small talk // caroline griffin // full moon workshop + girl gang pdx

people can come into your life in some unexpected, magical ways. cultureisland taught me to stay open to that always. i first found caroline griffin's work through her instagram account, @girlgangpdx. there, she shares inspirational images and text that resonates with me. i am constantly screenshotting the stuff she shares. she just gets me. when i learned caroline also runs a supper club and events project in portland, AND was hosting one the weekend i was going to be in portland, i knew it was fate. caroline invited me to join, and write a poem about the supper club's theme, abundance. the event was magical, every aspect was special, and i loved taking in every detail of the experience while participating in a less active role than i was used to -- here i share the poem i wrote, and chat with caroline about her inspirations, struggles, and learnings. 


tonight we welcome you to an evening of abundance. 

what does it mean to live in abundance? to be abundant means to be plentiful, to be large, to be great. to be full.

here, allow yourself to feel full of life's wonder, mystery and curiosity.

here, allow yourself to feel free from expectations of yourself, and of others.

here, allow yourself to find confidence in your vulnerability, mistakes, and life's greatest uncertainty.

here, allow yourself to never stop learning, to ask questions, to think deeply.

here, allow yourself to feel full of light, energy and life.

tonight we invite you to bask in the warmth of your own bright and shiny soul. as well as that of your neighbor's.

you may have forgotten. you may not even realize. but you are beautifully abundant. and i hope, now, that you never forget that.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

caroline griffin: when i moved to ny in 2011, i decided i was going to teach myself to draw. i bought a pack of colored pencils from the art store off the graham stop and daily spent about 1-2 hrs drawing. a year later was offered a job at boddington's studio and realized that i didn't want to spend my life doing just one thing, all day. i lived in bushwick, brooklyn on cornelia street and my apartment was a live/work space we called atelier cornelia. i taught myself to draw, expanding into custom stationary and wedding suites, illustrations for businesses, events etc. the illustration market allowed to expand into more tangible stylistic opportunities, styled shoots and creating, design space. ultimately, my desire for tangible experiences, not just visual arts motivated me to create an experience with a longer lasting impression. i wasn't fulfilled by the simplicity of work. 

sometimes, major life change is the catalyst to major break through. i journeyed through one of the most difficult times in my life, rebuilt my life and stability from the ground upward. i moved back across the country to pdx, searched for a stable place to live and work and i dove into connecting with friends, collaborating on projects to find some source of release. there is a lasting impression with human relationships, co-creation and the power of collaboration - thus the retreat the full moon gathering workshop was created to give women, my peers, an opportunity to connect, do some emotional work, inspire creative growth and benefit from a new network.

cultureisland: tell us more about girl gang pdx.

caroline griffin: girlgangpdx is social media account dedicated to soulful inspiration and heartfelt encouragement of women and girls everywhere. it was initially inspired by kate nash's girlgang network out of la and it's grown into an online community. at the heart of the project is that it's a mood board of what inspires aesthetically me and what is emotionally, socially and creatively relevant to me. i celebrate women i think are inspiring, i share passages that i feel are benefit for all to have read at least once. its a place of transformation and its genre is ambiguous, posts shifts and changes as i evolve and the freedom in that is awesome. 

allison burt-tilden // alter created by psychic siamese terror at the full moon gathering workshop march 2015

allison burt-tilden // alter created by psychic siamese terror at the full moon gathering workshop march 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about full moon workshop.

caroline griffin: the concept originally was a 2-3 day retreat with the purpose of gifting women time and space to expand, pursue new dreams, relationships, friendships, and be guided to take action in leaving the old shit behind - the stuff that doesn't work. it was a weekend of breakthroughs at a the beach, at the sou'wester trailer park hotel and lodge in illwaco, washington. this amazing space allowed us to come in, take over the big red lodge and "make waves" with cool babes. after some tweak-age, the concept evolved into a supper club platform the plan was to host events in la and pdx. this platform offered us something more accessible, a condensed version of the retreat that allowed more women to come for a lower cost with less time commitment away from work, and responsibilities. 

as of today, were leaping into uncharted territory! jessica yelas of style opal and i are taking the idea to whole new level. wish us luck! full moon gathering workshop was a co-created, collaborative experience the women who attend make the experience what it is. the elements of magic, astrology, communication, discussion and the mini-workshop activities incorporated make the "working meal" transformative on many levels. its not so much about the woo-woo anymore, but rather an introduction to tangible ways of self and life improvement, no-bullshit, come as your best self and make real connections to do what you really love in life. the partnerships, businesses, friendships, creative opportunities that have come from it are nothing short of awe-inspiring. 

kara jean caldwell // full moon gathering workshop may 2015

kara jean caldwell // full moon gathering workshop may 2015

cultureisland: what is your process for creating events?

caroline griffin: anything that inspires me and whatever i am drawn to organically are my sources for event creation. i create experiences and dream up events i can't find. i look to create experiences that offer guests, participants a multi-sensory experience: touch, sound, smell, taste and feeling. i like events with multiple facets, be that vendor partnerships, collaboration, theme, color, sound or activities. i want events to have movement, an unpredictable (but realistic) flow, keeping people engaged. i don't think that is an easy task by any means and i am bored by the concept that food, alcohol and a cool venue are the only thing that draws a cool crowd. people want to experience new things. not to mention, i am sober almost two years now and i don't give a shit if there is beer or wine. i want to feel inspired by what i choose to go to, and i hope others are inspired by the events i orchestrate.

full moon supper club la // december 2016

full moon supper club la // december 2016

cultureisland: what lessons have you learned from organizing collaborative experiences?

caroline griffin: don't do business with your best friend. mixing professional and deeply personal relationships doesn't always work out. don't compromise your ideas, your heart or your desires for the sake of an event. be vulnerable, talk, challenge yourself and meditate on other peoples ideas before you allow your ego to speak. be brave. always adapt! make a contract, or document explaining each person's roles and what each collaborator is supposed to give to the job. leave no room for assumption about involvement. i've learned that experiences like the supper club - no matter how cool the concept has its own difficult challenges. the cost was a big one! our overhead was astronomical, like $250.00 a head for all parts and pieces. however our research showed that people would likely not pay more than $65-$85 a seat. it's rough finding ways to work within your means and encourage people to see the benefit in your offering. portland, as quickly as its growing still faces a challenge in convincing young people that art and live experiences are worth paying for. 

maria luna - full moon supper club la // april 2016

maria luna - full moon supper club la // april 2016

cultureisland: what words you life by?

caroline griffin: celebrate, support, inspire but mostly i live in a constant state of gratitude. 

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

cultureisland: what was your experience like organizing the abundance event?

caroline griffin: logistically, events can be a shit show. like an hourglass, time is ticking away quickly, counting down to go time and i just hope all the pieces fall into place. live events are unpredictable, something always go awry but its a coordinators ability to adapt to those last minute challenges that make it fun. the process of development is always fun, my favorite part is creating the concept, selecting the theme, writing materials, designing the schedule and the way the partnerships intertwine into the experience.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

for this event in particular had a kick-ass new producer, jessica yelas of the styleopal who called in the most amazing friends and talent. we had a workshop leader, erin libby who wrote the most beautiful activities, dr. jj purcell of fettle created and share her flower essence with us. wendy westerwelle knocked us out with hysterical wisdom and truths about living in gratitude, ale cassafranco of viola x cas and i came together morning of and created the tablescapes - organically, without previous discussion it was my favorite of any i had ever participated in. it beat every wedding i have done to date. my grandmothers blue and white china, and my selected rentals combined with her greenery and flower selections looked amazing. bottom line, selecting vendor partnerships, reaching out to the community and sharing the mission are all equal parts of the equation. it's a special practice to be vulnerable and ask for support and involvement.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

cultureisland: how do you hope to evolve full moon in the future? 
caroline griffin: full disclosure, after years or doing this and many sharp turns, i am going to re-brand the experience and start something new - similar in structure, but a new "brand" and name that builds on what the experience has been up 'til now. i am going to be diving head first into business partnerships and find ways to learn and grow with funding! there are event spaces being founded in pdx, groups being formed that make this project all the easier to catch on and create with.

adults generally dislike learning new things, it's an uncomfortable and annoying part of being in my infancy in this business venture. i have to do homework and find ways to reach a greater audience, discover design avenues to aesthetically match my vision and my mission. i am going to stick my nose to the grindstone and into my accounting books and find ways to save money. i learn as i go and business marketing is not my strength, creative concept is. i also need to find a strong team that works well together and demonstrates the values, the mission in their life, not just agrees with it cause girl power and feminist goals are buzz words and they lack friendship. i am going to partner with rad creatives (women and men) and make experiences that people are excited to be a part of.

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

annika bielig-bußmann // full moon supper club pdx july 2016

 cultureisland: what inspires you to create experiences and pursue passion projects?

caroline griffin: i want to love hard, cultivate the healthiest body and relationships i can, and that's it. everything else is a bonus. i want other people to feel loved, feel happy, feel inspired and feel good feelings. that is the pretty way of expressing what inspires me. i want to pursue things that spark my heart. the real truth, i hustle hard to create things because i have always had tough or super lame day-jobs, soul-sucking paying gigs that really bum me out. working in education, the legal system, office work that in most respects makes it hard to get out of bed and motivate. the goal which i believed in for so long is to have your passion be your paycheck, but for most that will not happen and we cannot convince people that if they don't make that happen, their work is less important or significant. that is an entitled and negative perspective. 
i do not have the luxury not to work, and i truly believe that no matter what your job is, it does not define who you are, who i am. that's some twisted societal b.s. willie nelson sold vacuum cleaners. erykah badu was a waitress. i mean, what you do at any point in your life for a dollar does not define who you are. it can absolutely feel that way and some days when i tell people what i do, i cringe inside. i am grateful for work, period and never take employment for granted

i need to pay for my life and support my family and pup. i find it humbling to go to a job 40+ hours a week and do my best, and my passion projects allow me to release my creativity, and positivity into the world in my free time. i create projects to keep me even keel, and help me remind myself that the world is plentiful and it's just a matter of time before i figure out the right recipe to not work for someone else. 

cultureisland: who are your favorite artists?

caroline griffin: georgia o'keeffe - were both from the land of enchantment, new mexico. shes been a icon of mine since i was young. james turrell - <3 no words. he's has an indescribable gift and intelligence. plus, petra collins and adwoa aboah.

* you can see more of caroline's work here and here *

small talk // regina schilling // artist + founder of HEY LADY

i first met regina schilling on instagram and we immediately clicked. i loved her zines and doodles and she offered to send me a copy of her hey lady project in the mail. her note was was one of the most sentimental things i've ever received, even though we had never actually met in real life. it said, "i'm so inspired just knowing you and glad we've started the cool women doing cool things on the internet club." hey lady is a collaborative art project in which regina picks a woman who has made significant contributions and deserves to be remembered. she then reaches out to friend and woman artists across the world who are underrepresented or would be a good contributor. the submission process is through snail mail and in the process it promotes female friendship and correspondence. i was so honored to contribute to the latest issue, which focused on sister rosetta tharpe! this weekend regina is doing a hey lady art show in seattle, and my work is on display among many other ladies.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

regina schilling: i was born 3 days after halloween in new york. i arrived with green eyes, a deep love for daisies and a need to be in my room drawing drawings. i went to the school of visual arts and studied painting, but became more and more interested in works on paper and art books while i was there thanks to places like printed matter. it seemed more accessible and fun to be involved in non-precious items that you could share with lots of people. in that vain, i decided to start hey lady when i moved to olympia a couple of years ago. it's a way to collaborate with friends, motivate people to make things, meet new artists and celebrate cool women.

cutureisland: tell us more about your drawings

regina schilling: i like to draw as a way to catalog my thoughts, make funny commentary or just remember something beautiful i've seen. my drawings are quick, impulsive scribbles. sometimes they are more careful, but they are never done more than once. i want them to be funny, genuine and un-edited. sometimes i'm doing something else completely and all of a sudden i need to get a drawing down right away and it's feels very urgent. other times i will sit in front of journals and just force myself to fill them up.

cultureisland: do you focus on any specific subject matter?

regina schilling: my subject matter is generally things floating around in my brain. things that are happening to me or around me. certain images always creep up like daisies and coffee mugs. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work?

regina schilling: i'm inspired by colors, songs and current things happening around me. quiet unnoticed things and funny things and beautiful things. recently, i've been inspired by horror movies and have been re-watching all my favorites and finding new ones and drawing scenes from them. i'm making a cohesive-guide-to-horror-movies-that-don't-make-you-feel-like-shit-watching-them-as-a-woman. when feminism is mentioned in horror movies, people are always focusing on rape revenge movies. i hate watching those! i want this book to be both a reference guide for what movie to watch and also a collection of spooky art.

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

regina schilling: now that i work on art full time, there is a lot more art happening. instead of trying to fit in into my schedule, it is my schedule and i can work on a few things at once and play off of all of them. i am doing a series of giant oil paintings and i want to continue to focus on that. just having them take up more physical space gives them some special power, some seriousness. i used to resist that but now i want to embrace it. i've become better at recognizing what is working for me and what isn't and throwing out ideas and changing them. last year, i joined instagram and my consciousness for the audience who will see my work has helped it grow as well. i mean, in a lot of ways, my work is very similar to how it was when i started as a teen. it's personal! the thing that has grown is my confidence in it. 

cultureisland: tell us more about hey lady. how did it come about? what's the process for creating the zine?

regina schilling: hey lady is a feminist collaborative art quarterly. my role is to wrangle artists to make a portrait of a woman of my choosing. i do a lot of research on both who to feature and who to ask to contribute to create a showcase of art with a focus on woc and lgbtq women. it has grown three times it size in it's 5 issues and i am always looking for ways for it to improve and grow. with art, it's easy to get caught up in your personal narrative, but with hey lady it's all these different perspectives and depictions and i love the collectiveness of it. my favorite part is finding new artists or having them reach out to me and be excited to contribute. i want it to be a place where people can be a part of something good. to celebrate women who have done such an incredible job at being humans. 

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists? any in your city we should check out?

regina schilling: there are so many current artists i love, so many people are doing great things! holly pappalardo is incredible. she's in california, and makes real dreamy collages and ink paintings. another art star is james roo, he makes comics and everything else cool and his work is really unique and colorful. my favorite artist of all time is yoko ono! 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

regina schilling: i've been listening to molly nilson's album "these things take time" on repeat for the past few days. 

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

regina schilling: i've been watching the new season of bojack horseman the past few nights and i love it so much. it's so sad and sweet and funny and lisa hanawalt is truly killing it with her drawings for the series. i also re-watched the yayoi kusama documentary "i love me" and it's a must see. she recites poetry, dances, completes giant drawings in time-lapsed videos. she is actually going to be the next hey lady!

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your city or neighborhood?

regina schilling: i live in olympia, washington. it's the birthplace of riot grrl! my favorite place to eat is the arepa food truck. it has the best food and it's near the house where kurt cobain lived.  my favorite place to shop is psychic sister. they have everything from clogs, to all sizes of vintage dresses and even every issue of hey lady. it's so well curated and beautiful. the best place for coffee is bar francis and on tuesday mornings august farm sells fresh flowers in their cafe. olympia is really nice!

* you can see more of regina's work here + follow her instagram here *

small talk // morgan solomon // designer + founder of AGMES jewelry line

i first met my friend morgan back in college, some five years ago. in recent times, we have reconnected and now i consider morgan a member of my cheer squad -- she too is seeking deep creative fulfillment and has been there for me in times when i've lost my way. morgan recently launched her own jewelry line, agmes and it's already a hit! it's really fresh + different plus you can truly see her unique point of view shining through each piece. agmes is totally unlike any other jewelry line i've seen. it's pretty inspiring to see a friend stand on her own two feet and build something from the ground up. i'm excited to continue watching morgan and agmes grow moving foward.

more on morgan and agmes below:

agmes //  thin block rings

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

morgan solomon: i've always loved fashion, but more specifically jewelry. i don't have model-sized proportions, so even when i was young, i found clothing to be more difficult to shop for and thus my preferential treatment for jewelry began. no matter what your size, you can always find jewelry to fit! i remember as far back as my camp days, when i was only 9, i used to love making jewelry. that love for jewelry continued on but took a backseat role in my life for some time -- i didn't picture myself having a career as a jewelry designer until recently. i  graduated from the university of michigan where i studied business, and went on to work in buying after school. my first year in buying i worked on a women's clothing private label, where i got to help design the clothing. i loved that job because i found inspiration from all parts of my life and got to bring those ideas and excitement to work each day. after i got promoted, i worked with some established brands and found myself missing the creative component that i had in my previous role. i started craving a creative outlet and i found a studio in nyc where i could take weekend classes to make my jewelry designs come to life. after many different jewelry classes throughout my life, from camp, college, after graduation, to this one, it finally stuck. people say timing is everything, and i truly believe that in all aspects of my life - the time was right, and i knew i had to take the leap.

cultureisland. tell us more about AGMES.

morgan solomon: AGMES is a collaboration between my sister and i. my sister, jaclyn, graduated from parsons for fashion design and worked for 4 years at proenza schouler designing their knitwear. she is now consulting part-time for khaite, a new clothing line under the line, and is also our artistic director. we both have such different backgrounds and experiences that we bring to the table! our jewelry is made from all precious metals - sterling silver and gold vermeil- and everything is made locally. the aesthetic is modern, focusing on clean lines and geometric shapes. this collection was inspired mostly by 1960s and 70s design and architecture, such as cini boeri and tadao ando.

agmes //&nbsp; lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what is your process for making a jewelry collection?

morgan solomon: i start out working with my sister to pull inspiration for the upcoming season. after the inspiration has been collected, it's back to the drawing board. i start by sketching the pieces out on paper, and then i create them in cad to start to see the pieces come to life. i print many different versions of each piece using a 3d printer in order to determine the best dimensions for both style and comfort. once the design has been perfected, i send it to our artisan jewelers to manipulate and refine the pieces by hand. 

agmes // drop earrings

cultureisland: how has your work and process evolved since you started? how do you see it growing in the future?

morgan solomon: my process has evolved a lot since i first started! when i use to sketch in college, i would randomly create pieces that i wished to own. i didn't design to create a collection because i didn't yet know how to realize my designs. i designed simply because i wished i could have certain pieces that just didn't yet exist in the market. after partnering with my sister, i've learned so much about the process of collecting inspiration to base the upcoming collection on. i've taken many classes on jewelry forming, sketching and cad, and i still have so much to learn! i hope to one day have my own studio where i can sculpt and form the master models with my own hands.

agmes //&nbsp; lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your line? where do you find inspiration for these pieces?

morgan solomon: i’m constantly inspired to design pieces that i'd love to wear. since i've been a consumer for longer than i've been a jewelry designer, i know what it is that i look for when shopping for jewelry - comfort, style, and quality. i try to design each piece to be light and comfortable, and something i'd want to pass on one day. i find inspiration everywhere i go! i love looking at the architecture around me, here in nyc and when i travel, but i especially love looking through old design books and checking out all the new galleries that are constantly popping up around me.

agmes //&nbsp; lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces? 

morgan solomon: we name most of our pieces after architects or designers that inspire the pieces, such as the boeri and wide boeri ring after cini boeri, the ando ring after tadao ando, and the bertrand ring after bertrand goldberg. 

agmes //  cliff cuff

agmes // cliff cuff

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists and designers?

morgan solomon: i have so many, but to name a few, yves klein, otto piene, and agnes martin.

agmes //  block ring  +  boeri ring

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

it depends on my mood, but i've been listening to a lot of blood orange, lucius, and the arcs.

agmes //&nbsp; lookbook

agmes // lookbook

morgan solomon: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

i haven't had a chance to watch many movies lately, but i recently saw joy and was incredibly moved! joy's passion and unyielding drive for success was so incredible to watch - no matter what challenges she faced, she continued to pick herself back up and keep going. i try to keep her story in mind when i hit my own bumps in the road.

agmes //&nbsp; lookbook

agmes // lookbook

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

morgan solomon: i try not to drink much coffee, but if i am going to have coffee, it's always at la colombe - mostly because i love their olive oil cake. it's my favorite part about getting coffee! :) i'm surrounded by so many good restaurants, so if i go out to eat i try to check out new restaurants as much as i can. but of course i still have my go-to spots for lunch - cafe gitane, la esquina, and the smile. i'm more of an online shopper, but when i need a break from work i'll stop into all the great stores around me, such as maryam nassir zadeh, creatures of comfort, and totokaelo. they're all such beautiful and well-curated shops that it can be inspiring even if you're not shopping!

* you can purchase agmes jewelry here or at maryam nassir zadeh in nyc plus tenoversix and mameg in LA. + follow the brand's instagram here *

small talk // gregory c. brunet // visual artist

i first came across the work of montreal artist gregory c. brunet over instagram. as it turns out, greg is a mutual friend of sarah osborne (who i did the delicatessen pop-up with). i immediately fell in love with greg’s work and knew i had to find the time to meet him while i was in town. while greg initially set out to make movies, he ended up liking painting, drawing and printmaking much more. his work takes inspiration from 1980s/90s video games and cartoons including popular icons like bart simpson and nintendo, which he animates and deconstructs through abstract shapes and dulled neon colors. greg is especially inspired by the idea of having multiple windows open on a computer at once: through his process, he cuts out pieces and uses the computer to draw new forms, then assembles them into paintings that act like sculpture. in a way, he’s making work that is both 2-d and 3-d so it really plays with the eye. his work reminds me of frank stella’s, yet it feels more virtual reality centric. some of the forms he uses are not representational and are totally unrecognizable, allowing viewers to see his work differently through their own experiences. greg says he’d still like to make music videos one day. it would be really neat to see him create both the installations/sets for a music video as well as animate the video himself.

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

gregory c. brunet: i grew up in the montréal area, which is where i still live and work. my first experience with art came from my mother who was a painter. i drew and played all the time with paint when i was little and i also kinda destroyed some of my moms work when i tried to play with them. then in elementary school i wanted to become a cartoonist and make nice sci-fi comics, but never did. eventually i started college in communication/film study and i was really into making movies. but movies were too complicated to make and would involve way too many people. so i went to university where i did a ba in visual and media arts. at first i was going there to explore and make video arts, but for some reason i ended up doing more painting and silkscreening. at that time i was in a band and it was really convenient to print stuff like posters, t-shirts, record covers and stuff like that. after my ba i wasn't sure if my work was really interesting or worth it, so i just worked hard in the studio for a couple years trying to figure what i wanted to do and say, and now here i am. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings.

gregory c. brunet: my technique is based on software like adobe illustrator and paint, where you can cut, copy and paste. the hand becomes the machine and the mind blends with the canvas. as a result, the mixing of altered referents creates complex visual combinations where bearings and avenues meet and blur to create new interpretations and understandings. i try to keep a tradition linked to painting, that's why i use mainly oil. i like to have a discourse on the aesthetics of cheesy mass communication. for example, when bart simpson's face is reduced to it's simplest form, it consists of a lineless shape filled with color and texture. 

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

gregory c. brunet: i usually start from a doodle on paper and then i start building something around that. sometime i trace the doodles in illustrator and then use a cnc to make a shaped canvas. it's really intuitive and it depends on the project i'm working on. i recently bought an airbrush so it will obviously change the way i work in some form. i also paint on canvas and on wood, it's really a question of what i have on hand. because i work with oil paint i'm usually working on a lot of different paintings at the same time.  

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

gregory c. brunet: i'm part of the generation "y", the one that grew up with h the simpsons, nintendo and the beginning of the internet. this time period is particularly interesting to me, since it was the first where the youth grew up with a profusion of screens and digital images. our current era is still feeling this legacy: ninja turtles, saturated color, 8-bit video games, windows 95 screen savers and wolfenstein 3d are now icons of a certain time, just like mythology belongs to the ancient time. i'm also interested in the loss of language with regard to the technologies by which we are surrounded. 

cultureisland: how do you name your works?

gregory c. brunet: my works are usually named after songs or an episode of the simpsons. sometimes i just hear a phrase in a song and i feel like it's a good fit for what i'm doing. right now i'm working on a show called beach party, bbq everyday, the title comes from a little passage on a song on dr. dre's 2001 album. and the beach party part was just something i think was a good fit. i think he could have said something like that. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work? where do you find inspiration?

gregory c. brunet: i think there's a certain form of nostalgia in my work. like when i was kid everything was better even if it's not true. i'm really not sure what inspires me in fact. i guess the beach inspires me a lot, probably because i live in the snow up north. 

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

gregory c. brunet: when i started university i was always drawing stuff but didn't really know where i was going with that. it was mainly drawings of strange characters with magical animals. i was building a weird kind of mythology. with the time i started to remove the lines and the figures were slowly disappearing and everything started to be more flat, more abstract, more graphic. at that time i was working with acrylics paint and the medium wasn't right for what i wanted to do. so i started to work with oil, destroying the characters and making them more abstract. there's still shape that suggests the human figure or shapes like the mouth of a ninja turtle even though it's not really out there. i know it's there but the viewer might not see it. then last year i started to make shaped canvases and paintings almost like sculpture, so now i'm becoming more interested in space and how it interacts with the viewer. 

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

gregory c. brunet: right now i'm really into the work of elizabeth murray and math bass. i also like geometric abstract hard-edge artists like guido molinari and ellsworth kelly.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

gregory c. brunet: i always listen to the same records over and over again, but i discovered a band called nap eyes from halifax, canada and i'm pretty much only listening to that right now. also i enjoy the new ep from solids, a band from montreal, it's really good. 

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

gregory c. brunet: i kind of feel ashamed because i'm watching the 100 on netflix. i'm really not sure if i like the show or not but i'm totally addicted. it's really not inspiring that's for sure! haha! 

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

gregory c. brunet: i kinda live and work in a rough neighborhood but there is a really good ban-mi place not too far i don't remember what it's called. also there's a coffee shop called atomic cafe that make really good coffee. when i'm working at the studio i stop there almost every day. it's a really cool and relax spot and the staff is really nice. there is not really anything to buy around my studio, it's mostly pawn shops and vape shops. there's like 10 vape shops it's crazy!   

* check out more of greg's work here + his instagram *

small talk // nicole reber // visual artist + writer + co-editor of packet biweekly

in the short time that i've known artist/writer nicole reber, nicole continues to kill it. we met some months ago over social media when another artist was like, "you two should be friends!" after a few months of stalking nicole and digging her artwork, i asked to interview her for cultureisland. we met up on a sunday: she talked artmaking while we both shared personal learnings, anecdotes and french fries. not only is nicole making really rad art (you can catch her work at two shows -- one in nyc at transmitter gallery while another opens in portland friday) but she is also the co-editor of packet biweekly, an art publication that comes out twice a month. packet is a new cultural partner of nada, an emerging art fair happening this weekend. nicole will be moderating a talk there on friday at 4 pm about the role of performance art in gallery programming so be sure to check it out!

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

nicole reber: i was born in 1989, the daughter of a polish woman who came to the states as a political refugee in her late 20’s, and my dad, a california surfer. i’m pretty much a middle sliver on the venn diagram of these two experiences. i played piano competitively when i was a kid, and my dad played a lot of classic rock in the car. i was obsessed with dave grohl and foo fighters starting in the 4th grade, right after i got over natalie imbruglia. there was a great fan site called and i would spend hours there reading interviews, learning about nirvana, dc hardcore, a lot of stuff that a 9 year old girl in catholic school wouldn’t normally have been exposed to. i got into emo pretty early because the bassist for the foo fighters was in sunny day real estate. learning about my heroes’ heroes, it was just this clear thing that everyone lived on new york. i was always into writing, but it was always a more structured facility to me– most of my young writing was journalism. but when i would listen to bands, my first focus was the lyrics, probably because that was missing from my the classical spectrum i was more fluent in. i remember around the same time making a comment to my piano teacher that i thought mendelssohn’s “songs without words” was a really depressing title, because i was coming to the point where words were becoming more important to me than sound. sound can reverberate the message of a word, but i need them to live together. so i came to pratt and started studying creative writing which is what i got my bfa in. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your sign paintings. how did you start making them?

nicole reber: the sign paintings developed out of several needs. i was writing poetry and also experimenting with other visual art, collage and darkroom photo. i was having a hard time combining language in a way that didn’t feel like a caption or accompaniment to the visual work. i originally bought one of the signs for utility, and used it as a sign for the magazine i help edit, packet, at the ny art book fair. after the fair, it was hanging out in my house, and i started playing around with it. it’s funny, having a sign like that in the room, you inherently feel like you shouldn’t be communicating or using it for anything but business at first. a few days later, i posted one of the first sign pieces online and got a lot of positive feedback, and so i just started going for it. 

tide //&nbsp;18" x 24" // vinyl, plastic, aluminum //&nbsp;2016 &nbsp;( in a show that closes sunday in nyc)

tide // 18" x 24" // vinyl, plastic, aluminum // 2016 (in a show that closes sunday in nyc)

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

nicole reber: the writing on the pieces always comes out of longer poems that i write. i’ll have them printed out and read them outloud to myself before making the work. whatever line really reverberates for me, that’s what i’ll use for a piece. some of the larger pieces that feature multiple pieces of texts have lines from different poems, and i like using that because it can make the piece a little more indirect. using different text sizes, you can read those lines as one voice, the smaller fonts as another. so much of poetry is play, using the space of the page, and the framing of the signs inherently offers a similar restriction that of the page. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

nicole reber: the pieces come out of my personal poetry, but i try not to just focus on my experiences and stories in that work. i’ll try different sorts of writing exercises, the famous ones from bernadette mayer, and ones i’ve personally created for myself to help in my writing. to keep the perspective in the language from being too narrow, i’ll write down a situation and then use this chart from this psychologist robert plutchik, to identify 4 emotions that that situation makes me feel. using the emotion charts helps me to digest and expand on themes that i might have written about in a more direct way. youtube, movies, etc, are also helpful for triggering older memories and experiences to write from. 

cultureisland: how do you name your artworks?

nicole reber: depending on the piece, the title is either be taken excerpted from a line directly in the piece, or something totally different meant to illuminate the text itself. i made a piece recently that was my first time showing a piece that was entirely not my own text, it was taken from a donald trump speech, so that one obviously needed some context, in case the viewer was familiar with the text beforehand. that one was titled  “most presidential nominees speak at a 4th grade level.” other pieces, like “friend” from the sping/break show, need that more direct title from the piece itself to structure a text that might be more experimental or poetic than some of the other pieces.

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work? where do you find inspiration for these pieces?

nicole reber: time alone, skateboarding, father john misty, a constant need to make my life more difficult than it needs to be, youth. i’m at that age that i’m old enough to want to be young again for the first time in my life, where you start to see your mistakes for the first time, and try to take it back. life is gaining on me, things are messier for myself and the world around me, and i write to try to make sense of it all, to have a fleeting sense of control and happiness.

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

nicole reber: i write less about myself.

cultureisland: tell us more about packet biweekly. how did the publication come about?

nicole reber: packet was started in 2012 by my friend chris nosenzo, who i’ve collaborated on artist’s books with since college. chris, myself, and the artist  anthony cudahy ran a current events tumblr called currently now where we would post current art, events, satire, on there. we had all just graduated college too, and were doing these salons at friend’s houses as way to encourage each other to keep producing work. chris had the idea for packet and brought anthony and i on, and we started it around hurricane sandy that year. the group has grown and shifted throughout the years and now it’s chris, his girlfriend christine zhu, and myself as core members. we have people that live in different parts of the us that are passionate about what we do and reach out to artists on behalf of packet, so that helps us grow our scope. we focus on printing recent work from emerging visual artists and writers, focusing on aspects of their practice that haven’t been published or are more experimental in nature. we put on events, readings, we’ve had a radio show, and we’ll be doing a talk at nada this year, so it’s something that keeps us all really busy, but it’s amazing to watch the community that’s formed out of it.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

nicole reber: theo mercier, mark gonzales, pipilotti rist, anne waldman and ed ruscha.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

nicole reber: john phillips,"wolf king of l.a." + peter ivers, "nirvana peter" and jim sullivan, "ufo"
clarence williams "reissues."

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

nicole reber: i probably watched the 1969 simon and garfunkel “songs of america” every month in the last year.. it’s a lot of in-studio recording during the “bridge over troubled water” time, and really hones in on their songwriting. also this my morning jacket documentary, about their first tour in holland is awesome. as an artist, things have changed so much with regards to how to get your work out there, etc, that it’s kind of hard to look for role models, so watching movies about the creative process helps me cope.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

nicole reber: i try to keep on a good budget and eat at home when i can. i’m allergic to a lot of coffee (it make me very drowsy) but i have found that grady’s cold brew gives a great buzz, and if your brew it for yourself  in their bean bags it can be pretty affordable. i’ve lived in flatbush for a few years, and outside of getting art supplies, i don’t have to go into the city for any general life upkeep, flatbush has an awesome community of local merchants. i get my clothes tailed by bah french tailoring on caton, go to the caton market for custom screenprinting on the spot, get film developed at experts 1 hr, and get exercise rollerskating at the rink across the street from my house. i do occasionally splurge for a cocktail at erv’s which is probably the smallest bar in brooklyn, and not too far from my house.

* check out more of nicole's work here + her instagram // and packet biweekly here and here *

small talk // paloma canut of sunad // a minimal shirt line made in spain

i first met my friend paloma while we were both working for converse in nyc. paloma was my department's intern/freelancer and we became instant friends, sharing a love for pineapple imagery and men with beards among many other random things. palo has always had incredible taste and a unique eye. she's now splitting her time between living in london and working on her new spanish made shirt company, sunad with her friend ana marroquin in madrid. it's been really wonderful watching a good friend grow a business from the ground up (even from thousands of miles away). i was super excited to interview her for cultureisland and learn more about all things sunad. her and ana are offering a special cultureisland discount so shop now 'til may 12th and use the code CI.15

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

paloma canut: since ana and i were young, we have been inspired by the female figures in our lives – from their creativity and style to their passion and hard work. each of our family role models had an important role to play in shaping the women we are today. growing up in madrid we were exposed to a dynamic art scene and culture that could be found at every corner. this basis enabled us to share a love of passion for the arts, design and fashion. we see these worlds being intrinsically linked. following this, we both decided to attend parsons paris and a strong friendship ensued. we both shared a love of studying and it was through our design and management course that we eventually moved to parsons in new york. both cities are a melting pot of creative talent and we were lucky to be able to shape our careers towards the direction we each desired. even though we both started with the idea of pursuing a career in fashion, ana moved more towards interior design whilst i focused on graphics, photography and trends. it was only when we both decided to move back to madrid that we started to develop the concept behind our minimal, fashion contemporary brand ‘sunad’.

cultureisland: tell us more about sunad.

paloma canut: sunad was born from a love of vintage desert shirts as inspired by the film out of africa; that effortlessly chic, summer look that seemed to transcend decades. we felt there was no longer a brand or a product that represented that adventurous yet stylish woman of the 70’s. somewhere down the line we had lost that yves saint laurent woman, the same type of woman that we grew up around and admired so much. it was this philosophy, coupled with our love of nature that kick-started the whole concept and story behind sunad. the name sunad is an anagram for the spanish word for dunes: dunas.

the way we picture sunad, is based on an understanding that a common denominator exists in everything that inspires us: a play on masculinity and femininity through form and colour. we want this identity to be present in everything we do. rather than designing trend pieces, we focus on timeless classics produced in the highest quality. like life, our shirts adapt to you and age with you. 

ana and i come from similar backgrounds and we share the same values and aesthetics, which we feel is a key foundation to our business. we are very transparent and committed to making products that not only look good but also are well-made and ethically sourced. craftsmanship is the foundation of our manufacturing process. a great deal of the textile history and skills are lost in spain so we feel it is our duty to try and help the remaining artisans and showcase the incredible talent that is still in our country. our shirts are all handmade in spain, including our buttons that are made in a small factory in palma de mallorca.

cultureisland: who is the sunad customer?

paloma canut: we design for the stylish, adventurous and powerful woman. someone who is curious about the world, its cultures and colours. a well-travelled curator, who is ambitious and values quality over quantity. there is no age limit to our designs.

cultureisland: how has sunad grown since you started? what plans do you have to continue growing it?

paloma canut: sunad operates in an organic way, perhaps closer to a premium menswear brand ethos. we remain true to our signature classics and staples and then build on them each season with unique fabrics, new details, print collaborations and bespoke capsule collections. we will however respond to key runway trends by picking up on a color wave or pattern that resonates with sunad and presenting that in our own voice throughout the collection. collaborations are and will be key in the future for sunad. it’s very inspiring to work with other talented designers and share ideas on design, processes and fabrics. the bouncing of ideas and feeding of creativity, injects a different energy into capsule collections. we are committed to being classic but also unique.

cultureisland: how do you name your shirts?

paloma canut: our concept of the desert shines through every element in our shirts. each of our shirts relates to a desert or natural landmark in the world - i.e. sahara, atacama, gobi, kalahari...

cultureisland: what inspires you to create? where do you find inspiration for the line and these pieces? 

paloma canut: our inspiration comes from everywhere; old photographs, cultural references, magazine editorials, a sea of colours during your travel, interior design, architecture, anything and everything! all you need to do is keep your eyes open and tune your mind to pick up on it.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists and designers?

paloma canut:  we live in a world where we are spoiled with choices and i feel like my favourite designers and artists can change on a daily basis. there are amazing contemporary, luxury brands like mansur gavriel or won hundred, but we of course also love the designs of classic maisons of the 60’s and 70’s. as far as art goes, i love ed ruscha’s photographs, clyfford still, guy yanai, landon metz, brutalist architecture and mid-century modern furniture ... but the list is endless!

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

paloma canut: right now i’m very into leisure, jamie woon and kelela.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

paloma canut: i am obsessed with documentaries, especially those about people i admire. i loved watching amy; it really made me rethink the role and effect of tabloids in our lives.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop and drink coffee in your neighborhood?

paloma canut: sometimes i wish teleportation was invented so i could constantly visit my favorite places around the world. for now and with a more traditional mode of transport, i recommend in london (dalston); tonkotsu, berber & q, la cabina, violet bakery or market cafe. and when in madrid; olivia te cuida, bar corazón, celso y manolo, casa salvador and tacos chapultepec are a must!

* shop + follow sunad here // instagram // facebook* (remember to use the discount code CI.15 until may 12th)

small talk // lisa pastor // founder and designer of two eggs

i first met my friend lisa through our mutual contact, collage artist michael desutter. lisa and mike share a studio space in east williamsburg but i knew mike for a long time before i met lisa. our courtship was quite cute: we stalked each other over instagram for a while, sharing an affinity for all things girl power and when we finally met in person, it was pure magic. lisa is the ultimate lady hustler and her fashion brand, two eggs, well-represents that. lisa runs two eggs totally on her own, teaches and has three other jobs. wowza. and she does it all with impeccable style (she's been known to have an outfit for every occasion), straight class and the sunniest personality. lisa has become my go-to-girl for sharing the highs and lows of doing passion projects and we've even started our own little gathering of other lady hustlers. two eggs also has a blog so the two of us decided to interview each other -- catch my two eggs interview here and use the special discount code CULTUREISLAND for 20% off two eggs products (offer valid til may 12th).

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

lisa pastor: i was born in dallas, texas. i loved growing up there and had the most “normal” childhood in the suburbs. it became clear from a super young age that i was really creative and my parents were really supportive in letting me explore whatever i wanted. i dressed myself from the start and always had opinions about how i wanted to present myself. i loved performing and started dancing when i was two years old. i decided i wanted to be a professional ballerina when i was in elementary school and spent all my time outside of school working towards that goal. performing, acting, playing a part - these are all things that came really naturally to me. the only other thing i was at all into when i was a kid was fashion. i have always seen getting dressed as an opportunity to express yourself. it’s almost like a costume you put on to play a part for the day or the hour. i love that aspect of clothes and style and if you know me, you know that i have a “look” for literally any possible situation i could find myself in. 

whenever i had free time, me, my mom, and my sister would always go shopping. we weren’t poor, but we certainly weren’t rich and i learned early that i definitely had expensive taste. my mom took us to all the discount stores, thrift stores, and consignment shops we could handle. it was so much fun grabbing a bunch of random stuff, trying it on, giggling nonstop in the fitting room, and always leaving with bags full of goodies! i think this is where i really developed my keen eye. i’d see a look i liked in a magazine or on tv and i’d scour every store until i found the thing that would get me a similar look at a fraction of the price. and if i absolutely couldn’t find it, i’d make it. i was a really crafty kid and have always made stuff. for example, when those tiffany’s charm bracelet things were really in style, i decide to make my own version with parts and pieces i found in a thrift store. that independent spirit and scrappiness is what i think made me want to become an entrepreneur.

when i was 12, we moved to atlanta and i continued dancing and doing school and thrifting and making stuff. i was dancing a ton at this point, and eventually my body had had enough and i was forced to walk away from my professional ballerina dreams. i was completely devastated and went through a pretty rough depression during this time. luckily my mom saw the silver lining and secretly applied me to colleges online. i got in to the university of georgia and decided to make the most of it. once i got there, i was obsessed with college. it was everything mtv had advertised it as and more. i was in a sorority, i had tons of friends, there were boys (!), and i felt like i was finally getting on track towards a new career i might like. 

i graduated with a finance degree and got a dream job working at google in austin. i spent the next year and a half learning how to cold call people, speak tech jargon, and use gmail better than you. google was an incredible place to start a career, but it just felt way too big for me, so i found a small digital agency in nyc that would hire me. i was with them for about a year and a half, doing strategy and sales. i went freelance from there and have been doing that ever since, helping companies with their digital marketing and advertising. it wasn’t until about a year ago that my inner creative fashion-y person started breaking out again, and i decided to start two eggs to really pursue that. 

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about two eggs. how did it come about?

lisa pastor: i was on the train one day heading to a meeting with a client when i had a vision of the perfect skirt. it was a tulle tutu skirt in like a light pink/peach/nude color and it had dollar signs embroidered right into the tulle. i actually chuckled out loud when this fanciful vision appeared in my head. it was so ridiculous and yet so chic. i pushed the idea to the back of my mind because i am an adult person and i had a business to run being an important digital marketing consultant. but the skirt wouldn’t go away. it haunted me. i started seeing tulle skirts everywhere, but none of them felt like something i would wear. eventually i bit the bullet and had someone make the skirt for me. the first time i put the skirt on, i felt something amazing - it was like a spark was ignited in my tummy and exploding happiness crystals throughout my whole body. it was incredible and i knew in that moment that if i could find a way to help other people feel this good, i’d have an amazing business on my hands. i started two eggs shortly thereafter and have been making accessories ever since. the name two eggs comes from the two eggs you add when you make boxed cake mix. it’s the only real thing you’re adding to the cake and represents your individuality and real-ness. 

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what is your process for making a collection?

lisa pastor: i’m a really visual person and i have this insane photographic memory that is always capturing little images of stuff i see. i pull from this large library of images to determine what the trends are and how i can make them my own. outside of just clothes, i also look at bigger macro trends in the media. i like asking questions like: what is everyone talking about? what do people need? what kind of lifestyles are people trying to live right now? once i decide on a theme using these techniques, the ideas just flow out of me. i imagine that it’s a lifetime of using clothes as costume that allows me to really freely brainstorm ideas from a concept. the next step from there is to decide on the color scheme and symbols i want to use. for girl gang, the colors were baby pink and baby blue and the symbols were the dollar sign and the rose. for slow n’ steady, the colors were forest green, burnt orange, black, and white and the symbols were the peace sign and the wave. 

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what inspires you to create? where do you find inspiration for your pieces?

lisa pastor: i’m inspired by the conversations i have! i am obsessed with talking to random people and will strike up a conversation with literally anyone. as an extrovert, i leave these conversations energized and excited to create, usually having learned something i can use in one of my collections. because we’re still a small business and i’m the only one designing, i’m fortunate to have the flexibility to create on my own design schedule. accessories also don’t need to be seasonal, so most of our stuff is available year-round.

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: tell us more about the different collections you've created.

lisa pastor: the girl gang collection is about female badassery and the concept that we all get further in life if we support each other. nice girls really do finish first and i’ll be the first to tell you that two eggs would be nothing without the support i’ve received from friends far and wide. i’d been seeing a lot of famous women showcasing their #squads and was inspired by this idea around the time i was launching two eggs. it seemed like a surprisingly novel concept since i’d never really seen famous women openly being like, “hey, go buy my friend’s book!”, or like, “hey! i’m on the cover of this magazine and i’m wearing my friend’s line because i like it and i like her!”. it was really refreshing. i really thought about what pieces a real “girl gang” might be into, and it totally took me back to childhood when me and my friends would coordinate outfits or all buy the same thing to look like a crew. the jackets are an updated version of the pink lady jacket from grease because honestly who didn’t want those growing up? i decided to use vintage jackets because vintage denim is just the best. the idea for the money bag came from a fat stack of bills that you’d get from the bank. the bag sends a message to everyone that you are a badass woman who takes care of herself and doesn’t take no shit from nobody. 

the slow n’ steady collection came about when i noticed things like meditation, fitness, moving to california, self-care, and radical transparency gaining popularity. all my friends, especially those that are entrepreneurs, were talking about how they were trying to be more mindful to reduce stress and increase their health and happiness every day. i started thinking about what that kind of lifestyle looks and feels like to me, and i came up with the idea of taking things ‘slow n’ steady’. we really glamourize the “overnight success story” in the media and it breeds super unrealistic expectations for everyone. the best things in life take time, like a lot of time. i hope that the pieces i created for the collection work as reminders that slow n’ steady totally wins the race. 

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what are your own 'words to live'?

lisa pastor: i have a few! the first is no. i’m working right now on getting better about saying no. i’m such a yes-person and i can sometimes be too agreeable in situations where i should stand my ground. i also constantly having to remind myself that saying ‘no’ to someone else is saying ‘yes’ to you. the second is chill -- i say some version of this a lot every day. mostly, this just means that i don’t get my panties in a bunch over stuff. i’m working right now on letting go of trying to control everything and taking responsibility for me and my own actions only. and last but not least, please. did i say ‘nice girls finish first’, yet? throughout this whole process with two eggs, i’ve had to call in a lot of favors and ask a lot of uncomfortable questions. being grateful and thankful and generous in the ways you can afford go a long way in this world.

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: how has two eggs evolved since you started? how do you hope it evolves in the future?

lisa pastor: two eggs has evolved a lot from the beginning and continues to change almost every day. originally, i wanted to make and sell tutu skirts. but i realized that would be really hard considering i don’t have access to a factory or any official knowledge of garment production.  from there, i started creating these highly conceptual accessories collections and building a community through lifestyle content (i.e. girl gang and slow n’ steady). now i’m transitioning to focus more on the products themselves and really go deep in a few product categories. we got a lot of feedback in the past about how much people liked our content, but weren’t clear on what it was that we sold or made. though that was somewhat intentional in the earliest stages of two eggs, we’re now being more up-front with the fact that yes, this is a business, and we sell cool accessories. i hope we’re building the right foundation now so that two eggs can grow and evolve as the world changes. right now, i love what we’re doing, but we definitely have a lot more to give.

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite designers and artists?

lisa pastor: there are so many, but here are a few highlights of designers i love: sandy liang (if i were to imagine what two eggs clothes would look like if i was an extremely talented designer, this is them), johanna ortiz, rosie assoulin, miuccia prada, elsa schiaparelli, sophia webster, poppy lissiman, rachel antonoff, valfre, etre cecile, julien david, jacquemus, molly goddard, and a bajillion more that i am forgetting. for art, my feed is basically flooded with people using egg imagery in their stuff. i was actually lucky enough to acquire one of the eggs from the christopher chiappa show that was at the kate werble gallery this year. i’m officially an “art collector” now.

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

lisa pastor: podcasts and my spotify discover weekly playlist. i love another round, all the manrepeller podcasts, mystery show (come back already!), this american life, everything from gimlet (startup, reply all, sampler, etc.), and modern love

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

lisa pastor: yes! i’ve been watching the cfda show on amazon and i’m really into it. it’s fascinating to see these designers that you idolize going through exactly the same struggles as you. also, girls is really good this season, and broad city is always good for a laugh. love those ladies. mostly right now, i’m inspired by real life stuff. i have made so many new friends throughout this journey that are doing incredible work that is so inspiring. i love looking to the guys at pintrill or baron von fancy or concrete + water or kurt lyle or kara bags or for inspiration. if they can do it, so can i!

two eggs // shot by  que dong

two eggs // shot by que dong

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop and drink coffee in your neighborhood?

lisa pastor: around my neighborhood, east williamsburg, i frequent pokito, diner, dokebi, best pizza andchamps. for shopping: narnia vintage, amarcord vintage, mociun, concrete + water. and for coffee, i go to sweatshop, blind barber bk and freehold.

* check out more of two eggs here // instagram // read my interview on the two eggs blog here *

small talk // leah guadagnoli // visual artist

leah guadagnoli is one of my new favorite artists. i came across her art last month when she was showing at 247365 on the lower east side, one of my favorite galleries. leah gave me a tour of her exhibit and ever since i've been obsessed with her work! leah is a really sweet, bright and humble lady. i find her pieces to be a cross between painting, sculpture and installation. they remind me of 80s bedding and dentist office decor with their bright and muted colors, eclectic patterns and angular shapes. i get excited and happy just looking at her pieces -- i seriously can't get enough of them!

cultureisland: tell us more about you. how did you get into art making?

leah guadagnoli: i grew up in the suburbs of chicago. i always loved drawing and painting. i used to spend my summers as a kid drawing under this huge, magical tree in my back yard. my grandma (omi) would also take me to art museums and always encouraged me to make art. i got my first set of paint for christmas when i was in 5th grade and was so excited to use it. that night i spent the whole evening painting my first horrible self-portrait. i spilled a huge glob of cadmium red on my carpet in the process. after water, soap, rubbing alcohol, bleach, and nail polish remover didn’t remove the stain i just cut the chunk of carpet out and placed a rug over it. when my mom went to vacuum later that week she was furious! i was then condemned to working in the dark dingy boiler room in the basement which i cherished as my first studio all the way through high school. 

i then went to undergrad at university of illinois at urbana-champaign where i studied painting and art history. i lived in italy for a minute which was delicious and productive. when i graduated went straight to grad school at rutgers where i got my mfa. i then moved to brooklyn where i currently live, work, and have an incredibly supportive community. i spent last summer at yaddo in saratoga springs, ny. my time there played an enormous roll on the development and maturation of my newest work. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your fabric paintings.

leah guadagnoli: when i was in grad school i started collecting fabric. i wasn’t sure what i was going to do with it but i just kept buying more. i started making abstract paintings of the patterns. those were really tedious and boring to look at but an important step. there was one transitional painting (one of my favorites to this day) when i started draping and securing fabric over the painted canvas. i eventually stopped using paint all together and wanted to use fabric in a similar vocabulary to painting. that was my thesis show. when i moved to nyc i bought a bunch of upholstery and furniture cushion. i wanted to gain more control over the forms and somehow work outside of a rectangle while still making work for a wall. and boom! i made some drawings and used them to model these newer works. 

i use all kinds of fabric: cotton, velvet, thick upholstery, etc. i either try and find fabric online from etsy and ebay or i use illustrator to design patterns and have them printed using spoonflower.  

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

leah guadagnoli: i start with a drawing that i measure to scale and draw out on a large sheet of insulation board. i cut it apart, trim and place pieces polyurethane foam (furniture padding), and adhere canvas, fabric, or upholstery over each section. some parts are painted over and/or given different treatments to add texture. i make many of my decisions based on the patterns in the fabric (color, shapes, even textures). when each piece is finished i put it back together like a puzzle and secure it onto a larger piece of insulation board. the work is actually super lightweight.  

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

leah guadagnoli: pattern and its link to memory. youth. communal space. furniture. gaudy interior design. architecture.

cultureisland: how do you name your works?

leah guadagnoli: i once designed some fabric based on a security envelope pattern and sewed the scraps into an oversized envelope i used in this epic prank where i filled it with phosphorescent glitter and gave it to my awesome boyfriend. when he opened it glitter spilled everywhere, it was amazing. i named the painting i made with this fabric from your secret admirer.  

cultureisland: what inspires you to create your work?

leah guadagnoli: i love being in the studio, listening to music, dancing, and bringing something new into the world. i also really enjoy being alone and left unbothered. i work from the living room in my apartment (which is actually spectacular) and choose not to have internet or a television. i shut my phone off when i work and really try to get into an uninterrupted headspace without any outside distractions. inspirations include the memphis group, pee wee’s playhouse, casinos, coach buses, broaches, second hand stores, modernist architecture, diners, movie theaters, hard candy, fashion

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artist?

leah guadagnoli: julia bland, marc camille chaimowicz, gaby collins-fernandez, holly coulis, jennifer grimyser, ridley howard, noam rappaport, ruth root, aliza morell, nathan mullins, molly ledbetter, gyan schrosbee, sadie benning, wendy white, diane simpson and jing yu. 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

leah guadagnoli: john maus, ariel pink, low, the space lady, prince rama, belong, anika, dan deacon, u.s. girls.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

leah guadagnoli: the recent blizzard was pretty epic...

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

leah guadagnoli: for eating, cent'anni. for shopping, fat alberts (that place has everything!) for coffee, pel's pie.

* check out more of leah's work here // instagram *

small talk // carey maxon // visual artist

i met carey maxon in a magical way. back in november i attended the eab fair (editions/artist's books fair). carey and her colleague lured me into their print studio's booth and she was immediately interested in what i've been working on. we exchanged info and carey later emailed me saying: "what i like about people like you is that you help make art visible in the world - in unexpected places - and those are great places for art to be!" i was totally speechless, honored and immediately knew this was someone i wanted to work with.

carey is a well-established artist. her work is in the permanent collection of the whitney, the moma and the brooklyn museum. and yet she's super approachable, down to earth and one of the funniest/quirkiest people i've ever met. carey also lives in greenpoint and has an amazing apartment that doubles as her art studio; it's full of her own dots plus artwork from her friends and many acquaintances. carey is actually moving to italy soon since she recently received a plot of land there (more on that in her interview below). we've talked about doing a few projects before she heads out and i hope they come to fruition!

carey maxon // influence schematic ii // print //&nbsp;16.25"&nbsp;x 13" // 2015

carey maxon // influence schematic ii // print // 16.25" x 13" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

carey maxon: i grew up in the bay area. my mom was a teacher all her life and was very interested in childhood development. she put me on the floor with paints when i was less than a year old.  i was really into it from the get go. apparently, my other favorite activity was digging in the dirt outside.

i went to a great elementary school. when we studied the gold rush, the teachers spray painted little gold pebbles and put them in the creek that ran through campus. we all spent the day looking for gold. after so many years in new york, i look back and think it was incredible to go to a school with a creek running through it! let alone all the cutting edge education. at barnard college i was an art history/visual art major. there were only about ten of us in the major there but we had cross registration with columbia so it was a mixture of large lectures with stellar academics and small studio classes. professors like rosalind krauss, benjamin buchloh, simon schama come to mind and i was there right when columbia’s mfa program got hot. kiki smith, elizabeth peyton, and kara walker were around the studios. there was also this really great photographer named thomas roma. he made me accept a tough brooklyn ball-buster voice into my art-making soul forever. of digital cameras, no matter how fancy, he said things like,  “this isn’t a camera. this is a sweet potato.”

brooklyn and i have now been together for 17 years. back in 2000 when i graduated from college, i basically postponed getting an office job by running off to italy. i lived there for 2 years - picked olives and made drawings. earlier this year the man who owned the farm where i was living passed away and left me his estate. i guess he had written the will in 2002. he always hinted that this might happen, but i never believed him. i hadn’t spoken to him for 13 years because i got the sense he wanted things to be romantic and i didn’t want to give the wrong impression. now, i am busy with the legal transition and working with the two 75 year-old farmers rosa and giotto, along with their children and grandchildren, to keep the place going. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your dot paintings and drawings. how does your interest psychotherapy play a part in your work?

carey maxon: i am interested in action patterns generally and think the world is basically made up of them. think city. think leaf growing. my early drawings were a kind of impression of the overwhelming way all these patterns overlap. the dots are more of a cessation of the overlap, a conscious choice to limit myself and provide an image of that reduction. it’s like clearing a space on a desk. 

i think agnes martin said something to the effect of a good painting presents an alternative. my question is: what if the feeling of doing one random thing over and over again could put the drama of our human existence into perspective? 

therapy creates a constant in which to investigate what’s going on in the psyche. doing the dots function like that too. in therapy, there are sessions; in paintings there are dots. every time i make one, part of me feels limited, and part of me feels free. this relates to single point meditation in buddhism, or ashtanga yoga practice. the focus there is on the breath. but drawing too, provides a constant for the chaos to relate to. 

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

carey maxon: lately i have been meditating for 10 minutes before i start painting. i have a particular question in mind – like, “where should i go with this series on aluminum plates?” i just sit down, set my timer for ten minutes and make mental notes of what comes to mind. there is usually a series of thoughts or images. sometimes it’s a color, a sensation, and sometimes it’s a full composition of a painting. one per minute? not always, sometimes it's three in a quick succession and then a pause where nothing seems very significant. i try to remember what has filtered in and i write it down, or make little sketches. 

doing the meditation helps me learn the difference between ideas that are ‘pursued’ from a conscious, driven mind and those that just kind of blossom up or float in from who knows where. i guess i feel like the hard worker in me will do cartwheels and swim upstream until it hurts and i ruin things; but some of my best ideas, or the ones that fascinate me personally, are the ones that just appear.

the process of being an artist isn’t that different from the average joe’s process of working at whatever he’s working at. a few goals, a few pleasures, something you try for the heck of it.  an interest, some requirements, research, stabs in the dark, couple risks here and there. the whole thing about being an artist is to develop an original group of preoccupations. this may seem weird to people, it may be ‘liked’ or not but it’s really just a way of being. for me, it’s a very happy way of being. i think people who aren’t all that interested in art tend to mark artists as crazy, and i find that de-humanizing. sometimes i want to say, to the sports fanatics, for example, hey, we have something in common, we are both watching dots. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on? how do you name your work?

carey maxon: have you heard of black matter? it’s something like 90% of matter and we know nothing about it. i like thinking about that and presume that my body might know something about it even if my so-called brain doesn’t. when it comes to naming my work, i look at what i’ve made. i listen to what comes to mind. there will be an image or one word. i try to catch it if i can and follow it until i am somewhere interesting. 

cultureisland: what inspires you to create?

carey maxon: i have been inspired by countless human creations - buildings, paintings, jewelry, textile designs, sculpture – from all over the world. the people that make these things are true creatives. what they make establishes an atmosphere for all of us to live within. i just try to be a part of that family because of how much i’ve gained from what they’ve all done for me. of course, what lies beyond that family -- and deeper within it of course -- is nature. human nature, elemental nature, plant nature, food sources – that stuff drives me and is me, i guess.  

cultureisland: how has your work evolved overtime?

carey maxon: so, sometimes i feel like i have 10 visions to dip into, like ten cans of paint on a table. i’m responding to my environment and my environment changes over the years. but, i can still remember where and how i was a long time ago. there’s obsessive-isolated-repetitive-termite carey, right there next to zen reductionist carey, oh then there’s nostalgic, colored pencil, fire-island boardwalk carey. my work has appeared differently over the years, but the motivation and the approach is always the same. the center of my work is sincerity – i.e., an authentic and even fervent interest in what i am doing. you can be sure that i wanted to do everything i have ever done. not like, ‘thought it was a good idea’ but instead, i really wanted to make this.  in a way art has been this fun rabbit hole, or totally private way to freak out, dance my way into oblivion, build things, climb mountains, go on trips and even get some good rest.  it’s me, it’s my life. is your life always the same? it is so pleasurable for me.  the feeling of freedom is one of the major things i like about it. i never reach a new visual interest – like faces or paper dolls – and think, oh but how will that relate to my previous body of work? 

maybe my next step is to consider these artistic periods aesthetically, like imagine them as a row of developments and work on what’s next as a type of aesthetic answer to what came before. i will say, “maybe” on that one. the factor of the wild and unknown has always been an element of my work.  i work and i work (and try not to be too strategic, pretentious, egotistical or market oriented about it) and figure that in the end it will stand for something. now that i think about it, that is exactly how i made those drawings in my twenties. mark here, mark there, mark here, mark there, until there’s one big – or 40 x 60 inch - picture of a bunch of marks i didn’t know why i was making them. they really resonated with people. maybe it’s just that, the inanity, and beauty too, of incessant activity with an undetermined purpose.

cultureisland: you worked for the print shop, derriere l'etoile studios, for many years. how has your relationship with the owner, maurice, influenced your work? what was it like working there?

carey maxon: working at the shop?! doing the books was like getting a drivers license to adulthood. witnessing artists like rita ackermann, tracey emin, josh smith, whitfield lovell, and charlene von heyl do their jobs?! watching them is like winning the lotto as far as jobs in new york go. at a print shop you actually see them work. how do they move their arms, how often do they step back, what kind of mood are they in, what do they like to eat and drink when they work. i witnessed all of them, and those are just a few of my favorites. i have been very very lucky. when he met me, i think maurice saw a pretty vulnerable character. my work had fallen out of favor, i was socially rather disconnected, i’d been sold as an ‘outsider’ but i think he knew i wasn’t exactly that. i got the sense that he saw ‘something wrong with this picture’ and he just took me under his wing so we could figure it out. i remember once he painted “help me help carey” in blue letters on a white t-shirt – he put a mexican mask on his face and i took a picture. it’s his visual sensibility, technical know-how, persistent sense of humor within the creative process, and again a good dose of ball-buster, that does just that.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

carey maxon: louise bourgeois, hilma af klint, piero della francesca, yayoi kusama, agnes martin, francesco clemente, joan mitchell, rose wylie. 

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now? have you watched anything inspiring lately?

carey maxon: right now i'm listening to kollektiv turmstrasse. a track called “sorry i am late.”recently, i watched an hbo doc – autism in love. it's about adults on the spectrum developing romantic relationships. amazing. also watched a netflix series called run. it’s fiction, but realist. their lives are low-income lives. one is about an illegal immigrant selling dvds. follows her through her travails. i have always liked realism in film.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

carey maxon: i don’t really eat shop or drink that much. i am super human ca-ray max-on!!! but when i do…. crema, ashbox, electric nest, kula yoga, vinebox, eddys room.

* check out more of carey's work here // instagram *

small talk // naomi clark // visual artist

naomi clark // peach moves // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

naomi clark // peach moves // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

i first discovered naomi clark's work last summer at a moma ps1 warm up party where she and her collective, fort makers, had created the stage backdrop. the backdrop had beautiful colors and abstract shapes -- immediately i had to meet the artist behind it! a few months ago i had the pleasure of doing a studio visit with naomi herself. during our visit, i felt a lot of synergy with the artist and her creative work. first, naomi considers herself a female robert rauschenberg (my favorite artist since i was a kid) and much of her creative process involves collaborative art making. naomi says that when talking about your work, it is all encompassing: "life is art and art is life." she believes art is a place where we can act out ideas. naomi even considers her mistakes part of her artistic process. as an artist and a collaborator, naomi is constantly learning how to balance individual expression and her many collaborative projects.

naomi clark // primaries with pink // mono print // 22" x 30"&nbsp;// 2015

naomi clark // primaries with pink // mono print // 22" x 30" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

naomi clark: i came to brooklyn in 2006 to study painting. i moved from my hometown of boulder, colorado. brooklyn was another beast. i told my family and friends i would be back right after i finished school and now it’s been a decade. that’s the thing with new york; you never really finish school because there is so much to learn. one year i joined the community garden and befriended the old-timers who plant themselves there in the summer. they asked me (and still do) why in the world i would leave colorado for ny… this question is more a conversation starter, a way to assess the pro and cons of city life, i think it probably happens about a zillion times everyday in the city.

naomi clark // red blue nude // mixed media collage // 12" x 17" //&nbsp;2015

naomi clark // red blue nude // mixed media collage // 12" x 17" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings. what led you to select painting as a medium?

naomi clark: i always loved to paint. paint = freedom. when i was a kid i would color and color and until the whole page was filled in, no white space. that is how i understood to finish a piece.

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

naomi clark: my process is constantly being refined. i now think of each work in the context of a series. i think individual abstract works are better understood within a group. it places the work into a larger visual landscape. then are the plain old ‘nuts and blots’ space to work, material gathering, and preparation. after all this the fun comes. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

naomi clark: i focus on the interaction of form through color and gesture.

naomi clark // three moons away // oil on canvas // 19" x 24"&nbsp;// 2015

naomi clark // three moons away // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: how has your painting style evolved over time?

naomi clark: my style as become more contemplative and the forms have become larger and more articulated. my style has matured with me. i still want rawness in my work. this is now a challenge; where as when i was younger the challenge was control.

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces?

naomi clark: i stare and stare at the piece and think of the first things that come to mind. then i piece the words that come together and play with them until they fit. i really enjoy naming my work.

naomi clark // blue // oil on canvas // 19" x 24"&nbsp;// 2015

naomi clark // blue // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: tell us more about fortmakers. what is it and how did it come about?

naomi clark: fort makers started the year i left school. i met my co-founder nana through friends and we hit it off creatively. she was looking for a change and i was looking to continue my creative journey in brooklyn. i asked her to help me curate my thesis show at pratt. i liked how she was so enthusiastic about art. it was great. we started fort makers off with ‘the blanket project’. i made a series of ‘quilt paintings’ and we went from there. the name fort makers evokes the childhood game of building forts. it is also about people working together to build something. we are very inspired by the bauhaus. i am one of the artists that fort makers collaborates with as well as a founding member. 

naomi clark // canopy // monoprint // 20" x 30"//&nbsp;2015

naomi clark // canopy // monoprint // 20" x 30"// 2015

cultureisland: what affect has teaching had on your work?

naomi clark: i love teaching. teaching has helped me articulate ideas and learn new techniques. i like meeting students and hearing their stories and what brought them art.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

naomi clark: i have been thinking a lot about andrea zitell’s work. i admire jessica stockholder, jonas wood, and paul wackers, eddie martinez, and ron nagle, el anasui and helen frankenthaler

naomi clark // mud huts // oil on canvas // 19" x 24"&nbsp;// 2015

naomi clark // mud huts // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

naomi clark: pinchy and friends and the mixtape club. i love jazz, there is this great song my heart belong to daddy by dizzy gillespie. i like dolly parton and 90’s rock, especially the yeah yeah yeahs, weezer and the red hot chili peppers; i also love future islands and the hold steady. i love blood orange and conan mockasin.

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

naomi clark: um, hmmm, i saw chi-raq!! loved it! i thought it was a highly intelligent piece of art (with a capital a!) that addressed many pressing issues in our country happening right now.

naomi clark // red // oil on canvas // 19" x 24"&nbsp;//&nbsp;2015

naomi clark // red // oil on canvas // 19" x 24" // 2015

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

naomi clark: the civil service café is my favorite coffee and they have this hot sauce called fil fil that is sooo good! it’s like 100 gloves of garlic in one bite and will get rid of a cold on the spot. i like bedford hill for their bagels, i like the tacos at lucha lucha and come on everybody to shake a leg. as for shopping, i like giving all my expendable income to my yoga studio around the corner, a good sweat is worth a billion bucks. 

* check out more of naomi's work here // instagram *

small talk // michael desutter // collage artist

i first met michael desutter through my past workshop with the brooklyn collage collective in july. after following him on instagram for many months and loving his work, i reached out and we set up a time to do a studio visit. mike often hosts collage artists and every day folks at his studio and sometimes creates collaborative pieces with his visitors. i was honored to be one of these lucky people as i've been creating collages my whole life. after picking mike's brain about his journey to today, his creative work and his interest in symmetry, we got collaging.

since that day, i've collaborated and interacted with mike on several occasions. i must admit my relationship with mike is one of my most interesting and most challenging ones. mike and i are incredibly different. often i tell him he's very button up where i'm the complete opposite. i'm not even totally sure how to explain our differences; perhaps he's scientific where i'm a little more intuitive? but our differences are a damn good thing. we do have some nice synergy between our work, like our interest in creative community building. through our many dialogues, we've pushed each other a lot and in turn, i've learned a lot from our relationship. i'm really grateful to call mike a collaborator and a friend. mike showed his work in my souvenir shop pop-up last week (it's still up so check it out this month!) and we also submitted a proposal for spring/break art fair together. i'm very excited to continue our conversations and collaborative projects moving forward.

michael desutter // studio space // brooklyn, new york

michael desutter // studio space // brooklyn, new york

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

mike desutter: i grew up on a farm in indiana. my paternal grandfather farmed the land and i spent time around grain elevators and live stock when i was very young. my maternal grandparents lived in the nearest town, i spent a lot of time with them as well. my grandmother was very creative and always saved boxes, containers and old magazines for my siblings and i to create things out of. collectively these two things were very influential in my desire to live in a city and create things. with collage, i started out studying business management, then graphic design and ultimately i got a degree in photography. from there it was time to find work so i went where i thought there would be opportunities, new york city.

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: tell us more about your collages. what led you to select collage as a medium?

mike desutter: i’m always fascinated by the past and understanding how life was for those that came before us. collage has been an amazing medium for exploring another time while creating something completely new. i think collage is a natural fit for me having started out as a graphic designer. as a designer i’m tasked with creating work that visually communicates some other organization’s message in an easily comprehensible way. collage is similar in that i’m creating visual pieces which still involve an “other,” in this case it’s creating new meanings from found imagery. 

cultureisland: what kind of subject matter do you focus on?

mike desutter: i’m not sure my work focuses on a particular subject matter. i’m most interested in the formal qualities of photographic images, i break them down and create movement from their pieces.

cultureisland: how has your collage style evolved over time? 

mike desutter: at first i was very concerned that pure abstraction wouldn’t be that relatable. i’m slowly allowing myself to work more abstractly now. i believe there are still recognizable (and therefore relatable) images in my abstractions that a viewer can relate to if that’s something that makes art more interesting to them.

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

mike desutter: i go through several pieces of source material and cut out clippings that have good depth or movement. from there i sit and assemble a collage seeing what points connect from one clipping to the next. when two pieces “line up” i glue them together and keep turning and adding to the piece to create visual balance. i don't glue my work to a backing paper until it’s time to frame the piece.

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? are there certain images or sources that tend to inspire you more than others?

mike desutter: my approach is so much about how i connect pieces so i don’t think particular sources or images play as much of a role. at this point, i think my inspiration comes mainly from the many conversations i have and the things i see when i walk around the city everyday.

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage

cultureisland: how do you name your pieces?

mike desutter: i title my pieces just like i add clippings the the collage. the day i am ready to share a completed piece i pull out the new york times and look for headlines or statements that i think relate to what is happening in the completed piece. 

michael desutter x cultureisland // could be a boon // collaborative collage // 2015

michael desutter x cultureisland // could be a boon // collaborative collage // 2015

cultureisland: you often host other collage artists over to work with you in your studio. tell us more about these collaborations. what is that experience like? how did this come about?

mike desutter: i started inviting people over to my studio mostly because i wanted to meet them and it seemed like a comfortable way to have a conversation. i didn’t necessarily set out to make it a collaboration session, that just started to happen naturally. every visit is completely unique, which is what i love about them. a lot of paper gets cut up and time flies by so quickly.

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage clippings

michael desutter // work-in-progress // collage clippings

cultureisland: how did you get involved with the brooklyn collage collective? what is it like being involved with other artists working in the same medium? 

mike desutter: i became aware of the brooklyn collage collective through instagram in mid 2014 and then later that year the collective sent out message to local collage artists to join the collective. i joined at that time. like most new yorkers we have crazy schedules and can’t get together as much as we’d like to so we try to set up live collage sessions whenever we can. it’s always great to hang out in that capacity. through the hard work of morgan jesse-lappin and lizzie gill, i have had the opportunity to show work in a couple bcc group shows this year, including shows in denver and london. i’m very thankful for that!

cultureisland: how does your work as a graphic designer inform your work as a collage artist? and visa versa?

mike desutter: we’ve trained our brains to use auto-pilot as much as possible. we’re inundated with advertising and we’re experts at deciphering messages in a matter of seconds. of course the designers creating these pieces know how to add the right visual cues so your eye jumps to these conclusions. i think the way i connect clippings is influenced by my professional experience in making these ads. when i connect two clippings by a common visual line i believe our brain upon first view believes that that line is actually one line. it takes a second look to see that the line is being created by overlapping clippings that from a strictly representational aren’t really related at all.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

mike desutter: robert frank has been the most influential artist for me. i’ve always viewed him as an outsider who’s work wasn’t quite beautiful enough to be accepted by life or look magazines. he couldn’t even get his his seminal body of work the americans released in the united states at the time; america wasn’t ready for his raw form of expression. other major influences: robert rauschenberg, edward steichen, hannah hoch, kurt schwitters, saul leiter, laszlo moholy-nagy, and el lissitzky.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

mike desutter: i definitely operate in phases when it comes to music. i also have a tendency to listen to one album for a month straight which is always interesting because then whenever i go back to that album it’s laced with so many memories from the period i listened to it so heavily. that said, i just finished a period of listening to tame impala’s “currents” nonstop and have moved back into listening to a lot of current hip hop -- really into tracks like “white iverson” by post malone and “skrt” by kodak black, “antidote” by travi$ scott, and that general sound right now.

michael desutter // quietly seeking a reduction i + ii // collage // 2015

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

mike desutter: two documentaries come to mind, both about couples and art; herb and dorothy and cutie and the boxerherb and dorothy is about a couple of art enthusiasts who devoted their free time to collecting art. cutie and the boxer is about an artist couple and some of the underlying tension that exists when the other is in the spotlight. watch them!

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop, drink coffee in your neighborhood?

mike desutter: i’m in the process of finding new spots since i'm moving studios from south williamsburg to bushwick. i still love freehold for my first americano of the morning and marlow and sons for my second and third. after a long day in the studio, my favorite spots to unwind and have dinner are dinner and isa, i probably go to each twice a week.

* check out more of michael's work here // instagram // plus you can shop many of these pieces now at our pop-up @ community 54 *

small talk // anne vieux // visual artist

i first discovered anne vieux's work at bushwick open studios this past summer and she's since been on the top of my list of people i wanted to interview. her work is crazy good; it's totally strange and totally beautiful. i've never seen anything like it. a few months ago i had the pleasure of visiting anne's studio in bushwick, brooklyn. anne was rocking a lemon colored sweater, a hue i've randomly been seeing everywhere. when speaking about her work, anne is incredibly intelligent but also humble. her work explores obsolete technology and blurs the lines between the analog and the digital, the unnatural and the natural. she makes paintings, videos, lenticular prints and zines. in all that she does, anne attempts to make the invisible visible. she is interested in how a painting can feel like a screen. and for her, zines are like sketching. i loved hearing about anne's journey and her artistic process so i'm very excited to share her story here.

more about anne below:


cultureisland: tell us more about you.

anne vieux: i grew up in oklahoma with a few years of living in france. i studied painting at the kansas city art institute and painting from cranbrook academy of art. i've moved eastward every few years and now i'm here. nyc seemed to have opportunities and a community of artists working with ideas i am interested in and that inspire me. nyc is cool because things change quickly and i like that.

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings. what led you to select painting as a medium?

anne vieux: it’s hard to say because it was a natural attraction for me. the immediate gratification, potential of color/space, and the relationship to architecture/the body etc. the real or imagined conversation with the past and future one can have through work and theory around painting. growing up during the technological revolution has really shifted the way young artists view the potential of painting, so it seems to be an exciting time.

cultureisland: how has your painting style evolved over time?

anne vieux: earlier my paintings were really raw and gestural. i started using black lights/installation to illuminate/frame the paintings. i got into projecting video onto paintings too. i had a studio visit with a someone and they suggested attempting to create what the video added within the surface itself. that was kind of an ahha moment, bringing this virtual space into material space -- slowing down the read of a virtual image and speeding up the read of painting. 

cultureisland: what is your process for making your work?

anne vieux: most of the imagery is created by photographing and bending reflective papers. in the end the imagery flattens and reads as painterly. lately, i’ve been using printed fabric stretched over panel, on which i paint. i love using highly saturated colors. the fabric gives a physicality to the digital image, and reads as watercolor on another plane. i like reintroducing the hand into these rendered digital images, through paint, and also leaving gesture with my finger prints and tape. these moments really excite me. 

i have another body of work that is made of lenticular prints. you know those images used in advertising a lot? a few images are laced together kind of making an analogue animation. they move as you move around them. the feel very slick and look like screens. this feedback loop between the digital and physical flows through different bodies of work and continues to evolve. playing with gesture, scale, pattern, zoning out, and making the the invisible- visible.

cultureisland: what role does technology play in your work? how did your interest in it come about?

anne vieux: early on i played a lot on computers and learned to program a bit. my family started a weather modeling company out of our house in the 90’s. growing up with glitchy weather maps and screensavers on pc’s and in a very techy environment had an impact. i love the idea of it from bit; that everything is digital information and can be computed.

cultureisland: what is your process for naming your work?

anne vieux: i use a serial naming system for each body of work. the name for each body grows out of working on them, finding so essential content or word that comes into my mind while working on them. they are then named in order that they are made.

cultureisland: have you watched anything interesting lately?

anne vieux: nope, but i want to see ex machina!

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to eat, shop and see art around brooklyn?

anne vieux: for art, greenpoint terminal, interstate, signal, stream, small editions. for shopping, alter, chromat, bright lyons and urban jungle. for eating, pokito, zax and dotory.

small talk // daniel herr // painter

i recently rediscovered my love for painting through the work of a friend of a friend, daniel herr. my favorite gallery gal and close friend ellen introduced us this year and the two of us had the opportunity to visit his studio some sundays ago. daniel is a painter based in brooklyn and he's about to depart for two month long residencies, one in barcelona, spain and one in beijing, china. dan says, "all painting is some level of storytelling for me." he makes large abstract paintings using oil paint, acrylic, chalk pastel and charcoal. daniel starts by drawing without color, with little idea of what the end result will be. he works on his paintings for a long time, usually four at a time, starting simple and slowly building on basic forms and shapes. his work isn't about one thing; it's about multiple meanings. daniel references different objects and images, connecting the picture like a collage or a stream of consciousness. when a period of confusion strikes, dan will go see art to get inspired. and with the influence of technology, dan is constantly and deliberately choosing what to ignore. 

more about daniel below:

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

daniel herr: i'm from mill valley, california. i went to u.c. davis and boston university for art school, if you want to call it that. i learned the most about painting from just working in the studio. my teachers taught me how to think and then not listen to them. i originally studied music. my brother is a musician, but i'm not anymore. i let him worry about all that stuff. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your paintings.

daniel herr: i've always been drawn to gestural painting but i like pretty much all painting. i also like people who are really into other things like conceptual art who can tell me about it, since i don't do it or follow it that closely. i'm just into the painted image, getting lost in the story of the painted image. i paint environments. and i'm trying to communicate what it's like to be an artist in 2015, and sometimes even i don't know what that feels like. the work has changed most from meeting peers who see things differently. they either point out your smug self-centeredness, bore you, or blow your mind. it also just changes as you get older. you don't want to keep making the same work.

cultureisland: what is your artistic process?

daniel herr: i don't really have a formula for how i make my work. sometimes i work from photographs, or fragments of photographs. sometimes i use caricatures or symbols. the brushstroke is also its own symbol. often i make a good painting by accident, or because i was being un-disciplined, even though i think i have a pretty good painting discipline. there are a million ways to look at it. you could say "i deliberately create chaos" or "i get up every night at 3 am and put on a batman outfit." artists are always struggling to get to the new, and they don't ever seem to know exactly how to do it. the ones i've met, anyway. i just try to keep in mind that there's x amount of hours you need to spend locked in your studio, with no distractions. 

cultureisland: what role does color play in your work? are there specific colors you consistently utilize?

daniel herr: the colors are specific to each painting, to the place each painting came from. i don't know what the role of color is other than to attribute to the work some semblance of the living world. for some reason i've really liked using cerulean blue and unbleached titanium. not together though—too hideous.

cultureisland: what is your process for naming your artworks?

daniel herr: in terms of titles, i try and stay right at the edge of something absurd and something really meaningful. i have trouble naming some pictures and others i know what the name is before i even finish it. i just made a painting from a matisse postcard and i'm going to call it "blame matisse." everything has to have a name. i wish it could just have a number. in fact, i wish people could just have numbers.

cultureisland: if you had to choose any other medium, what would it be?

daniel herr: cinema has always been good to me and i'm jealous that i don't work in that medium. there seems to be so much good work being made now too. i can hardly keep up. just in the past year there was "nightcrawler", "irrational man," "the great beauty", and "citizenfour." but there are so many great classical filmmakers - malick, coppolla, herzog, rohmer, wenders, bergman, polanski. every time i see "amadeus" or "chinatown" i think: why didn't i make that? 

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

daniel herr: guston, hofmann, monet, frankenthaler, picasso, hockney, peter saul and krzysztof wodiczko.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

daniel herr: i like to listen to football games or lectures. if i'm listening to something really difficult i try and do some menial task, and if i'm really zoned in i don't listen to anything. it's weird because it's now another kind of bodily function for working people, having headphones in and carrying on in two worlds simultaneously. i like to think about how painters once lived when there wasn't anything to listen to but the brush. music is its own thing. i get that artists in new york have to plug in so they can cancel out the noise with good noise. there's a radio station in danbury, ct i listen to sometimes and late at night they play death metal. that's fun.

* check out more of daniel's work here // instagram *

small talk // kayla guthrie // singer + visual artist + writer

i first saw kayla guthrie's work at nada art fair this past may. there, her drawings with colored frames caught my eye. we recently met up to chat more about her work; kayla operates in several modes as a singer, visual artist and a writer. in her mind, these forms are not connected in a conceptual way but are all equally a part of who she is as a creative person. she tries to master her craft in all mediums and engage in a dialogue with different communities. kayla aligns her music with the art world and she performs her songs in art galleries/spaces, most recently while on tour in europe this summer. kayla previously released an ep titled blue with mixed media recordings. the inside cover features colored text detailing the history of the project, reminiscent of her visual art style (see below). in all that she does, kayla is both candid and confident. she recommends, "don't be afraid to spend money on your art. it will help you be who you are." wise words.

more about kayla below:

kayla guthrie //  extol  // 2015 // letterpress print in frame // 12 x 12 inches //  courtesy of bodega

kayla guthrie // extol // 2015 // letterpress print in frame // 12 x 12 inches // courtesy of bodega

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

kayla guthrie: i grew up on vancouver island in canada, in a suburban area surrounded by wilderness. i spent a lot of time playing in the forest, reading, and hanging out in the studio with my mom who is an artist. as i got older, music became a way of connecting with the outside world: going to shows in the city, buying vinyl, and making pen pals on the internet to exchange mix tapes with. i moved to the city of vancouver in 2003 to attend art school where i also sang in some local bands. improvisation, psychedelia and noise music were a deep influence on me, a surreal poetics that spoke to the contrasts of my surroundings: the natural beauty of the ocean, mountains, and trees combined with a sleazy drug-saturated underbelly and the dark urge to escape or disappear. by the time i graduated from school i felt hemmed in by the conservative image and expectations of being an artist in vancouver/canada. i always had a longing to be in new york, which seemed way more artistically and culturally diverse, somewhere you could make a living as an artist and be any kind of person you wanted to be. when i moved here 7+ years ago, i got a day job in the art world which brought me to performing in art settings, from galleries to dinners and after-parties. my music developed slowly, from a year-long collaboration with a friend to the solo project it is today, through years of performances and home recording experiments. during this time i also began publishing my writing, and more recently i’ve started showing visual art. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your music and art.

kayla guthrie: my music is really centered around my personality as a singer, and i create musical structures and lyrics to explore the different qualities and textures of my physical and written voice. i love the connection between poetry and music, and i feel like singing lyrics is a unique expressive opportunity that is super effective at bringing words alive. i see music less in terms of style and more as an abstract playground for morphing the self, similar to being in a dream where your identity is more malleable and fluid. the medium of visual art, for me, is somehow more directly linked to a relationship with an audience. so it becomes about how to present these internalized states i’m dealing with in my writing or drawing in a reflexive manner.

kayla guthrie // 5 of swords // 2015 // silkscreen on paper // 18 x 12 inches //  courtesy of u.s. blues

kayla guthrie // 5 of swords // 2015 // silkscreen on paper // 18 x 12 inches // courtesy of u.s. blues

cultureisland: what is your artistic process?

kayla guthrie: my approach is constantly changing, but in general i keep up practice in various techniques, like crafting lyrics and singing, or writing poetry, and from this regular habit i generate material for songs, writing or artwork. and when opportunities arise, i figure out how to present these materials so they can have the most impact in the particular space where they will be shown, whether it be a concert, art show, or publication. when i’m performing or showing art, i pay attention to environmental cues like lighting, placement, color choices. it’s a way of speaking to the subconscious level rather than making a direct statement. 

kayla guthrie //  no body no soul  // 2015 // silkscreen on paper //  courtesy of young art gallery

kayla guthrie // no body no soul // 2015 // silkscreen on paper // courtesy of young art gallery

cultureisland: how is your work as a singer and visual artist related? why do you perform in gallery scene vs. the music world?

kayla guthrie: to answer the first part of your question, the two activities are related in that they are both things that i do, however, there isn’t a clear link or conceptual reasoning behind doing both. i am just highly invested in each activity, to the point where they both feel like part of who i am, and the most authentic way to be is just to own that, even if it’s inconvenient on a practical level or doesn’t line up with the image of what an artist or a musician should be. i’m interested to see what happens when i don’t try to manage the overall outcome of my creative efforts. regarding why galleries vs. music venues: at the time i started playing music in new york, i was more socially enmeshed in the art world rather than the music scene, and was reading the same books, going to the same exhibitions, and having conversations with the people that frequented art galleries. so naturally i wanted to take part in what was going on by performing my music in those settings and being involved in that community. later, i began wanting to develop as a musician and that has drawn me toward the music scene in recent years. i find pleasure in being able to flow between the art and music realms, like speaking two different languages, each with their own set of untranslatable expressions known only to themselves. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your drawings. how did they come about?

kayla guthrie: mostly as a response to the challenge of showing writing in art galleries. drawing cartoons and trippy shit was something i did when i was in art school that my teachers always hated: it’s because they want you to learn to think through what you’re doing and not just obsessive-compulsively produce, which tends to become a habit for people who are good at drawing. writing became my way of continuing to chronicle the recesses of my mind like i did through drawing, and after i mastered some technical things it turned out to be a much more flexible tool, effective at depicting (mental) images while still feeling inherently personal. i brought the drawings back as a visual aid to the writing; it’s hard to feel enticed to read a block of text while standing in a gallery, but an illustrative motif can break the ice.

kayla guthrie //  n.v.  // 2015 // letterpress print in frame 12 x 12 inches //  courtesy of bodega

kayla guthrie // n.v. // 2015 // letterpress print in frame 12 x 12 inches // courtesy of bodega

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? what motivates you to create?

kayla guthrie: as mentioned earlier, i feel inspired by the different artistic worlds that i am a part of or privy to in new york, and the challenge of making art to present to different communities that i may be more or less comfortable with. i like the feeling that i am communing with something, whether that be the energy of this place and time, the people who live around me or find themselves at my shows, or my own emotions and abilities, allies and enemies. i want to overcome sadness and fear, to make people feel they are not alone and remind them of their own inner dignity. 

kayla guthrie //  tiger tattoo  // 2014 // letterpress print in frame // 15.75 x 22.75 inches //&nbsp; courtesy of u.s. blues

kayla guthrie // tiger tattoo // 2014 // letterpress print in frame // 15.75 x 22.75 inches // courtesy of u.s. blues

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

kayla guthrie: jutta koether, leslie winer, maggie lee, ida no, meredith monk.

cultureisland: have you watched anything interesting lately?

kayla guthrie: the light in my backyard before the sun went down today; dark gold, with no shadows. 

* check out more of kayla's work here // soundcloud // facebook // blue album *

small talk // jason andrew turner // visual artist

jason turner // ain't nothin ever happened //&nbsp;gauche on paper //&nbsp;22" x 30"

jason turner // ain't nothin ever happened // gauche on paper // 22" x 30"

i was very lucky to meet jason andrew turner a few months ago through our mutual friend felipe (tipi thieves). there's an interesting synergy between our career paths; jason has also worked in the fashion industry for a while, doing color for anthropologie before moving to brooklyn this year. as a visual artist, jason creates abstract drawings that beautifully strike a balance between the serious and the humorous. we sat down a few weeks ago at jason's studio to chat about his large body of work as well as his inspiring dedication to his craft. i would love to organize jason's first presentation of his work in new york!

more about jason below:

jason turner // void //&nbsp; gauche on paper&nbsp;//&nbsp;11" x 11"

jason turner // void // gauche on paper // 11" x 11"

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

jason turner: i’m from birmingham, alabama originally and moved around quite a bit when i was younger. i spent my most of my formative years in a small village outside of cambridge, england before moving back to birmingham to finish up high school. i gained my bfa at savannah college of art and design. after college, on a whim, i moved to philadelphia, pa. i heard of their encouraging and totally weirdo art scene accidentally stayed there for 9 years. while there i also worked as a color designer for the apparel company anthropologie for several years, moonlighting a career in art as well. philadelphia is an amazing city and really gave me the chance to hone my aesthetic and force a lot of honesty into my work. a few months ago i made the move to brooklyn, resting my head in boerum hill and working out of a studio in bushwick.

cultureisland: tell us more about your art.

jason turner: i predominately make drawings on paper, but work in a number of mediums. currently my primary focus are line based “landscapes” that i started making around 2010 and have evolved to what they are now. i use graphite, ink, and gouache in a very methodical process based manner,  but also reliant on a more intuitive aesthetic play. i also make intimate portraits of people that don’t exist (and those that do), as well as more playful though ambiguous illustrative work.

cultureisland: what is your creative process? what led you to select drawing as a medium?

jason turner: i’m perpetually stuck between over thinking how ridiculous it is to make art or being totally stoked that i’m doing the same marks for 10 hours. so basically everyday is an adventure! i keep about 3 separate sketchbooks going at any given time, so i use those to work out ideas regardless if it comes to fruition in my studio. i have no idea what life would be like without a sketchbook, and urge everyone in the world to keep one, artist or not.

i bounce around a lot in my studio, always working on a number of things at various stages of seriousness. if i’m getting bogged down at my drawing table i’ll get on the floor to cut up scrap paper and spray paint on a collage. if that gets too loose (or my lungs start hurting) i’ll move to the wall and work on something there.  i think this way of working bridges the different lines of thought and dialog i’m having with myself at different levels of gravity. despite my diligence  with a sketch book, i tend not to lay out or plan the bulk of my drawings, letting them come more intuitively. at times i will work from a thumbnail, but more often times the narrative will be with me and i will build the story from there with each gestural line.

when i first moved to philadelphia, my work was a continuation of what i was creating in college; mostly figurative large scale oil paintings that were colorful, expressive, and full of angst. after a while i was exhausted of making this work and needed to take a step back.  i always made drawings, but they were always for a different purpose, and i never thought anything past that. so i started playing around, making drawings and grinding down graphite to use it like paint. my studio mates at the time were like “where the hell did this come from? make more!” and were super encouraging, so i kept at it. in the beginning my drawings were very representational  and slowly over time i became more and more deconstructed in form and in mark making. it all happened very fluidly and evolved to a more minimal but busy place.

cultureisland: tell us more about your factory drawings, landscapes and gravestones. what do they each represent?

jason turner: i started the factory drawings as color studies for fashion color palettes, balancing out the way i wanted to use the colors within a collection. the factories, are a direct result of my conflicting feelings on the industrial complex that is consumer fashion.  i mean, it's pretty gross if you really get to the brass tax of it. not only are the people making the clothes overseas, more often than not taken advantage of, but the consumerist blindness of origin, pollutants, and cost can be really soul sucking when you’re looking from the inside out. so my drawings became a way to look at that duality, beautiful colors arranged in a thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing way, to make a woman feel beautiful, and the ugliness of its production, and consequences on community.

the landscapes became about dismantling form and narrative from traditional landscapes. the subject matter is typically rooted in larger social narratives that are playing out in the world, mixed with my own fictional narratives. for me there is a very straight forward story line with a cast of characters, and location focal points, but they all exist in a space that is free from time. it's almost as though i approach them as a set maker; including all the information of the environment and its “props”, but excluding any stage direction. what happens in this invented landscape is decided by the viewers participation within the space to discover their own narrative. for instance, when you walk out onto the street you’re not seeing the same street scene as someone that was standing in the exact place 1 minute before. basically, they’re as much about the space between the dense lines as they are about the lines themselves. 

my gravestones are very simple and totally became part of my practice by accident. i make them in waves, typically  when something happens in the world and i’m prompted by the medias reaction to it. i can look at each graveyard scene and tell you exactly what happened in the news that week. i then fill the balance of stones with mortality jokes. i’ve always loved word play, so these are my way of taking the piss of death. nothing gets me down!

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration?

jason turner: oh geez, i find inspiration literally everywhere. i think conversation with friends or strangers or even general people watching can help you look through the eyes of others and reconsider view points, to help see less narrow views of things. i take a lot of pictures on the street of useless things that i may or may not ever look at again, but i basically just look around a lot and try and listen and be open to new things at all times.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

jason turner: i’ve always been obsessed with albrecht durer, egon schiele, anni albers (and her husband josef). as for contemporaries i really dig eric yahnker, yuichi yokoyama, and my buddy ryan beck is a constant influence

jason turner //&nbsp;a conversation // sumi ink on paper //&nbsp;22" x 30"

jason turner // a conversation // sumi ink on paper // 22" x 30"

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

jason turner: i’m always listening to a lot different things, it really depends on my mood or what i’m doing. lately in the studio i’ve been playing a lot of the make up, can, les rallizes dénudés, and joan of arc. the new unknown mortal orchestra record “multi love” is pretty on point too! 

jason turner // (untitled) maniac // mixed media on panel // 12" x 9"

jason turner // (untitled) maniac // mixed media on panel // 12" x 9"

cultureisland: have you watched anything interesting lately?

jason turner: ex machina was amazing, i really can’t give it enough praise right now. i’m also obsessed with the bbc4 series “what do artists do all day” -- really interesting 30 minute docs about a wide range of artists and their practices in a very casual manner (and they’re all on youtube!)

* check out more of jason's work here // instagram *

small talk // rose jaffe // illustrator + visual artist // washington, d.c.

rose jaffe at the story park mural in noma //&nbsp;part of 50 artists painting on a parking lot - one of the largest public art pieces in the washington area&nbsp;

rose jaffe at the story park mural in noma // part of 50 artists painting on a parking lot - one of the largest public art pieces in the washington area 

i first met rose jaffe in art school at the university of michigan back in 2007. i didn't know rose very well in school. she's always had a distinct artistic style and self-confidence that i seriously admire. it's interesting to see how her illustration work has evolved from drawing to painting to graffiti over the years. rose just goes for it and does her thing and it's inspiring and wicked cool. now she is based in dc so we recently caught up over the phone about our creative projects. i would love to organize an alumni show someday soon.

more about rose below:

rose jaffe //&nbsp;wood burned and acrylic painted funky ladies to be installed at a local coffee shop

rose jaffe // wood burned and acrylic painted funky ladies to be installed at a local coffee shop

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

rose jaffe: i was born and raised in washington, d.c. i went to school at the university of michigan school of art & design and had a wonderful four years in ann arbor. i moved back to washington after and have found a welcoming, growing art scene here. i feel like i am rediscovering the city as a young adult and truly loving what dc has to offer -- as an artist and member of the community. 

rose jaffe //&nbsp;"four women" mural at the  fridge , local gallery in dc

rose jaffe // "four women" mural at the fridge, local gallery in dc

cultureisland: tell us more about your art.

rose jaffe: i am a trained illustrator -- i have a true passion for drawing. however lately i have been doing more painting, small and large scale. as an art teacher i always play with various mediums and enjoy the challenge of switching up the medium -- from printmaking to painting and even sculpture. the medium for me is just the form of expression, the language in which your art speaks. exploring new ways of “speaking” through art excites me. all of my work is figurative - with most focus on portraits. faces, bodies, expressions, fascinate me, and i never tire of drawing and painting them. 

cultureisland: how did your recent series, women in color, come about?

rose jaffe: women in color was an exploration and celebration of the community of women that have inspired me and fostered my growth as an artist post college. most of the portraits were of specific artists i have worked with or been mentored by, and others are interpretations of women with vibrant colors, sacred geometry symbols and dynamic forms of expression. all pieces were done on wood using a wood burning tool, wood stain and acrylic paint. 

rose jaffe // wheatpasted portraits

rose jaffe // wheatpasted portraits

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration?

rose jaffe: my community. my students. and sometimes pinterest. 

rose jaffe //&nbsp;wood cut out piece from her recent series women in color

rose jaffe // wood cut out piece from her recent series women in color

cultureisland: what is the dc art scene like?

rose jaffe: the dc art scene might look completely different depending on who you are talking to. for me, it mostly revolves around my studio space, 2b studios. i make my work there, host small events and use it as a place to bring artists together to talk, scheme and create. beyond that there are some wonderful galleries in the area that are constantly showing impressive works from civilian art projects to hamiltonian gallery. and of course, the extensive smithsonian museums provide endless hours of inspiration with some of the best resources and impressive collections from around the world. 

rose jaffe //&nbsp;"uprising" a collaborative piece with  kate deciccio  in solidarity with the protests in baltimore

rose jaffe // "uprising" a collaborative piece with kate deciccio in solidarity with the protests in baltimore

* check out more of rose's work here // follow her on instagram  *

small talk // daryl seitchik // cartoonist

i've known my good friend daryl seitchik since we were fourteen. we took ap studio art in high school as well as private lessons at the same art studio. then, daryl made a lot of realistic self portrait paintings and also kept an online journal that documented both funny and incredibly personal moments from her adolescence. she put it all out there and it was bold, brave and incredibly intimidating for the rest of us teens too immature to deal with our feelings. daryl was always interested in both art and writing. in the last few years, she has started making comics combining both of her interests in a seamless, inventive way. her work is still just as clever and funny as ever. now she's living in philly and we met up when i was there in january. daryl mentioned her desire to join a band and sing on stage. i have no doubt she would do that seamlessly too.

more about daryl below:

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

daryl seitchik: i spent my childhood in a suburb of philadelphia and my teen years in a suburb of new jersey, drawing all night and day. in college, i majored in art history/visual arts and unofficially spent most of my time studying and making comics. now i'm back in cheap old philadelphia, doing the same thing.

cultureisland: tell us more about your comics + the missy series. how did you start creating this kind of work?

daryl seitchik: i started keeping a diary when i was seven. my mom gave it to me after she and my dad separated and i named it missy because that was the name of the diary she had kept until she was grown up. she put all the volumes in a box in her parents’ attic, and at some point years later my grandma threw it out. when i first started my diary, i felt like i was bringing missy back to life. like most kids i also felt too much too often, so writing down my feelings gave them more clarity and significance. comics came to me a bit later. as a kid, i wrote and illustrated my own stories, but it wasn’t until i was a junior in college that i began to take cartooning seriously. the incredible diary comics of julie doucet and gabrielle bell inspired me to make my own terrible ones. it took me two years just to learn how to draw myself. and another to realize i could turn missy into a strip. the comic quickly developed its own life, one that is based on my experiences, but i’m more interested in mining them for emotional truths than in portraying “what really happened.” i never saw the sinking of the titanic, for example, but that’s what 8th grade felt like.  the middle school entries are the most fun, because i get to use hyperbolic metaphors like that and most of the text i copy verbatim from my diary. the entries from high school and up require a lot more editing or, in many cases, complete re-writing. i often have to condense 5+ pages of whining in my tiny handwriting into five short sentences. at this point, i’m comfortable enough with all the different narrative voices in the strip that i don’t need to read missy as much for material. it’s more exciting to make shit up, anyway. and probably better for my mental health. i often have to remind myself that i’m not a drawing.

cultureisland: you're working on two books right now, can you tell us more about them?

daryl seitchik: the first book will be one to three short stories, coming out from koyama press in fall 2016. right now, i’m working on the first one, which is also my first work of fiction. i’m excited about it, but i don’t want to say more yet. the other book is a missy collection, coming out from the same publisher in 78 years. so far, i’ve completed a little over 100 pages, most of which are online, and now i'm working on the other 100+ exclusively for the book. i’ll still post strips online, but not as often as before.

cultureisland: what is your creative process?

daryl seitchik: i stare at the pile of rubble across from my house, identify with it, and cry. then i draw cartoons.

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? who are some of your favorite artists?

daryl setichik: to answer your first question, just from life! being conscious is so cool. i have too many favorite artists, especially in the comics world, so i’ll just name some whose recent work i feel strongly about. sophia foster-dimino draws so precisely, her lines cut into your soul! i’d start with her sex fantasy series. lala albert is the queen of the uncanny and her most recent comics, janus and r.a.t., perfectly capture the absurdity of life on/offline. gg is a genius. and my friend nate zeidman makes amazing paintings. i already mentioned julie doucet and gabrielle bell as heroes. add to that list leslie steinjohn porcellino, and chris ware. also, the work of virginia woolf and edvard munch changed the way i see and thanks to 7 years of blasting my bloody valentine, i have mild tinnitus.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to see art in philly?

daryl seitchik: little berlin, because i love the space. it’s in this beautiful old textile mill with a gravel yard haunted by stray cats and it has a zine library. locust moon comics is my favorite comics shop in philly, and the art gallery part always has gorgeous original pages on the walls. like little berlin, there are cats, too. magical cats named inky and rooster who nap in half-empty boxes of superhero comics.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

daryl seitchik: right now? i’m listening to white noise. in a minute, i’m going to put on hole, because i’m pms-ing. 

cultureisland: have you watched anything interesting lately?

daryl seitchik:  just finished paranoia agent, an anime series by satoshi kon. i love everything he's done, but this show is literally mind-blowing. each episode focuses on a victim of “lil’ slugger,” this mysterious teenage boy who knocks people out cold with a bent metal bat. the only thing all his victims have in common is that they were trapped in desperate situations before they were attacked. you get deep inside their heads, and see how their secret fears and fantasies distort their perceptions of reality. it’s beautifully animated. last year, i watched another amazing anime series called lain. it’s from the late 90’s, but i have yet to find another show that so profoundly explores the nightmarish side of the internet. i binge-watched it on youtube.   

 * check out more of daryl's work here // tumblr // etsy *

small talk // damion silver // visual artist

damion silver is a former coworker from converse. there, he is the design director for the men's all star / chuck taylor footwear line. his creative work outside of the office has always intrigued me so we recently reconnected and i picked his brain about his creative journey, artistic process and his combines featured here. damion grew up going to flea markets with his mom. it was skateboarding as a teenager that really exposed him to everything; the graphic language of skateboarding inspired him to explore album art, graffiti and later painting, ceramics and drawing. in high school, he took shop class, worked on cars and did industrial arts. he learned how to work a letterpress and started making tees, business cards and posters. at only fourteen he knew he wanted to do graphic arts. he went onto community college and later a state school where he studied fine arts, philosophy and graphic design. he bought a mac computer and started a freelance design business. he did logos, rave flyers and also worked at an animation company for a few years. he then moved to philly where he worked at a cabinet shop and then a foundry where he made art for major fine artists. around this time, nike bought converse and they started hiring their target consumers. so it was in 2006 that damion was hired to design the urban and heritage basketball lines. some eleven years later, damion is now heading up the men's footwear design team. while i was working there, we collaborated on a couple projects and also went to art basel miami together. damion is a supremely talented, laid back and an overall rad dude. we share some mutual inspirations, like robert rauschenberg and bill withers. i love how damion translates his collected objects and ideas three dimensionally and i'm excited to see how his work will continue to evolve in the future.

more about damion below:

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

damion silver: i was born and raised in new britain, connecticut or as we called it "hard hittin new britain." stanley tools was from there. anyway i lived there with my mom 'til i was 11. spent a lot of time with my grandparents, who helped raise me. i was a normal kid i guess. played baseball, rode bikes, watched mtv and hung out with a lot of older kids, which always led to trouble. we moved to bristol, conneticut, home of espn when i was 11 and things flipped once i moved there. i got into skateboarding and met the first art teacher who really pushed me. that was 7th grade and when i got to high school i took intro to shop class, you know cad, wood shop, cars and graphic arts. there i learned how to make silk screens, letter press and offset press. at 14 i knew that was it. graphic design and art was what i wanted to do from that point on.

cultureisland: tell us more about your art.

damion silver: right now i make assemblages or rather combines. i use reclaimed materials, found objects, silkscreens, spray paint, transfers, and combine them into abstract & geometric forms. combined, these fragments of images, textures and colors create a new harmonious narrative for the viewer to decipher. 

cultureisland: tell us more about your creative process and your combines.

damion silver: the combines i make now, process wise is very fluid. i have piles and crates full of material all over my studio. i generally clean off one of my work stations, dig around in a stack of wood. i wait for a piece to speak to me, catch my eye or maybe i've acquired some new materials that i'm just stoked on using. this could set the tone for a color palette or the over all shape of the piece. other times i'll cut out a base shape like a circle or square or whatever and use that as the framework. from that initial selection i look for a complimentary piece all while incorporating stacking, shifting, and juxtaposing texture, color or shape. i might cut it, distress it. or break it until it feels like it has the right placement and feels good. then it's a step and repeat process. sometimes i'll hang a piece that's in process, draw in areas that need more materials. rounding and balancing the pieces until it's complete. each piece is unique and different from the next. they can take a few days or they can take months. as for acquiring materials, i am a bit of a scavenger. i hit flea markets, yard sales, garbage days, railroad tracks. sometimes you just need to liberate materials as well. lately i've been on the train a lot so i'm planning a track hunt too. i've been seeing a lot of good material by the tracks. i purposely bought a car with space to be able to load materials and work. the pieces are little capsules of everyday life. combining past and present language and form. we are bombarded, overloaded with visual stimulants all day everyday. from the tv to our phones to the cities and people we interact with. these pieces capture fragments of that chaos, balancing it through form and structure.

cultureisland: how has your art evolved? how would you like it to evolve in the future?

damion silver: my work is always evolving. new techniques, new materials. i used to do a lot of collage work. some of my older work was more figurative, it's an evolution and a combination of skills and techniques i've learned since as far back as i can remember. my new work has been something i've been wanting to create for sometime now. i wanted to evolve from my collage work into a new space with more depth and dimension. instead of engaging people with figures it's more through form and dimension. there's a freedom in allowing the materials to speak to you. letting them be what they are and not overworking them. sure i still add in bits and pieces of my figures here and there. but only as accents to the overall composition. when i started working in a cabinet shop around 14 years ago, i started using wood, cutting out shapes, characters and epoxying them in the streets. that evolved into making larger wood pieces that incorporate techniques and such i've learned since i was 14. in the future, i would like to do some site specific work and some large installations. it would be great to go to another country and make work out of all the debris and detritus found. give it a new life.

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration?

damion silver: inspiration is everywhere. i travel a lot so going to new places is always cool and inspirational, meeting new people, my kid inspires me and my wife has a great eye for things. i really think it's all around us. it's just looking at things the right way, or just being open to being inspired. i'm always looking.

cultureisland: who are some of your favorite artists?

damion silver: i have to say robert rauschenberg is a huge inspiration. his combines are just amazing, techniques and breath of work. he rules it. james turrell, ben venom, aj fosik, kenji nakayama, there are too many folks to list.

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

damion silver: i'm all over the map, om, burning spear, ho99o9, ex cult, american sharks, james brown, bill withers -- he rules! depends on the mood and day.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to see art, shop, get coffee, eat and hang out around boston?

damion silver: lot f gallery, ica, for art there's a new spot thomas young gallery opened so i'm headed there next week. when i'm in boston, i hang with my friend kenji nakayama @ his studio. he's usually got some beers and great art going on. beyond that, i like to post up at home with a good whiskey and some records the studio. i'm a homebody.

* check out  more of damion's work here // follow him on instagram *

small talk // jessica butler // visual artist

i first met jessica butler at the recent printed matter exhibit, learn to read art: a surviving history of printed matter at 80wse gallery. founded in 1976 by artists sol lewitt and lucy lippard, printed matter is a nonprofit bookstore dedicated to publications made by artists. this exhibit, which chronicled the visual history of the store, overwhelmed me with inspiration through its eclectic mix of art books, zines, graphic posters and exhibition invites. there, i bought several publications which have become bibles for me (including please come to the show, which is about exhibition-related ephemera from the moma). jessica was there working the exhibit. as she rang me up, we quickly got to chatting about her background and experience working for printed matter, our mutually favorite store. over thai food a few weeks later, i learned that jess is an exceptionally rad chick who draws as well as makes zines and comics. she's intimidatingly cool, well-spoken, laid back and confident. i'm excited to keep our inspiring convos going.

more about jessica below:

jessica butler //  taking a moment&nbsp; // 2014 //acrylic paint on wood //&nbsp;36" x 1" x 30"

jessica butler // taking a moment // 2014 //acrylic paint on wood // 36" x 1" x 30"

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

jessica butler: i grew up in a small lake community in northern new jersey where i had one best friend, watched a lot of movies, read, made art and did angsty teen things like blowing out my best friend’s car speakers listening to the pixies on our way to the thrift store. it’s sort of funny to look back on things like that; some of it almost feels like a caricature of the suburban angsty kid, but for me it was so genuine and real and i hadn’t been exposed to too much outside of the world i created, so i couldn’t get jaded or hyper-self-aware yet. i sort of appreciate it, though; i feel like being secluded in suburbia forced me to cultivate my own interests and really seek them out. i like that i had the internet before there were too many websites that curated amazing selections of music, movies and art. it feels maybe a little too easy now? i definitely appreciate having so many incredible resources and guides today that you can find tailored to your tastes, but there’s something to be said about spending a full day clicking through the wfmu free music archives blindly, listening to 100s of song samples and finally finding one band that you’re really psyched on.

in college i studied film history and art, with a focus on drawing and illustration. i actually went into college thinking i was going to study experimental filmmaking and mixed-media/sculpture and my path completely changed. i never ended up taking any filmmaking classes (with the exception of one animation class), though i’d really like to try it one of these days. as for art, i had signed up for a sculpture class, then in the last moments of registration realized it conflicted with a film history class i really wanted to take, so i ended up signing up for the advanced printmaking class. that was a huge game changer for me. i had never done silk screening before, and i loved the aesthetic of it, as well as the idea of creating multiples so you could give them out to your friends. not long into the class, i realized scanned mixed-media work didn’t quite translate into silk screen prints the way i wanted them to, so i started drawing again. i hadn’t really drawn since high school, and those were all more realistic graphite drawings because that’s all the teachers ever really told us we could draw. one day i got fed up with drawing realistically. while I have so much respect for that form of drawing, i wasn’t finding it fulfilling for my own practice. i have this really specific memory of crumpling up a drawing i had just finished of a well-rendered hand, quickly scribbling this goofy, completely warped looking excuse for a hand and feeling the best i had felt about a work i’d made in a very long time.

jessica butler //  girls! girls! girls!  //&nbsp;2014 //&nbsp;letterpress on paper //&nbsp;5" x 5"

jessica butler // girls! girls! girls! // 2014 // letterpress on paper // 5" x 5"

cultureisland: tell us more about your art.

jessica butler: my work deals primarily with language in relation to the nuances of existing in that crazy thing called life. in many ways my art is super personal, and can almost function as a diary for me. that said, i also hope that it can resonate with the viewer too; that they can make it personal for themselves, relate to it or find something in it that maybe wasn’t even originally intended. i often hear that we’re at a point where there can be no entirely “new” art. while in many ways i believe this to be true, i also believe that what we can do as contemporary artists is use the medium to express our personal perspectives of things. one of the coolest things about being a human is that no one is entirely identical to you. we all have our own experiences, ways of handling these experiences; our own observations and ways of interpreting these observations. even if we are aesthetically borrowing from a certain art movement, if we can convey these things that are unique to us, i think that is still new and exciting. if someone looks at my work and sees something in a way that they hadn’t considered before, then i’ll know i’ve done something right. i think the title of that john berger book ways of seeing is always in the back of my head. to be honest, i’ve started that book so many times and still somehow haven’t finished it, but the title is always what has stuck with me the most. all of that heavier stuff aside, though, even if one of my pieces just makes someone laugh, i’m psyched!   

jessica butler //  smile sounds  //&nbsp;2013 //&nbsp;graphite and glitter crayon on paper //&nbsp;22" x 21"

jessica butler // smile sounds // 2013 // graphite and glitter crayon on paper // 22" x 21"

cultureisland: what is your creative process?

jessica butler: most pieces begin with a phrase, a one-liner, a series of words or multiple sentences. from there i come up with the imagery i’d like to associate with these words and what they mean for me – how i can visually convey this thought or feeling. while the text is central to all of my pieces, i don’t always choose to include it in the actual piece. more often than not i keep the text, but sometimes once i come up with the image the text can feel like overkill or can come off as contrived or corny. sometimes i’ll also come up with an idea or observation and can’t come up with words that feel right for it. in those cases, forcing a text would just take away from the piece. a good amount of time is spent perfecting the text, deciding how it should be integrated into the piece, and choosing if it should be included at all. i don’t keep a sketchbook, really, which i feel like maybe sometimes disappoints people or comes as a surprise. i just keep a little notebook full of words – these observations and phrases that come into my head, even if they don’t seem very interesting or good at first. sometimes different texts can take a long time to finally be put into what i feel is “proper use.” i had this one sentence, for example: “is it wrong that i don’t have a favorite flower?” that sort of haunted me for a while for whatever reason. i used it on its own in a few pieces, until finally it came together with this other text i wrote many months later, which eventually turned into my first mini-comic love me not.

jessica butler //  love me not  //&nbsp;2015 // risograph mini-comic on pastel pink paper, staple bound //&nbsp;7 pages, 4.25" x 5.5"

jessica butler // love me not // 2015 // risograph mini-comic on pastel pink paper, staple bound // 7 pages, 4.25" x 5.5"

cultureisland: how did you get into making zines and comics?

jessica butler: i first started getting into making zines after i stumbled upon the printed matter store back in high school. i remember feeling completely overwhelmed in the best way, paging through a few hours worth of zines and artists’ books and feeling like this entire new world had just been opened up for me. it was a huge game changer. since then, i’ve interned with them, volunteered at the nyabf and more recently worked at their pop-up shop and exhibition on the history of printed matter called learn to read art: a surviving history of printed matter at 80wse gallery. that was a really wonderful experience; that’s actually where i printed love me not! there was a print shop residency as part of the exhibition and i was able to use the risograph machine that endless editions loaned to print it up. i think riso printing is my favorite method of printing right now, and it seems to be having a bit of resurgence, too. anyway, my heart is really in the zine/artist book (or as my friends and i like to call them: “small flat books”). i think they’re a great way to get your work out there and reach an audience outside of your immediate realm. you can literally put anything you’d like in them, so they allow for a lot of experimentation, different content and mediums. plus, i’m pretty awful at parting from my work, so working in multiples is a great way for me to share it with others. while love me not was my first time making an actual comic, my work is largely influenced by comics both in the use of text and aesthetics. i think it’s a really exciting medium that is able to utilize text when image fails, and image when text fails. together, they’re super powerful, because i really believe there are certain things we just don’t have words for. that’s not to say i don’t love comics without any text, too! those i often find more challenging in a way, but just as powerful. they just sometimes take a bit more time to sink in for me. i don’t know why it took me so long to finally make a comic; it’s something i’d been wanting to do for a while as someone who also loves reading them. it seemed like a natural progression. it can be intimidating though; there is so much that needs to be considered, from the words and content, to the images and panels and how you want to format the panels. then there’s timing and pacing and strange positions and angles that don’t exist in stock photos. i still have a lot to learn, but i’m planning on making many more, especially since my studio space right now is a drawing table in my bedroom.

cultureisland: tell us more about your recent zine love me not (above).

jessica butler: love me not is my first ever venture into making comics – something i’d been wanting to do for a while. most of the text in the comic originally came from this experience i had where my mom had fallen in the garden and scraped up her leg pretty bad. my dad found out and bought her a bouquet of flowers on his way home from work. later, after he had given them to her, my mom turned to me and said, “your father chose such strange flowers! i don’t know what he was thinking. he knows i love roses!” that really got me thinking about the gestures of things versus the actual physical things. as i worked on storyboarding the comic, though, it began to develop a second layer of meaning for me. i became really interested in the “s/he loves me, s/he loves me not” game of plucking petals, as well as the gender stereotypes and connotations surrounding flowers and flower giving. i wanted to reclaim these and make them empowering for the female protagonist in the comic.

jessica butler //  he loves me...not!  //&nbsp;2014 //&nbsp;acrylic and spray paint on wood //&nbsp;46” x 45” x 1”

jessica butler // he loves me...not! // 2014 // acrylic and spray paint on wood // 46” x 45” x 1”

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration? who are some of your favorite artists?

jessica butler: i find that i’m mostly inspired by my friends and those surrounding me who are creating work – not necessarily drawing or illustration, either. two of my very close friends, livia charman and kayla ephros, keep a poetry blog called “mega bed” that is endlessly inspiring. i have found that i draw off of the excitement and enthusiasm of making things, regardless of the form. i find a lot of inspiration in comics and zines. some of my favorite comic artists at the moment are c.f., carlos gonzales (he recently came out with a new comic, scab county, that i highly recommend!), lale westvind, aisha franz, lala albert, anya davidson, noel friebert, html flowers, patrick kyle, molly colleen o’connell, brie moreno, mickey zacchilli, rory hayes, maren karlson, jonny negron and aidan koch. i was also recently introduced to moebius, which has sent me down this rabbit hole of philippe druillet and ‘70s sci-fi book cover art. additionally, i’m a huge horror movie fan (particularly ‘60s – ‘80s), so i definitely think that finds its way into my work. i collect a lot of horror/gross-out paraphernalia like garbage pail kids and toxic high school trading cards, which actually have amazing illustrations and have definitely influenced my drawing style.

jessica butler //  patti break  //&nbsp;2014 // acrylic paint on wood //&nbsp;63" x 11.5" x 48"

jessica butler // patti break // 2014 // acrylic paint on wood // 63" x 11.5" x 48"

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to see art in nyc/brooklyn?

jessica butler: my favorite places to see art in new york are probably printed matter inc. and the comic book store desert island. they both carry work by a ton of contemporary artists and illustrators who don’t typically get “new york gallery” exposure. booklyn, greenpoint terminal gallery, and tomato house also all put up some great exhibitions. i also recently went to the nick payne show at 247365 gallery, which was perfect. for films and video work i like light industry, spectacle theatre, and nitehawk in brooklyn.

jessica butler //  important questions  //&nbsp;2014 //&nbsp;silk screen // 11.5" x 8"

jessica butler // important questions // 2014 // silk screen // 11.5" x 8"

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

 jessica butler: what i listen to is usually dependent on my mood, the weather or season, so it’s constantly changing. right now though, i’ve been listening to a lot of odwalla88 and j.r.h.n.b.r.(both baltimore based), algebra suicide, donnie & joe emerson, suburban lawns, cranes, chicklette, liz phair (the girly sound days), ashrae fax, and the excess verbiage album by partly cloudy. i also try and see container play live whenever i can.

jessica butler // page from zine crawlers vol. 1&nbsp;//&nbsp;2014 - 15 //&nbsp;graphite on paper //&nbsp;5.5" x 5.25"

jessica butler // page from zine crawlers vol. 1 // 2014 - 15 // graphite on paper // 5.5" x 5.25"

cultureisland: have you watched anything inspiring lately?

jessica butler: i tend to watch a lot of horror movies, but i’ve had to take a bit of a break – i think i was overdoing it a little, and have been wanting something else out of my movies lately. i’ve watched quite a few incredible films recently, including picnic at hanging rock, belle de jour, red desert, walkabout, a nos amour, fantastic planet and three colors: red. i did break my non-horror hiatus for fascination by jean rollin, which was really visually beautiful. also finally got around to seeing paris, texas and shed a tear or two, which i think is always a good sign

* check out  more of jessica's work here // follow her on instagram + tumblr // purchase her love me not zine at printed matter, desert island + on her site here *

small talk // brooke t. winfrey // ceramicist

i first came across btw ceramics, run by brooke t. winfrey, at capsule women's tradeshow in february. the simple silhouettes with slight irregular patterns caught my eye and a few months later, i had the chance to visit brooke's studio in greenpoint, brooklyn. i was immediately taken with brooke's easy going and modest personality as well as her intuitive approach to ceramics. after some eight years of making ceramics, brooke simply makes stuff she thinks looks neat and just goes with it. she enjoys making things people can use as a way to feel connected to what she's creating. and according to brooke, "you can always find a way to change things and make them work." well said.

more about brooke below:

cultureisland: tell us more about you.

brooke t. winfrey: i grew up in tulsa, oklahoma but from a young age wanted to explore. i travelled a decent amount, but as soon as i landed in new york, i knew i'd found my spot. the diverse eclectic culture in nyc is just so rad. i'm still a big fan so many years later. i had a few random jobs, working at non-profits and various office jobs but i was always doing ceramics on the side. anytime i wasn't working, i had clay in my hands. i think my relationship to clay really changed was when i first used porcelain. there was something about how malleable but finicky it was that really drew me in and made my mind spin in circles with ideas and possibilities. i made a body of work that all had slight irregularities including my striped dinnerware series and everything took off from there.

cultureisland: tell us more about btw ceramics.

brooke t. winfrey: btw ceramics is my ceramics company. all products are made in greenpoint, brooklyn. i started in 2012 with a line of striped dinnerware with a distinct handmade touch. i focus on creative details like uneven lines or subtle irregular texture. the object's unmistakable handmade feel embraces the playful nature of clay and draws attention to the creation process. as the designer and creator, i approach each piece as its own creation where the irregularities are embraced. each piece is handformed either on the wheel or with various hand building and painting techniques, so that the irregular details that characterize each piece are never alike. the minimal shape of the forms and focus on porcelain as the primary material juxtaposes the white smooth, silky porcelain against the graphic hand painted designs.

cultureisland: how did you get into making ceramics?

brooke t. winfrey: it was pretty random! i took an art class at hunter and one of our assignments was to make chess pieces out of air dry clay. i spent a ridiculous amount of hours building labyrinth figures as my chess pieces and realized i really liked using my hands to create. from there, i took classes at various hobby studios and just never stopped.

btw ceramics // small serving bowl

btw ceramics // small serving bowl

cultureisland: what is your creative process?

brooke t. winfrey: a lot of it is experimentation. i might have a vague idea for a new shape or design that i start making. as i'm working with the clay, my ideas usually change and morph as the piece takes shape in front of me. for the painting and etching part, i go with how i feel in the moment and keep the designs as expressive as i can, not worrying about the replication process and making each piece the same. i try not to judge as i'm going but when i get to an end point and i still don't like what i see, i just start over. if i like what i've done, i set it aside and revisit it the next day to see if it still resonates. i think being willing to make something really ugly is part of the process and a lot of pots have to be crushed before i'm happy with a new design.

cultureisland: how has your ceramics style evolved since you started?

brooke t. winfrey: i'd say it's a lot more refined at this point. in a way my ceramic style is fairly minimal. i'm usually either drawn to very simple shapes with bold glazing or really crazy intricate shapes with very simple glazing. when the shape and the glaze are both really intricate, the pieces usually don't speak to me in the same way. i can recognize the talent and patience it takes to create those pieces, but in my making life i'm really drawn to some minimalism. it took me making many ugly, over the top, bizarre non-functional cups and bowls to figure out that simple silhouettes with graphic glaze are my jam.

cultureisland: has teaching ceramics affected your own work?

brooke t. winfrey: definitely. it made me pay a lot more attention to why certain techniques are successful and how to break down in a detailed, accessible way how to make a piece from beginning to end. there is an explanation for everything that happens with clay and figuring out the exact reason something happened to a piece down to the molecular level is part of the fun. in saying that, i fully admit and embrace my clay nerd status. i love every part of ceramics so whenever i get to discuss it with other people, i am in my happy place. i like teaching people who are just starting out and helping them on their journey reminds me of my own journey.

cultureisland: where do you find inspiration?

brooke t. winfrey: i feel like my ceramics are a mash up of what i see and experience on a day to day basis. in antique and vintage stores, the shapes of various home goods really stand out to me. months later, i'll remember a random glass pitcher or a copper teapot or some old school ceramic cups. i'll consciously or subconsciously work small elements of these into a piece, even if it's just the slightest hint of a curve. small changes in angles and silhouettes can affect a ceramic object in a big way.

cultureisland: what are your favorite places to shop, eat, hang out and grab coffee around greenpoint?

brooke t. winfrey: i don't shop much but dusty rose vintage is awesome for good old clothes that are actually affordable. i get coffee from cup every single morning. it's what gets me out of bed! homecoming is a rad spot too for coffee, plants and handmade goods. if i'm not in my studio, i'm in a neighborhood park soaking up sun whenever possible. during winter, i'm pretty much always in my studio. clay is still so fun for me but i probably should try to find a new hobby!

cultureisland: what are you listening to right now?

brooke t. winfrey: the shangri las.

* check out more of brooke's work here // follow her on instagram  *

* also be sure to read this ny magazine guide to urban claymaking, where brooke is listed as a leader of the indie ceramics renaissance! *