The other night while taking in an usual moment alone on a late night ferry crossing, I felt alarmingly sad. While I had been looking forward to the ride, I found the empty boat to be a reminder of how small Seattle can feel. There was nobody else in sight save for a few slouchy drunks and from afar the city appeared to be sleeping. I thought back to my nights alone in New York, and how alive I felt while walking through the city. I was very aware of my own happiness, walking with a loose and confident stride and an uncharacteristic smile. My nights visiting the Highline were spent padding around Chelsea in dirty sandals with sweaty, salty hair, and I loved everything about it. I loved the lights, and the smell, and the way it felt to be warm in a tank top at midnight. I never spoke, but often exchanged smiles with passersby- mostly people like me, by themselves but not lonely at all. I was very alone, in a very big city, but no place feels more like home.
Happy Valentine’s Day, world! I have been spending the day at work listening to the great Motown love songs and updating our office website. I also had a listen to Karen O’s beautiful love song for Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, and was completely captivated by this video of them playing it live together. Karen O never ceases to captivate me, with her voice, her looks, and her sheer tenacity, but the photo above struck me as so stunning! I then proceeded to get lost in a Google image search black hole of Valentine’s Day love for these crazy, unusual women who totally own themselves. Sometimes it’s nice to remember how many different ways there are to be beautiful.
A beautiful reminder to go slow and remain steady.
Sometimes going down the rabbit hole of the internet can be a really productive thing to do. Usually it’s not, but today it is. While sifting through Jessica Hische’s awesome list of all things design for the seven billionth time, I discovered the illustrations of James Gulliver Hancock. I recognized his drawings from around the internet (and around the country, as he does lots of beautiful billboards) but I had never actually looked through his dense portfolio of work. His collections of maps and overall emphasis on cities and buildings was immediately appealing, but when I discovered his personal side project I fell in love a little more.
All the Buildings in New York is a living and growing index of the amazing collage of buildings and spaces which make up New York City. The drawings are simple and sketch-like, bringing to mind the great Urban Sketchers revolution but with a more object-like quality and greater attention to the final composition. I’ve been looking for better blogs and projects to follow into 2014, and this one is going at the top of my list.
The above illustrations all belong to James Gulliver Hancock and were found here.
Continuing with my end-of-year list-making frenzy, today I wanted to think about a different kind of list. The holidays, whether I like it or not, tend to make me focus on the material things in life. I long for new candles that give my apartment that cozy glow, or cute pajamas and earmuffs for the upcoming chilly months. And while I devote many hours to choosing the perfect gifts for my family and friends, which I feel is a lovely and truly special tradition, the whole gift giving mindset tends to feed my consumerist habits and leaves me longing for more and more.
Back when I was sixteen I completed a whole year without buying anything new. There were a few exceptions, like socks, underwear, and art supplies, but for the most part I stuck to my rule. No new clothes, no new cds, and no more make-up. This exercise was undertaken partly as a sustainable challenge, but was mostly a financial experiment and test of my own will. It felt great to know I was in charge of my own impulses, which faded away quickly after beginning my personal challenge. After completing the year-long challenge I slowly eased back into buying new things, to the point now where I hardly think twice about shopping anymore. So this year I have decided to reinstate some of my old ways by writing a list of things I definitely do not need (and am determined to not buy) in 2014:
1. Bathing Suits – I bought TWO in 2013 and I have only had one opportunity to wear them so far.
2. Tights – I have way too many. I never wear all the crazy colored ones that I always think I will.
3. Nail Polish – I already have a whole rainbow, and I usually just paint them black or nude anyways.
4. Perfume – Christmas covered that one for at least another two or three years.
5. Make-Up and Hair Stuff- My day-to-day look is covered by a few signature products, and I have enough sparkles and lipsticks to experiment with through 2015. I’ll replenish my favorites should they run out, but I suspect that will take a while…
6. Bras – I. Have. So. Many. And. I. Only. Love. Four. Of. Them.
6. Candles – Whenever I’m at Anthropologie I romantically imagine my evenings spent cooking by candlelight or reading by the warm glow in the tub. But in actuality I have yet to burn through any of my favorite candles, and I already have several more I haven’t started yet. I think I’m set.
7. Craft Supplies – I love crafting. Seriously. But I haven’t actually finished 95% of the projects I’ve started in the last couple years while I was in college. Those are first on the list before I try anything else too crazy.
8. Anything from Forever 21 – This year is all about quality over quantity, and Forever 21 just doesn’t support that mantra. I typically only buy things there that I wear once or twice and are overly trendy, and they tend to break, snap, tear, or wear out within six months anyways. Now that I finally have a little money of my own I would like to invest in pieces that I know I will wear for years (a.k.a. black, classic, and feminine).
Two days down and I’m still in the clear, but wish me luck upholding these rules for the rest of 2014!
Photo of Elizabeth Taylor found here.
My End-of-2013 Goals:
- CONTINUE LEARNING Signed up for Jessica Hische’s Skillshare class about lettering, need to finish project still.
- COMPLETE ANOTHER DESIGN COMPETITION Yes! Lindsey and I participated in “Rethinking the School Lunch Experience”
- HAVE $4500 SAVED FOR TRAVEL Nope, not possible. I will have at least 65% of that, and I feel good about it.
- EXERCISE 10 DAYS PER MONTH Also not happening. However, started taking Barre classes and really like them.
- PARTICIPATE IN MORE ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN EVENTS Been to two emerging professionals events and a party.
- PLAN A SPRING 2014 VACATION Caleb has a new job and can’t take vacation for 6 months. Upside – he has a new job!!!
- FINISH DECORATING MY APARTMENT It happened! I framed my art, fixed my bathroom, and have big beautiful xmas tree.
- PAINT 10 WATERCOLORS No progress here.
- START BLOGGING AGAIN Yep! A new theme has helped with that.
- TRY OUT 10 NEW RECIPES I’m not keeping track, but have been busy baking lots.
- HOST A DINNER PARTY Does a craft party count? I think so.
- IMPROVE AT SALSA DANCING This one might have to be put on hold for a while, but I have high hopes for 2014!
Hoping to keep up the blogging, cooking, and learning, in addition to having a big watercolor day sometime around Christmas. Here’s to a productive and relaxing holiday season!!! xo
I like to make lists for pretty much everything, but I especially like to make lists at the end of the year. I like making Christmas lists; I like making a pseudo budget for the coming year, and I completely prescribe to tradition of New Year’s resolutions. While I feel that being a list maker is more of a natural attribute than a choice, like being a blonde or a lefty, I also believe that list making actually does breed productivity and ultimately satisfaction. (For what is more satisfying than being productive, seriously?)
In my quiet pursuit of graphic design knowledge, I recently came across a firm that intrigues me to no end. Sagmeister & Walsh is a New York firm rooted in the design of band paraphernalia but interested in discovering new limits and mediums within the large expanse that is the design field. Stefan Sagmeister is the older and more interesting of the two- an Austrian expat known for his love of rock ‘n’ roll and cheekiness.
I encourage you to explore S&W’s website and their incredible portfolio of work, but I particularly encourage you to read through the “ANSWERS” portion of the firm’s site. Here Sagmeister gives intensely personal yet refreshingly obvious and simple answers to questions about design, work, and happiness. His candid and humorous answers gave me much to think about, in addition to prompting a new ritual of mine and Caleb’s where we record “three things that worked” every single day. My boss called this “Oprah’s Gratitude Diary,” but I much prefer to think of a scruffy Euro dude than Oprah. At a time of year when I am thinking about my future, Sagmeister is the ultimate inspiration as a fellow designer, music appreciator, and fanatic list maker.
P.S. – Watch his TED Talk, where Stefan discusses happiness and design.
photo credit – Stefan Sagmeister portrait found on http://www.sagmeisterwalsh.com/