My Mom's parting note to my sister and me really struck a chord with you guys. It's inspiring to be told to Try something magical, isn't it? I plan to make good on her wish for us. Over the next year I am going to photograph and write about magical things we can try in our lives. You can follow along, or join in on Twitter with the hashtag #trysomethingmagical.Read More
A few months ago I was inspired to photograph objects that are considered fragile. As I was working on the shots, I remembered that Neil Gaiman published a collection of short stories called Fragile Things. It was a book I didn't remember reading, so I picked it up from the library and I found that I was familiar with many of the stories from other sources. There are some good ones in there. Some of them are creepy, but still so good. Gaiman is such an amazing story teller.
I came across so many great quotes that I decided to hand letter the ones that were specifically related to fragile things and overlay the illustrated text onto the images. This is the first image of a three part series and I'll post the next two separately in the following weeks.
From the story Strange Little Girls:
She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon.
You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.
From the story Instructions:
Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
I've really enjoyed working on this project and it's given me new insights into fragile things. I love these sentiments about identity and trust. You need focus and passion. You need to trust dreams, hearts and stories. It's about knowing and trusting yourself. And above all, do not lose hope. Ever. What you seek will be found. For a seeker like me, that statement makes me feel so good. It assures me to just keep at it. I will get there eventually, I will find what I am looking for.
The short story Instructions, became a lovely book of it's own illustrated by Charles Vess. I bought it for my kids and this story/poem is pure magic. It's all the best advice from fairy tales. Your kid's adventures and imaginations will most surely be inspired by reading it.
What is your favorite fragile thing or fairy tale?
When I worked at Columbia University designing and managing the undergraduate websites, I learned something very important. Computer engineers and computer programmers were golden. My department was almost entirely staffed by students from the Engineering school and they all knew how to make magic with computer code.
I learned how to code in college and it was so exciting when I was able to make the computer do what I wanted it do to. I worked on my digital portfolio and was one of only two students who dragged a computer down to the portfolio reviews for my graduating class. I was hired straight out of college and my computer skills were what eventually made it possible for me to move to the States from Canada. Eventually I shifted more towards design, but my foundation in programming was vital to my understanding of how things worked.
The future will be for people in computers and while I've always encouraged my kids towards science, I think I may adjust my view point a little to make sure that it is computer science. I want my kids to not only learn how to use a computer, but also how to program one. Watch this video to see why (this is the extended version).
Inspiring, isn't it? I just finished reading Steve Jobs's biography and the same message was there, although with a slight modification. The power is not just in the computer, but in the place where the computer intersects with art and humanity. That is where the magic will happen. That is something that Aaron Koblin has figured out too.
What successful people of the future need to do is learn computer skills and then use them to make something human, to tell a story, to enrich our lives and to solve problems.
Code.org has some great tools and advice to help us learn and teach computer programming. I'm going to download some of the apps for my iPad so that the kids can start learning the basics. Maybe I will too!
Have you ever coded anything for a computer?
Sun soaked and wistful, this beautiful video short by my dear friend Regina Garcia totally made my day yesterday. It makes me yearn for summer (and youth if we are being totally honest here.)
Regina told me about filming this last summer in Canada with Goh Iromoto and I couldn't wait to see it. They didn't disappoint. I want to be that girl in the film. I love every single scene but especially the night scene by the bonfire. It's just gorgeous.
Regina and I went to college together and I have always loved her approach to photography and styling. She has always photographed beautiful strong women and her portraits of children (including my own Milo and Quinn) are fun and playful.
Keep an eye on her, I think she has even more beautiful, creative work to come.
Melanie at Inward Facing Girl is featuring my photography and studio in her Art I Heart series today and I couldn't be more flattered and honored.
I'm a very intuitive worker. I try not to plan too much and I let my mood and circumstances tell me what I should be working on. Sometimes it's just about sorting through a box of old things.
I have a list of ideas and concepts that I revisit constantly to see if anything stands out to me or feels like I have more to add to it.
Read more over at Inward Facing Girl and get a peek at the first photos of my newly organized studio! I've been working on cleaning up my space for MONTHS and it's finally starting to come together. If there is anything you would like to know about my creative process or my studio, ask questions in the comments and I would be happy to answer them! Here's one secret, while the pictures show a perfectly arranged studio, behind the camera and just out of frame is a complete disaster of everything ELSE. It's true. Remember: Nothing is perfect.
I hope everyone in the Northeast who got a perfect dumping of snow on Friday enjoyed it. We did. Here's a short video to give you a sense of what it was like on Friday while it was still snowing and a bunch of pictures from the weekend. We shoveled, went sledding, played hockey, drank hot chocolate and warmed up by the fire. I even found a snow heart at the end of the day.
I love how the light changes so much from Friday to Saturday and as the sun goes down. I'm also so happy that we have amazing neighbors that carve tracks out for sledding and shovel the snow off the lake for skating. We are very lucky to live where we do.
Did you get hit with the storm? Do you love winter?
I am one lucky girl. I have the most incredible friends. The gorgeous picture above of Jen Cooper, Jill Vaughn and myself was taken by Justin Hackworth. It is one of my most treasured take aways from ALT. These girls were my roommates and my goodness, I really do love them. I have lots to say about ALT, there were so many fabulous moments, new people to meet and incredible experiences to share, but what I want to say first is how much I love my ladies.
Just look at these guys:
These ladies are my brain trust. In the isolated world of writing, blogging and making art, you need a group that you can turn to for trusted advice and support. They have my back and they ensure that I am not letting self doubt, lack of confidence or naivety influence the decisions I make surrounding my business. In a traditional workplace, you have co-workers or a board of directors. I have a posse of fierce women who will mug with me in a photo booth at a Clue themed party. (I was Mr. Green in the Billards Room with the revolver.)
If you find yourself drawn to a few people, formalize your brain trust with a private Facebook group, weekly emails and video chats or a message board. Find or set up a photo booth and take awesome pictures! Stay in touch with each other and offer (and ask!) for support and encouragement whenever it's needed.
I feel very lucky to have had amazing groups of friends over the years. My college brain trust is in touch less frequently, but still a very important part of my life. See that tattoo on my wrist? That is for them. I am still in touch with the group of New York co-workers that I had ten years ago despite most of us relocating all over the country. I also joined a Mom's Group when I became a mother and currently have local Mom friends who I can turn to for advice and get togethers with the kids. And then there are my sisters, the ultimate in brain trusts, right?
Do you have a crew of people that you trust and enjoy working or spending time with? Cultivating those relationships while we work on what is important to us is just as critical to our success as the work that we are doing.
Today, make a list of your brain trust people and send them a message to let them know you value their presence in your life. This crazy life is all the better for the fantastic people that we share it with.
There is already a ton of information out there about ALT Summit and how to prepare so I thought I'd round up all the resources that I have seen so far. It's all great advice and there are so many different ways to approach a conference, there should be something here for everyone. However, I have my own advice to give first...
Don't let all this advice freak you out.
ALT is overwhelming. In a good way, but still overwhelming. I'm already feeling overwhelmed and I'm not even there yet! The jeans and t-shirt people freak out about the fashion, the artists freak out about having to talk business, the introverts freak out about having to talk to real people. If you are an introverted artist who wears jeans and t-shirts, whoa! Just, WHOA. Whoever you are, I'm sure you are freaking out about something. But please, DON'T FREAK OUT. It's all going to be ok. You'll see. On Sunday you will be thinking, "Why was I freaking out so much, that was awesome!" And then you will need a really long nap.
The truth is that there is so much going on all the time that you will mostly likely miss half of it, you will probably have a completely different experience than someone else, and when you are looking at the pictures later you will wonder if you were at a different conference than the photographer because you are not in any of the pictures and you totally don't remember people break dancing in the hallway. (How did I miss THAT last year? Also, I unabashedly ASKED a photographer to take my picture, just to make sure I was in at least ONE.) It's all going to be ok.
You are going to have the experience of a lifetime NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. You could sit in a corner all day and talk to just two people and it will still be amazing if those two people inspire you or want to work with you. You don't have to do all the things. You will probably stare into space at some point. You will forget people's names. You might not like the food. You might catch a cold. (I did and it totally sucked) But listen, IT WILL BE AWESOME no matter what because number one, you are going to be there, number two, you have business cards and number three, you are amazing. The rest is gravy. Those things you want so bad? They WILL happen and if they don't happen while you are at ALT, then make them happen AFTER.
Just remember to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Listen to your body, leave the scene when you have to, and try to RELAX. Of course, do your absolute best to prepare and make sure you are putting your best foot forward but then just try to let things flow and happen naturally. That's when amazing things happen. Trust me.
So, without further ado, here are ALL THE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALT:
- Mega "Who's Coming" Link List (You will want to be added to this list!)
- A TON of Recaps from Last Year
- Networking at Alt Summit (NEW!)
- What Poppy House is Packing (NEW!)
So, read up on all of that, and then STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Take a deep breath and keep your eyes on your own work. Meaning, absorb what you need, process it in your brain and then do your own thing. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, just focus on doing what you do best. It's all going to be MORE THAN ok.
I can't wait to see you at ALT! Please say hi. If you are nervous, I give hugs and I want to trade business cards. (Also - if I've missed anything, please let me know and I'll add the link!)
I love the way things look from above. It's objective, it's distanced. You aren't in it, you are above it. It's the big picture. The shot below was taken from a plane when I was landing in Phoenix. That's not snow, it's the desert.
Aerial shots of Earth are my most recent inspiration. Have you seen the post office's new stamps? I love the colors and patterns so much.
One of my all time favorite large format books is The Earth From Above. I can spend hours looking at the images in it. It's so mezmerising to see things we are familar with from such a different point of view. Everyday landscapes are transformed into patterns, shapes and fascinating arrangements. Even hearts.
Have you tried looking at things from a different point of view recently?
Oh how I admire yearlong creative projects. The dedication, the planning and the thought that goes into these just blows me away. I'd like to do my own someday, I think, but for now I will just admire them from afar.
Check out this video. Jonathan Britnell shot video every single day last year and used one second from each day to make this incredibly moving portrait of his life.
Last year, Amy Turn Sharp wrote one poem every day, and Lisa Congdon posted an illustrated quote to her blog every day. I loved those two projects and they were so inspiring to me throughout the year.
This year, Lisa is teaming up with Maria Popova from Brain Pickings (one of my favorite places to find cool new ideas) to publish the site The Reconstructionists. It launched today with four portraits and biographies of incredible women who changed the way we see the world. Read more about it on Lisa's blog.
Each Monday they will post a new portrait and I'm looking forward to seeing who they will feature. Joan of Arc? Nora Ephron? Marie Curie? Amelia Earhart? This is such a brilliant idea, I wish I had thought of it myself!
I did some research for my son's science fair last year and I was amazed at the small number of women scientists I could find information for. I used Jane Goodall and Mae Jamison in the materials I prepared and it got me thinking about how we present role models to our young girls (and boys too!) It's so important to present a balanced view of both genders (and all races) so that we can all find someone we can see ourselves in. Hopefully this site will go a long way to making role models for our girls more accessible.
Are there any year-long creative projects that you know of? Are you doing one yourself? Please let me know in the comments!
I'm back a few days early with my best shots and most notable moments from 2012. Some pictures you will probably remember from blog posts, but many of these were never published. I hope you enjoy them! Going back through my year was enlightening. Life isn't always easy but I love trying to find the beauty in every moment. Have a happy New Year and all the best wishes for 2013.
Last week I posted pictures of my family Christmas Tree shopping and I promised to show you pictures of us trimming it. This year I let the kids do most of the decorating and the tree is a beautiful mess of colorful, handmade ornaments.
We don't usually get too fancy with our tree and this year I was more relaxed than ever when we were decorating it. Decorating the tree can sometimes be stressful for me, the ornament boxes get opened faster than I can blink and before I know it all the decorations are covering the floor and the ones that have made it onto the tree are all front and center in one spot. It totally offends my sense of calm and order, but this year I tried to relax about it, because the kids were having fun discovering all the decorations again and whatever, I need to just let them enjoy it because it's about them, isn't it?
Chris put five strings of lights on the tree, which has to happen before anything else. I like the lights to go in nice and deep so they sparkle when you walk by. We have these fantastic globe lights that give the all white, incandescent lights some variety and those go on last. I love the kid's crafty, handmade ornaments and we also have a fun collection of colorful felt ornaments and feathery birds. I didn't even bother with balls or garland this year, I liked the idea of keeping it simple.
I'll tell you a little secret though, and it's something that I'm very proud of my husband for. In that last picture there? Right behind me and Milo there is a giant vacuum cleaner! Just a little tip for those of you that are taking pictures at home, you don't always have to clean up perfectly as long as you shoot at angles that hide the stuff you don't want to see! Well done Chris, for composing this frame so perfectly.
I've got one more post for you this week and then I will be taking time off from blogging over the Christmas break. Stay tuned for a fun twist on our holiday family portrait and then I will see you back here on January 2nd.
I am on a mission to read more through the winter (don't you think curled up in a blanket next to the fire is the perfect time to read?) and I want to focus on fiction for young adults and children. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd like to write a book, possibly a YA fiction, so I'm researching the genre as well. More than that though, I am also embracing my love of YA fiction. Adults Are Devouring Kids' Books for Good Reason.
I visited the library yesterday and picked out a few titles from the YA fiction section and I also went downstairs to the children's fiction section to see what they had there. I really don't know very much about writing fiction for young adults or children, so I quizzed the librarians and learned about the School Library Journal and The Horn Book as resources to find out more. There is also a YA Fiction Librarian at our local library, so I will be stopping by to chat with her too. If I am going to write a book I should learn a little more about how it all works. I didn't know that the Newbery Medal is awarded to fiction books for children, which is age fourteen and below and most YA fiction doesn't qualify. Typically, YA fiction is age fourteen and above, but publishers sometimes market YA fiction to students as young as 10, so there is some cross over and there are some books that appeal to both age groups. Understanding all these nuances is important.
When I got home I looked up the list of YA Fiction that Kelly published over the summer and I also found this fantastic list of the top 100 YA Fiction books of all time by NPR. Looking at that list I was so happy to discover that I have read way more YA Fiction than I first thought. Obviously there are the Harry Potter books, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Twilight and His Dark Materials series'. But there was also The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fahrenheit 451, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Dune, My Sister's Keeper and Howl's Moving Castle, all of which I own but never thought of as YA. But of course they are. There was also Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is so familiar to me, but I can't think of the plot AT ALL. The name is familiar in such a way that makes me think I said it repeatedly one summer when I was 12.
Not on the list is my favorite author Neil Gaiman who wrote Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and Odd and the Frost Giants. I've also recently read The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo and both When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Loved them all.
The librarian asked me how much YA fiction I had read, and I answered just a bit. I realize now though, that I've actually read A LOT, and that category might even be what I have read THE MOST. Of course, I love a good adult book and I've read and enjoyed so many, but my point is that I read YA even when I don't realize I'm reading YA and I always really enjoy it.
So hey, here is where YOU come in! What are your favorite children or young adult fiction books? This is research my friends, please share!
We don't go over the top with Christmas (no advent calendars or elves on the shelves here) but we do love getting a real tree. This year we went to the same place as last year, which is how traditions get started, isn't it? We picked out a six foot Douglas Fir and a wreath for the front door, the kids got hot chocolate and apple cider donuts and the warm weather this year made it a really lovely afternoon.
Can you smell it?
Did you know that the first lights on a Christmas tree were candles, and the first decorations were edible, like nuts and apples? The apples eventually became the red glass balls that we use today.
Christmas trees originated in Germany, however according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."
What is your tradition? Do you chop down your own tree? Buy a real one? Leave up an artifical tree for more than month? Please tell me!
Stayed tuned later this week for pictures of us decorating it.
My friend Jill called me yesterday to see if she could take me out to lunch. I don't know what I've done to deserve a friend like this in my life, but I hope that you have a friend like this too. She knew I was not feeling great this week, and after we ate, talked about what we were working on and roamed the antique store next door, she gave me this:
It was exactly what I needed to hear.
One of the hardest things about being inspired and having a long list of awesome things you want to do and make, is that it takes sooo long for these things to happen. Proper things grow slowly and deliberately and need time to become what they are supposed to become. There are so many steps, but as Sandra reminded me too, you can only take one step at a time.
Then, I read the back of the card, and I cried. Because she said some really nice things about me that I know, but are so damn nice to hear from someone that isn't married to me or shares my DNA. (The nice things from my family count too, but in a very different way.)
It felt really good, to be seen like that and to be reminded to just take a deep breath and let things happen as they should. Because they will and you know what else? They already are.
It's so easy to get overwhelmed with all the things on a to do list, all the decisions that need to made, research that needs to be done and work that needs to happen and forget about all the things that have been crossed off already.
So today, I am here to remind you what Jill and Sandra reminded me. Some Things take Time and even if you are moving forward at what feels like a snails pace, you are moving forward. And that is enough. Also - if you know someone who is working hard, tell them, they might really need to hear it.
I'm really happy with this year's board and I'm excited to see some of these things manifest in my life.
Have you ever made a vision board? Here are my tips:
- Choose about five magazines to pull images from. Make sure the magazine are ones that you read and love. Just any old magazine will not do.
- Go through the magazines and pull out ANY images that appeal to you, for any reason. Color, words, imagery or just a "feeling". Don't worry about why you are picking images, just pull them out and make a pile.
- After you have a good stack of images, lay them all out on the floor. At this point, you can do some journalling about why certain images appeal to you. Maybe they relate to things on your life list, or maybe they represent certain ideas to you. Write the reasons down if you like. This year, I didn't journal about my images, I just let my instincts lead me.
- Get poster board, a canvas or some other stiff surface to use as the base for your collage. Begin to arrange the images in a way that appeals to you. Maybe you want to pair certain images with certain words. For me, I laid out all the images first and then added the words later. Not all of your images will fit, so pick the ones that you like the best and place those on your canvas first. Arrange the rest of the images around the most important ones.
- Glue the images down with a glue stick, mod podge or rubber cement. Really, any kind of glue will work. Some glues make the images curl or warp a little, that's ok, just keep pressing down the edges and they will eventually stick.
- Once it's finished, select one word to guide you for the year, and place it in the middle. I used white paint and outlined it with a black Sharpie marker, but you could print something out on your printer or draw it on a separate piece of paper and glue that down too.
- Hang it on the wall to catch your eye any time you need inspiration.
If you wanted to do something that was a little less work, you can just tack images to a bulletin board, although, I do love the permanence of doing it with glue on a canvas. If you have any left over images, don't throw them away! Make a collage in your sketchbook with double stick tape or save them for next year.
Good luck making your own vision board! I'd love to see pictures if you do your own.
The Space Party, where chic meets geek. I LOVED how many pink and blue wigs there were and amazingly, once I found the Higgs Boson girl I started seeing Dark Matter Sarah everywhere. It was so weird. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the best costume of the night. Pluto showed up with her therapist and she was a crying mess all night. Poor thing, it sucks to get demoted. This year was so fun, check out all these amazing sparkly outfits and costumes!
I'm back from Palm Springs and my second visit to Camp Mighty. (Here's the first) I decided to go back to keep up the momentum, continue my personal and creative growth and to see people who I know and love online but don't see in person very often. You just can't beat those face to face interactions and hugs. I also wanted to meet more amazing people and boy, did I. There is no shortage of amazing, fun, colorful and awesome people at this event.
This year had some significant changes that I thought made it more fun and informative. The afternoon sessions were more business oriented, focusing on creative projects, and the final dinner was family style, with everyone together in the same room at huge tables. There was the same amount of inspiration, teary moments and crazy space party shenanigans. The people that were presenting and attending were equally as amazing as last year, but this time I knew more of them before I arrived.
There were WAY less nerves and social anxiety for me and I felt so much more confident and relaxed. I also spent more time in the hot tub. It's really my favorite place at the Ace Hotel. It's always so good, warm and happy. On the final night, way past my bedtime, we saw shooting stars. It was a perfect way to end the weekend.
I've got so much to share and I'm pretty sure I can't do it all at once or even all this week, but I promise to share the things that I learned and experienced with you soon. My first thing to tackle will be my pictures. I shot some good ones you guys. I'll be editing those and posting them on Flickr as soon as I can. And the learning, wow, we heard some good stuff. I'm going to figure out a cool way to share that too.
Until then, have you started your life list yet? It's really time for you to do that. I'm telling you, it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
If you were there, leave a comment below and tell me what you thought of the event! (Link to your blog if you've posted about it already.)
More soon. xo
Earlier this week I shared the photos of Amanda Palmer's epic crowd surfing moment and I'm back with the rest of the pictures from the NYC show at Webster Hall! You can check them all out on Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.
The show was a perfect amalgamation of everything I've ever seen AFP do. It had some Cabaret flair and a similar entrance to the acoustic show we saw at Momenta Gallery for the Kickstarter art package. There were moments of both deafening, screaming sounds and quiet words spoken gently. The lighting was excellent and each song had it's own mood and color palette. Almost everything on stage was white. Costumes, props and sets were still slightly DIY, while feeling just a little richer and more produced. Screens onstage showed pictures that audience members had submitted or video close-ups of hands playing instruments. Amanda had four variations in her costumes and I loved how she was just basically striping off her clothes as the show went on to reveal different looks. The piece that she put on, rather than take off, was the custom made jacket by Kambriel for the Bottomfeeder crowd surf. It had an amazingly long train made out of three different colors of chiffon. Just look at how it's like a giant bubble skirt flowing behind her on the sea of people. Brilliant.
So, as you've heard me say already a hundred times: go SEE the show and GET the record. You can pay what you want for it, nothing if you are broke, or up to $20 if you want to support the effort. It's amazing, inspiring stuff. What Amanda Palmer is doing to the business of music is nothing short of revolutionary. She's changing the game, right in front of our eyes. It's upsetting to some and thrilling for others. This week she was at opposite ends of the spectrum, pissing off professional musicians and thier unions everywhere by asking for volunteers to play her shows and at the same time, crashing into the Billboard 200 music chart yesterday at NUMBER TEN. (Ukuleles rained down on the world when that happened and today Amanda and team have decided to pay all musicians on tour with them by pulling money from video budgets. I applaud her for this, it's the right thing to do.) I don't think there has ever been, in the history of music, a crowd funded, independent record in the top ten. It's really remarkable. She's a perfect example of doing it yourself, without corporate sponsorship, thinking on your feet and adapting to a changing landscape. You can stay in control of your music/art career, produce material on your own, and be successful doing it. It CAN be done. It's not easy of course, you have to build an audience authentically and organically and create something that people actually want, but it CAN be done. What's really exciting is that this model is true for pretty much any artist, be it musician, writer, painter, illustrator, inventor, etc. Creative people need to pay attention to what she is doing, what she is saying and what she believes in because it really can be the future of everything. WE ARE THE MEDIA. You and me.