I’m still so excited it’s the new year, and I hope this feeling doesn’t ever go away. Even in August. And one of the great things about the new year is identifying a certain style, a feeling…that je ne sais quoi that you want to uphold is most aspects of life throughout the year.
And in the past couple of days, I managed to identify it. It all came from a song. I’ve always been a fan of Phoenix, but composer Roger Neill’s orchestral re-interpretation of their hit, Lizstomania, really sealed the deal. Equal parts dreamy and cinematic, with crescendos at the right moments and a general joie de vivre that doesn’t let the little things blow up. I’ve had this on repeat for the last few days, and paired with a visit from an equally calm, cool, classic friend from France, I knew how I wanted to be this year.
And everything I’m digging seems to swirl around this feeling. From the clean and quiet designs of Palmona Wool; and that general, quiet but still loud aesthetic of pairing a black turtleneck with a loud geometric pattern.
Alex Steinweiss is having a big year with this aesthetic going into full bloom. Except he’s been dead for four years. Steinweiss is the graphic designer behind iconic album covers through the 1930s-1970s (see below). He also attended the Parsons School of Design when it was just a baby. And he’s having a big stamp on how things look this year. Check out the opening titles for Master of None and Mozart in the Jungle (also below). They both have his minimalist cum maximalist stamp on things; with a pinch of 1960s nostalgia that was heavy in the films of Anouk Aimée. I love this theme of mixing the quiet with the loud. And those fonts! I can’t wait to see what I make in and of 2016.
I am reaching in a few hundred directions right now for inspiration. I wrote a little bit about it last week, but the process of designing is getting better, but still a lot of work. Because my words have completely escaped me today, here are some of the things I have on mood boards all over the place. It’s a damn mess.
Yeah, I have a very strong Bridget Bardot thing going on. More on what I am doing with all of this soon.
I am having a helluva time getting words on pages today. Some days are like this, where I wake up and I feel like I have nothing to say. That’s the fun part, where I get in my head and feel like I am without an original thought to put out into the world. Super awesome spiral there. Some days just work better than others, because of planets, periods, people, or the fact that you can’t get Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage in Cambodia. Which is bullshit.
Now on a scale of 1-actually important, this is a 1. There are a million other issues that deserve more attention in the world that me not being able to get my shit together in the morning, but my brain can be kind of a selfish butthead. In maximum-butthead moments, I shake myself down and look all over for inspiration. Sometimes I just Google “inspiration” and laugh at all the cheesy crap online and feel better about my life, because that is not my job. One time, Google asked if I meant “thinspiration” and I was like “Never talk to me like that again, Google.”
This article, delicately titled “Fuck Inspiration” is great. It talks about tackling issues around the world in the right ways, and reminds me of how my dad talks about how to figure out what you care about. He and the author agree on a few things, but mostly the “get mad” part. The drive that comes from getting pissed off is one of the best super powers that we have, and often it’s the thing that I need to make important changes. For me, I won’t physically fight for something that I think is cool or fun, but I will wreck shop for something that makes me angry.
So that is what I have today, a few bad words, a little bit of snark, and a high five to my dad. There is a part of me that wants to wrap everything up nicely here, and say what really does inspire me. But I don’t feel like making pretty packages today.
When Cait told me about North + Nomad, a production company based in NYC, I was curious. In learning that their tagline was “A Digital Nomadic Production Company,” I was definitely finding myself drawn in. And then I saw this little video, and mind blown, wow. You would think the juxtaposition of scenes of a fashion shoots, Asian country sides, religious leaders and urban and industrial sprawl as a cacophony, but it is the exact opposite. This medley of director Simon Biswas’s work, produced by the esteemed producer and fellow founder of North + Nomad Karen Nagy, is an orchestra of what is possible. And it’s completely inspirational to see how a single creative (or pair of) can transcend across Olsen twins and spiritual cinematography. It also helps to reverberate our own mantra at C+T: ‘not one thing.’
This is the end of our vacation week. Tiff is still off playing in the mountains of Indonesia, and in a shocking turn of events, I never left Phnom Penh. This has been a relatively normal week for me, and with a bunch of projects wrapping up soon, I have a lot to take care of right now. Luckily, I am heading to Kampot with friend this weekend for a little bit of chill out time. So I hope you liked our guest posts, we are very lucky to have such talented and interesting friends that help enable our laziness. A lot of what I am doing at this point in my fashion career revolves around pulling together inspiration for new designs. Living in SE Asia gives me a lot to work with, but even with all of the colors and chaos around me, I like seeing something a little bit different. That’s where Pinterest comes in. For someone who is just starting out in design, it’s a great way to organize thoughts, ideas, necklines and prints.
I woke up needing a little inspiration today, so here are some on my favorite pretty things on Pinterest right now.
I am still doing a lot of custom work, and have a few big projects coming up that I can’t wait to spill the beans on. Custom work is great, and it’s fun to make to piece that makes someone really happy. But with that work, I am making things to fit in someone else’s closet, and still need time to create my own aesthetic. Pinterest is an awesome way to throw all kinds of things together and see what I am attracted to, and then pull out the images that I really love. From the looks of it, there is a pretty serious 70’s inspired black and white thing happening right now. I clearly need to get out into color this weekend.
Warning: Some of the links embedded in this post lead to NSFW +18 content. Viewers beware! Also, yes I’m a big weirdo.
As peeps who have decided to take a complete turn on their careers and a veer into the creative, we are often asked “what inspires you?” On one hand, because the world is our oyster and we’re only just stepping into things, the answer is everything. And you see this on the blog. We are experimenting and learning from everything and everyone. For me, on the photography, layout and content side, there is the food, the fashion, the travel and really cute pictures of toddlers that I’ve been taking for friends. I love that stuff. On the other hand and under the surface, I’m also still trying to define and evolve towards a personal style. Of course this takes time, time and a focus to take risks. And learning. A Beautiful Mess even devotes an entire lesson to it. And at the end of the day, time spent on focusing what inspires me. This usually involves creating a pin board.
And in doing so, it all brought me back to my love for Vice Magazine. Can I count the ways? I still remember being fifteen years old, looking for some way to define myself and rebel against the norm. I loved counter culture. I spent most Fridays after school in the at-the-time slightly grittier Queen Street West area in Toronto mulling about with friends who loved the alternative. One day, I wandered into Vice Magazine’s little outpost (yes they’re Canadian!) they had there back then and a lifelong relationship was born. At this point, I’d like to describe my gratitude for two things: 1) that Vice was, and still remains, a free print publication producing high quality visual content and 2) an abnormally progressive Asian mother who happened upon issues of Vice among my belongings and recognized it as art.
Vice specializes in the raw. The ugly as beautiful. The just plain weird. The writing was biting to say the least. It acknowledged that life was not pretty. But it was gorgeous. And deep. Portraiture that could captured so much of a person that you could see deep inside their soul. They were sumptuous not in the way of Condé Nast Traveler, but in a whole way of their own crazy invention. (Controversial Confession: I actually appreciate Terry Richardson’s style of photography.) And in doing so, they were often the first stake claim on the next big thing. Whether it was David Chang’s Momofuku, American Apparel or Kanye West. At the same time, Vice Magazine isn’t something that everyone will love. While the magazine itself has moved into the mainstream (hello CNN and HBO!), I feel like it remains true to itself by touching on elements of life and society, especially in the rich west, that aren’t typically acknowledged. Also, it’s sense of humour? Well it’s on fleek. And more akin to everclear than a dry crisp chard.
I also learned that the visual medium was a way of achieving voice. I often find it’s difficult to authentically write what I feel (after years of public health-ing it). I sound like an instructional video at best. Instead, I like to think that I capture that better in the visual sense. The magazine recently described twenty-one year old photog Prue Stent’s new showing as beauty that is “dreamy and gruesome.” I suppose this is what I would like to start achieving one day. I find beauty in lady muscles. And the mess of a wet market. The bipolarity of life. Heck, I live in Phnom Penh. In emerging Asia. That should be sufficient cause.
So today, I wanted to share some of my favourites from Vice. (Don’t worry – nothing too risqué here…just plain weird, though some of the links lead to NSFW content).
Photo Credit: On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, Tiny Atlas
Wow. What a weekend. I hope you all had a great one too. Ours was packed, but in the most awesome way. Now for the serious stuff.
We’re seven months into the blog now. I’m 3 months into saying no to offers of paid work as a public health and policy consultant, and it feels weird every time I do. Am I biting the hand that once fed me? Having a good solid income is really tempting, especially when there’s a heck ton of travel coming up. Also reconciling the creative and formerly professional sides of myself, with most of our friends in the public health and development profession, feels like an oft repeated mental theme. So I need to repeatedly tell myself: “eyes on the prize.”
So basically, it can get difficult to key one’s eyes on the prize when so much is going on around us. New projects keep popping up, and we are figuring out how to monetize. We are also learning how to say no, which is a new fun game. Having a support system that includes serial entrepreneurs and management specialists has been super helpful and we are unendingly thankful for that. Then there are my other friends, the podcasts.
I love podcasts. I have them on at every available opportunity. Ira Glass’ voice lulls me to sleep, Neil DeGrasse Tysonkeeps me company while cooking, and Jess Lively helps to get me started at the beginning of the day. I’ve recently discovered another one that helps me to keep me in check, helps me to get new ideas for the blog, and know that there are plenty of others out there who are also in the process of building something new.
Grace Bonney, of Design*Sponge awesomeness, hosts After the Jump – a podcast dedicated to contemporary makers and the day-to-day challenges they face. I can’t believe how lucky I was to have found this resource. It helps me stay grounded and remind me that all the challenges, insecurities, and temptations that I face on a regular basis are not mine alone.
So instead of a fun video to help you start your week, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite podcast episodes that help me to get started, get me going and get me excited about this path that Cait and I have chosen to explore. Maybe they’ll be helpful and
As nouveau bloggers wanting to generate new careers, we’re constantly reconciling the difference between what we really want to post and what will get us the most hits. This podcast teaches us how to reach both of those goals without compromising on this site’s mission.
We are building a business. This means a crash course in learning how to value our work. Our work may look “fun” and not like work at all. But we assure you, there’s a lot of elbow grease, negotiation and a our own resources that go into it. Grace Bonney and a coterie of professionals who have attained success in the forum provide great anecdotes and lessons on monetization and the evolution of pay rates on this podcast.
Groupies of Jen Gotch we are. And we were over the moon when we learned that Jess Lively was going to be interviewing her about non-linear trajectory across careers (law! bartending! Ban.Do!) and building a biz that has made surprising waves. This totally ranks high among fave podcasts.
We both have big long term goals on the horizon. But how do we get there? Jay Papasan, author of the NYTimes bestseller, The One Thing, tells Jess Lively about how to break it all down. What’s that five year goal or objective? What is the one thing you need to do to get there? Or that quarterly goal? What is the one thing you need to do to achieve that. We’ve been mapping it all out. This concept has really helped me to not look at this career change as a Sisyphean task, but as a number of attainable short term goals.
Otherwise known as Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa has been an inspiration for more than a decade. She was a nuclear energy policy advisor for the White House! Then she quit and opened up a speciality food shop! And most of you know what happened afterwards. She tells her story with ATK’s Christopher Kimball.
So this bad boy rolled through our gates last night. While I’m not the type to take one of these animals onto the road (read: fear of speed x motorized vehicles), I have always loved what they mean for the badass lady quotient, and there are so many badass ladies in my life. This particular post goes out to our friend Para. Para lives in far flung places, always seems to be on the move doing incredibly important work, and always looks like the belle of the leather-clad ball. Whether it’s the in middle of a desert, on a hot night out or grabbing a work day lunch, the girl crush happen within seconds. Perhaps most importantly: she rides. So this post goes out to the ladies who can put 250CCs between their legs and own it. These are the accessories that I think that should go with a sweet little ride.