Diana Vreeland

04/30/12

{left: Portrait of Diana Vreeland by George Hoyningen-Huene in the late 1930s; right: Diana Vreeland photographed in Arizona by Louise Dahl-Wolfe}

Sometime in 2001 I saw the Bruce Weber film Chop Suey at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. It was in watching this film that I became acquainted with former fashion editor Diana Vreeland (1903-1989). I remember being entranced by her (and by many other things about the film Chop Suey, but that’s another post).

Fast forward to 2012. Last night my partner and I went to see Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel at the San Francisco Film Festival, a documentary about the life and work of Diana Vreeland.

One of the most amazing parts of the documentary were the copious (and GORGEOUS) images of Harper’s and Vogue covers and spreads from her tenure at each magazine. Vreeland was fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962. In 1963 she went to work for Vogue Magazine where she stayed until the early 70’s. What was most impressive about Vreeland was her brassy, unapologetic, forward thinking attitude about fashion — and what should appear in the magazine (she had a brilliant, visionary mind). Ultimately, that got her fired from her post as editor (according to the film), since most people could not handle the new content and counter-culture ideas she infused into the publication.

{Diana Vreeland, shot by James Karales in her Vogue office, New York, 1965, at 62.}

I love seeing documentaries and reading books about female creatives. I am not even sure I would have liked Vreeland as a person (she seemed brash and bossy). But I do admire her obsessive commitment to her craft and her clear, focused artistic vision. I also love that she featured prominently in Vogue non-traditional beauties like Barbara Streisand and Lauren Hutton and Cher. Vreeland herself was not a traditional beauty, and yet she had an iconic personal style and magnificent air of self confidence that was stunning.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel has been picked up by a major distributor, so it should be coming to a theater near you soonl. Keep your eyes peeled. If you love fashion and fashion icons, you will like this film.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 120

04/30/12

-Diana Vreeland, former fashion editor for Harpers Bazaar and former Editor of Vogue.

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 119

04/29/12

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 118

04/28/12

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1974

04/27/12

Rocking the tie dye that my mom helped me make, sunglasses on my head, and a hand-woven purse that my aunt got me in (the then) Yugoslavia. I adored that purse.

Happy Friday, all. Have a good weekend.

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 117

04/27/12

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It’s Happening

04/26/12

 

+++

As some of you know, I am planning a trip to Scandinavia and Iceland in September. Last night I made the first official step in making that trip happen.

I bought a plane ticket! And I almost cried when the transaction went through. This is all so significant to me on so many levels:

+I have been so moved by the natural landscape, design and music of¬†Scandinavia and Iceland for years and years. Traveling to these places is near the top of my “life list.”¬† I have made entire bodies of work inspired by Nordic countries, yet I have never visited one.
+I have not traveled outside the US since 2004.
+I have never traveled alone in a foreign country for more than three days, and I am going by myself for three weeks.
+I have gone through times as a self employed artist over the past few years when I didn’t know how I was going to afford food, much less a three week trip to Northern Europe. I have scraped and saved and worked my butt off. And as a result, I get to do this.

The trajectory of the trip should look something like this: Iceland for a couple days (to acclimate), then combination of Sweden, Denmark, and Finland for two weeks, then back to Iceland for another week.

I’ve asked this before, but if you have any suggestions for me (things to see, people to meet, places to stay) in any of these places, shoot me an email.

Thank you for sharing in my excitement. More to come on my travel plans over the next few months.

{Note: Yes, my name is Elisabeth. I have gone by Lisa since I was a small kid, but Elisabeth is still my “official” name!}

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 116

04/26/12

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Dream Projects

04/25/12

I have been so lucky in the past couple of years to get dream project after dream project. The latest one with Chronicle Books. I can’t say much about it until it’s released, except tell you it’s a book with 42 of my illustrations and the writing of someone very famous (sneak peek of one of the illustrations, above). The thing I love most about this job is that they have given me so much creative bandwidth (and, yes, there will be neon throughout). The final illustrations are due in early June, so I have been working my fanny off. But it’s the kind of job where I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get to work, and my partner has to pry me away from it at night. I love working with Chronicle. I’ve been working with them on various projects since 2007, and they are some of my favorite people in the industry.

As if this project wasn’t enough, I’m also working right now with Hygge and West on some wallpaper designs which will be released later this year. Another dream client, another fantastic collaboration with smart, kind and generous people.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I did not come into this career until late in life (more about my story here), and I feel enormously lucky that it has been so awesome so far.

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 115

04/25/12

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On Hand Lettering Everyday

04/24/12

On January 1, 2012, I started this crazy project here on my blog called 365 Days of Hand Lettering. Recently, I’ve been getting lots emails and tweets from folks interested in learning more about my daily hand lettering process, so I thought I’d talk a little today about what the experience has been like for me since I started 114 days ago.

Truth be told, when I started this project, I had no idea how challenging it was going to be. I’m not sure what’s more challenging: having to think of something new to post every day or the actual process of hand lettering my ideas.

Here’s how it works for me most days: I get up at about 6:30 in the morning. My partner brings me coffee (she gets up much earlier than I do). I grab my pencil/pen cases and paper from beside my bed, and I hand letter something for the day. Then I walk over to my scanner, scan what I have made, clean it up in Photoshop, and post it on this blog.

There are, of course, days when I can’t get up and hand letter something first thing in the morning, so I might work on something the night before. If I’m about to travel I might even prepare 2-6 posts at one time in advance of my trip.

But generally, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward daily practice.

I get lots of questions about the project. Here are a few of the most frequent:

+What materials do you use?

Most of my materials are pictured above. Depending on the style, I use pencils, pens and ink. Erasers and blender “stumps” are handy when I letter in pencil. Simple fine-tipped pens are my favorite lettering tool, and the ones that I have ended up using most often.

+Do you trace or copy?

I don’t trace when I hand letter. I do copy (look at reference) when I am attempting a traditional form of calligraphy, like Copperplate. But about 97% of what I letter is my own design.

+How is the project different than what you thought it might be?

I thought I’d be doing A LOT more traditional calligraphy. I have found working with ink and nibs pretty challenging & frustrating, and I prefer pencils and pens and working in my own styles. I began the project working exclusively with ink and nibs and brushes. I only use them about 1-2 times a month now.

+Do you feel like your hand lettering is improving or changing?

YES! Whenever you practice something every day, your skills will improve inevitably. I also feel like I am beginning to develop my own styles of hand lettering.

+Are you enjoying yourself? Or do you ever feel like you want to quit?

Hand lettering everyday is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Some days it feels really fun. Some days it feels like a chore (and I have to redo something 5 times to get it as right as I can). I do like the discipline of the process. When I did my first daily project in 2010, I felt the same way. The daily encouragement from people who read my blog and follow me on twitter also helps tremendously!

+How do you decide what to hand letter each day?

It’s totally random for the most part! One week I focused on “days of the week” as a theme, and I might do something like that again. But usually it’s whatever strikes me that day. If I have time, I might letter a long poem or an elaborate letter. If I am in a hurry, it’s usually short and simple.

I have enjoyed lettering poems a lot lately. Who knows what will be next!

+Will you teach a hand lettering class?

Probably not, or not at least for a long time. I am far, far, far from being an expert at lettering. I am self-taught and I need a lot more practice and refinement before I’m ready to teach others.

+Do you take commissions for hand lettering (e.g: a tattoo design or wedding vows)?

Yes. Just email me with your idea and we can discuss timeline and fee.

+++

I have 251 days left, people. Thank you for your continued support.

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 114

04/24/12

Embrace, by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins.

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Harvest Repeats

04/23/12

Getting ready to show my portfolio at my agent’s book at Surtex this year and found these kitchen patterns I made a couple of years ago! I’d forgotten about them. I love digging up old work.

CATEGORIES: Repeat Patterns
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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 113

04/23/12

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365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 112

04/22/12

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