The Greater Good in a Backpack: stone + cloth
How long ago now was your trip to Tanzania that inspired your venture with stone + cloth? What was your initial inspiration behind travelling there to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
I was in design school at the time, and if I wasn't spending time in class, I was doing whatever I could to get outside and hike mountains. I had this dream of climbing the seven summits - the highest peak on every continent. My buddy presented me with the chance to take a free ride to Africa and climb Kilimanjaro, so I took it. It was my first opportunity to check one of those mountains off the list.
We are partnered with The Knock Foundation because they're well established on the ground in Tanzania, and are very dedicated to awarding scholarships to students. I met Kim, who runs the foundation, through a really good friend. The wonderful thing about working them is that I'm able to communicate with her on a regular basis.
The Knock Foundation awarded over 30 scholarships this year, and we're proud to say that after our first year of business, we contributed to that and to their lunch program at Mrupanga Primary school. Going forward, we'll continue to support Knock with their scholarship program to support those students year after year. We look at this as a 10-20 year project, and we're just getting started.
It boils down to two things: quality and relationships. We love being able to drive a few miles to the cut and sew shop and oversee production. It ensures our products are being made to the standard we expect, and it's really fun getting to know the people that make our products. For me, it's a really enjoyable part of the business.
The design of our flagship piece, the Benson, was designed to represent the rucksack that my porter, Benson carried for me on the mountain. Taking a few simple elements from that (the rucksack flap and drawstring) seemed like a natural way to weave my journey into the product. Since we're focused on education, I took a lot of inspiration from my simple Jansport I used everyday when I was in school. The result is what is now our best-selling product.
When I was in college, most of my time was spent at the School of Design. I couldn't really sit still in one particular area, so ended up taking a year of Landscape Architecture, a year of Fine Art, and a mess of Industrial Design, Urban Planning, and Architecture courses along the way. I've always loved making things, but when I started this project, it began with me on a really old sewing machine figuring out how to put two pieces of cloth together.
Our goal is to continue to sell high quality products at good prices, build a brand that people trust, and use our business as a vehicle to help other people realize their dreams through education.
Acongagua - South America
Carstensz - Australia, Oceania
Denali - North America
Vinson - Antarctica
Everest - Asia
I have not crossed any of the others off the list, but get out and hike in southern california whenever possible.
Lately i've been really inspired by movement. I stayed on my buddies' boat for a few days two weeks ago and was in Colorado last weekend. It just seems that every time I'm moving, everything makes more sense.
A Young Dude on His Art Game Hustle- An Interview with Greg Ito
Greg Ito is a force. If you are looking to meet someone more committed to his practice than most well-heeled, seasoned artists, who has his hands in more pots than most professional multitaskers, who is an Art World Jack Of All Trades and Master of All, look no further. Along with his friend and business partner, Andrew McClintock, Ito edits and produces San Francisco Art Quarterly, an international arts and culture magazine, and operates Ever Gold Gallery in the Tenderloin, as well as devoting himself to his own works of art. I was stoked to have the opportunity to interview Greg about his work and visit his incredible live-work studio space. Read on to learn more about what Greg has been up to.
First off, how do you have the time to do it all? Do you sleep? You've got a lot going on between producing your own artwork, running Ever Gold Gallery and editing SFAQ. You must be a master doubletasker, or else really good at scheduling your time.
It seems as though your past work lived in abstraction (and pattern) as opposed to representation. Some of your pieces reminded me of mandalas or yantras. How did you arrive in this place? Do you privilege abstraction over representation? It is something I think about a lot regarding my own work. Somehow the dogma of Capital "A" Art School and being trained to look at art has made me feel that working representationally is somehow of less value than working abstractly, yet I can not work abstractly with confidence at all. Has this always been your method of working of arranging your world?
My older works do exist as paintings. The way I would describe the work is geometric abstractions of the relationships observed between the Sun, Moon, Earth, and eternal through a lens rooted in human euphoria, the spiritual, and the distant relationship found between these monumental celestial identities and today's contemporary society. We just don't pay attention to our surrounds like the ancients did, and I found this disturbing. Again these paintings are older works, that I have chosen to discontinue, because they no longer have any resonance in my current mode of making, and the satisfaction of producing the work is no longer there. Visually I still find them beautiful and people ask me why I no longer make them, but this transition is a personal decision, for I recently regained an intimate relationship with my work through a new approach. Representational or figurative work has always been difficult for me to grasp. Acceptance of artists who do make representational/figurative work is present, but it's just not what I'm seeking as an act of creating an image or object. This is kind of funny, because currently I've been making new work which is investigating the relationship between image and object. This allowed growth in my practice to include sculptural elements and installation more effectively into the work, incorporating the readymade, distancing myself from being labeled purely as a painter. I still look at everything through the eyes of a painter, but this does not constrict my approach to making art. The same concepts that fueled my paintings are still present in my current works but the conversation has also expanded exponentially I feel, allowing more freedom in the decisions I make in the studio. The founding concepts in my work continue to be the driving force for my forward momentum into the giant realm of what art is, can be, and will become. My years at SFAI helped develop these ideas, and I am grateful to that school, which has an incredible history in San Francisco, and California in general. Amazing artists have taught there like Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Ansel Adams, Diego Rivera. Some of the more recent and current faculty include George Kuchar, Paul Kos, Tony Labat, Carlos Villa; the list just goes on.
How did Ever Gold begin? What was your inspiration behind starting the gallery? What is the story behind the gallery's name?
What is inspiring you at this moment?
ALITE Pop Up @ Voyager
Aoko Su: Symmetry and Muted Ornamentation, Chaos and Order, Transcending Place and Time
I haven't always known that I wanted to make jewelry, but I have always known that I wanted to be a designer. The first time I ever remember feeling inspired and compelled to make jewelry was when I was 16 or 17. I was in Manhattan when I walked by some gallery in Chelsea with bright feather earrings in the window. This was the first jewelry that I remember seeing that struck me as unconventional and I thought it was the best. I loved the idea of wearing something that had once been living as accessory and I started making earrings out of flowers that I had picked. During and after college I always had a job or two. I consistently felt underutilized at jobs that I worked at and that my way of thinking was alien. Two years ago I decided I had had enough. I knew that I wanted to work for myself, assessed what I'm good at, and here I am.
I started taking jewelry making more seriously when I was 22 living in Montana. My friend and boss at the time, Jodi, showed me a couple of very simple techniques that made making professional looking jewelry seem accessible to me. After that point, I began consistently designing jewelry that was too complicated for my skill set and then figured out how to make it. My advice : the only thing that you can't do is what you think you can't do. That's it. I never let the constraints of my abilities affect what I want to make.
Reading your bio, it appears that you've lived in a diverse many places; Montana, New York, Seattle, now Richmond, Virginia. How have all of these places influenced you? Or is the act of being a nomad the main influence in your life and work?
I am inspired by manmade symmetry in urban areas and by the diversity of people that exist within them. Sometimes I will barely catch a glimpse of a woman that I walk by and see her hair pulled up a certain way and in a split second I will envision an earring on her empty ear. Then I'll go to the studio and make it. In contrast, I'm also influenced by the apparent chaos in the natural world and the order that lies beneath it. There is a sense of worldly-ness that is important to me to embed in my work; I think that is partially a product of traveling. I want my work to transcend place and time.
Your jewelry design has been compared to architecture (natural and manmade) in review. Is architecture an inspiration for you? How does architecture impact your life?
Yes. I am most inspired by Art Deco architecture right now. It represents the machine age. The symmetry and muted ornamentation - by our standards today - are almost too perfect of a balance.
I read in an interview that you mine your own rocks and cut your own stone! Amazing!! How did this interest and skill set come about? Why is it important to you that this be part of your process?
I want to establish AOKO SU as a name in the fashion industry. My next project is creating a line that bridges between garment and accessory.
People and the myriad of styles that they wear on the street. I see potential for ornamentation when I see a striking woman.
Color exploration. I am becoming more enamored with colored stone every day. I love the brilliant hues of Pakastani tourmaline, and Mexican amethyst.
My blog is a direct reflection of images that inspire me.
(All images here within courtesy of Ashley Jerman/Aoko Su- all images copyright © 2013 / All Rights Reserved)
Farm Tactics Pop Up @ Voyager
Can you diverge? Flex yo'self in 2013!
This particular video pertains to radicalizing education, but it addresses a larger societal issue. Our culture is one that has favored Conformity, at the expense of Creativity, in the name of Industrialization (read: Capitalism.)
We ask you, dear readers, in what ways can you nurture Divergent Thinking, the essential capacity for Creativity, "the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways of interpreting a question, to think laterally, not just in linear, or convergent ways, to see multiple answers, not one" in your lives?
At Revolver and Voyager we hope to continue to explore new ways of asking questions, new ways of resolving problems, and creative new forms of expression. Let's resolve to remain flexible in 2013. Limber up in spirit, mind and body! But first, maybe we start with some desk-side yoga?
Now, if only this involved taking Shavasana straight across your desk at the end! NAMASTE!!!
Chamula - Holiday Knit Pieces
First Rite Video Lookbook!
We love First Rite!
First Rite just shared with us their video look book for fall 2012. Amazing items. In store now. Online soon. Going fast!