Is Everything Art? Talking Trumpets, Humor, and New Media with Matt Starr

“This is my first interview off Adderall ever.”

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Matt Starr has been taking Adderall since he was 9 years old. When I finally reached the New York City based artist on the phone, he was exiting a subway station and apologized for the noise. “Sorry,” he said, “I’m trying to buy a trumpet and I keep getting lost.” It seemed like a fitting introduction. When confined to the limits of language, he describes himself as a New Media Artist and Conceptual Comedian. Looking to his work, it’s easy to understand why words don’t quite suffice to capture everything that he creates. For Starr, it’s not the medium that matters as much as the message behind it. Whether it’s an installation, video projection, conceptual brand, or the pioneering of a fashion movement dedicated to a regression back to infancy, Starr uses whatever tools he needs to get the job done. Sometimes that tool is a bottle of Pepto Bismol; other times it’s a FaceTime conversation with super model Cara Delevingne. Starr effectively and creatively engages his audience, mastering a perfect balance of popular culture and quotidian comforts. His use of familiar objects, places, and even sentiments democratize his work for the masses, and it’s hard to view his art without smiling, cringing, agreeing, or simply wanting to know more. He is quirky and intelligent, playful yet sharp. Starr’s wit and humor shine through, and we enjoyed getting to ask him a few more questions regarding the nature of his work.

Continue…

Back to the Future

With art in the veins, Ryan Bock produces a prolific body of work across a gamut of mediums ranging from painting through puppetry to experimental film with found objects and materials often thrown into the mix. Working in Brooklyn, Bock’s artistic endeavours, though abstract in their conception are socially conscious – considering the future and current predicaments of our race. We had a chat about his methods and madness – whether technology is making us stupid, living in an inherently visual world and painting as therapy.

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean.

Tell us about yourself as an artist and what you did before you came one…

I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I wasn’t an artist. However it may have just taken some time for me to realize it for myself. I was born and bred into this lifestyle. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil… way before I could read or write. It was never a specific decision I made, it’s just occurred very naturally and was augmented with creative development and hard work.

 

Describe your working space…

Where I work doesn’t matter to me. The focus is always on the work – not its place of conception. It’s more important to me where my work is seen, within the context of a gallery or exhibit, then where the work is created.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

…And your creative process from conception to execution

I have visions (some people call them ideas) and then I bring them into the world. The materials available to me at the time will greatly affect how my vision is actualized. I have to be resourceful – this is often why I work on found objects. Every idea/object is different and deserves its own process so I guess it’s hard to pinpoint a generalized creative process. I do sketch my ideas but often as a mere formality or to remind myself not to forget the idea. Often even sketching is unnecessary.

 

A common denominator of your work is the unique mishmash of geometric shapes and grotesque forms, often in monochromatic tones. How does this relate to your personality, emotions, and beliefs?

What you’ve described here is the common denominator of the aesthetic of my work- the visual language I use – not the concepts and ideas inherent within my work, though they are related. My beliefs are very personal and I don’t feel the need to share them in conjunction with my work in this way. I don’t like to press my beliefs on anyone anymore – that’s something I openly avoid. I think that if one were to take the time to look at my work – my personality, emotions and beliefs should be somewhat apparent… or as apparent as they need to be. The work should speak and stand on its own.

 

Your work emanates a healthy skepticism of technologies, can you tell us a bit more about the threat you think tech poses… to art, society and psychology?

My main fear is that we become entirely reliant on technology as a species – in all aspects of life. An example being, if someone is asked a question in 2016 that they do not know the answer too, they can merely look it up on their smart phone. I believe this is phasing out immensely important brain functions including memory, the ability to absorb and retain information, and the significance of information in general. What is information worth if it is constantly at our fingertips and we take it for granted? Of course one can argue that more information for a larger demographic of people is constructive and, in some instances, of course I agree with this. But at the same time, are we as people more informed in 2016? Are people better off or smarter? Here in the States Trump is about to be our president, so probably not.

 

Talk to us about your concept of ‘dusty futurism’

Dusty futurism serves as a platform for musings on our ‘not so distant’ future. By creating an aesthetic that is both relatable to past and present my aim is to shed light on our current times and on occasion to predict times to come. I am a firm practitioner of studying our histories in order to inform our present and future decisions.

Photo by Roman Dean.

Photo by Roman Dean.

How does does your approach to making films and making paintings differ?

Painting is therapeutic for me. I can paint by myself and I don’t need anyone else’s input or help. Film and animation is entirely different because it’s collaborative by nature. I can’t make a film entirely on my own – I need a team. This can complicate things sometimes. Film and animation in particular is very time consuming. I could finish a painting in a day, but this is not true for moving image. There’s more to consider and plan for. Besides that, I try and approach my film work and animation exactly the same as any painting or body of work. My aim is always to create projects which entirely meld film/animation and painting all together into one cohesive artifact. I try and film like a painter and paint like a film maker. I let the two acts inform each other and vice versa.

 

We love your music videos. Tell us a little more about how you go about creating an aesthetic around sound.

Thank you – glad you enjoy them! Thus far I pick a song that resonates with me and listen too it enough to feel and understand it in its entirety. Then I create a loose proposal for what I would like to make. I am very, very particular as to what projects I work on. If I don’t feel the song or the artist I can’t make something that will resonate and that’s not worth my time. Every video I do, I try to approach entirely differently from anything I’ve done before, in order to not be pigeon holed and to challenge myself. Out of the handful of offers and opportunities for music videos I get every year I turn down 95%. I haven’t actually made a new music video since 2014. I am in the middle of one now actually, though it’s been on hold for a while. It’s for a group effort from my friends Lionel Elsound and Lonely Band. I’ve done a decent amount of work with Lionel before – he wrote and composed ‘Quest’ my first music video featuring Salomon Faye – and it’s my first time working with Marty (Lonely Band). Beyond being very talented musicians, they’re both from Paris and I love working with international artists. So I’m pretty stoked on that.

Which artists, dead or living, do you look up to and how do they influence your art?

Too many to name. The most difficult and most important aspect of being inspired by any other artist is learning to step back and stop looking at their work. This is the only way to create your own voice. Learn and respect the influence. Then throw it away and kill those artists (metaphorically).

 

What inspires you from outside the world of visual art?

To me the world is inherently visual art. My information is absorbed visually. I am more inspired by daily observations from my life or others more than what I see in a gallery.

 

So do you take inspiration from film and music too? What are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to the new Radiohead album and the new James Blake most recently. And yes I am very much influenced by cinema.

 

What projects are you currently working on right now? Any upcoming shows soon?

I unfortunately can’t speak on this, as of right now! I’m in transition at the moment. You can find out about upcoming shows by following me on social media: Facebook or Instagram.

Sexuality Minus the Stigma

Taboos are thoroughly explored in Brooklyn-based artist Zoe Ligon’s collages, which seek to blur the boundaries of sexuality for therest of society. She began creating collages fouryears ago and today has an impressive portfolio of works which are sexual and visually challenging in content as well as aesthetically pleasing in execution.

One of the greatest things about collaging is the pleasure of shredding something into piecesand putting it back together again, completely transformed. Her ability to alter the value or meaning of an image or object by adding orsubtracting elements is thoughtful to the point of spiritual. “My creativity is like a virus that lies dormant in the body and then pops up to say hello in varying degrees of intensity, but can be coaxed out if I need it and it can [influence]other people.”

Emerging from a sexually aware generation, Zoe proposes that there’s still work to be done.”Can you imagine a nation full of leaders whoare free to express their love for their bodies and sexuality instead of enshrouding the entire subject in shame? Sex toys were illegal — ILLEGAL– in Virginia and Indiana until recently, and many more ridiculous sodomy laws still exist [in the U.S.] to this day.”

 

Fameless Quarterly: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live.
Zoe Ligon: I call myself as a sex educator, but also as an artist. I work for an upscale women-owned sex toystore in Manhattan and also am an administrator/moderator for a popular dating website. I recently started a sexual health and education blog that has been very rewarding anda welcomed change of pace. I live in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in a beautiful townhouse with my super elderly cat. I’ve lived in the city for 4 years, and graduated from Fordham University with a psych degree. I’m a very zany high-energy person, going out every night, very animated all the time, always eating, and always going somewhere.

FQ: What do you love about  living in Bed-Stuy?
ZL: My particular corner of Bed-Stuy feels like a classic Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s a very quiet street and I know most of my immediate neighbors. I live in a townhouse and my landlords live on the first two floors and they take amazing care of me; feeding my cat, re-parking my car when I’m out of town, etc. I have lived in many different places in the city and have needed to move because of price hikes and dangerous situations, so I am beyond thrilled to beliving in my current place.

FQ: What are your passions?
ZL:
 This will probably not come as a surprise, but definitely sex and sexuality. I love actual sex acts, but it goes beyond that. I always describe my passion for sex as being similar to someone who’s really obsessed and enthused about something like robotics, or Russian literature, or football. I find it interesting as a general concept. I nerd out over the facts and information. I enjoy thinking about and discussing the psychological and physical components of sex, all the sex toys that exist, subcultures of our society pertaining to sex, etc. I’d say the last 5 five books I’ve read have been sex education books, and I read them for leisure, not just as they pertain to my work.

Besides all that, I am also very passionate about: cheese, caf-tans, psychological thrillers,tropical fish, European animation and Caribbean music. Oh yeah! And, of course, my family. I am very close with my parents.

FQ: How did you first become interested in sex education and why is it important?
ZL:
 I’m not sure there was a point that I definitively decided upon it, but my coworkers and I generally say that no one stumbles into this profession accidentally, we all really want to do what we’re doing. To me it feels like a the natural direction my life took, because I can’t think of a single other thing I could be doing with my life at this moment that would feel more rewarding. It’s important for many reasons: It’s pretty widely recognized that sex education, particularly in the USA, just totally blows. I was actually privileged enough to attend a pretty fancy liberal (relative to most schools in the US) public high school, but sexed only consisted a one week section in a mandatory health class–I’m pretty sure the entire subject of masturbation was avoided. Can you imagine a nation full of leaders who are free to express their love for their bodies and sexuality instead of enshrouding the entire subject in shame? Sex toys were illegal– ILLEGAL — in Virginia and Indiana until recently, andmany more ridiculous sodomy laws still exist to this day. Guns, however, are defended as a basic human right. To the average person, an image of a gun is probably less intimidating and unusual than an image of a sex toy or genitals. I will defend dildos until the day I die.

FQ: How or where do you channel your inner child? Or is it a place?
ZL: I am still a child in many ways, so it’s not that difficult. I was always a rule-follower when I was a teenager, Iwould literally drink water out of beer cans to seem cool so asnot to break any rules. When I moved to New York, all of my experimentation began, so I feel  like I had a late social puberty, yet simultaneously I think I really have my shit together for a 22 year old. I think that’s why I like New York night life, you can be wild and crazy while still feeling sophisticated. The spirit of childhood should span our entire lives.

FQ: Describe your artistic style and its influences or inspirations.
ZL:
 My artistic vocabulary is actually pretty limited since I’ve never received formal art training, but I’d say there’s definitely some stained glass vibes going on. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at other collage pieces because I honestly dislike a lot of collage work(although I do have a few stand-out personal favorites in the col-lage medium, such as Cameron Flynn Jones.) The cut-out body concept (“The Good Meat Removed” series) was the first idea I explored that felt organically born from my mind, but it’s pretty hard to be a collage artist without using images or concepts that haven’t already been explored in some sense. I’ve become very aware of this recently as it pertains to legal issues since I’ve been employed to make artwork for larger corporations. The laws regarding collage art are very similar to laws regarding music sampling, but I digress. I don’t even know how I come up with the things I make, sometimes my brain just farts things out.

FQ: Is “The Good Meat Removed” series your favorite thing you’ve ever created?
ZL:
 Hmmmmm. Well I really like that concept butI wouldn’t call it my favorite ever–I’m not evensure what my favorite would be! “The GoodMeat Removed” series is beautiful to me be-cause I have heard so many different interpre-tations of it from other people — it could beabout: censorship, the body as composite partsthat are meaningless separately, exploitation ofthe body within pornography, and so on. Yet, itdoesn’t mean just one thing to me.

FQ: Can you tell us a little about how you found your way to collaging or art?
ZL:
 Oh yeah, I remember the exact moment I decidedto begin collaging. I wanted attention. I was 17or 18 and had a HUGE crush on this artsy guy. I had been a dancer my entire life, but I want-ed to make visual images I could broadcast tothe world via the internet to get his attention. I sucked at illustration and painting and decided  to begin cutting up images thatwere already beautiful to makethem beautiful in a differentway that I could sort of call myown. Well, I never hooked upwith that guy, and years laterwith a much more reputable CVI’m sure he still doesn’t give afuck, but I think it’s a total hootto acknowledge that I did it allfor a guy’s attention at the time.These days I still seek attentionthrough my work, but I’m cater-ing to a wider audience than oneteenage boy, and my intent goesway beyond pure attention.

FQ: I believe that any creativity I have is being temporarily lent to me by some divine energy, and it travels over me like a wave. If I’m not ready to embrace the wave at that moment, it passes me and goes onto the next person that’s ready for it. Is that something you can agree with?
ZL: Everyone’s different. My creativity is likea virus that lies dormant in thebody and then pops up to sayhello in varying degrees of in-tensity, but can be coaxed out ifI need it and can pass it to otherpeople. Okay, so like imagine a GOOD virus, like an awesome virus that helps you and doesn’t hinder you. It’s like that

FQ: Are you a night-owl or an early bird?
ZL:
 I think my nature is to be a morning person,but since I work the night shiftsat a sex toy boutique and am in-volved with nightlife I run on anight-owl schedule these days.

FQ: What are you trying tocommunicate with your art?
ZL:
 I’m not trying to communicate anything specifically, I justwant to start an open dialogueabout the subjects I choose. Imainly play off of the respons-es I get and it turns into moreof a conversation than me out-putting a message. When I useda genderless pseudonym as myartist name in years past (ZooLion), people would see my artin galleries or shows and assumeI was a man. Sometimes it feelsas though it’s not my art sending a message as much as it isthe actual act of creating it thatis the message.

FQ: What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
ZL: Again, everyone’s different, but I think exposing myself to as much stimuli as possible is what gets me going. Traveling to bizarre places, getting into dangerous situations, testing boundaries, and learning lessons the hard way. I love forcing myself to watch terrifying things that make me want to cry or faint or pass out or generally feel uncomfortable.

FQ: Are there any icons whose style you admire?
ZL:
 Walter Van Beirendonck, StevieNicks, that woman in A Clockwork Orangewith all of those penis sculptures in her house,and Barbara Streisand’s character in Meet The  Fockers. I just asked my coworkers who arestanding right next to me as I write this andthey said my style is “futuristic art deco with alittle Stevie Nicks” so I guess that goes with all the aforementioned icons.

*Lightning round.*

FQ: What do you skimp on?
ZL: Psh, nothing. Makeup, maybe? I dunno. Most of my makeup is the same shit I’ve been using since I was 13. I don’t mean that like I stick with the same brand, I mean that as in I literally have the same case of eye shadow as I did in middle school.

FQ: What do you splurge on?
ZL:
 Textile art and other random things I buy on Etsy at three in the morning when I’m drunk.

FQ: Your favorite color of the moment?
ZL:
 Mint green.

FQ: What is your next “must have” purchase?
ZL:
 A matching white latex halter top and skirt from The Baroness.

FQ: What’s on your bookshelf at the moment?
ZL:
 Sex ed boooooooooks. Female Ejaculation & The G-Spot by Deborah Sundahl and The Multi-Orgasmic Couple by Chia & Abrams are my favorites. I always put those books at eye level on my shelves so people can see how frickin’ cool and educated I am. Besides that, I love The Glass Castle, There Are No Children Here, The Martian Chronicles, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles–shit like that.

FQ: What can’t you live without?
ZL:
 My Hitachi Magic Wand!

FQ: Next place you want to travel to?
ZL
: Trinidad and Tobago!

Bawdy Stitchery: An Interview with Alaina Varrone

Alaina Varrone is not your average stitcher. With her needle and hoop in hand, Varrone creates delightfully sexy embroidery with a heavy dose of humor—subverting the otherwise staid medium. We recently got to talking about her embroidery, the occult, feminism, and all things bawdy:

 

Fameless Quarterly: Where did your family emigrate from? (Ok I have to ask this for two reasons: 1) on your blog you once wrote that you wished interviewers would ask this and 2) a little bit ago you wrote a short post about your grandma’s dating life in a nursing home, signing it off, “Perry Girls still got it. femme fatales 4 life.” This caught me off guard because part of my family settled down in CT, in the very area where you are based. That part of my family has the last name Perry. We also have a running “Perry Girls are badass femmes” trope. Are we secretly related?!)
Alaina Varrone: My father’s family emigrated from Italy, and my mother’s side (the Perry’s) are from Portugal! (I’m curious as to whether we are related! I haven’t met too many of my extended family, that side had nine kids, I believe)!

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FQ: How did you begin working with embroidery?
AV: I learned the basic embroidery stitches as a child from my mother, who is also an avid needle crafter, but I didn’t think to use those skills in my fine arts education until I ran out of paper to draw on one day in class, so I drew on some scrap fabric I found. This was in my freshman year of college, in 2001. It felt really natural and meant to be—in that cheesy dramatic way—and I haven’t gotten bored of it yet.

FQ: Your work is very much centered on pleasure and the erotic. Is there a specific aspect of human sexuality you are particularly interested in? Do you think embroidery lets you explore this in a way you couldn’t otherwise?
AV: For me, the pieces are always somewhat autobiographical, so the female characters are always the center of the work, and I never realized until it was pointed out that in the erotic pieces in particular the women are always dominant. I prefer strong females, so if they’re expressing eroticism I want them to be the subject, not just another object. In this way, I find my work resonates within the feminist community, and I think the medium of embroidery definitely lends itself to that, it adds a new dimension to the work. For me, embroidery is so exciting because it’s still so steeped in tradition, for a while I was bored with art—I felt like everything’s already been done—but subverting this medium feels joyful. It’s made art fun again, and in a corny way I feel like I’m part of this long and storied sisterhood.

bring dat booty

FQ: Embroidery has been, and is often still thought of as, a traditionally female craft—yet you use it to delve into a topic that has been, historically, taboo for women. Do you think of your artwork as feminist work?
AV: I suppose I do think of my art as feminist work, it’s just that those ideologies are ingrained in my being, so the idea of making feminist art isn’t this deliberate, conscious decision—the pieces just are.  I was raised by bawdy vibrant women who always speak their minds—all of my female friends are like this as well—and I love these women to the bone, so naturally I make characters that reflect what I know and love. The history of embroidery is very much a history of women, in the surviving pieces we see: snapshots of everyday life, family members and friends, bits of current news and important milestones—I feel like I’m just continuing the story in my own small way. I have more freedom now in terms of subject matter of course, but I do feel like I’m just doing my part to keep this almost exclusively female tradition alive.

FQ: I notice that while most of the work is done on a solid white background, a few pieces are embroidered on really lovely floral fabric. How do you choose the background fabric for your images?
AV: I’m an impulsive stitcher, so I use whatever fabric is available! The only rule is that it has to have a decent thread count for the type of needle I use. It can’t be too loose or too tight. If I need lots of yardage I’ll go to a fabric store with my favorite needle; I’m like Goldilocks in the aisles running that needle through every fabric that catches my eye! Some of the pieces are also done on vintage and antique handkerchiefs from my grandmother, but I only use those for special pieces.

familiars

FQ: What inspires the particular narratives in your work?
AV: For the series I’m currently working on, I’m inspired by photos and VHS footage of spring breaks and freakniks from the 80s and 90s—both aesthetically and behaviorally. The more esoteric pieces are inspired by my own experiences with the occult (knowledge and practices that I have accrued since childhood) applied to emotional situations and people I’m dealing with during the creation of each piece. Sometimes the pieces will have actual living people from my own personal life that I’ll put into surreal situations as a thinly veiled narrative of our relationship. They’re basically elaborate diary entries.

FQ: Your work has a great sense of humor! It is really difficult to create something that is both smart and funny while engaging with the topic of sex so explicitly in an artwork. How did you arrive at your particular voice?
AV: Thank you! It’s weird, because I’ll start sketching with genuine honest emotion, and I’ll start these sad heavy pieces, but they feel so forced for me. I think because I’m a pretty ridiculous and silly person most of the time, humor is just my natural coping strategy. So I’ll have these pieces that are really quite dark in subject matter, but I’ll think it’s funny to give them pencil eraser nipples or ill-fitting jorts. I don’t know…I just can’t stay serious for too long. The story’s still there, I just can’t help lightening it up a bit.

FQ: Your work is pretty small scale. Do you plan on creating any large scale pieces?
AV:  The current series I’m working on has three extra-large pieces in it, about four feet by three feet—but yes I usually work small because of the practical space issue. I’m in the middle of moving from one apartment and renovating the next one, so working small allows me to keep working during all this chaos. Also embroidery takes a very long time. Particularly the types of stitches and detail I use; so a ten square inch piece will easily take me a month to complete.

FQ: Do you have a favorite work and/or works? In the past you have said that some pieces are too important to you that you wouldn’t consider selling them.
AV: My favorite works are a few that took over a year each to complete. When you live with a piece that long, you get attached. I’m also strangely attached to the piece of the simple nude who has her hands tied to her feet stitched on plain white linen and the piece with the two pool girls in black bikinis sticking out their tongues. Some just resonate with me more than others and I can’t really explain it.

FQ: According to some random commenters on Facebook you are Illuminati–so it must be true. Tell me your secrets!
AV: Hahahaha…yes I’m the Spiritual Chair on the regional council of 13—I’m also in charge of embroidering all of the handlers’ uniforms. But if I revealed anymore, I’d have to kill you. Kidding aside, I mean yeah I was raised with occult knowledge but I’m using that term loosely; my dad was into all sorts of weird shit and taught it to me and I grew up in a heavily haunted house—I don’t see the world the same way that a lot of other people do. And yeah, sometimes I’ll use symbolism, or spirit familiars or ghosts in my work as representations for something else, but in all seriousness I’m jack squat to the upper echelon of society—my bloodline is a mess—so relax y’all, my work is not trying to program you or anything.

FQ: Favorite superhero and/or villain?
AV: She Hulk

FQ: Favorite artist at the moment?
AV: Right now I really love the photography of Wayne Lawrence.

METHOD: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is reclaiming public space with defiant portraits plastered on buildings across the U.S. Part of an ongoing series, “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” these portraits are derived from interviews Fazlalizadah has conducted with women from all over the nation on their personal experiences with gender-based street harassment.  Powerful statements accompany each drawing, culled from the stories that the interviewees have shared with Fazlalizadah—some read, “my name is not baby, shorty, sexy, sweetie, honey, pretty, boo sweetheart, ma,” “women are not seeking your validation,” “critiques on my body are not welcome” and “my masculinity is not a threat to yours.”  “Stop Telling Women to Smile” has elicited a strong national response—spurring conversations on gender, race, autonomy and misogyny—since its 2012 inception in Brooklyn.  Fazlalizadeh traffics in the dialectics of power with her work, highlighting that catcalling is not about pleasure but, rather, control. We recently sat down with the now very-much-in-demand artist (her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Beautiful Decay Magazine as well as on CNN and The Melissa Harris-Perry Show) to talk with her about her daily routine:

 

Fameless Quarterly: How do you begin your day? Do you have any morning rituals that are particularly important for preparing you to engage with the sometimes-difficult subject material you work with day-in and day-out?
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: I’m working on making a better morning routine. I’ve never been a morning person but I think I’d be more productive and have more successful days if I had a better and earlier morning routine. I usually wake up, drink some water, open my laptop, and start tackling emails. Some days I wake up early and go to the gym, come home and begin painting.

FQ:  Walk me through the rest of your day. Your project has received a good deal of media attention and you are expanding “Stop Telling Women to Smile” to be more participatory–spread over various locations in the U.S. You must be busy!
TF: The rest of my day sort of depends. If I’m working from home for the day I’ll possibly be doing one of a few things: working on back-end, administrative stuff, or painting. I prefer to paint during the morning and day, so sometimes I’ll wait to handle work that’s done on my computer until the evening. Some days I have phone or in-person meetings, some days I work in a local coffee shop, some days I’m out on my bike running errands. Being a freelance artist gives me the freedom to have days that widely differ from each other.

FQ: So much of your work deals with the basic ability of women to have autonomy of movement, free from harassment. Prior to this project in what ways did street harassment affect how you proceeded with your daily routine? Has that changed since you began “Stop Telling Women to Smile”?
TF: The thought of street harassment doesn’t really affect my daily routine. While some days I do take a moment before leaving the house because I know my outfit might elicit some unwanted attention, I still leave my house and go about my day. The act of street harassment is what affects me once it happens. It can affect my mood but it still doesn’t interfere with my routine. Since STWTS, I’ve become more assertive in responding back to men who harass me. Responding gives me a feeling of empowerment.

FQ: On average how much time do you spend interviewing, photographing, and drawing your subjects before replicating and wheat-pasting their images? Do you dedicate specific days just to interviewing and photographing and days to wheat-pasting or do you only work with one subject at a time?
TF: Right now, I’m doing more pasting than interviewing. This year I’ve spent a lot of time in other cities meeting many women, interviewing and photographing them. I still have a lot of potential portrait subjects from all of these cities that I’m working through. I’ve accumulated a lot of content, and now the more important part is getting that work out to the public. I don’t dedicate certain days to pasting, as long as I’m going out and doing it consistently.

FQ: Your preferred medium, and what you have always worked in prior to this project, is oil painting. Do you still have time during your day to work on painting or has your focus completely shifted to the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project?
TF: I’m a freelance illustrator so I’m always painting. STWTS requires a lot of administrative work that takes up some of my day, but I’m still very much painting.

FQ: You have made a conscious effort to include representations of women of color in your images. You have stated in the past that this is a result of your experiences as well as a way to include women of color in a feminist conversation–especially since, historically, they have been left out of these discourses. As you have continued to work on this project and have conversations with women about street harassment what more have you learned about the intersection of race and street harassment as well as race and feminism? Has this changed the way you approach your project?
TF: I’ve learned that not everyone is harassed in the same way and that there isn’t a standard definition of what harassment is. What a young black woman who lives in a black neighborhood experiences will be different from what a white woman who moves into that neighborhood experiences—or, the experiences may be similar but the perspective on harassment is very different. That’s why when it comes to race and feminism, it’s important for all voices to be heard and listened to. It’s the reason why I’m now trying to curate the subjects in the project even more. Street harassment may happen to everyone but the way that is occurs will differ if you’re a 16 year-old Latina from Brooklyn, versus a 23 year-old queer Santa Monica student, versus a 50 year-old black woman from South LA.

FQ: During your day do you often encounter men who are interacting with your art? If you do, what are their reactions to the project like?
TF: No. I never see men interacting with the art. I spread these pieces out so I’m not often walking past them unless I’ve put them in my neighborhood. These, I don’t see people interacting with them—but I do see how they evolve over time. Sometimes pieces of the work get ripped away; people write on them; street artists add slaps to them, etc. But I don’t usually see anyone stopping, looking, and reacting—though I know that does happen.

FQ: Some of the pieces you have pasted around the city have been defaced. Do you replace those pieces with new work or do you leave the defaced pieces so that people can see the misogynist statements written on them?
TF: I don’t replace them. I let them live there as long as they can. I might revisit the same spot months later after the first piece has gone but, I don’t replace them simply because they’ve been defaced. They are consistently defaced and that’s not something I can really prevent from happening. I do think it’s important for people to see the defacement because it usually highlights the point of the work—that women’s bodies are abused in public spaces.

FQ: Speaking of place and autonomy of movement–do you have any favorite spaces in the city?
TF: I’m kind of an outdoors girl, even though most of my time is spent indoors. I like being in the park or at the beach—I love Prospect Park and visiting different beaches. I work in coffee shops often and have a few favorites that I go to. I also love riding my bike around Brooklyn and discovering different neighborhoods.

METHOD: Laura Sly

WRITING BY BRANDON REIS

Illustration by Laura Sly.

Illustration by Laura Sly.

Nestled comfortably in her one-bedroom apartment off of Walnut Street in Montclair, with an icy Amstel Light in one hand and her trusty canine sidekick Pixel in the other, is Laura Sly: founder and Creative Director of Double Stop Designs.

When she’s not creating posters for musicians like Portugal. The Man or designing the label for Coldcock Whiskey, she’s fervently developing her skills and abilities, both inside and outside of her comfort zone. A graphic designer by trade, Laura has adapted to the ever-evolving environment that is digital media to not only hone the skills that she was trained for, but to go above and beyond by learning web design and coding, and taking on her most recent endeavor – motion graphics. 

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Laura, who also happens to be an old friend. Along with catching up, we had the opportunity to talk a bit about who she is, what makes up her personal and artistic style, and her overall daily journey through life.

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Fameless Quarterly: What’s a typical day in your life like? What are your rituals?

Laura Sly: The absolute first thing I do in the morning is make a cup of coffee – San Francisco Fog Chaser K-Cups. Then, I walk Pixel and get ready for work. I also like to start the day by going on Vimeo and watching anything that I find interesting. In fact, I spend any free moment I get watching tutorials or training videos on Youtube or Vimeo, which is actually how I learned about motion design. The rest of my morning is pretty basic: after getting ready, I’m off to my job where I work as lead designer for a local IT company; I work pretty regular hours, 9am-5pm. I come home, walk Pixel, and get right back to work freelancing for Double-Stop! How pathetic is that?!

Not at all! This issue is all about dedication, so spending your day hard at work in order to achieve your goals resonates with a lot of people. Artists of all shapes and sizes find themselves having to adhere to some sort of structured lifestyle in order to support their true creative intentions. Bottom line: you’re preaching to the choir!

Haha, ok good.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I really enjoy working with vectors and colors. I like curvy lines and abstract shapes, and tend to do that a lot with the posters I create. On the other hand, I think a lot of my other work incorporates geometric shapes, which was sort of drilled into my brain with my web design work. I tend to use similar color schemes for everything, like all cool colors or all warm colors; I’m trying to get out of that but it’s so automatic. Typography is also key! Balancing all of these elements to achieve an interesting composition is what I love to do. People often say that I have a specific style, like if they see something I made they’ll say, “Oh yeah, that’s totally your work.” I can’t see it, which is kind of weird.

I think I know what they mean though; it’s hard to put your finger on something like that because its so tailored to someone – there is no word for it. You mentioned curvy lines and abstract shapes – that’s that Portugal. The Man poster for sure! That was something that you had complete creative control over, and I’d say that represents your style the best, at least to me.

That’s exactly what I mean. I don’t even try to do that; it just happens.

And that’s why its your style! Does that coincide with your personality, or do you feel that you adhere to a different style than the work you produce?

I think its totally different altogether. With my work, I tend to make things really colorful and bold, and I’m quite the opposite of that. I’m very timid, so my style represents that. If I’m around the right people then I’m ok, but meeting random strangers and interacting with people I don’t know makes me nervous.

So you’re an introvert.

Exactly, but I guess not so much when it comes to my work. Hm, I guess I never thought about that.

That’s why these interviews are so important, you know. It’s an interview, but its also a therapy session.

I’m going to be bawling by the end of this, aren’t I?

Yep, prepare to discover some repressed memories! Do you have any restaurants or bars that you frequent?

Enzo Pizzeria right here in Montclair, totally. That’s the answer right there. I also like Spice II, which is a local Thai restaurant; I always get the Massaman Curry. As for bars, I like going with friends occasionally, but I’m not one to go out all the time. I actually love being home.

So if it were your choice of bar, where would you go?

On Monday nights, I’m at the Great Notch Inn in Little Falls for their open mic night; it’s always a great time. Aside from that, I would say either Egan & Sons or Tierney’s Tavern  in Montclair since they’re local. 

Are you doing what you love?

Yeah, I think now I am finally. For a while, I was doing what I was good at and not what I love, and now I finally found what I want to do – motion design – and it feels really good. Of course, I love art, and I went into design because it came sort of natural to me. The first job I got turned out to be a great experience, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in, though that’s the way it went for a few years. Now I’m learning to say no to things that I don’t want to do and I think that’s really valuable. It’s to the point now where I’m turning down work so that I can pursue what I love. Especially when my time is so limited, I don’t want to be tied down to projects I’m going to work on for three months and get nothing out of.

What piece of advice can you offer to others based on your own life experiences?

I would say just that it’s ok to say no. If you’re good at something, or if you do it in general, people are going to want to take advantage of you. I went through that a lot – people trying to basically get shit for free or people who don’t think you’re worth it and chop down your asking price. Basically, you don’t have to accept every single project that comes your way. In the beginning, sure – everyone does that. You kind of have to go through the bullshit; I’ve gone through it so much. In the end though, your work has value that only you can assign, and if you have the experience, know your worth. If people are going to laugh at your price, just say no.
 
For more on Laura Sly and her work, visit http://dblstp.com/

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Available in print with
FQ’s DEDICATION Issue

A Brief History of Animated Movies

Most of us associate animated movies with fond childhood memories, whether it be a Disney classic or the latest high-tech efforts from Pixar or PDI/Dreamworks. But what we often take for granted is that the history of the animated film as we know it today developed in pieces, with sound, color, and computer-generated imagery all representing big breakthroughs in the industry.Let’s take a quick peek into the history of the animated movie to see how it has evolved over the years.

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Early Origins

The first animated feature film is considered to be the cut-out animation El apostol by Quirino Cristiani from the year 1917, though unfortunately all known copies were destroyed by a fire. As such, the oldest surviving animated film is The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), a German animated fairytale written by Lotte Reiniger that features silhouette animation, a technique in which cut-outs are manipulated before a camera.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

The next groundbreaking efforts came from the legendary Walt Disney, who decided to re-release his popular Mickey Mouse short, Steamboat Willie, on November 18, 1928 with synchronized sound, the very first of its kind. Shortly thereafter, another of Argentine Quirino Cristiani’s efforts, Peludópolis (1931),became the first feature-length film to feature sound. The next big accomplishment in sound came again from Walt Disney in 1940, whose Fantasia was the first to be filmed with stereophonic sound.

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Colorful Visions

Once sound had been accounted for, it was time for animators to set their sights on creating brighter worlds for their characters to live in. That accomplishment came in 1932, when the Disney short Flowers and Trees was released in three-strip Technicolor. A far more significant contribution from Disney that has withstood the test of time is the classic Snow White and The Seven Dwarves (1937), which has the distinction of being Disney’s first feature-length film to employ the three-strip Technicolor technique. The Disney princess’ famous “skin as white as snow” would have looked especially striking against her newly colored world with vibrant reds, blues, and yellows.

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Advances in Filming Techniques

Since its early origins in cut-out animation, a number of animation tactics have been employed to enhance the graphics and increase the realism in animated movies. One of the earliest developments is the use of xerography process, which replaced tedious hand inking; Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmations (1961) was the first feature film to employ this tactic. Next came the first feature-length 3D film using stereoscopic technique in 1983 with the release of the Australian movie Abra Cadabra. The first fully computer animated film was Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995, and the first fully-animated film to use motion capture technology to execute all of its characters was The Polar Express in 2004. These films helped to set the bar for what we expect from an animated movie when we go to the cinema today!

WORDS BY: Elisa Lockhart is a freelance entertainment writer and frequent blogger.

Bears, Illustrated

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The Bears, illustrated project is a free downloadable calendar featuring twelve artists from around the world who homage the men they love and admire. The collective project focuses on beauty, drawing and sharing, tipping its hat to pin-up tradition with a big hairy twist.

They’re on their fourth edition since the project began in 2010 and this years calendar comes in Spanish, English and French, the three languages spoken by the 2013 participants from Detroit, Barcelona, Auckland, Santiago de Chile, New York, Madrid, La Rochelle, Sevilla and Los Angeles.

Find out more about them and the story behind each original artwork on their site. The calendar PDF is prepared to download and print on any A4-size paper and a black and white printer for optimum results.

Check out our Facebook and write to info.bearsillustrated@gmail.com if you wish to receive news and updates, suggest artists for future editions or send some feedback. Now download the calendar, enjoy and share if you like it! What you love is important.

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