Tag: Art

Finding Inspiration

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When I started down my path of fashion design in college I had to discover a new way of learning and a new way of thinking. I was no longer completing my coursework through worksheets, quizzes and exams, I was completing projects; projects that included sketches, mood boards and original sewn garments. The most difficult part for me though was not learning how to sew or pattern my creations, it was finding the inspiration for those designs.

When I started my design work, the hardest part was to let my mind wander and to not overthink things. I felt as though my ideas were always safe and predictable. It took me a long time to realize that some of the best ideas come from some of the most unexpected places.

A lot of creative people suggested visiting art museums or looking at architecture or nature for inspiration. Well, living in Ames, Iowa made finding inspiration like that pretty difficult. I had to learn to look at the small things in life a little differently. What I learned is that you can find beauty and inspiration in some of the most mundane and random things around you. For example, my latest collection is inspired entirely off of office supply items, that’s right, items like pencils and rubber bands. The key is to take in the small moments of each day and pay attention to what you are doing and what is going on in every situation. Think about it; everything you interact with each day has some type of texture, color, shape, purpose and story.

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Talk to people around you, read books on history or art, visit museums (big or small) and take in everything when you venture outside. Let your mind wander and explore the ideas that seem the most ‘out there’ or impossible. Those crazy ideas are the creations that will set you apart.

Andy Warhol’s work has recently become my greatest inspiration. He was always able to find beauty in the most unexpected places. If he can make a Campbell’s soup can a work of art, anything is fair game.  IMG_0727

Manayunk, Philadelphia

corner house As I’m sitting here back in the Midwest, classwork in full swing for my last year of college, I cannot help but reminisce on all of the beautiful places I have visited in the last year. One place in particular that always comes to mind is Manayunk, Philadelphia.

After my visit to Philly this summer I never really wrote about my stay in Manayunk, so I figured I would go back and write about my experience.

canal flower Now, for those of you that don’t know, Manayunk is a neighborhood in the Northwestern section of Philadelphia. It is located on the banks of the Schuylkill River and contains the first canal began in the United States. It is a beautiful hilly little neighborhood, full of colorful buildings, art and lots of fun shops and restaurants.

hill manyunk rest manyunk neighborhood There are a lot of great little bars there with tons of character. We enjoyed getting away from NYC for a weekend and enjoyed more affordable prices. You’ll notice a lot of locals around town, but there is also a very young presence there.

If you’re looking to visit Philadelphia for a weekend I would definitely suggest staying the night in Manayunk. It was a very relaxed getaway for the night. We had a lovely breakfast at Greg’s Kitchen the next morning too (so delicious and ridiculously affordable).

painting1 ice cream place street art My favorite part of our visit to this neighborhood was our walk along the water. There was a great little boardwalk, surrounded by plants and artwork. There were locals riding their bike along the path, and families eating ice cream near the water.

This was the perfect little escape from NYC.

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Until next time Philly!

Brimfield Antique Show

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Two and a half hours from Manhattan sits the little New England town of Brimfield; a quaint community surrounded by apple orchards, horse farms and rolling grassy hills. If you were visiting the area on a normal weekend it would appear as a simple charming small town, but three weekends a year this town actually holds one of the largest and best-known antique shows in the country.

Picture over a mile of tents, lining a hilly tree-lined road in Massachusetts. Brimfield Antique Show features more than 5,000 different vendors and sells anything from antique furniture and decor to one of a kind vintage fashion items.

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When the handbag design team invited me to come with on their trip to Brimfield I couldn’t wait. It is the perfect place to find design inspiration and draw new ideas from vintage pieces of the past… Of course, I had to do a little shopping there too!

The show had everything you could imagine. From weird and quirky yard art, to trendy dishware, to spunky vintage clothing and accessories it was a maze of amusement. I loved wandering from tent to tent and exploring all of the old items. Some were weird and hilarious, some were dainty and beautiful and some were just plain historic… but I loved experiencing every angle of the show.

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When it comes to eating there, they have any type of food vendor you could think of. a mac n’ cheese truck, lobster rolls, tacos, bbq, Italian paninis, wraps.. just about anything you could crave! Not to mention ice cream and treats of course. I had a fabulous lunch there mid-day, and was perfectly fueled to finish my antique hunt in the afternoon.

If you live in the area, or have an apartment in NYC, Brimfield would be the perfect place to shop for home decor and antique furniture. The prices, for the most part, are awesome, and incorporating a vintage piece into any apartment adds instant character. Unfortunately I will have to fly back home to the midwest soon, so I only shopped for things that I could realistically fit in my luggage… I think I did pretty well though!

Check out my little Brimfield haul below.

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Venice, Italy

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I was always very excited to visit Venice, Italy, but this town completely blew my expectations out of the water (literally!). The town was colorful and charming, full of amazing little shops, and the narrow canals throughout the city made it very unique and beautiful.

It was very easy to travel to Venice for a day trip from Florence. We hopped on a train for about two hours and arrived at the station right on the water. From the station, we could take a ferry to the center of the city, San Marco. Once arriving at San Marco, I enjoyed touring the church, wandering through the charming shops, and grabbing lunch at a local restaurant.

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After spending some time touring the beautiful area, we enjoyed a gondola ride along the canals through the city. Gondola rides in Venice are a bit expensive (plan for about 80E for a 25 minute ride), but they are 100% worth the money. The ride gave me an entirely new perspective on the town, and the views from the water are so different from the little roads and bridges. Riding the gondola in Venice is one of my favorite activities so far that I have done in all of Europe. Budget the money ahead of time and do it!

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While shopping around Venice, you will notice a lot of two things, murano glass and a lot of Venetian masquerade masks. Both of these items are very unique to the area and I would highly suggest buying a little something to take home. Murano glass is a specialty of Venice’s Murano island. In Venice, you will find the colorful glass in the form of beautiful, unique, beads for jewelry, adorable little figurines, chandeliers, and a lot of elegant glassware for the home. I chose to buy a few different glass pendants that I could later hang from a chain of my own. An easy, lightweight, (and cheap!), way to bring that unique piece of Venice home with me.

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Now, before I get into the nitty gritty of these masks, you’re probably wondering what these are all about right? Well each year, Venice holds a festival called the ‘Carnival of Venice’. This festival is about ten days long and ends with the Christian celebration of Lent the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival was started all the way back in the 11th century and today has become a world famous event. Masks have always been an important feature of the Venetian carnival, along with costumes, and each year there is even a contest for the most beautiful and elaborate mask.

As far as masks in Venice go, I chose to buy two different styles with the intention of using them as decor when I return home. So many stores in Venice sell these amazing masks that it is hard to pick the best place to get them from. Overall, if you are really into the story behind the masks, and you want to get an authentic piece, spend a little more and make sure to buy a mask that is made of the paper mache/plaster material versus the cheap plastic kind. I found that this type of mask is more authentic and often painted by a local artist. The type of masks that I bought are said to each be unique in their own way by the artist. I love that the inside of each is signed and dated too!

(Below is a picture of my two new Venetian masquerade masks)

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‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’ Exhibit & The MET

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This past weekend a friend and I visited The MET for the first time and it was a trip that will never be forgotten. Being from Chicago, I have visited some amazing museums and art galleries before, but never have I visited a museum where I could gaze at egyptian tomb findings, famous Van Gogh paintings, and a fashion exhibit all in one place. As a creative individual, it was an inspiring day to say the least!

For anyone who hasn’t visited The MET before, aside from visiting the new Charles James exhibit (my favorite) make sure to take plenty of time to experience the sculptures on the first floor and the amazing paintings on the 2nd floor. Both sections are beautiful and worth every bit of your time! Taking a moment to see the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Seurat in person will change your life, I promise! And if you need a mental break from all of the beautiful art during your day, head up to the roof for a breathtaking view.

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Now, about this Charles James exhibit that I have been raving about…

I had heard wonderful things about the Charles James exhibit before visiting The MET, but I couldn’t have predicted just how much of an impact it would have on me as a young aspiring fashion designer. The atmosphere and display of the exhibit is so simple, yet so dramatic and perfect. James’ most notable designs are truly a work of art, and the way that each was displayed made it very apparent to each visitor just that. Not only could you view every angle of each piece up close, but video animations and live-feed cameras throughout the exhibit made it possible to see every detail of construction that went into it.

As a designer, I found it so intriguing to be able to learn about how the garment was patterned and constructed to create the silhouette and drape of the finished product. I loved watching the animations display each garment on a form, and then unwrap and pick apart each area piece by piece by what the pattern looked like. I can proudly say that I read every single description of each garment and watched every animation of their construction. The added effects really allowed visitors to gain a greater appreciation for the mathematics that go into drafting a garment pattern, and allowed them to understand the work that was spent on each exquisite piece.

Not only did the exhibit let you see Charles James’ work, but it also let you into the mind of the designer. The exhibit was coated in James’ quotes and what he thought about fashion. Too often today, designers create garments with the simple intention of pleasing the public, I loved that Charles James looked to create new, innovative, designs that would inspire the public to go outside of their comfort zone.

I am inspired after seeing this exhibit to continue to challenge myself and my ability to create truly innovative work. I want to continually analyze what I am doing, and always work to reinvent my designs and perfect my visions.

Words from the man himself –

“A great designer does not seek acceptance. He challenges popularity.” – Charles James