Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Don't Do Crafts

This is the only craft project I have ever completed - a shadowbox for my daughter's six grade graduation. 
The only reason I did it was because I didn't want my kid to be the one with the parent that didn't do one! 

I don't do crafts. As a result of not having the "craft gene" I feel guilty and worthless at this time of year. This was amplified when my daughter was young and there were certain parents (yes, even some fathers are more crafty that I) who would wow everyone with homemade cards, beautiful decorated cookies, stunning holiday tables, or scarves and baby blankets they had been knitting for months in trendy Italian yarn. I would look at the onslaught of creativity and wonder what was wrong with me? After all - I am an artist, trained in my artform, good with my hands - why wasn't I crafty?

Even my daughter seemed to value the crafty moms and wanted to hang out with them. The jewelry designing moms were a particular hit. The extent of my craftiness was merely an extension of my work – I would draw her notes to go home with a friend for a playdate - that was my big claim to fame. Why couldn't I have built a "Rube Goldbergesque" sculpture that moved little dolls, representing my daughter and her friends, from one room to another via a complex system of pulleys and tinker toys? Maybe my expectations got in the way? You think? But as my daughter grew older I found myself wishing I was motivated to make a wreath for the front door, or custom holiday cards. Then I woke up!

It is unfair for me to think that I should have been expected to apply my art skills to the tasks of decorating my life during the holidays. Some people do it seamlessly but not I! Within the last year I have been experiencing what is commonly known as an "empty nest" with my girl in college. She doesn't come home for Thanksgiving and now all I want to do on that day is something nice for someone else, get Chinese, curl up and watch a movie. The last year has been a process of getting to know myself as an artist all over again. I have realized that there are a lot of reasons why I am not crafty.

For some people crafting items that bring their family and friends joy is an active expression of community. I too love to express respect for my family, friends and neighbors but even my wedding was potluck! Why because in the case of my wedding it was the action, the internal dialog, and the moment that mattered to me. It is maybe the same reason I hated taking photographs for years because I didn't want the camera between me and the moment. That has since changed with my iPhone. Now I take so many pictures they are clogging up my digital memory but I still don't upload them to a crafty photo Christmas card that I would order online.

This attitude could go back to childhood when my mother, a true hostess by all standards, would have a mini breakdown before every holiday gathering in her quest to have everything perfect. My mother was so detail oriented she even special ordered smaller hot dog buns for our childhood birthday parties. As an adult I truly appreciate the hardwork she put into Christmas morning and the kid parties but all I remember is her being frazzled and frantic.

In true daughterly fashion I have rebelled by keeping it simple and redirecting my "crafty" tendencies to my illustration projects or my magazine. With that in mind – my daughter will probably be the Martha Stewart of her neighborhood, delighting her own children with the perfect knitted holiday sweaters, made from really cool Italian yarn, and lament in her own blog about how I never did crafts for the holidays when she was young.

Friday, October 25, 2013

All Hallows Eve – Revealing the Spirit World

 Cover of the Halloween Issue of 3.1 Venice – The Death Tarot design by Rudy Garcia © 2013

I have written before that I love Halloween – and I still do. The idea of the veil between the spirit world and the world of the living being at it's thinnest on All Hallows Eve intrigues me.

As each morning grows progressively darker and the days shorter I see why ancient people believed spirits roamed in the ample darkness. Imagine how black the night was then – when the world wasn't lit up like a Christmas tree at all hours.

I question loosing that connection with nature and the often unexplainable things that happen when you embrace the energy of the earth. Living in Los Angeles I don't have a sense of the blackest night sky, I can barely see stars. I don't have a sense of the deepest quiet of night except what I read in poetry. I don't have a sense of appreciation for the minute movements of the smallest and humblest creatures. I don't have a sense of the rising moon until I stumble upon it as I wonder outside after a long day of work. All of these things were essential to my ancestors for their survival.

So when Halloween rolls around, for a moment I feel a connection to the earth, the ominous fragility of the winter coming, and the tap on my shoulder from the spirit world as the veil thins. I like to imagine I hear my grandmother whispering to me and guiding me once again as she did when she was alive. It's not hard to see why all throughout Mexico they celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) this time of year. Honoring the past and remembering where we come from is essential to  better connect with the future.

But for all the serious spiritual overtones of the holiday I also love the playfulness of Halloween. Especially the costumes! The food, games, and general joy of running the streets at night with groups of other Halloween party goers. This is how I imagine the Pagan worshipers, drinking and dancing around the bonfires of Samhain in the Celtic countryside.

I love Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Day of the Dead and Samhain because the celebration of fall reaffirms our humanity. No matter how far we have come as a technological culture we still need to acknowledge the power of mother nature, our fragility and the coming of winter darkness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If I Only Had a Brain

 Ray Bolger sings "If I Only Had a Brain" in the 1939 classic movie, "Wizard of Oz".


“I could think of things I’ve never thought before and then I’d sit
  and think some more.”

Thinking is important to our development as a culture – thinking creatively is vital.

CCI – the acronym for "Cultural and Creative Industries" and the idea that new economies are about selling ideas while the old industrial production model would be selling things. America was an industrial production leader for many decades ushered in with the vision of Henry Ford. In 2013 are we being left in the dust because of our archaic notions about our educational infrastructure? It's Brawn Power vs. Brain Power.

I am thinking specifically about education. We have been slow to adopt new ideas therefore a large portion of our society has been left behind - but not in the way the "no child left behind" legislation of the Bush administration would have suggested. Our population is being left behind as other industrialized nations move from production oriented industries to Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI).

For a country to be competitive in design and creative thinking education is a vital element and yet the US is still experimenting with systems and undervaluing the field as a whole. Finland is a good case study of a country that has successfully refocused itself from being an industrial production economy to a growing CCI economy. Even though it is a smaller country than the US, without significant ethnicity and/or religious confilict it is a current example of what can be right in an educational system.

Investment in Education: Forty years ago, the Finnish government decided the path to economic recovery would involve a stronger educational system. They implemented stringent teacher-training guidelines requiring every teacher must have a fifth year master's degree and teacher training school. Consequently, their teachers are pulled from the top ten percentile of students in the country and given the same status as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. 

The status and value put upon the teaching profession not only encourages the best and brightest to become educators but also sends a message to society as a whole that thinking and training are valued. Since Finnish teachers are given autonomy in the classroom and encouraged to develop new educational thinking the education system again reinforces the idea that they are a society that values creative innovation and respects the abilities of its professionals.

In contrast, you have the American education system, which closely monitors the curriculum, teaches to the test, overvalues test taking, and is straddled with economic burdens which makes it difficult to implement new ideas. The American system currently ushers untrained teachers, fresh out of college straight into the classroom in an effort to keep the schools functioning but not necessarily flourishing. This is a corporate model for education, which is an extension of the old idea of a production-based economy. 

The production-based model measures quantitatively the effects of education upon its product (i.e. the student), rather than the development of creative thinking and successful problem solving. It is one of the contributing factors to why our younger population is at odds with the current culture. Their world is a fast moving, tech based, economy that they need flexible thinking skills to survive but instead they are being handed a group of archaic skills that are only good for following orders and producing product – the old industrial model. This style of education is producing an indefinable, widespread anxiety among young adults as they emerge into the work world.

Technology: The second element in the development of a CCI economy is technological development and wide spread access to the Internet, which in turn provides the knowledge and content to create new products. There have been several Congressional bills over the last few years that would have effectively put the control of the Internet into the hands of the service providers. Fortunately, these bills were defeated but had they been passed the United States would have set itself back several years in technological development – perhaps a move from which we might never have recovered. In a recent development and with tremendous foresight, major universities are putting their curriculum and some classes online for public access. The idea to socialize education is good for society as a whole and with regard to the development of a CCI economy, universal Internet access is the key to facilitating that. 

Once again, I look at Finland as the successful experiment – the Ministry of Education and Culture launched the “Development Programme for Business Growth and Internationalization of Creative Industries 2007-2013.” The idea that technology, education, and the creative ingenuity of their population could significantly increase the bottom line of their GNP was forward thinking and proved the right move to make.

Functional Social Structure: The third and most difficult hurdle for the US to overcome is to create a functional social structure. This idea can be examined on a micro level to gain insight as to how it impacts us as a nation on a macro level. For example: if the parents in a divorced family are antagonistic towards each other the children can suffer intellectually because they focusing upon coping with their emotional response to a fractured social structure. However, if the divorce is supportive, with open lines of communication and tolerance for differences the children can thrive intellectually and feel less need to focus their energy upon solving the emotional issues. Of course, this is simplistic but it is meant to show the importance of pulling together as a nation rather than against each other. 

Currently our social structure is deeply divided which is starkly illustrated during each national election as the population divides into red and blue states. There are religious, social, economic, and racial differences that pull us apart and cause our focus to shift from the fundamentals of pulling together. Using Finland as an example in this case is where we part company completely. Finland, and many smaller European countries, although they can have problems with religious and ethnic antagonism, have smaller populations of people to influence when shifting their country into a CCI economy. This could single-handedly be the biggest hurdle the US faces today. While adversity can often lead to startling leaps in creativity from individuals, it is when a country pulls together that you see world leadership born. In the current world economy many countries come to mind that could be potential candidates for that honor but the US is not one of the stronger contenders.

With our uneducated, reality TV based culture, we have turned our backs on our greatest export – the creative intelligence and ingenuity of our people. The promotion of a creative economy needs to become a concept that is understood by the individual American and something they are committed to with foresight and intelligence. If we understand that, the model of what we are educating ourselves for will shift from "how to build things," to "how to think of things" and we would begin to heal our social structure and legislate creativity into our government. 

These are utopian ideas but we are seeking answers. This article was inspired by one column on how charter schools are using young teachers in a transient manner to fill the leadership roles in our classrooms. This seems symptomatic of our band-aid approach to our future as a nation. This idea as well as many of our "knee-jerk" emotional short-term responses to long term issues will have the same effect that fast food had on America – it will satisfy an immediate need but ultimately it will be unhealthy for all of us.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breaking the r / U / LE / s

 Raygun Magazine designed by David Carson

I have been thinking quite a bit about the "rules" of design and when I choose to break them. The "rules" make sense to me – following the grid – paying attention to balance with regard to scale and space. But when do I get to B-R-E-A-K the rules?

Knowing when to break the rules in design is as important as knowing the rules. One of my favorite designers is David Carson. I have reflected on the pure genius of his punk/grunge, groundbreaking design of Raygun magazine. Carson broke all the rules. 

If you have ever seen his TED talk he makes fun of the fact that his copy is often illegible and he happily claims to have a degree in sociology rather than design. He sees the world around him and interprets is differently from the rest of us and it all works. It works, because it defies your expectations. It works, because it makes your brain decipher the visual code. It works, because you remember it. It ALL works.

Carson didn't break the design rules because he was being rebellious, although there was a little of that I'm sure. He broke the rules because his design sense was telling him to. He was designing in the surf/sport industry and his audience had short attention spans and a lot of physical energy. If you think about his work it often has the sense of catching something as you pass by in a speeding car. The words would fly off the page, unfinished or difficult to read. There was a new energy to the work.

David Carson has been widely emulated by other designers, with distressed design and broken typography but when Carson did it his "rule breaking" design came from an internal place. He was having fun and using "whatever he had around the house." His xerox machine, photos from surfing trips or roadside advertising, emulating the dilapidated textures of the strange little surf towns he had visited. It was all present in his typography and photo manipulation. His design came from a personal place – that's how he knew when to break the rules, he had seen it done in real life and found the beauty in it.

I think about this and realize that if I follow the rules to a "T", I am doing what feels right for my subject and my audience. Of course my ego wants to create bone-ratteling, jaw-dropping, ground-breaking new work but if I were to pursue that as a goal I would fail miserably. So I listen to the little voice in my head and I play.

The first two issues of 3.1 Venice magazine have surprised me with regard to the final design. I thought that given my head I would, like a wild horse, run through the field, jump the fence, and stray wayyyyy out into the world of design. But I did not. Instead I went back to basics and applied restraint and discipline to my work. Balance became incredibly important. Flow. Keeping the reader engaged without tricks. My subject was the beach community of Venice, California and we are known for having one of the widest expanses of beach in Los Angeles.

Venice is a balance of congestion that ends on the edge of Pacific Ocean with expanses of blue sky, blue water, and beige sand. The magazine design reflected my internal feeling about the city. The expectation would have been to create a jumbled, crazy quilt design of graffiti art, wild color, and density but for me that is a design element, not the infrastructure of what Venice feels like. If you don't believe me just look at the large numbers of minimalist painters and architects that live here – obviously we are all picking up the same vibe.

Back to the rules – as designers we have favorite, "go-to" fonts, colors, layouts, and tricks. But what about that one new thing you have always wanted to try? When do you try it? I have one firm rule about breaking rules, if you are consciously deciding to do a design a certain way BECAUSE it breaks the rules... you have failed. If you are playing and experimenting and a happy "design accident" happens, be strong and roll with it. You just broke the rules and it didn't hurt a bit.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Art + Message = Change

Political posters, like the ones shown, often have a clear message to be brave, to speak out, to have hope, "We can do it!" or in the case of the United Farm Workers grape boycott, "Si se puede!" These posters were effective calls for reform and revolution.

Recently I have been drafting a call for art submissions, on behalf of 3.1 Venice magazine, for a poster project revolving around the idea of non-violence as activism. It is part of a much bigger editorial mission to provide possibilities to promote peace on a local level.

During the course of writing the submission guidelines I realized that the artist's statement - the thinking behind the imagery will be almost as important as the image itself. I wanted to address the recent violent events in Boston and (closer to home) Santa Monica, California with images that reinforce the desire to live peaceably.

I researched images that had a significant impact upon our culture - images that we used as a rallying point - images that create change because they are so compelling people share them willingly. The saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is accurate when promoting a desire for change. Sometimes more can be said with one well designed political poster than a thousand word editorial. Art allows for a fluid exchange of ideas on a conscious and subconscious level.

While thinking about the series of articles for the next issue of 3.1 Venice, I began to see the symbiotic relationship between art and activism. The public seemed numb to the recent shootings at Santa Monica College with my friends and colleagues barely posting comment about it. But what could we say that hadn't been said? What change could we effect by talking about it? Which lead me to think - how do we empower ourselves?

The images of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and more recently Occupy Wall Street creating social change through non-violence was a goal, an ideal. I don't pretend to have the answers but art is a powerful tool to create awareness and perhaps rally people to action - if you display a poster that is so compelling, so beautifully designed, so brave, so intelligent that you can't help but speak about it, post it and share it then, that art has become a catalyst for change.

This is certainly not a new idea - it is just a good idea. We are a society in crisis and the average person wants to find their voice, they want to create positive change, they want to live in a peaceful world. We simply have different ideas about how to achieve that. But if the teachings of the great leaders of the non-violent protests have shown us anything it is that answering violence with repression or more violence only perpetuates a cycle of destruction. We need to change our thinking – to do that, we may need to be still for a moment and take in the inspired thinking of an artist with a message.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Collective Consciousness of "I"

3.1 Venice magazine – cover art  ©  Taylor Barnes 2013

I had a dream. I actually had an epiphany. I had a moment. Maybe a moment of insanity! But I did it. I started a magazine.  3.1 Venice was born May 30th, 2013 – weighing in at 60 pages and measuring 8.5" x 10.5".

I can use "I" with a sense of humility because I was the instrument for the idea. Much like giving birth to my daughter - I have a sense of bringing her into the world and having guardianship over her but what happened after that was her destiny, not mine.  

I just happened to have the skill set the universe required and it used me to get the word out. But the idea came through me like a Japanese bullet train. Four weeks ago it was a conversation at the local coffee shop, a statement of conviction, "I am starting a magazine." Four weeks ago, it was an impulsively bought domain name, and a temporary web site proclaiming an arbitrary release date of May 25th. There was no particular reason for that date (and I missed it by five days) except to proclaim to the world that "I" was starting a magazine.

But the power of conviction is what convinced me that my little village of Venice Beach, California, was interesting enough to warrant a magazine – after all, there had been two before me. The publication and the website came fully realized and in four short weeks the universe ushered to my door everyone and everthing I would need to make this a reality. 

The theme of the first issue revealed itself very quickly and it certainly was not what I would have thought if you asked me at the beginning of this journey. The very first interview, with a wonderful urban farmer, Matt Van Diepen, led to an entire issue built around the farm-to-table movement here in Venice. Each story lead to another and the discovery of the people who make our community unique. We have musician Finian Makepeace talking about Mycorrihzal Fungi and his dreams for a community garden, a profile on the modern ukulele band The Ooks of Hazzard, and a piece about Chance Foreman's film, One Day in Venice. There are other stories – The Learning Garden and the Seed Library, and interviews, art, video, photography. Everybody had something to say! All of these stories emanated from the 3.1 square miles we call Venice.

But it's the design process that was affirmed and revealed during the creation of this publication. The idea that I could be so deeply involved with the subject matter, that I could have a vision and be the guardian of it was a renewed experience. I have been here before but it has been awhile and I'd forgotten how intoxicating it can be. This project was a joyful coming together of all my skills in one place. Today, three days post launch, I am exhausted from all the joy.

I found myself in the middle of a process of collaboration, discovery, invention and communication that was energizing and inspiring and I am reminded why I love publication design so much. There is a bit of withdrawl now because it is a heady experience to bring something to fruition that was just a dream four weeks ago. But every time I look at the sixty pages of original content and the list of talented contributors, I am in awe of how creative humans can come together to build something more powerful than the singularity of it's parts.

Even though I started this post with references to "I", "I", "I" – I am ending this post as the collective "I." Think of the Borg of the Star Trek series. They were individuals all tuned into one mind – this is the "I" I am referring to. Collective Consciousness driving many people towards one binding mission. In this instance it was to create, even for a moment, a sense of community and awareness that you are not alone in the world. "I" is also "eye" when spoken, so the use of "I" with reference to a magazine could be interpreted as "I see."

View the first issue of 3.1 Venice at

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Venice is Becoming Beige


The Laughing Buddha is gone.

The loss of this mural is emblematic of a greater wrong being done to the community of Venice. 
People move here because we have a rich street culture, infused with creativity and bubbling with anarchistic energy. Venice was once home to a cultural revolution, dog town, street performers and famous the world over for it's unique artistic inspiration. We had live jazz, amazing chalk art on Abbot Kinney, nude poetry readings at a local coffee shop, bikers and surfers side by side... and artists. 

The artists made this community – they defined it with their murals, their clothes, their music. People were attracted to their world and wanted to feel a part of the rare, incandescent creative climate – they moved here in droves hoping it would rub off on them. 

Many of the newly transplanted "investors" were not comfortable living with the slightly unpolished and unpredictable nature of Venice and decided to change it into something more palatable and less discomforting. In the process, they impacted the visual culture of the city. Similar to when an animal goes extinct in an environment and that ecosystem is changed forever - changing the landscape and not encouraging our urban artists is forever changing our "artistic ecosystem."

We are becoming beige - witnessed by the "after" photo above. Venice has never been beige!

Other cities hold their street art in high esteem – London, Paris, Buenos Aires, San Paolo to name a few. The art can exist side by side with great buildings of other eras. The streets are a fertile ground to grow the next generation of artists and history has shown that many make the jump from street to museum – Toulouse Lautrec or Banksy, just two examples.

Artists are the "cultural caribou" of the world – wandering from site to site – creating a community were there was none – and moving on when the environment no longer feeds their needs. Venice was that place but judging by how easily the Buddha was wiped from the world, with the stroke of a beige paintbrush, artists can easily be disrespected and forgotten. Venice is a fragile artistic ecosystem.

I wonder what the world would be like, if someone thought the Sistine Chapel would be cleaner and more modern with a coat of beige paint and they got rid of that busy and outdated ceiling mural? 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cat People

Cat People © Taylor Barnes

I love the felt hats with cat ears and they are the inspiration for this illustration. 

While working on this piece I visualized a story in which, the hats were being worn by actual cat people. They needed those little pockets to put their ears into and keep them warm - human earmuffs wouldn't hide or fit their little cat ears. Even though they walked among us unnoticed the predator in them would surface from time to time. On those occasions the pupils of their eyes would contract to look like cat eyes and they would freeze and become fascinated by their prey.  

I am still not certain if they are dangerous. This character is cute and cuddly like your typical house cat but looks can be deceptive because she does have claws hidden under that window sill...


Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Don't Know Where I am Going...

This piece is exploring the idea of weightlessness, both emotionally and physically. Titled, "I Don't Know Where I am Going," it is a response to moments when we are carried into unexpected directions, we can't see the way, we feel disoriented, and there is a loss of control — it is not always a bad place to be. The element of air and a sense of openness is prevalent in these recent pieces. Don't we all crave a feeling of freedom and possibility? A sense of "where will I land next?" Savor the moments when routine is challenged, because tremendous inner growth is often the reward. I have a feeling this theme will reoccur over a few more pieces.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goddess of Freedom

Broken ©Taylor Barnes

Personal work is always so interesting. You never know what may emerge from the inner depths of your mind. Recently I took a friend up on the idea of participating in a guided meditation for 21 days. I was certain I would never follow through and if I did I would find it impossible to sit still.

To my surprise I have become addicted to the stillness. The imagery that I see during these moments has been rather self-revelatory. The idea of floating has been dominating my inner thoughts. Floating has so many correlations emotionally that I can't even begin to define what this means to me. So rather than write about it I have decided to do some illustrations around the concept of floating and weightlessness.

This one is about breaking free of the constraints of the material world. Hope and gratitude are also present on the journey. I call her a goddess because she is demonstrating my higher self in it's finer moments.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Selfless Portraits - Altruistic Art in the Facebook Era

Recently, I came across an article about a new Facebook app, Selfless Portraits. The idea is to create spontaneous, hand-made art based upon the prompt of a Facebook profile photo. In return someone will create a piece based upon your photo. It is anonymous and random which, is very appealing to me.

An artistic challenge - no matter how it is posed - can reinvigorate our commitment to our craft and help us the hone our creative decision making skills as an artist. I can honestly say that how I chose to approach such an open ended project surprised me.

As I reflect upon my process, twenty-four hours later, I feel that this public art experiment was a wonderful, private moment shared by my mind, my hand and my instinct.

As I approached this sketch I had planned to go with color and at the last minute decided I wanted to work in pencil. Color was the natural first choice because of the vibrant tulips but once I made the decision to go black and white I was primarily working with shape, line and shadow. If this was going to be interesting then those elements had better be compelling.

I started with light shading but quickly realized that the man in the photo was more interesting than the tulips he was holding. - His hands carried all the character - full of expression and life, they became the portrait.

The face is barely there as an anchor. The piece built from the foreground to the background. And then I was left with the tulips.

I love to draw flowers and struggled with the idea of making the tulips the only color or at least rendering them. But it was their shape, bisecting the man's face and casting shadows that was far more interesting than the eye-catching color. The shape was the designer's choice. I created an added element that could only have worked in black and white.

When I finished I realized that this exercise in a quick portrait of a perfect stranger had opened up the process and showed me a little more of how my artist's mind works to solve a creative challenge. Patience, the willingness to give yourself over to the challenge one moment at a time, the spontaneity of changing gears when an new creative opportunity offers itself are the elements of process.

I suppose some would call this artistic growth... I call it fun!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Circle of Design

I recently completed the redesign of Boston University's, The BU Buzz — their online student magazine. This job resonated with me more than others because I was working with one of my former students, Leora Yashari who is the fearless Editor-in-Chief. I found myself reflecting upon the impact that out giving, our words, and our actions have on others. When you teach, your students are dandelion seeds taking flight, landing and blooming but a little bit of you goes with each of them.

Leora is no longer my student and yet we can start a new dialog because of the language of design. Design is constant with changing variables. Maybe once it would have been a print conversation and now it is a web conversation but good design is still at the center. The desire to create beauty, symmetry and effective communication spans all generations.

The process of putting this magazine together and watching my former student apply the things I had taught her in a real world setting was gratifying. So please visit this site and see the energy and creativity these dynamic editors are bringing to the web!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Think Pink!

Pink is everywhere this week with Valentine's Day right around the corner. This color has been gradually been creeping into my work more and more. It used to be a muted yellow green, then a rich eggplant, which gave way to a vibrant orange. But lately it is pink, pink and more pink! Since pink seems to be dominating my design vocabulary I felt it warranted a closer look.

The famous fashion designer Elsa Shiaparelli created a shade of hot pink/magenta that made her famous in the 50s. Inspired by the color of a Cartier diamond, she said it was, "bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world but together, a color of China and Peru but not of the West - a shocking color, pure and undiluted." And the color "Shiaparelli Pink" was born.

Others in fashion has been fascinated with the color pink. Diana Vreeland, iconic editor of Vogue magazine, once proclaimed, ""Pink is the navy blue of India." The fictionalized version of Vreeland, portrayed by Kay Thompson in the movie "Funny Face" sang, "Think Pink!"

There are many shades of pink:   
Blush,  Rose Pink,  Salmon Pink,  Orchid,  Fuchsia,  Hot Pink.
All of them are some combination of red and white. If you examine the psychology of color, then pink is generally the sweeter, slightly more innocent sister of red. 

Pink represents hop… look at the use of pink for the ribbon logo to fight breast cancer, or the "silence = death" AIDS campaign logo. Pink represents girlishness, femininity and innocence. Pink is happiness and love. Red is passion and lust. Pink is youthful and Red is pink all grown up.

But pink has it's moments of sophistication. Pair it with black and suddenly it is very chic. Pairing it with a darker color makes it assertive and confident, yet elegant and subtly sweet.

Pink can be emotional and immature but at the same time it is utterly the color of romance! Therefore Pink is the perfect color to represent the sometimes fickle, sometimes challenging but ultimately unforgettable concept of romantic love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Somewhere Between Art and Technology...

Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, by Marcel Duchamp 1912

The title of this post, Somewhere Between Art and Technology, is where I reside at this point in my life. I used the famous Marcel Duchamp painting, Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, to illustrate this feeling. The amazing thing about this work was how the intellectual components of the painting ushered in the cubist movement. To think that this painting was done in 1912 astounds me when I liken it to fractal design now. How could Duchamp have been that dialed in? What did he see in 1912 that the rest of humanity did not?

As I ponder this idea I overlap it with the premise of an article I read recently stating that all of society is overlooking the mammoth change technology has brought upon humanity. This is difficult for anyone under the age of thirty to really understand because technology has been playing a vital role most of their adult lives. But as a person who was brought up in an analog age and stands squarely between both worlds, I feel a bit like the figure in the Duchamp painting - fractured and processing information on multiple levels. As an artist I once again relate to this painting as I try to meld my hand work with my love of technology.

As our culture struggles to retain it's humanity while balancing it with the technology it loves, what will happen to artists, writers and creators of all genres? I do wonder if we devalue the artistic process now that so much of it can be duplicated by software. How will we know when something is truly innovative and the product of real talent? As plagiarism is on the rise the line is becoming blurred ethically. Only recently I discovered that a piece I ran on this blog was used in a facebook post which was shared over two hundred times - often without my name attached.

That incident caused me to consider the idea of watermarking my work but ultimately I decided not to. Why? Because I posted it in a public forum because I wanted it to be seen and I wanted it to be seen unmarred by a watermark symbol. That piece was there to be evocative. If I wanted to be paid for it I would have not shared it in such a public venue. These are the decisions that we make as artists floating somewhere between art and technology.

I straddle the world of social media to help dissipate some of the aloneness that the artistic life can create but at the same time I need to manage my addiction. Constantly seeking a conversation, contact with the outside world, or an idea to discuss - social media is at times a wonderful fuel and a supremely superficial level of pontification. Balance... that I what I strive for between Art and Technology.