Monday, October 29, 2012

Penguin Random House

Earlier today it was announced that Penguin and Random House will be combining.  This is a huge big deal in the publishing world, but I think it's particularly interesting from a branding perspective.  Penguin has a fantastic brand.  When I see the Penguin logo, I think of classic books that have an impressive following.  The Clothbound Classics by Coralie Bickford-Smith are gorgeous, and Penguin itself seems like a great company to work for.  I'm hugely jealous that Siobhan Gallagher gets to intern there, and Impress The Penguin really got me thinking that I should apply.  Penguin is fun, Penguin is quirky, Penguin is quality.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Role Model

I think Swiss Miss is fantastic.  Not in a "Hey this is something cool that I'm going to tweet about." kind of way, although I tweet things that she posts quite a bit.  It's more of a "You are the person I want to be like."  Swiss Miss has transitioned from doing client work to doing entirely her own projects, like Creative Mornings, Teux Deux and Tattly.  All of this happened because she found time to work on her own thing outside of her client work.  That's something that I need to do.  I don't have client work, but I have school work, and I sometimes let it get in the way of me making things for myself, unrelated to school.  Maybe if I do that, I'll be doing all my own thing one day.

Also, why isn't there a Creative Mornings in Grand Rapids?  Detroit even has one!  I guess I'll just have to move to Chicago or something.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I saw Real/Surreal and they gave me a sticker.
The exhibit was curated and organized by The Whitney, and making it's first stop on tour at the GRAM, where it will be from October 19 to January 13.
As you walk into the exhibit, you see the description of it on the wall, with coloured lights pointing to it, which looked kind of cool.  When I walked into the first room of the exhibit, I looked around at the works a little bit.  They had some pretty significant paintings, Hopper and Wyeth and such.  All of the work is from the 1920's to 1950's, and it's all American.  That's not an era and  The piece that caught my eye in this room was Anatomical Painting, by Pavel Tchelitchew.  It doesn't quite fit wit the rest of the works, but it's striking nonetheless.  
In the next room, there's a similar layout, but hidden in the back corner is an interactive part of the exhibit.  It consists of a piece of glass standing in the middle of this smaller room they've made, and you're supposed to create a piece of art relating to your dreams.  I hope that I'm not the target audience for this, because it didn't work for me at all.  
One major thing I noticed about the exhibit is that it's colored.  The walls, instead of your range of art gallery colors (white, off white, grey, slightly blue) are dark purple and green and yellow, which makes it feel like you're not quite in a museum. There are also walls in the middle of the room, short walls, at odd angles that kind of throw me off.  I think I need walls to exist on a grid.  It's an impressive collection of pieces, but there's something about it that didn't quite work for me.  It has the ingredients of something great, but the whole exhibit falls short of that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

From The Desk Of

I found this website with pictures of peoples desks!  And interviews!  With people who I like a lot!  I freakin' love the internet. Sigh...the internet.

Jessica Hische!  I think this is her old studio though.   Have we talked about how cool Jessica Hische is?  Have we talked about how I trace her lettering in hopes of maybe one day being as great as she is?  No?  Oh.  We should talk about that.

Milton Glaser!  Like, that Milton Glaser.  Woah.  Stunned silence.

Poketo!  Gahhh.  I love them.  You know when you look at a collection of things and you're like "I just want everything here to be in my life even though I really don't need anything I just want it all." ?  That is how I feel about Poketo.

Austin Kleon!  The guy with the sharpies and the poems!

Rebecca Green!  I've been crushing on her ever since I found out that she illustrated everything for The Crane Wives, and then I found out that she did all the signs at The Sparrow's and I was like "Rebecca Green!  I want to be you if I grow up!

Swiss Miss!  Swiss Miss is the person you want to be a person like.  End of story.

Lisa Congdon!  I think Lisa is really fantastic.  Collection a day?  Lettering a day?  One day, I might have the commitment to do something every day for a year.  Like, something more complicated than eating.

Coraline Bickford-Smith!  She's the one who makes the books that just kind of make you swoon and get really distracted because books.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Fall of Eames

 When I was a young'n, I became interested in Eames furniture, like so many young people do.  This led me to mid century furniture, which led me to the whole of furniture, which led me to the whole of design.  It's a gateway drug, Eames furniture.
It just seemed so perfect, everything was molded plywood and shell chairs.  I learned more about why the furniture was made that way, and it made me love it even more.  I was just so impressed that things could solve problems and be comfortable and also be really freaking pretty at the same time.  It was so great!  Guys!  It'
I trundled on for years and found out about a lot of other designers, explored the world of design a little bit, everything was happy.  It was great.  I was happy.  Until I saw this.
It's an Eames Executive Chair.  Yeah.  Just take it in for a second.
What's happening here?  It has the base of the Aluminum Group Chairs, with the cushioning of the Eames Lounge, and it's an office chair.  The function is exactly the same as that of the Aluminum Group.  Logic would say "Hey, we have the Aluminum Group.  That's an office chair. We are so good on office chairs.  Let's make something else." but they made this.  The lounge chair?  It's a really good chair.  But what makes that chair so good isn't the cushions, it's the interactions between the cushions and the wood, it's not any one part, but it's about how they all come together into the whole.
Lesson Learned.  Parts of a good whole cannot just mash together to make infinite good wholes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A look back at ArtPrize

ArtPrize!  It's over.  The awards have been announced. "Elephants" by Adonna Khare won the main award, and "Displacement (13208 Klinger St)" by Design 99 won the juried award.  
Design 99 won, and I'm going to get all my feelings about that out right now:
Um, yeah.  SiTE:LAB cleaned up pretty well at the awards, winning the juried award for best venue, and with "Habitat" by Alois Kronschlaeger winning the 2D juried award, so that's fantastic.
I think the creation of the juried awards has a huge effect on the contest.  It divides ArtPrize into two separate competitions, one for art that is more critic-friendly, and one for art that is crowd-friendly.  The juried prizes make ArtPrize worth it for artists who are unlikely to win the crowds over, but add to the serious art aspect of the event.  The public award favors conceptually accessible, representational, 2D pieces, and the public award is what creates the buzz.  The buzz is a lot of what matters for ArtPrize, that sort of arts and crafts carnival feeling.  ArtPrize brings a lot of money into the city, and a majority of the people who come aren't looking for something like SiTE:LAB, they're looking for OMG DINOSAUR.
I really liked this dinosaur, not so much from an artistic perspective, but from a place of deep love for all sorts of prehistoric reptiles.
I think the reason that I'm not a huge fan of ArtPrize is simply demographics.  ArtPrize appeals to people who are from the city and the region, but don't spend a lot of time in downtown Grand Rapids.  I go downtown almost every day, since I go to school there.  ArtPrize tries to be a gateway to art, saying "Hey, you aren't the type to go to an art museum, but this is art, and this in a type of place where you might feel more comfortable".  ArtPrize makes it okay not to know a lot about art, but still be a part of things.  That's something that the greater art community could learn a lesson from, that it helps to be more inclusive, and that's the work that ArtPrize can do.  We need to start asking people who aren't "art people" what they think of art, and make art the conversation in this town, even when it's not ArtPrize.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Robert Coombs

 Robert Coombs was in the top 25 of ArtPrize with his work, Disabilities and Sexuality.  I got the chance to talk with him and see his work on Saturday.  His photos are striking and thought provoking, and well worth a look.  If you're going to be around ArtPrize, be sure to check out Roberts work at Fountain Street Church.
How would you describe your work?
I love photographing people, that is my thing, and then I also love shooting in the studio, I love controlling light and manipulating light, that's probably one of my favorite things. That and for me, personally, shooting in the studio is a lot easier because I have so much equipment and it's all technology based. Going on location is a little bit harder.
Yeah, that would be a challenge. Has a lot of your work focused on disabilities and sexuality?
I just started it last fall, so I haven't done too much in it right now.  I volunteer at Mary Free Bed.  When newly injured patients come in, then that's when I go there for peer support.  That's been really fun and I love doing that.
That seems like it would be really beneficial for somebody who's newly injured to have someone who can say like - 
I'm back at school you know, my senior year, and now top 25 of ArtPrize.
Yeah, that's fantastic.
I know, it's gone by so quick.  It just started last Wednesday, top 25 was announced Monday.  Just like, holy crap.
Yeah.  That would be really cool.  What do you hope that people learn from your work?
That people's sex life is always pushed under the rug to begin with and that you see people with disabilities and a lot of people wonder if I can, you know, have sex, they're quite curious about it.  I'm totally open and willing to explain it the best way I can, so that's what I want people to get out of my work is that despite our disabilities, we are still human and are sexual beings.  We like to be intimate.
Do you think the fact that it's here, in Fountain St. Church, where they're doing all sorts of social issues type stuff, do you think that adds to it?
I think so, yeah.  There's a lot of good work here and I think having that theme of social stigmas.  It really lets the public know what's really going on.  A lot of people might not think about this stuff every day.
Do you think you're going to continue doing works in this series?
Yes, definitely   That's why I'm hoping this ArtPrize exhibit will bring me more models, because it's been kinda hard.  I've met these people personally before I started this work, so they were a little more willing than trying to find people over the internet, trying to come across as a serious photographer, because there are a lot of creepy people out there.  I want to show them that I'm legit and that I'm not going to exploit them or anything like that.

What has some of your other work been about, before you started focusing on this?
More fashion, you know I work with makeup artists and buying certain outfits and stuff like that.  It's been mostly about that, and I still have some fashion influences.  The posing and the lighting and studio work.
The lighting does come off as the way you might light a model for fashion.
A little more dramatic than normal.
When you're doing a portrait, how much do you tell the models to do things and how much is just them?
Most people, they want to put their chin up when they photograph, so it's always like "No, keep your chin down." and then I'll tell them where to look, just so their eyes are in the right spot, their face is at the right angle.  Other than that, I'll just kinda start shooting, try and get a little more of their candid.  I don't necessarily tell them when I'm going to click the shutter.  They'll just hold it and I'll keep firing.
Do you shoot in digital or film?
I'm completely digital right now.  I used to love shooting 4x5 sheet film, large format, but it's a little hard for me to get close to the ground and you know, focus.  So right now, the way I work is I have a medium format digital SLR, it's a Mamiya.  What I do is I tether my camera to my computer and then I use Capture One software, which allows me to adjust the shutter speed, aperture  and I can actually fire it from my computer.  Then the image pops up on screen, so I can tell my assistants to change different things, and my lighting equipment, I can actually control the output from my computer also.
I didn't realize any of that was possible.
I know, I know.  More commercial artists use that, so I really operate no different than any higher end commercial artist.  I did a lot of research.
It sounds like it.
It's awesome, I love it.
Who are some artists that you admire or look up to?
My all time favorite photographer is Erwin Olaf.  His color palates, his lighting, and just his portraits are so beautiful and captivating.  I just love his work so much...
Also, as Robert mentioned when I spoke with him, he's looking for models.  If you have a disabillity and would like to be a part of his work, contact him on his facebook page.