'Nothing real can be threatened'

I started this piece the day after Beyoncé dropped Lemonade ("My grandma said, 'Nothing real can be threatened'")—inspired by true love and genuine friendship. And although this still feels very unfinished (art would never be shared if we all waited until it felt "done"), I'm sharing it now as I'm inspired by the inevitability of progress, equality, and righteousness for all.

As the polls close for the controversial Senate seat in Alabama, and with the strong likelihood that it'll go to a(nother) man that I believe to be scary, gross, and 3 steps backwards in time [*EDIT: Roy Moore lost to Doug Jones by 20,000 votes!]...we have to sustain faith in the universe and in the people. It's said that a wildfire acts as a phenomenally progressive force in nature because it creates a rich bed for new growth; it feels like we're consumed by wildfire (metaphorically with politics and also IRL) but bullshit is always self-destructive! ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

10x14" collage with hand-lettering and scalloped edges. I found the floral corners from the 1940s at the Austin Photo, Book, & Paper Festival for 50¢ 

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'The Bell Jar'

I recently read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I really enjoyed her witty writing style and wish she had lived longer to publish more books. I read the book because I heard the following passage and it felt freakishly personal and timely to me at this time in my life:

My book

My book

"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.
From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, the plopped to the ground at my feet."

Expensive & cherished; thrashed & abandoned

Lordsburg, New Mexico is a tiny town that now straddles I-10 and was left mostly abandoned when the interstate was built, enabling travelers to zoom right past it instead of stopping through for a break during tedious train trips. I've seen so many abandoned houses and dumped mattresses and piles of rusty vehicles in the past week that it feels disorienting. Maybe it feels disorienting because I've been privileged my whole life to have never experienced this scene as my reality, but also, all of these things are so expensive! The amount of saving and planning these items require make it dumbfounding to see them so carelessly discarded.

I look at a number of sprawling 3-bedroom homes with a backyard pool, workshop shed, and garden just totally abandoned — sometimes frantically and aggressively with windows busted, furniture in place, boxes of books absorbing rain. A deserted house on a street full of them and it's hard to not think that at some point, someone worked their ass off to buy this home. A family moved to this town to establish a community in the desert and maybe it was so charming but now it's just being swallowed by time and Earth.

 

Malcolm English, 'Carnaby Street'

Malcolm English's illustrations for Tom Salter's book 'Carnaby Street.' 1970, color lithographs

Source credits, clockwise from top left: Pinterest/ n/a; Pinterest (s3.amazonaws.com); sweetjanespopboutique.com; sweetjanespopboutique.com

'The Sirens of Titan'

My book

My book

I recently finished Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan. I liked it—didn't love it. I appreciated the simplistic existentialism of the book. For something written in 1959 it feels like an impressively relevant book in modern society with Vonnegut's commentary on organized religion and free will. I guess I didn't like the lack of details and elaboration, but it was a chill, pleasant read that will quietly remind you that no one knows why humans exist. Here are some of my favorite lines from the book:

  • "...it came to me in a flash that everything that ever has been always will be, and everything that ever will be always has been."
  • Her face, like the face of Malachi Constant, was one-of-a-kind, a surprising variation on a familiar theme—a variation that made observers thinks, 'Yes—that would be another very nice way for people to look. [This description made me laugh. Such a peculiarly poetic string of descriptions.]
  • "These words will be written on that flag in gold letters on a blue field: Take Care of the People, and God Almighty Will Take Care of Himself."
  • "The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody," she said, "would be to not be used for anything by anybody."

Coast to coast in Costa Rica

Sam, Christina, and I have returned from an unbelievably refreshing week in Costa Rica. We spent a lot of our time with Christina's cousins, who live in San José and Puerto Viejo, and I visited a town on the Pacific side that I had never been to, Manuel Antonio. We hiked through the national park, saw a sloth, monkeys, and alien-like plants that blew my mind. A storm was rolling in, so the waves were super fun to bodysurf. We spent the second half of our trip on the Caribbean side, which is my paradise. I wanted to spend so much more time in the jungle than we did, but hey. It was a stellar trip, I love Costa Rica more every time I visit, and once again, I'm annoyed that my younger self never felt the drive to become fluent in Spanish. Maybe it's not too late? I am so grateful for the hospitality of Christina's cousins, Adriano & Paula in San José and Esteban in Puerto Viejo, and we were all grateful to have gotten to spend almost a full week with all of them. Here are some of the photos I took on our trip! I wanted to document all the hand-made lettering I saw, but the best ones were on signs we passed driving and I wasn't about to hold up the caravan for pics (though typography always warrants a travel delay, IMO). ¡Pura Vida!

United; Divided

I drew this when we were driving back to San José from Puerto Viejo. I've been listening to a lot of Shabba Ranks, Damien Marley, and the likes lately and keep hearing "divided we stand, united we fall" in the lyrics of these Jamaican artists. I'd never really contemplated this phrase I've heard all my life as an American student until now— maybe because it feels astonishingly relevant at this moment in our society, with the division in our country unbearable, suffocating, and encouraged almost daily by our leader(s). I had this image of letters hand-carved into hand-made stone and concrete churches and schools. Maybe I saw a lot of that on the Caribbean coast or maybe it was on my mind from the constant parade of news images of Hurricane Irma engulfing the Caribbean islands. Anyways, I wanted to recreate the sharpness of those letters. I was picturing something resembling United Sans, but my chubby pen didn't allow for the crisp edges I envisioned. It still felt really empowering for some reason to meditate on and gain some gratitude for this concept.

My sketchbook drawings/documentation from Costa Rica plus some calligraphy practice. 

My sketchbook drawings/documentation from Costa Rica plus some calligraphy practice. 

Southern CA inspiration

Here are some handmade typography samples from a recent trip to the San Diego area. I've also included some photos I took to give you somewhat of an idea how insane the plant life is in the area! 

 

Also I skated Hawk's pool, bye!

hawk

Jessie's graduating!

My little, tiny baby sister is graduating high school this week, so we threw a graduation party for her at our boatdock on Lake Austin this weekend. My mom asked me to make a poster for her with old pictures, and because no creative project can ever be simple and quick with me, I spent what may be a new world record amount of time on this poster. Mainly because I was determined to use Neutraface typeface and to seize the opportunity to try out my new Prismacolor blending marker, which worked MAGIC! The markers blended like pencil! 

 

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Me, my momma, and a photobombing Jacob. Photo by Uncle Greg

Me, my momma, and a photobombing Jacob. Photo by Uncle Greg

Gal pals! Christina, me, and Amanda dodging the rainstorm

Gal pals! Christina, me, and Amanda dodging the rainstorm

Our sweet little teenage graduate

Our sweet little teenage graduate

'The Happy Film' with Sagmeister

Last night Christina and I saw Stefan Sagmeister for a Q&A and a showing of his film experiment The Happy Film. And today I am feeling more inspired, creatively, than I have since college. Sagmeister is one of the most influential and prolific graphic designers of modern — but really of all time. No other designer has had nearly as big of an impact on my creative approach and process as Stefan has. His hands-on experiments and typographic executions helped introduce me to graphic design in a way that made sense in my must-be-tangible design style. Also, he is hilarious. The combination of his Austrian accent, dry and awkward demeanor, and endless curiosity and depth of knowledge in all fields makes him enamoring to observe in person. He was great. I loved him. Christina loved him. And his film is a must-see film, for any and everyone, designer or non-designer. You can't know what to expect before seeing it at the risk of being put off by how unorganized and confusing it may seem. It will be available online early this summer. Learn more here

Stefan Sagmeister answering audience questions at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz after a showing of his film,  The Happy Film

Stefan Sagmeister answering audience questions at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz after a showing of his film, The Happy Film

Lonestar Round Up 2017

I have two favorite events every year: Kingfest skate campout and the Lonestar Round Up hot rod and custom car show. The latter hit an all-time high for ya girl this year because as it turns out, my soulmate is an early '50s "dusted lavender" Merc. And because the owner is a kind man that witnessed me getting very paparazzi on his car, I got to sit inside my soulmate. Despite the alarmingly limited visibility from the low visor, this car is a dream, and could do a real number on my ego.

Happy birthday, Piper!

My cousin, Emilee, arranged to have a photo shoot to celebrate her daughter Piper's 3rd birthday, and asked me to make something to include in the photos. She sent me this blank chalkboard panel, a few chalkboard markers, and photos of her mom's antique teacups for inspiration. The theme was princess tea party, so I incorporated some of the floral ornaments from the teacups for some embellishment. Happy birthday, Pipey! 

Also, at my cousin's encouragement, if anyone is interested in me making something for their child's birthday photoshoots or parties, feel free to reach out to me.