Like many people religiously following COVID stay-at-home orders, we have exhausted our puzzle stash over the course of 2020. Not only have we successfully completed each of our puzzles, we've done so enough that we're beginning to remember the order of pieces. This year, we are hoping to rectify pervasive puzzle boredom so our loved ones can once again feel the exciting rush and occasional frustration of working through a new puzzle. The puzzles we've selected are idyllic combinations of artistry and difficulty so you can rest easy knowing you are sharing uniquely epic puzzles!
1. Alma Haser 'Hermon and Heroda' (500 Pieces)
This is our all time favorite puzzle. We love it so much that once we completed it we had it matted and framed as a work of our for our home. The experience of assembling it is fantastic (for only 500 pieces it's pleasantly challenging!). 'Hermon and Heroda' is strikingly original and we can't say enough about how much we love it! (check out our Artist Spotlight on Alma Haser)
2. Cavallini 'Celestial Jigsaw Puzzle' (1000 Pieces)
Celestial Jigsaw is a sophisticated puzzle design. An almost nautically-designed vintage celestial chart provides a series of circles, a shape we love on our puzzles! This puzzle just feels effortlessly timeless and, as such, it makes a perfect gift for anyone in your life.
3. Pieces Of The Puzzle 'Boxed Mesmerise'
The most challenging puzzle on our list, Mesmerise is nothing short of hypnotic. Much like a gradient puzzle, the piece is a swirl of irregularly-placed psychedelic colors that are fantastically fun to assemble. The puzzle is also available in a bag rather than a box so you're lucky gift receiver won't be expecting a puzzle when they unwrap it! Plus, Pieces of The Puzzle is a female founded company run by Hannah and Daphnée of the UK and US respectively and who doesn't want to support powerhouse women?
4. Micah Lexier 'Several Found things' (1000 Pieces)
Created by Toronto artist, Micah Lexier, this puzzle is somehow simultaneous complex and simplistic. A series of found objects are arranged on a stark white background providing a color-blocked effect filled with rich visual texture. Because the objects are laid flat and don't overlap they can be assembled as independent units, making this puzzle a pleasant medium difficulty level.
5. Jason Willome "Insult the Stallion in His Stall"
We adore this puzzle. A dark leaf-less tree stands tall in the center that supports a collection of unavailing wooden boards, interrupted by swirls of globulous paint and the shadow of rippled wet paper. Overall, the image feels like an eerie collage and it's glorious. The best part of this puzzle? With each puzzle sold, Art Puzzle Project, which creates puzzles designed by local San Antonio artists, proudly shares a puzzle "with seniors and families who are spending more time indoors through [their] partnership with Meals On Wheels" (1).
6. Ana Barriga 'El Taller De Las Moscas' (1000 Pieces)
The color and disconcerting strangeness of this puzzle are fantastic! An assortment of illustrated figurines, each with stark haunting stares, are set against a vibrant red backdrop. "The Flies' Workshop" is complicated and challenging and we just love it!
7. Sanae Sugimoto 'Evening Kingdom Puzzle'
Sugimoto, based in Kyoto, Japan, created the piece for this stunning fine-pen illustrative puzzle. The drawing depicts a large creature, nestled in flowers, towering over a villagescape. The amount of detail in this puzzle is phenomenal. Up close, the line work is abstracted and gloriously dizzying. It's a puzzle you won't be able to resist assembling
8. BEYOND THE STREETS 'Felipe Pantone' (550 Pieces)
BEYOND THE STREETS is as cool as cool can get. A celebration of creative misfits, mark makers, and rule breakers, it comes as no surprise that BEYOND THE STREETS would put forward killer puzzles (2). This puzzle features the work of Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone, a work that is a hypnotic composition of digitized texture and bold pixilated rays of gradient neon colour. It's highly graphic, highly vertiginous, and the perfect image for a puzzle!
9. Murchison 'Spring Arkansas Tree' (1000 Pieces)
If the 'Felipe Pantone' puzzle is a bit too much for your brain to handle, we totally understand. In contrast with Pantone, artist Clint Murchison, through the Schmidt Fine Art Gallery in Montgomery County, Texas, offers a stunningly serene puzzle featuring a photograph of an enormous tree canopy. Damp mossy green leaves abut rich black shadows and a tangle of heather gray tree branches, creating a composition that is both artistically exceptional and very challenging to assemble.
10. Nervous System 'Orbicular Geode' (~360 Pieces)
We debated about whether to include the untraditional puzzle but we couldn't resist. Laser cut wooden pieces, in claw-like shapes, are thick and deliciously irregular. A beautiful computer-generated geode image is applied to the labyrinth of pieces. The concentric rings in the geode are accented by blisters of colors that encroach on and warp the bands. Contemporary and artistic, these agate-esque images are bold presentations of color and pattern that make for exquisite puzzling.
11. Miguel Arzabe 'Dogpatch'
This puzzle offered by Minnesota Street Project is an undisputed success. The epically discontinuous but beautiful image featured on the puzzle was created by artist Miguel Arzabe through a process that involved weaving together strips of posters and flyers from art exhibition near his studio in San Francisco. The result is a herringbone of gray and vibrant orange overlaid on a collection of indiscernible images and text. The pattern competes with the outline of the puzzle pieces for a gorgeously complicated visual.
12. NYCHOS 'Dissection of Mona Lisa' (1000 Pieces)
We would be remiss to not include NYCHOS in this list. Known for his masterfully artistic surgery, NYCHOS ensured his piece 'Dissection of Mona Lisa' had the same saturated graphic quality of all his work. In the image, the beauty of Mona Lisa is bisected to reveal the tangle of structures that lay beneath the flesh. An amputated hand leaves a cross section of the radius and ulna. A striking blue arterial rope produces a necklace-like tie at the collar bone. A comedically active tongue, centered within the head, seems to lick a juicy skin pull stretched between the two halves of Mona Lisa's exterior. It's so disturbingly outstanding and it makes a damn-good puzzle.
13. Frank Stella 'Firuzabad' (750 Pieces)
Last, but certainly not least, we share the Firuzabad by Frank Stella puzzle. Stella is one of our favorite contemporary artists. His bold use of color and geometry is playful and simplistically striking. It's really no surprise that it translates well to puzzle form. Contoured to the edges of two circles, each divided by graphic concentric rings and pie chart style wedges, the puzzle is enchantingly fun to assemble.