Inspiration

Mark Bradford at The Whitney by Leslie Fandrich

It was the perfect Birthday present. Amazing art in a beautiful new building with my husband and kiddos. It was glorious. The work there for the inaugural show "America is Hard to See" is outstanding and more inclusive of women and minorities than ever before. So much good work to see. 

This piece by Mark Bradford is so exciting to me. It's paper he found on the street and collaged into this intricate map of colors and textures. I aspire to create something this great and I'm very interested in the endless layering of paper and the sanding down of it to reveal interesting combinations and relationships.

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Try Something Magical #1: Blow Bubbles by Leslie Fandrich

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. 

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Lighting a Candle by Leslie Fandrich

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I got myself back into the studio yesterday and the first thing I did was light a candle. It sets the mood and scents the room and I love the idea of a candle burning while I am working. It helps me focus and direct my creativity.

I love to use these Fortune Matches that I picked up in Chinatown years ago. It gives the act of lighting the candle just a little more meaning. Today I chose Wisdom. The candle smells delicious and it was a gift from Greenmarket Purveying Co.

Getting back to work amidst uncertainty and stress seems to be good for me. It's distracting and rewarding, but I am doing only what feels good and not putting too much pressure on myself to meet any kind of expectations. Unfortunately, with that comes a little less blogging, but I hope you understand. Now is the time for a little more quiet and reflection. I'm turning inward a little, but I want you to know that I am coping as well as I can, and this is just me taking care of myself. (Wondering what the hell I am talking about? See this: One Thousand Goodbyes)

I'm excited to be working on illustrations for a friend's book proposal and I'm in the middle of a personal art project based on Neil Gaiman's book Fragile Things. It's going to be really cool and I can't wait to show you when it's done.

If there is one thing to look forward to, it's the wisdom, depth and experience that you gain when going through something difficult and traumatic. I know that I will come out on the other side of this with a deeper understanding of life and death, and for that I am truly grateful.

I Want to Be a Computer Programmer by Leslie Fandrich

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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?

Lost Days Video Short by Leslie Fandrich

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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.)

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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.

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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.

TED Talk: Artfully Visualizing Our Humanity by Leslie Fandrich

Visually representing SMS messages being sent in Amsterdam on New Years Eve.

Visually representing SMS messages being sent in Amsterdam on New Years Eve.

A few years ago I experienced Arcade Fire's interactive video The Wilderness Downtown (use Chrome to view) and it made me cry. It was so personal and beautiful. One of the people who worked on it, Aaron Koblin, presents an amazing TED Talk on how we can use data and unique interfaces to tell stories and bring some humanity back to the information. Get your note books out. This is a good one.

Don't you just love TED Talks? They are always so thought provoking and inspiring. Do you have any favorites?

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes by Leslie Fandrich

Martin Luther King Jr. was a profound man and his words still ring true today and inspire us all to stand up for what we believe in, do the right thing and dream of a greater future.

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People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.
Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I still love these pictures of MLK Jr. taken by Flip Schulke. Have a beautiful day friends.

xo

How To Make A Vision Board by Leslie Fandrich

Last Fall I made a vision board in Karen Walrond's Pathfinder class. It was a great exercise to visually set out some goals for the year and I was excited to do a new one. This year, it's all about embracing my edgier side, emphasizing my art and FOCUS.

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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.

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Afternoon by Leslie Fandrich

Last week I showed you Friday morning at Camp Mighty. The rest of Friday was filled with more creative inspiration and practical advice. Margaret Stewart was up next, illuminating us on the reasons why we create. 

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret's talk was titled, "How I Hurt Myself Knitting." On a flight home from London, she stayed up the entire flight knitting and developed a serious injury in her arm. Her doctor told her knitting injuries are common. Who knew knitting was dangerous? She began to wonder why she was compelled to knit tiny sweaters for her friends with new babies when she could have easily bought something. So she asked twitter, "Why do you make things?" She got a lot of great answers but very simply, we create things for ourselves and we create things for others. We create to hold in our hands the things that we dream. We create because it's fun. Creating gives us a sense of purpose. We create to please others and to show that we care. 

She segued into creating successful platforms on the internet to enable other people's creativity and invite participation like YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. These sites are open ended and have no story or script. The user gets to decide and tell their own story. These are designs that empower people and amplify other's voices. It's about the people who use it and the power is in the aggrigate view. Margaret played the trailer for the YouTube, crowd-sourced movie Life in A Day, have you seen it? I watched on the plane home from last year's Camp Mighty and it was awe inspiring. It re-enforces the concept that the individual matters, YOU matter, you will be heard and all together we can create a compelling picture.

So, Margaret would like to know, what are you going to make? She told us to find and defend our time to make things. Makers Gonna Make and we ARE what we make.

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan FerneyJihan Zencirli and Philippa Hughes took the stage together to give brief talks about how they made their creative businesses happen. I regret not getting any pictures of Philippa from the Pink Line Project, I was too mesmerized by her story about transforming Washington, DC with art events to pick up my camera. The biggest message I got here is that there is no formula, each person's path to creative entrepreneurship is unique. However, two things these ladies have in common is PASSION and doing BIG things. Figure out what you love and just go for it. Find a need and fill it. Be Bold. Be Focused. Keep your eye on the big picture.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons in partnership with Lands' End talked about positive body imaging and dressing well for your figure no matter what size you are, Natalie Bowman from Bing talked about growing brands with social media and Susan Peterson and Alison Faulkner lead the group in a craft project from their new digital book, A Hip Handmade Holiday.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

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That's  Nathan ,  Holly ,  Heather ,  Brittany  and  Heather  lounging by the pool.

That's Nathan, Holly, Heather, Brittany and Heather lounging by the pool.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relaxing by the pool. Some of the best moments at Camp happen in between all the things we are learning and doing. The spontaneous conversations and friendly talks are what make Camp so special. It's a small, intimate group and so you usually have time to really get to know people.

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Check out Flickr to see the complete set of pictures. Tomorrow I'm going to show you pictures from the Space party! There were some super amazing costumes, dancing all night and of course, Smilebooth!
 

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Morning by Leslie Fandrich

I took a lot of pictures and I've edited only a quarter of them! Here's the first set from Friday morning. We had breakfast, heard speakers Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project and got a personalized gift from Bing and Wantist. It was a kick-ass, inspiring morning.

Jordan Ferney , mystery women and  Jihan Zencirli  walking to breakfast by the  Ace Hotel  Pool.

Jordan Ferney, mystery women and Jihan Zencirli walking to breakfast by the Ace Hotel Pool.

Melanie  and  Sheri  looking fabulous.

Melanie and Sheri looking fabulous.

Amber  and  Lindsay  are super fine.

Amber and Lindsay are super fine.

The beautiful  Daffodil .

The beautiful Daffodil.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

Nicole Balch from  Making it Lovely .

Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie gave a talk on things she has learned over the years as she has been crossing things off her life list. It was the first time she spoke about it and much of what she said resonated with many of us. Sheri felt like Maggie was talking directly to her, and I'm sure many others did as well, me included. These were her lessons:

  1. Your Words Determine Your Happiness
  2. Action is Transformative
  3. Check Marks Don't Equal Happiness
  4. Our Opinions of Ourselves are NOT Fact
  5. Be Rigid Only if You Want to Snap
  6. My Body is a Compass
  7. It's About Who You Love and Who Loves You
  8. You Can Predict the Future

Next up was Derreck Kayongo. I noticed him at breakfast, before I knew who he was, and almost told him how much I loved his "look" but I got shy and didn't say a word. I wish I had.

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his  Global Soap Project .

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his Global Soap Project.

Derreck is an inspiration. He made us laugh, he made us cry and at the end of his talk he led us in singing an African song about peace. I hugged him afterward, to say thank you, with tears in my eyes. Here were some of his thoughts about how he achieved what he has:

  1. Pay attention to everything around you and connect the dots. You are here for a reason.
  2. The most beautiful thing in life is failure. Learn from it. Fail towards success.
  3. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity.
  4. Allow critique.
  5. Don't define yourself by your situation.
  6. Let your product be a symbol of hope, but make sure people use it!

The  Go Mighty  girls.

The Go Mighty girls.

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from  Bing  and  Wantist .

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from Bing and Wantist.

My gift.

My gift.

Holly Burns from  Nothing But Bonfires  opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

Holly Burns from Nothing But Bonfires opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

So many beautiful things.

So many beautiful things.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

By noon on Friday I could have gone home and felt like what I had experienced was already enough, but there was more!! I was not even half way through the weekend. If you would like to see a few more pictures, check out my Flickr set. More to come.

For now, I am so thankful that I was able to go again this year, I am so thankful for inspiring, creative and amazing friends and I am so thankful for all the amazing things that people make and do. What an incredible world we live in. Have an excellent Thanksgiving. xo

Girl Crush Philly: Part Two by Leslie

On Tuesday I wrote Part One about Shauna's beautiful space and my girl crush on Danielle. Today I dive deeper into the exercises we did, specifically the jealousy map.

Girl Crush is more than girls crushing on each other. Before I went, I didn't really realise how in depth we were going to get about our goals and dreams. Yes, we had tea and cupcakes, but Danielle led us in three exercises adapted from The Artist's Way that were designed to get us comfortable sharing in the group, battle our inner critic, and recognise our greatest goals by identifying who we were jealous of.

Looking at who we are jealous of is an unconventional technique because we are taught that it is wrong to be jealous. We shouldn't envy our friends, or want to be something other than what we are, but the truth is that our brains do it ALL THE TIME. Instead of battling that feeling and letting our inner critic tell us we suck for being jealous, why not embrace that feeling, look at it honestly and figure out the WHY. Figuring out WHY we are jealous of someone can lead us to understand what we really should be focusing on in our lives.

Self-reflection is not easy and revealing who we are jealous of makes us feel vulnerable because we fear being judged. In the safety of the workshop it was still hard, but we all did it and supported each other with perspective, understanding and advice. First, we wrote down who we were jealous of, either a specific person, a type of person or a character trait. Then, we went back and tried to figure out WHY we were jealous of them. This is the part where the group discussion was very helpful because sometimes, the reasons we are jealous of someone are not obvious right away. Talking it out helped us to dig a little, find the truth and get to the heart of WHY. Once we figured out WHY, we thought of actionable steps that would help us fulfill that need or want or achieve our goal. Sounds easy right? It's kinda not.

I'm going to take deep breath and share who I am jealous of, to show you how this exercise worked for me. Don't judge, okay?

The one that I shared with the group was: I am jealous of in-crowds. Now, you might think it's because I want to be popular or to be seen, but you would be wrong. In-crowd might be the wrong term, but you know what I mean, right? It's a group of people who are already friends or have worked together before. I am jealous of them because of the support and opportunities that seem to come from being part of a group of people who are working together. It's hard to work alone, and to me, the in-crowd is this wonderful place to be, where you get hugs and jobs all day long. It's easy to look around and see cliques of people and want to be a part of one of those groups, but you can't apply to be a part of an in-crowd, they either include you, or they don't, and you have no control whatsoever about what other people do. So, here is what I have decided to do, I'm going to participate in and build my own community. I'm going to gather with those people around me who are doing what I do and I am going to hug them and support them and work with them. We all have our own communities if we just look around ourselves, like a local Mom's group, the local library or blogging friends who are attending the same events. Teaming up with the people who are already close to me is an excellent way to get support and opportunities.

After all three exercises I was totally exhausted and felt like I need to curl up and take a nap to process all the wonderful things that I heard, but we had one more task, art making! There were book covers, magazine clippings, stamps, pressed flowers, feathers and fantastic art supplies. We all got busy making art and tried to bring some of the insights we had during the day into our pieces. Sitting around the kitchen table, we had more discussions, and I wished that in the future I could conjure up this fantastic, creative table of women every time I needed them.

Thank you to everyone that attended Girl Crush Philly, especially Danielle and Shauna! You both did an amazing job inspiring us. Hope I can see you both again soon.

Check out Flickr to see the rest of my pictures from the day.

Girl Crush Philly: Part One by Leslie

Over the weekend, Jill and I drove down to Philly to attend Danielle Krysa's (The Jealous Curator) Girl Crush art workshop and tea party at Shauna Alterio's loft apartment/studio. Our friend Elizabeth, who we met at Camp Mighty last year, came with us and put us up in her guest room for two nights. (Her home and family are adorable.) We were also surprised to see Jennifer Cooper from Classic Play and Stevie Koerner of Tru.che (who we also met at Camp Mighty) there as well. Seven more incredible women rounded out the group and we spent the day getting to know each other, getting to know our inner critic (that devil that often whispers self-hate in our ear) and supporting each other through discussions about how to allow creativity into our lives as much as possible. 

Shauna and her husband Steve seem to live and breath creativity. Their blog Something's Hiding in Here and companies Forage Haberdashery and Seed House Stationaries represent the diverse range of things they like to make and every inch of their personal space is thoughtfully considered and decorated in a perfectly whimsical, modern and eclectic way. I felt like I was in an Anthropologie store before I even knew that Shauna had once worked for them designing displays and directing the visual language of all the stores. Everywhere I looked I was just in awe of beautiful objects, beautifully arranged. 

While the space was envy-worthy, what topped it was the people who filled the room. These women were incredible. Each one had an interesting background (videographer, chemical engineer, artist, curator, designer, writer) and really interesting ideas about where they wanted to take their lives. Shauna was the hostess and the center of much of the girl crushing, however I must admit that the reason that I was there was to crush on Danielle. There is something about her that I feel such a kinship towards. I'm sure half of it is that she is Canadian, but it's also her art school background, ad agency experience and her five year stay-at-home Mom stint before she realized if she didn't do something for herself again she might go crazy. All that is me too. I feel like I need to learn something from her. Yes, she was definitely my biggest crush of the day.

These gatherings of creative women are certainly something special. It's such a safe, nurturing environment and yet it's no cake walk. Vulnerabilities were revealed, feedback was given, we were all asking questions and trying to get at the root of blocks and issues that may be holding us back. It's hard work. It was exhausting. But it was amazing to witness and participate in. 

I have so much more to share about the insights that I had and the exercises we did to reveal them. Stay tuned for more soon. For now, you can check out the rest of my pictures on Flickr.

Update! Read PART TWO, in which I reveal who I am jealous of. (It might be you.)

Inspired by Live Music: Jack White by Leslie

We're going to see Jack White in concert this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in NYC! It should be an amazing show. If you've got some time, watch the video below, directed by Gary Oldman, of the full live show that we will be seeing. If you don't have a lot of time, just watch the first ten minutes where Gary Oldman and Jack White wrestle, cool studio footage (I love the styling!) of the songs I Guess I Should Go To Sleep and Blunderbuss and an interview between Oldman and White. It's good stuff. If you watch through to the live show, please take note that in the first half of the show, White's band is all ladies. And wow, can they rock. The ladies recorded 11 out of the 13 songs on the new record, and according to this Slate article, Jack White might be one of rock's leading feminists. When he appeared on SNL, the first song was performed by the ladies and the second song by the guys. 

I will not be able to bring my camera to this one, so for additional shots of the live show, check out the live photos page of the website.

I'm loving all this music inspiration lately! I find myself to be far more inspired by a diverse range of topics instead of looking at creative work that I aspire too. Do you know what I mean? Constantly looking at work that is better than mine I can tend to feel jealous or inadequate, but looking at creative work that I admire but have no desire to do myself, is truly inspiring. It's why I read science and psychology journals, study architecture and enjoy live music so much.

It has a distancing effect that also allows you to be truly creative in your own work. I often worry about looking too much at other people's art or design, for fear of unintentionally creating work that is too similar. If you are inspired by work that is unrelated to what you do, it frees you up to explore things more fully and to create something that is more original.

What are you inspired by that is totally unrelated to what you do creatively?

TED Talk: The 3 A's of Awesome by Leslie

Canadian Neil Pasricha's blog 1000 Awesome Things, helped him find gratitude for the small things in life. His practice of noticing things that made him happy not only rescued him from a dark time in his life but catapulted him to win two Webby Awards and create a bestselling book.

Life is never perfect, and sometimes it sucks, but Neil has a thoughful strategy for maintaining a happy life by observing the three A's of Awesome: Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity.

Watch this great TED Talk:

AFP & GTO play NYC's Webster Hall by Leslie

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.

Check out the rest of the photos on FLICKR!

TED Talks About Innovation, Inspiration and the Creative Process by Leslie

I'm fascinated with the creative process and these two TED Talks by Steven Johnson and Elizabeth Gilbert are helping me understand where new ideas come from and giving me a different way to think about creativity. I watched the Steven Johnson one this morning and I love what he has to say about liquid networks. The Elizabeth Gilbert talk was shared with me in the painting class that I took and her ideas about a creative genius are very interesting. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Power, Pride and Inclusivity at BlogHer 2012 by Leslie

My favorite event at the 8th annual BlogHer conference was the Fashion Show. I had never been to a BlogHer event before, and I had a fairly limited experience with the community website, so I had no real expectations and I wanted to just see what would unfold. I knew it was large event, this year there were over five thousand people at the Hilton in NYC, but what I didn't realize was that the huge scope means that this is an incredibly INCLUSIVE community. I don't think there is a cap on how many tickets are sold and the organizers intentionally ensure that speakers are new each year. I heard that if you speak at BlogHer, you cannot speak again for three years. That may seem like a strange rule, but what it does is keep the content and speakers fresh and allow more opportunities for a variety of bloggers to present their knowledge. I really appreciate the inclusiveness, it was refreshing and comforting and some of the strange anxiety I get from exclusive groups and communities was not there at all.

The diversity and inclusiveness was on full display on Saturday night at the fashion show. And what a *show* it was. The runway was taken over by an incredible group of women who embraced and showed off their power and pride in themselves and in their bodies. These ladies owned their beauty and it was exhilarating to watch.

A typical fashion show can be a very homogenous, stylized look at what being a women means, but the BlogHer fashion show was the exact opposite. In appropriating this often exclusive and unrealistic platform, these women took over, showing us what it REALLY means to be beautiful. We are all different and unique, we all deserve to be seen and to show ourselves and when we give ourselves the chance to strut our stuff, we can rise to the occasion and be totally awesome doing it. These women exuded confidence and more than body type, color of skin or style of clothes, CONFIDENCE is what it takes to feel beautiful and BE beautiful. Love yourself and your body, and others will too.


So, what do you think of the ladies of the BlogHer Fashion show? Pretty magnificent, don't you think? Please leave a comment telling me when YOU have felt your most confident and beautiful. To see the full set of pictures from the show and a few other events that I attended, check out my Flickr set! You can read more about a few of the bloggers in the fashion show on Elle.com and also check out Christine Koh's conversation with her daughter on Boston Mamas after being in the fashion show and Erin Kotecki Vest's challenge with embracing her new body.

Winner of "Happier at Home"! by Leslie

Photo by Sheri Silver

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on last week's post! It was so enlightening to read all the responses after having read Gretchen's book. If you aren't the lucky winner today, I encourage you to pre-order it, or ask for it as a gift. It's an smart and informative read, plus Gretchen is an awesome person and I love supporting her fabulous work.

So... drum roll please... I did a random number generator for 41 entries, subtracting two duplicate commentors and my own comment, and the random number generated was... 32...!!!! If you count down from the top of the comments, skipping the 2nd comments from both Kathleen Scheuermann and CJB then the lucky winner of Gretchen's book Happier at Home is Kimberly! Yay! Please contact me with your mailing address Kimberly!

I am going to reopen comments over on the other post now, so if you have any more ideas to add about how to be Happier at Home, I'd love to hear them! Thanks everyone!

"Happier at Home" Book Party & Giveaway by Leslie

I was honored to attend a book party for Gretchen Rubin's new book, Happier at Home. I've seen Gretchen speak twice and both times she inspires and gets me excited about living my best life. Her previous book, The Happiness Project, was filled with great advice, anecdotes and principals for being happier in your life. In her new book, she dives deeper and discusses what we can do in our homes to cultivate a sense of safety, inspiration and calmness. 

I'm so excited to share this great book with you that I've decided to give away the copy I received at the party! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me ONE thing that makes you happier at home, OR one thing you would like TO DO to be happier at home. Here's mine:

I am happier at home when I spend time on my screened porch reading in the hammock.

To be happier at home, I would like to tackle all the clutter in my studio and have a place for everything. 

I really look forward to hearing what everyone has to say! I'll leave comments open until Sunday, 6pm EST, do a random drawing and announce the winner of the book on Monday. Just one entry per person. In the meantime, here are more pictures.

Check out the full set of my pictures on Flickr, as well as Maggie's pictures.

The Go Mighty team of Maggie, Sarah, Laura and Amber have also posted about all the details!

Check out the gifts that were given to each guest.

The party guests were all beautiful, inspiring women.

There was lots of good stuff to Oooo and Ahhh over, including Laura's homemade pickles!

You can also enter to win a complete set of gifts!

Here's a picture that was taken by Sheri Silver of me at the party with my partner in crime Jill Vaughn from Terra Savvy. We had such a great time!

Most of all though? I'm looking forward to hearing what makes each of you happier at home.

A Peek Inside the Office of Uppercase Magazine by Leslie

I discovered Uppercase Magazine at ALT Summit last January and was so happy to learn that they are based in my college home town of Calgary, Alberta and that the founder and design director, Janine, went to the same school as I did, The Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), and graduated just a year ahead of me.

Janine and I began talking on twitter and email and one of the projects that I was working on happened to be a good fit for the Fall issue of the magazine. I am so excited that my first published article will be appearing in Issue 15! Stay tuned for more about that in September.

The Uppercase office is filled with gorgeous natural light, plenty of colorful items to inspire and of course all the printed magazines and books that they have produced. I'm so impressed with everything Janine is doing, she's worked hard to build a company founded on her passion and love of design and the printed page, all while raising a young family.

The magazine does not rely on advertising for revenue, so it has minimal ads, but that means getting subscriptions are even more important for them. I highly recommend you get this quarterly magazine delivered to your door! It's filled with inspiration, creative people doing incredible work and lots of amazing stories of people living their passions and dreams. Just click on the link below or in the sidebar. 

(Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Uppercase and receive $1 for each sale made through these links, but even if I wasn't, I would still be telling you to get in on this incredible magazine. It's THAT good.)

Thank you to Janine for letting me stop by the office, hang out as long as I wanted and take pictures! It was awesome to meet you in person and see where the magic takes place. 

Note for local Calgary creatives: Uppercase is located in the Art Central building in downtown Calgary on the corner of 7th Avenue and Center Street. The building is filled with galleries, studios, cafes and shops and it's totally worth a visit if you haven't been there before. Be sure to pop into Uppercase and see what they have to offer.