I'm pleased to share that several of my collages have been featured in the 18th issue of the ASU Literary Magazine "Superstition Review" with an array of talented artists and writers including fellow collage artist Vakseen. This is such a treat! Special thanks is due to Cody Wade for sharing this opportunity with me.
An early version of a recent piece I completed for Investor's Business Weekly:
Creating conceptual graphics for publications is always a mixed bag...
But here's the final design for a recent issue of Investor's Business Weekly.
Several months ago I had the pleasure of getting to know one of Los Angeles' lesser known (but supremely talented) artists Soren Grau. We spoke about why he makes art, what his process is like, and how he defines success as a creative working for himself. As a deeply passionate individual motivated as much by joy as by despair, Grau's work and outlook on life are inspirational -- for artists and art-lovers alike. You can read my full interview with Grau online at Amadeus Magazine.
As a creative whose views lean far more sharply toward the anti-establishment mindset, I was surprised to receive an offer to create cover art for Investor's Business Weekly. While the voice and viewpoint of the publication are certainly not my own I appreciate work, especially jobs that allows me to do the things I love.
Sometimes I like to use digital collage/compositing techniques to imagine what things might look like if I could physically project my emotions onto my surroundings.
500 Letters. This is what happens when you put artists and algorithms together. The results are absurd yet convincing. As my generated statement below clearly illustrates.
Chelsea Cody (°1985, Los Angeles) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By rejecting an objective truth and global cultural narratives, Cody creates with daily, recognizable elements, an unprecedented situation in which the viewer is confronted with the conditioning of her own perception and has to reconsider her biased position.
Her artworks are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in art. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, she often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.
Her work urges us to renegotiate art as being part of a reactive or – at times – autistic medium, commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
Her works are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.
Her works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves
Like twin peaks rising.
Or the perfectly semitrical tits of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.
Or perhaps two bald grandfathers on a park bench bench.
The cliche "distance makes the heart grow fonder" is only partly true. Because all too often distance will seed and sprout disinterest. And unlike hate, which is never separate from love, indifference is its truest adversary and antithesis.
Apathy allows for selfishness. Whereas love requires we put aside common sense and instincts for survival, to value the well-being of another as paramount. I would say that many of us never love without condition. So we spend lengthy portions of our existence too timid to love as we should. And then some of us will forever mistake infatuation and lust for weightier connections.
We are held back by paranoiac whispers from internal Iago-esque voices, which spin fear-laden fictions and warn us against lifting that last bracing foot from the ground, lest we be irrevocably swept up by a tempest of adoration, and lose ourselves completely.
Loss is all the more frightening to us (particularly we "post-modern" Americans) who have only ever coasted along the downward slope of radical individualism. Those of us who make the assumption we are self-determined and free are all too often the least liberated...especially in love.
PS - I reserve the right to change my feelings and/or opinions about this subject matter and anything else I may say (or not say) without apology.
You will not be able to stay home.
You will not be able to log in, tweet about or sell your brand.
You will not be able to lose your Self on Instagram.
Or skip out for instagress during 90-second commercials.
Because the revolution will not be on social media.
UPDATE: Several months back I photographed the talented and kindhearted singer/songwriter Kathy Black. I'm so pleased to see the album artwork in its final form!
From 01/31/15: The best work, in my mind, is improvisational and spontaneous. While there is plenty of planning, scouting, lighting, makeup, and post work that typically goes into creating quality images, there is special magic that only happens with open-minded and communicative subjects willing to collaborate and get creative. Musician Kathy Black is one such adventurous soul. Spending a day making pictures for her forthcoming record was a true pleasure. Here are a few shots from our time in Echo Park:
My love for stickers runs deep. In my younger years I kept an extensive collection - the weirder or sparklier the better. But I didn't merely hoard them for myself, I stuck little adhesive badges of love on lonely, naked walls, dingy windows, and on my friends. For me, stickers were the early nineties equivalent of emojis.
With age my appreciation for stickers has become more nuanced. My youthful preoccupation has merged with my interests in graphic design, digital print making, and branding. Stickers are an opportunity to make an impression, and forgive me for this, one that sticks. In an age of digital media, marketing, and communications I can't help but adore the tactile nature of a sticker.
So, imagine my delight when I started working with a company that designs, plots, and peels vinyl die cut stickers in house! If you don't know what is involved in the process of creating these little decals - it is truly a labor of love - or a great task for someone with a mildly obsessive nature who finds repetitive tasks meditative (yours truly). Most recently I had the pleasure of helping Amadeus Magazine create stickers for the upcoming Dessert Daze music festival.
Here are a couple progress shots. More to come...
When I experience a day that progresses in a blissfully effortless manner I am simultaneously astounded and reassured. This particularly seamless and spontaneous day began as many do -- with work. I've started a recent part-time gig assisting a group of rad entrepreneurs at The Unincorporated Life. Any day that consists of graphic design, sticker printing/cutting, photography, and brainstorming does not suck. Working with and supporting your friends who are carving their own creative path in a rigidly built (but increasingly dubious) Capitalistic system doesn't feel much like work to me.
Nor does creating content for an indie art magazine...which is where the next part of my day went. Taking photos and video for the ever-evolving art and culture magazine Amadeus is one of my favorite things. On this occasion, our focus was LA born and raised artist Jennifer Korsen. We visited her at her studio in Downtown Los Angeles on Sixth Street where we chatted with her about her work, the history of the LA art scene, and her perspective on being a woman in the world of street art.
We also visited Imperial Art Studios with Korsen where she is showing a selection of her work and preparing to paint a mural - her largest to date. Spending a good chunk of the day exploring this nearly 2.5 acre campus of industrial warehouse and creative space sandwiched between Santa Fe Avenue, East 7th Street, and Jesse Street was a bit like falling down a rabbit hole.
Suffice to say there will be many return trips for collaboration and creative endeavors. It's days like these that make sticking out the more difficult moments of the freelance lifestyle worthwhile. Here's to a way of life that lets you do more of what you want the way you like to do it...
Gentrification describes the process of "urban renewal" in working class neighborhoods. Typically this begins with the construction of condos that attract young urban professional tenants (yuppies). Development and rennovation drive up rents and push out lower income residents.
Paradoxically, the process often begins with influxes of local artists looking for affordable places to live -- giving a neighborhood a "bohemian" aesthetic. This new character eventually attracts well-to-do residents who find the atmosphere desirable. The displacement of lower income artists and residents (often ethnic/racial minorities) is a direct result of this rapidly changing social character.
Gentrification also involves an influx of upmarket local businesses and shops that cater to the tastes and lifestyles of affluent new inhabitants. Businesses like sushi resaturants, couture coffee bars, and high-end clothing boutiques come to replace local long-standing businesses displaced by higher rents.
I bring up this definition, not because I am anti-gentrification, but because I take issue with the limited options and lack of imagination present in the ongoing development of modern cities. Taking into account the desires and needs of only the most privileged population is not only deluded but unsustainable. Surely there is a way to grow and develop urban environments that allow for greater diversity (social, economic, and cultural) and that respect and preserve the history of a place.
The pictures below capture scenes at the edges of Downtown Los Angeles. These are the environments that still reflect the grit, personality, problems, and history of a city in flux.
What once was a deserted industrial district -- primarily inhabited by textile manufacturers, cold storage companies, artists in need of cheap studio space, and wandering vagrants -- is today the trendy Downtown Los Angeles "Arts District". The shift from lawless artist's playground to corporate developer's wet-dream has taken place in fits and starts over the past twenty plus years. The once eclectic (albeit unsafe) neighborhood has been and continues to be a controversial testing ground for experiments in gentrification.
Just this month the City of Los Angeles broke ground on a three-year, $400 million project to replace the 6th Street Viaduct Bridge -- which happens to connect the aforementioned "Arts District" to the adjacent Boyle Heights neighborhood. Public Works officials say the project is necessary because of defective concrete used during the construction of the bridge in 1932. Due to a high alkali content the concrete erodes and cracks easily -- making it a severe earthquake hazard -- and too expensive to retrofit and maintain.
The steel arches that stretch the central portion of the bridge have been made familiar by films and television shows that span several decades - including Grease, Terminator 2, aaaand let’s not forget Kayne’s “Jesus Walks” music video. The LA film industry will surely mourn the loss of this iconic shooting location. However, east coast trust funders - I mean transplants - taking up residence at the recently finished One Santa Fe Lofts down the street will easily forget it ever existed.
Earlier this week I walked the length of the nearly mile long structure to say my goodbyes and take some pictures. I plan on documenting the bridge replacement project each month until the new design is finished. Check back for updates.
“The hardest thing is to do something which is close to nothing because it is demanding all of you.” - Marina Abramovic
A triptych inspired by the words of Proust:
"Beneath every day incidents, the every day ordinary objects in common words, I sensed a strange and individual tone of voice. Beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation it will give us) of which we have no inkling – the past is hidden."
"A real person, profoundly as we may sympathize with her, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, remains opaque, presents a dead weight which are sensibilities have not the strength to lift."
"For even if we have the sensation of being always enveloped in, surrounded by our own soul, still it does not seem a fixed and immovable prison; rather do we seem to be born away with it, and perpetually struggling to transcend it, to break out into the world..."