Thursday, September 5, 2013

Revival Radio

As you may or may not know, there are a few things in life that I [irrationally] cannot stand to be around. They're ridiculous things, I'll admit, such as having my picture taken without my knowledge, bowls that are square-shaped, and people who say things like "I want to tell you something, but it's a secret..."

Topping out the list is a.m. radio. Maybe you already know what I mean, and just maybe I am about to spoil a.m. waves for you forever. But regardless of any of that, I can't stand it. Something about the frequency or the shape of the waves of a.m. radio specifically make me feel sick. It might be something physical or psychological (who can really tell the difference) but I cannot be around it. It has this scratchy, buzzy, broken quality that just makes me want to stick my finger so far into my ears that they touch.

Speaking of annoyances, I feel like this might be a better one to have, if only because all radio (in the sense that I knew it while growing up in the nineties). Radio is becoming obsolete. Perhaps the car is the only place I ever hear the radio anymore. I think some people find it easier to just push the radio button than scramble for a twisted and tangled iPod adapter or clean the dust off that old S Club 7 CD they found under the seat. But as cars are becoming more and more technologically advanced, they can sync with your phone and play music right off of that. And then there are the thousands (or more) of satellite radio channels that can be yours for the low, low price of $XX.xx per month. And they're not really "radio stations" they way that I think about those lame talk show hosts, the call-in contests, the request hour, all of that horrible pop music...the list goes on.

Well, now to get to the gooey center of my point, I present to my fellow Torontonians: Indie 88.1. I must begin by stating that I am very biased, only because from the moment I tuned into this station, an easy 70-80% of the music I have heard has been straight out of my iTunes playlist, and the remainder is awesome music I am ready to add to my library. Being someone that really can't stand much of the popular music on today's charts, I find this station's choice of music very fitting (if not always independently-based) to my musical tastes.

While there is an almost infinite amount of diverse music in this world that people in Toronto may never hear, I feel that at least one amazing alternative to the crap playing on every other station is better than nothing. Seriously, if I can find the same song playing twice within three or four station changes, something needs to be done about diversity of genre.
I surprised myself the other day by dragging my reasonably heavy iPhone on a neighbourhood jog (instead of my tiny iPod nano) so that I could listen to the station during my workout. I think I am obsessed. And if I have to be the one to spearhead this station to everyone I know, I am up for the task.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What it really means to recycle

Especially around where I live, recycling is a big deal. Every Tuesday morning, the tired masses drag their big blue bins out to the curb before they begin their days. I could set my watch to it. Remember to check the number on the bottom of your plastic containers, bundle your newspapers and crush your cardboard! You want to help save the planet, don't you?

Okay, so we recycle that stuff, but where does it go? I have always wondered if the stuff I put into my recycling bin actually gets recycled. I forgot about that carton of milk I had in the back of the fridge, so I dumped out the chunky stuff (eww) and threw it in my blue bin. If the carton was actually recycled like we want to believe, then someone is consuming milk from that very same carton, chunks and all. That's not something I really want to think about.

Remember that strange documentary-turned-reality show Bullsh*t? Penn and Teller's excuse to rake all kinds of muck on paid television? I remember that they tried to uncover the dark secrets behind recycling in the United States. I still find it confusing that Americans commonly trash their recyclables without a fraction of the system that Canadians have in place. I mean, for god's sake, we have a composting system as well. There was a skit wherein an unsuspecting suburbanite was asked to sort a pile of 'garbage' into upwards of eight different coloured bins, all pertaining to a different kind of waste.  People seemed more than happy to do it, even though the skit was a farce (purple is only for soiled diapers!). The show also discussed the ever-rising cost of recycling and how some specific materials are so costly to recycle that it would be cheaper and faster to simply throw them away and create new products to replace the discarded ones. Supposedly, according to Penn Jillette, the only recyclable item that it is monetarily sensible to recycle is aluminum soda cans.

If we think along terms of money and profit, production will be more efficient, yes, but why should money be the long-term goal? Isn't sustainability and reducing waste more important? If we keep throwing things away that are easier to replace than to recycle, won't we eventually run out of resources to replace those items?

It feels like plastic bags have been around forever. Regardless of where they began, they probably will last a long time in landfills. To counter this eventuality, Toronto government has placed a five cent fee on the use of every new plastic bag in retail stores. Instead of understanding this fee as a sort of 'ban' and finding new ways to cope with bringing purchases home, Torontonians have become outraged, as they always do, and continue to purchase plastic bags, begrudgingly exchanging their nickels. Big stores like Wal-Mart have realized that as long as the fee is paid, it doesn't matter who pays it. They still offer plastic bags for free, and as I understand it, they pay the fee on behalf of the consumer. I feel like this is almost an underhanded marketing ploy, as in "come shop here and don't bring your gross, reused fabric shopping bags". Every time I buy two things at Wal-Mart, they give me a plastic bag for each item. These are things like a tube of toothpaste and some socks. I could have stuffed both of them in my purse, much less need TWO bags for them. And because I am not really expecting my purchases to be spread so thin over this multitude of plastic baggery, I often leave the store without all of my purchases. It may sound stupid, but it could happen to you!

Here's a fun idea. So, we recycle plastic bottles and tin cans and stuff like that. I have it from a reliable source that if you can decipher the impressed dots on the bottom of beer bottles, a long line of people who put their lips on the bottle before you will reveal itself. Those items are easily recyclable, but what if we recycled other things that you'd never think of? Just as an example, what about whiteboard markers? All you'd need to do is replace the felt thing inside that holds the ink. Everything else remains them same, I mean, it's not like we have scientists at work constantly innovating on whiteboard markers...or do we? I'll just assume we don't. So why not recycle those? And I mean, really recycle, like beer bottles. Don't crush them down and remould them, actually just replace that one inner piece. This could be applied to so many things that we use and don't re-use. I think I remember seeing a visual pun on a television show (was it The Simpsons?) where a student is clapping erasers and catching the dust to mould back into pieces of chalk. That's a world I'm looking to see.

And last but not least, let's talk about reusing. Reusing is my favourite thing in the world. I have a desk that is made out of milk crates. It's certainly nothing like the picture below, but just think of the supposedly 'trash'-labeled objetcs that we could be upcycling into beautiful and functional things.

Let's live in a world like that. Upcycling also brings out the inner creativity and logical thinking in a person that we are missing too much of lately. Imagine you have a broken lightbulb, a boring side table and some glue. Junk, right? WRONG. Make a mosaic on the tabletop out of the broken glass! Okay, probably not a great idea. Don't hurt yourself. But my point is that upcycled objects are often the most beautiful, unique, fun to make and relatively cheap objects, and I could certainly go on.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Reading on the Go

Going to the beach, or really any sort of day trip, is always enhanced by a good book. I can just imagine sitting by the seaside, sand in my toes and an amazing story in my hands. Perhaps some people might not think so far ahead as to procure such a device, so Matali Crasset of Istres, France has solved this problem once and for all.

While beaches are lined with tiny stands selling frozen treats and colourful water toys, why not add one more product to the mix? Crasset has developed a mobile beach library where visitors can sit under canopies and read a story of their choosing, all but a stones-throw away from the waves.

steel structure with tarpaulins
weight: 300 lbs

235 x 540 x 620 cm

Reading is so important in daily life (at least to me) and it can be quite a challenge to fit in your reading time. I remember in elementary school, we would be allotted twenty minutes of reading time per day. It was called something like D.E.A.R., "Drop Everything And Read". You might be surprised at the amount of creativity your brain can produce while you are reading a story. Most obviously, you are creating images in your mind about what the characters and setting look like. It also goes further than that; you are accessing the part of your brain that can create the most wonderful things. It might benefit you to take a moment out of your day and do nothing but read.

Wouldn't it be great if these mobile libraries began to appear in city centres? What if they existed in urban parks as well? Businesspeople could take their lunch break to sit in these structures and read a good story for an hour (or however long lunch-hours are now).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Harnessing Nature's Creativity

Let's talk about the new direction that visual art is taking these days. Have you ever picked a leaf off a tree and made a crayon rubbing of its veins and textures? Seems pretty normal. Ever done it with a housefly?

John Knuth is a visual artist based in Los Angeles. What's so interesting about him? He doesn't use your average paintbrush to fill his canvases. Knuth has captured and raised over 250,000 houseflies, whom he has enslaved within small enclosures to make original pieces for him. Watch this five minute video about his process:

At the beginning of the video, I thought that he fed the flies paint and then stuck their pigmented bodies to his canvases with some sort of glue. At least this isn't nearly as cruel (comparatively). He lures the flies to paint-soaked paper laid overtop a dish of sugar water, and the flies cover themselves in paint in the process of getting to their food. Knuth states that the work is a visual exploration into the world of a non-social species of animal (the fly) and how their behaviour relates to that of the human.

Honestly, after seeing the finished pieces at the end of the video, I can't say that I can see any evidence of this non-social behaviour. I certainly can't tell whether these flies are having lengthy conversations about the state of politics or how that fly down the road is getting fat, but the miniscule dots of paint on the canvas seem to make a sort of pattern, in that they are clustered together in a way that suggests, to me, that flies like to be near other flies.

Regardless, what do you think of the social aspect to this type of process? Is it moral or allowable for humans to harness the bodies of other living things for their own purpose? You could argue that yes, they are only flies and their brains are probably too small to think past that dish of sugar water that they love so much, but we don't really know what flies are thinking at all. While people are making such a big deal over makeup-testing on animals, no one seems to care too much about the fly.

While I will admit that this is a very imaginative way to make art, maybe we could explore some ways to do it without enslaving any living things. Does that seem like a stretch?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Apex Predator

The other day, while I was looking for shoes online (never have enough shoes) I found a weird pair of shoes that don't seem too practical.

They are the Apex Predator shoes by Fantich and Young, an art-and-installation duo coming out of London. I am going to assume these shoes are a piece of art not meant to be worn, considering at the very least how painstaking it must have been to get all those teeth on there (not to mention the hard work of pulling them out of their original homes). But I kid, the teeth are made of dentures...1,050 fake teeth to be exact.

Now, you may be wondering exactly what an apex predator is. In the words of the creators;
Apex predators are predators with no predators of their own, residing at the top of their food chain.
That's literally the entire description of the piece. Nothing more. I love those kinds of descriptions; they let you come to your own conclusions about what art and design mean to you. And what's more, I get to tell you all about what I think this lovely pair of shoes represents.

Who do you think is the apex predator of our current lives? I'm going with the obvious answer of humans, but I want to take it a little further. What sort of human do you imagine would wear shoes such as these? I see a disgruntled businessman, possibly sporting a gold tooth in his mouth to match the set under his feet. He cares not for those below him, who he may have had to step over on his way to the top. I believe these shoes represent the business man of the first world, profiting off of the impoverished and desolate souls who wish they had one tenth of his worth. The teeth belong to those souls, who are forced to support this man and are trapped in a state of eternal slavery.

Using human artefacts (or even the human body itself) as tools in art makes a poignant statement. Connections feel more easily made and less contrived when using materials that anyone in the world is familliar with. We all had teeth at some point in our lives, and we all know the shape of a foot (even if some of us have never seen a shoe of this style before). This kind of art can also stand the test of time, that is until humans evolve past the state we know now, like Cassandra from Doctor Who. But on the plus side, she looks a lot like an artist's canvas now!

The last human alive, but she isn't really human anymore.

If you want to see more art involving the human body in many gross ways, visit Fantich and Young's website.

And while you're at it, listen to this song about the evil businessman.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beautify the Ugly

Living in Toronto, or at least living close enough to get there by bus, it's pretty hard to walk around the city without bumping into some kind of construction. What an eyesore! I mean, I know that construction is inevitable and it's the only way we can get to that image of the 'perfect city' that we all dream about, but it's turning this beautiful metropolis into an unsightly place full of caution tape and pylons.

Check out this bus terminal in my own little slice of the Greater Toronto Area. Merely the starting location in my voyage downtown, and I've already hit construction. What's the deal with that pylon? Is it covering something? It seems lonely, stranded in the middle of nowhere with no one to tell its problems to.

Moving further into the heart of the city, the skyline is littered with cranes, all rushing to get their condominium up and built before the others.

Photo courtesy of The Toronto Star

But what if we could hide the ugliness away? Drape some sort of curtain over it, like so much dirt swept under the rug when your mother-in-law comes over for another dreadful visit. You may have seen this before...

The Bay Cover

Borrowing an idea from many European stores that are undergoing their own makeovers, this creative cover manages to trick the eye (kind of) into believing that no changes are being made to the building. It's like a sandwich! The slices of bread are the real building underneath and the imprinted cover overtop, with the construction workers and scaffolding hidden inside as the meat. While construction is arguably necessary to improvement, it doesn't have to make Toronto streets look like some kind of dump site. With a little bit of creative thinking, we can really have our cake, and eat it too.

Photo courtesy of The Toronto Star

The covers can also act as advertisements, which are not as pleasing to the eye but get the job done, and probably at a cheaper cost. And hey, cheaper means more people might adopt it! I would prefer advertisements to construction any day. Then again...would I? I'm not quite sure which is the greater evil.

These kinds of coverings pay homage to the trompe l'oeils (meaning "to deceive the eye") that originated in Renaissance painting. Magnificent castles of ye olde would have "windows" painted onto solid brick walls to create the illusion of a view to a lush field (ever present, even in Winter).

While all things ugly must exist in this world, it doesn't mean we can't cover them up with something a little easier on the eyes. And if it's going to be too much makeup on the face and too many advertisements lying to us about every product under the sun, it can surely be a lovely piece of architecture as well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Craft Fair

As you may know, I absolutely love anything handmade. If you made it yourself, it's special. That uneven stitching or messy glue is what makes the item that much more unique and interesting. I can't believe that it took me so long to find out about Toronto's City of Craft that happens twice a year in the Annex. Trinity St. Paul's Church hosts a medium-sized room of about 30 artisans, selling everything from tote bags sporting pixelated genitals to hand-sewn felt "boyfriend badges" (little cartoon faces of boys that you can wear on your chest with pride!).

Having been an avid visitor of the Toronto Outdoor Art Festival, the past few years of the event have left me feeling that it is catered to a crowd a little older than myself. I like to support the artists but I can't really afford a $300 painting or a $100 blown glass bead necklace. It just ain't happening. Plus, there are so many tables that by the middle of the day, it feels like work to see everything.

Even the One-of-a-Kind craft show has become a little crazy during the Christmastime panic. Admission is something like $15, and the vendors pay so much just to have a table that they are forced to raise the prices of their merchandise just to make any profit off their work.

The admission to the craft sale was only a dollar, which I was more than happy to pay. As soon as I got past the door, I was promptly drawn over to a shystery-looking man sporting a brown pinstripe suit and a devious smile. He had a small trunk on a table in front of him, overflowing with more than 50 small glass vials. He told me that each vial contained the soul of a person, collected from willing participants. Further, I could join their ranks if I would give forth a strand of hair plucked fresh from my scalp, and a finger print on a small scrap of paper. Since we all know that this is not the proper method of soul collection, I humoured the man and did as I was asked. If I so choose, he offered, I may find him in the Fall to collect a random soul of someone else's in his collection. I may just do that.

As you may or may not know, I am obsessed with cacti. You know, the plural of "cactus"! I received one for my birthday just a few days ago, and found the most peculiar table at the sale, where a woman was selling crocheted cacti in little terra cotta pots. Of course I had to buy one! While I love my real cactus, there's no way it could survive in my basement lair where no ray of sun can reach. So the real cactus will stay above ground level and the crocheted cactus will live in the perpetual darkness with me.

How cute! And you can't tell, but the portion covered by the pot is actually brown yarn! Heh...soil. I also noticed a woman was selling bags of really cool looking fabric remnants from her past projects. For $15, I got a package of probably 25 scraps perfect for small projects. And included was also a beautiful purple tie-dye-looking scarf, in complete wearable condition! So it's really already paid for itself. And when I can find some time to get the sewing machine back in order, the other pieces will surely become wonderful things as well.

Since I thrifted an old almanac, I have been cutting up maps and using them in different scrap projects. One of the craft tables was displaying prints of maps of the great lakes, with the words "You're Great" screened across them. Very tongue-in-cheek. While they were lovely, they were slightly too expensive considering what was left in my pocket after the cactus and fabric. I noticed that the artist was also selling maps as wrapping paper, sans the text, for only five bucks. I picked one up right away. When I brought it home, I realized that it was exactly the same as the print! If I really want to, I could probably draw the words with a brush pen overtop, but I kind of like the map as it is. Now, all I have to do is wait for a Michael's coupon so I can have it framed.

What a beauty! And I can find my house on it, too. I will certainly be attending the next City of Craft. After the amazing things I saw, I am definitely inspired to fire up the glue gun and make some more crafts this summer. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Iconic White Gloves

I think we all know what I mean when I talk about those iconic white gloves...well, maybe you don't. I don't mean that one that Michael Jackson wore (may the Gods of Pop rest his soul) or those gloves the doctor wears that are the first thing you see in this cold, cold world.

I mean that funny little house rodent that can somehow talk and eat and dress like a human, Mickey Mouse! For some reason, of all of the wardrobe choices his creator gave him, he is never seen on screen without a pair of gloves covering his mousey hands. Could he be hiding something under there? What's the deal with those! I hate wearing gloves. My hands get all sweaty, I can't turn doorknobs, and even worse, I can't text on my iPhone! Oh, the humanity! But for some unknown reason, the most famous mouse in the world (save for Speedy Gonzales, but I think he's a rat) is hiding something under those weird puffy pieces of cloth.

What's he hiding under that sheepish grin?

Some theories as to his secret, each as likely as the last:

  • he has a nail-biting problem
  • he has horribly deformed hands, caused by a freak mauling accident wherein Pluto decides he is sick of being a normal dog and not being treated like Goofy, who is also a dog but for some reason is treated like a human
  • he is married to Minnie (which seems pretty obvious) but he hides his wedding ring so he can hit on other delicious cartoon babes
Now I know what you're going to say, and I'm one step ahead of you. You're going to ask me, "if it's so suspicious that Mickey wears gloves, how do you explain any of the other characters who wear gloves in the Disney clan?" Well, I'll tell you. It's simple, really. Mickey is undoubtedly the most popular character of the group, and don't try to tell me otherwise. It's indisputable. I have charts. So it would only follow that whatever he does, the other characters will copy in hopes of becoming as popular as he is. Hey, I would do it too. It must be hard to live in his shadow. The only ones not in on the whole thing are Donald and Daisy, who have opted instead to reject any pants in their daily wardrobe. We can only pity them.

Whatever this penchant for puffy white gloves is, it's sure caught on. Even Takashi Murakami, the artist behind the cover for Kanye West's Graduation album, is in on the conspiracy.

Murakami's gaudy (yes, I said what we were all thinking) logo for Louis Vuitton

What do the gloves mean? Why are they gesturing like that? And why in all hell were the bags selling like hotcakes at his exhibit at MoMA? They are so expensive and so horribly ugly! The conspiracy goes further. Ever heard of Crooks and Castles?

Canadian teen television star turned rapper, Drake, sporting a Crooks and Castles sweater. Notice anything familliar?

Seems like Mickey has his hands in the hip hip music industry, too. This is getting weird. And while Disney strives to represent a wholesome family image, many of these C&C designs are quite inappropriate for children (or anyone, really). The image on the above shirt is obviously hands forming the shape of a gun, and there are other designs of the hands rolling a joint, flipping the middle finger, the list goes on. 

A coupon for an online clothing store, featuring Kanye West. Wait...what's that logo closest to his face?

Karmaloop, an authorized online seller of Crooks and Castles merch, promoted their products with this festive holiday coupon. With WHOM as the mascot? None other than Kanye West. And who did the album art for his Graduation album? Takashi Murakami, none other than Mr. Louis Vuitton Mickey gloves himself. Just what exactly is happening here?

Now, I have way too much homework to follow up on this thing in a true Tom Hanks in the Da Vinci Code style. It is Murderous March in my university program, after all. But I urge you, readers, to help me uncover the truth! Tell me what you find and maybe we can sort this out once and for all.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

David on Demand

In the world today, it seems like we are defined by the social media we use. It's not how pleasant of a person you are, it's the number of facebook friends or twitter followers you have. With all of these trends, it should only follow that someone would do something so extremely crazy and stupid that he would be considered the "King of Social Media". And here we are. No, I'm not talking about Mark Zuckerberg, I'm talking about David on Demand.

If you're too lazy to watch the entire video, I'll explain what's going on here. For the 2010 Cannes Ad Festival, Leo Burnett Worldwide Design and Advertising firm decided to unleash its secret weapon: David. David Perez is a 30-something guy who, for a time, allowed anyone and everyone to suggest things for him to do via twitter. For our viewing pleasure, he attached a video camera to the side of his head so viewers at home were able to watch his every move. As David states, almost half of the tweets for the festival were about him, grossly overshadowing that pesky rascal Mark Zuckerberg.

At the requests of strangers, David took a helicopter ride, pole danced in public, got a tattoo, and probably a bunch of other stuff that we were not privvied to in this meager slice of his adventure.

I see this weird little phenomenon as both positive and negative. On the bright side, it's great to see an advertising firm really thinking outside the box with their promotion. Since both twitter and viral videos are such popular forms to communication, combining them with a real-life person who will give you, the viewer (the most important aspect of advertising), control over his actions seems like a great way to generate buzz.

On the negative side, are we really that comfortable with letting social media direct our actions in such a blunt way? If David will get a tattoo (virtually permanent, at least in this day and age) just because someone on twitter tells him to do it, maybe we should sit back as a society and think about how much control we are handing over to social media in exchange for some pictures of that girl's pool party that we weren't even invited to in the first place.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Type Where You'd Least Expect It

It's new project time in Typography III! I am loving that the professors have finally loosened the reigns, considering it's the third typography course in the program. No more boring black and white, now it's photography and painting and so much colour!

This project is the first to use large quantities of text, and I am toying with how to properly lay out type to accentuate the somewhat strange page size (20" x 12"). Since I have been lusting over being able to incorporate photographic/painting techniques into my work since day one, I was particularly inspired by Wayne White's work. (Say that three times fast).

Marcel Duchamp is a big French fag. Not probably the words I would choose for my project, but certainly catches your eye. I love the ethereal feel of the words, especially reflected in bodies of water (which most of his works include). These paintings look like they could have been found in a Value Village for fifty cents. Needless to say, they're probably worth a lot more than that now.

What's even more, Wayne's work was actually picked up by Adult Swim (the night time mature-themed cartoons shown by Cartoon Network). I think that was where I first saw it.

This piece would look (almost) right at home on the walls of your rustic cottage. I never thought all those classes on perspective would come in such handy, but there you go. We'll see if mine will turn out half as good as Wayne's.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Anything But Clothes

Welp, there comes a time in all of our lives (or maybe just some?) where we must brave the social awkwardness that is the theme party. I feel like this milestone was a little late for me, but that suited me just fine. I have seen facebook pictures of parties with as many themes as you can think of, such as jungle, army, and even twins. That one was especially strange. But the most intriguing one in my opinion is the ABC party, or for those of you too lazy to use, the anything-but-clothes party. As opposed to any other party, where you might just pick out a piece of clothing from your closet that loosely suits the theme, this theme purposely takes the closet out of the equation. You are not allowed to wear (or at least show) anything that counts as clothing in the normal sense. You can make clothing out of anything else you can think of, including but not limited to:
  • wrapping paper
  • shower curtains
  • toilet paper
  • condoms (a la 'abc party' on tumblr)
  • beer boxes or other boxes in general
  • playing cards
  • CDs (lord knows they have no other purpose now)
  • twister mats
  • bandanas
  • balloons
  • hula skirts
  • shopping bags/gift bags (the less flimsy and transparent, the better for the other party-goers)
  • newspaper
  • candy wrappers
  • or for the truly un-creative: drapes, bedsheets, and blankets
There were some very cool inventions, not the least of which was the two hostesses, dressed in matching dark grey pillow cases (of a classy length to be sure) and large fleshy fake ears. House elves! As the official after-party cleaners, it makes perfect sense. And as we all know, if you give a house elf a piece of clothing, they're free. So don't give them any clothing.

And for my outfit. I borrowed some supplies from work to make this monstrosity. The first step was using a hole punch to make holes in one side of each lid (I cringe at the thought of counting them but I will guess around 70?). You may recognize these lids from your grande iced coffee with three extra espresso shots or vanilla bean frappuccino with chocolate chips. :)

Beautiful but back-breaking

After that came the top portion, made of pastry bags. Makes me look like I rolled around in trash, but hey, that's the point, right?

before I cut the sweetheart neckline :)

And for the finished product:

I will offer word to the wise that it was not a smart idea to tape the lower portion of the skirt right to my leggings, because going to the bathroom two drinks later was quite a challenge. Not even to mention the subway ride. But that's the price you pay. I definitely don't regret it. So how much do you think someone would pay for this? Let's start the bidding!

And when I got home around 3, I had patience for nothing but the scissors.

I can rebuild it if someone wants to pay me! Seriously!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A New Look at the Female Leg

As a woman, I am definitely more conscious of how I dress than the men around me (at least to my knowledge) and I hope I am somewhat in tune with the message that my outfit sends out into the world. But then again, this happened. In the summer (remember summer?) I found an awesome almost-floor-length sleeveless blue jean dress, complete with buttons all the way down the front. Now, in the summer, it looked great by itself, maybe paired with a belt to cinch the waist. That's all well and good, but Canadian winters are harsh and that ship ain't gonna sail in early January. So I decided to wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath, paired with some grey tights. As soon as I walked down the stairs from my room, my sister laughed and asked if I was becoming Amish.

I guess a floor length dress is only acceptable if you have nothing else on underneath. I was getting a lot of stares at school that day as well, or perhaps I only felt that I was because of the comment my sister made. Either way, I believe the perceptions other people get when they look at what we wear definitely play a part in how they see us as people.

And then I saw this article in the Toronto Star a little while ago. Seems like I am not alone in this theory. Rosea Lake, a university student in Vancouver, is happy to see the viral speed of her shared photo from a school project.

Of course I would help to spread the photo from my humble little blog.

What an interesting way to display the way we see others based on how they dress. The image is being showed to students across Canada in lectures and classrooms, and I think the more women who see this, the better. I see so many young girls on Facebook who have an obvious problem with self-image and confidence, and they need to be reminded that it's what's on the inside that counts. Remember that old addage? It still works today. Even if you're twelve and have an iPhone 5.

I can only wonder if she bent over in some contortionist fashion to write the words, or had someone else do it with their face in her bum. Don't shoot me, it's only a thought!

The whole thing reminds me of the Slut Walk that happened in Toronto last April. While women are objectified all too often (and undeniably more often than men), we can all do something about it, and show those who may be too sheepish to fight back that it's worth it to raise your voice for something you think is important. I am definitely one to speak out when I think something is wrong, and while I am often told lovingly by my friends to shut up, you should speak out against things you don't think are right as well. How else will we get rid of things that should never have happened in the first place? *cough Rob Ford cough*

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Genius of Willy Chyr

A word of advice: don't bring up the merits of advertising to a group of designers. As the stuck-up bunch we are, many of my cohorts would say that the art of advertising is not really an art at all, and has little to do with anything except suckling money out of hard-working people for the gain of big-wigs and capitalism in general.

Well, that may well be true. But I have found a piece of advertising that I believe to be personally ground-breaking and refreshingly honest about what it means to be a woman. And shockingly (or maybe not so), this piece was created by a man. I won't leave you in suspense any longer.

Please do click to see it enlarged.

Instead of that stupid blue liqiud that someone decided would forever represent the female menstruation cycle in all its horror, we have a truthful rendition staring us in the face. Not only that, but it is represented in a fun, interesting, and extremely visually pleasing way. Don't you find yourself following the lines, trying to find a straight shot through the maze? Maybe I'm interrupting your search. I'll give you a minute to find it.

The creator is Willy Chyr, an artist/designer based in Chicago. On his website,
Willy Chyr is an artist working at the intersection of art and science. His work spans a variety of media, including web, print, and installation. Drawing inspiration from both cultural artifacts and scientific knowledge, he creates platforms and systems that replicate processes found in nature.
The rabbit hole goes deeper, readers. According to the page for the ad on his website, Chyr states that he actually created the advert for his personal portfolio. It grabbed the attention of the right people at the firm where he worked, Leo Burnett, and soon it was an actual ad being run for Always. Chyr left the firm in the midst of all of this kerfuffle, and was completely unaware of the fate of his design until he saw it in a magazine while shopping at Target. It went on to win three awards: the 2011 Chicago Silver ADDY Award, the 2011 D&AD - Shortlist , and the 2011 New York Festivals - Finalist Certificate. Big news for a small red dot.

 Let's go back to his self-description. At the intersection of art and science, you say? There is much more to this Chyr than his feminine hygiene obsession. He also makes wonderful fantastical balloon art!  Shown below is a commission for the atrium of the Lawrence Arts Center in Kansas. He has aptly named it "Sunflower".


There you have it. Advertising can be thoughtful and really make you revalue how you see the world. Visit his website here.

The man behind the balloons.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rise of the Archer

Sometimes, fonts get made. Understandable. Sometimes, those fonts catch the popularity train. Still fine. But once in a while, a font sinks its teeth into popular culture and doesn't let go, no matter how many pliers you break trying to get it to let go.

You may have already guessed the font, or you may not have noticed, but you definitely will now. I am talking about Archer, a font created by Hoefler & Frere-Jones Type Foundry in 2008. I'm probably a little late on the bandwagon here, but it has started to infiltrate my personal life and I feel that now is as good a time as any to shout about it at the top of my lungs.

Picture this. You wake up one morning. Pretty normal so far. You drift blearily into the bathroom and splash water on your face. Grope around for those contacts so you can see clearly. What's the first thing that hits your line of vision? ARCHER!

Well, that's not so bad. You shrug it off. Time to cleanse that skin! Reach for the facial wash, and OH NO it's Archer. Infiltrating your bathroom routine twice already.

Trying not to think about the Archer that may or may not have just seeped into your skin, never to be seen again, you head into the kitchen for breakfast. Find one of the few clean bowls left, fire up the kettle, it's oatmeal time. BUT WAIT. It's Archer again. Looks persistent.

You've been worrying so much about this growing problem that you don't come back to your senses until lunchtime. Well, at least there can't be anything type-related in a sandwich, can there? THINK AGAIN. The bread's got it too.

So you opt for a fast food lunch instead. Better to get away from the house completely. Harvey's seems like a nice, reliable choice, right? NOPE.

I've probably driven my point into the ground, but there must be another font we can be using. Martha Stewart must be rolling in her grave! she even dead? If she's alive, how is she letting this go on! Let's write her an angry letter.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Craft Explosion!

It seems that in the past couple of years, DIY has become a crazily popular pastime. In case anyone doesn't know, DIY stands for do-it-yourself. While it may seem kind of brash for a sub-culture (memories of mom yelling that no, she won't make me a sandwich, and why don't I "do it yourself!").

I have been DIY-ing for a long time, as it would seem. Ever since the Mastermind Toys opened up near my house, and I was able to pick out any toy I wanted, I knew I would be a crafter. Did I choose the cool new Barbie with super soft hair? Nope. Did I reach for the new race car with realistic flame decals? Heaven for bid! Nope, it was a little box of seed beads and a jewellery making book 'for kids'. That was quite the advanced book for me at the lil' age of eight, and still continues to be now.

Since my first weaving loom made from a kleenex box, I have spiraled into a whirl of craft projects, ranging from jewellery to repurposed clothing to home improvement. I am definitely nowhere close in skill to some of the crafting blogs I have seen pop into existence in the past while, but I enjoy it and continue to use the things I make long after the hot glue gun has cooled.

I love to search for inspiration, and some of the ways I look for fresh new crafts are as follows:

Love Aesthetics
Some of the most outlandish crafts made by loveable (if slightly alien-looking) Ivania Carpio of the Netherlands. I found out about her blog through Nasty Gal and love everything she makes. Even if I don't think I could pull it off. Don't be scared, you don't have to dye your hair white to make some of the things, not the least of which is this cool repurposed VHS case purse.
So suave.

While their clothing seems expensive beyond reach of the loan-ridden student, the blog uses cheap materials and tools to create some really cute things. So you can pretend you're wearing Free People clothing even though you repurposed that t-shirt from Walmart. I won't tell anyone, don't worry. I really want to make this for my garden (when the weather gets warmer).
A tiny little hanging plant.

This blog is fabulous because each post offers both an inspirational collage of a specific current fashion trend, and a cool related DIY. Most of the projects can be made with cheap materials, such as the plastic knife earrings found below, and are well thought out due to the not-so-subtle branding of one material in each project. Luckily, you don't have to buy the brand-name stuff; the dollar store works just as well.
Still useable as cutlery in a pinch!

Josie Davis is the queen of country DIY. From mason jar iced coffee mugs to repurposed plaid shirts to handmade stationary, she always has something fresh. And her photography is so pretty, it makes you feel like you're right there in the country with her. Check out this easy window decoration with only string and coloured paper.
Brings the beauty of Fall inside.

If you have any good crafting blogs, let me know! I am always ready for new projects. Crafting brings the new and the beautiful to otherwise old and possibly gross/broken/stained things. Breathe new life into your old things instead of buying new. It's cheaper, more fun, and you can make it exactly how you want it. You'll be so much happier for it.