Google Taps Artists to Design Cases for Sold-Out Pixel Phone

Google already appears to have a hit on its hands with its new Pixel smartphone, but the search engine giant is appealing to the art world with a new line of specially-designed phone cases from artist Jen Stark, illustrators Craig & Karl, and fashion designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony.

“I don’t usually do too many commercial things,” Stark admitted, speaking to artnet News at Untitled in Miami Beach, where her artwork was on view with New York’s Eric Firestone Gallery, “but when Google approached me it seemed like a really cool project.”

The tech company unveiled its first artist collaboration in May, teaming up with Jeff Koons on a phone case for Nexus. It was the genesis for Google’s official limited-edition artist series, dubbed Artworks, which kicked off in October with designs from, among others, Friends with You, Faile, and astronaut-photographer Chris Hadfield.

One of Jenn Stark's limited-edition phone cases for the Google Pixel phone. Courtesy of Google.

One of Jenn Stark’s limited-edition phone cases for the Google Pixel phone. Courtesy of Google.

Stark is known for her brightly colored, intricately patterned designs, often made from cut paper. Her psychedelic art even attracted the eye of pop star and sometimes-artist Miley Cyrus, who tapped Stark to create the animations and set design for her 2015 performance at the VMAs.

“A lot of it is based off nature,” said Stark of the inspiration for her work, citing math, the concept of infinity, fractals, and sacred geometry as influences. “I love thinking about how enormous shapes out in the universe can have the same patterns as tiny microorganisms under a microscope—how geometric shapes and certain spiraling patterns apply to designs in nature big and small.”

Jenn Stark's limited-edition phone cases for the Google Pixel phone. Courtesy of Google.

One of Jenn Stark’s limited-edition phone cases for the Google Pixel phone. Courtesy of Google.

She wound up producing five separate designs for the Pixel, which has impressed early adopters with its long battery life and high-quality camera. “I tried to give some variety,” Stark said, describing one case as a “vortex, like a wormhole opening up.”

In addition to the physical case, which cost $40, all of the Artworks designs are available as interactive desktop wallpaper for your phone. (They’re being billed as “live” cases that communicate with the device, automatically downloading the matching artwork.) “The user can blow the image up and rotate it however they want,” Stark explained of the digital versions, for which she’s created trippy animated GIFs.

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