Thursday, May 31, 2012

The value of art and design

An interesting post came up on a Google group that I subscribe to recently: a call for a contest design for a jersey.

I responded and out of it came a very interesting discussion. I value aesthetics, beautiful art, gorgeous bicycles, well designed and well thought out clothing, furniture...all of it. I often spend a long time making decisions about things because I weigh the looks and design of the thing very heavily. Those things matter very much to me.

I am an artist and a designer, but I don't pay the rent this way. If I could figure out how to do it, I would. In a heartbeat. No question.

So I champion people who make a living for themselves through art and design. And their time is valuable.

An artist named Molly Crabapple taught me that contests aren't great for artists and designers, and I feel strongly that this is true.

Contests, while often good intentioned, ask artists to make work for free on the off chance that their design will be picked. Now sure this may appeal to many, and they can be fun and people may create something for it because they will get something out it. But they still ask people to work for free, which sort of devalues their work. Does that make sense?

I feel very strongly that having a need for design (no matter what it is) is a great opportunity. It is an opportunity to hire someone whose work you like.

It values their work. It allows them to keep paying rent and to make work which will make the world in turn a more beautiful place. It matters. Still with me?

Many of the responses to my post made me see that people don't understand what I'm talking about.

Volunteering to do something because you get something out of it is wonderful, but that's not what I'm talking about.

Thinking that the professionals need not respond to a contest because the amateurs might want to do it for free is also not what I'm talking about.

Also, if we follow this thought to its end, a poorly designed thingamagig is just tomorrow's Goodwill run. Why? Because we don't love and value it the same way as something that was well designed or is inherently beautiful. A beautiful thing often takes hours of thought and many rounds of rework. It is a valuable thing, one that we should want to enjoy for years to come!

What I'm talking about is being in the position to hire an artist or designer to make something beautiful.

People will buy, crave or want something well designed. Look at Apple products. Look at gorgeous bicycle frames. Look at Rapha clothing.

What I want to communicate is that art has value. If you like an artist's work, consider hiring them rather than having a contest. It matters.

If you don't know who to contact, contact me. I will point you in the right direction. Art is a feast for my eyes and I see lots of it. I can give you names of good designers and artists.

This is not about me. This is about what is good for all of us. If artists cannot pay their rent and be valued, this world will be a sad ugly place. I just cannot let that happen.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Complicated Interests

The reason that I put my website to bed and started writing on this blog again is because I realized that my website didn't fully represent all the things that I enjoy doing.
I'm not just a painter, or a drawrrrer. I sew, I bike, I run the San Francisco branch of Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School and I try to balance time with friends and family as well. It can be difficult to balance all the things that I want to do, especially with a full time job.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to get some balance in my interests. Yesterday I went out for a 60 mile ride with a friend. We pretty much followed the SFR Populaire route out to Pt. Reyes Station, but we didn't follow it around to the Nicassio reservoir, we just came back the same way.

Point Reyes pelicans

We both have beautiful Pelicans!

We did a fair share of flat changing, but oh well.

Constance and Zoë modeled for Dr Sketchy's SF last week. They recreated one of my inspiration photos:
  oh my
We talked about having it in reverse, with Constance playing the 'man' and Zoë helping her up. I love the feminism aspect of doing this pose this way, and I also love the gender flip of having Constance butch it up a little bit.

It was a lot of fun, I feel very grateful that I can help create these scenarios then I get to draw them! Seems like other people were into it as well, we had about 60 artists in attendance.

   Cute Girls 7

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


On this eve of bike to work day, I have a sore throat and have been taking it easy. I have also been reflecting on several things. 

Maurice Sendak and Adam Yauch passed away this week. I heard and read the phrase 'the Beastie Boys were a soundtrack to my life' several times since then and this is true for me as well. Between high school and college, there were many road trips and life events narrated by those three. And now they are two. 

Maurice Sendak was on Colbert recently and I loved listening to him speak. While he sounded thick, as if we was difficult to speak or breathe, he jabbed in the most charming way with Stephen. And my boyfriend and I listened to an interview with Terry Gross last night where he spoke of people in his life dying and I just cried and cried. 

And tomorrow is bike to work day. I feel emotional and reflective and grateful for what my life contains.

I don't know if I have ever put down on paper exactly what the bicycle represents to me. Lately I feel that I have found some new joy in that I have a completely different kind of bike. It is fixed. It is very fun.

I hear tell it that my father rode me around on the back of his bike when I was a little girl. I find that story very cute. My father taught me a lot, he wanted me to be self sufficient, so he taught me how to fix things. There were many days when I was dragged to GLERC at Lockheed, where my dad needed me along to sit in the driver's seat and pump the brakes on the car. I can't remember doing much other than pumping the brake, then the gas, then the brake again.

It was incredibly boring, but neat. He never treated me like I couldn't do things because I was a girl, so I became very self reliant. I was different than a lot of other girls my age, that was a gift and yet also difficult. The smell of oil and orange hand cleaner makes me think of him. 

My dad also taught me to ride a bike. That 'ah ha' moment where he was no longer supporting the bike and it was all me is still right there for me. I can recall it right at this very moment. 

My first bike for school was a fucking tank. It was bright blue and he insisted that I have a huge basket on the front for practicality, I think of that bike and frown.

The first day that I rode that bike to school it had a drivetrain issue about 3/4 of the way. My friends drove by and their father forced them to help me, it's a sad story as they used that incident to tease me for years. During the 80s, they had sexy ten speeds with white brake lines, I don't recall what I rode at that point, but remember being jealous of their slender geared frames. I believe that they were green and sparkly.

In college, a friend bought a green vintage Schwinn with baskets on the back. She used to ride on the back and I would drive us around town. We had a lot of fun doing that. It was also green and sparkly.

On my 21st birthday, my parents bought me a BMX. I was infatuated with low riders and BMX bikes at the time, I thought they were SO COOL. 

When I moved to SF I had a car. In 2006 it failed the smog test, so I gave it to my parents. I bought a hybrid bike in 2008 with the intent to start commuting, but then I got scared. I could not conceive of how I would safely ride down Market Street. 

I thought surely that I would die and that it would be painful, and that everyone I knew would be sad. And then I met a girl who rode her bike all the time, and I started to ask her questions and really consider it, and then I started riding. 

And it changed everything.

I used to give an hour to get anywhere in the city because MUNI is unpredictable. Now it takes me 15 minutes to get to work.
I used to have problems with my asthma, now I can breathe.
I have become obsessed with bicycles, because they are absolutely beautiful machines. 
I ride distances of 70 miles and meet up with people whom I barely know to ride these rides. And then we tell each other stories of our lives. And I learn new things all of the time.

Bike riding, i.e. cycling, feels very important to me. I feel that it is a cultural movement. There is a self organized protest ride every month in San Francisco (critical mass). It is controversial. Riding bikes is sometimes political. Sometimes unpopular, sadly hated by some. It makes me sad. Of all the ways that I can move my body around this city, the bicycle is my most favorite. 

I hope that more people try transporting themselves by bicycle in a regular basis. I wish that everyone (cyclists, drivers, peds) would slow down and be safe and respectful.

dad on bike
My dad riding my BMX.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Art for ALC

Hey so I drew a little something to help two rad ladies who are doing this little jaunt from SF to LA. You may have heard of it...Aids Life Cycle.

Tomorrow they are having a fundraiser at Nooworks at 395 Valencia, SF. 2-8pm. Pedal Savvy fashion show happens at 6pm.

Sunday Streets is also happening and the weather promises to be outstanding. I hope to see you there. 

Traitor 4 Traitor 3 Traitor 2 Traitor Limited