March 29th, 2014
If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
March 13th, 2014

Hecho en Cuba

I spent last week learning printmaking in Havana with SVA!  I had never attempted printmaking before, and here are my results - the chair is a woodcut print and the abstract piece is a two color lithography.  I’m trilled with the results of my first attempts.

February 16th, 2014

I took an intensive drawing class this week.  I will write more about the experience soon, but the dramatic before and after photos of my first self-portrait on Monday, and my second attempt on Friday speak for themselves!

February 9th, 2014

Photos from my artist date…and my result of playing with kerning and images afterward :)

February 8th, 2014

Elle Luna’s work and life choices are incredibly inspiring to me.  Get a glimpse of her outlook in her Designers + Geeks talk, Finding Your Must.

February 7th, 2014

Learned This Week - 2.7.14

Aspiring Social Entrepreneur? Download the Good Guides
The Good Guides are a (forthcoming) collection of advice for social entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their ideas or need advice on specific areas (legal, operations and strategy guides forthcoming).

The Art of Prioritizing Projects via Tracking Wonder
As a student, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the opportunities available to me, which is wonderful but also tiring.  In the process of planning out my summer, I was sent this article about how to differentiate between various possibilities.  I found the framework presented especially helpful, since I come across a lot of “Hell Yes!” opportunities (or opportunities that seem like a hell yes from far away).

Creative Junk Food and the Quest for Deliciousness
I’m so inspired by Elle Luna.  Here interview on the Great Discontent is lovely.  In this blog post, she writes about how to discern what sort of creative fuel you really need.

52 New Year’s Resolutions from Design Instruct
It’s February, so the whole hoopla over resolutions is past.  But these particular “resolutions” from Design Instruct read more like rules for living or the start to a great adventure.

How to Get Noticed by Alexandra Franzen
If everyone else is emailing … don’t email.
If everyone else is cold-calling … don’t call.
If everyone else is doing purple this season … bring back neon green.
Be strategically contrarian.

How can you not adore that advice?  

February 3rd, 2014

A Short Biography of a Young Artist

Age 3
I’m sure it happened long before I consciously remember, but the “shop” in our basement is my favorite place to spend time.  We call it the shop, because it’s where my dad does his stained glass, and it’s where he’s set up a desk for me to splatter finger paint and dump glitter, but to anyone outside the family, it’s our furnace room.

Age 4
The shop has an old jukebox and a metal card catalog from an old library.  The metal drawers hold pipe cleaners, pom poms and paint brushes.

I work alongside my dad.

Age 5
I’m scared and excited to go to kindergarten. I make my parents walk me to school a week before it starts to make sure I’m not missing anything.  I don’t want to be late.

When I get to school, I am always rushing. I can never finish my paintings on time.  I am the one who is late this time.  

We have to draw what we want to be when we grow up. I say I’m going to be a painter and sell my paintings for $100 each, the largest amount of money I can imagine.

My parents buy my sister and I a huge chalkboard for our basement. We play school and doodle.  Our dad paints the boarder of the chalkboard pink after asking us what color it should be.

I make a 3-D box collage out of an old cigar box for an art contest at school.  My mom tells me that I can’t win a prize for my work because they don’t allow 3-D projects, and asks me if I want to submit something else.  I tell her no, because its the art I am most proud of.  I get a certificate of participation for entering.

Age 6
First grade is torture.  I have a teacher who makes us do the same set of worksheets everyday.  The only thing that changes is the number and the letter on the worksheet and where we have to cut and paste the answers.  One day I cut my Brownie uniform while mindlessly cutting the worksheet.  I stare out the window longing for the playground.

I have to go to a special class because my teacher thinks I have a problem reading and drawing.  My spelling is really bad and I don’t understand phonics.  Turns out I don’t learn well from worksheets and I’m left handed. 

Age 7
Second grade is heaven.  Practically all we do is arts and crafts.  My mom is worried that I don’t know how to tell time.

We have a “make and hang night” where our parents come to school and we all make and hang up giant dinosaurs around our classroom.  I choose a t-rex because I think it’s the best dinosaur.  My dad makes a little square book and writes “Thesaurus” on it and hangs it up next to my t-rex.  I don’t really get it, I am a little embarrassed, but I think my dad is awesome.

Age 10
We have a substitute art teacher for the day.  He has red hair growing out of his ears, is morbidly obese and smells like body odor.  He’s also in a terrible mood.  We are supposed to learn about complimentary colors and paint them in a pattern.  He makes us replicate the art project exactly as the teacher has made it - with orange, brown and white paint.  I would rather do anything than be in a room with this man.

Age 13
We have a mandatory art class in middle school for a trimester, but I’m excited about it.  I make a sculpture in the “shop” for an assignment.  It’s so big that it’s a bit awkward to carry on the bus.  My teacher doesn’t really seem to care about the work I put into it.  I’m disappointed.

Age 14
I’m selected to take honors courses in high school.  I’m not told directly, but it’s inferred that if I want to get into a selective college (which I do), there isn’t time for art in my schedule.  And I’m college bound, so I don’t take art classes.

Age 17
I have to take one fine arts class and one performing arts class to graduate from high school.  I choose ceramics because it sounds fun and one of my cross country coaches is the teacher.  I’m worried about the grade I’lm going to get at the end of the semester.

Age 18
Second semester senior year my schedule eases up a bit.  I take jewelry class as an elective with my friend Meghan.  I have more fun, probably because I care less about the grade I’m going to get.  I’m already the Vice President of the National Honor Society and I’ve accepted a full-scholarship to college.

Age 19
As a freshman, I take pottery again, this time for college credit.  Once again I’m worried about the grade I’m going to get, because the teacher is incredibly intimidating.  

Age 20
Study abroad fuels my need to document and create as I roam between three different continents.  I quickly realize that my photos and training can’t express what I’m experiencing.  I decide to learn photography.

I convince the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies that I should be a photography student in their program, even though I was accepted into the writing program.  I don’t have a portfolio, but I do have an internship lined up at National Geographic. 

For three months, I roam the halls of National Geographic.  My brain is on fire.  I walk the streets of DC by myself just to take pictures.

Age 21
Salt lets me spend the next five months figuring out how to turn a bunch of images in to a narrative.  My dad lends me his old camera.  I learn how to navigate a darkroom and develop my own film.  I go through my first critique and experience my first show.

I add photography as a minor.  It’s not officially a program of study, but I make a well justified case.

Age 23
I graduate and move to Southeast Asia, and once again a new landscape has me documenting everywhere I go.

I arrange a photo editing internship with Time Magazine.  It’s the internship that keeps almost happening until it doesn’t.  I can’t get the right visa to make it official.

I stick to street and travel photography.

Age 24
I get my first “real job,” but I’m bored after work.  Instead of making time for art.  I make more work.  I start freelancing and start a business “on the side.”  I start to burn out.

Age 26
After a sabbatical, I move to Kabul.  It’s the most creative job I’ve had, and it still doesn’t feel creative enough.

I’m too afraid to take photos, especially at first.  I’m not sure what’s OK and what’s not.  I stick out with a camera around my neck, so I usually leave it at home.

I journal myself through the ups and downs.

Age 27
My MFA program application is due the day of my dad’s funeral.  I send it to a friend to edit and submit for me.  I can’t even think straight.

My stepmom finds my dad’s old camera and gives it to me.  We both cry.

Age 28
I rearrange my life to live in NYC.  I got accepted to grad design school.

My MFA cohort has a special opportunity to work with a renowned sculptor to put on a show our second semester.  We each get a table and chairs from Ikea and are challenged to make a statement about food through our work.  

It’s a year to the day that my dad has died.  I’m working on my sculpture and it’s taking forever to finish.  I’m pissed off that no one from my family has called me.

It dawns on me that I’m in my new version of the “shop.”  It may be in NYC, but I’m in a basement creating art.  I’m exactly where my dad would want me to be.  I cry the entire way home.

January 29th, 2014

Do you know what’s wrong with you’re morning makeup routine?  Watch our video and visit to find out more! 

January 26th, 2014

Just Enough to Be Dangerous

In a recent graduate seminar, our instructor was trying to get a baseline of talents and skills in the room.  He asked about design, since it’s an MFA program after all, and moved on to the programming languages we knew.  He admitted that he wasn’t an expert coder, but he knew “just enough to be dangerous.”  

That phrase immediately distracted me in the best possible way.  What skills do I need to learn to the point where I’m just a bit dangerous?

Here’s my short list:

  • SolidWorks (product design)
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Digital Fabrication + Grasshopper
  • HTML + CSS (beyond the basics I already know)
  • Interaction Design
  • Ethnography

And here are a few skills that make me already a bit dangerous:

  • I know how the media works, so I’m comfortable in it’s landscape, whether it’s writing op-eds, creating scripts for TV or speaking on camera
  • I’m a good listener
  • I’m not afraid to talk to strangers
  • Time management and prioritizing help me GTD
  • I’m a systems thinker
  • I have a good technological literacy
  • I’m a natural connector of people, ideas and possibilities

I would love to know…what do you want to learn to be just a bit more dangerous?

"The most interesting things happen when you get off the predictable path, when you challenge assumptions, and when you give yourself permission to see the world as opportunity rich and full of possibility."
-- Tina Seelig