An Artist

There are people that come into your life inspiring perspective. They challenge your standards with theirs, and have the power to reverse the discouragement and doubt that might have weighed you down. They bring with them periods of enlightenment and growth. I think this is especially valuable in the case of artists; to enjoy someone else’s creativity and passion is one of the most motivating experiences, regardless of medium.

Dave Mentzer, a film photographer based out of Frederick MD, is one of those people. I have had the pleasure of watching him work from both in front of the camera and behind the scenes styling his shoots, and although I am no photographer (completely technically challenged*), his craft has changed mine.

Dave’s work is a process of intention, and every single frame is an opportunity for perfection. From the moment the shutter clicks, through the development, editing and upload, every decision is valued. He is critical and precise and if the result isn’t up to his standards, it never sees the light of day.

In contrast, there’s me.

I intentionally avoid thinking anything through, and produce endless amounts of rubbish until something I like happens to manifest itself from my hand. My work is technically embarrassing, my materials are often improvised and, although I am critical of my work, I never did commit to personal development as to maybe create art I’d actually like to share with the world.

But this summer I practiced every day, I experimented, actually completed projects I started, and I am branching out in mediums and planning and committing to bigger projects for the future.

I am an artist, but denied that for years. I was discouraged and lazy and impatient and insecure. So I want to share a few of the amazing creatives I’ve worked with/hope to meet, who’s own dedication and talent inspired mine.  Artists with different mediums and stories and processes and influences that stand for the lesson that there is no one, or right, way to be an “artist”.

http://instagram.com/davementzer/
http://instagram.com/drake.alexander/
http://instagram.com/longshirtsnshortskirts/
http://instagram.com/jahnschavez/
https://instagram.com/starladawnndl/
https://www.instagram.com/neoandlime/
https://www.instagram.com/oraclefox/
https://www.instagram.com/icmb_/

It took for me to see how other artists CAN, to even try.

This series is of my studio space, photographed by the lovely Dave. And my methods might be a right fucking disaster, but it’s ok. Because at least now I’m actually creating.


Photography by Dave Mentzer

 

Metamorphosis

Summer is drawing to a close, and the coming season inspires reflection.

I’ve found myself in a metamorphosis. Shedding a skin which, in the past crazy months, began to dry and shrivel tight around me. A skin grown for another life, wearing thin. Now shreds have begun to peel away, revealing flesh burning brightly through the tears. I am so conscious of my own potential, consumed by the rush I feel standing at the brink of transformation.

But for many months, I was caught beneath the surface; fighting for just a little more time, a little room to think. Fighting inevitable change.

I moved to Berlin exactly a year ago, leaving a job, family, boyfriend, social circle, an entire life behind in Washington DC. I moved out of necessity to pursue an affordable education in a country that is supposed to be my “home” (you can read more about my TCK identity crisis in my first blogpost here) finding that when I arrived, I felt more foreign than I had anywhere before.

Living neither here, nor there, I idled. I survived every day in Berlin waiting to visit my old life, then spent my time in DC dreading leaving again. My coping mechanism (or lack thereof) was distracting myself as to avoid confrontation with the real issues at hand; refusing to reach out for help as I waited for the unhappiness to pass like an overcast sky. Instead it poured, and my lingering misery warped to became immobilizing…

What do you want?

The question ran through my head on an endless loop this year, like a riddle to be solved. Nothing had ever seemed more urgent, or more elusive. Did I want love, or for my parents to be proud of me? Did I really want a degree, did I want to live in Germany? What did I want of my career, of my future?

I overanalyzed at a microscopic level, blowing everything out of proportion. My angst erupted. I avoided my educational responsibilities, got fired from my first contract assignment, abandoned my great self-discovery blog project, relapsed into bad habits. I pushed away my family, failed to nurture friendships, neglected my well being and began to withdraw in my relationship.

Then a few weeks ago, I was gifted perhaps the most meaningful present I have ever received. A beautiful handmade drawing desk, equipped with paper, pens, paint and plants; a space to make my own. But more than it’s material value, the gift was reaffirmation that, even if I didn’t right then, someone believed in me and my potential.

I purged my fears and frustration and disappointment onto rolls of craft paper taped to the wall, and scribbled my heart out on dozens of sheets; inspired by every line and shape and color.

I made an important realization in those days of healing; covered in paint, positively exhausted and slightly cross-eyed sitting back looking at my work. Without passion in yourself, there isn’t much of a journey to be had.

It had been years since I had last experienced that tide of passion. Time is suspended, and doubts stand down, and your very being is committed to the next brush stroke, word choice, shot, cut, mile, whatever it may be; and you command total control of the outcome. Those moments are completely your own, and they are golden, not gilded.

Everything outside of you can, and will, change regardless of your effort. But it is solely your responsibility to commit to yourself, to create and lead the life you want to live.

See, I had been looking at the riddle all wrong. No matter how much you want anything, there is nothing you can change in the equation except yourself. You can’t want someone to be someone they aren’t, or want someone to love you just how you want to be loved. You can’t want success, only want to work harder to achieve your goals. You can’t want happiness, you have to want to let go of the things that make you unhappy.

Sitting here today, I am not where I thought I would be. I am certainly not where I thought I wanted to be. But I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting and can say with confidence that, more importantly, I am where I need to be.

I didn’t need a perfect relationship, or pleased parents, or a degree, or for everyone to like me or what I do. I had worried insistently about everything, dedicating my energy to problems and people I had no influence of, and ended up weary and completely out of touch with myself.

This is an important reminder to nurture yourself. To admit bad days, ask for help when you need it and promise to do what makes you happy, for you. It means making hard decisions; knowing when to stand up and go after what sets your soul on fire, even if it means disappointing others. I’m finding the value of sacrifice can be overrated, and am just putting to practice the advice to invest in yourself before you go pouring yourself into others.

It’s time for me to heal, time for me to devote the energy I’ve wasted trying to control what I couldn’t into myself. I am taking responsibility for my happiness and my future. Everything else will fall into place.

I’m committing more focus to my art with many projects planned for this fall, and I look forward to sharing more of my work in the coming weeks.

I haven’t got it all figured out, but I’m on my way.

And I am happy.

 

Photography: Dave Mentzer

Urban Gingham

Gingham can be reminiscent of picnic blankets and tablecloths blowing in balmy summer breezes; of simpler life, of youth and innocence. But the classic print broke out of it’s stereotype and dominated the SS17 catwalks at House of Holland, Peter Jensen, Prada, Carolina Herrera and Altuzarra with anything but a Southern Belle attitude.

Mixed textures, psychedelic print combinations, multicolored checks, ruffles, and floor length skirts; this season’s gingham has nobody looking like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. Redefining the fabric with contemporary cuts and colorways, it is the MVP(rint) on the scene.


I took gingham to the streets of Berlin. Featuring an open back, boxy crop and flared sleeves, this statement top checks (ha) all my favorite details without being superfluous. I paired it with raw white denim and slides to keep the look more urban than pin-up.

Choosing black and white over the retro red/green/blue checks modernizes the fabric and makes pieces more versatile. Where red gingham can end up looking a little country bumpkin, black gingham gives off a foolproof cool vibe pretty much anywhere.

 

 

Photography: Paula Werdnik

Below is a little compilation of my favorite black and white gingham pieces. I can only encourage rediscovering this print for yourself this summer. 

 

1. TOPSHOP trousers
2. ASOS ruched tie skirt
3. NEW LOOK lace up sandals
4. NEW LOOK peplum top
5. TOPSHOP pinafore dress