The other day, ok yesterday, I discovered soulster MNEK when AfriPOP posted some beautiful screen-grabs from the singer's latest music video "Wrote A Song About You." When I played the video my creative neurons started jumping all over the place. The graphic animations and colors are gorgeous! The animation is like the opening of Saved By the Bell married the opening credits to In Living Color, had a baby, and named it Keith Haring 2.0. Oh, and I dig the song, too! Check it out and let me know what you think.
Typically in my Music for Your Weekend posts I showcase one artist or group I am currently listening to, but this week I'd like to share four I'm excited about based on reviews and recommendations. I think they'd be great for long weekend activities.
Here they go (clockwise):
Sylvan Esso (self-titled)
So far I am totally diggin' this folk-y techno sound from Sylvan Esso's debut album.
Xscape from Michael Jackson
I miss Michael. Especially lately. Because Michael is an ultimate artist and innovator, and I'm always inspired by creative people who follow their dreams, I've been really drawn to Michael's energy and creative process. A few weeks ago, after a late night of working, I YouTube'd vintage Michael interviews from the time of his Off the Wall and Thriller releases. Hearing him talk about his inspiration, his love for creating and performing, and making others happy with his work resonated with me as I embark on a new creative adventure.
I've heard very mixed reviews about this latest album, Xscape, which is a compilation of edited and unfinished works. Because I miss him so much, my plan is to get it and accept that fact that I will take what I can get. (Including the MJ hologram, which despite folks saying it's creepy, I actually enjoyed).
Coração a Batucar from Maria Rita
Daughter of the legendary Brazilian singer Elis Regina, has made a name of her own with a sweet eclectic sound. She's widely popular in Brazil, but I'm just getting hip to her amazing voice on this recent album infused with classic samba, pagode and bossa nova sounds.
The legendary hip hop trio, De La Soul, has made their entire catalog of music (and extra mixes and goodies) available for you to download for free, as of 11 am today until 12 pm tomorrow afternoon. You need to download it now! Even if you don't know their music, which is even more of a reason to do so. That's all I have to say.
Have a great weekend. Happy Valentine's Day, and stay warm my fellow east-coasters!
I really love Beyonce's new album. A lot. I've been playing it non-stop since its release, which is something I always do with new music I love. It usually takes another new album to allow me to give the other a break. In this case, I'm making space for Just a Band's 2012 release, Sorry for the Delay. I came across an article about this artists collective on the New York Times website, which talks about the work they're doing with video, design, photography, and of course music. While working on my own projects I began playing Sorry for the Delay and became a fan instantly. Their sound is wonderful. I especially love this song, "Probably for Lovers."
(Also, be sure to check out the article, "African Artists, Lifted by the Promises of Democracy and the Web," on NYT)
This year went by so fast. I recently read somewhere that some years bring questions and other years come with answers. This year, 2013, came with a lot of questions, so I'm hoping 2014 has some answers for me. Either way, this year was truly amazing. I learned a lot, saw a lot, and really enjoyed the (sometimes bumpy) ride.
I hope you're taking this time to reflect, refresh, and renew; whether it's alone in meditation or traveling to see family and friends I wish you a safe and fantastic holiday season.
As always, thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing you in the new year!
This site has been running for seven years!! It's been a wonderful experience managing Fly as I navigate the changes in my life: from New York to Philly to Baltimore, from working as a full-time designer to grad-school, then becoming a design educator and freelance designer. I started with posting a few times a day to a few times a week; loyal readers have seen it all happen live, while new readers have an extensive archive of goodies to discover. With that said I am very thankful for you. For the visits, the sharing, the comments on the blog, and the sweet messages sent behind the scenes. I am so thankful for having connected with so many of you amazing women, and a few fellas, who are living courageously creative. Thank you for sharing your time and energy, for saying hello, and for your "thank yous" and stories. I really appreciate you all!
Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Every weekend I have big plans like I'm going to conquer the world. Those two precious days always come with a lot of promise. For me it's usually less about relaxation (which is so bad) and more about getting my hands on some creative projects that I don't have much time for during the week. But usually what happens is I overwhelm myself with an impossible schedule and by the time Sunday comes I am waking up from what my good friend, e, calls a work week hang-over.
This weekend I worked the art market again, finished up a freelance project, and did some grading. I had big plans to get my place in order but I was so exhausted Sunday that the only thing I did for the home was a little grocery shopping, laundry and completed the task of cleaning off my dresser that was overflowing with randomness. I finally put up this beautiful vintage mirror I found, which is just leaning on the wall (not sure if I'm going to hang it or not).
It was a small accomplishment out of all that I wanted to do, but I have to say that seeing my dresser organized and pretty makes me happy.
Tell me, how was your weekend?
A design colleague of mine, Craig Brimm of Kiss My Black Ads, recently posted an intriguing article that was featured on the Communication Arts website called Homogeneity Is the Enemy of Creativity: So why are we so male? And so white? by Kat Gordon, a creative director and advertising executive. The article shares Gordon's thoughts on why creative agencies need to make a more conscious effort to build diverse creative teams with women and people of color. Being both a woman and a person of color this really spoke to me. I appreciate Gordon's honesty, and nodded in agreement when reading her thoughts.
In the article, Gordon shares how we can all afford to feel a little more creatively uncomfortable and challenged when problem solving; which she says only happens when we work with people who have very different experiences from our own. Innovation and awesome ideas come from groups of diverse thinkers. We need more people with very different backgrounds brainstorming, making decisions, and solving our world's problems.
"Someone agreeing with me, thinking like me, reinforcing my train of thought—while reassuring at a cocktail party or during pillow talk with a partner—is not the stuff of big ideas. True breakthrough thinking launches with “what if” and “why couldn’t” and “I see it differently.” There should be some tension, struggle and compromise in the birth of a great idea.'
To summarize, sitting in a room with a bunch of people who look like you and think the way you do is a recipe for bland ideas.
One of Kat's suggestions for fixing this problem? In addressing her colleagues in creative and ad agencies she challenges them to "rethink the Rolodex hire" — which I do agree is a good place to start, but wonder if that is enough.
Is asking these long-standing companies, agencies, organizations, print and online institutions to be more diverse (in front and/or behind-the-scenes) the answer? Is asking them to consider content with a different face a solution? Are these the best answers to resolving the homogeneity problem in creative industries, or more broadly, the media?
The problem with this solution is that it's putting too much power into the hands of people who aren't forward-thinking enough to come to this conclusion on their own. Most of these companies are in a "if it ain't broke why fix it" mentality and are often producing work on the defensive. In order for these entities to change they have to be challenged, and they are only challenged when other creatives give those entities a run for their money (which also means a run for their clients/projects).
How does one create a challenge? Be a maker.
Don't wait for others to tell you what to make. Don't wait for an entity to validate you in order for you to contribute. Make your own ad agency, multimedia company, design firm, magazine, show, website, platform, gallery, museum, live/work space, artists collective, studios, or start-up.
Create what you want to see.
With technology, social media, and skill-based educational platforms at our fingertips there are few reasons if any for us not to be authors, creators, curators, producers, and directors. Consuming content is cool, but creating original content is power. Whether you're an artist, designer, director, writer, photographer, or crafter there is no reason for you to wait to be validated by institutions that refuse to acknowledge your talent. There are new rules. The folks who used to say what's hot, avant garde, or innovative aren't the know-it-alls anymore. You and your creative crews need to establish new rules, new standards, new definitions of what's dope.
I will say, being a part of these institutions is a great place to start, sitting at the table contributing to those conversations is a great way to learn. I support this direction, but I believe that it is a steep hill to climb. One person, or a few folks changing the culture of an entire institution is a hard fight. So I often wonder if it's a better fight if that energy is used to create new institutions that serve this new time, space, and world we now occupy.
When looking at media brands like Clutch Magazine, neonV, iamother.com, and the newly launched Saint Heron I smile because it's already happening. But we need more. There are too many creatively talented and visionary people in this world for there to be a handful of entities that support and bring light to neo-culturalism and dynamic-diversity.
Challenging old ideas by showing other successful options is a way to address the homogeneity issue we have in our creative industries and media. I know it ain't easy, but it ain't impossible!
What say you?
When I visit Brazil one of the things I have to bring back with me is coconut soap. There, it's typically used for hand-washing clothes but I like to use it as a deep cleanser for the face (and skin overall) and it's perfect for the soaking portion of your pedicure at home. The coconut oil acts as a light moisturizer as it cleans, leaving everything soft to the touch.
They come in big chunks (depending on the brand) and are super easy to cut into smaller pieces, especially if you don't want to use the entire bar at once.
Using some hand-printed canvas material (heavy enough to not get oil spots from the soap) I wrapped each bar, tied it with yarn, and added a little lavender as an accent. The result is a little souvenir from Brazil to give to friends.
What kinds of gifts do you bring back for friends when you travel?
Have you heard Beyonce's new single "Grown Woman?" I first heard the track last week and immediately fell in love with what sounds like an afrobeat inspired song. As an artist/designer I sometimes fantasize about dream projects, especially ones that fit into the my design aesthetic. So as soon as I heard this song, with its rich mix of global sounds, I could instantly visualize the colors, cinematography, and styling. If I were asked to art direct this music video the styling of the Fela Queens, the dark collage imagery consistent in vintage Grace Jones music videos, and the layering of patterns in photography from Seydou Keita would be my sources of inspiration.
Do you have a dream project? What is it and what would you do for the project?