Friday, 29 July 2011

Everyday Hero - Biblioburro

This post is a little deeper than usual, but I figured blogging is about what inspires me and I was definitely inspired and motivated by this 'everyday hero' I discovered on SBS (what a great channel). 
Luis Soriano and his sturdy donkeys Alfa and Beto, travel up to 8 hours a day taking books to children who live in remote areas of La Gloria, Columbia. Donkeys are ideal for the terrain and their 'sturdiness' to carry lots of stuff over a long period of time. 
Luis has rigged his donkeys with  saddles that can carry 100's of books at a time, he calls his set-up 'Biblioburro' - which translates to Donkey Library. 
Luis is a fascinating, positive character who blew my mind with his focus and passion. 
These Columbian children have seen violence and despair and have limited access to resources or education. Luis as a primary school teacher, believes education is the key to a strong nation of people who say 'no' to violence. 
So you can see for yourself this amazing story and potentially bawl as I did, take the time to watch this 5 minute clip on Luis
Also the New York times wrote a great article on the Biblioburro and explains a little deeper about the paramilitary bands and lawless hills Luis travelled through to get the kids their books. Most of the violence has subsided now but the communities are left in ruin. 
I did what I normally do with my inspiration and put pen to paper...this is for my new hero Luis Soriano and his donkey Alfa -  
Thank you Luis for reminding us to focus on what we CAN do...


Friday, 22 July 2011

Pimp my Blog...

So for the tech-tards out there (ME!!) you will be mighty impressed with some additional features on my blog...but for those of you who are proficient and oracle like with Blogger (Mardi Nowak) I'm sure you will pat my head and nod approvingly. 

This guy has a great 'how to' on YouTube (he also has the cutest lispy speech impediment) and it was a real helper for adding those tabs, I'm super visual so this was great.

It's hard to write an 'about' page though, I spent 3 hours coming up with a few small paragraphs. My main issues being - 
a) I'm a chronic 'over sharer' and I have to consciously protect others from a tendency to provide WAAAY too much information, I think I just have a touch of the ol' 'boundary issues'
b) There's so much that makes up a person, it's hard to know what people will find interesting or relevant, so I tried to keep to my original reasons for starting the blog, fashion, art, illustration, n stuff.

Which led to my 'History n Stuff' page, I thoroughly enjoyed digging out all the amazing product I've worked on in the past. But again there are loads of little projects and art shows that I've worked on that aren't included as I'm trying to stick to some sort of point. 

And finally the 'Current Illustrations' tab will be great for me to keep updated, at the moment a lot of my illustration time is dedicated to Fringe Club so most of my stuff will be on that blog for now, but I always manage to draw something for fun. 

So this weeks blog homework for you will be to click the linkey-woos up above. 


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tradition with a Twist

No one ever mentioned growing up would be so fun. Hitting 30 was like taking a big deep yogic breath for the psyche…feel your belly rise, feel your belly fall. Not that I'm about to get crazy spiritual and start dreadlocking my hair, (eww) it's just nice to have a few life lessons under the belt and thus be able to appreciate stuff in a new light.

Which is what this post is about, getting a bit older to appreciate the finer things, but keeping it fresh and playful. It is very inspiring when this is done well. 
I've included my favourite examples of Art, Fashion and Design ideas that take ‘traditional’ to a new level, where CPR has been performed on a concept and new life has hacked it's way back into current day. Hope you enjoy:

Twisty Art:

There is about a billion artists trotting the globe reinterpreting and reenergising ideas in the name of art.
A few of my favourites have a major ‘quirk factor’ and are unique in their own way, if you head to Melbourne’s ‘OutrĂ© Gallery’ you can discover some of your own contemporary, lowbrow, pop surrealism, street, tiki, modern folk, retro with a twist and underground art, favourites.

One artist that is featured heavily in Outre is Charles Krafft. Krafft intrigues me, his ceramics are simply beautiful and his subject matter is startling. Krafft uses the colors and techniques of the great Delft masters. His counter-culture ceramic creations are labeled ‘Disasterwear’.
Krafft explains “you never find the pictures of the gritty life most of us are living in the late 20th century on ornamental china because no one would want to hang it on their walls, much less eat off it".
Well I disagree Mr Krafft, I would happily drink tea out of this Amy Winehouse tea-pot, or display the adorable hand grenade on my mantle:

Another fantastic design duo are ‘Kozyndan’ (literally, Kozy n Dan) they reinterpret famous traditional Japanese prints into very covetable, contemporary bunny-mania illustrations. Probably their most famous is bunny version of the popular traditional Japanese woodblock print ‘The Wave’ by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It was published around the 1830’s.

Here is the traditional woodblock next to Kozyndan’s interpretation, both are stunning in their own right:
I particularly love this bunny blossom print – (this a photo of the print above my bed, lucky me) a layered springtime celebration, of Japanese spring cherry blossoms reinterpreted using the traditional European spring symbol of the rabbit.

I’m also fortunate enough to be a part of a community of amazing contemporary artists who celebrate traditional methods of art making with evocative contemporary twists.
Something magical happens when an artist challenges ancient art methods with a pop-colour palette or breath new life into their craft with a fresh subject matter. 
My favourite example of this is part-time artist, full time curator, girl about town, vodka appreciator and general culture consumer – Mardi Nowak:
Mardi makes stunning tapestries (and other stuff including fashion in our up-coming radical label ‘Fringe Club’).
You can see Mardi’s exciting new work coming together on her blog.
Mardi’s technique is highly regarded in the arts community as well as her fresh take on the traditional tapestry method. I adore her use of colour and collages from consumer images, to form the base for works. Mardi’s passion for her craft is displayed on her left and right wrist, where she has tattoo’d ‘warp and weft’. 

Also, Mardi has written a blog post about – Amy Ahlstrom – who is a contemporary ‘quilt artist’…it’s about time we saw quilting bought into this century! Check out Mardi’s article:

I was also featured in an art exhibition Mardi curated at the ‘Town Hall Gallery’ titled ‘Beardo’.
This exhibition celebrated the re-emergence of the ‘Beard’. 
Me and my design buddy Benj Dawe collaborated with MGH photography and used my very favourite model Jenny Eden, to re-invigorate the beard. We used a ‘pants beard’ concept:

Quirky home wares, is a favourite topic of mine; you can see a previous post I wrote on this - Here’s some more Twisty but Traditional pieces for the home:

I designed this wall paper yesterday, to see what type of pattern I could make from a plain old 'Waiters Friend'. I think it looks pretty neat and this could be easily screen printed...I may design a few more and approach some of my favourite bars to see what they think:
This glorious Chaise lounge by House of Hackney takes a traditional item and covers it with a zany fabric. I would give my kingdom for one of these, but covered in traditional Australian fabric, as we know I have a penchant for the Koala.
Or as they put it: 'House of Hackney takes the concept of British home wares and turns it on its head subverting traditional products with playful and irreverent prints and imagery to appeal to a new generation.’
Also note that House of Hackney teams up with Opening Ceremony in October this year…
This adorable and playful 'Dog' Lamp makes me giggle, a number of these adorable pieces for the home can be found at ‘howkapow’s' - their amazing website describes it as:
‘Hand-made from sustainable walnut, and quality materials this wonderfully contemporary lamp that will brighten up any mood - or table top!’
Also at howkapow I heart this turquoise pipe coat rack: ‘attractively combines fun and function’
For kids these gorgeous Manchester designs are clever and playful: ‘There’s nothing cosier than being packed in like sardines’ from Bed Toppings:  
I truly heart anything ceramic and these plates are no exception. Created by FLUX Ceramics - 'Established by students from the MA Ceramic Design course at Staffordshire University, they had a desire to regenerate the Staffordshire pottery industry'. 
Anything fluoro I adore…basically take any antique, wack some hot pink or lime paint on it and it’ll get a Shannon O’Shea squeal and tick of approval..not unlike when the Joker splats fluoro paint on gotham’s art collection in Batman.

This French fauteuil in chartreuse patent leather is no exception:

I’m lucky enough to live close to Living Edge, a contemporary furniture store that stocks gems like this Bricks n mortar couch set by British artist Richard Woods and designer Sebastian Wrong.

I have another creative friend Jessi who creates crafty lampshades from traditional and quirky fabrics, that are utterly adorable: 'Lady Luck Lampshades is a boutique business that specialises in quality lampshades, 
proudly handmade in Melbourne, Australia.
My favourite is this spunky cowboy lampshade: 

Twisty Fashion:

A thrilling fashion moment was when a super creative friend of mine Momo, met me for a lunch date in her ‘re-energised’ 'monkeys in a barrel' teeshirt…she creatively attached fluoro monkeys from the barrel onto her fitted teeshirt, it worked tremendously, and I still remember it 5 or so years later!

More than art, fashion continuously reinvents itself, drawing on history to recreate the new.
It is very common for high-end designers to reference themselves in contemporary collections, or draw from vintage and historical periods for their patterns. Truly contemporary fashion designers recreate the wheel but the majority of designers are inventive in their reinvention.

You also get crafty people creating fun accessories from old stuff like headbands made from ties, cufflinks and earrings made from typewriter keys, or stunning jewellery made from old fobwatch parts, see stores like Etsy, or Rose Street Artists Market for a myriad of clever designers.

I heart Lily Allen’s vintage range she has created with her sister "Lucy in Disguise"…who doesn't need a nautical jumpsuit: 
Also the crew over at Red Velvet are VERY crafty and generous on the ‘how to’s if you’re wanting to get into creating crafty things…
And the majority of designs at 'Opening Ceremony' are traditional with a twist, like this gorgeous Ceramic Bowtie:
If you’re wanting to buy some 'traditional with a twist' pieces, I recommend you head to these online stores and retail outlets:

A favourite store of mine is Third Drawer Down – a gallery slash store with awesome 're-invigorated' concepts like this:  Mini Frites Beanbag
And these GIANT SCISSORS by Great Big Stuff, who doesn't need oversized stuff?!

Red Velvet – inspirational!
Lost at E Minor – full of quirky and zany products and designers!
NotCouture - My online guide to many things...
Finders Keepers – emerging Australian crafties and designers!
DOUGLAS & HOPE - Fitzroy, Melbourne - very adorable products!
The Corner store -  in WA also stock wonderful twisty pieces


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Chicks in Kicks

Where Function meets the Fantastic!
In school I was the always the first kid to jump onto a fad, becoming obsessed with slap bands, slinkies, hyper colour tee-shirts, scrunchies, Super Mario on the commodore 64, New Kids on the Block or Reebok pumps.
I was into anything that was fresh and new, the future was always bright in anticipation of the next big craze regardless of how temporary it was.
One of the big crazes, that for me wasn’t so temporary, was my obsession with sneakers…I begged my mum for Reebok pumps in primary school, Converse one stars and Vans in early high school and later became obsessed with ASICS Tigers and Air Jordans.

I had a brief affair with high-heels in my late teens but that only lasted until I developed a corn on my toe so big, my brother nicknamed it ‘Wilson’, as in ‘Wilson’ the ugly soccer ball from the Tom Hanks movie ‘Castaway’.
As cruel as his jibe may seem, he did my skeletal system a real favour. I ditched the heels and shifted my personal style towards something more practical. 

Sneakers tend to spark obsession in a lot of people, these people are commonly known as ‘Sneaker Heads’ or ‘Sneaker Freakers’. Sneaker Freakers connect emotionally with their shoes, fetishising them, often collecting and never wearing them. I'm more interested in how they have become a crucial and integral part of the ‘uniform’ which many of us wear, to show we subscribe to one sub-culture or another. 
Here’s a Shannon O’Shea style run down of one of my very favourite fashion items – Sneakers! Let’s start with some back-ground:

Sneakers are also known as trainers, sandshoes, gym boots, joggers, runners, gutties, tennis shoes, gym shoes, or canvers...

The ‘Sneaker’ is a generic name for the Athletic shoe primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise, but in recent decades has come to be used as a fashion item. 
In the late 18th century, people wore rubber-soled shoes called plimsolls; there was no right or left foot.
Around 1900's, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. (Still around today)
By 1917, sneakers started to be mass-produced; they got the nickname 'Sneakers' because they were so quiet a person wearing them could sneak up on someone else. BOO!

After World War I, the U.S. turned to athletes as a way to demonstrate patriotismThe U.S. market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor
After Chuck’s endorsement in 1923, they became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These are the best-selling basketball shoes of all time.

Here’s my very favourite brown Converse All Stars:
And a picture of a Pirate Girl I illustrated a few years ago wearing All-Stars:

In 1924 a German dude named Adi Dassler, created a sneaker that he named after himself: Adidas – little did he know, school children on the other side of the world in Australia would years later invent a genius acronym and taunt other kids wearing the brand, by stating that it meant ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’...and obviously to a 9 year old that's the most disgusting thing one can dream about all day...Regardless of the school kids, this brand became the most popular athletic shoe in the world.
In years to come when Adidas focused more on fashion, the brand collaborated with musicians, street artists and fashion designers, with sneakers produced by Fashion Superstar Jeremy Scott: 
Jeremy Scott also did a pretty rad 3 tongue kick: 
And for the ultimate creepy factor Jeremy Scott designed these teddy shoes:
Street artist Fafi also collaborated with Adidas:
Here's some of her street art: 
In the 1950s, kids began wearing sneakers as fashion statements. Following the fad after seeing James Dean in sneakers in the popular movie Rebel Without a Cause. (Where he also launched the Blue Jean)
However James didn’t do for sneakers quite what Michael Jordan did: Sales of sneakers really took off in 1984, when Jordan signed a contract to wear a Nike shoe called Air Jordans, the most famous sneaker ever made.
Even after Jordan retired from the NBA, his shoes continue to be best sellers.

Here’s a picture of my favourite Jordans I wear today:
Just like Jordan did for Nike, Sean Penn assisted the Vans movement in the hit movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, released in 1981 with Sean wearing signature check board print Vans slip-ons.
This created huge demand for the skateboard shoes. As a result, Vans became a leader in extreme-sports footwear.
Vans has also collaborated with many artists over the years, take a look at their online store with all their band inspired kicks, my favourite are the ‘Iron Maiden Vans

In the 1989 Reebok introduced 'The Pump', which had a tongue gimmick where air could be pumped into shoes, to make them fit more snugly and within four years sold more than 20 million pairs.
During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements grew larger and marketing budgets went through the roof. Sneakers became a fashion statement, and a definition of identity rather than athletic aids.
In more recent years, the classic shoe Nike Dunk has become popular with Sneaker Freakers. 
During the release of these shoes, people often line up for several hours before the shop opens, waiting for their prize. An example of this is when Jeff Staple's 'Pigeon Dunk' was released:
A street wear icon and personal hero Jeff Staple (who I’ve seen in person woo!) released his limited edition ‘Pigeon Dunk’s’ in 2005, these were inspired by his home town of NYC. 
The release of the Pigeons made headlines across the country, not particularly just because of their exclusivity, but because of the stir it caused in front of Reed Space (Jeff Staple’s store) in NYC the day of release. 
There were only 150 released worldwide. Police had to be called in and there were rumors of thugs surrounding the building ready to jump people who had just bought a pair.  At the end of the day, baseball bats and machetes were found around the block.  
The heel features an embroidered pigeon representing NYC to the fullest.  These are definitely one of the most hyped sneakers ever, if not the most hyped.
For a much more comprehensive and geeky account of the life of sneakers visit Melbourne’s very own internationally celebrated Sneaker Freaker:
I seriously recommend you check out the amazing history section and my favourite – Dunk History:

And now for some fun top 5 gimmicks in sneakers that don’t have any athletic or podiatry requirement:
1. Flashing lights on shoes
2. Glow in the dark panels on shoes
3. Disc instead of laces: 
4. Sneakers made of crazy shit like hemp, Parachute material, Lenticular fabric, Fluorescent or Metallic fabric, Printed or Bright fabric or Patent leather...
Some of my personal sneaker collection, that has yet to be worn to death, Miss O doesn't mind a bit of the metallic: 
This dude has a pretty good post about Sneaker gimmicks check it out - Standard love affair.

And my favourite: 

5. Self lacing Back to the Future kicks:
Nike is patenting the self-lacing technology that once appeared in the 1989 classic, Back to the Future II. They  released this BTTF inspired design which are pretty sick:
Speaking of Futuristic in Sneakers: Kanye West released his second Futuristic shoe collection with Nike. Named “Air Yeezy 2″. Kanye has an obsession with Daft Punk, DeLoreans, and other futuristic, flamboyant memorabilia, so it’s not hard to see where he gets his ideas.
For more futuristic inspired fashion check out get futuristic blog.

Sneakers are easier to buy now then they used to be. Dudes used to have to mail order, send cash and wait months to get shoes they probably grew out of. Luckily for us today we have amazing Sneaker Freaker stores to provide us with our goodies: 
Here's an old mail order Tony Hallam kept from his kid days...aww bless his early obsession:
Two of my favourite international stores are Dave’s quality meats and Alife Rivington Club – where I received the most AMAZING service and bought like 4 pairs of Air Jordan's. 
I like the boutique atmosphere and the fact that you have to be buzzed in, with service that only the truly passionate can provide and a crew of sweet underage skater boys to assist...if you head to NYC Alife Rivington is a must.
Check out this guy's pretty agreeable list of top sneaker stores (see a comprehensive Melbourne list at the bottom of this post).

Here's a cute pic of me and my bestie in NYC, check out her HOT ASS Vans - we trying to be all artsy
LOTS of Famous people love their sneakers: this website is fun I got converse, as it shows peeps rockin’ it real styles in their All-Stars, not just posing: 
Here are my two favourites – R Patz and K Stews dopple-bangin' their hottness:
Sneakers are Sexy nowadays with icons such as Playboy publishing a sneaker feature, entitled “Hot Chicks, Cool Kicks”. 
NYC brand 'Married to the Mob' puts the S.E.X in Sneaker culture, they are a bunch of badass bitches that own the feminine Freaker following: My favourite M.O.B slogan is 'well behaved bitches seldom make history'...ain't that right ladies!

Have a look at the hot Lacoste Hironia x Married to the Mob. Released in 

So 'keeping in touch' is a massive part of being a Sneaker Freaker, here's a list of my top 7 blogs for fresh footwear: 

High Snobiety & High Snobette Recognising trends and movements in the street fashion world, offers the most up to date news of retail and product releases 
Freshness Magazine - Providing the culture with a site for its explorations of all things highly stylized and purposeful, both within the sub-culture community and beyond
Nice Kicks - Very fun site: Check out their section on 'Best Movie Inspired kicks'...Bueller = classic!
Sole redemption -  Fun, easy to read, no bullshit site...has lady stuff too!
Kicks and Chicks - Pretty self explanatory, a sneaker site blended with hot pics of chicks in kicks...
Kicks on Fire - Serious sneaker site, NYC based...
Sneaker News - Most up to date...

NYC is definitely sneaker Nirvana, but we've got some amazing stockists in Melbourne so here's my list of home town goodies - Melbourne treasure chests: 

Provider Melbourne - 
11 Manchester Lane 

Provider Prahran
 - 114 Greville Street

All of the above - 
Ground Floor
 109 Victoria Street 
501 - Chapel Street
 South Yarra
Level 2 Royal Arcade
 314 Little Collins Street
The Heist - 33 Little Latrobe Street

IncuShop 6a, 274 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000