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If you happened to be in Manchester city centre last Friday you might have stumbled upon a rather unusual sight.
To mark the launch of our new domestic service Little Red, we commissioned a spectacular piece of 3D street art from anamorphic artists 3D Joe and Max, giving the general public a chance to emulate a famous Branson-style wing walk in the company of our glamorous cabin crew.
The artwork – featuring a brand new Little Red aircraft and a bird’s eye view of Sydney Harbour – was created by world-renowned street artist Joe Hill, who first started working with fellow artist Max Lowry in the summer of 2004.
Initial experiments on the road outside Max’s London flat produced an image of a small red 3D apple, which signalled the start of an incredible adventure for the pair. For the next five years, they travelled the globe creating their anamorphic chalk illusions, with a mission to make art more accessible and inclusive. During this period they continued to perfect their craft and discover new techniques, limited by nothing but their own imaginations.
But what exactly is an anamorphic painting? Joe explains how it’s done.
“An anamorphic painting uses a distorted perspective to give a 3D illusion from a flat surface. In order to keep track of perspective when absorbed in creating the work, we continually check through the camera lens to keep track of our progress. The illusion is created from this point.”
Early 2009 saw Joe and Max switch from chalk to painted canvases, allowing for much more audience interaction. This turned out to be a major breakthrough, with passersby now able to stand on and become part of the artwork itself, making the creations truly inclusive. From then on all pictures were designed to have real people in them and among other commissions, Joe and Max were selected to represent UK creativity at the UK pavilion at the Shanghai World EXPO in July 2010.
When Max tragically passed away in September 2010, Joe decided to continue the work, keeping the name 3D Joe and Max in Max’s memory.
In 2011, Visit Britain commissioned Joe to create 10 artworks of famous British scenes to be displayed in 10 major cities across the world, and in November 2011 Joe broke two Guinness World Records at West India Quay, London for Reebok Europe, which proved to be one of his toughest tests to date.
“We broke two world records in the winter of 2011, for the World’s Largest and the World’s Longest anamorphic paintings, but these took 8 long days and it was quite a challenge working against the very wet conditions. We had to use industrial sized heaters to dry the painting as we were working.”
One thing we can’t help but wonder is what it must be like to create something so temporary – how does it feel to put so much time and effort into an artwork knowing it won’t be around for long? For Joe, it’s not an issue.
“The photographs are the final result, and they are around forever,” he says. “The idea that we give people a thrill or maybe made their day a bit better is an achievement I will never tire of. And we have lots of exciting projects coming up for the rest of the year! Summer is usually our busiest time.”
See more of 3D Joe and Max’s amazing 3D artworks at www.3djoeandmax.com
Virgin Atlantic Little Red is our new UK domestic service, offering great value, full service multiple daily flights between London and Manchester, London and Aberdeen and London and Edinburgh. Little Red flights can be booked now, bringing you closer to all our destinations.
Street art photos of Wimbledon in Sydney and the World's Longest anamorphic painting © 3D Joe and Max.
Have you ever seen an anamorphic street painting? Tell us where in the comments below.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.