Prints and other goodies are 20% off with the BLKFLYDAY code, until Tuesday! Shop here.
Prints and other goodies are 20% off with the BLKFLYDAY code, until Tuesday! Shop here.
This site has been running for seven years!! It's been a wonderful experience managing Fly as I navigate the changes in my life: from New York to Philly to Baltimore, from working as a full-time designer to grad-school, then becoming a design educator and freelance designer. I started with posting a few times a day to a few times a week; loyal readers have seen it all happen live, while new readers have an extensive archive of goodies to discover. With that said I am very thankful for you. For the visits, the sharing, the comments on the blog, and the sweet messages sent behind the scenes. I am so thankful for having connected with so many of you amazing women, and a few fellas, who are living courageously creative. Thank you for sharing your time and energy, for saying hello, and for your "thank yous" and stories. I really appreciate you all!
Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Every weekend I have big plans like I'm going to conquer the world. Those two precious days always come with a lot of promise. For me it's usually less about relaxation (which is so bad) and more about getting my hands on some creative projects that I don't have much time for during the week. But usually what happens is I overwhelm myself with an impossible schedule and by the time Sunday comes I am waking up from what my good friend, e, calls a work week hang-over.
This weekend I worked the art market again, finished up a freelance project, and did some grading. I had big plans to get my place in order but I was so exhausted Sunday that the only thing I did for the home was a little grocery shopping, laundry and completed the task of cleaning off my dresser that was overflowing with randomness. I finally put up this beautiful vintage mirror I found, which is just leaning on the wall (not sure if I'm going to hang it or not).
It was a small accomplishment out of all that I wanted to do, but I have to say that seeing my dresser organized and pretty makes me happy.
Tell me, how was your weekend?
A design colleague of mine, Craig Brimm of Kiss My Black Ads, recently posted an intriguing article that was featured on the Communication Arts website called Homogeneity Is the Enemy of Creativity: So why are we so male? And so white? by Kat Gordon, a creative director and advertising executive. The article shares Gordon's thoughts on why creative agencies need to make a more conscious effort to build diverse creative teams with women and people of color. Being both a woman and a person of color this really spoke to me. I appreciate Gordon's honesty, and nodded in agreement when reading her thoughts.
In the article, Gordon shares how we can all afford to feel a little more creatively uncomfortable and challenged when problem solving; which she says only happens when we work with people who have very different experiences from our own. Innovation and awesome ideas come from groups of diverse thinkers. We need more people with very different backgrounds brainstorming, making decisions, and solving our world's problems.
"Someone agreeing with me, thinking like me, reinforcing my train of thought—while reassuring at a cocktail party or during pillow talk with a partner—is not the stuff of big ideas. True breakthrough thinking launches with “what if” and “why couldn’t” and “I see it differently.” There should be some tension, struggle and compromise in the birth of a great idea.'
To summarize, sitting in a room with a bunch of people who look like you and think the way you do is a recipe for bland ideas.
One of Kat's suggestions for fixing this problem? In addressing her colleagues in creative and ad agencies she challenges them to "rethink the Rolodex hire" — which I do agree is a good place to start, but wonder if that is enough.
Is asking these long-standing companies, agencies, organizations, print and online institutions to be more diverse (in front and/or behind-the-scenes) the answer? Is asking them to consider content with a different face a solution? Are these the best answers to resolving the homogeneity problem in creative industries, or more broadly, the media?
The problem with this solution is that it's putting too much power into the hands of people who aren't forward-thinking enough to come to this conclusion on their own. Most of these companies are in a "if it ain't broke why fix it" mentality and are often producing work on the defensive. In order for these entities to change they have to be challenged, and they are only challenged when other creatives give those entities a run for their money (which also means a run for their clients/projects).
How does one create a challenge? Be a maker.
Don't wait for others to tell you what to make. Don't wait for an entity to validate you in order for you to contribute. Make your own ad agency, multimedia company, design firm, magazine, show, website, platform, gallery, museum, live/work space, artists collective, studios, or start-up.
Create what you want to see.
With technology, social media, and skill-based educational platforms at our fingertips there are few reasons if any for us not to be authors, creators, curators, producers, and directors. Consuming content is cool, but creating original content is power. Whether you're an artist, designer, director, writer, photographer, or crafter there is no reason for you to wait to be validated by institutions that refuse to acknowledge your talent. There are new rules. The folks who used to say what's hot, avant garde, or innovative aren't the know-it-alls anymore. You and your creative crews need to establish new rules, new standards, new definitions of what's dope.
I will say, being a part of these institutions is a great place to start, sitting at the table contributing to those conversations is a great way to learn. I support this direction, but I believe that it is a steep hill to climb. One person, or a few folks changing the culture of an entire institution is a hard fight. So I often wonder if it's a better fight if that energy is used to create new institutions that serve this new time, space, and world we now occupy.
When looking at media brands like Clutch Magazine, neonV, iamother.com, and the newly launched Saint Heron I smile because it's already happening. But we need more. There are too many creatively talented and visionary people in this world for there to be a handful of entities that support and bring light to neo-culturalism and dynamic-diversity.
Challenging old ideas by showing other successful options is a way to address the homogeneity issue we have in our creative industries and media. I know it ain't easy, but it ain't impossible!
What say you?
When I visit Brazil one of the things I have to bring back with me is coconut soap. There, it's typically used for hand-washing clothes but I like to use it as a deep cleanser for the face (and skin overall) and it's perfect for the soaking portion of your pedicure at home. The coconut oil acts as a light moisturizer as it cleans, leaving everything soft to the touch.
They come in big chunks (depending on the brand) and are super easy to cut into smaller pieces, especially if you don't want to use the entire bar at once.
Using some hand-printed canvas material (heavy enough to not get oil spots from the soap) I wrapped each bar, tied it with yarn, and added a little lavender as an accent. The result is a little souvenir from Brazil to give to friends.
What kinds of gifts do you bring back for friends when you travel?
Have you heard Beyonce's new single "Grown Woman?" I first heard the track last week and immediately fell in love with what sounds like an afrobeat inspired song. As an artist/designer I sometimes fantasize about dream projects, especially ones that fit into the my design aesthetic. So as soon as I heard this song, with its rich mix of global sounds, I could instantly visualize the colors, cinematography, and styling. If I were asked to art direct this music video the styling of the Fela Queens, the dark collage imagery consistent in vintage Grace Jones music videos, and the layering of patterns in photography from Seydou Keita would be my sources of inspiration.
Do you have a dream project? What is it and what would you do for the project?
It's Memorial Day weekend and the official start to summer. As the pools open, the grills come out and you're curating your playlist for the cookout, add the re-release of Putumayo's Brazilian Beat. New songs and funky remakes of Brazilian classics makes this album a good listen for mellowing out a gathering or for just chilling out on the patio under the stars with a caipirinha.
Have a great weekend!
My guest bathroom is tiny, simple and bright. It has wonderful natural light and it's cozy. Because I love color and mixing patterns I wanted to bring that into this little space but do it in a way that wouldn't make it feel cluttered. For my home, I prefer a neutral and airy bathroom, so finding the balance between that and color and patterns presented a small challenge
To add texture it seemed appropriate to take advantage of the natural light and create a litte "garden" of varied succulents on the spacious window-sill. The little pots they're in range from vintage finds to a pottery I found at an art sale in Philly. They, too, bring character to the space.
The cooling and soothing seafoam color is a favorite of mine and is a go-to color for my bathroom, so it became my overall palette. Of course in variations, because I don't want things to be too matchy-matchy.
A graphic dhurrie rug from West Elm, and a patterned hand-towel (found at TJ Maxx) helps tie it all together. Then a yellow print compliments the seafoam palette (fruit because it's a bathroom off the kitchen) and the frame matches the other hardware in the space.
This little corner of my space makes me happy. These small touches are simple but speaks to my aesthetic.
What about you? Do you have a space in your home that makes you happy or is a true reflection of your tastes?
Having images around me that reflect my interests, memories, and ideas is very important to my creative process and well-being. With the semester coming to a close and my schedule slowly opening up a bit, I'm dedicating little pockets of time to getting my space in order, and that includes finally getting artwork up on the walls — especially in my studio/office space.
Over the weekend I framed some of the many things I've been excited about hanging. Like a Grace Jones album cover, some labels I found at a fleamarket in Spain, a vintage map of Africa, and a collage illustration by Peggy Wolf I found in Tokion's Factory Magazine. (I love her work and love that collage and had been wanting to frame it for a while.)
There is still so much to hang, mainly more prints. In the future I would like to use more family photos and original prints or paintings. I'm totally excited about building my collection.
What is your art collection like? How do you display art? What do you display? If you're an artist do you hang your own work in your home? Share!
Read more about my thoughts on collecting art in a post on Refinery29 from last summer.
These melamine plates and platters from West Elm are so fun. Their bright color and graphic shapes make them perfect for an outdoor party or for dinner with the girls.
Like a few of (rapper) Drake's songs "Started from the Bottom" gives listeners a tiny glimpse of his life before his successful music career. His lyrics share a narrative about the hardships and challenges he experienced before making it big, and then finally the rewards.
I always like hearing the back-story. The process, experiences, and lessons learned on the way to "making it" are most intriguing to me. Especially when you hear stories from people who started from the very beginning.
From knowing absolutely nothing to becoming experts, there is something so beautiful about getting from point A to B. Whether it's starting out as an intern to becoming the CEO, learning a new language or even having your first child the pursuit of something new is exhilarating, educational, and emotional.
One day recently, "Started from the Bottom" had me thinking about how far I've come but mainly about others (specifically young people) who are just starting out as I had done many years ago.
Because I work with young adults everyday, I see it first hand. Young blossoming designers so new to the world of design; college students who will soon be pursuing their very first full-time jobs. I see them so worried and stressed, so consumed with challenges and struggles. At times I try to share a little insight to smooth out those concerns but I also understand they have to live it and move through it, as I did. As you did as well.
Yet, I still know how it important it is to share a story, give advice or an encouraging word. None of us could have made it without the help and/or words of others.
Which brings me to my intention for this post. I know there are a range of wonderful readers here: mothers, business owners, artists, designers, educators, students — all at different points in your path and all of you have started from the beginning at some point in your life. If you're graduating this spring, there's someone who is preparing to begin their freshman year in the fall. If you're an artist who has shown in a gallery, there's someone who dreams of having their own exhibition. Although, our individual paths are very different, we sometimes share similar dreams and goals.
I'd like to know what would you tell that person who started from the bottom/beginning. What would you say to encourage them? Teach them? What do you wish someone had told you when you embarked on your path of something new?
For me, I would say to anyone starting out to pay attention. When you are starting fresh whether it's working, interning, or creating make sure you take a moment to pay attention to what people are telling you (good and bad) and pay attention to how certain situations make you feel. When you are observant and aware of how your experiences can impact your life or career you are more capable of making solid decisions on how to move forward. Your gut is your guide, follow it.
So what would you say? I'm sure there is another reader who would benefit from your story. Please share in the comments below.
Journaling about life is a great resource of relection and learning, and maintaining a separate book to document ideas is perfect for projects and business-building. I call this an idea book, which I carry with me everywhere I go.
My idea book is a Moleskin sketchbook our design department stamped with design related terms and gave away to incoming freshmen a few semesters ago — each faculty member got one as well.
An idea book is a great way to document your thought process when generating concepts for a new brand or expanding on an existing one, or just brainstorming and taking notes. My pages are filled with mind-maps and are stuffed with visuals that inspire me.
I always have so many ideas and it's hard for me to keep track of them, so it's great to go back to the idea book and reference old thoughts to inform new projects.
So what's your idea-keeping technique?
Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to check out the Pump Me Up exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art honoring the D.C subcultures of the 1980s, including the punk rock scene and go-go music. The exhibition is a beautiful collection of artifacts, ephemera, and video from both scenes, with supplemental talks and lectures about the content on display. Which is why I visited yesterday, to check out the lecture on the history and evolution of go-go.
Seeing all the posters and photos, and hearing the music all took me back. This is music my friends and I danced to listening to the Jukebox TV station, and partied to when we got older. So it was a pleasure to see this genre of music getting some well-deserved recognition.
If you live in the area will you be going to check it out? Is the recognition overdue?
This weekend I will be making my way down to Austin for my first SXSW adventure. I'm so very excited mainly because I'm looking forward to catchng up with old virtual friends in person, meeting new folks, and because I have no idea what to expect.
Will you be down there? If so what will you be getting into? Parties? Talks? Workshops? Pop-up meet-ups? I'm new to all this so anything you can share would be awesome!