This week has been one I won't be forgetting anytime soon, but not for the reasons I originally planned. I was supposed to attend the O'Reilly Design Conference in San Francisco this week. Once I made it to San Francisco, I promptly lost my purse in the airport at 2 am. By some miraculous act of kindness, someone turned it in and I got it back later that day. A few hours later, I got news that my grandfather passed away. So I switched my flights and left my hotel at 3:50 am the next morning. Going home for the funeral was good and awful and everything in between. I'm glad I made the decision to come home, but am (selfishly) sad that the timing was what it was.
Before the conference, I bookmarked some videos of talks given by speakers that were going to be at the conference. I've since found and added many more videos, making this list quite long. Obviously, I haven't watched all of them yet, but I plan to slowly make my way through them in the coming weeks.
Please note: While some of these videos were produced by O'Reilly Media, most of them are talks from a variety of other events given by speakers who also spoke at the 2016 O'Reilly Design Conference in San Francisco. Not all of the speakers from the 2016 O'Reilly conference have videos of their talks online. For a full list of the speakers, click here.
Big, Fat List of Talks* from Speakers at the 2016 O'Reilly Design Conference
*Two of these links are to text articles and not videos
When I found out my first niece was going to be born, I knew I wanted to make her something special. I decided to collect family stories with the help of her grandmothers & turn them into a book. Keeping the color palette minimal with black and white photos, I set out to design a simple book that would hopefully be treasured for years to come. See all the photos on the project page.
- Linen fabric cover
- Hot pink embroidery thread for binding
- Inside cover paper from Paper Source
- Printed at Jive! printing
- Design by Brittany Murphy
- Bound by the amazing Jenna at Kitty Cat Stevens
For over a year now, I've been working on a series of mixed media pieces and have been experimenting with different techniques. Through much trial and error, I've found a combination of processes and mediums I like and am moving forward with the next few piece in the series (squee! will share when they're done.) Throughout the process, embroidery has been a big part of the exploration. Recently, our lovely, local art museum The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, housed an exhibition that was filled with wonderful, very old textiles, many of them hand embroidered. Ever since I saw that exhibit, I've had a renewed fervor towards embroidery and have found much inspiration online.
Here are some pieces I am particularly in love with:
To see more Textile Inspiration, check out the Pinterest board I curate with my dear friend Catie Beth Thomas.
Let’s just get this one out of the way. I have been in a perpetual state of reading and rereading the Harry Potter books since I was 11 years old. And every time I read them, I find something new.
Erik Larson Books
Thunderstruck, In the Garden of Beasts, and Dead Wake. Clearly, I enjoy a good Erik Larson tome. My husband and I like to read books together, and Larson’s are ones we can agree on. Although, I will say that In the Garden of Beasts was kind of a let down (shrugs).
Articles about UI/UX design
Given the nature of my job and passions, articles about UI/UX design are part of my daily internet digest. Here are some that stood out over the course of 2015.
Reframing accessibility for the web by Anne Gibson
A brief history of web design for designers by Sandijs Ruluks
10 Questions you’ll be asked in a UX interview by Ian Schoen
*There was also a great article comparing the current web design industry to the earlier aerospace industry that I cannot seem to find again, but will add once I locate it.
Ever obsessed with money & finance, I found myself perusing the pages of these two sites quite often in 2015. I’m not cheap, I’m intentional.
Mr. Money Mustache
This guy gets a little…preachy? Is that the word? Regardless, him and his wife “retired” early and live a frugal life in Colorado with their adolescent son.
A deliciously mundane subreddit in which everyone talks about their personal finances.
To be completely honest, I didn’t *technically* finish either of these, though I got pretty close before they had to be returned to the library.
7 Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
This book is a good primer on the different aspects of the modern art world and a good read whether you’re new to the whole scene or have been involved in several of the aspects before.
A brief history of curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist
This document is an absolute delight if you love curating and interviews with those who curate. Through a series of interviews, this book gives an intimate look into the world of museum and gallery curating. There’s also this great article about Hans Ulrich Obrist that once read, will lead you to the conclusion that he is, in fact, your spirit animal.
I first learned about Kit Kite while journeying down a rabbit hole through the world wide web, searching for something I can't remember. In a sea full of selfies, Kit Kite's self portraiture immediately struck me as being different, as more deserving of attention. Her work does not pester or persist with the usual demands selfies often scream at us - "Tell me I'm pretty! Tell me I'm worthy! Tell me this hair cut was not a mistake!" The portraits in both her "The X Housewife Portraits" series and "The X Install Portraits" series - simply ask, "What is home?"
Though she admits to taking more than 11,000 selfies over the course of a year (laughably small by the standards of the average tween no doubt), her self-portraits are not merely vain snapshots. They turn the idea of a portrait around on itself, obscuring what is usually the most prominent and most important part of a portrait - the face. The objects become the main subject and the self becomes lost, relegated to the background where it is merely a prop.
I met Kit Kite in person at Smiling Elephant back in March. It was right after our "snow-pocalypse" and she made a funny joke about the potholes that littered the roads. She was incredibly open and kind. In spite of her admitted lack of sleep, she had a fervent energy when talking about her work and before I knew it, she'd taken me on a 45-minute journey through her world that I would have sworn had happened in the blink of an eye. Below are some highlights from that conversation.
VBB | What artists do you most admire & look to for inspiration?
KK | I love Bernhard and Anna Blume, the conceptual artists. Their main work was photography but they were husband and wife and their whole process was in isolation and they did all these vignettes and strange narratives and photography that was amazing and bizarre. They did it all alone by themselves in their studio or in their house, so their life as well as individually was kinda eccentric. It’s a little bizarre, but together I love, love their work. I like Francis Bacon’s paintings, he’s been a huge influence. I don’t know if in my own paintings it would come across, but he’s really impacted me just in how he communicates through the visual and subconscious level. I feel like I can feel him in his paintings. Whether that’s good or bad i dont know. But it’s like it resonates with his work. It's almost like you're there sort of looking inside his head. There’s a lot of painters like that, but him especially. Maybe because it is so in your face.
VBB | So you still paint, right?
KK | Yes.
VBB | Even through the whole X Housewife series, you still found time to paint or is it something that’s kind of on the back burner?
KK | No, I’ve worked a little bit, it’s mainly just in the sketchbook, working that out. How I drafted that last series out was through photographs instead of sketching, I think that’s how it segued into photography and the video because otherwise I don’t think I would have ever done it that way.
VBB | Did you go into making the photos with a plan?
KK | Yea, sometimes there was a lot of intention, like there was a specific object I wanted to use and it would take me between 3 and 4 days to construct whatever device it was out of those objects to then pose with. I was shooting for a year and a half that way. It was always very obviously effected relationally, something would happen and I would be like, "I’m gonna go in my room and shoot." And it was actually very therapeutic. Where I didn’t feel like there was anything present, I could be present with that and know how to execute it. I got real familiar with it. It was like this routine and it was like every other day or every day sometimes or several in a day I would shoot.
VBB | Was there ever a time, maybe early on, where you were like, "Uhh, what am I doing? I have a headdress on made of Q-tips."? When did you first share the work with someone else? Was that nerve-wracking or were you pretty confident?
KK | No, because I don’t think I ever had intention of it becoming anything more than it was. It was like, you know, when you sketch in a sketch book, you don't think about what people are going to think. You’re at your safest.
And posting on Instagram - when I started it, I had just gotten an iPhone, I didn’t really know what that was, so in my head I didn’t even really realize that people could see it. I mean I did, but I was thinking, "Oh, this will be a great way to catalogue my images and then refer back, and neatly organize and keep up with what I’m doing."
And then on Instagram a lot of those Instagram galleries wanted to host it or publish it or whatever which I wasn’t familiar with either. Some of them wanted me to write about the work and others just asked several questions or didn’t say anything at all, they would just post it or feature it or whatever, so in that time it was great because I think it was challenging to me because it was helping me to find what the concept was.
VBB | What is your studio time like?
KK | I probably need a better schedule. I do need to find slots of time and be a little more intentional because I’m literally working on that project [Domestic Smudge] which I haven't even really started, but I wanna really make sure with this next series I develop the concept fully before I even make the first thing, so that I don’t stray away.
With this ex-housewife series, I started drafting before I really even knew what the concept was. Traditionally the practice of conceptual work isn't like that, so I’m going to do it a little differently. There’s a lot of down time that’s not real productive looking. People can’t go visit my studio and really see anything happening because it’s mostly been writing and researching and sketching so it’s kind of slow production at this point.
It’s hard because I’m also writing an art play. It’s a performance piece that’s going to be shot as a short film, so I have deadlines on that to write and then I’m working with this artist out in L.A. on a project that came through Instagram. And then I've been working on another thing in the last 2 months with Burlei records.
VBB | Wow you’re so busy! You have so many cool things going on.
KK | Yea, and I have two children and I work a pub job.
VBB | Do you sleep?
KK | I haven’t lately. I’ve been staying up writing. I’ve been writing so much lately which is really what I love. I think a lot of conceptual artists are really like writers. I love the idea of the research, honing in and just condensing to a paragraph this whole visual study and so I’ve been writing a lot. And I’m really interested in play writing and script writing and film. I love film. So I'm busy and I don’t know how to always manage the time as well as sleep, but I do need to sleep because I have to rise in the morning with my children and be mother.
VBB | You said it takes a little bit of time to produce your work, but you’re sharing your progress throughout that production phase. Are you ever worried that someone in that timespan is going to steal your ideas?
KK | People posed that same question to me when I was posting the drafts on Instagram. I think I’d just really bottomed out and didn't care anymore and was like, "You know, if someone steals it - fine." I think what made me confident going into it and exposing it visually was that my story, the content itself, was unique. I was living it, so I felt that nobody could take that.
The way that I would write about it or the way that I would look at it and interpret it, they just couldn’t. There are people that have put stuff in front of their face and shot a self-portrait. It’s not necessarily an incredibly unique sort of thing, but I think what causes my work to maybe be different is the concept and that’s really it.
The way that you would interpret your idea, even if it’s a concept that someone else could talk about, it’s going to be unique and no one can take that - especially if it’s a real story. When I work on a series, it's usually something I'm living in that moment and I really want to talk about, so it's a pretty fresh, right-off-the-press kind of thing. Right now, it's sort of about accepting the fact that I'm, you know, a single mother and it's loneliness which has been talked about, but in the last series it was isolation and now it's kind of about "How does one look at themselves alone or when they're left on their own and then only have sort of a memory of something that might have looked like their was company kept?" What does that look like? And then translating that and I've been writing about it and trying to figure that out.
I live in the suburbs, so it's visually all around me - the domestic, suburban landscape. That influences me and I'm submerged in that.
VBB | Do you identify with the suburbs or is it more like a world you're living in as an observer, in it but not of it?
KK | Yea, I felt like that as a kid. I'm just observing here. I'm just here for showtime wherever I'm at.
VBB | It doesn't matter where you are?
KK | No, and I'm really easily amused, so anywhere I'm out I can say like, "Let's talk about this very sort of boring backdrop and let's try to pull or find the unfamiliar in something so very familiar, there's got to be something."
VBB | That’s cool to hear you say that because I feel like I hear so many artists say that they have to be in the city near the action.
KK | Individuals can be heavily influenced by their atmosphere and I know that there are certain people that have to have a certain feel that's around them to be able to work. And I guess because I haven't really had that luxury in choosing what that is, it's kind of been like you don't make anything at all or you find something to say and make out of this place. It's been a good practice. I have no surprises and a limited budget or no budget and I don't have any equipment and I live in the suburbs so, "Ok let's make something!" [laughing] "Let's feel that, let's sit in it, absorb it and make things out of garbage or whatever we can find." It's a simple way...I hope I never lose it either if things were to change. I mean everything always does, but even then I hope that I can always touch down in that place wherever I'm at and be present and learn to be content wherever I'm at.
VBB | How do you feel about the idea of investing in art and how would you feel if your art was acquired as an investment rather than for pure enjoyment?
KK | There's a business side of art that I think is important and has its place. That is not the end all and it doesn't dictate what I make. It’s not the fuel that creates the work, but I wouldn’t mind people collecting my work. I ultimately would like people to be moved and interested but it is a business.
VBB | Have you ever made anything to personal to sell?
KK | Yes. I have. I have it hanging in my living room and it's just one painting. There was no series. It's just one painting that I did when I was 22 - so 12 years ago and I've never really painted anything like it. It's very different and I think it hits right where I was at and it’s very personal and it will always be with me. I can never sell that.
*All photos property of Kit Kite and used with Artist's permission.
Miranda Herrick is a Tennessee based artist whose geometric art, created from a mix of materials that includes recycled trash, is mesmerizing. She describes her work as both systematic and intuitive and today she shares with us details about her process, her thoughts on being a working artist, and her latest work.
VBB | Tell us about your work & creative process.
MH | My most recent series of work consists of larger scale pieces made from recycled bits of aluminum cans nailed to MDF board. My process tends to be very meditational. Whether I am making a small drawing or starting a large aluminum piece, I usually begin by penciling off a grid and letting my pen decide what path it wants to take from point A to point B. That decided, I simply repeat that action X number of times and go with the flow. It is a meditation in action and I never know what a piece is going to look like until I am finished.
VBB | What led you to start creating your colorful, often geometric series?
MH | I can't remember a time when I didn't draw patterns and shapes. It is a very intuitive action for me. About 15 years ago I started creating mixed media pieces. These included quilts made from Starburst wrappers, rugs made from Wal-mart bags, ransom letter type copies of Bible verses whose letters where cut from magazines. I brought these ideas back to my patterns about ten years ago and started making my geometric images out of cereal box- type recycling and then aluminum cans. The cans work great because they bring an unexpected rich luster to the patterns.
VBB | What's the best part about being an artist in Nashville? Is there anything special about this city's art community?
MH | Nashville is a wonderful city and we are getting to experience it during an exciting time of growth and transition. There is definitely a lot of momentum in the art community right now. There is a great deal of energy and many exciting events occurring at new venues in the Wedgewood Houston area and at Oz Arts. Community minded artists like Megan Kelley of Haus Rotations and entrepreneurs like Chuck Beard of East Side Story are doing everything they can to make the Nashville arts community both larger and more intimate by spreading the word about happenings and giving folks opportunities. This, of course, barely scratches the surface.
VBB | I feel that often times people have a vision of the artist secluded in a studio apart for normal life, but in reality many modern artists have day jobs, families, volunteer work, etc. etc. How do you schedule time to work/when do you work on your art? Is it hard for you to balance being a working artist with the other demands of daily life?
MH | Yes, there may be artists out there who are cloistered in their studio, but I know that my friends and I all struggle with the balance of day jobs, family and finding time to be creative. I feel fortunate, to a degree, that the artwork I am currently creating is fairly systematic. I think that makes it easier for me to work on art for an hour or two in the evening after the day job and commute are over. Maybe I can get in 'the zone' a little more quickly. I don't wait for inspiration.
VBB | Your work can be seen in Bennett gallery in Green Hills (and other galleries?), what advice do you have for artists just starting out that might be seeking gallery representation?
MH | This could be part two of your last question, because this is another thing to add to day jobs, family, and other things that compete for an artist's time. Networking, applying to galleries, maintaining a web presence, and a good deal of self promoting are all things that an artist should probably be doing to try to get her work seen. And I've always felt that if you are making visual art, it may as well be seen!
VBB | What's next for you and your work?
MH | Right now, I plan to continue working on my aluminum can series, Reflective. (I have attached a picture of Reflective IV, @ 53" x 53" as well as a picture of my shelf of accumulated cans.) I may create a second Works and Days series in 2017, ten years after the first series. I am going to pursue representation out of state and continue the attempt to have my artwork seen.
VBB | One of your artworks, Works and Days is a gorgeous series of drawings that was turned into a book - one for every day in 2007. Tell us about that particular project. What did you learn from the experience of creating something for the same project every day for a year? Is that sort of discipline important for all artists?
MH | I had created a small series of drawings in 2006. They were 4" x 4" pattern drawings. They seemed too small for titles, so they were only labeled with the date I completed them. I was surprised by how people reacted to knowing the dates the works were made. I kept hearing folks say things like, "Oh you drew this on my birthday!" So I decided that in 2007, I would complete a drawing for everyone's birthday (Sorry, not a leap year.) I tied the works together as a series by gradating down the color wheel. All the pieces in January were red; February drawings were red-orange, etc. So the end product was an elaborated 365 piece color wheel.
The larger goal of the series was simply it's completion, the sheer numbers. But for me, for my art, the outcome was more than that. Pushing myself that far lead to lots of discoveries for me as an artist. The creation of one thing leads to the next. You have to make that first thing, before the next thing can be fully articulated. Eight years later, I still find fodder in the completion of those 365 works.
And yes, last year I was very lucky to have been helped by over one hundred people in the creation of a book of those drawings. I launched a successful crowd- funding campaign back in September of 2014. (WARNING: Here is some of that shameless self promotion I mentioned earlier!) That book is currently available in Clarksville at the Custom's House Museum and in Nashville at The Frist Center for Visual Arts and Bennett Galleries.
See more of Miranda's work at her website.
*All images used with artist's permission
I came across Stephanie Jeanne's work while visiting Bennet Galleries in Nashville a couple Saturdays ago and her bright compositions featuring the simplified figures of horses stood out to me (which says something because basically everything in Bennett Gallery is awesome).
Stephanie has spent 25 years of her life riding horse and grew up competing as a show jumper. She still rides and competes with her horses Rory and Snuffles when she can. In addition to having her work at Bennett Galleries, Stephanie also has her work in Griffin's Studio in Hopkinsville, KY. She is also a part of the Art of the Horse feature in May's issue of American Art Collector Magazine and will be part of the "Creativity Found", Volume 03 of Trouve magazine in June.
When I reached out to Stephanie to talk about sharing her work, she shared this quote from Ronald Reagan with me, "There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." and followed by saying that, "Horses have been a significant part of my life, my soul and my well being. I only started painting them 4 years ago and found that these animals were translating onto the canvas in an authentic, soulful way, different from my previous work. However often I choose to paint different subjects, I always come back to the horse. Someone asked me recently if I am going to get sick of painting the horses that I've been working on in my current collection, and I thought...'how could I get sick of this??' I absolutely love painting them. I love the challenge of capturing them in a deliberately abstract way and I love how each piece takes on a personality of its own. My work naturally evolves over time into new styles, but for now I am in my element painting my favorite creatures on earth using vivid colors to celebrate their beauty and spirit."
However often I choose to paint different subjects, I always come back to the horse
My work naturally evolves over time into new styles, but for now I am in my element painting my favorite creatures on earth using vivid colors to celebrate their beauty and spirit.
*All images used with artist's permission and are the property of Stephanie Jeanne Hardy
The colors, texture and general vibrancy of Canale's latest work draw me in and are just delightful. The fluidity between figures and abstract background is so interesting to me and has me doing double takes to get a closer look.
From Canale's website:
Cristina Canale’s painting reveals rather unique features, notably the way in which the figurative elements of the composition are always on the verge of impending dissolution into abstraction. Her landscape seem to portray, as has been noted previously, a liquid world, in which a few recognisable elements emerge between fields of colour that are juxtaposed in harmonic fashion, despite the wide variety of colours in each painting.
*All images the property of Cristina Canale
Round two of winter weather has just left Nashville and I'm ready for summer! Join me in my summer daydreams by enjoying this ice cream art work.
*Photos link to source
Peter Halley - Bold, bright, geometric paintings. Currently featured in the "Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art & Society 1915–2015" show at Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Regine Schumann - Minimal, colorful, luminous sculptures made with acrylic boxes by German artist Regine Schumann who was recently exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Heidenheim, Germany. Currently on display at De Buck Gallery through March 21, 2015.
*Photos property of respective artists. See more photos at the linked websites.
Once upon a time I fell in love with The Mindy Project & Mindy's apartment and posted photos of my paused television showing said apartment on my blog. That was in 2012 and it is *still* one of my post popular posts and The Mindy Project is still one of my all time favorite shows. I was delighted (delighted I say!) to see the latest episode where they show the offices of Mindy's new fertility clinic. It is like a One King's Lane fantasy come to life and you guessed it! I have more photos of my television screen to prove it.
And here's a shot of Mindy in Danny's apartment just because his apartment is the bomb. Even though it's already and awesome space, I hope they use Mindy's moving in as an excuse to redecorate the place!
To see my original post about Mindy Lahiri's apartment (and see all the links to art and other products + reader comments) click here!
It’s 7:30 on a Wednesday night and I find myself on the square in downtown Murfreesboro. It’s chilly and the rain is misting slightly. I’m waiting outside of a restaurant, noticing the stillness and utter lack of college students that usually fill the square’s bars. As I ponder the empty streets, the man I’m meeting arrives.
Charles Clary looks like the quintessential college professor - complete with beard, glasses and newsboy cap - and he greets me enthusiastically. Clary is, in fact, a professor in the art department at the nearby Middle Tennessee State University, but we aren’t here to talk about academics or the work of his students. We’re here to discuss his personal artistic endeavors.
If you pay any attention to the Nashville art scene, you’ve probably had the pleasure of seeing his intricate paper installations in a gallery or in print or in the new Music City Center. We’re seated near the bar and we begin our candid conversation.
VBB | You’ve been working with your hand cut layered paper for several years, how do you feel your work has evolved and what are you working on now?
CC | Oh man. That’s a big question. I moved to paper in grad school, more out of necessity than anything. I was doing these very flat, kind of street art paintings on the wall and they were begging to kind of live a little bit more and not just be wall, pictorial representation of fictitious space.
I actually wanted to make that space physical. So I had an internship in Brooklyn and then I was coming home one night and I stopped at a paper store. And it all started with Martha Stewart scrapbook paper. I’m a little ashamed to admit, but she had great colors at the time, the paper was big. And then I started noticing that the knife moved like a paintbrush. And it was still focusing on this idea that music was this viral entity that we get over a period of time and then we as the viewers move it to another place and it contaminates or infests that space and so on and so forth, but it’s this really playful, bright fun kind of disease.
So I worked in that for a long time. And it stayed with that type of work right up until 2012, so I have two bodies of work going on: one was the installation work and one was the boxed pieces that were almost petri dish explorations of the bigger work and then both my mother and father got diagnosed with cancer in 2011. And then they both passed away in February of 2012, two weeks apart. So I didn’t make work hardly at all through that time period.
She died on February 15th and he died 2 weeks later. So it was really kind of traumatic experience but then I started coming back to my work just to kind of deal with it, it was the only thing that got my mind off of the trauma of it all. And then I started thinking about nostalgia and my childhood and how it wasn’t like most people’s childhood, like it was a really rough childhood.
My father was a pretty raging alcoholic and my mother was a functioning one. So a lot of those childhood memories didn’t exist for me, like I had to grow up way too quick. So I started thinking about nostalgia and what that means and how it fades over time and it’s not quite what we remember, so I started working in drywall and painted the drywall and beat the crap out of it with a hammer to expose holes so it looks like it’s violent kind of experience which is what my parents’ deaths were.
And then filling that void with my paper sculpture from the back so it becomes this kind of beautiful scar that eventually heals itself. Everybody carries around those kind of scars from life.
Then I started digging deeper into it and started using wallpaper on the surface of the drywall, still doing the violent openings and tearing those openings open and I just remember my childhood home being covered in kitchsy wallpaper, so I bought out a lot of stores of wallpaper - every Goodwill and thrift store that I could think of.
Again, it was kind of speaking to the environment that I grew up in and how my house was probably could’ve been condemned if somebody had come in and looked around.
Recently, I’ve moved to game board boxes and what those kind of memories are and how childish and playful they are, but for me I didn’t play those games or we didn’t have enough money to buy those games and then recently I’ve started on probably a 6 month long project where I’m going out and buying every VHS tape from my childhood that I can remember - horror films, sci-fi films, cartoons, buddy comedies all those kind of things and then each VHS box is becoming a piece, so eventually I’m going to recreate the illusion of a movie store and all of these things will be on the wooden runners along the wall and you have to take the little metal clip off the nail to say, 'Hey I want this piece." So it will be like you’re renting it, but really you’re buying it. So I'm only on 24 right now, but I have 500+ sitting in my apartment.
VBB | And you remember all those movies? All 500?
CC | I remember every single one. I mean, I used it kind of how people use books as an escapism, so for that hour and a half or 2 hours, I was somewhere else. I wasn’t living the life that I had to live everyday. So they were like my, I don’t want to say saviors that makes it sound weird, but they were my saving grace.
Just to have those moments where I could escape was priceless for me. And it just so happens that 15 layers of paper plus 14 layers of matboard equals the exact same size as a VHS tape, so I can just slide them into the box.
VBB | Between making art and teaching, you don’t really have time for much else, but do you have any other creative outlets or is this pretty all consuming?
CC | It’s pretty all consuming but my fiancé and I make time to go hiking and camping. We love to be outdoors, so as much as we can be outdoors we will. I like going to see music shows when I can, we’ve started going to the theater.
VBB | How do you feel about artists' collaborations with major brands? Would you ever consider doing that sort of collaboration?
CC | I would. I would. I think nowadays fine art’s a scary thing. A lot of people don’t go into the galleries because they feel like they’re not smart enough or they just don’t get it or they don’t have the fine arts background to understand the work and somebody’s going to look down upon them. And I think artist’s collaborating with some kind of marketing campaign or to produce some type of utilitarian object or to brand a company or something like that, I think it’s a smart move.
VBB | What role do you think art galleries play in today’s modern society? You mentioned that maybe people are a little intimidated by them. Has the role of the art gallery changed in the past 50 years?
CC | I think they’re a little more accepting now. I think they’re a necessary thing, especially if you’re a fine artist and you want to advance your career. I think there are ways to do it without getting gallery representation, but it’s a heck of a lot easier if you have the representation because they have an extensive client lists that only they have or people that they work with, they can promote your work on your behalf to clients or public projects, or collections or museum exhibitions.
You always get the question, "Why do they take 50% of your commission?" Well, they pay the rent, they pay the utilities, they make the flyers, they mail out all the flyers and all you have to do is show up and hang your work and be able to talk somewhat intelligently about it. They provide the opportunity and the staff to make that stuff happen, so it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship,
I don’t want to say it’s a necessary evil because I don’t think it’s an evil thing. I think a lot of galleries have a stigma behind them that make them sound pretentious or elitist but they’re not. A lot of them are just super friendly. You've got to kind of think of it like a manager almost. If you’re a movie star [you] have agents, if you’re a musician you have a manager that has your schedule set up and all that kind of stuff and gets you the gig. All you have to do is play the music and give them a cut and that’s kind of what a gallery is. I think they’re a great place for experimentation and they’re a great place to expose new talent. It can set artists on a really great path.
VBB | You’re an established artist, you’re work has been acquired by private collections and shown in many galleries. What advice do you have for artists that are just starting out?
CC | Always keep it as professional as possible. Don’t make it personal and you know I hate to sound cliche, but work your ass off. And be somewhat smart with digital technology. I hate every minute of it, but I have a tumblr, I have a twitter, I have facebook, I have my professional email, I’m on all kind of art sites just for that possibility of an opportunity. I have an Instagram now. I didn’t have one until 2 months ago and it’s awesome. I didn’t realize how awesome it was. So you’ve got to be as business savvy as you are creative savvy. The difference between a good artist and a great artist is how well you can promote yourself and how much risk you’re willing to take. One thing I struggled with a lot was not being afraid of success when it happens, take advantage of it.
VBB | What do you mean?
I was always fearful of success because it would put me in the limelight and I was always a really shy kid growing up and even in grad school I was still super shy. It took me teaching to become less shy. Be ok with the success because the more confidence you have with it, the better you are going to be able to market yourself and to be able to sell your work to a gallery and say, "Hey - you should really take a chance at me and here’s why." And it’s not a bunch of umm and maybes or self-deprecation it’s, "I’ve done some really great things, I feel like I’m going to do some really great things in the next few years, I think this is going to be the start of it and I don’t care what kind of deadline you give me i’ll meet it."
It’s also work ethic, I hate saying that but it is. During the summer I’m on 8-10 hour days in the studio every day but the weekends. The best piece of advice I ever got was once you become that kind of emerging or established artist always have 2 exhibitions ready to go at any point in time. It’s not like you only have 12 pieces and [when someone approaches you] you say, "Oh well, I only have this." You’ve just shut down an opportunity immediately without even getting your foot in the door.
So I usually have 2 or 3 exhibitions on stand by, ready to go because there have been times where I’ve been in 5-6 shows all at one time and one might be a solo show and 4 or 5 might be a group show and another one will be a two person show and you have to have the work to be able to be in all those shows or you just shot yourself in the foot.
VBB | When you’re reaching out to galleries, what are you sending them?
CC | In the beginning, when I was reaching out to galleries, it was very straight to the point, like you don’t need to know about my dead parents, you don’t need to know about this, you don’t need to know about that, "Hi my name is blank, I’ve enjoyed your artists that you represent in your gallery for many years, here’s a link to my online portfolio, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my newest body of work all the information is on my website, if you have any additional questions" and then send it. They don’t want to know your whole personal story.
VBB | That’s interesting because I feel like that would really influence your work and makes your work more interesting, so you wouldn’t tell them that up front?
CC | No, not up front because they don’t know you from Adam. It would be like walking up to a complete stranger and saying, "Hi my name is Charles, did you know my parents died two years ago?" They’d be like, “Whoa this is too much."
It could be in your artist statement. All my information is in my statement or it’s on my website, but you don’t want to come on too strong. I look at it kind of like a date, you don’t want to come on too strong in the beginning because you don’t want to scare them away, but you also want to entice them so you want to put your best foot forward.
You also want to look at their submission policy, if they’re not taking blind submissions, don’t submit. Follow their protocol because that shows that you’ve researched that site and you’re not just blanket emailing everybody. You’re going to know the work that they show so if you're an abstract painter and you just submitted work to a figure painting gallery, well of course you’re not going to get in. And then that’s going to put a damper on your confidence level and then you're going to think, “Oh god i’m terrible." No, you just submitted to the wrong gallery. You didn’t do your research.
VBB | Do most galleries categorize themselves that way?
CC | No, but the staple artists can give it away on what type of work they show. A lot of west coast galleries show a lot of street artists or pop surrealism or some kind of reference to pop culture or graffiti or something like that. A lot of east coast galleries are a little bit more into abstraction, modernism to some extent. It just depends on the gallery. And you have to click through all the artists to find that common thread.
So it’s all about the research. You’ve really got to do your research just like with anything else to prepare yourself for success. I haven’t submitted to a gallery in a little while only because I’ve been lucky enough to have representation, but even that can be very tumultuous at times. You still have to keep as professional as possible.
VBB | How do you maintain those relationships with galleries?
CC | You make sure you go to their openings if you’re in a location that’s close to them, you stay in close contact with them and you let them know if your work is changing. You always email them to say, “Hey, here’s some new work." Just a nice cordial professional relationship. You don’t want to overexpose yourself and show at the same place 5 times in one year, but generally with most galleries every two years you’ll have a solo show and then there will be intermittent group shows just so that they don’t saturate the market with your work because then the interest in your work can go straight down. It’s an interesting dance. It can be stressful sometimes.
VBB | How do feel about your collectors? Have you ever met with any of them at the galleries?
CC | I’ve met with some at the galleries. I’ve thanked some in person for purchasing a work that was in a solo show or a group show. I have a couple of really great collectors in North Carolina that have a ton of my work and I keep a constant relationship with them that’s a very friendly, cordial kind of relationship. I think I’ve only had one sour collector relationship and it happened really early on when I was in grad school. I can’t even remember his name, but it was almost like, “I’ve discovered you” kind of thing.
VBB | Like you owed him something?
CC | Yea a little bit. I ended that one pretty quick.
VBB | How do you do that? Just say, "No, you can’t buy anymore"?
CC | Or “Unfortunately, I’m going a different direction" or "I’m going to go ahead and end this relationship." You do it in a very polite, non confrontational, non bridge burning way. It’s only hapened once and it was really young in my career. I didn’t know how to deal with it either. But again, I knew to stay professional because you never know where someone is going to end up or whose ear they’re going to have later on in life. Don’t take any of it personally, no matter how much you want to, never take it personally.
VBB | It seems like you’ve created a lot of work that’s very personal. Have you ever created any work that’s too personal to sell?
CC | No. I use it mostly as a process. It’s the thing that drives the work and whether the viewer gets that or not, it’s not a big deal. I can talk about it on 50 different levels. If you want to know the back story, if you want to know the personal stuff, we can talk about it all day long, but if you just want to talk about how pretty it is, that’s fine too. For me, it’s the thing that drives the work. It’s the impetus behind the work and it’s not super important that you get it just from the visual. I’m such a workaholic that once a piece is done, I’m just moving on to the next thing. It’s a compulsion now. I get down if I’m not working.
VBB | I feel like a lot of artists or creative people feel that way like, “I don’t know why I have to make this thing, but I do.”
CC | Yea, it’s just a weird thing, but I enjoy every minute of it and it never really feels like work.
VBB | What have been the most pivotal moments in your career?
CC | I think there are three or four. There was the moment that I decided to take the leap into grad school. I didn't care how much I was going to go into debt. That opened up a lot of doors when I was in grad school and then because I worked so hard in grad school, I got my New York residency for 3 months. Through that residency I got to work for Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn. Then I got to be an assistant to Joe Amrhein who owns Pierogi and he’s an artist as well so I got to be his assistant helping him paint his paintings, so that opened up all kinds of doors.
Then I got to work Miami basel for several years and it’s forged a really good friendship and relationship with that gallery and I'm not represented by them, it’s not anything like that, it’s just a really great place and a good example of how a gallery should be run.
Then, my solo show that I had at the Rymer in 2010 was a really pivotal moment for me as a Nashville artist because I had some really large scale installations, some of the biggest I've done. And the biggest installation in that got modified and is now in the Music City Center in Nashville as a permanent piece.
And when my parents passed, that took the work in a completely different direction. It took the work in a direction I don’t think it would have gone had that not happened and it was a terrible time, but the work that I’m making now which I’m really excited about would not have happened without that and it caused me to do a revaluation of my life, of who I was, who was important to me.
And then you know when I met my fiancé I think that was another pivotal moment because I think she’s a good balance of me. She’s super organized, she’s very very professional and business-like and she helps me a lot with that stuff. She’s super super supportive and is a good driving force to keep me going when I get down about stuff.
And teaching! My students keep pushing me forward. Because the better I am, the better they’ll be, so it’s this kind of nice push and pull between the two of us.
VBB | You mentioned in your last answer, an important moment in your Nashville artist career. You’ve been an artist in Savannah, NYC and other places. What do you think is uniquely special about being an artist in Nashville. Is there anything special about being a Nashville artist?
CC | I think there is. I think we’re at this precipice of exploding as a great kind of art hub and there are really great galleries, there are fantastic artists. I would put Nashville artists up there with NY artists any day of the week. I think we have a good collector base here, they just need to realize how great Nashville artists are. I think that the artist community in Nashville is growing, especially out near Zeitgeist and David Lusk and some of the pop up galleries that are in that area. I think that’s going to be a really great place for galleries to be.
The Avenue of the Arts on 5th is pretty fantastic and has some great innovative shows. Not just pretty things, but pretty great installations, sculptural things, immersive exhibitions and a lot of people are starting to notice that. At art crawl you’ll have 1k or more people come out just cramming the streets and it becomes an event as it should be. The arts have been big in Nashville for a while, but I think people are starting to recognize it now and I think there’s going to be a pretty great explosion of it and people are starting to notice what Nashville artists have to offer.
*All images used in this post were used with permission from the artist
Nashville is not widely known for its fashion scene although that's changing with the help of designers like Elizabeth Pape who presented a preview show hosted by stylist Elise Joseph (aka Pennyweight) Thursday night at the Tinney Contemporary gallery downtown.
I've never been to a fashion show, but the idea of two well-crafted, local brands combining forces to put on an intimate event like this at one of my favorite galleries was intriguing to me, so I bought a ticket out of curiosity.
We arrived at the gallery in the middle of the cocktail hour about 30 minutes before the show started. The cozy space was already filling up with people and it was a welcome respite from the chilly autumn night. The lights were dim except for the spotlights pointed at each of the paintings that lined the walls. Seven white cubes sat in front of the paintings, a few feet of space between each one. My friend and I spent a minute deciding whether or not the coat rack by the door that was filled with gorgeous outerwear was a DIY coat check or part of the show. We eventually added our coats to the collection and walked around the room analyzing the art as well as the crowd. We agreed that the best painting was (unfortunately) hidden behind the clothing rack but the best looking attendee is still up for debate because each guest was so stunning.
Details like the club music, the clipboard lady at the door and the interesting conversation all around us worked together to help set the mood. I waited in line for a drink behind several impossibly fashionable women and when it was finally my turn, I was delighted to find that the first drink listed on the menu was called “Spirit Quest”. Yes, please.
As I sipped my tart, blush colored drink, the lights got even lower and the guests were shooed away from the white blocks. Elizabeth and Elise stood in the corner and quietly shouted for everyone’s attention. After a minute, everyone noticed what was happening and looked toward them. Both youthful and beautiful, they thanked us for coming. We were appreciated they said. And then they joined us in the crowd.
The models came out one by one, each stopping for a brief moment before ascending their cubes. The models were gorgeous, tall and impeccably styled. Their hair and makeup complemented the minimal clothing perfectly. If you were wondering how to pull off wide, velvet pants or a wool crop top, these models showed you how. I tried to imagine myself in clothing with such generous cuts of fabric and I can only assume I would look like a frumpy cow. If you are tall and thin, every piece will hang beautifully, but us normals will need to employ a little creativity to make some of these pieces work for us. Even though a few pieces might be hard for the regular gal to pull off, most of the collection is very versatile and universally flattering. The neutral colors and high quality materials make these pieces utilitarian wardrobe essentials and I appreciate the expert blending of form and function.
After a few brief moments, all of the models were perched on their dimly lit stands and that was that. The selfies resumed and people went back for more ‘Spirit Quests’. Some people continued to shop and some particularly brave people touched the clothes hanging on the models who smiled and welcomed the interaction. I, on the other hand, was out of things to do. I’d touched the fabric, I’d looked at the art, and I’d had a fancy drink.
I had assumed that there would be more of a presentation, that someone would tell me a story about each piece the model was wearing. I craved more details- What was the creative process? What were the influences? Who were these pieces designed for? I had anticipated an intimate evening from which I would leave knowing much more about the brand and feeling connected to it in some way, but I left knowing no more than I did when I arrived. The evening was beautiful and well-curated like both Elizabeth and Elise’s online brands, however, the translation into real space felt incomplete. Much like the clothing, the night felt overall, very minimal.
Grace Eunmi Lee, born and raised in Seoul, Korea, is a ceramist who has been working with clay for 11 years and now lives in Ontario. Her work reflects her interest in the mundane parts of life that are unnoticed and seemingly insignificant. Large scale installations such as her 2012 work titled "Dust", are made up of minute ceramic creatures which represent the microscopic particles that comprise ordinary, ubiquitous dust.
In addition to her installations, Grace also has a collection of small, ceramic pieces available in the excellently curated, online shop SuiteHazen and will be displaying 4 of her espresso cups in an upcoming show in Seattle.
I'm very excited to share Grace's interview with you and hope you enjoy discovering her wonderful talent as much as I did.
1. Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in ceramics.
I was enrolled in art classes throughout grade school and high school, but it was in my undergraduate studies in university when I first encountered ceramics. My major in my undergraduate studies was Craft Design. I then went on to study ceramics further in graduate school.
2. Do you remember the first time you ever worked with clay? Did you know immediately that it was the medium you wanted to concentrate on working with?
I started in ceramic as a student in my university. I remember how I enjoyed my first ceramic class. I made a lot of dishes and cups.
I didn't know immediately that clay would be my medium of choice because I didn't want to limited myself to a particular medium as an artist. But as I created more and more out of clay I realized that it was the medium that I connected with the best.
3. What’s next for you and your work? Will you continue exploring microorganisms with your creatures or will you explore something else entirely?
I want to continue to develop as an installation artist. I hope to have an opportunity to have projects that would result in permanent installations. I don't see me changing my theme/concept in the near future. I still have many ideas I want to explore.
4. You’ve had exhibitions in South Korea, China and Canada. Do you have any upcoming shows in the United States?
I have an upcoming show in Seattle. It's a small cup show with international ceramic artist. I will exhibit 4 of my espresso cups.
Seward Park Clay Studio and KOBO Gallery Simple Cup 2014
Showcasing ceramic artists from North America and Japan
Opening event: Saturday, November 1, 2014
5. What’s the best part of being an artist in Ontario?
I love the diversity in Toronto. I find the diversity helps inspire new ideas and shapes. It also allows me the privilege of sharing my art with all kinds of different audiences. It gives me the opportunity to get a good mix of feedback from different perspectives.
6. You’ve said before that you’re interested in microorganisms and that the creatures you create and use to comprise your larger compositions represent the small particles of life that are often overlooked. Do you draw inspiration from things other than the overlooked particles of life?
I get inspiration from everything around me. Whether is something I see, hear, touch, taste, or feel, it can become an inspiration.
7. How many individual creatures would you say you’ve created (approximately) in your 11 years as a ceramist?
It's hard to say as I haven't really kept count, but I'd guess over 15,000 pieces.
8. What other contemporary artists do you admire?
9. Who (if anyone) has had the greatest impact on your career as an artist? (It could be someone who inspired you to pursue art, someone who helped you with your first show, etc.)
Melanie Egan (Head of Craft at Harbourfront Centre) and Patrick Macaulay (Head, Visual Arts at Harbourfront Centre) have had the biggest impact on my professional career as an artist. They were the first people to recognize my talents and give me the opportunity start my career as an artist in Canada. It's through the artist in residence program at the Harbourfront Centre that I started to blossom as a professional artist. They taught me a lot during the past three years, and it's because of my experience at the Harbourfront Centre that I am where I am now.
10. Do you have ambitions outside of being an artist? A lot of people have recreational time that is separate from their work, but for creatives, that line between work and play seems to get blurred. Is creating what you do for fun or do you also have a passion for say, cooking or horseback riding?
I like craft in general, so I like to participate in activities that allow me to exercise my creativity. That can be cooking, knitting, or anything really.
11. Can you tell us more about your new line with SuiteHazen? What led to this collaboration and can we expect more product lines like this from you in the future?
I wouldn't say it's a collaboration, but certainly a great partnership. Working with SuiteHazen has provided me with a great outlet to reach out to the European market with someone who has a strong background in marketing. I hope that we can share in each other's success and help each other succeed further.
*Images via the artist's website and SuiteHazen