02.08.2022—Five Things I Like Today

Tom Froese
4 min readFeb 8, 2022
Valencia Oranges 2021, Allice Oehr
Three colour Risograph print. Edition of 100.
Heavyweight, recycled off-white paper.
Print measures 597 x 420mm (standard A2 size)

Today’s theme might be simplicity. Each of these pieces has its own kind of simplicity that makes it attractive. It’s the kind of simplicity that makes me think, “I could have done that”. But I didn’t. I think this kind of simplicity is exactly what many illustrators and designers torture themselves over.

Simplicity is beautiful because it is confident. It is decisive. It shows freedom and constraint at once. Freedom in the sense that one is free from the temptation to overthink and overwork a piece. Constraint, I suppose for the same reason.

Why, for instance, is a simple representation of oranges in a mesh bag so attractive? Would a photo of this same object be as beautiful? The subject itself was well-chosen. This speaks to the artist’s taste and discernment. On the day this piece was conceived, there were infinite other options at the artist’s disposal. Out of all the objects in the room, this is what they chose. There is also an iconicity to the object: we recognize it at once. The circular orange shapes, the placement of the flower stem, and the subtle shading tell us these are oranges. The package itself is a dead-giveaway. Try to name one other fruit, vegetable or anything else, really, that is packaged in this mesh bag? Maybe chocolate coins and certain cheeses? The tag on the bottom is also unique to orange packaging.

So the choice of subject is one reason that makes this piece work. It is familiar and singular. It is definitely what it is, and there is no ambiguity. Out of all possible orange packages, this one also has an elegance to it. The branding on the package itself is uncomplicated.

Then, there is the execution. We see that it is a literal, representational image of a package of oranges. But we also see that it is not at at all photorealistic. In its proportions, yes, it is realistic, but in its composition, it is entirely abstract. It is flattened. The fruit shapes have texture and darkening, but only enough to suggest volume and surfaceness. The bag seems to hug the contours of its contents, but looking for just a moment you can see that it is just a cutout pattern with almost no attempt at representing a sense of it wrapping around the fruit in a three-dimensional way. Look at the hard edge, as though the mesh itself was just cut out in the shape we see with a…

Tom Froese

Illustrator. Creatively Empowering Teacher/Speaker. Represented by Making Pictures/UK & Dot Array/USA. Top Teacher on @skillshare. www.tomfroese.com/links