Matthew Korbel-Bowers is a San Francisco based artist who’s currently working on his MFA at the California College of the Arts. I was checking out his portfolio and he’s got a lot of great, sort of abstract pieces that are really beautiful. I love the colors and the random, geometric nature of them all. You can tell he’s got a good vibe going on, even his posters feel like they’re from the same, greater body of work. If you dig any of these images you can grab them in poster form for pretty cheap over on his Society6 page.
Let’s get this fact out of the way for good: everyone selected for your awesome project should have an awesome portfolio, without any unqualified candidates just to fill a diversity quota. Does anyone ever want this any other way? Ick, what a gross thing to consider. But it’s not the point. The point that Dylan & GOOD keep making is that you don’t have to do it in the first place. Has the internet not taught us how vast and deep the creative world is? There are ALREADY plenty of talented creative minorities out there with the work you are looking for. If you are having trouble finding any, then you need to switch tactics, build your network, and keep looking. No really, it’s that simple. Keep looking, full stop. You will have to work harder; they don’t call us minorities because we are commonplace. But that’s okay, you love work, otherwise you wouldn’t be a designer curating that awesome project you started in the first place.
Secondly, all types of minorities get slighted in some way. Discrimination is going to happen because these groups are not the running the status quo. That is the shit-kicker of life, it ain’t fair just like your momma said. I don’t like it anymore than you do and it’s not an excuse to let it lie either. The fact this gender-bias topic keeps resurfacing is proof that enough folks see an obvious rift here. I also think it’s interesting that I’ve yet to come across a lady designer who dismisses these claims either. It’s just dudes who are starting the conversation and doing the decrying simultaneously. Telling, no?
To be honest, I’ll thank you for standing up and saying something, guys. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard much from the females on the subject, it’s because doing so makes the work about something else, when we ladies just want it to be about the work, 100%. Plus, it’s passé these days to be “out” as a feminist if you’re a woman. We are seen as men-hating, a bitch, or a spinster if one of us stands up and makes a fuss. Thanks to our bra-burning senoritas in the 60’s and Working Girl in the 80s, it’s as if this part of our history is in closed books, and we should be lucky it’s even come this far. But look no further than this incredibly smart piece by James Chartrand for evidence that we are not quite there yet.
Let’s start anew and enlist the perspective of our transgender friends. I think their voice is key in this conversation since they are the only people who have gotten to live in both gender worlds. I’m also loving the support that Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, and Amy Poehler are getting these days for dispensing that ridiculous notion that women aren’t funny. The arts are the best way to break down cultural barriers and as designers we hold immense power to create change for all marginalized peoples. It’s clear we have to keep talking, keep pushing, keep working together. And thank goodness we get to have the internet our as most immediate tool. I don’t know what I would do without it, or without you, my network and community. Let’s just all be best friends forevs and make rad stuff together, ok?
I’m not exactly sure what happens in this pavilion, but I’m hoping it includes arts and crafts. The Ruth Lilly Visitors Pavilion was architected by Marion Blackwell and sits inside 100-acres of art and nature controlled by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. (You might remember this installation from their lobby last fall.) The architect’s website describes the project as a place to “gain a deeper, and perhaps, even more meaningful understanding of the relationships between conditions nature-made and man-made” and all I can think when I see these photos of is the arts and crafts hut from my childhood summer camp.
To be clear, this project is entirely too pretty, too sturdy, and too nice to have anything to do with the derelict “arts and craps” hut I remember from camp. Whereas this roof is dramatic and porous as it swoops across the glass-enclosed program and opens toward the woods, the roof I remember from camp was dramatic for a different reason but also porous as it sagged across the rotting wooden frame and provided shelter for wasps who built nests there. We made things out of yarn and popsicle sticks, never really contemplating the nature that was blushing green all around us. It’s hard for me to belief that visitors to this new pavilion will not be distracted from the surroundings by the pavilion itself, not because the architecture is distracting but because it looks spectacular. But maybe this is just me. When I was ten, I couldn’t look away from the details my craft and now I can’t imagine looking away from the details of Mr. Backwell’s craft.
Man, I love these weird ass illustrations and paintings by Jonny Negron. I don’t know a whole lot about him, but his style is obviously inspired my manga, and especially, hentai (nsfw). A lot of his work is super raunchy, which to me is pretty hysterical, but that’s not quite the vibe of this site. But I really enjoyed these portraits he did which had such vibrant expressions to them. I also really enjoyed that piece on top, all of the details in the branches and the leaves, it’s exquisite. You might also recognize the bottom piece, which is of Shelly Duval from The Shining, which couldn’t possibly look anymore perfect.
If you dig these pieces pop over to his Flickr and check out the rest, but be warned, there’s all kinds of weird things having sex with each other.
When Evan and Dan put together these projects, they asked their friends who they think are talented designers. Did they sit back and ask themselves, “Well, do I have an appropriate number of women for this?” No, because yet again, that’s ridiculous. And if you honestly think that the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest (or Evan or Dan) went out of it’s way to not invite female you’ve gotta’ be nuts.
I was speaking to Jennifer Daniel over Twitter earlier, who you may have noticed was the second artist Dylan listed of women who could have been included in these projects/events. She’s an amazing designer, she’s basically in the New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek every week and a million other things. Oh yeah, and she happens to be a woman. And that’s what she said to me, “women-designers don’t need the prefix “women”. Gay-designers don’t need the prefix gay. Smart-designers don’t need the prefix smart.” I liken it to blogging. I don’t think of Grace Bonney or Tina Roth Eisneberg as amazing female bloggers, I think of them as amazing bloggers, period. If anything, she thinks people should “invite speakers that have unique points of view. I don’t think anyone is talking about making conferences mediocre by inviting women. They seem to be mediocre on their own without them.” Why not just be an amazing designer?
To that effect, I think it’s funny that Dylan forget a huge, glaring point. He’s so adamant to point out that the “design community” is prejudice against women, but what about gays and lesbians? Where are the transgendered people? Where do these minorities fit into the big picture of everything? Why isn’t anyone inviting these specific minorities to projects/events?
Because it’s the same ridiculous point from a different point of view.
Here is my point. Don’t define yourself by your sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Why should anyone be singled out by any of the previously mentioned descriptors? How about we celebrate the people who are kicking ass and are doing amazing things? My writers and myself don’t care what the hell you are, we want to share amazing ideas from people who are doing brilliant things, that’s it. Personally, I don’t ever want to be known as a gay blogger or a gay designer, I want to be known as a dude who’s doing super rad shit.
As my friend Kate Bingaman Burt said, “I just want to make good work, be good to people and kick ass. I think that would apply no matter what gender I am rocking.”
After writing this I decided to follow up with Dylan about his post, and here’s what he had to say in return, which I thought was extremely well thought out and a perfect addendum to all that’s been written so far.
The thrust of the article wasn’t about celebrating based on gender, just acknowledging the gap existed, especially when paired next to these examples that all are reflective of design as community right now. MOMENTUS project lacking female designers struck me particularly because of the content matter; to have a project based around America—where equality and democracy are always being sought—without any female representation didn’t seem to conceptually jive. That’s why I asked Evan about it, since he and I seemed to have had good rapport on twitter. When I learned that there wasn’t much consideration for it beyond wanting to work with friends (something that’s valid, totally) I felt like this was something worth discussing as a larger pervasive topic, having seen the rollout of WMCfest that same weekend and 50 and 50 before that.
These three separate items I feel like are coming from within design, self-authored or driven by the people in it. With that, it seems like a bummer that young female designers—or designers of color, or designers that are part of the LGBT community—don’t see themselves reflected in that. I totally understand the idea that it should be about the quality of work that drives who gets asked to do something, which is why I chose to make the companion slideshow. If the excuse is there isn’t quality work out there from girls, then I wanted to prove that wrong. That list ranges too, from uknowns to well knowns, but all of them are well within the venn diagram of talented, young and hungry. If that is what is being reflected in these projects, why aren’t they there? I suppose hearing all through school from my female design friends about the lack of diversity from speakers always made me think they felt that that was demeaning, but I could be mistaken. I’ll totally own it if I’m wrong.
I’m also fine being viewed as a male designer, because that’s what I am. But I understand your point too that this isn’t the prefix the correlates to good, just as female, gay, black, or any other prefix would. My work isn’t indicative of my gender, but my gender is something I can’t subtract myself from. I’ve also never felt openly ostracized in my field, so I’m not sure what the feelings would be if I suddenly was a female designer. Or if I were gay. Or if I were non-white. But I want to insure that everything I do that is reflective of professional community doesn’t make anyone feel on the outside either. Again, this isn’t the prescription for everyone, this was just my personal (and by proxy, GOOD’s) take on the issue. I feel like everyone could stand to open their networks to new creative people, of any race, gender, or sexual orientation. I welcome it, because I’ve always been challenged most by those I wasn’t exactly analog too. It might be the fact that I was a lone liberal growing up in Wyoming, but I never wanted to be confronted by sameness.
At the end of the day, what I was positing wasn’t about hiring practices or strict doctrine for how to run any sort of conference or project, but just shining a light on the fact that everyone (myself included) can do better with their personal networks, and organically the work will be just as good, while also being more diverse. If projects are actively reflecting a community, then hopefully they can take that into account at the onset, but I wouldn’t want to put myself in the position of casting anyone of the above mentioned projects out of the discussion. Each of those things should be elevated, scrutinized, and celebrated. To say no one could grow from this (again, myself included) would go against the crux of what I was trying to say in the first place.
It’s really exciting to see this recent outcropping of self-initiated projects that gather together creative types to document a certain time or place. I feel like the Desktop Wallpaper Project was essentially that, getting creatives to make a cool wallpaper and give it away as free art. Recently there has been the State Motto Project by Dan Cassaro, and you’ve got the guys over at Friends of Type who are always inviting people to participate in contributing beautiful type. And now you have MOMENTUS, a project chronicling the highs and lows of American History, curated by Evan Stremke. The full roster of people contributing is huge, nothing but great artists and designers in that list, so it’s looking to be really successful already. The release schedule is currently Monday through Thursday, so be sure to check back and see what’s being added.
It’s been said that pieces of art are “bursting with energy”, but when it comes to the drawings of James Roper, he takes it quite literally. James is a Manchester, U.K. based artist who’s work ranges from these incredible line drawings to more brightly colored, organic feeling pieces that are chunky and rich feeling. He describes his work pretty simply:
My work explores a variety of subjects from the heightened realities depicted in Baroque art and modern media to the restraint and release of energy found within complex structures such as the human body.
I would love to see these up close and personal, I think there’s a lot of details I’m missing out on. The images of women are from his Rapture series, which uses the shapes of porn stars, “shedding of carnal bodies giving way to an abstract purity beneath.” It’s a beautiful juxtaposition that is extremely well crafted and meticulously done. The cars are from a series called Rupture, which are probably related, but I’m not sure what the connection is, other than overall style.
You really need to check out his site and view the rest of his profile, so much great work.
This narrow and long house was designed by Atelier Tekuto and is wedged between existing housing and a dirt road in Setagaya, Tokyo. Because of local building ordinances, most of the living areas are pushed below ground, where the house is free to be wider– although not very much since most of the project is still less than two meters wide. The translucent skin floods the all-white interior with daylight and turns the project into a kind of glowing wedge at night.
I have always preferred smaller living spaces, but the length of this particular small space is more challenging. People can live just about anywhere, but it’s harder to imagine folks making a home here because of the pristine white interior and lack of any reference for scale. Where is the refrigerator? Or the people? Without houseplants, rugs or art on the walls, this project looks more like the interior of a ship than a domestic interior. Living in the hull of a ship isn’t for everyone, but neither is living in a house as wide as a canoe.
Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
My name is Ana Benaroya, I am a freelance illustrator and designer living in New Jersey, pretty close to New York. I spend my days doing a blend of commercial and personal work… all of which is usually pretty colorful, graphic, and somewhat humorous. All my work starts by hand and usually ends up on the computer. Besides drawing and trying to be an artist, I enjoy getting out of the house and exploring New York. I also enjoy eating and drinking coffee.
What are you currently working on?
The most exciting thing I’m working on right now, I sadly can’t speak about… but I will say its several posters for a huge music venue in NYC. Besides that I’m actually working on another poster for a blues festival in Missouri and several editorial projects. In my personal work, I actually just self published a book called Men Eating Fruit and I’m working on a series of paintings on florescent paper.
When did you come out and what was the story?
I came out to my friends in college and to my parents the summer after college. I didn’t really date in high school and only came to the realization (or rather accepted the fact) that I was gay my second year in college. The coming out story to my friends wasn’t dramatic at all, they pretty much figured it out on their own. Plus, I went to art school where these things are commonplace and very acceptable, which might have been a factor in my own self-acceptance.
After college I moved back home and was dating someone at the time and felt like I didn’t want to have to lie or pretend I was someone I wasn’t while living under the same roof as my parents. It wouldn’t be fair to them and it wouldn’t have been fair to me (and my own mental health). So, one night as I was actually just about to leave for a friend’s house, I awkwardly walk into the living room where my mom is in the process of taking out the trash and my dad is watching Fox News… and I address them both and say “I have something to tell you…(long awkward silence as I literally feel as though the words won’t leave my lips)…I am dating someone…and they are a girl.”
They were both silent for a little while but then my mom comes over and hugs me and says that she isn’t totally surprised and that they both just want me to be happy. My dad agreed with her… and that was that! Pretty painless and I am lucky that I have parents who love me no matter what.
How does being queer affect your work, if at all?
It definitely does affect my work but not in an intentional sort of way. By that I mean I don’t try and make work with a particular message or political statement. But the people I draw definitely do sometimes blur the lines between gender-roles, not in appearances but perhaps in mannerisms or actions. There is nothing I love drawing more than an effeminate muscular man, haha…as strange as that might sound. I’ve always thought I have the taste of a gay man but I’m trapped in a lesbian’s body.
I enjoy drawing women as well, but I try to be very conscious of how I depict them. All the women and men I draw have some sort of sexuality about them… but with women I walk a fine line between sexualizing them and creating a parody of how they are typically portrayed in popular media. I always try and make something a little imperfect and a little bit off-putting when I draw women. Whereas with men I have no problems turning them into a sex object.
In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
To me, gay pride is not something that happens once a year at a parade, it is something you must live your entire life. It doesn’t need to be loud and in your face, it should be quiet and strong. Once I accepted myself and who I was I really felt my whole world and my whole being change. I became a better, happier person and I actually think my artwork improved. It is this inner strength that people need to be proud about and share with the world.
Although being gay can cause hardships and bring out ugliness at times, I truly believe it is a blessing. It allows you an outsider’s look at society and at how the world works – and this outsider’s perspective is what allows you to be a more innovative and interesting person. In a way, it allows you to be free of the constraints that society places on most people. I certainly wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favorite albums last year was Belle & Sebastian‘s Write About Love. It’s an album that I could listen to endlessly, and I feel that it features some of the finest songs that they’ve put out in a very long time. Next month they’ll release a new 12″ four-track single that leads with a reworking of the wonderfully fun Come on Sister. To mark the occasion the band have released two new videos, one for Come on Sister and another for a remix of I Didn’t See It Coming.
I Didn’t See It Coming might well be my favorite song of last year so I was excited to hear what a remix of the track would sound like. Personally, Richard X’s take on the track adds little more than dance-pop production, and it’s nowhere near as exciting as I would have hoped it could have been, but the video certainly makes up for it with a splendid animation by Glasgow illustrator and animator Lesley Barnes. Lesley has a terrifically cute style, and I love her use of color and the general sense of fun that runs throughout the video, it’s well worth watching. For fans of the original song, you might be interested to hear that the new single will also feature a remix by New York experimentalists Cold Cave.
If you’re curious to see the video for Come on Sister, feel free to continue reading. It’s a really wonderful video and I spent a good long time trying to decided which of the two I’d post today. Both are quite wonderful.