Beautiful goodies from London-based brand Kenema.
Exciting news: in the fall I will be continuing my career in design education as a fulltime instructor at Maryland Institutie College of Art (MICA). With that, about a month ago I was invited to visit the senior thesis exhibition at MICA to see the caliber of work the students are doing. I was blown away by everything and left feeling even more excited and inspired.
21 Guns was a senior thesis project that really stood out during my visit. Starting with a reflective lens on her own life, this project by Nina Q. Allen resulted in a poster series honoring various women in pop culture. I love what she has to say about 21 Guns:
"A 21-Gun Salute is one of the highest military honors. My 21-Gun Salute pays homage to women's rights, highlighting the beliefs in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. My design emphasizes beauty, diversity, & femininity through bold type, imagery and color. The use of music has also been influential to my design process, as direct lyrics are utilized to assign a specific misperception given to each iconic woman. 21 GUNS is an autobiographical journey into womanhood, individualism, and artistic expression."
The scale of these posters (at 21"x37") and bold colors in duo-tone and tri-tone will stop you in your tracks and pull you in to read the copy. I immediately fell in love with the series and started imaging how I could get a copy of the Grace Jones poster to hang in my studio.
Check out all the posters right here.
Here are a few things I'm into right now, some of which are on my wishlist and one that is on it's way to my home!
clockwise: I totally need a pair of these fun Open the Gate shoelaces for my all black Converse sneakers; this dress from Demestiks is too cute; I love this Rifle Paper temporary tattoo for Tattly; The Spirit of African Design is an oldie but goldie design book of inspiration for the home.
When you're creating art as a business the "starving artist" philosophy doesn't work. Business is business, and regardless if it's your full-time career or a side-hustle, it's important to create a system of compensation that is professional and fair to both you and your client.
There are tons of perspectives and ideas on how to run the finances of a business, but I'd like to share three tips I feel are important in regards to getting paid for your hard work. They seem pretty obvious but even in my many years as a freelance designer (12 years!) I'm still learning and taking heed to these very basic tips.
1. Always start projects with a contract.
It doesn't matter who it is (family, close friends, and the like) if there is an anticipated cash transaction then there needs to be a contract. Don't worry about offending anyone, help your potential client understand that it's not personal, it's business. (I talk a little about valuing yourself and your work here.) There are great books out there (like the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines for graphic designers), industry websites and blogs that offer guidance and tips, and even sample contracts. You can do research or consult with a lawyer. It's a pain in the beginning (well, it's not really that hard) but so worth it because once it's in place it's done.
2. Start a project with a percentage of the full amount paid upfront. (The go-to is usually 50%).
This practice does not guarantee you won't get burned, but it usually provides a sense of commitment and investment on both parties. If the client resists this requirement then this gives you an opportunity to decide if this is the right collaboration for you. It also allows you to be compensated in some way for any work done even if a project is at a standstill or is cancelled.
3. Have a plan in place if things do go awry.
Things happen. Mis-communication, the client's payroll gets messed up on their end, or the project falls through — anything can happen that can impact the schedule and/or you getting paid. But according to your contract you still must get paid. It's hard to anticipate what could go wrong but think about your options if you can't reach the client or the client suddenly cannot afford the balance. You can determine how rigid or flexible you want to be as long as you get paid. Payment plans, contacting the accounting department (if it's a big client), or getting your lawyer involved might be part of your action plan. Hopefully, it doesn't get to that point but it's important to be prepared.
This just speaks to the surface of being compensated for your business. I'm curious, though, what "get paid" tip would you offer based on your experiences? Do you have a story where you had to learn a lesson the hard way? Please share.
No matter what, even if you are taken advantaged of or mistreated, you never have to be rude, disrespectful, or unprofessional. Always handle any situation with integrity, you have to hold up your end of the bargain. Approach "invoice challenges" with firm grace and professionalism. Always stand up for yourself and your rights.
Cheers to artistic and creative wealth and abundance!
Mudcloth (also known as bògòlanfini) is a Malian textile, usually cotton, that is resist-dyed with fermented mud. Artists create decorative pattern designs that are usually abstracted images representing everyday life and objects.
I've always loved mudcloth and appreciate seeing various interpretations of the cloth for fashion and home:
I'm loving this collaboration between Asilia, a (fabulous) design studio, and Creativity and Noise, a (dope concept) screen-printing studio and workshop based in the UK. The two came together to produce a collection of tees and other soft goods called AfriCAN under the Creativity and Noise moniker, which just launched over the weekend.
Support good work! See the entire collection here.
Also check out the trailer for the BlackStar Film Festival which pays homage to the Rosie Perez dance intro to the film.
June 30th marks the 25th anniversary of Do The Right Thing, and many events are happening in celebration of the groundbreaking film. A book giving behind-the-scenes visuals and tid-bits was released this month, there's a block party in Brooklyn celebrating the anniversary, and the block where the film was shot was just renamed Do The Right Thing Way. I appreciate the acknowledgement of this dynamic piece of work that has ignited and inspired me in so many ways.
This year I had the honor (again) to design the materials for the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival. Without even realizing that 2014 marks the 25th anniversary, I used the film's catalytic character, Radio Raheem, as a muse for this year's design.
The festival theme is music with an emphasis on how music and film can be used to educate and empower, and inspire change. For me, Do The Right Thing speaks to this, more specifically with the Radio Raheem character and his boombox blasting Public Enemy's "Fight the Power."
In addition to DTRT, activism, political/cultural/social justice, and propaganda posters were all themes that inspired the direction of the design for the festival.
Whether it's hitting up the block party in BK, watching the film, blasting "Fight the Power" or getting it in like Tina/Rosie Perez at a dance party, I hope you'll get to celebrate Do The Right Thing in some way this weekend.
For more information about the BlackStar Film Festival click here.
Lately, I've been inspired by neon brights and unexpected electric hues combined with the exotic plant-life a tropical forest. I like to call it electric jungle. Here are a few items that speak to that funky aesthetic.
clockwise: Bantu Wax for J.Crew; Reina Muerte Wedge; Multicolor Brooch; Printed Leather Clutch; River Island Tropical Print Wedges; Painted Pineapple Pouch; Under Sun Melamine Dinner Plates; Superga Jungle Out There Sneakers; Cool Melons by Lynnie Zulu.
A few weeks ago the sad story emerged of two young teenage sisters who were gang-raped and killed after going to use the bathroom, which was a field just outside of their small village in India.
In light of this horrific incident an important project came to mind that speaks to this issue regarding the lack of safe, sanitary and private bathrooms for women all over the world. The project called, The Bottom Line by Noopur Agarwal, is a bathroom stall installation that gives context, insight, and most importantly solutions for giving women access to "hygienic and dignified facilities."
Design is necessary to communicate any message, but when used to inform, educate, and activate for social change it really inspires and invigorates me, and reminds me how powerful the visual image can be.
I love Noopur's concept and hope that it inspires you in some way, too.
During a brief day trip to Philly on Sunday I made visit to Odunde, an annual African heritage festival that goes down in South Philadelphia. It's been over ten years since my last visit so I had no idea what to expect.
It was wonderful! I was totally overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. There were so many great vendors. I really wanted to buy everything.
Are there any heritage festivals in your area you go to every year?
I'm seeing watermelon everywhere! Is it because of the pervasiveness of Beyonce's "wadamelon" in 'Drunk in Love?' Is it because we're on the heels of summer, or the mere fact that watermelon is just delicious? I don't know, but the highly recognizable combo of green, pink and black in a circle or triangle is a fun palette and print to play with — especially this time of year. Here are a few items inspired by the refreshing summery fruit.