Monday, February 25, 2013

To Be an Artist

To be an artist, any kind of successful artist, you must live, eat and breath the creativity around you. But to be truly successful is so much more then that. My work as a fashion designer/artist is only comparable that of a long term relationship. At first, you have puppy love with your subject matter. This regards the first stages of a project, when your excited about the idea, you see the end result, your visualize your finished product and can not wait to make it happen. 
Stage two is problem solving. In this stage your beginning the hard work it takes to really make an idea come alive. This stage will test wether you really want to finish what you set out to do. Some days you will wake up and hate the sight of your project, the fact that its unfinished looming in your mind. Unlike a 9-5 job there is no escape from your work because most of your work lives in your mind up until completion, and the fact that its not done tugs at you from the inside out. If working on a particularly hard project you will run into issues, problem solving that needs to be done. Thinking of how to make it work takes up your spare time, turning your brain into a 24/7 work studio. 
The stress can be unbearable if you don’t know what your doing, because there is nothing from stopping it from waking you in the middle of the night with a solution, or sometimes the question you should have been asking all along. I have seen many people, one look at their face and I can see that they are fighting the battle against time while attempting to create their own masterpiece. But deadlines rule in the world of creativity, and most of us have a short window to make our work count. 
Then, there is the times where everything clicks. You feel like a magician as you conjure up ideas from your head, into reality as if it was nothing. These are the days I live for, because I feel like some crazy fashion super hero, who can make the world into whatever I see it to be inside my mind. As if the world and I are doing a dance in tandem, flawlessly feeling the others next move, and allowing the transformation of the project a runway to take off on. 
There is no doubt that this process is rewarding, but you have to love it. There is no faking the love because it will be tested. You will be pushed to the edge of your sanity, just to see if you can handle being the best. And even after you have completed said work of art you are left with the question: is it your best work. 99% of the time the answer is no, and replacing the creative process in your mind is a hunger to create again, this time better, this time bigger. This time you will undoubtedly be the best.
I personally love what I do, although I sometimes feel like the mad hatter slipping slowly into insanity. My work courses through my veins as I breath in the inspiration, and exhale the possibility of failure. The human brain can be a very lonely place if you let it, so music, books on tape, or anything else you can play in the background of your workspace helps to distract it from the reality or working for 10 hours in the same tiny room. 
If your brave enough, bold enough to finish what you have set out to do, you might one day be in a playing field center stage to the world. And you have managed to be the 1% who is showing their vision, exactly the way it was seen in your mind, the feeling is unparalleled. It is the most honest form of expression that can be mustered. No amount of words can replace a true vision of the mind that has been physically created so that others can share in the impact of your thoughts. And you know inside that this seemly small output of information could impact many to change how they think about the world. 
Why do we do it though? If a process can drive you mad, why would you even walk that tightrope? Because without color, the world would be grey, and without imagination, there would be nothing left to live for in the turning tides of responsibility. Without the artist, dreams would fail to be real, and the illusion of anything with be diminished to nothing. We do it because we have to, for the true artist is born crazy in their own right, practicing art is our form of admitting we are indeed off-our-rocker, and showing the world how beautiful a place crazy is. Today, crazy is the place of wild dreams where anything is possible if your sane enough to handle it. 

Valentines Day

Valentines day came after the great snowstorm with the cute name we now know as Nemo. Nemo has successfully deserted Boston of its commuters, closed down all of Newbury Street for almost the entire weekend, and by doing so, caused the poor men of the world to fit in all their valentines day shopping at the last possible moment wether they were going to procrastinate or not. My part time job resides in a small chocolate shop on Newbury street where this story unfolds. 
I have worked in various chocolate stores during Valentines day for 5 years plus at this point in my life. Call it a hobby, but I know my chocolate, and if your looking for advice on what to get to make your lover happy in regards to chocolate, I am the gal to come to. 
Every time Valentines Day rolls around, and it becomes T minus 3 days until the day arrives, all chocolate stores encounter 3 types of men. The first is a classic sweetheart, he is calm, happy, and enjoys the process of buying gifts putting his own thoughtful touch into what he buys. The second is a man who comes in, picks up a box carelessly and says, “this looks expensive and pretty, good enough!” Then there is the third kind of man, you can spot the third kind by the look of terror and impending doom on his face. This man talks with an edge of emergency, as if the world is coming to and end and he is preparing what could be, his last day on earth. He normally wants to choose the chocolates that go in his box, wanting to control every aspect of the purchase. When picking out the chocolates, his demeanor reflects that of a person who has just been handed a bomb, and is trying to figure out which wire to cut to disable it. He will never shed this look of terror in his eyes, even after the purchase as the whole thing is one big terrifying experience. 
Fortunately, I know these three men and act accordingly to each. The first man you take your time getting everything to reflect a thoughtful touch, for the second man you should potentially do some extra ribboning of the box to give it flair, but do it fast he does not care enough about this gift to wait around twiddling his thumbs. The third needs constant reassurance of how beautiful a gift he is getting, how his significant other will love it, and how well everything will go for him after this purchase. 
I find the concept of Valentines day funny being in a relationship. Its almost as if we celebrate it to keep up with the rest of the world instead of keeping up with our individual relationships. If your significant other forgets the day, or you choose not to celebrate it, it doesn’t mean that your relationships not full of love, and yet the fact remains that you feel left out of a bigger picture. Its the one day where most people look to their neighbors outward display of happiness to see if the grass is greener on the other side. When really those who are constantly looking at everyone else's happiness to compare to their own, are not going to be made happy by a box of chocolates anyway. It’s a holiday where only the most secure people will be truly happy, as the rest of us squabble to find a reassurance in one of the most delicate dynamics in life, love. 

Storm Nemo Comes To Boston

Since I last wrote, Boston Massachusetts has survived a massive snowstorm followed by Valentines Day- the one day out of the year where the lovers of the world all put tremendous pressure on their significant others to sum up a loving relationship with symbolic acts that “defines” the way they feel about each other. 
The beginning of this adventure starts the two days before the snowstorm Nemo. My boyfriend was just getting out of work from the Prudential Tower as I met him to go buy some groceries for that night. One of the joys of living in the middle of Boston is the 24 hour super markets always located a hop and a skip away from your apartment. The supermarket we were headed to on this lovely Thursday evening is called Shaws, and is located next the the Prudential Tower right smack in the middle of the city. 
When we entered through the sliding doors the store was a buzz with people doing their pre-snowstorm grocery shopping. “This is normal,” I thought as we walked through the store, observing people who had carts that would lead one to believe the end of the world might be tomorrow. Back home in Amherst Massachusetts, I find that people stock their cabinets with the slightest warning of an impending storm, so my mindset was that Bostonians must do the same therefor making this normal.
It was not until we were halfway down an aisle that was set in the far back of the store that we noticed a unsetting amount of people just standing around with full carts. At first, I experienced immediate irritation. I couldn’t understand why people were literally standing in middle of the aisle doing nothing. Perhaps, for some reason, there was a large number of clueless people out and about, that all decided to go food shopping at the same time? I wasn’t sure.
It wasn’t until I was blocked by three different people in the cereal aisle that I peered down to the front of the store. It was then I saw it, the line of never-ending lines. For you to understand how ridiculous this whole situation is its important to know that this Shaws supermarket is HUGE. In fact, it might just be the largest supermarket in Boston. The lines were so long, each spanned at lease half the length of the store, which is insanity because there is a plentiful amount registers at the front of the store. 
This site would annoy most people, but my mood instantly changed to that of excitement. I began passing each aisle, peering down at the people in it as if I was observing some National Geographic special on television. 
After my excitement began to calm down, and I started turning from a 5 year-old back to a 23 year-old, I took notice of the dominating item in everyones carts: alcohol. One man, about the age of 35 had a handle of vodka, a bottle of Patron tequila, two bottles of wine and some snack food that one would hardly call a well balanced meal. The man ahead of him had two bottles of wine, and so on. If I had to guess, I would say 85% of shoppers had $30+ each of alcohol in their carts. 
Out of curiosity I looked into the liquor section of Shaws. Lets just say, If you were coming into that store without knowing what those aisles held, you might assume, judging by the amount of people grabbing bottles off the shelf, that those bottles held something that was a necessity for staying alive during a snowstorm. 
Once I was done running around the store, observing people as Mark rolled his eyes and tried to distance the fact that we knew each other, we put our meager three items each back on the shelf, and got out of there. We substituted CVS as our supermarket that night as we stopped by a whole foods briefly only to find the same shopping frenzy of people in a mad dash for groceries.
The next day was Friday, and Nemo had officially begun. I was released from work early as the snow fell and the parking ban turned into a driving ban. It was strange walking home seeing streets on Boylston naked of the cars that were always parked on both sides.
Mark (my boyfriend) came home from his finance job that evening with the unfortunate news that his second night job at a local bar had not let him off work. In fact, the bar was so determined to stay open, they put their waitresses up in a local hotel. Not one to miss the possibility of adventure, I whimsically decided to give him some company at work with the promise of storm photos lingering in the future. Plus lets face it, I wanted to see Boston engulfed in snow to the fullest. Little did I know how interesting the actual bar part of the night would be. 
Most people in a blizzard hunker down in their home with some hot coco, and maybe watch a movie or have a drink if your in the mood. Apparently Boston people take this chance to buy alcohol like it was water and party hard. For those who could not do this in the privacy of their homes, there is the bar, if that is, your brave enough to fight the storm to get there. 
By the time Mark and I adventured outside to make the 10 minuet journey to his bar job, the winds were wicked and the snow was more like ice shards that angrily insisted on making their way into your eyes. The level of the snow had climbed to my knees, which was impressive as it was only 9pm at night. Considering we would be at the bar until about 2 am, adventure was definitely afoot and ready for us.
After a walked that seemed to be 30 minutes, we reached our destination. During I came to the conclusion that I would make a terrible arctic explorer, vying for a nice cup of hot coco rather then ice in the face. Everyone in the bar seemed to be prepared, however, as they were all dressed in snow pants and ski goggles. Throughout the night I met lots of people and has multiple interactions, but two of them specifically stood out. The first was a group of rebellious 35-40 year olds who insisted on being mischievous. Their tactic in doing this was to act out in small enough ways that they were not booted from the bar, but large enough ways to keep the bouncers busy all night with their mischievous actions. One woman, perhaps in her 40’s, actually starting hanging on a light fixture adorned to the wall above the woman's bathroom. The manner in which she did this was that of a pole dancer. For those of you who still aren't seeing this image, she was acting like a clothed stripper. The wall the light fixture was set into was made of brick, and the fact she didn’t end up with light fixture in her face still amazes me. 
The second person that stood out to me was a man that everyone refereed to as “Big Sexy.” “Big Sexy” stands at about 6’4” with dark skin, and weighs somewhere in the range 300 pound range. He was also one of the most hilarious, friendly, hard to miss people at the bar. At first, he was introduced to me by a friend who said, “ Sarah, this is  Sexy, Sexy this is Sarah.” However, we were in a bar, and I was so sure I had misheard the name, therefor assumed it was a unusual name that was hard to pronounce. Later it was explained to me that all the locals who come to the bar call him “Sexy” or “Big Sexy.” When I asked Mark what his real name was, Mark looked up quizzically for a moment before slightly frowning, then lifted his eyebrows in surprise saying “You know, I have known him for 2 years, and I have never heard anyone call him anything but Big Sexy.” 
At 3am we left the bar and ventured the barren streets of Boston. On the way home, we only encountered one lone man carrying a yellow sled under his arm. The next day was Saturday and we awoke like two kids on Christmas morning to go explore the snowscape that was not Boston. 
We traveled from Symphony down to the Boston Commons, and finally to the North End and Aquarium. Then, because the subway was closed, we headed the long way back.  During our commute we stopped to document the storms impact on the city. Bostonians were alive with the new change of scenery. There were people skiing in the streets, others letting their dogs off lease because no one was driving, kids being pulled on sleds, and finally runners who would never let a snowstorm get in the way of training for the Boston Marathon, forced by the snow to run down the center of the main streets.
At the end of the day we returned home with wind burned faces, and exhaustion in our limbs. Finally, we cozied up and did what most people do during a snowstorm, indulge in some hot coco, and a good movie. Of corse if I didn’t add my own competitive edge to the day, my name would not be Sarah Burke, so I submitted my storm photos to National Geographic’s My Shot section of their website, and it was later selected among the best of the best viewer-caught storm photos. The link to National Geographic and the photo itself are below. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Word to the Wise

Fashion design is like walking a tight rope. On one shoulder you have your sanity, on the other your physical health. In your mind you hold your creation, over your head, the threat of failure. You walk this tightrope, trying not to look down, trying to balance it all as you know it is an act that requires you to keep your eyes on the prize. You know that if you stumble and fall, the time lapse it will take to pick yourself up is time you can’t spare if you are going to make your deadlines. Your aiming to be the 1% of the population who makes it, your planning on somehow making it to the top in your own right. All the odds stare you in the eyes as you see that nothing comes by chance. So you work, you work every day as hard as you can. The work you start producing becomes your way of screaming to the world why you are the person who can make it. But is it enough? You question this and come up without an answer to put your mind at ease. The stress threatens to drown you so you better be a good swimmer of positive thought to keep your vision of making it in the front of your mind. Positive thoughts become as important as the air you breath, for as the true artist, there is no such thing as good enough. You know you will do it better next time, but right now is all the counts. You want the world in an hour when all you have is a minute. You win some awards and people congratulate you, pat you on the back. But your already on the next project because you know that your only as good as todays achievements, and those awards and already yesterdays news. What have you done today? Why should the world care? You brain allows your genius if only you would let go. The world tries to tell you the right way to be working, you block it out and do what works. You do all of this with purpose, with conviction, wondering if you will get a break to show the world what you can do. For now, you live as loud as possible, trying to make a connection unfound in the present, but maybe existing somewhere in the future. For now, you live as an ant, unnoticed, small, and by no means an impact on the field you have started to obsess over. The only solution is to continue like your life depends on it. “An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.”-Newtons first law of motion. I plan to be that object moving forward, and if an unbalanced force comes my way, I plan to bob and weave until I get around it. My friend once told me “Healthy people look at life's challenges as an adventure, not a stress.” Since then, when I am lost, or feeling defeated I smile, because on the on the cliff destruction, comes the breakthrough of success if you know how to find it. 

Designing my Collection. Concept and Sketches

Coming back to my real life in Boston was surreal. In London, living in Zandra Rhodes house, something inside my brain had clicked. I felt like Alice, who had fallen down the rabbit hole, gone on this insane journey only to return to real life with an execs of unparalleled memories that changed everything. 
           The first thing I did after the jet lag wore off was to start sketching. I sketched until my hand was sore and my eyes, heavy. When I wasn’t sketching I was thinking about what my 5 piece collection for my senior year would be. Before I left london, Zandra Rhodes had gifted me with three different hand-printed fabrics. The 5 piece collection would contain all three, but the concept was still emerging. I struggled deeply with the creation of this concept because I look at anything I create as communicating with the world. This grand spectacle would be a chance to say something to a large audience, but what was it I wanted to tell them? After days of thinking about it, I realized I wanted to illustrate my experience in London in a visual spectacular. I wanted to take the viewer down the rabbit hole I fell into, and show them the world of color, beauty, and fantasy I had seen. I aimed to illustrate the merging of Zandras train of thought and style of art with my own. The conclusion of this was that each of the 5 looks in the collection must illustrate a part of this journey. While only I know which parts of the journey they illustrate, the viewer will have the luxury of getting taste of the overall experience. 

A second inspiration to this collection came from artist Nick Cave who one of my friends introduced me to when I had gotten back from my trip. Nick Cave works a lot with costumes that contain materials that are designed to be seen in movement. The particular outfit that really inspired me was his raffia costumes. This costumes were heat to toe raffia which is a hula skirt grass that is really light and playable. After watching the outfits move I knew raffia was something I wanted to incorporate into the collection. The designs will change here and there over the corse of creation, but for the most part they are drawn the way they will look in real life. 

My Final Starting Sketches 

Print 1 from Zandra Rhodes
Print 2 from Zandra Rhodes
Print 3 from Zandra Rhodes

Part Two: My Real Life (Back to Boston)

Hello again! After returning from London and my adventure with Zandra Rhodes, I seemed to have fallen down the rabbit hole into my work and away from my blog. However, nothing could keep me away forever. Thus I’m Back, with a bag full of crazy stories, and a future full of possible success.
          To catch you up we will go back to the basics. There has been so much I have not told you about that the easiest way to get this going is to itemize what you have missed, since I last wrote. So here it is, In chronological order:

1.) Returned to MassArt to set up a Zandra Rhodes textile exhibit. (the exhibit is unfortunately over, however I will eventually show you the exhibit in my blog, and how it was set up.)
2.) Started my final year of college at Massachusetts College of Art and Design
3.) Designed a 5 piece collection for my final year, and created 3 of the 5 looks. 
4.) Met up with AndrĂ© Leon Talley and Zandra Rhodes at the VIP Zandra Rhodes exhibit tour and dinner. 
5.) Applied to the Wearable world of Art competition in New Zealand, and started creating the garments for the competition. 
6.) Started applying for jobs after graduation which is more of an adventure then you think it would be. I will eventually give you the 411 on how THATS going

This is the list my life has revolved around since I wrote last. The only thing not on that list would be that my boyfriend of 5 years has moved into my apartment immediately after I came home from London. I will tell you now, there is no better test of love for a man then moving into his girlfriends 1 bedroom, shoe box of an apartment, but we will get into that later. 
So hold tight, get cozy, and continue to tune into my blog. This is part two, my real life. I will be taking you into my home, school, and work in Boston Massachusetts. I am going to give you a view into everything, from how much work it takes to have anyone give a dam about you, to how to set up a gallery space for a big exhibit. I am going to tell you what it feels like to live a life where everything that you earn, you must work for as if you have nothing in this world that is more important. Lastly, I am going to tell you about how it feels, the sacrifices you make, and how I wouldn’t give this crazy life up for the world. So don’t call it a come back, because I really haven't gone anywhere...yet!