Friday, October 29, 2010

Animals + Photography = Tim Flach

How have I not heard of Tim Flach before? Thanks Joanna from Cup of Jo for the inspiration! Flach is a British animal photographer who truly captures the emotion, strength and beauty of the animal kingdom. Above I have shown a brief sample of two of Flach's series titled Dogs Gods and Equus. Each photograph is stunning so I highly recommend checking out his website and watching his Animal Planet video (on his website).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Food and the Tango

First things First, I apologize for not posting yesterday. I realize I may only be apologizing to myself, but when I started the blog I had a goal of posting every weekday. Yesterday got a little crazy – my brother, Lee, was flying into town and we also had a birthday dinner with one of our friends, Braden. Which leads to today's inspiration...

Last night after fighting the extreme Chicago wind and the filming of Rachel McAdam's new flick Vow, we arrived at Tango Sur, a fantastic and authentic Argentinian restaurant. As you can imagine the menu is full of extremely large steak dishes plus an appetizer of melted cheese on a plate (it was delicious, if you were curious). Tango Sur pleases its customers, me in particular, with more than just its food (especially since I am not a red meat lover). The vibe of this place is straight out of a movie. The moment you walk in the door you are transcended into what I imagine Buenos Aires being. It is crowded, lite only by candle light, and has a guitar player serenading the place. Can I say – inspiration overload. This post goes out to the Tango, the cow and all things Argentinian.

This poster is weird and beautiful at the same time. It was hanging in a very prominent location of the main dining room of Tango Sur, so I can only imagine it is a famous Argentinian film. However, nowhere on the world wide web can tell me much about it, including Wikipedia. All I know is its a romantic drama from 1946. Seriously, is the man's arm hiding behind buildings or has it been ripped off? It's hard to tell. How many of us can remember a time when we couldn't draw a hand or foot in art class so we covered it with something "creative." Also, why is he blue? Beautiful complimentary color palette but blue is never appealing as a skin tone. All that said, there is something weirdly beautiful about the poster in a 1940s kinda way.

There is just something about cowhide this year. I have seen it everywhere. Maybe it's the Texas in me, but I love the look. It is rustic, woodsy and natural. This Canyon Cowhide rug is stunning. I am just not sure I could take looking at the poor cow hide everyday – not to mention, its way out of my price range.

While looking for Argentinian textiles, I found this fantastic gallery in Buenos Aires. Arte Etnico is a gallery full of hand-crafted art and decor. "Me encanta!"

The tango is sexy and so is this dress by ADAM. Red and black scream seduction which defines the Argentinian dance. However, because of its short length you may not actually want to do the tango in it.
I have been day dreaming about these shoes by Deena & Ozzy since I saw them in the Urban Outfitters window a few months ago. Guess what, now they are on sale.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Window Shopping Inspiration: A Literate Mounted Animal Head

I needed a little break today after work, so I stopped by Anthropologie to do a little window shopping and inspiration searching. Anthropologie consistently has innovative and creative display design. Today, in the back corner of the second floor, I spotted these beautiful paper mache animal heads. Each is made by hand in Haiti out of used cement bags and old French books. They are made to pay tribute to Haiti's French heritage and culture.

What a great re-use of vintage books and cement bags that are normally thrown away. How cool would one of these look in my studio? Each one makes me want to get out paste, water and old newspapers for a quick trip down paper mache memory lane.

Above is a close-up, just so you understand how beautiful they really are!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Since I am Not Sleeping... A Little Halloween Inspiration.

My friend, Lindsay, convinced me to go see Paranormal Activity 2 on Saturday night. I knew it was a bad decision the moment I made it but I couldn't let her down, especially since I convinced Reid and her husband, Oren, to go as well. In all honesty, it wasn't bad as scary movies go. It wasn't too scary or too cheesy, there was no blood and guts, and when I left I honestly didn't think this movie was going to keep me up at night. I was bold until the lights went out later that night...

Since I was a little girl I have had a SERIOUSLY overactive imagination. Maybe it is because I am such a visual person, but the moment any image is locked in my mind I think about constantly. You can only imagine what happens when that image is one from a horror movie. Every time I think about it the plot gets scarier and scarier. For example, remember the ghost librarian from Ghost Busters??? She kept me up at night for weeks and wasn't even that scary.

Getting to the point...

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I would share some of my favorite horror and sci-fi posters from Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo Drafthouse is an icon in Austin, Texas. They show classic films as well as new releases, but what I know them for best is the posters they commission from great designers all over the country. I absolutely love each of them as designs, even if I can't watch most of the movie.

This one glows in the dark. Beautiful! Mondotees designed.

Also by Mondo.

The Shining Poster, Halloween 2008, Jeff Kleinsmith

This is another movie that scared me to death as a child, but the poster is stunning! Designed by Methane Studios.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Inspiration: Yukari Umekawa

The weather today is stunning. The stereotypical, Chicago fall day: sunny, cool and just windy enough. However, I struggled all day with a slight creative block. Don't get me wrong – I actually got some good work done on an illustration project, but starting any new projects seemed out of the picture. I even struggled to come up with a good post idea, when on most days I have way to many and have to pare down. So, I did what I do when I am uninspired...

I surfed the internet for any inspiration: good things to read, interesting things to do, new artists at my favorite galleries, etc. After checking my regular blogs, I decided to devote today's search to things in Atlanta. Maybe I am feeling a bit nostalgic for my old home?

When I got to the website for Whitespace, a contemporary gallery in Inman Park, I was overwhelmed by the image of Yukari Umekawa's photo on their homepage. Umekawa's work is breathtaking, and really captures thr haziness of my mood today. She converted her digital camera to a pinhole while she visited her hometown in Japan. Each photograph becomes an abstraction from reality. They look like paintings from a dream world covered in fog.

I don't want to say anymore. I want the photos to speak.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dexter Posters Available!!!

I received an email earlier today from Ty Mattson, principle at Mattson Creative and Dexter fan, to let me know that his limited-edition Dexter screen prints are now available for sale at Showtime's website.

Earlier this week, I posted on Ty's blog to let him know how beautiful this poster series is. He responded quickly with a "thanks" and then followed up today with more information on the posters. I have to admit, it made me feel special... I love how quickly the blogosphere can connect you!

Dexter is one of my favorite televisions shows – it's a dark, mysterious, roller coaster ride of a show combined with witty, smart writing and lovable characters who you aren't sure you should love. Mattson's illustrations accurately portray the twists and turns of each seasons without giving everything away. The Valentine-esque color palette of red, pink and white (which I am not normally drawn to in the slightest) don't feel "lovey" at all because of sophisticated placement, serious content and the necessary Miami flare. To top it all off, the striking, minimal palette is screen printed on black paper. I want to see the final product.

The modern nod to Saul Bass is also seriously appreciated. It is a innovative and fresh take on the film design master.

So, my birthday is right around the corner, and I think I want one. I just have to decide which poster I like best... Season 2 or 4? Honestly, Season 2 was my least favorite to watch, but the poster is stunning. Should I splurge? (I think I need larger walls to hang all the art/prints that I want.)

I Keep Thinking About: Never Let Me Go

I made Reid go see Never Let Me Go, the new film based off the book by Kazuo Ishiguro last night. It is not his type of movie at all (slow, depressing and beautiful) so I was thrilled that he agreed to go. We both enjoyed it even though Reid was sad for the rest of the evening.

The film is breathtakingly beautiful and has a very innovative and interesting storyline. Not to mention that the acting, especially Carey Mulligan, is superb in an award nomination sort of way. However, it doesn't always build on the subtle yet complex hints about the characters and who or what they actually are. The viewer is left to puzzle piece things together - which could be a good or not-so-good thing depending on the viewer. I was left wanting to know more, but am glad that the director, Mark Romanek kept it at the 2 hour mark.

I know I appreciate a film when I continue to think about it for hours and days to follow. This movie has my mind doing circles and questioning (without giving too much away) the ethics of "soul vs no-soul". Although, the story made me sad and holding back tears it also showcased the raw beauty of humanity, love and loss.

Honestly, I wish I had read the book before seeing the film. While watching the story progress you can tell that we miss a lot of details that would have been included in the book. I never read a book after I see a movie – I am one of the people who normally tries to read everything before seeing the movie and then am highly disappointed at the recreation. Maybe doing it in reverse is the better way to go?

Below is one of the book covers for Never Let Me Go designed by Keenan. It is a pretty good cover design if I do say so myself. Bold type and portrait imagery set the perfect tone.

All in all I highly recommend the film (as long as you like slow and beautiful).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Owl Inspiration

I am at the beginning stages of a new illustration project that involves birds (owls in particular) and the forest landscape. Whenever I start a project, I begin by doing tons of image and visual research. My illustrations tend to be very whimsical and playful particularly since they are for the baby market, but I still want them to accurately portray the animal. Since I don't know anyone with a pet owl, the best place to search is the beloved "google." Above is my first image research board. The collection of images will help me establish the shape, build and personality of my future illustrated owl.

I have always felt that owls had a regal and stately presence. Unlike a lot of birds of prey, they don't seem to need to prove themselves. They just wait, listen and intently watch until they can get what they want. Of course, I am anthropomorphizing here but I do that a lot, so it is better to just go with it.

Also, owls are EVERYWHERE right now. Both because Halloween is right around the corner and because they have had a big comeback in design in recent years.

This morning when starting my research for owl images, I found these adorable pieces of owl paraphernalia...

This awesome bowl is by Jennifer Falter and can be found on Artful Living.

I love this pillow from My Tiny Star on etsy. This is actually a DIY kit.

Love Them! Find them at Urban Outfitters.

Adorable! Need I say more. Find it at Bellamina's etsy store.

Owl necklace by Kenneth Jay Lane.

I am always inspired and mesmerized by Jonathan Adler. Especially the way he designs animals in a minimal, geometric and modern way. Love the new owl ornament.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Laughing at Junk Mail

When I got home from work today I checked my mail, which is part of my daily routine. Normally, there are a few pieces but today my tiny box was jam packed with catalogs, other junk mail, and a paycheck - yippee!!!. Seeing all of the random catalogs reminded me that I wanted to share a laugh-out-loud-till-you-cry blog that Sarah (my sister-in-law) shared with me.

Seriously, Catalog Living, is hysterical. The writer, Molly Erdman, has created an imaginary couple who lives inside the pages of ridiculous catalog photographs. As a designer, it reminds me that photography for marketing and advertising is rarely realistic, accurate or functional. Erdman does a fantastic job poking fun of the absurdities.

P.S. You should also check out Sarah's blog - The Chenault Life

Monday, October 18, 2010

Inspiration x 100

While reading the new Whole Living last night, I stumbled upon an article illustrated by NOMOCO and was instantly swept away into a visual world of dancing girls in bright colors. To be completely honest, I didn't even read the article but spent the time it would have taken to read every word absorbing her beautiful ink illustrations. Her use of color and the female form along with allowing the ink to work under controlled freedom completely inspire me on multiple dimensions.

Frou Frou on 8th

My good friend and ambitious entrepreneur, Jess Margeson, just opened up an adorable floral and design store in the heart of historic, downtown Opelika, Alabama. In June, Jess did all the flowers for my wedding (they were beyond stunning). When her dream of opening a store became a reality she asked me to design her logo. I was so excited to help on this new adventure. Through multiple rounds of revisions we decided on a simple, vintage inspired logo.

I know that Frou Frou on 8th will be an instant success, and I cannot wait to witness its growth. The store looks beautiful. Congrats Jess!

All photos courtesy of Flip Flop Foto.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

40 Miles to Evanston

On Sunday morning we woke up to beautiful, fall weather, and made the spontaneous decision to rent bikes and ride to Evanston to explore. The 40 miles, round trip, were quite an adventure with many random stops, great conversation and beautiful image making. It is amazing how content you can feel when you just slow down and enjoy what is around you. Below are some of the highlights (all taken with my iPhone Hipstamatic App).
At North Beach, Chicago. 3 miles into the trip. Thanks Bike and Roll for great bikes.

We got lost for a bit in Rogers Park, but ran into the amazing Glenwood Sunday Market.

Lunch at Blind Faith in Evanston. One of our favorites!

Stopping by the Spice House, Evanston.

The cliche photo of laying in the park.

This is probably my favorite photo of the trip. Taken from Northwestern University looking south to the city of Chicago. The city looks teeny-tiny and confirms that we actually left urban living for a day.

A Major Feat of Strength

On Saturday, Reid woke up bright and early to run in the Men's Health Urbanathlon, a nine mile, six obstacle race along the Chicago lakefront. The obstacles included such feats of strength as running the stairs at Soldier Field, doing a set of monkey bars and jumping through tires at Navy Pier. This is a perfect Saturday for Reid and not my cup-of-tea at all. However, I always love cheering him on and decided to meet him (along with a few of our friends) at the final obstacle of rolling over taxi cabs, climbing over a CTA bus, and finishing with hurling yourself over a wall. Watching the 10,000 runners (both men and women) complete this obstacle after running 9 miles was mind boggling and inspirational at the same time. Reid finished strong and enjoyed every second of it.

How am I inspired, you ask? First, I really like the photo, taken with my Hipstamatic iPhone App, shown above. The colors and composition are high energy, and accurately portray the event. Second, watching the event made me agree to run the Turkey Trot (or another Chicago race) with Reid on Thanksgiving?!?! If that is not inspiring, I don't know what is. What have I gotten myself into???

After the race, Reid and Oren (another friend that ran) plus the cheering section came over to our place for Saturday brunch and mimosas. For the rest of the day, we watched football (WAR EAGLE!) and Bram Stoker's Dracula, and took a nap in between.

It was pretty close to a perfect Saturday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dreaming of Icebergs

Last night I had one of the most visually vivid dreams in a very long time. The basic premise, leaving out the crazy plot and numerous twists that normally fill my head during sleep, was that I was carrying my two brothers and my husband through the Southern Ocean back to the coast of Antarctica. Visually the dream was breathtaking... I struggled to swim through crystal clear blue water that was filled with millions of icebergs that resembled perfect crystals. I clearly remember reaching out and touching each of the icebergs to absorb their beauty. At a couple of points, the men I was carrying told me to stop wasting time looking at the colors and get them to safety. I cannot clearly remember why we were fleeing or why we were in Antarctica to begin with. All I know is that the water didn't seem very cold, it was filled with sunshine and reflective light, and that icebergs (which I have always considered relatively scary) were hands-down the most spectacular things I had ever seen. I woke up before anything dramatic happened with our safety, so let's all pretend that we arrived in Antarctica unscathed.

I looked up what "dreaming about icebergs" means and didn't find much, something about not living up to my potential or delaying a big decision??? Time will tell what it subconsciously means. In the meantime, I have some serious creative juices flowing from all the visuals of last night. Honestly, I wish I could go back to the magic waters of Antarctica tonight to relive it all. Hopefully a new drawing or illustration will come from the above inspiration board. I will keep you posted if it does.

So What if I am a Cat Person?

My husband, Reid sent me a link to this article yesterday afternoon.

Cat People Are People, Too

He knows if he wants me to read something asap it needs to do with art and design, or animals... If an article arrives in my inbox that is not about those three things, it takes me awhile to read it (even though I will eventually get to it). As you can see, this is where my priorities lie. Those of you who know me, know that I adore all animals big, small, furry or not. Living right dab in the middle of a big city doesn't allow me to get my full fill of wildlife. I try to fill the lack of creatures by watching Animal Planet (embarrassing, but at least I admit it), and snuggling with my two, beautiful cats. That's right, I have two and am proud of it, and "snuggling" may have been a bit ambitious as neither of my young, male cats love to snuggle on a regular basis. Although, Agador (pictured) is currently in my lap as I type this. Agador and Russell are a joy to our newly married life. They liven up our relatively routine lives with their wrestling, playing and occasionally knocking things over, and give us something to care for on a daily basis. Russell even wakes us up each morning by opening our bedroom blinds. It is amazing how a pet can become such a vital part of your family.

Needless to say, when I saw Sloane Crosley's article in my inbox, I knew it was an immediate read. The opinion article is a must for all cat people and even cat haters. It puts everything I have ever thought about cats, the people who love them and the people who don't into words.

Now, let's just hope our cats like it when we have the space to get a dog!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Filter on the Go!

I am a HUGE fan of water filters and NOT a HUGE fan of plastic, single serve water bottles. I don't mean to pull the environment card, but seriously, they are SO wasteful. Over the past week, I have seen the new Bobble water bottle in a magazine and on a couple of blogs. Finally someone combined a reusable water bottle with a filter system. Now we can refill our water in even the grossest places and end up with delicious, clean H2O. Not to mention the design is sleek and sophisticated with a touch of brightness.

I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Visual Language of Herbert Matter

The Visual Language of Herbert Matter is a new documentary film about the iconic graphic designer, Herbert Matter. In my opinion, Matter helped define modern graphic design by combining avant garde photography with sophisticated color, shape and typography. I hope the film brings Matter's prolific career to life.

I have been dying to see the film since I first heard about and watched the award-winning trailer, which mixes historical graphic design with cutting edge film editing. The film is made by PiXiU Films and filmed by Swiss filmmaker Reto Caduff.

I get shivers (the good kind) just watching the trailer. When is it coming to Chicago?