Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Featured Flickr Group: Mid-Century, Modern Interiors

I'm not sure when my love affair with mid twentieth century interiors began. Could it have been when I first embraced the retro styles of late 90's fashion? When I took an art history class at U of C called "Art of the 1960's?" Or when I took a history class that focused on the events that happened between 1945-1970? Whatever the case, I find myself quite enamored of the design aesthetics of the era. So much so that I am a regular reader of Atomic Ranch magazine. And if I couldn't build my dream house, I'd be happy to live in an atomic ranch of my own.

The rooms in the Mid-Century, Modern Interiors group would fit right in:

Furnishings and interiors — both mid-century modern and current designs inspired by the clean mid-century aesthetic.

Particularly interested in your images of rooms featuring pieces by Bertoia, Braakman, Deam, Eames, Ekselius, Heywood-Wakefield, Jacobsen, Juhl, Kagen, Kjaerholm, Knoll, Loewy, McCobb, Noguchi, Nelson, Paulin, Pucci, Risom, Saarinen, Schultz, Van der Rohe, Vignelli, Vodder, Wegner, Wormley, etc.

See more at:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

looking forward to NeoCon this year

I had never even heard of NeoCon before I started at Harrington in 2004. Attending it was mandatory when I was a student, and even after graduation, I still consider it a must-see event. There are so many innovative designs to see and experience in person. And of course it is a great place to collect free memo samples and gorgeous shelter magazines. Here are a few things that caught my eye on Contract's Best of NeoCon preview page.

This chair of many colors has been upholstered with custom dyed leather. Now you can get a chair in any Pantone color you'd like, courtesy of Digital Leather.
I sometimes wonder if I'd like to install rubber flooring in my kitchen someday because it is "Tiffany-proof." No more broken dishes with these Mannington Audio Spectra tiles.
It's nice to see some cork flooring with some personality. I like the patterns that Expanko Cork Company has created on these hand crafted Italian veneers.

I love the chic simplicity of the Zola collection from Krug.
I could see this bright and playful Jaks seating from Allermuir in a variety of settings. Maybe in a store or even a school.

I am also looking forward to hearing one of the keynote speakers, Daniel Pink, who really inspired me with his incredible book, A Whole New Mind. Can you believe he said that the M.F.A. is the new M.B.A.? What a revolutionary idea. NeoCon always has dynamic speakers. I missed seeing one of my favorite designers, Karim Rashid, when he was there, but I did see Rem Koolhaus when he gave his keynote address to students. One thing is certain: NeoCon has never disappointed me.

NeoCon will be held at the Merchandise Mart from June 15-17. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Widget Wednesday: Picsviewr

One of the great challenges of building an online presence for your art is developing an attractive user interface in which to display it. You want something that looks nice but won't take forever to load. Something that will enhance and not compete with your photos. And maybe you're like me and don't know how to build such an interface from scratch. Well, that's where a site like Picsviewr is useful.

The site is very web 2.0. All you need is a Flickr account. To get started, you need only enter your user name, and Picsviewr does the rest. There are several styles to choose from. I like this red damask wallpaper for my presentation board photos.

And the slide interface is very stylish for my photography portfolio.

To try Pics Viewr for yourself, visit their site at

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Rainbow Connection: Olafur Eliasson at the MCA

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see Olafur Eliasson's new exhibit, Take Your Time. Because I love color, I was thrilled to see Eliasson's site-specific painting created just for the MCA lobby. It's a spectrum of color bars, individual canvases that have been aligned to represent "the 300 nanometers of the color spectrum that can be seen by the human eye." Each color transitions seamlessly into the next. The piece invites you into an enchanted wonderland of color.

These are my favorites from the show:
Above, One-way colour tunnel
Below, Colour space embracer
Bottom, 360° room for all colours

This is the kind of installation that you need to see in person to appreciate because it is an experience of color and light. The show continues until September 13th.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

presentation boards made easy

This will be the first in an occasional series I'm writing, Saturday Solutions.

One of the skills I had to master in design school was creating presentation boards. Being neat and meticulous have never been my strongest suits. I was never especially good at creating perfectly straight, perfectly aligned things. And this made presentation boards especially challenging for me. In my brief teaching career I realized that the things that were the most difficult to learn are the things that are the easiest to teach. And that's because rather than grasping them instantly and intuitively, I had to work through them and think through every step. And that was how I learned how to set up my boards.

First of all, I recommend using a large T-square. Use it to line up all the items you will be displaying on your board.

Once you set everything up, take a picture with a digital camera, camera phone, or Polaroid if you have one. This way you will be able to put everything back exactly where you had it before once you apply adhesives to your items.



Speaking of adhesives, I recommend using non-toxic ones. Not only is it better for the environment as a whole, but it is also better for your immediate environment. Indoor air quality is important. A lot of times we artists do not consider our health when creating artwork with hazardous materials, but we should. My first class at design school required creating a mosaic using confetti-sized pieces of Color-Aid paper. We were instructed to use rubber cement. Every time I sat down to work on the mosaic, I got terrible headaches and couldn't concentrate. I had a very hard time finishing the assignment because it was literally making me sick! Eventually I realized the rubber cement was to blame and switched to glue sticks.

But of course, glue sticks can't be used for every item on your presentation board, and that spray adhesive can cause serious health problems if you use it for long periods of time without adequate ventilation. In my case, not having a patio or balcony I can work from at home means I will never have the kind of ventilation needed for adhesives that produce fumes and vapors. But if you use Mod Podge or Elmer's, things can get pretty messy and your papers will wrinkle and warp. So what's a designer to do?

Here are my favorite solutions.

Double-stick tape can be used on lightweight items like fabric, and paper. I recommend printing whatever text you need for your board on cardstock paper, at least 60 pounds. Use the archival tape (often found in the scrapbooking section of art and craft supply stores) to ensure that your boards will stand the test of time for your portfolio.

Mounting tape is great for things like wallpapers, upholstery fabric, vinyl and linoleum tiles, and wood veneers. Another advantage is that because it is made of foam it gives your samples some dimension.
Industrial strength Velcro works wonders with wood, stone, ceramic tile, carpet, and Corian. And a bonus of using Velcro is that you can re-use your samples with other projects. As you see, this dark brown wood flooring worked in both of the projects below.



And all I have to do is pull it of one board and put it on the other one. Because let's face it, nice samples of wood, stone, tile, and counter surfacing materials can sometimes be hard to come by, especially when you are still in school.

Speaking of that, if you ever end up in a situation where all you can get is a photo of your product, print it on photo paper. Do it yourself or have your local photo lab do it for you. The samples for this board were printed at Walgreen's as wallet-sized photos, and cost me less than $5.00. The glossy finish and the sturdy photo paper they were printed on made it all worthwhile.

So now you have a way to affix all your product samples to the boards without exposing yourself to nasty VOCs. But what about labels? Unless your instructor has specifically told you to hand-letter everything, why not go digital? You can use a hand-held label maker or printable labels on a computer to create neat, consistent labels for your board. (And you can spell-check them, too.)

Finally, if you really want to make a beautiful board, remember that you don't have to do everything yourself. For the board below, I wanted my final rendering to really stand out. I had spent a lot of time on it and didn't want to just stick it on my board with some mounting tape. So I burned it to a CD and took it to Staples to have them professionally mount and laminate it for me. And for about $7.00, it was definitely worth it:


So, just to review, a list of materials you might want to try using for your next presentation board:

  • large T-square
  • digital camera
  • archival double-stick tape
  • cardstock printer paper
  • mounting tape
  • industrial strength Velcro
  • label maker or printable labels

And services:
  • photo printing (for pictures of furniture, fixtures, and unavailable samples)
  • professional mounting and laminating (for plans and renderings)

I hope these tips will help save you time while preserving your health and your sanity and helping you create a board that will get you a good grade if you're in school, or impress your clients!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Featured Flickr Group: I Drew This At Work

About I Drew This At Work

A showcase for art, created while being paid to do something else. Often done in secret with basic materials like sharpies, bic pens and highlighters. Drawing on the job. Doodling. Drawing during meetings. Any drawing done while you should be doing something else.

Some of you may know about the addiction I have battled all my life, an addiction to doodling. I cannot stop drawing when I have any sort of writing instrument in my hand. It's an urge that just takes over. It began when I was in kindergarten, and I never really grew out of it. Since Flickr is a site where like-minded people can get together, it didn't take me long to find a group of people who share the same compulsion to draw. And so they formed a group called I Drew This At Work. Not that I know anything about that anymore. It's just one more reason why I use a laptop to take notes at work instead of a pencil and paper.

I think you'll be pretty impressed with what all these artists were able to accomplish while getting paid to do something else:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The tourists

The Magnificent Mile attracts visitors from all over the Midwest.

tourists 00

Some arrive on tour buses.

tourists 03

Some seem bewildered.

tourists 02

It can be hard to figure out how to get around.

Until they catch a cab or bus, they can admire the architecture.

This sculpture, "God Bless America" is by artist J. Seward Johnson and can be found on Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River.

The Art Institute's new Modern Wing : gotta love that new gallery smell

Today I made a long-awaited pilgrimage to a great new sanctuary of contemporary art, The Art Institute's new Modern Wing. I approached it from Millennium Park, crossing the Nichols Bridgeway. With its wide, flat cantilevered roof and shimmering curtain wall, the new addition fits in perfectly with the park's Frank Gehry band shell.

At the end of the bridge I arrived at a beautiful new restaurant with an outdoor terrace. They have Knoll Bertoia chairs, my most favorite modern dining chair.

There is another terrace downstairs.

Here are a few more views of the exterior of the museum.

The galleries display the Art Institute's impressive collection of modern art. Finally the modern collection has the space that it deserves. All my old favorites were there, as well as new pieces, too. Warhol, Lichtenstein, Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Matta... The list goes on and on. They also expanded the education department and there were beautifully sunlit classrooms where children can create artwork of their own.

But don't just take my word for it. Go and see for yourself! The museum will be free every day this week until Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Widget Wednesday: The Hero Factory

Have you ever needed a good avatar but didn't feel like making it yourself? Or have you ever wondered what kind of superhero you could be? Then you need to visit The Hero Factory.

Behold The Intimidating One Eyed Nine Tails, a radioactive butterfly woman with a light saber whip! And an eye patch. Super-herorine or super-villainess? I haven't decided yet. But with so many options to choose from, including color, hairstyle, accessory, and of course superpower, it sure was fun to come up with.

Monday, May 11, 2009

my first time in the Etsy Treasury!

Look in the bottom right corner and you'll see that The Binge, one of my photos from The Doll Project, was just selected for the Etsy Treasury. The title of the treasury I'm featured in is "Helloooo Dollface: A Subtle Homage to Barbie," though like The Doll Project, most of the pieces are anything but subtle. For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, the Treasury is an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery of handpicked items. So it's great free advertising! I hope it will translate into sales so my camera can start paying for itself...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Featured Flickr Group: Glitch Art

While taking a contemporary art class in design school, I created a series called Happy Accidents. The idea was creating art unintentionally, using things like palettes or dried up tubes of paint. What the contributors to Glitch Art are doing is the digital version of this:

The train of 1s and 0s has derailed and you're left with something that originates out of the resulting chaos.

Glitch is a short-lived fault or malfunction in a system. Whenever camera lenses erroneously save the data of what they see to it's recording device or whenever the binary code of an image file gets corrupted (intentionally or accidentally), the final result is a faulty image, which we call Glitch.

Please only post images that have had authentic digital glitching through computer or digi-cam error. This includes databent images (eg. inserting randomness with a hex editor).

Please DO NOT post images that have only been manipulated in image editing software (unless it's the software that has failed and glitched the data) or abstract images made up of authentic light - these will be removed from the group.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My First Diet - One Pound

Mia gained one pound.

It might as well be 100 pounds.
mia - feeling fat  - bad news scale 7

mia - feeling fat 10

She feels fat.
mia - feeling fat 7

mia - feeling fat 8

mia - feeling fat 9

Now when she looks in the mirror she doesn't recognize herself.

Ana gained one pound.
ana - 1 pound

It might as well be 100 pounds.
ana - feeling fat - bad news scale

Now she'll be too fat for her swimsuit.
ana- feeling fat - comparisons 5

She can't go to the beach with her friends looking like this.
ana- feeling fat - comparisons 2

She'll be huge compared to them.
ana- feeling fat - comparisons - tummies 4

They're going to talk about her behind her back.
ana- feeling fat - rumors

They're all going to laugh at her.
ana- feeling fat - rumors 3

I've been holding on to these pictures from The Doll Project for a while. I wanted to save them for today, which is International No Diet Day.

Related Links:
Poem- "The Vanishing Point"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Artistic Vengeance

I have smothered my grievances and buried them beneath an inactive volcano, but eventually, with time and tension, they will come out in a fiery eruption.
--taken from my Fall 2007 morning pages

In 2007, while taking a creativity class and doing the exercises in The Artist's Way, I found myself writing the best piece of creative non-fiction I'd written in a long time. It is the kind of writing that I was supposed to be doing when I was in my fiction MFA program, but could not bring myself to do. It is the kind of writing that is honest and raw and revelatory, the kind that leaves the writer feeling exposed. And I feared exposure. So for almost 2 years I sat on it because I was too afraid of the bridges I'd burn if I ever publish it. What would people think of me if they knew how I truly felt? I had tried so hard to hide it, and had a lot of them fooled, I'm sure. But I am realizing more and more that I do not want to go on living with all this hidden anger. That critique I wrote about on here was the first time I can remember ever challenging a critic, and I felt a lot better after I did. So why not post my story?

I had taken all that pain, all that frustration, all that humiliation caused by the management of a certain evil furniture store I used to work for and created a narrative about it. The furniture store had fired me, the only Black designer in the whole store, and the only one who actually had a design degree, after less than 2 months for no good reason. But I told no one. I was hoping they would pay me for my silence. But after waiting almost 2 years without so much as a verbal acknowledgment of what they did to me, I have decided to break my silence and tell the world how they wronged me. And on Sunday when I clicked the "publish" button and uploaded my story on my blog, it was so deliciously cathartic. It was an exhilarating act of artistic vengeance.

I have realized that a lot of my visual art is also an act of artistic vengeance. A few months after starting my work on The Doll Project, it occurred to me that I had applied to both Mattel and MGA for jobs and internships. One spring break in college, I spent the whole week applying for internships while my roommates went on a trip to Hawaii. Mattel was one of the companies that said, when I called later to follow up, that they get so many resumes that they couldn't possibly know where mine was but if they were interested, they'd call me. Of course, they never called.

Take that, Mattel!

I was also interested in advertising. But no one would ever give me a chance to work in that field, no matter how many internships I applied for. Same for film. Same for television. So I think my current interest in deconstructing the messages of the media comes from a desire to strike back at the fields that would never let me join them.


Likewise Recessionism is also born of frustration. How long must I and others like me remain underemployed in a job market that has completely failed us? How will anyone be able to retire? What's the point of saving? What's the point of investing? What's the point of money? Why do we give it so much power? Why don't I have more of it?

uncle sam wants you to spend this cash - detail

My frustration with working in retail for all those years is probably the inspiration for Post-Consumerism, which is what I am planning to call my series of works made with cardboard and shopping bags, 2 things that constantly surrounded me when I labored in the various circles of retail hell. I get to tear up the boxes and melt the shopping bags with a hot iron, and it gives me an incredible sense of release.

Adaptive Reuse 2

I never set out to get revenge on anyone. But I am realizing more and more that my art is often an expression of my own subconscious anger. It is made like pearls and diamonds are made, from irritation, from years and years of pressure. I like being able to take all the ugly things that are bothering me and make something beautiful out of them.

I know I am in good company. A lot of other artists have done it in the past and other artists are still doing it now. So for my readers out there who are also artists, tell me, what have been your acts of artistic vengeance?
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