Saturday, March 17, 2018

An Interview with Camila (@etherealartiste)

You may better know Camila by her instagram handle @etherealartiste. It's easy to see why she's amassed so many followers. Camila's art really takes me back, and not in a cheesy, saccharin sort of way. It doesn't remind me of any rose-tinted, nostalgic era of human history. It doesn't even make me nostalgic for a certain period in my own life, at least in the traditional sense. There's no imagery that hearkens back to playground antics. No, Camila's art takes me back on a different, much deeper level. It reminds me of the days when I could explore the realms of my imagination without distinguishing it from the real world. Her paintings of fantastical women, angelic faeries, and magical beings reminds me of a time when I thought that these creatures could exist in this world. The inspiration she takes from the natural world is apparent, and it makes her extraordinary characters seem rooted in authenticity. Not only that, but Camila brings a fresh and futuristic perspective to somewhat familiar concepts that makes me still believe that these creatures do exist somewhere in our world, at least in spirit. Camila even resembles her charming creations, both in their beauty and their strength.

1. What work are you most proud of?

I think the piece I'm most proud of has to be my "Oh, Honey." piece. At the time of making her, I didn't expect or foresee the type of attention that she'd get. I made her about a year ago, and to this day she is still a favorite amongst the people who follow my art and myself as well. I remember when I was in the middle of creating her, everything came so naturally. I didn't have a plan for what I was going to create, but the concept just kind of rolled off my fingers.

Image of Oh, Honey.

2. What do you consider to be your greatest artistic failure?

I think right now it's hard to say what my "greatest artistic failure" is, as I am still very early in my art career. What I can say is I wish in the earlier years of this art journey I didn't allow myself to be so easily doubtful towards myself and my ability/skill. There were times where I'd take months off from creating because I was so discouraged every time I would go on social media. I always compared my work to others who were at this way longer than I was. In time, I learned not to, to instead be inspired by them, or to let that "envy/self-doubt" fuel me to be better and practice more.

3. What artists inspire you? What are your other sources of inspiration?

The artists I am heavily inspired by right now are @tinayuartist, @wendyortiz and @relmxx - honestly the list can go on and on. My other sources of inspiration are simply from anything around me. I am most inspired by nature. From flowers to animals to natural color palettes, etc etc. For other sources I tend to go on Pinterest and scroll through to find images that have a motivational strike within me!

4. Who do you think is the most creative person on earth right now?

I think the most creative person right now would be Elon Musk. I'm sure that there are so many people who are extremely creative that I've never heard of or know about but that's the first person that came to mind.

5. What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?

I have a lot of weird dreams that are quite hard to understand/describe. Most of the time they are random jumbles of things. I can't give you an exact one because I usually forget them after I wake up.

6. Does your personal style reflect your artistic style?

Yes, most definitely. I really love things that are colorful, cute, and magical. My room is decorated with twinkly lights, butterflies, dried hung flowers, and figurines of my liking in every nook and cranny. I really love decorating and making things feel "enchanting," and I think with my art I try to do the same as well.

7. Describe yourself in three words.

Kind, understanding, loving.

8. How has your artistic style evolved over the years? What about it remains constant?

Now and then I try to look back at my older works to see how much I've improved. I think overall my artistic skills/understanding has taken significant improvements. There is always room to improve but looking back is a good way to give yourself the pat on the back you deserve for how far you've come. What remains constant in my art is the passion, drive, and subject. I tend to draw/paint women, and I can't really say why but it's what I enjoy most.

You can buy Camila's work here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"The stories, the myths, the misunderstandings are all part of life" : An Interview with Maira Kalman

When I was in 8th grade my father gave me The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman for Christmas. Fashioned to look like a sort of encyclopedia, the fact that it was used (it was his) made it all the more intriguing. As soon as I flipped open the doodled cover, I knew that this book was different. Reading it at the tender and challenging age of thirteen, I thought it was one of the most intimately constructed memoirs I had ever read. I still hold that perspective, but I discovered its value has only deepened since that day.

Image via

The Principles of Uncertainty is like reading through someone's thoughts. The writing and the illustrations are used to their full potential as mediums, in that they pull the reader further into the psyche of the creator rather than increasing the distance between audience and work. Its an incredible achievement in terms of storytelling as well as art. When presented with Maira's distinct voice, readers regain a childlike, almost Proustian sense of whimsy as they glance over her pithy observations. Yet the universality of the themes present in the book allow us to reach the conclusion that we are all human, that there is a sameness present in people of every type, regardless of how exceptional. She shows the reader that there is comfort in being a part of the whole, even in being a passive observer of bustling humanity, rather than inundating us with daunting philosophies. Though the entire book is saturated with philosophical teachings (both self-crafted and already established), the personal angle prevents the subject from being intimidating. We are invited to ponder the concept of infinity and the futility of life in the same manner a young child would, not yet so attached to life that it becomes an extension of ourselves and therefore mundane and impossible to part with, instead it is our toy, our plaything, an object to muse over at and to mold.

I find this concept as attractive now as I did at thirteen, and it's truly a testament to Maira's skills not only as an illustrator, writer, creator but also as an empath. The rest of her work is equally as notable for this. In Girls Standing On Lawns, she offers a poignant narrative for photos that would otherwise be disconnected and foreign. In And the Pursuit of Happiness, she brings historical figures into the modern era with epigrammatic details and profound yet humorous speculation. She feels her way through her work, and the audience, in turn, feels it as well. Her musings are on paper but they feel as though they're whispered in your ear. Her observations are rhythmic and building a crescendo that appears to be just for you, but also for everyone else. They're a conversation, and leave plenty of space for the reader's own thoughts.

But even after being offered this graceful glimpse into her thoughts, I wasn't satisfied. Her work left me wanting to have a conversation with her that wasn't so one sided. In December, I reached out to Maira for an interview. I remained persistent over the weeks that followed, though I feared I was becoming a menace, to my surprise and utter delight, she replied and I was able to ask her a few questions that her book raised.

What other jobs did you have before you were able to make a living off of being an illustrator/writer?

Baby sitter. Bookstore clerk. Waitress. Secretary.

You said in an interview with The Great Discontent that New York was an optimistic place. How do you continue to hold this view even when the ugly sides of the city show themselves to you? What are your favorite places in New York?

You cannot dislike a city because there are ugly sides. That is a given anywhere on earth. But NYC is the center of amazing energy. A raucous messy mix of every kind of person. Every kind of fashion. My favorite places in NYC are Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Fifth Avenue Bus. The Frick Museum. Museum of Modern Art. The garden of the Museum of Modern Art. My block (12th Street).

I know you like to dance. What's your favorite dance move?

A basic tango.

I know you said it's a terrible thing to give advice, but what's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

Ignore all advice, and just do what you feel is right. AND never stop working. Work solves most problems. And make your bed in the morning. And walk.

Who do you think the most creative person alive is?

No idea. Probably a two year old.

What is the best piece of storytelling (in any form; books movies, photos, paintings, etc) that you've ever encountered?

In books, Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Flaubert's Madame Bovary. In movies, so many. Including My Man Godfrey. Citizen Kane. Les Enfants du Paradis. In paintings, Matisse and Bonnard. In children's books, Ludwig Bemelmans, Lewis Carroll.

What work are you most proud of?

The first children's book, HEY WILLY, SEE THE PYRAMIDS. The Elements of Style. The Principles of Uncertainty. I was given the most freedom. I was trusted by my editors and was able to do what I love.

Image via

Describe your favorite outfit.

A white, very well starched and ironed cotton nightgown.

I know you collect broken things. What's your favorite object in your collection?

A torn, moth eaten green sweater.

I really like how, in your work, you sometimes focus on a seemingly insignificant detail about a historical figure, or scenery, or the world in general and explain how it relates to their character/the bigger picture. What's a seemingly insignificant detail about you that's actually emblematic of your character?

I love to get into a well starched and ironed bed at night. And I love to get out of bed in the morning. In the morning, I love to drink coffee and read the obituaries. I like to put the shelves in order in the supermarket. I love to fold things.

How can you be creatively prolific without becoming overwhelmed?

That is something you learn to do with time, perseverance and patience. Critical part of working. Sometimes you do get overwhelmed. Then you have to go for a walk, or eat a donut, or read a book or talk to someone who loves you. And then you find your way.

Do you think that when people dress up their dogs in clothes and shoes and all that it's cute or seems uncomfortable for the animal?

I don't think I like that but I must admit to putting hats on my dog.

Image via

I quite enjoy your illustrations of people in hats. Do you have a favorite kind of hat?

Anything fanciful and elegant. Or jaunty.

I've always wanted to be a writer. When I was younger, I felt kind of distanced from the world as a result of this. Your work helped me realize that being a writer and an observer/storyteller actually connects you to the world even more and in different ways. When was a time you felt connected to a stranger?

I feel connected to strangers all the time. Often more connected than to people who are part of my life. There is a general sense of dignity and courage to all of humanity going about their day, trying to do the best they can.

What's the happiest thing you've ever witnessed (without being a part of)?

Probably the love of parents and children. There is nothing like that love.

Have you ever doubted your career path?

Never doubted my career path.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Don't want a superpower.

What do you think Proust meant in this quote: "Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were"?

He is the smartest. There is no such thing as AS THEY WERE. Everything is subjective and changing and re remembered and mis remembered. The stories, the myths, the misunderstandings are all part of life. They ARE life.

Image via

You can bet Maira's latest endeavor, Cake, is first on my wish list.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

my visit to the tate modern // a brief interview with Frances Morris, director of the tate modern

Hello Everyone!

Recently, I had the pleasure of going to London-- such a beautiful city and so rich in culture. One of the main reasons for my trip was to visit the Tate Modern, a museum I've been wanting to go to for what feels like ages. It's definitely a must-see for anyone interested in modern art.

I've been to quite a few modern art museums, and the Tate Modern definitely stands out among them. Firstly, they have an incredible amount of space. I appreciated how many of the exhibitions were participatory and they seemed to make an effort to get visitors involved, as well as educating them on the art and the artists. But what makes the Tate Modern particularly unique is that it's not afraid of controversy; in particular, it is not afraid of critiquing the art world or of exposing uncomfortable topics. It may seem like that is commonplace in any modern art museum, but too often this component of modern art is ignored or approached in an improper manner. Most modern art museums I have been to will display works that explore cultural or societal taboos, but it is often done in a safe and simple way, shying away from criticizing the power structures and institutions that made those things taboo in the first place. The Tate Modern is an exception. The Guerrilla Girls, a feminist group of artists who created scathing graphic asessments of the art world itself were on display. Additionally, I loved Toguo's Purification, Kanwar's The Lightning Testimonies, and Alexander's African Adventure, all of which were powerful criticisms of the racism and sexism present in cultures worldwide. I was ecstatic to visit the special exhibit, Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future on Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, pioneers of installation art. The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment conveys a message of escapism that retains relevance in the current cultural/political landscape.

Alexander's African Adventure

The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment

Prior to my visit to the Tate Modern, I reached out to the director, Frances Morris, for an interview. Morris took over as director fairly recently, and her perspective on intersectionality in the art world is reflected in the museum. She granted me two questions, provided that they were unique. I obliged to her conditions.

1. You've talked a lot about art institutions being more inclusive and diverse as well as the public having more access to art/art education. What can people like me, who are art enthusiasts but have little influence, do to make art more accessible and diverse in their community?
Firstly, don't think you don't have influence! Peer to peer conversation is the key to conversion so get talking to your community, via any and every means. Persuade your local gallery or museum they need a young people's programme, youth ambassadors and activists like you to network them into the community. If they have any ambitions to grow a broad and diverse audience for art they will welcome you with open arms. I love working with young people just like you.

2. Of all the exhibitions that you've been apart of, which one had the biggest emotional response from visitors, and from yourself?
The Restrospective of Agnes Martin that Tiffany Bell and I curated a couple of years ago touched visitors in an extraordinary way. Martin struggled with mental health problems all her adult life, living on her own [in] New Mexico for decades and she destroyed many of her works frustrated by the difficulties of achieving perfection. She clearly made her astonishingly beautiful but austere abstract paintings as a means of ordering and controlling her very troubled mind. The contrast between the assuredness of her painting and the vulnerability of her personality had many of us who visited the exhibition in tears. I have never seen people study supposedly difficult abstract paintings with such incredible attention or react with such powerful emotion.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Year in Review // AdAge Creativity 50

Hello Friends!

2017 was a wild year. I am proud of the people I met this year, the things I created, all the work I took inspiration from, and the places I went.

I started off 2017 in Paris, which was as amazing as you would expect. Macarons and luxurious hotels set the tone for a year of escapism. Highlights included feeding pigeons and finally visiting the beautiful Musee D'orsay.

I had the opportunity to visit Seattle for a journalism convention, which was not quite as glamorous but still a great experience. I spent my time wandering around Pike Market, wondering about the stories of passersby.

Spring 2017 was a productive time. In May, I finally executed a long time idea of ad placement in the senior portrait section. I worked with companies/ad agencies like Wieden+Kennedy (KFC) and the Martin Agency (Geico) to get school portrait images of the Geico Gecko and Colonel Sanders in the portrait section along with the rest of the class of 2017. Additionally, I got the rights to some celebrity photos to use as well. But more on that later.

Summer was about new experiences. I was accepted to the School of the New York Times, and spent two weeks at Fordham University, surrounded by some of the sweetest, most intelligent people I have ever met. We squandered our time sneaking into hotel pools and fantasizing about our lives in the city years from now when we're rich and famous.

Senior year began and existential dread set in. Fall was the season of college apps. I watched the sun rise and did a whole lot of nothing. In November, I went to Dallas (again for a journalism convention), a surprisingly cultured city. I don't ordinarily mention school accomplishments on here, but I've edited the school magazine for the past couple years. Each time we print, we have a theme that all the content is centered around. It's truly amazing to see my vision for the magazine materialized. Because we use nontraditional techniques, we hadn't won any awards, but this year our exploration issue ranked 6th nationally.

I saw one of Kusama's infinity rooms, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins at the Dallas Art Museum with one of my best friends; I'd describe it as profoundly comical.

Picture Credit: Alyssa Ann Photography

I've been a huge fan of Kusama for years. Her work affects me in a way that cannot be expressed in words, so when I found out Infinity Mirrors was coming to the Broad in L.A. I had to get tickets. I tried to get tickets ahead of time, and couldn't. I spent 3 hours in line for standby tickets and it was so, so worth it. Infinity mirrors is the kind of exhibit that makes you wish "life-changing" wasn't such a trite phrase because it seems so inadequate when used appropriately. During the same trip, I visited the Museum of Failure to remind myself that there is not a single creator out there who hasn't fallen flat on their face; the point is you have to recover from it.

The end of 2017 was much sweeter than the beginning. I ate my weight in Christmas cookies and got to spend time with family. I was featured in AdAge's Creativity 50, alongside so many people who have inspired me (including Kusama herself!) for my yearbook ad concept, and I realized that this year I've grown a lot as both a creator and a person.

But in 2017, I learned not to dwell, and to move forward instead. 2018, you better be good.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

4 Questions with Julian Morgans, editor of Vice Australia

Vice is one of the most provocative and daring websites out there. What is it actually like to work at such an audacious online publication? I contacted Julian Morgans, editor of Australia, to see how he got where he is and what it's like to be there.

1. What's the best part of your job?
I basically come up with and shape stories for our site. And the range of human experiences I get to explore is amazing. We can do stories about anything, anywhere, and tell them however we feel will work best. There's a lot of freedom that makes me feel pretty lucky.

2. What's the hardest part about your job?
Being creative, all the time. Trying to come up with the next idea or find the next story that'll drive traffic. Also admin. If I wanted to I could do admin 24/7 and nothing else.

3. What advice do you have for a young journalist?
Find stories with amazing pictures. You know what people like on the internet? Photos. So make the visuals your starting point for finding and telling stories.

4. What is your education?
I studied film and Swinburne before working t Matchbox Pictures, while also freelancing for Broadsheet, Vulture, and VICE. Then I got a job at Vice and stopped freelancing,

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Maisie Skidmore Gives Advice to Young Writers

Maisie Skidmore, as editor of, certainly knows a thing or two about the journalism industry. Here's her advice for people wanting to follow in her footsteps:

"I would advise and aspiring writer simply to write, as much as you can, and for whoever you can. You can refine your technique through experience, but when you're just starting out I'd say it's even more crucial to pursue your interests, be they are film, fashion, art, theatre...These are the passion[s] that will give you the unique perspective and tone which will single you out and send editors your way for years to come

Also, be kind, and work hard. This industry is small, people are busy, and diligence goes a long way."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

An interview with Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed may be best known for its listicles and clickbait, but the media company is more than that. It has made politics more accessible to the public. Headed by former Politco reporter Ben Smith, BuzzFeed is a sharp contrast to the more traditional media giants. I was able to briefly chat with Smith about his advice for an aspiring journalist.

Q: I think the main thing I want to ask is what is the reality of getting/having a job in the journalism industry? Everyone always tries to soft-pedal things for young people, but I want to know the truth. I am very passionate about journalism, I think I'm talented, and it's what I want to do. But how hard is it to get a job and keep it? Would you encourage someone like me to go into journalism? What advice do you have?

A: I think if you are willing to work hard and don't need to be in New York and Los Angeles and don't care too much about money, it's not a bad time to get into the business. There are newspapers and web outlets all over the country. Many are struggling-- but that can be an advantage for someoen starting out, because you get big stories even as a junior person.

Q: Secondly, where do you think the journalism industry is headed? I feel that BuzzFeed is always on the cutting edge as far as finding new ways to keep the audience interested without sacrificing content. I know that more traditional journalists have characterized the majority of its content as clickbait, but I think it's amazing how you guys have covered complex issues in an accessible way. Because of BuzzFeed, my friends are aware of current events that they otherwise would have been oblivious to. Granted, they mostly come to BuzzFeed for quizzes and listicles, but they stay for the heavier and more serious stories/information. Obviously, everyone is whispering about the death of journalism. In my eyes it looks alive and well; it seems to merely be shifting to digital and placing more emphasis on voice rather than objectivity. But what's the insider perspective? What skills so you think are important to have in order to survive in the changing industry? You've also spoken about how Trump has "breathed new life" into journalism/media. Do you think that this is temporary or will it have a lasting affect?

A: I think there are many different paths and skill sets but I'd say curiosity and a certain level of aggression in fighting to get answers are the key qualities. It also helps to love the internet and try to crack why some stories get big audiences.. Everything else-- writing, editing video, etc --you can learn by doing it.

Q: What kind of background should you have in order to succeed in journalism? From what I garner, experience is the most valuable tool, but how much weight is placed on education/degrees? Basically, as a high school junior, what should I be doing now and in the next few years to prepare for a career in journalism?

A: It's more important to have clips than to have a degree. If you're passionate about it, write for school papers or local papers, contribute whatever they'll let you-- sports is sometimes a good place to start --and study things that actually interest you in college. Better to learn a language or be an expert in a subject than to have a journalism degree, if you're doing it.