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Artist Feature [ Mina Teslaru ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Mina Teslaru

Mina Teslaru has been photographing Coney Island for the past 7 years, creating dreamy scenes that are both cheery and nostalgic. Her colorful, overexposed images filled with tiny people seem like they've captured a miniature set staged just for the photo. 

Originally from Bucharest, Romania, Mina now lives and works in New York City and has graciously shared more about her process, her other creative projects and her thoughts on photography. Check out her interview below!

How do you define your photography in your mind? Is it a passion, a hobby, a calling?

My artwork whether it be photography, painting, collaging or installation is an archive of nostalgic moments, mapping my own displacement in the world. I create instinctively so it’s either all of that or none of it. 

Do you remember the first photo you took of Coney Island? If so, please tell us about it. 

I moved to the states when I was 24 years old.. the New World hit me really hard as something extremely different, there was no comfort in the unfamiliar places. At the time I was living in Long Island and remember hitting the beach soon after my arrival, expecting the seashore to greet me with happy smiling faces, coffee shops, side shows, rides and most importantly crowds and crowds of beach bums looking forward to chat you up or share their life story with you – needless to say that’s not what I found. 

Months later I remember hearing of Coney Island and was bound to go conquer it all and see if it was “all of that” – and it was! That’s when I felt a little closer to home and knew everything will be alright. 

The first ever photo of Coney Island that I loved (I have a huge archive of thousands of them that have never been published) – is Coney Island Beach and it’s a tilt shift because it describes how I feel about this place, a microcosm of happy, jolly beach goers that wouldn’t exchange the Brooklyn Riviera for anything else in the world. 

There’s many ways of looking at Coney Island, some might see the grime and crowded beaches, some might see the colorful characters, some just go there for the rides and the Nathans, I love it because it is such a challenge trying to fit it in the palm of my hand... or lens for that matter.

I love thinking of the guests that stayed at Elephant Hotel, I love trying to image how wonderful it must have been to take a ride on the Parachute Jump. 

Tell us about your process. What sort of tools and equipment do you use? Do you have any rituals that follow when you're out shooting?

I am a very moody person, I have a love hate relationship with my camera. But she’s my only tool and I rarely use tripods I try to make my frames look touristical with a fantastical twist. 


What's next for you and your work?

I would very much like to have the time to experiment more with light installations. I tried my hand at it last year and it was very rewarding. You can see more about it on my website. Transplant, 2013

2D-wise I’d love to do a Circus series and of course continue with my Coney Island Series.

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?

I still am not sure that’s what I want to be when I grow up... I’ve always said I wanted to be a farmer. 

What other creative outlets do you have?

I make collages out of old photos and I have a rooftop garden in Brooklyn that is very rewarding, creatively. 

Do you have a dream collaboration?

I would have loved to work with Basquiat and Kahlo. 

Other than Coney Island, what inspires you to create?

Colorful towns and villages, crowds of people, things I can’t do.

What's the best thing about being an artist in New York?

It has to be the competition. There’s so much amazing art here, so many incredible artists – the constant envy and jealousy keeps me motivated. 

In all fairness though – NY has its good parts and bad parts. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get out of my head here, like there’s no mind space for anything new. But I think that’s probably the kind of pressure an artist needs sometimes. 


When do you know a photograph you've taken is a good photograph?

Oh gosh... I don’t, really, not for sure. I get a gut feeling sometimes – I love my Coney Island Beach photo but never thought the world would love it so much. It sold a few thousand times already. I don’t know what makes a good photograph, there’s absolutely no thought process at all when I shoot it’s all instinctive! As soon as I start thinking I screw up. Making art for me is like a meditation... the goal is not to have thoughts at all, just feel it.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I really like Nick Meek’s work, Franck Bohbot, Julia Margaret Cameron.


What is your favorite photograph? 

It changes a lot but for now it’s Mulberry Street – I think the photographer is unknown and the photo was colorized but how wonderful is that scene? It’s like everyone on that street knows they are being immortalized but they can’t really grasp the concept...

Artist Feature [ Matthew Korbel-Bowers ]

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Matthew Korbel Bower

Matthew Korbel-Bowers' work has been on my radar for what feels like a while now. Each time one of his delightful prints shows up in my Pinterest feed or on a beloved blog, it catches my eye and I linger for a second (which, of course, is a lifetime in internet time) to take in its colorful glory. 

Eventually, I finally had to look a little deeper and was both delighted and dismayed to find that there wasn't much to find on Matthew Korbel-Bowers save for a very interesting feature on Fast Co.Design and a brief interview on Domaine. I was delighted because I like the mysteriousness of not having a bloated About page on a website, but dismayed because this time I really did want to know much, much more. 

I did find, however, that he is an Art Director at Communication Arts magazine. [Insert freak out here]. For graphic designers, CA magazine is basically the design periodical. It's the one you save forever and wash your hands before touching.

So then I really wanted to know more and emailed him immediately. As you may have already guessed, he agreed to the interview and the rest is history. 

Big thanks to Matthew for sharing his thoughts and his work with us today!

Matthew Korbel-Bowers
Mathew Korbel-Bowers

What do you think led you to become a designer and when did you decide to pursue design as a career?

I always knew I would be some sort of designer. The family business was landscape design so I grew up around technical drawings, cartridge paper, blueprints, drafting tables, rulers, font books, architectural shape templates, pencils/erasers and artistic renderings. But what I really fell in love with was the design studio life. My folks would play records, drink coffee and dive deep into their design process. I inherited that love for getting in a zone—it works well with my hermitous personality.  

What is your proudest design moment while working for Communication Arts magazine?

Well, every 2-months I feel an equal sense of pride when we finish an issue and get it back from the printer. It is very satisfying to hold your work as an object in the hand. Working at a traditional agency designers—ironically—rarely get that experience. 

Matthew Korbel-Bowers
Matthew Korbel-Bowers

Your colorful prints have become quite popular. When did you start creating these works and what was the initial response? Were they an instant hit?

I really committed to them in 2012 and I guess they were sort of an instant hit.


What led you to start creating these pieces? 

Instinctually, they were pieces I had always wanted to make but I had some sort of mental block stopping me. I think I was self-conscious about making such "simple," works (though I don't think of them as "simple," now and could go on and on about this subject). Also, I thought of myself as a designer and not an artist so it took me awhile to realize that my form studies could be considered art. 

Matthew Korbel-Bowers

I believe your interview with Fast Co.Design about your secret surf maps touched on this,, but could you tell us about your process for creating these prints?

The Secret Surf Maps tap into the visual language of my folk's landscape design plans. That is the formal part. The other part comes from surfing, exploring and documenting the natural gems of the Northern California coast.    

Matthew Korbel-Bowers
Matthew Korbel-Bowers

What other creative pursuits do you have?

My other pursuit is just like this interview because I am interested in other artists'/designers' work and histories. That is what made me pursue a job at a design magazine. For example, my brother is a surf photographer and I like to hear every little detail about his work, progress and setbacks. When you pay big money for a collectible work of art you are paying for the history as much as the image.  


What are you favorite podcasts? Do you listen to them while you design?

Yes, I love podcasts—and along with gum and music—are crucial to getting in the zone. My wife and best friend have a podcast together called the Dirty 30-Something podcast ( That is my fav' but I might be bias.   

Matthew Korbel-Bowers
Matthew Korbel-Bowers

How do you define graphic design?

Graphic design is the visual side of branding. 


What is your favorite typeface?

Hmm. I think I like typographic relationships more than the typefaces. Like a 96pt classic 18th century French serif title paragraph set over 10pt Avenir body copy. 

Where do you find inspiration for your design projects? Do you look in different places depending on who the work is being produced for? Do you keep any sort of files full of ideas or inspiration?

My answer to this is Martin Venezky ( I learned from him the life-changing lesson of making your inspiration. It would take too long to describe here but research Martin and process artists like Robert Irwin. Good stuff. 


What's next for you and your work?

'Keep making,' is what I tell myself.

Matthew Korbel-Bowers
Matthew Korbel-Bowers

View More - Matthew Korbel-Bowers + Behance 

Purchase - Society 6


*All images are the property of Matthew Korbel-Bowers and were used with artist's permission.

Artist Feature [ Jess Black ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Image: Shanoa Garcia, SAGE Projects

Image: Shanoa Garcia, SAGE Projects

When I saw Jess Black's new work, my heart pitter pattered a little bit. Every piece resonated with me and I wanted to study every inch of the canvas. 

Jess Black grew up around Chicago, fled to New York at age 17 with only $400 in his pocket and signed a modeling contract a short time later. Fast forward a little bit and Black is now a well known, neo and abstract expressionist artist living in Los Angeles with an all new body of work.

Black's new work, curated by SAGE Projects and currently on display in a solo exhibition titled, "Timely Disorder", seeks to communicate and explore tendencies toward divided attention of the contemporary mind, while cultivating awareness of one's own engagement with this modern day disposition. 

See Jess Black's interview below!

White Wigs of the Court

Your work has garnered a lot of critical acclaim and attention. Some critics are even drawing comparisons between your work and that of Jean Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon, and Wassily Kandinsky. How do such comparisons make you feel? Does it add a certain level of pressure?

I don't really think about it honestly. I don't  have a formal arts education and I certainly didn't study art history, so when the comparisons began I had to do quick google searches on my phone to decide if the comparisons were compliments.  I'm a little wiser these days about the artists who came before me.  I understand that people like to make comparisons so they can fit you neatly into categories.  For me the comparisons make me want to dig deeper and ensure that I am presenting work that is 100% me and not reflective of those from another generation. Though I have to admit that I do hope that in 50 years someone sees a young painter and says to him, "That looks a little like a Jess Black."

Timely Disorder.jpeg

I'm very interested in the pivotal moments in people's lives - usually moments that don't seem that significant until retrospect. Looking back, what would you say is the most critical moment in the earliest part of your career as an artist?  

I would have to say when I made the decision to be a full time artist and made that my path. I have done several things in the past for work. Not too terribly long ago when I made the decision to pursue art and only art, was life changing. There was no "B" plan. I had and do have tunnel vision. I think that is important.

What's next for you and your work? 

I was just discussing this with my manager.  I know I am going to be doing a show in Paris, France, probably in Spring 2015.  However, I have no idea what I will be painting or what type of collection will develop.  There have been a lot of issues I've wanted to explore in art . . . issues you wouldn't think would work with a visual medium, but I may give it a try.

On Your Every Word.jpeg

Do you have a dream collaboration?  

Hmm... I have a deep respect for writers, maybe because I feel like I have zero talent in that area. People who tell beautiful stories, paint pictures really with their words are amazing to me. I would at some point maybe like to collaborate with a writer in some form. Maybe a collection of paintings that mirror some sort of script, book or life story. Something where the words and the paintings all come together to tell the story.

It seems like you have a lot of creative talent that extends beyond painting. How do these other passions and talents influence your painting?

I think creativity takes many forms.  I sing, I even recorded an album awhile ago.  I enjoy cooking and have been told that I am pretty good at it.  I think it is all part of the creative process.  I think a lot of artists express their creativity with more than one outlet.  I view the world from a creative perspective.  As such, everything influences my paintings.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a professional artist? 

It really depends on your goals as an artist.  If it is just to create, then create.  Paint or sculpt or draw as much as you can and let the creativity flow through you.  If your goal is to be an artist who earns a living from your creativity, then you have to have business savvy.  You have to learn to look at your art as not only an expression of who you are, but also as a commodity.  If you find that you are having a hard time separating your emotions from the business side, then find someone to partner with who can.

Breaking Binds.jpeg

What artists do you look to for inspiration or who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

There is the Australian artist Brett Whitely who is no longer with us. I admire his work but I am inspired by how he navigated the art world as a working artist. He, like me had no formal training. He was extremely business savvy. But at the same time took a lot of risks creatively.

I recently came upon a photographer named Dean West who does this beautiful surrealist photography. He has a series of beach scenes that I love.


Do you collect art? If so, what was the first piece of art in your collection?

I actually don't collect 2D art.  So many of my own works are on my walls and then they sell and new works go up.  What does seem to inspire me are fabrics.  I love patterns and color combinations.  I might have a bowl I bought at a thrift store, but my pillows are custom made from imported fabrics.  :)

What's the best thing about being an artist in LA?

After being an artist in NYC I would have to say the weather.  The sun is amazing here.  The light is amazing.  I can create all year round without the feeling that I need to hibernate between October and April.

If someone is visiting LA for 24 hours, what are the things they must do while they're there?

The beach. Sand and sun. After living in NYC for a very long time when I walk on the beach here I always think to myself "I'm living the California dream"!

Jess Black's show will be on view at the Gateway Gallery @ Cooper Design Space in downtown Los Angeles until August 14, 2014. 

Press or Purchasing Inquiries: info@sage-projects or visit Sage Projects online

Artist Feature [ Jennifer Davis ]

Brittany TaylorComment

I first discovered Jennifer Davis' work on Pinterest and was immediately drawn to the colorful, exotic imagery. This led me to her personal site and Etsy shop, where I fell in love with her work even more. Jennifer is a fine artist based in Minneapolis and was gracious enough to share her story and work with us today.

Tell us a little about you background and what led you to become an artist.

After finishing all of my general requirements at the University of MN I was still having trouble figuring out what I wanted to DO. I took a drawing class with my roommate and fell deeply in love with making art. I ended up staying on for several more years (taking just about every art class offered) and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine arts degree in painting and drawing - with a minor in Art History- in 1998. So- it was not until college that I discovered my passion for art. I started doing art full time when I was laid off from my day job at an advertising agency in 2003. That is when I made art the focal point of my life.

Tell us a little about your process (research, tools used, etc.)

I've always thought of my process as a sort of Free Association method. I don't plan out any of my paintings, rather I just sit down and start doing- building off of whatever bubbles up. In order to make sure I don't run out of ideas I always try to keep my eyes peeled for interesting visual cues or ideas. My paintings are mostly acrylic/graphite on mounted wood panels, sometimes paper. I also like to paint on found thrift store junk objects.

Your paintings are so colorful and exotic feeling. What sort of things do you look to for inspiration? 

Are there any particular artists, books or songs that really get your imagination going? I collect found images and constantly troll the internet looking for art to inspire. Flickr Commons (vintage Creative Commons photos) is another rich source of inspiration for me. I'm inspired by animals, carnival stuff and all things vintage, especially toys. I love playing around with color combinations. I love looking at other people's art too. Right now I am swooning over:

Marco Wagner 
Aris Moore
Jennifer Sanchez  
I post art I like on Pinterest here: and I am particularly fond of my fellow MN artists- I post about them here:

Outside of painting, what other sort of creative pursuits do you have?

None that I can think of...Ha! I spend time working every single day in my studio.

I also like to ride my bike everywhere and I am a big film fanatic.

What's next for you and your work?

I'm creating a series of hand-pulled prints for Springboard for the Arts CSA: Community Supported Arts Project, and a temporary (cat) tattoo for the Walker Art Center's 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival and some other fun projects. My next solo exhibition is at Low Gallery in San Diego, CA in Sept.

What's the best part about being an artist in Minneapolis?

I've been working as an artist here since the late 90s so it feels like a really small community to me. My community of artists is tight-knit, supportive and inspiring. There is also a lot of funding support and many inclusive opportunities/galleries. I think this is a great place to be a working artists.


What's the perfect way to spend the day in Minneapolis?

My favorite way to spend the day is on a Cycle N Sip (as my pal Betsy named it)...riding all over town on my bike with my BF, Brad making stops whenever we are tired for food/beer/art/music.

We have recently visited many favorites including Sea Salt Eatery (a fish restaurant in a park overlooking Minnehaha Falls), Soo Visual Arts CenterPublic FunctionaryRosalux GalleryIzzy's Ice Cream, several new taproom/breweries and my favorite dive bar Dusty's.

What advice do you have for aspiring creatives who want to earn a living creating art? 

There are a lot of daily tasks involved in making a living as an artist that have nothing to do with actually making art. It is basically like running a small business- bleh. It is easy to get distracted by all of that stuff but the most important thing is to make art. A lot of it and all of the the time.


What's your dream collaboration?

I did a grant project last year involving vintage carousels. I'd love to paint a carousel animal- or a whole merry-go-round full of them...=0)


What does a typical day look like for you? 

Ideally- in the studio all day, outside playing all eve.


What books/articles do you think are must reads for creatives?

I don't know. I wish someone would tell me. I read mostly contemporary fiction as an escape. However, I will shamelessly plug this new book by Daniel Krysa because it is really great: 

Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists

Check out more of Jennifer's work on her website and in her Etsy shop!

Art Roundup [ Bright Paintings ]

Brittany TaylorComment
Bright, Colorful Paintings

I'm taking a much needed break from covering everything I own in plastic wrap (for the move) so that I can share with you a few of my new favorite paintings. Whether you're looking for inspiration for your own work or you're wanting to expand your personal art collection, I'm pretty sure these colorful works will be just what you're looking for. Or not. And that's fine too. 

1. Jim Harris, "Untitled" 

About the artist via his Saatchi Art profile - "American Artist living and working in Japan. I listen to mostly jazz when painting. Currently I'm mainly influenced by Japanese architecture, both contemporary and ancient." 

2, Signe & Genna, "Townies"

About the artists via their website - "Partners in both life and art, Signe & Genna have been collaborating for nearly ten years. Genna begins their process by applying rich layers of pattern and tone to gessoed masonite or linen supports. Signe then selects an inspiration image from their extensive collection of vintage found photos, draws with oil pastel atop the abstract underlayer using the photo for reference, and completes the image with blocky 'panes' of oil color." 

Their work can currently be seen at the local Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee (one of my favorite galleries).

3. Leslie Shiels, "Crossing Hounds"

This artist's work can also currently be seen at the local Leiper’s Creek Gallery in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee.

4. Lulie Wallace, "Flowers for Avril"

Currently based in Charleston, South Carolina, this artist says that her "hope is that [her] paintings simply bring a piece of joy to the homes they inhabit." 

5.  Hester Van Dapperen, "Los ángeles"

About the artist via her Saatchi Art profile - "Contemporary visual artist Hester van Dapperen is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The artist about her work: In my visual work, I am fascinated by the human in motion - my reflection of contemporary reality."

I hope you enjoy these bright paintings and have a bright summery week!