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Live Fast Mag curates the best of fashion, art, sex, and travel. A vivid and sexy inspiration board for the aesthetically-inclined, Live Fast features in-depth interviews, putting the spotlight on up-and-coming artists, designers and the beautiful minds of our time.

Interview Series

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Interview Series: Brigette Bloom

It’s hard to imagine NOT being able to create stunning photographs in Hawaii, with it’s luscious microcosm of rolling hills, sprawling beaches and clear emerald lagoons. While it’s a place most people daydream about while sitting in the office, fine art photographer Brigette Bloom transformed her Hawaiian life into her own surreal canvas. Her work is brazen – for a lot of the shots she’s turned her camera on herself – and her experimental analog process makes you feel like you’re looking at her dancing through the cosmos. She fatefully stumbled upon her style when she washed a roll of film in the laundry. In a moment of creative genius, she chose to try the film, and the magic blossomed, eventually leading her experiment with the process. She’s used some pretty radical “washes” including her urine. Have a read of her interview:

Q&A

LF: So let’s start with the big question, you soak your film in urine?

BB: Ha yes! That seems to be the big questions these days… I’ve been peeing on my film for years.

LF: Any other interesting wet mediums we should know about?

BB: I’ve tried soaking my film in any liquid I can find. Sometimes it will completely disintegrate after an hour. Some I like best are lemon juice/kombucha/gin/boiling water…

LF: How did this all come about?

BB: The pee soak happened because I once left a roll of film in my pocket and put it through the washer (on accident.) I thought the film would be ruined, but I tried developing it anyway, and as it turns out, I liked the results even more! Ever since that day, I started researching different ways you can destroy your film, and soaking them in liquids was one of them. I tried everything I had in my house (including pee).

LF: How does the landscape of Hawaii shape you as a photographer?

BB: Hawaii is something else. I almost didn’t believe a place like this exists. It’s beyond words.
My biggest influence is nature and animals, so being able to live in a place like this is the ultimate dream!

LF: You do a lot of self portraiture, which can be tricky at times. What’s your best advice for a photographer wanting to be the model as well?

BB: Yes it can be tricky, especially when you only have 10 seconds to press the button and get the shot. I mostly started using myself as the model because I could express certain things I wasn’t able to get out of other people. It’s a really intuitive process. Although I’ve been less interested in self portraits lately, I think it will always be incorporated in my work. My advice would just be to experiment. That’s all I’ve ever done. I wish they invented a longer self timer button (maybe they have?) but I’ve only ever had 10 seconds. So my other advice is, run fast!

LF: Your landscapes include the desert and the sea. Where does your heart really lie?

BB: Ahh I can never choose. My heart will always be in the desert, it’s my home. But i actually feel like I was made for the ocean-since birth. I’ve had a deep love for water and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

LF: What kinds of film are you using?

BB: Anything I can get my hands on, truly. I’ll use anything and everything. Most of my film has been given to me through film companies and kind strangers. I use a lot of Impossible Project and Revolog.

LF: Have you ever owned a digital camera?

BB: Yes I have a little digital point and shoot that I used to document random things. Oh, and my phone!

LF: You mentioned on your website that you are training as a yoga instructor. How does yoga inspire you as an artist?

BB: Yeah I’ve been teaching yoga for a few months which is such a breath of fresh air. I like it because it pushes me. Sometimes I don’t want to teach because I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but then at the end of class, someone will come up to me and say that was exactly what they needed. It’s amazing! I love that it gets me out of my comfort zone. it’s also the greatest feeling to feel like you could be helping someone.

LF: If you could do a photo series anywhere, where would it be?

BB: Oooo good question. I’ve been wanting to go to Iceland, but anywhere you go has magic really. I think it’s not so much the place you go, but who you’re with.

LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?

BB: Honestly, anything that makes my heart beat fast.  The act of creating photos with someone is really exhilarating – there is this energy shared that isn’t like anything else.  Another big one is music. When I hear a certain song that speaks to my soul, that’s pure magic. Lastly, humor and honesty – biggest turn on.

LF: How FAST do you live?

BB: Haha so fast!

Preview: Kelly Vivanco + Curiot at Thinkspace Gallery

As summer begins to wind down, we breathe in the savory California September air… Fall is one of the best parts of the year to be a West Coast dweller. We’re also gearing up for a laundry list of art shows to close out 2014, and this one won’t disappoint. Presenting solo shows “Peculiar Tides” by painter Kelly Vivanco and “Moktulen Kingdom” by street artist Curiot at Thinkspace Gallery in LA.

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Preview: LOYAL by Lauren Napolitano

Introducing the intricate patterning work of Lauren Napolitano, a longtime Bay Area artist with a serious presence in the art circuit here. She’s participated in a few group shows with our friends over at White Walls Gallery, and now she’s presenting her newest body of work in a solo show titled “Loyal” this Friday Aug 8 at Redux Studios & Gallery.

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Studio Visit: Meryl Pataky “The Golden Hour”

Neon artist Meryl Pataky never ceases to amaze. She’s the real deal. I collaborated with her last year for a print series called “Neon Forest” where we trekked into the San Francisco woods and set up her neon in the rain for a few snaps of the camera. It was a serious day of mishaps; imagine a generator, fog machine, neon and rain. This year her work is a bit dryer, with a solo exhibit called “The Golden Hour,” dedicated to the elemental life force and power of the sun. Opening tomorrow night at The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, this new series of work solidifies Meryl’s stance in the neon art world.

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Interview Series: Stephanie Hatch

When I first came across Oakland-based mixed media artist Stephanie Hatch‘s work, I sat and pondered for a few minutes as to why it looked vaguely familiar to me. Then it hit me that the “intestine” style drawing in her work reminded me of the elusive street artist Swampy, who we featured a while back. Despite the similarities in graphic style, Stephanie’s work jumped out at me as strikingly feminine splashed with a dose of strange. The sexuality of her collages with cut-outs taken from magazine editorials, interrupted by this alien intestinal-like form, kind of makes you stop and re-examine the modern concept of beauty.

Stephanie recently completed a “Drawing a Day” project, which she started in 2013, which she says shaped her current style. Her work is currently being exhibited in a show called “It Came From Oakland” at Glamarama, which is of course in Oakland. So if in town, stop by and check it out, it runs until August 3. In the meantime, have a read of her interview:

LF: Hey Stephanie! What can we expect in 2014?

SH: Lots of new work! I’m currently in the midst of a new series that blends collage, drawing, painting, and embroidery to explore identity, addressing ideas about beauty, societal expectations, and personal struggles. My process allows new realities to evolve out of my chosen collage elements; the new realities exist in stark contrast to that in which we live, offering a space for contemplation. The format of these works present a roughly portrait like figure, composed mostly of collage, out of which grows repetitive forms. My aim is to have these forms evoke emotions and questions that are further identified by embroidered text over the entire image.

LF: You’re a mixed media artist through and through, unwilling to settle on one medium. What excites you about working with so many different mediums?

SH: When I first started focusing on mixed media work, I was trying to break down barriers in my art practice. It was about creating freedom in my work. Up until 2006 I was pretty conventional, painting on canvas, and drawing on paper mostly. My work was very flat. After my first trip to New York City, I realized that an artist could break all the supposed rules that I had been taught up until that point. I started incorporating embroidery into my work, affixing my photographs to canvases and painting over them. It allowed for much greater visual, tactile, and ideological depth to develop in my work. I’m able to achieve different textures by using different mediums, and it’s really fun to go to “scrap” shops and see potential in so many different discarded materials. (In case you’re not familiar with scrap shops, they are like thrift stores, but focus on donated items and materials that have the potential for creative reuse. They are dirt cheap and I love them.)
I’ve also started to experiment with installation, creating web-like patterns on the walls of galleries using thread and quilting pins to transform the space into a unique environment for my 2D work.

LF: I’m in love with your work from 2013, which seems to have taken a different direction from some of your past work, specifically with the black and white intestine-like patterning. How did this style develop?

SH: Thank you. My style did change during 2013 thanks both to my move to Oakland, and a “drawing a day” project that I designed for myself. By creating a drawing from start to finish every day for a year, I explored a lot of different styles, and the intestinal form was one that stuck. By pairing it with disconnected collage body parts, I found that the intestinal form represented distress, distortion, and transformation. I also find a meditative quality in creating repetitive forms, as they suggest a struggle between order and chaos in their irregularities.

LF: Most of your collages incorporate the female form. Why specifically female?

SH: My perspective and understanding of the world is distinctly female. Growing up, I was taught about beauty standards and etiquette that my brother wasn’t. I say this without resentment, but merely as an observation. I also spent a lot of time in middle school and high school with my girlfriends looking at beauty and fashion magazines. In my experience, most girls do this, and it teaches us to desire certain things from our bodies; they build ideas of perfection in our heads. In a young woman’s quest for self actualization and identity, these magazines do play a role. That’s why I use them in my collages. I cut up these images of perfection, taking away their given power, and use the pieces to create new realities that expose some element of emotion or identity that goes deeper than surface appearances.

LF: You use magazines and cut up images of beauty. Is this a statement about the current notion of what beauty shout be in society today?

SH: Yes, that’s a big part of it. We all know that those magazines present unrealistic beauty standards, and that fallacy should not be ignored. I’m also interested in our brain’s unconscious connections and the way we make sense of ourselves and our place in the world – how do we get from one idea to the next? What are the connections? Looking at magazines can be a routine pastime, but I like looking at elements of images and re-imagining their purpose; for example, a bent arm detached from a body can look like a nose when paired with lip-like shapes. When taken out of context, some images, like a landscape, can suggest emotional states as well. By slicing apart and rearranging elements of ideals presented in magazines, I am able to visually create new portraits that draw on information from all experiences of our lives.

LF: What does “strange” mean to you?

SH: I think “strange” refers to a view of reality to which one is not accustomed. Sometimes art gets described as strange because it makes us venture into new areas of our brain, trying to understand the world from the viewpoint of someone else. Strange stuff can be awesome, exciting, perplexing, and give us a lot to think about.

LF: Lately you’ve been adding embroidery to your pieces. What is it about the texture of string on a 2D image?

SH: I’ve been incorporating embroidery into my 2D pieces for about 8 years now off and on. As a child I was taught basic embroidery, sewing, and crochet as creative and practical pastimes by my grandma and mom. I’ve always had an appreciation for crafts, and I like using these traditional home materials in a non-traditional way. Use of thread in my art references inspirational women in my life, questions a material’s functionality, and presents an element of tension in my work by presenting a soft flexible material on a flat surface in a rigid fashion. I think this tension can be powerful when I embroider text on my art that refers to emotional turmoil, or questions societal practices.

LF: Can you talk about your “Drawing a Day” project, where you completed one drawing a day for 365 days? What were the challenges of this, if any?

SH: In July of 2012 I decided I needed to create an artistic challenge for myself. I’d been living in a small town for years, working a steady day job, and I wasn’t challenging myself enough. This project was about exploring new styles, creating discipline, and refocusing my work. There were many days that I would get home from work that I did not want draw. Sometimes I would make myself stay up far past my bedtime just so I could finish my drawing. A lot of the drawings are really ugly and uninteresting, which pains me a little, but I’m glad I pushed through those low-inspiration days and still took time to focus on my project.
I also had a physical challenge 4 months into the project; I had to have surgery on my wrist. Therefore, I had to draw with my non-dominant hand for a while, which produced entertaining results.

LF: You’re back and forth between Oakland, CA and Oregon. Why both places?

SH: I moved to Oakland last year, but up until that point I lived in Oregon. I haven’t done any work in Oregon since my move; I’ll always visit though. I have many loved ones that live there and it is a beautiful place that I will always call home.

LF: What artists are inspiring to you right now?

SH: I greatly admire Wangechi Mutu. She influenced my collage style a lot. Her work is fierce, beautiful, grotesque, fearless, and informed. I never tire of looking at her art. I was first exposed to her work in 2006 and she definitely inspired me to explore mixed media. I’m also a fan of Ghada Amer, whose embroidery work is a testament to dedication and image appropriation. Also, I regularly go to local galleries in Oakland and San Francisco. I see a lot of amazing work that inspires me on a daily basis. There are so many talented and hard working artists in this area, and I love the street art – there’s always something to look at when I go out.

LF: How do you get off, literally or figuratively?

SH: Looking at art, exploring new places, indulging in delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and sharing intelligent conversation. Also, a really good laugh is the best.

LF: How FAST do you live?

SH: Not too fast. I like to go slowly enough that I can see the details, appreciate nature, and find hidden beauty where others speed by unaware. I grew up in the woods outside of a small town; quiet and nature are important to me.

Art Crush: Cole Barash Double Exposures

You may remember a while back when we interviewed prolific snowboarding photographer Cole Barash, featuring his INCREDIBLE behind-the-scenes snowboarding pics that only someone deep in the scene could capture. He’s since made a move to Brooklyn, and his work has diversified in a big way. Cole approached us with his recent series “6 Girls 6 Cities” – a set of double exposures fusing six models from six different cities with urban and natural landscapes from their respective cities.

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Art Crush: Sarah Rosado

When was the last time you ran your fingers through the earth? You should do it sometime, it might bring back some fond memories. NYC-based photographer and illustrator Sarah Rosado decided to explore the cleaner sides of dirt with her eye-catching series called “Dirty Little Secrets.” She’s crafted a set of recognizable figures and objects out of finely-organized piles of dirt, with a sense of humor to butte!

 

Interview Series: Aaron Nagel (NSFW)

Aaron Nagel‘s stunning oil paintings of nude women for his newest show “Fathoms” hone in on his skill at lighting, composition and ability to capture raw emotion. He photographs his subjects first to claim every aspect of the process as his own. Very close to photo-realism, his portraits of these women against a simple clean background project them in a sort of power position, but with the black sleeves revealing a darker, more morose side. “Fathoms” opened this Friday, May 9 at the Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea and will be available for viewing until June 7, so if in NYC, stop by and check out the work. In the meantime, we have a little interview with Aaron about his process and his penchant for nude women.

Q&A

LF: You currently have a show up at Lyons Wier Gallery called “Fathoms”. Can you talk about how you came about the title “Fathoms” and what it means to the work?

AN: “Fathoms” was initially just the name of one of the paintings from the show, a smaller 26″ x 30″ piece that is pretty simplistic in composition. I am especially happy with how the painting came out, despite it’s simplicity…which is something I often grapple with; finding the perfect balance between mode and composition. The mood that I’m most often after… I feel like I got it right in that one. When it came to naming the show, I found it worked pretty well, both because it came to represent the right mood for me, and because it implies a depth of sorts – a vague, possibly mysterious, and dark depth. It just fit!

LF: What historical painters have influenced this body of nudes?

AN: Oddly, I found myself paying closer attention to portraiture for this show than with others. Ingrés’ Napoleon portrait and George de Forest Brush’s “A Celtic Huntress” to name a few. I’m not sure what specifically led me to those two this time around, probably the search for mood again (at risk of becoming repetitive already).

LF: You photograph your subjects. Were you always a photographer?

AN: I hardly consider myself a photographer, although I do shoot all my own reference material. I’ve shot my own stuff ever since I could convince some friends to model years and years ago, and have always felt that if I don’t personally shoot the reference or at least heavily manage the shoot, it’s not “mine” enough.  I also dated a photographer a long while back, and despite the scars, she taught me a lot about lighting, which really improved things for me in respect to the final paintings. I shoot with only the final painting in mind, and despite years and years of practice, I barely have a working knowledge of why pictures look good; I just set up lights, and twist knobs and push buttons until the pictures look like I want them to. Good photos don’t necessarily make good paintings, so I’m not after the perfect image, just the right jump off point for a painting.

LF: You are a graphic designer first, a self-taught painter second. How did the painting come into play?

AN: I taught myself graphic design as well, so it’s kind of all been the same journey. I was a drawer first, then got into graphic design first as a means to translate those drawings into something I could use to promote the bands I was in, then as a source of income. I always did art for myself on the side though, and at one point, I wanted to work big, and painting was a much better medium for scale. That’s how it started – but drawing, graphic design, painting – they all inform eachother. I don’t think of them as separate skills.

LF: What is it about oils?

AN: I think anybody that has seen a Rembrandt portrait, or a giant Rubens, or a Caravaggio, or a gloppy Jenny Saville even, can answer that question. Maybe not in the most succinct way, but they’ll be able to. As a visual artist, I’m not really the guy to answer that on paper, but will I continue to predominately paint with oils for the rest of my life? Very probably.

LF: Last year you had your moving truck with all of your art supplies stolen. Obviously there were some negatives about that, but what were the positives? You got a lot of support from your Indiegogo campaign?

AN: I did get a lot of support from the art community, more than I ever would have thought possible. Being an artist isn’t the most social thing in the world, and aside from the occasional show, I don’t do a lot of face to face hanging with artists, so at times the “community” I’m a part of can seem kind of theoretical. It’s very much a real thing though, and getting such an outpouring of support was amazing, I’m very grateful to be a part of it. On a more personal note, the theft did a pretty good job of ridding me of “stuff”, most of which I would rather have held onto, some of which was very important to me, but still, just stuff. There has been a lot of illness in my family the last few years, so in comparison, anything that doesn’t result in a hospital stay can’t be so bad.

LF: How was your work received at Miami Art Basel?

AN: As far as I know? Pretty well. I tend to not get a super accurate impression of what people think of the work though in general, which is probably fine.

LF: You recently moved to L.A. Are you inspired by the art scene here?

AN: I am actually. L.A. seems a little more art friendly these days than the Bay Area, where I moved from. There’s a great artistic community in the Bay, but there is a lot of tension between the tech people and art people, especially as rents get to the point where artists are forced either into terrible neighborhoods or out of the area entirely. In L.A., everybody does something, mostly related to entertainment, but it’s kind of cool that almost everybody has a hand in something creatively.

LF: What makes you tick?

AN: at risk of listing a whole bunch of things here, probably “control” is an accurate answer. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to have control over what I do on a daily basis. I feel like all the freelance work and painting allows for me to work and live day to day on as much as my own terms as possible, and I love that.

LF: What get’s you off, literally or figuratively?

AN: Whoa boy… exercise? That makes me sound the most boring. Cute girls eating bad food? Not much better.

LF: How FAST do you live?

AN: In the parties and babes and drugs corner, pretty damn slow. I’m vegan straightedge, meaning an exciting night out for me is sugar-free vegan soft serve and a ton of coffee. Although I can run fast, and I prefer to drive as fast as possible, so literally, pretty fast.

Aaron Nagel’s show “Fathoms” is open to the public at the Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC until June 7, 2014.

Interview Series: Zio Ziegler

I first saw a Zio Ziegler mural on Divisadero St. in the NOPA district of San Francisco. The lines and figures were mezmerizing, huge contours dipped and collided to form his tribal-like figures, defined by precise shapes and patterns, mostly in black paint. I remember coming from dinner that night and his mural shone under the street lamp, almost jumping off the wall. And over on the top right side read Zio Ziegler in small black letters. I never forgot that name.

I first met Zio on a way on my way to an interview for a photography job. I immediately recognized the work and stopped for a second to watch him paint while he jammed to his headphones beneath his spray paint mask. Under time constrictions, I had to jet, so I crossed my fingers and hoped he was still here upon return. And he was. I took a few pics with my phone and practically tackled him to get his attention. We chatted for a second, I asked him for an interview and explained that FAST was the moniker for fashion, art, sex and travel. His response? Will I make it into the sex section? It was a joke of course, but alas I got the interview from the jet-setting street artist, who is currently doing a month-long art stay in Italy. Check out my two Instagram pics of Zio from that day below and have a good read (he’s quite the philosopher):

F: You talk about your own human condition as a vehicle for your work. Did this insight come to you at a young age?

ZZ: I did not, for the longest time I did not want to be an artist because of the expectations that came with it. I communicated from a young age in a visual way, from drawing girls names in wildstyle in middle school, to the t-shirts for the high school sports teams, once people know you’re an artist, they expect you to be their kind of artist. Almost expect you to produce work that is both representational and at a high quality consistently.  I could do neither, and after a while I felt nerve racked and hesitant to draw in public. I began to hide my sketchbook when I was drawing in a class, or else, I would draw something I knew how to draw. Something that I knew would work out in a resolved fashion. It wasn’t until many years later that I let go of that feeling and just created from instinct. And when that barrier came down, I felt like an artist again, someone who could explore his own condition as a microcosm of the world. To search for universals through a series of mistakes, and to cast away expectation and wander. In a subconscious way I think its why I paint walls today without bringing the materials to cover them up. It’s a full commitment without any return that makes me grow. By just showing up with black paint and no plan, I have no option but to make it work, to try something new and adapt to the space, to pivot to change and embrace the mistakes, and with this I can create in public now.

Self Consciousness is the enemy in painting, I am not talking about being self critical, rather to timid about mistakes. This is the sort of vehicle I like, and also struggle to stay on. Once you say you are the painter who hopes to transform his mistakes into opportunities, it becomes a zen experience where you can only exist in the present. When I succeed occasionally on pushing through a mistake and allowing to see it as something that positively impacted my work, I think that is quite proximate to the resilience of the spirit and the human condition. The true trial and error format of evolution. And, in an eastern way, I think I only discovered the edge of this phenomena through the contrast of self consciousness, so as the light becomes lighter, so can the dark gain new dimension as well.

LF: “I paint how I feel, not how I see” – can you dive into this a little bit?

ZZ: Sure. I could go off on a tangent about psychological portraiture, about transference and things coming through via a sort of osmosis, but I think the essential response is that I don’t always feel this way. Just the other day I was sitting up on a hill in Tuscany, thinking to myself that I am sick of painting how I feel, and now, I would like to paint from what I see. I will swear by one way of making on day, and another the next. The only honesty is that art is contradiction, It’s a wandering path, dropping things you swore by and then picking them up again. The frightening thing is that we all have our way of viewing the world, it is what makes us original and we cannot easily escape it. Sure all the world may be a stage, however, when you are acting you know you are acting and if art is all about letting go, about pushing the binary human condition and getting rid of the grey area, then one is left with something quite dialectical. I think the power in art is that as creators we are not forced to be linear. Yes, the market often wants you to be, and I think that’s why so many greats are born from rejection. Because with societal rejection can come of negation of sumptuary laws, a disregard for trends and a more proximate experience to searching for your internal vision, your a priori.

So yes, I paint from both. I experience the world from both, feeling, emotion, volatility is more honest than the strict rules of representation. I love changing, defying expectations. Doing what I want and not being held to anything. I don’t want to feel like the kid that couldn’t draw in public anymore, I want to trust myself, my hand, my differences and my context, for me this is painting what I feel. It’s painting with your mind shut off, with your expectations collapsed, its like automatic drawing, but It’s more like water. The second you try to hold water in your hands, to stop of slow on cling, its gone, but if you just watch it move, be next to it, in it, moved by it, then you’re in a current you can’t control. When you paint how you feel it is similar to the later. It’s capricious, sometimes you cling to a rock, somethings you’ve drifted too far from structure, but it is honest and with murals- it’s the only way I can make them.

As for painting how you see, seeing is believing, and believing is expecting. It’s clinging to a “known truth” in a ephemeral world. But right now I am attracted to it because I need to push one extreme so that I can re enter the other. So I was sitting there, on the hillside in Tuscany, doing a watercolor of the landscape, and about 50 minutes in, I began to paint my interpretation of that landscape as a figure on opposing page, and then on the next page, came another landscape but this time it was in the figure, and then after that It was pattern, and a landscape on top and figures within, and then I stepped back and realized the figures where searching for something, they where looking for what I was looking for, and on the next page they found it.  When art mirrors life, through whatever tools necessary, I think it inevitably feels right. And having written this, I have a feeling, and from that, maybe a painting. Everything as in physics has its equal and opposite reaction, it’s just letting self consciousness go to the point where you can embrace that sort of volatility and capture it in pigment.

LF: You’re heavy into philosophy. Where does this stem from? Is this an influence from your parents?

ZZ: Absolutely. My dad loves Eastern thought and that was contagious.

LF: Where can we currently see some of your work on the street?

ZZ: San Francisco, Milan, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas etc.

LF: How did the tribal figures make their way into your aesthetic?

ZZ: It’s actually just the way that I draw, the references to tribal figures, modernism and primitivism where not conscious initially. When I stopped worrying about representation, lines just needed other lines, and those needed depth and structure, and then the figures just became gestural representations of emotions.

LF: When you start with a blank canvas, what is your thought process?

ZZ: If I have a great book that I am reading, I often will have a great painting. I listen to audio books while I paint, and I try not to think about the work, but rather the text. It begins with gestures, and movement. And after a few minutes it needs balance, and then once you answer to balance it needs depth. The painting takes on a life of its own, and then demands things from you, and it’s your responsibility to both listen to it and push it out of its comfort zone. I think I often want my work to evolve faster than It is ready for, so some paintings have an urgency while others have a decadence. You can see how ready I am for progress based on that.  I often have 3 or 4 works in progress at once, often in varying styles and with different emotional pitches. Then I’ll break the studio process up with a mural here and there.

LF: What’s your take on the graffiti scene in SF?

ZZ: I don’t know much about it currently, but I grew up spending all of my time on HifiArt.com, and studying letters from pieces by  the great Bay Area writers and others from around the world.

LF: You’ve mentioned that “I force myself to paint fast on the street – keeping all murals to a day in length maximum.” What are the benefits but also challenges of this?

ZZ: This used to be the case, sometimes a wall will take 6 days or so if it is gigantic, such as the one in downtown Las Vegas. I like to be hyper focused so I can be responsive to the painting, to adapt and pivot should that be the case. Also there is a kairos in the world, an intuition of the moment that comes when you are present, and also a movement that the viewer can experience when viewing something made with boldness and speed. The honesty comes through in a fresher way if the work is made is a instinctual way.

LF: In addition to the abundant amount of artwork your produce, you also run an apparel company called Art Sempre and a tech start-up called Weekend Swap. How do you find the time to keep up with it all?

ZZ: I have a terrible social life.

LF: Can you tell us a little about Art SEmpre and Weekend Swap?

ZZ: Arte Sempre was started in order to make my work more accessible to the public. I love leveraging my images onto different things, sometimes designing t shirts, sometimes hats, so it’s  a fun balance of expressions in different modes. As for Weekend Swap, I started that with a great friend of mine from school as a passion project in order to share outdoor gear in different communities we spent time in.

LF: What do you do for fun?

ZZ: Paint. Draw. Ride Bikes. Eat Burritos. Explore.

LF: You’re a Mill Valley native and still reside there. Any aspirations to leave the Bay and explore other areas of the world?

ZZ: I love Mill Valley. Yes, I love traveling, and painting walls in new places, I am currently in Italy and have been here for a month, so my English is terrible right now, but my pasta consumption skills are phenomenal. Who knows how long I will stay. Next up, Tokyo.

LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?

Guacamole.

LF: How FAST do you live?

ZZ: Let’s just say I get a lot of speeding tickets.

(All photos courtesy of Zio Ziegler except the above-mentioned Instagram images)

Lookbook Lust: Sugarhigh + Lovestoned

In her lookbook titled “Paradise Lost” for Sugarhigh + Lovestoned, photographer Amanda Leigh Smith captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest wanderer. Starting in the stark rolling desert-like mountains, the story follows the boho-styled model through an empty America. She’s got that motorcycle chic aura about her, like she might get scooped away on the side of the road by James Dean. The lookbook mirrors the shop ideology so closely  – “clothing for lovers, artists, misfits, vagabonds, sinners, old-souls, rebels, stoners, drifters, movers, shakers + rolling stones.” We just can’t get enough.

“Paradise Lost”

Lookbook for Sugarhigh+Lovestoned

Photography by Amanda Leigh Smith

Styled by Tashina Hill

Modeled by Skye Sengelmann

HMUA Clarity Mettler

Assisted by Claire Everson

Jewelry by Vanessa Mooney

Hats by Gladys Tamez Millinery

Interview Series: Anna-Alexia Basile

Anna-Alexia Basile has been working the photography circuit in San Francisco pretty heavily for the last few years now. I first met her as a young photographer for Refinery29, where her photos of SF makers and shakers frequented the blog. But her latest travel work really caught my attention, with it’s spontaneous moments, underwater jaunts and soft film aesthetic (she admitted to loving the Fuji Instax).

Anna’s last minute wanderlust is what we wish we could do, you know, bucket list kind of trips.  She bought her plane tickets literally a few days before departure. Her trips to Sicily and Peru (pictured in the post) are a much-needed diversion from the everyday grind, which Anna describes as “Freeing”. Have a read of the interview below:

Q&A

LF: Hi Anna! How is life?
AAB: Beautiful!

 LF: You’re work is showing up all over the place. How was 2013 for your career, who have you been working with, and what should we expect in 2014?
AAB: 2013 was a year full of change. I’d been shooting the same photos for a while and am enjoying pushing myself with new techniques and aesthetics. I get to work with so many amazing and talented people and would hate to leave anyone out, but I’m lucky enough to get to work with a lot of my friends. I don’t even know what I’m doing next week, little less what to expect of 2014.


 LF: Do you use film, or mainly digital?
AAB: My assignment work is predominantly digital, with a little film scattered here and there. I love shooting with the Fuji Instax. When I’m behind it I make completely different photographs.


 LF: Your boyfriend Jason Henry is also a photographer. Do you feed off of each other creatively?
AAB: Of course! We’ve mastered the art of sneaking into places we shouldn’t be and making the most out of each situation. Everyday is a new adventure and a fresh source of inspiration.


 LF: Anyone amazing you got to work with recently that you want to give a shout out to?
AAB: There are so many, but I’ve been especially vibing with babes Kiersten Stevens and Chloe Roth. Kiersten is one of the few people who immediately “gets” the image in my head, and she’s phenomenal at helping make it a reality. Chloe is One with words, both written and spoken, and always makes everyone laugh and feel super comfortable. These are two very shining people.


 LF: You’re a spontaneous traveler and you document your trips. What’s the beauty for you in last-minute travel?
AAB: It’s so freeing. I love being able to just pack up and get the fuck outta Dodge.


 LF: You spontaneously traveled to Italy and then Peru last, getting your tickets a few days before leaving. What are the challenges of this? How do you work it into your schedule?
AAB: The beauty of freelancing is that you can choose the timing and frequency of your adventures. There is nothing challenging in leaving for me because I know the second I step off the plane I’m going to be living, learning, and making photos. And to me that’s perfect.


 LF: Where is your next impromptu destination?
AAB: I have to keep this one like a secret.


 LF: You went to SXSW this year. Were you shooting it?
AAB: No, but I was on the other side of the lens, staring into the four beautiful eyes — err sunglasses — of Chromeo in a photo shoot for a large sunglass company that they’re teamed up with.

LF: A pic of you and Jason (taking a nap) landed in The Fader. How cool is that?
AAB: It felt so good to see myself with such a beautiful man in that photograph and think, “fuck, I really made it, this is everything I’ve ever wanted.” Jkkkkkkk


 LF: What were your favorite acts?
AAB: I loved Warpaint and Wet…but my highlight was, without a doubt, Ricky Rozay (Rick Ro$$) (The Bawse)!! You can take the girl out of Florida, but you can’t take the years of Floridian butt shakin’ hip hop out of the girl.


 LF: What inspires you about music photography?
AAB: Music is such a full sensory experience. It does something special to our brains and our hearts, we feel it in so much more than just our ears. Like music, I think that music photography is about a lot more than the musician on stage. It’s about a large group of people connecting over the same sounds but experiencing them differently both internally and externally, all together at the same time. It’s one of the many beautiful things in life that brings different kinds of people together. Those moments are really special to photograph.


 LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?
AAB: Pretty light. It’s everything.


LF: How FAST do you live?
AAB: The nail polish never gets a chance to dry.

 

Lookbook Lust: Zig Zag Wanderer

We’re lusting over a rad little store that recently opened in Portland called Zig Zag Wanderer, a one-stop-shop for the kitschy boho in you. Amanda Leigh Smith photographed their first lookbook, adding a prism effect for a little flair of psychedelia. With the patterned rugs, home goods, accessories and clothing provided by ZZW, the girls flaunted the boho chic to its finest. Welcome to Pacific Northwest cabin life.

READ_MORE>>

Art Crush: Fred Michel

I am generally not one to pay attention to flower photography, though I will never forget my first encounter with the beautiful b&w portraits of orchids by Edward Weston. The other day I stumbled across Fred Michel’s botanical photography on Flickr. His style is elegantly consistent, with every type of flower, root, fern or grass arranged and photographed beneath a soft light on a black background. He then colorizes some of the images with a vintage treatment. I spent quite a bit of time looking through his impressive image library of around 11k photographs, all of botanicals in this style.

Art Crush: Personal Pyramids

You may remember our interview with artist, snowboarder and founder of Spring Break Snowboards Corey Smith. He splits his time between Lake Tahoe and L.A., spending most of the winter hitting the powder of the Sierras. He recently photographed his friend Sunny at the Travertine Hot Springs, one of California’s little-known treasures. Sunny withstood the elements like a pro in Ali Strange Bikinis, paired with a Church of Quantum Interconnectedness Healing Pyramid made by Corey himself. Let the healing begin!

If you haven’t already, check out our Interview Series with Corey Smith!

Interview Series: Nastplas

There’s something exquisitely dark and erotic about the work by Madrid-based creative team Nastplas. Illustrator Fran R. Learte “drFranken” and creative director Natalia Molinos “Na” have been a couple since the age of sixteen and the sensual tension shines through in their artistic vision. They work in both black & white and color, often fusing the human figure with abstract illustrative elements. They’ve also integrated their illustrative talent with their interest in science and engineering to craft haunting motion shorts. Their love story is real.

A portrait of Nastplas, illustrator Fran R. Learte “drFranken” and creative director Natalia Molinos “Na”.

Q&A

LF: Nastplas is a team of illustrator Fran R. Learte “drFranken” and creative director Natalia Molinos “Na.” How did the two of you meet?

DRF: We’ve known each other since we were sixteen and have been together as a couple since. We decided to start NastPlas because art and design are our passion and we needed to express all the art that runs through our veins. Natalia is responsible for the creative side and me the technology side and production.

LF: Was it creative love at first sight?

NA: Definitely! We connected from the start. Time increased our telepathy.

LF: Do you think working professionally as a team has changed your visual aesthetic?

NA: Definitely, working together has expanded our visual and creative perception. When you work alone, many important aspects are often overlooked and it is very difficult to cover everything. Teamwork allows multiple points of view , and it focuses more on our own skills as well as in learning from each other.

LF: Most of your work incorporates a figure with illustrative graphics. How does the human form inspire you?

NA: The truth is that we are inspired by everything around us, but certainly we have a lot of influence of the human figure, the brain, and science because my sister is a great scientist and often we talk together about their projects. It is very rewarding.

LF: You’ve worked with some huge corporate clients like Coca-Cola and Lexus. Do you feel like you lose creative control when working for such corporate clients?

DRF: We always try to express maximum creativity without losing sight of the objectives set by the client. I think for a project to be successful you have to make a good working relationship from the outset where each part must be clear what their role is. We like to bring our creativity in each work we do. It is one of the factors that make us stand out and allows us to show our professionalism.

LF: You’ve worked with Advanced Photoshop Mag, and obviously from the look of the work, it’s digital genius. What are a few of you’re coolest Photoshop tricks?

DRF: Although it is a very powerful tool, we don’t have many tricks on Photoshop, normally we use it as a tool for composition. We use many tools and techniques to reach the end piece.

LF: You do motion as well and your videos are mesmerizing. Can you talk a little bit about your process in making this videos? 

DRF: Although we are not specialists in video, as our expertise is digital illustration, we really like this medium. We create and edit motion graphics and we try to make things that come to mind. We are very spontaneous in this sense. As a software developer, I use many algorithms to make new effects, which I enjoy. We are currently filming a short film that we will present in 2015.

IdN Video Opening Title v19n5 from NastPlas on Vimeo.

LF: You live in Madrid. Do you find it to be an art-centric city?

DRF: Despite the difficult times we are experiencing at this time, Madrid is a big city, it provides many opportunities. Here, many people bet in creating culture, and the creativity is alive. There is much movement in the independent arts scene.

LF: What’s your favorite aspect of the city?
NA: We like many places in Madrid. One of the sites that we have recently discovered, is “La Neomudejar” a renovated old station as a center of arts and artistic residence. Definitely an interesting place to visit.

LF: Who inspires you in the illustration world?

DRF: We like many artists, we can not say just one.

LF: If you had a chance to meet any living artist, who would it be?

NASTPLAS: Most people who inspire us and we admire are dead. If we had to choose between people today, we would choose these: In  architecture, Santigo Calatrava , literature, Chuck Palahniuk , illustration , sculpture and other rarities, HR Giger.


LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?

DRF: The darkness, the strange, the impossible

LF: How fast do you live?

DRF: I think we live in a world in which everything goes too fast, at a breakneck pace. I like to live fast but enjoy slowly.

Hot Spot: Aire Ancient Baths New York

This year’s extreme cold weather in New York doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The chill of the long blistery winter days drafts straight through the walls of those old Manhattan apartments and it’s hard to escape – we know from experience. Also, you’ve got to be an expert in heels during the snowy morning commute and we salute all of the fashionistas and their stylist winter attire. That being said, there’s also something incredibly soothing about Manhattan in a snow storm, when the city slows down almost to the point of silence. If only for a moment. To get through the arctic temps and to breathe some life back into your bone-chilled body, book an appointment at Tribeca’s Aire Ancient Baths. It’s a life-changing experience.

Ancient Bath Pools

A feast for the senses, the baths were inspired by the legacy of the Greek, Roman and Ottoman baths. The thermal bath ritual begins with the “Tepidarium”, a warm water pool, then the “Caldarium”, a hot water pool and finally a head for a soak in the “Frigidarium”, the cold water pool. In more modern terms, this type of hydrotherapy (or extreme change in temperature) is believed to aid sore muscles, relieve the body of fatigue and increase mental alertness.

Aire Ancient Baths

Aire Ancient Baths offers several packages to fit your soaking needs. The 90 minute thermal session offers various bath options: A warm water pool at 97°F, a hot water pool at 102°F, a cold water pool at 61°F, a steam room at 102°F, a propeller jet bath at 97°F and salt water pool at 100°F. There is also a relaxation room with hot marble, and a section of teas, juices and fruit. The spa also offers a thermal bath with various massage options.

Lobby

Salt Water Pool

Warm Pool

Steam Room

Cold Pools

Details

 

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