Saturday, January 31, 2015

seeing, being seen

So I got a surprising email from Heather Grant last week. It was an email to inform me that they hadn't yet received my spiderweb quilt for the 2015 QuiltCon exhibition. Puzzling, since I had never received notification of its acceptance. The mahjong quilt, yes. Sleeve and label stitched on and mailed off promptly. The spiderweb? Nope. I immediately emailed Heather back - had there been some mistake? Turns out, no. For whatever reason, one acceptance email arrived in my inbox, the other? Into the spam folder I'm guessing. Sigh. But also: hurrah! I got both accepted! Very cheering on an otherwise not-great day.

The next morning I stitched on a sleeve and label, packaged it all up and headed off to the nearest UPS spot. It was one I hadn't been to before in Bushwick. It was a hybrid store, the front of it art supplies, in the back shipping and packaging. It was completely empty when I entered. I approached the small, enclosed room in the rear where I sensed a human presence. As I approached, a woman looked up from her monitor and greeted me warmly. She was transgender. This tripped me up for a split-second, shamefully. I handed her my box and told her I wanted to overnight it. She started tapping on her keyboard and then frowned at her screen.

"It's going to Austin?' she asked. "Hmmm. This is going to be pricey."
"Yeah, I know," I said. "About 70 bucks, right?" I had done a quick price check online beforehand. It needed to be there the next day or it wouldn't be eligible for competition.
"Uh, no," she said. "It's going to run more like 160 bucks."
Crap. I was prepared to pony up 70 dollars for delivery, but no more. I stood there for a second weighing my (non) options. She glanced at the label on my box.
"What's Quilt Con? Is that like Comic Con?" She asked.
"Uh, yeah I guess, insofar as it's a convention for quilters." I said, "But without the sexy costumes."
She giggled. Looked back at her screen.
"So they 're all over the country, then? These quilting people?" She was googling MQG.
"You mean the guilds?" I asked. "Yeah, they have them all over the country, and I think internationally, too."
Her eyebrows went up. I could tell she found this weird and a little surprising. Which made me giggle.
"Everybody's got their own subculture, sister." I said (in my head).


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tziporah Salamon

I kept waiting for her to come back on screen, for her name to appear identifying who she was, as it had for the other ladies (and they were all ladies) in the documentary. It wasn't until Ari, the writer whose blog had inspired the film (Advanced Style) chastised her, saying "Tziporah, something something something, don't get your hopes up" that I had something to google. Which took a bit of doing, because I had to spell it phonetically. But I eventually landed on her identity: Tziporah Salamon. 

I found this image of her on Pinterest. I immediately recognized the building and sign—it's on the way to City Quilter and I've frequently thought what a great backdrop it would make for a portrait. I admire those women who can make an art of dressing—or more correctly, are artful dressers. And there is so much consideration for color, proportion, balance, texture in Tziporah Salamon's ensembles. Such wonderful shapes (those hats!), such a marvelous eye for pattern and layers. And I agree that it is about having an "eye," not money, however clich├ęd that is. She described waiting for years sometimes for the perfect thing to finish an outfit before she would ever actually wear it. And doing a critical scan of her clothing, it's not "designer-y," but primarily vintage/anonymous. It's how she assembles them that makes them special.

I wish the film had given her more screen time, I am curious about her background. One quote of hers from the documentary that I scrawled down and have subsequently memorized is: "Better hand-to-mouth than nine-to-five." Whatta gal! Love her. She seems like the ultimate sassypants.
She rides her Bianchi everywhere.
All these images are from Pinterest. Apologies for no attribution.
That hat! Those shoes!
Looking like a Maira Kalman painting in this one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Careers in Magazines

They handed out free copies
of the most recent issues of both magazines
which I thought was pretty nice.

So I went to this talk a few weeks ago.

It was a panel discussion about careers in magazine design, held at the School of Visual Arts theatre. I got notice of it via theskint.com—they send emails one or two times a day highlighting things of interest in the city that are free or cheap. I think it is just in NYC but I'm not sure. Everywhere should have one. But anyway. Magazine design. I decided, why not go. This was the line-up:

Maile Carpenter, Editor in Chief, Food Network Magazine
Ian Doherty, Art Director, Food Network Magazine
Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief, HGTV Magazine
Ridge Carpenter, Art Director, HGTV Magazine

Weirdly (or not), Maile and Ridge are siblings. Sisters. Not that it matters. What matters is that it was good. The speakers were personable, down-to-earth, and happy to help demystify the behind-the-scenes process of putting together their respective publications. Sara Peterson, in particular, was charming and chatty about the realities of putting out a magazine in the current economic climate, and the relationship between the TV show (and on-air personalities) and the publication. Both editors talked about how the divide between editorial and advertising in magazines has been reconsidered in the last few years. In short, there maybe isn't one any longer. Maile Carpenter talked candidly about how a necessary part of her job now entails brainstorming ideas about how to better merge advertiser's products with their editorial content. And really, I guess, why not. It isn't like Food Network Magazine deals with hard news or serious journalism.

I think both magazines, in terms of design, are pretty solidly middle-of-the-road. Which is not intended as disparagement. You wouldn't look for cutting-edge graphic design from either—it wouldn't be appropriate for their audience. And consideration for their readers and what they value in the magazine are the driving forces behind what they feature and how they present it, and rightly so.

As it was held at SVA, the moderator (a faculty member) asked some pretty direct questions about how an interested student might land a job there. Which I thought was great. I don't remember any practical help being offered to me as an undergraduate in terms of making a living. Which is part of how I ended up in graduate school 2 years after finishing undergrad. I literally didn't know what else to do with myself. The only thing I had ever successfully done was to be a student. So that was heartening.
Photo of the theatre from the SVA website.
Part of what also made me want to go was the opportunity to check out the SVA theatre. I had attended a talk by the designer Milton Glaser a couple years ago (I go to a lot of talks, I am suddenly aware) when he was promoting a new book. He still teaches at SVA, I believe, which is amazing since the dude is like a hundred or something. Anyway, he had designed the logo and interior of the theatre and showed a slide of it at his talk. 

One thing he said during that talk, that I've since thought about a lot, is that Photoshop and Illustrator can be dangerous because they tend to dictate the sort of art or design one makes. He felt that there was a sameness to a lot of the illustration being produced now because people were relying on the same set of tools to craft it. I think he has a valid point. He also read his essay listing the 10 most critical things he has learned over the years (miltonglaser10things). Number one? Only work for people that you like. To which I would say, it must be good to be Milton Glaser.