Words for the Day :: No. 35

08/18/14

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One of the questions I am asked most often is how – as a working artist – I deal with things like comparison, disappointment, self doubt & rejection. I have talked before about the idea of charting your own path & living your own life and even touched on it last week toward the end of this live interview. Recently, I found the quote above by Anton Chekhov, and thought it perfectly summed up what I less eloquently try to say.

Art making, while enormously rewarding, can also be rife with disappointment and feelings of vulnerability. The idea is to make friends with the struggle and continue (stubbornly) on your own path. I’ve written before about this idea of embracing difficulty and fear (and talked about it in this lecture). I think it’s enormously important.

I also think it’s important to remember that everyone struggles with self doubt and angst, even extremely successful & well known artists like Gerhard Richter — just watch this touching documentary about him and you will see how vulnerable he is about his work.

Have a good Monday, friends.

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Father Jan Rossey

08/01/14

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We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep. -William James

The day before I got married last year, I got an email from someone I’d never met. This is not unusual for me. My life is somewhat public-facing — I keep a blog that many people read and I post daily images of my work & life on Instagram. I get emails almost every day from people I don’t know –  asking me questions or letting me know what they think about my work. Around the time of my wedding in 2013, I got a lot of congratulatory emails from people around the world — and I loved them all.

The email that I was most touched by, however, came from Father Jan Rossey. The first line of the email said this: “I wish you both a wonderful day tomorrow and a wonderful day every day of your married life. May God bless you and keep you.” He attached the beautifully lettered image, pictured above, to the email. Father Jan went on to explain that he was a Roman Catholic priest and monk in the monastery of Caldey Island. He also explained that he was an amateur lettering artist, letter carver and calligrapher since 1978. He learned calligraphy from the best teachers in the world: John Stevens, Brody Neuenschwander, Tom Perkins and John Nash, the Family Boudens and many others.

“Some time ago,” he said, “I came across your work and I love it very much. I like the ‘simplicity’ [which is not so simple] of your lettering work and drawings. I myself turn more and more towards the same simplicity, pencil drawn letters. Apart from some lettering I carve text in stone also. If you’re interested I’ll send you some pictures of my work.”

I was so moved by this email. First, a Roman Catholic priest and monk who lives in an abbey across the world in Wales was emailing me to wish me — and my soon-to-be wife — a happy wedding day. Second, this accomplished calligrapher was complimenting me on my lettering. It made my heart feel full, and made me feel a love for humanity. Here we were — two people from different generations, from two different worlds — finding connection. Father Jan and I corresponded a bit after the initial email, and I never forgot about him.

Fast forward to a year later. I got another email from Father Jan, this one entitled, “Happy Anniversary.” I quickly opened it. “I wish you a happy first anniversary of your wedding,” he wrote. “Lisa, I must say I’m very much inspired by your work and by the way you look at things in life. Last Christmas I had to make the Christmas crib here at the monastery and I took you [and Marimekko] as inspiration.” Father Jan attached this photo of his beautiful patterned trees. I thought I might cry that moment — how beautiful are these trees!!

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Father Jan continued: “Also your hand-lettering and drawings made me try myself. So I handlettered and illustrated one chapter of the Rule of Benedict, chapter 4, ‘The tools for Good works’.  As a token of my appreciation for you and as a late wedding-present I would like to send you a copy of the little booklet [A6-80 pages], but then I need you mail-address. It might inspire you in turn.” He also let me know that he was packing to travel to Tautra in Norway “not to make you jealous of course,” he said, which made me laugh because everyone knows how much I love Scandinavia! He was going on retreat in preparation for his Solemn Profession as a Cistercian Monk.

I quickly wrote back to Father Jan and thanked him for the offer of his book and gave him my address. I was really excited to receive it. Several weeks later I received Father Jan’s beautiful book.

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The book is called RB4 – The Tools for Good Works, and it is an illustrated version of Chapter 4 of the Rule of St Benedict, traditionally known as ”The Tools for Good Works.” The Rule of St. Benedict was written for monks, but Father Jan thinks everyone can benefit from living by the rules — or at least attempting to! Some of them are rather challenging! Anyhow, father Jan not only hand lettered the rules, but also illustrated them. The illustrations are based on everyday household tools. Here are a couple of examples:

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Even the end-pages of Father Jan’s book are beautiful!

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How does a monk living on an abbey on an island in Wales create such a beautiful book? Well, the same way any of us would: with pencils, pens, and, of course, Photoshop! Father Jan has some serious skills. If you would like to purchase a copy of RB4 – The Tools for Good Works, you can do so here.

After I received Father Jan’s book, I sent him a copy of Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, which he received last week. “Your beautiful book arrived this morning,” he wrote. “And it is a great thrill to take it in hand as it has such a tactile cover.”

I leave you with that, friends. And with these words from Herman Melville: “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

Have a happy Friday.

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Create Explore Discover Retreat

07/21/14

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For the past two years I have attended a really wonderful retreat in California! It’s called Create. Explore. Discover. and this year it’s happening October 24-26 at this gorgeous spot in Truckee.  Organized by the amazing Sarah Stevenson, this year retreat features workshops by such dynamic artists and craftspeople as Mati McDonough, Anne Weil, Andrea Jenkins and Courtney Cerruti, and I am so excited to attend again. I’m not teaching this year, but I will be giving a short talk and leading an evening activity! The rest of the time I’ll be taking some of the workshops myself.

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The retreat includes insanely delicious food and wine (the most important thing, right?), fantastic art, photography and needlework classes, beautiful surroundings (complete with fall foliage) and the most comfortable beds in the universe! There is ample time for relaxing, too.

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I’ll be there again this year and I hope you’ll join me! Through July 30 you can get 10% off your registration by using the code cedlc2014! Space at the retreat is limited, so sign up early before it sells out. If you live in the area, you can register for day passes too! You can register here.

Have a great Monday, friends!

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Quarterly, Creativebug & Me

06/16/14

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Friends, I’m so happy to announce a collaboration between Quarterly Co, Creativebug & me!

For Creativebug’s first Quarterly Co. box they’ve collaborated with me to design a box packed with imaginative inspiration. Not only will you have everything you need to draw a gorgeous piece of art, but there are a few more exclusive goodies from me! They’re packed to the brim with curated art supplies (including some of my favorite products) and a limited edition piece of art. I can’t ruin the surprise and tell you what’s inside, so treat yourself!

If you’re interested in receiving this doodler’s-dream-of-a-box, sign up here.

You can learn more about Quarterly Co. here.

CATEGORIES For Sale | Inspiration
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New York Recap No. 3 :: Art!

06/03/14

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{Abstract painting by Amy Sillman (whose work I love in general, which was one of my favorite pieces in the 2014 Whitney Biennial}

One of my absolute favorite activities in the universe is looking at art in NY. Clay and I had a busy week with many commitments when we were there, so we didn’t get to see as much art as we’d normally like to, but what we saw was stellar. We were able to catch the Whitney Biennial, which was jam packed (with people and with art), each floor curated by a different person. I enjoyed the fourth floor the most, which was curated by Michelle Grabner. She featured many female artists, and the most paintings & textiles (which of course I love).

Another highlight was the Lynda Barry show at Adam Baumgold Gallery. The show was chock full of original cartoons and really old stuff by Barry. For Barry fans, this is a must! They are also for sale and the folks at the gallery are wonderfully kind and helpful. I didn’t buy anything but, boy, did I want to!

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{One of Barry’s original cartoons on display at Adam Baumgold}

We also went one day to the Brooklyn Museum, where we saw both the Ai Weiwei exhibit (Ai Weiwei: According to What?) and the Swoon installation. Both were phenomenal.

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The scale of Ai Weiwei’s work is something you must witness in person. Here I am observing “Ye Haiyan’s Belongings”. You can read more about the show here.

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{Ai Weiwei Installation made from rebar recovered from the earthquake in China a few years ago.}

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{Above: if you are a Swoon fan, you will love the gigantic installation she made in the museum’s rotunda.}

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{Clay and me outside the Dia: Beacon}

Last but not least we went to the Dia: Beacon with our friends Anna and Evan who have a home nearby. I’d heard about this place, but it is also something to behold in person. A former Nabisco box factory, it’s been transformed into a place for large scale modern art. I cannot wait to go back.

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{Agnes Martin at the Dia}

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{Clay inside a Richard Serra installation at the Dia.}

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{Sol Lewitt wall drawings were fantastic!}

Have a happy Tuesday, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of work I made for my upcoming book signing and show at Poketo in Los Angeles.

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Tiffanie Turner :: HEADS

05/07/14

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If you’ve been paying attention on the interwebs over the last week, you might have noticed there is a lot of talk about an exhibition of gigantic crepe paper flowers happening in San Francisco right now. That exhibition, which opens at Rare Device on Friday, is the handiwork of artist Tiffanie Turner. I first met Tiffanie when she came to an event in my studio in early 2012. At the time, she was interested in getting back to making art — she is a licensed architect who left the industry several years ago — and was looking for new creative pursuits. She has in the two years since engaged in a multitude of serious creative projects — all of which are documented on her blog. But none has caught the attention of her fans (and the general public) as much as her giant paper flowers.

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Through HEADS, Tiffanie explores the organized chaos and rhythms of nature — and in some ways (I’d hazard to guess) it explores (and may bring a sense of order) to the “chaos” of her own life. Each flower, made from crepe paper, takes her 35 to 80 hours to make — a true feat of strength and perseverance for Tiffanie, who lives & works in a small apartment in San Francisco with her husband and two kids, who are 4 and 8 years old.

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HEADS opens with a reception this Friday May 9 from 6-8:00 p.m. at Rare Device. You can read more about Tiffanie and her stunning flowers on this fabulous article published this week by The SF Chronicle. All photos by Sarah Deragon and Tiffanie Turner.

See you at the opening & Happy Wednesday!

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Will Taylor :: Bright Bazaar

04/25/14

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About two years ago I met Will Taylor online, probably on Twitter or Instagram (I can’t remember exactly). Since 2009, Will has kept a blog called Bright Bazaar, on which he writes prolifically about interior design and his commodious love for color. Aside from having a really fantastic eye for design, Will is simply one of the most genuinely authentic and kind people you will ever meet on the interwebs. One of the most exciting things that’s happened recently for those of us who love Will and his bold aesthetic is that he’s recently written a beautiful book. The book, called (aptly) Bright Bazaar: Embracing Color for Make-You-Smile Style (St. Martins, 2014), features not only Will’s own gorgeous home in the UK, but the homes of many people who revere and use color in magnificent ways. Lucky for us, it’s released TUESDAY, April 29 in the US! I got an advance copy and I can’t want to share some of it with you.

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In his book, Will offers recipes for “Color Cocktails” and their coordinating mood boards (see the amazing examples above and below for “Tangerine Dream” and “The Citrus Twist”), along with step by step advice to create color-filled rooms. This book is particularly great for people who love the idea of using color but are intimidated to decorate with it.

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Almost every inch of this 191 page coffee-table-sized book was gorgeously photographed in bold color by ultra talented Andrew Boyd. The text is super easy to follow, accessible and light-hearted, just like decorating should be! Bright Bazaar is organized not only by color family (there is even a section on decorating in black and white) but also by room, like home offices (see below). There is even a section on outdoor spaces.

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Will is currently on tour in the US and signing books all over! Check his blog for when he might be in your neck of the woods.

I leave you now with this photo of Will, because a) it’s adorable and b) behind this stunning book is a real person, who works really hard and does it all with a generous heart. Oh, and he’s go amazing style himself, wouldn’t you say?

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{photo of Will by Kiana Underwood}

Thank you for being you, Will, and thank you for making this book! Friends, you can get it here and in most bookstores.

Have a happy weekend, friends.

CATEGORIES Inspiration
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Corita Kent & Happy Weekend

04/11/14

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Last week when I was in the beautiful city of Ventura, I stumbled into the most amazing used book store (one of the most amazing I’ve ever been in, in fact). And I found (without really looking) this first edition book of poetry by Gerald Huckaby illustrated by Corita Kent (aka Sister Corita). You may recall that last year I hand lettered Sister Corita’s Art Department Rules, and I have been on a hunt for her iconic work (in whatever form & state I can find it) as I am in stores and flea markets. So I was really excited to find this book. BTW: they had different Corita Kent book that was signed, but it was a wee bit out of my price range! Anyhow, the inside of City, Uncity is even more glorious than the beautiful cover, pictured above. Here’s a sample spread:

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This spread just happens to be oriented vertically, but most spreads in the book are regular horizontal spreads. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for other Corita Kent books and posters as I’m out and about these days.

On an entirely different note, this morning I spoke at TYPO Design Conference in SF and it was a great experience! Many of you have been asking, and my talk was recorded, so when it’s up for viewing on the internet, I’ll let you know.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

CATEGORIES Inspiration
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Blair Stocker :: Wise Craft

04/03/14

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Every now and again a friend calls on me to illustrate something for them. To me, this is the greatest honor: when someone you’ve known for years actually wants to work with you. Maybe some of you can relate — it’s a special experience. Last year I got an email from my agent — my friend Blair Stocker was writing a craft book and she wanted me to illustrate some of the projects. Truth be told, Blair’s book has SIXTY amazing projects in it, and I only illustrated a handful. But it was a super fun project, especially because I got to interact directly with Blair to get the illustrations just right.  I can’t wait to share some photos with you.

Blair’s book is called Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love. It’s based on many projects from her longtime blog, Wise Craft — and, of course, some new ones too. Instead of throwing away things like old dishes or shirts, Blair teaches you how to remake/reuse them, adding special touches to make them unique. This book is also particularly great for folks (like me!) who like to thrift for special treasures and then use them in projects. The book is divided into four seasonal chapters, with designs that reflect different holidays and the like. Here are some of my favorite projects from the book:

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{Dip Dye Toile Dishes}

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{Bead-bombed Tote Bag, with my illustration in the upper right}

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{Spooky dishes}

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{Summer Sherbet Picnic Blanket, with my illustration on the right}

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{Hand Painted Journals}

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{Hottie Rice Pillow, with my illustration on the right hand page}

You can purchase Blair’s beautiful book here or wherever craft books are sold. I’ll be making those dip-dyed ceramics very soon (stay tuned for a post on that!)

Have a happy Thursday!

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Austin Kleon :: Show Your Work

03/26/14

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I can’t say enough good things about Austin Kleon’s latest book, Show Your Work! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you may remember that a couple of years ago I met Austin when he was in San Francisco and also wrote about his previous book, Steal Like an Artist. I’m a big fan of Austin’s approach to creativity and sharing your talent. I get emails and questions all the time from fellow creatives who are just starting out about how to “get my work out into the world” or how to “promote what I do as a creative person.” I am so happy that I now have Austin’s book to recommend. It’s really fantastic.

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Through stories of his own personal experiences — and with great humor and humility — Austin shares 10 big ideas about what he’s learned about sharing & promoting, including:
+share something small every day
+tell good stories
+don’t turn into human spam
+stick around
These are just a few of my personal favorites.

Austin’s book is based on the premise that sharing — and not hiding — your process (how you do what you do & how you think about what you do) is what draws people to you and helps you gain a following that can provide a sense of community and even help you make a living from what you do. This book is great for creatives of all types, from writers to artists and makers of all kinds.

Austin is currently touring around signing books and talking about his ideas, and I highly recommend going to meet him in person if he comes to a location near you — he’s incredibly smart, inspiring and engaging.

Happy Wednesday, friends! You can see a list of all of the places to purchase Austin’s book here.

CATEGORIES Inspiration
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Interwoven is Back!

03/24/14

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You may recall last year I told my readers about Interwoven, an online class taught by my friends Lisa Solomon and Katrina Rodabaugh. Well, Interwoven is back, and it’s better than ever. The class covers four textile-based projects (soft sculpture cloud mobile, crochet, embroidery, and a mini quilt project) over eight weeks. Each section will include a complete step-by-step tutorial to create a finished project. The class also includes exclusive artist interviews, video tutorials, possibilities for altering the techniques, and more. It’s jam packed.

On behalf of Lisa and Katrina, I am offering a special 10% off code SPECIALFRIENDS if you sign up!

Learn more about the class and register here.

Happy Monday!

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Wendy MacNaughton :: Meanwhile in San Francisco

03/14/14

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Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of illustrator, Wendy MacNaughton. I am also lucky because Wendy is a close friend and confidant. I met Wendy in early 2011 through our mutual friend Jen Bekman and we became fast pals; Wendy has helped me countless times to navigate the topsy turvy world of art and illustration (and sometimes just my general life). She is a treasure.

I have written about Wendy’s work before many times, most notably when her last book came out. And now Wendy has another book, and this one is really special. It’s Wendy’s first “solo” book (ie: it’s all her) and it’s about the city we both love: San Francisco. To write and illustrate Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words (Chronicle, 2014), Wendy has both been an acute observer of the city’s quirks (and this city has many) and roamed its streets for the last several years talking to locals about their lives here.

The result: a really funny, touching and true to life account of the different communities of people who live here. Wendy has a really fantastic and distinct illustration & hand lettering style (she uses watercolor and ink), and her work perfectly captures the people she talked to and their stories. The book is also sprinkled with great (and super hilarious) spreads highlighting some of the cities legendary places, traditions and peculiarities. Here are some of my favorite spreads from the book:

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{A map of the famous Dolores Park, an almost-always-packed green space in the Mission}

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{The famous bison that roam the western end of  Golden Gate Park.}

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{Mission Hipsters: “Ex-girlfriend is dating other ex-girlfriend”}

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{Critical Mass, a last Friday of every month ritual for the bicycling community here}

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{Dogs, oh the dogs of SF: You know their names, but not their owners’ names…}

This book isn’t just for San Franciscans — it’s for anyone who loves San Francisco. Its 176 pages (yes, it’s that thick) will delight and entertain you. Thank you for making this book, Wendy. I have no doubt it will someday be a collector’s item. Get the book here or at your local book seller.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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Danielle Krysa :: Creative Block

02/25/14

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Friends, Danielle Krysa, aka The Jealous Curator, has put out the most beautiful book, and I am so honored to be part of it. It’s called Creative Block: Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artists, and it’s published by Chronicle Books. The book includes interviews with 50 artists, recommended activities for getting your creative juices flowing,  plus pages and pages of gorgeous imagery. Yes, it’s a beautifully curated & edited book, but truly the best part of this book are the countless pages of stories from real working artists talking about their worst days and how they get through them. I always say that it’s our humanity as artists that connects us with the world, and this book is a testament to that.

Danielle is going on a book signing tour to a few major cities, and I highly recommend going to one of these events if there is one near you:
San Francisco, March 5
Los Angeles, March 22
New York City, April 2 (you must purchase tickets to this one)
Vancouver, BC, May 15, 7 pm

A few spreads from the book:

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{one of my mine}

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{Holly Chastain}

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{Aris Moore}

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{Kate Pugsley}

You can get the book here or at your local bookstore. Congratulations, Danielle! I love this book.

Happy Tuesday.

 

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Kate Bingaman Burt :: Daily Purchase Project

02/13/14

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Today my friend, artist, illustrator, designer, teacher extraordinaire (and overall awesome, kind, spirited person) Kate Bingaman Burt, finished her daily purchase project, in which  she drew (in an effort to be more conscious of her consumption) one of her purchases every day for exactly eight years. I first met Kate in 2007 when she was just a year into the project. My friend Rena and I invited her to install some of her drawings and other artwork she’d made about consumption at the gallery we ran inside our store (called Rare Device) in San Francisco. From there we became fast friends. Since then she’s gone on to do new/more great things.

This was Kate’s first drawing in the project, made in February 2006:

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Over the course of  2,192 days, Kate drew and posted 2,192 drawings! She brings the idea of a daily project to an entirely new level! You can see Kate’s complete collection of drawings here.

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“This project has lead to incredible collaborations, lots of drawing, new ways of working and thinking.” says Kate. Her work has led to books & incredible public talks & textiles and patterns & installations (including the one she did at Rare Device in 2007) & copious illustration work. I am sure it’s also led to many new friendships & personal relationships that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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I often tell people, GO WITH YOUR CRAZY IDEA. This, my friends, is a case in point. Kate exemplifies that creative spirit and drive that makes this world a better, more hopeful place. I am excited to see what she comes up with next. I’ll leave you with this photo of Kate blowing up a giant pretzel in her office.

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Happy Thursday, friends!

CATEGORIES Inspiration
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Carrie Strine :: Handwork

02/11/14

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I am so excited to share with you the quilting work of artist & photographer Carrie Strine. I first met Carrie through my work with 20×200 and then we became friends when I contributed to Volume 1 of her magazine project, The Knot. As I got to know Carrie, I fell in love with her quilted handiwork. While she was completing her MFA and working on a series of photographic installations, she started “a tiny project hand sewing tiny little pieces of fabric into a pair of pillows,” she said in an interview with It’s Nice That. “It started out just for fun—I didn’t even have a sewing machine—then it became really clear that there was a relationship between my quilting and the installations I was making in my studio. I used to think it was just that quilting was just a little hobby that would keep my mind from getting lazy while away from my ‘real’ work, but its just not the case these days. Quilting has become central to my practice.”

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Carrie’s work is so meticulous that one wonders: how long does all of this take? And, as you’d suspect, it varies. “I always have one project going that is done completely by hand,” which takes much longer. Most of the time, however, she combines machine piecing (that’s sewing together the small pieces of fabric with a machine) and hand quilting. “A bed sized quilt can take somewhere between 6 weeks and 1 year depending on the complexity and my engagement.”

My favorite part of Carrie’s quilts are her use of color and her eye for perfect composition. This one, entitled Medallion, is her masterpiece. It took her three years to complete! And, to top it off, not a single inch was worked with a sewing machine!

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Carrie says that most of the time quilting is very meditative. “I will also think for weeks about what my next step will be with a color or fabric while working on a certain part of the quilt. I really enjoy having the space to work slowly.” In a world where working artists are often forced to work fast to meet deadlines, I love the idea of “slow art.”

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Carrie is currently having her first exhibition of her quilts at Art in the Age in Philadelphia. The show, Handwork, opened Friday, February 7th and will be on view until March 31st. Its a collection of her newest works, both large scale bed quilts and smaller wall pieces.

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You can read the entire interview with Carrie and more images of her work over at the awesome blog It’s Nice That. For more of Carrie’s quilts, I recommend following her on Instagram.

Happy Tuesday, friends!

CATEGORIES Inspiration
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