Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Context is EVERYTHING!

By far the best teacher I ever had is named Erica Doss. She turned on that light bulb in my head, and it all made sense after that! She taught Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder where I did my undergrad. Specifically I took several American art history courses from her. Why was she so good? She taught me that context is everything. You can’t remove something from it’s surroundings and understand what it means. Specifically, a piece of art in a museum with white walls has no context, no meaning. How could you ever understand what the artist was trying to convey if you take the art out of the time, history, moment in which it was created? What were other artists painting at the time, what was the political environment, what was the fashion, where did the artist live, who were his/her friends, etc., etc..

So, where am I going with this... well, even to this day, I think about what Erica taught me... “context is everything”. There is so much great vintage imagery out there. It’s easy enough just to cut it out with fancy scissors, paste it onto a decorative background, and call it beautiful vintage art... but it really doesn’t do the image justice.

I love thinking about the images I work with in more detail. Why and when was this image created. Who looked at the image? What were they wearing? What was their day to day life like? Basically-- what was the context in which this image was created. From there, it’s fun to try to find imagery, textures, colors, ribbons and/or ephemera appropriate to collage together.

This is especially fun when I create a new party kit... Take for example the Pirate Party Kit. I had a great time reading about a pirate’s life-- how he was recruited, where he explored, what he ate, what his fellow pirates were like, how he talked, etc. With all this information, I had a great time coming up with a story and imagery to try to evoke the context of a pirate’s life...

OK, I know, it’s only party decorations, invites, holiday and home decor, but hey I’m having fun-- and maybe if you buy some things, you’ll learn a few things too!

BTW-- I just received my alumni newsletter from U of Colorado Art and Art History Department. I was saddened to find out that Erica has left Boulder. But to anyone who’s aching to take an art history class, or head off to college, you can now find her chairing the American Studies Department at the University of Notre Dame. Those lucky Fighting Irish!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Making a Party an Experience

I knew my Master’s thesis would come in handy one day! I remember the semester before I worked on my thesis, I spent a day in the New York Public Library researching ideas on what I’d like to explore. There I was in in the library-- an incredible old open space in the middle of Manhattan-- wooden tables, old fashioned lamps, and miles and miles of bookcases. I had a stack of books in front of me, and picked up one called, “Art as Experience.” I was enthralled. This is what I WANTED!! I wanted my thesis to be an experience. I wanted people to see/experience my thesis and remember it. Not for the colors, or an image, but as anyone would remember a memory... I wanted them to walk away, and a year or 2 later remember what they had experienced -- the feelings the images evoked, the people they met, the conversations they had...

Enough about my thesis, that’s a whole separate discussion and I’m sure a lengthy one... but here it is -- SEVERAL (yes, several) years later, and I’m thinking the same thing. I want bnute productions’ Party Kits to evoke an experience for the party attendees. I want party goers to remember your event and not be just one of the same of the many, many parties that they go to each year... I want your party to stand out. I want to make it an experience.

So, how shall we do that, you ask?
1.Give Context - Set a tone, Give a Story, Get Artifacts, Turn on the Music
When the atmosphere is in the theme, it will make the event much more memorable... and even folks who just “don’t like themes” might get into it! I remember a Halloween party I went to over 10 years ago. The hostess went all out in a true haunted house style... tattered curtains, cobwebs, old trinkets on display. She even swapped out all of her everday photos in frames with haunting images. It was great! I didn’t even stay too long at the party, it was one of many that night-- back before kids, before marriage, but to this day, I definitely remember the details, I felt like I was in a haunted house out on some spooky property, not in a victorian apartment in Cole Valley, San Francisco.

2.Use their Senses - Sights, Sounds, Smells, Taste, and Touch
Don’t forget the little things-- and the senses we forget about (say, touch, or sounds, even smells...) it’s these senses that really stick in our head, and make us remember an event more than another. Take for example a certain smell... whenever I first walk into my parent’s house, after I haven’t been there in awhile, I take a deep breath.... it’s the smell... their beautiful 1930’s home definitely has a distinct stately smell that reminds me of home. After I’ve been in it for awhile... a night, a day, whatever the visit, the smell diminshes as I get involved in the activites, conversations, and festivities. It’s that initial smell... One I’ll never forget!
3.Let Loose and Let Their Imaginations Run Wild
Dress ups, talking in the lingo of the theme, games or a little competition set in the theme is always fun, and will definitely make the event stand out from the rest. I love to dress up... even now! There have been few dress up events where I haven’t participated... whatever the reason that day/evening when I was getting ready-- too tired, “just not into it...” I just didn’t get into it, and didn’t dress up... and how I regretted it. The party wasn’t nearly as fun as the parties where I get “into it!” I think it’s that little extra commitment that you make to the event-- like I’m GOING to dress up, I’m going to talk only in an English accent... whatever the effort, it pays off in the end for a great experience, and fun, even funny memories! So, set out extra dress ups for those who don’t think they need it... set out a “lingo” dictionary... and get everyone into it!

4.Have fun!
No explanation needed here!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Vintage?

Some folks have asked me why I’m using vintage imagery... what’s the attraction? If you ever came to my house... or met me, you may ask the same thing. My everyday environment is not surrounded by this type of style, but in my studio and my work it’s all over the place! So what gives? Here are my reasons for loving vintage imagery--

It Reminds Me to Be a Kid Again
No, I’m not 90 years old, and these pictures aren’t something I remember seeing in my youth... but when I look at some of the vintage images - children playing, animals dressed up, whimsical expressions, it reminds me to just have fun... be a kid again, enjoy life, don’t take things so seriously, and all those great mottos!

A Simpler Time, but Not Necessarily Easier
Many of the vintage images make me think of what life would have been like back then. It seems to me to have been just a bit simpler than today. No email, no TV, favorite videos to watch, play-dates to schedule, etc... just lots of time playing outside with the neighborhood friends, discoveries in the yard, adventures in a neighboring park. Would I want to live back then? Not necessarily. I think it may have been a little simpler (fewer choices), but I think it must have been a lot harder. Some of our modern conveniences I would never want to be without!

Soft, Subtle Images, Not 3 D Super Saturated (usually)
It’s not that I don’t like super saturated 3 D images... many of todays animated movies I think are great and look good too! But, I do like the softer look of vintage imagery. I think it’s that feminine side of me, that sometimes comes out here and there!

Playful, Whimsical, and Sometimes Just Bizarre!
Some of the images I’ve found can be quite humorous... and some are quite bizarre! It may be a picture of a “child”/person serving up a giant lobster the size of a large dog, 2 kids pulling out a giant shoe from a pond, or a sweet old fashioned girl with a flower for a hat. The playfulness and whimsy many times puts a smile on my face just when I need it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are You a Romantic?

I just read an article where they asked “Are you a Romantic?” to several different woman entrepreneurs (it was their Valentines issue). “Well,” I thought to myself, “I’m a woman entrepreneur... I design things that may be thought of as ‘romantic’, am I a romantic?”

The last thing I would ever classify myself as is as a romantic, but then when I read these other woman’s responses, I thought, “well, maybe I am a... just a little?!”

I’m not that overly affectionate of a person, or that person that writes little notes to her husband and hides it in his brief case before he heads to work. I’m also not the woman with the romantic home filled with candles lit every night and sweet scented flowers in the air. But, I do sometimes leave my husband a “honey do” note right at his desk where he plugs in his laptop after work making sure he can’t miss it! Even though it’s a note to ask him to do something, it always has an xoxo on the bottom! I do also like to make sure we always kiss when we wake up in the morning, before one of us heads out, and when we’re home from a long day at work.

I think it’s the little things that make a difference. Making a favorite meal for someone in the family, just because. Decorating a window or nook in the house just to let everyone know how happy you are that a season or a holiday has arrived-- many times the excitement can be contagious! Sometimes it’s just a little indulging on a random day... giving the kids a special outing, saying “Yes, there’s dessert tonight!” (we don’t have dessert that often), or walking my daughter to school and holding her hand.

By know means will I win “Romantic of the Year” award... but reading the article and thinking about it a little, I’m sure I could add a little more romance in my life, and wouldn’t that be fun!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Heated Toilet Seats

Today at school, my son asked his teacher if they could install heated toilet seats. I guess the seat was just too cold for his bum! Oh my.

I’m not quite sure what made him think of this. It’s not as if we have heated toilet seats at home! Perhaps he’s been hanging out at a friend’s house that I don’t know about and that friend has heated seats??

Either way, sounds like my son’s getting the taste for luxury. Not something that you necessarily want to see at the ripe ol’age of 3!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Winter Creativity Spurt

Soooo many ideas, so little time! Let’s just say I’m not suffering from “writers block” these days... in fact, it’s almost the opposite. I keep thinking of so many different ideas, it’s keeping me up at night. Eeghads!

How have I tried to cope with sleepless nights? Well, I have a very realistic husband, and family. There’s only one of me, and lots to do, so it’s pick one and go with it. If it’s not your favorite, pick another! There’s no rush.

The advice is right-on! What’s the rush, anyway? Sometimes I find myself rushing around-- rushing out of Target, rushing to get home after dropping my kids at school, rushing to get dinner on the table... perhaps I’ll give myself a Valentine treat, a “no rushing” card. Then on one of those days I catch myself rushing around, I can pull out the card... and without any guilt get out a soda, put up my feet and read a book, a magazine, or even take a nap!

Hope you can give yourself a “no rush” card too one of these days.