead.  These I could finish quickly enough to have ready in time for the show.

docks pirate-ship grounds kissing-clown sideshow-siren cement flowers swirl strong-man pyramids dark-grounds

The show went well.  People seemed to really enjoy it.  There's a review of the show on  There's a set of photos from the show on Flickr by photographer Menelaos Prokos.  They all look great.  I'm really impressed with all of the photos I've seen from the event.  There's also a video of Miriam's aerial dance routine.

It was a great event to be a part of.

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