Minds Alike

Yes, it’s been two months since 99U, and a month since my last blog post. This one was giving me brainblock I still don’t understand. I’m here though–ready to share, in between Instagram posts and the occasional GIF tweet, and just in time to see some of the loveliest people in my life.

As an artist who thrives on creative conversations and constructive feedback, I never fully realized this satisfying and trajectory need till later in my explorations. About halfway through my college career, at a point when my coffee cups were overflowing sass, I met my best friend in the hallway of the art studio. He bluntly questioned my photography that was on display. Within minutes my bitterness evaporated in subconscious relief that I was having a conversation about my art with someone who not only understood my viewpoints, but also shared them. From that day forward I have been a fiend for creative conversation now knowing it could exist.

But it is difficult in Pennsylvania, and extremely difficult in Erie, to find this stimulating exchange. I’ve been out here floating in my own thoughts, planning my escape to a piece of land that thrives on innovation. Now let me wholeheartedly divulge the overwhelming happiness that consumes me, to say I have found that piece of land.

/MINDS ALIKE/

If it wasn’t enough to be offered my own personal dream job, let Adobe just top it off with five fellow residents to work alongside of–who all are both brilliantly creative and wildly supportive of each other. What fresh heaven is this?! Although I have had the pleasure to share some of my adventures with the North American Residents, the week of 99U was the first time we met the German Residents. It was obviously a hit.

Adobe Times Square Office
Adobe Times Square Office

While in New York City for my third and final week of travel for June, we attended and assisted the 99U Conference. We live streamed our introductions, and helped resident alums, Christine Herrin and Syd Weiler with their workshops. We spent time in the Times Square office admiring the view. (I certainly made myself present more than once, staring out the floor to ceiling windows, mentally shaking myself “YOU ARE HERE?!”) We attended gallery nights and after parties. But my favorite moments were the intimate ones. The one-on-one conversations; the small parties of story sharing. I knew I was lucky to have this residency, but I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be beside such warm-hearted and kind individuals to share this experience.

We message each other while we are scattered across the globe. We ask honest questions and give honest answers. We assure and reassure each other; support and encourage our work. We mesh so perfectly, I could not ask for more… except maybe to be closer in proximity. Haha.

Yes. It has been two months since 99U, and I am so ready to see these beautiful people again. In less than a week, I will be back in San Francisco and in the company of these brilliantly creative individuals that makes my heart so full.

Minds Alike
Top Clockwise: Rosa Kammereier, Aundre Larrow, Jessica Bellamy, Chelsea Burton, Julia Nimke
/GNARLY RIDE/

Good Eats, Smooth Drinks

Good Eats, Smooth Drinks

Cava. Best Greek bowls.

/LINKS/
99U Live Stream
Photo: Julia Nimke

99U Live Stream: My live introduction to the online Adobe community, as well as portfolio reviews with Syd Weiler.

Create Magazine: Meet my fellow residents and learn about their residency projects and goals.

Forbes: “Why Adobe Pays Creatives To Do Whatever They Want For A Whole Year.”

Coastal Cruisin’

There are some suggestions that are offered and you immediately have to satisfy the very hole they pitted in your heart.

During my second week of travel out of three, I was highly encouraged to take a day trip for basic company research. I rented a car for my first time and drove in California, also for my first time, taking a wild, anxiety-filled roadtrip two hours south of San Francisco and found myself in a places that always sounded another lifetime away.

/MAD RAD/

The entire purpose of this slightly spontaneous trek was to visit the NHS Fun Factory–home to Santa Cruz Skateboards, Road Rider Wheels, and Independent Trucks. After some last minute emails while in San Francisco two days prior, my request to visit the company and tour the facilities was graciously granted. Thanks to two rad ladies, Kendall and Jessie, for setting-up and taking me on a personal tour through the company’s [history] museum, department offices, production floor, and testing facilities.

NHS Fun Factory
NHS Fun Factory, Santa Cruz

The museum was small but packed with key items that historically built the company. Santa Cruz originated as a surfboard company commissioned by a Hawaiian contact to manufacture skateboards. The birth of the Road Rider urethane wheel was via the roller that fed paper through a printer. There was a mannequin display of the downhill longboard suit, pictures documenting padded shorts, and the team jacket that belonged the first female rider for Santa Cruz. I learned about the decade in which skateboarding pool-dropping hooligans earned a brief exile from society but soon came back into the public eye as a redefined sport with official print publications. And so much artwork–original pencil sketches on tracing paper and their screen-printed counterparts; various artistic styles for various riders; graphics from skateboarding infamy that are revisited from time to time. There was even a graffiti wall signed by pro-skateboarders and visiting fans alike.

NHS Fun Factory
Downhill Longboarding #beathutson // NHS Fun Factory, Santa Cruz

After the tour I walked the few blocks west to a beach of quiet popularity opposite to the tourist shore and recommended by the locals . Two hours dressed in early afternoon sunlight and warm air, I took in the architectural sights of little, dreamy beachside homes while meandering the sidewalks overlooking Seabright Beach. Eventually, I found myself next to a lighthouse at the end of the shore. Silhouettes of blue mountain tops lightly lined part of the horizon to my left, in complementary contrast with the rich browns and tans that grounded me. My toes finally met the Pacific Ocean for all its bitter chill, and I breathed in every inch of vast space stretched beyond my nose, beyond the coastline.

Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz
Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz

But my heart was growing anxious with another hunger. So my barefeet pushed back through the sand to begin my third and final venture of the day. I began my three hour drive back, up the very edge of this country’s coast on Route 1. It was this drive that a fellow Adobe employee suggested and I knew it was a lifetime opportunity that I would forever adore.

I kept the car unusually silent for an avid roadtripper, and forged past GSP navigation making my way through town until the two lane highway broke north into the coastal expanse. All the natural colors and land formations–the blue void to my left, towering mountains draped in green fields to my right. Nature as a true and honest work of art. And lighthouses, like daydreams made reality as they drifted past my perspective again and again. To say that this drive was the most beautiful scenic route I have ever taken is simply an understatement. To drive between the mountains the water’s edge; the very edge of a vast mass of land in which you reside nearly on the the other coast, is a feeling unlike any other.

California Route 1

California Route 1
California Route 1
/GNARLY RIDE/

Good Eats, Smooth Drinks

Sightglass Coffee. Beautiful venue.
Sugoi Sushi. Best sushi.

 

Window Seat Home

A New York Moment

I am finding that my voice is hoarse from formal emails and professional networking that my inner narrator has been silent for quite some time. The prose that once floated around my mind in moments of peace and reflection, have now rusted, kept still in time. I apologize for the delay, as I have been throwing thoughts like limbs, trying to grasp my words and prose like fleeting, fading friends.

/MAD RAD/ [favorite moment/experience]
Monet's Waterlilies at the MoMA
Monet’s Waterlilies at the MoMA

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” – Monet

The grander part of the past weeks have been heavy with a need to elaborate the deeper meaning that Monet impressed upon me as I viewed his three panel Water Lilies at the MoMA in awe. Yet, I still cannot conjure the words that feel exact–something of escape, something of courage. Analyzing strips the grander purpose. Analyzing was stripping my peace. The museum plaque shared that Monet’s goal with this piece was to create “the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium.” This was perfection. I stood in front of those three large panels and fell in love like falling in the water. Joy and serenity rippled through my body, and I consciously pulled myself back into my very presence. As if bobbing between every shade of blue–there I was in Monet’s garden at water’s edge, and there I was witnessing my presence to it all.

“What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence.” – Monet

To describe my adoration for Monet’s work is to describe a large portion of work I admire–my own obsession with color. [I once read a book of beautiful blue prose, three times. It’s called Bluets by Maggie Nelson, and for those who can’t quite find the words to connect love, lust, and color, I highly recommend this read. It is the only way I know how to solidify these feelings as a human being. (“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” – Monet)]

I will leave the experience at that, and just as simply, but highly encourage you to visit Monet’s Waterlilies or any other work of art you’ve admire in textbook or on a screen–do so in person, in the same space. Take a moment to let words and thoughts escape you, and just, feel.

MoMA: The Greats
The Greats: Monet, Van Gogh, & Lichtenstein
/GNARLY RIDE/ [all the other dope shit that happened]

 

Give The Cat A Name

Tiffany's HardWear Collection, Flagship Store Window Displays
Tiffany’s HardWear Collection, Flagship Store Window Displays

“It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver… If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.” -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Holly Golightly had it right, and Audrey Hepburn brought it to life. From my first visit, it was a personal goal to experience the flagship store that my role model opened up an infamous movie gazing into the crafted window displays in huge sunglasses, cup of coffee in hand. And so I made my way back up Fifth Avenue one rainy evening, just to admire the displays as they gleamed–and unlike every other city light that glittered in the night sky, these small windows held smaller worlds that were all-accepting.

As they state on their website, “Our most iconic designs are a celebration of the women who wear them. As fiercely feminine as the new Tiffany HardWear collection, the legendary Lady Gaga capture the spontaneity and creative spirit of New York City.” As a female who designs longboards and advocates strength in beauty, this new line by Tiffany, their choice in spokes person, and the window display marketing that accompanies the visual theme has my heart fan-girling hard.

My Art History course in college came with a brief glimpse into the life of Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of founder Charles Lewis Tiffany, only further igniting a fire for the company. I now hold Tiffany’s as a personal goal for my own business for a few specific reasons–craftsmanship: an artistic eye and honor to product quality; customer service: no matter who you are or what you look like you will always be greeted upon entering the store and taken care of with sincerity; sustainability: a company that takes a stance, using their voice to make a better difference.

 

Serendipity

Creative Mornings Smilebooth
Creative Mornings Smilebooth
Clockwise: Aundre Larrow, Natalie Lew, Jessica Bellamy, & Chelsea Burton

I attended my first Creative Morning in New York City with my fellow Adobe Residents. Michael Ventura gave a reassuring and encouraging speech of his own experience with serendipity and his elaborate journey so far. I am not a stranger to the circumstances Ventura found himself in before habitually rectifying with optimism. Everything happens for a reason–I recognize serendipity like a fool to deja vu.

 

Anxiety in the Big Apple

The Gang at Big Gay Icecream
The Gang at Big Gay Icecream
Photo: Paul Trani

In general… as a being that brims with anxiety ever since I can remember, planning to thrive in New York City was far-fetched dream of creative naivety. My first of three weeks of travel was spent in the Big Apple, only second to a brief day trip two years prior. Although New York City may not be the city of my dreams that I was once so deeply determined it was, a taste full every now and again will more than satisfy my palette for new adventures and stimulating experiences.

In Times Square
In Times Square
Photo: Paul Trani

 

Good Eats, Smooth Drinks

Good Eats, Smooth Drinks
Left & Middle: Lady M
Right: Spyglass

Stumptown. Best cup of coffee.
Spyglass. A perfectly hidden, small rooftop bar even delightful during the rain.
Lady M. Deliciously crafted crepe cakes in a variety of decadent flavors.

 

Window Seat Home

What Dreams Are Made Of

This is the blog post I’ve been wanting to write for a while now, and it certainly took a lot to write.

Sometimes life goes wrong for all the right reasons. Almost a year and a half ago now, I experienced a turning point that hid very little in terms of it’s purpose. Though, all is due to a personally defiant change of mind.

/A YEAR AGO/

February 2016, was the pivotal point that marked a new mindset, and ultimately, a new life.

The beginning of a new year brought financial struggles and a fraught, new job hunt. By the end of January my mom called and shared news that my great aunt, a woman who radiated joy and never ceased her smile of continuous positive intent, had passed away. The following week my relationship of almost two years finally reached an end of toxicity.

It was during that initial drive back home that an overwhelming sense of relief released over me and freedom sank in at it’s fullest. The week that followed housed headspace for reflection and the undeniable acceptance of self (both good and bad).

/POSITIVE PERCEPTION/

It’s hard to admit your own faults, especially those you have grown in comfort with. Though I finally recognized I was a highly negative being; I was toxic–and not just to those around me, but especially myself. Stress, worry, anxiety, and fear consumed my life and I had been overwhelmed for a very long time.

Yet even after all the events that piled up in the new year, something switched inside me and I felt myself surrender with ease. Everything just flipped. I decided I no longer wanted to feel heavy with constant anger. I began rebelling against myself for the better, and started training (and tricking) myself, pulling out of ruts and forging new neural pathways in the pursuit of positivity.

My first assessment in establishing this new habit was finding a new job in the small city foreign and naive to my field. Given the small, who-you-know nature of Erie, job rejections both in and out of the creative market were heavy and expected. I reached out to the only local art gallery, inquiring to submit some pieces for sale. After about four or five emails sent, I eventually received a reply stating that my poster prints just wouldn’t fit. Sexism was then realized as a local silk-screening business looking for an extra set of hands pushed aside my education, portfolio, and personal creative ambition to barely offer a possibility of a “frontdesk” position (not related to the original job posting) with their only other female employee. Other various out-of-state applications received more attention but never enough to go beyond a fleeting fruition.

I constantly reassured myself something would eventually work out; something was out there that I just haven’t stumbled upon yet. I kept pushing, trying new venues. After about three months, a temp-agency offered a day-job opportunity regardless of its irrelevance to my field.

There is always information to be learned, and knowledge to be gained. This manufacture processed it’s orders locally, built it’s products in-house, and distributed internationally–all with less than a dozen local employees. I began my training with the mindset as an aspiring entrepreneur, to not only observe but to obtain a hands-on experience of how a business is ran. After I was given a tour and demo of the shop-floor production, I knew immediately there was another opportunity to be had and inquired the possibility of using the shop equipment after hours. With access to a bandsaw, flat sander, edge sander, drill press, and a clean, safe working space, my side hustle began a new stage in it’s life.

 

The Process

/PASSIONATE PERSISTENCE/

Around November 2016 I made a decision that took a small act of courage–I decided to start believing in myself and taking my work, my passion, my dream seriously. I purchased a workbook for entrepreneurs and a large reference guide packed with publication venues and artistic opportunities.

January 2017 I applied to Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Art Festival. The previous July, during a spur of the moment visit with the best of company, I was taken aback by the honest and true craftsmanship that fled the city streets. I finally discovered a creative community in which I admired and shared their same beliefs. This festival became my first goal to publicize my side hustle.

By the tail end of January 2017 I was laid-off from the comforting confines of my day-job. Just like clockwork, the job hunt was on once again. That very night, as I sat at the dinner table with my family, I revisited an application I had been saving and stated to myself without doubt, “I’m going to apply to this.”

A month later, and a little bit of rework on my passion project proposal (from my TRAF application) I submitted an application hours before the deadline with confidence–though not specifically in the lifetime opportunity I was directly applying for, but the dream I was finally developing into a tenaciously obtainable goal.

 

/EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON/

Beginning of March I reached out to another, local art festival only to find out there is a waiting list for applications as they circulate the same artists from the previous year, first. A few days later I received my rejection email from the Three Rivers Arts Festival. I simply reassured myself (just as before) that something better was in store. I wasn’t going to let this stop me so quickly and I would continue trying and reaching out.

The following week I received yet another email. This time from a woman named Heidi, requesting a phone interview regarding my Adobe Creative Residency application. In that very moment, even if I did not make the cut in the end, the simple fact that a huge, international company on the other side of the country wanted to take the time to call and talk about my work was THE feat within itself. And this was it, that something I knew I would find.

Marrying My Dream Job [Part II]

/THE RIDE SO FAR/

Let me be honest, the Adobe Creative Residency is my dream job–I get to continue achieving my goals creating mindful design & quality products. The past month and a half has already been a gnarly flow of slide & grind.

I was flown out to San Francisco, twice (both trips in less than a month), without ever before stepping yoga-toes-in-skater-shoes on California soil. Flying from one coast to the other was a feat in itself, but then I was blown away by the culture, creativity, and color that consumed my vision like day-dreamed eye-candy.

BlogStrip_TheLaundry_SF
Stacy McClure & the film crew @ The Laundry Gallery & Cafe // San Francisco, CA
BlogStrip_GraffitiAlley_SF
Lilac Street, Mission District // San Francisco, CA

My stars must have aligned in the most flawless way possible as my second visit to the west coast was just the start of some serious extrasensory perception. I was experiencing things I had only dreamed about… forever. No time was wasted as I met with the film crew in locations that were pure perfection–I worked in a studio with beautifully exposed brick walls and rode my longboard down a graffiti-lined alleyway in the sun. Stacy McClure was a make-up god-send who not only shared some girl talk to calm my nerves, but made me feel confident both outside and in. The next day I had a too short but totally rad portrait session with Sarah Deragon, when she told me of “the photo she dreamed about” and it took everything I had not bust out in fan-girl scream, as that was THE photo I have always wanted to embody. Seriously, major universal-energy is going on. Everything happens for a reason, but that is for another blog post not too far out.

The Photo She Dreamed About // Photo: Sarah Deragon

This is officially the beginning of a life-changing experience.
The next twelve months are going to be one gnarly adventure.

To keep up-to-date every day, follow me on Instagram & keep an eye on my story!

[Click here for Part I]

Marrying My Dream Job [Part I]

I have been bursting at the seams, holding onto this stellar news for the past month,
but today is the day!
I would like to officially announce,

I am a 2017 -18 Adobe Creative Resident.

 

/CREATE & SHARE/

The Adobe Creative Residency is an opportunity for creatives to pursue a passion project for an entire year. As shared on the Adobe Creative Residency FAQ page, “The mission is simple: to support the creative community and cultivate a culture of creating and sharing.”

This is the third year for the residency and myself and five other creatives are taking on the part–Jessica Ballamy, Aundre Larrow, & Natalie Lew (US Residents) and Rosa Kammermeier & Julia Nimke (German Residents).

Read more about each resident and find their social media handles here!!

Adobe Creative Resident 2017
Photo: Sarah Deragon

/PASSION PROJEKT/

I design longboard decks–a product that isn’t necessarily traditional craft and has the potential to broaden public awareness to the possibilities of intentional art application.
I began designing deck graphics in high school, submitted an Advanced Placement Art Portfolio upon graduating composed of flat demo decks and small-scaled graphics. Explored other mediums throughout college and developed a functional line of skatedecks, t-shirts, and poster prints for my senior show, ROYALTY: The Launch.

With the opportunity of the Adobe Creative Residency, I will create and launch two new seasonal lines of longboards, an additional line boards under my company and/or design graphics for an external company, as well as develop additional graphics for other potential products. I will also build a team of riders to sponsor, and establish all of my products for sale to the public. This residency will be a grander launching pad to my lifelong entrepreneurial goal to inspire others to be mindful during everyday activities. My graphics will be focused in areas I am most creatively passionate about: graphic design, digital illustration, and graffiti/typography; as well as embrace topics such female strength, individuality, sustainability and product quality, and as always, functional and accessible art application.

Ultimately, I hope to build a community inspired to become self-aware with the quality of their lives; an awakening that will resonate in my final pieces. I want to create artwork that has an intentional application to provide an accessible experience, bringing joy and betterment into someone else’s everyday life. I would like to influence the community to push the boundaries of creativity further into aspects of life that have become monotonous, and to refocus public awareness of design, not only as an intentional visual translation and tool for communication but as something both functional and creative to further the cycle of societal engagement.

 

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