Monday, March 03, 2014

What Silence Looks Like (In the Winter that Never Ends)

We are having what is pretty much the most brutal East Coast winter in a decade or longer.  This means that we city folks without cars intrinsically try to avoid the skin-shredding cold as much as possible, in and out of meetings, gravitating towards central heating and hot cups of tea.

Research for a top-secret-amazing project today led to the below cool image of Jack White, which seems to epitomize the duality of the artistic nature.  In my experience, most artists feel one way within their skin, then look in the mirror and see truth and poetry and a face that might look like someone else.  

Sometimes, all you crave is silence (especially when you are woken up at 6 am to the harsh sound of shovels scraping the cement sidewalk in an attempt to remove the incessant snow).

Jack White

Since we just finished #FashionMonth, the #Oscars, etc people are more concerned with pop culture and pretty dresses than musings, so I am going to take pause and try to warm up for  a sec...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Adventures By Way of New 2014 Business Ventures

Perhaps because 2014 has been hailed as "the year of the Digital Age" acknowledging the fact that this crazy thing called the Internet means that the importance of social media in business has gone well past the point of debate. So grateful I was an early adopter.

This is why I am thrilled to announce the launch a new venture for 2014:

Copious Consulting is a boutique agency that takes a 360-degree approach to brand building. Connecting with people is at the core of everything; we craft conversations, direct dialogue, and cultivate communities to help share an artist's or brand's story.

The key is to develop a unique tone of voice and visual content that best reflects personality and message, going beyond the initial customer connection towards conversion, retention, and advocacy, offering multi-platform strategies that guarantee results.

Survival means anticipating what will happen next.

And before you speak, you have to listen.

A game of chess.

A game of you.

Digital strategy.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Home: A Commotion

Photo by Gigi Stoll
They say that you can never go home again.

An allegory for the fact that we all change so much throughout our lives that when we return to origins our perspective is highly altered, and we don't derive the same comfort from what once placated our tension. 

It's been several years since I was home for the holidays.

After a long time in New York without a car, I was pleased to find that I still have serious skills when it comes to parallel parking - a vital skill in Canada.

A lot of the streets have changed due to construction, and I got lost almost everywhere I drove...spinning down forgotten roads, then finding my way again.

Reflecting upon the past, planning for the future, reconnecting with friends and family.  Explaining my renewed passion for 19th Century Lit and business books.  Existentialism discussed over afternoon tea.

How I am focusing on writing a new novel while giving comic books a bit of a break, because I want to measure the landscape of digital versus print when it comes to what people actually collect.
My serious business ventures for 2014 (top secret for now).

One of the most profound things I've noticed here is that my flesh is on fire here, burning hot indoors.  The rooms of the houses feel overheated, and I crave the brisk ocean air, opening windows and doors as much as as possible. I used to freeze when I lived here, and right now everyone around me is chilled, wondering whether I have a fever because I tear my layers off everywhere I go, skin reeling from the heat.  Perhaps I've just gotten used to the brutal East Coast winters.  This is simply a metaphor for how I've changed.   

My mantra has always been "Let go of the things that no longer serve you".  We constantly need to re-evaluate where we have been and where we are going next. The year of 2013 was tempestuous for many, and January is always a fresh start.  

Last year, I attempted to conform to things that did not resonate in my heart because they were expected if I was going to climb the traditional corporate ladder. But without asking myself what I really wanted.  I learned a lot, sure...but I put some of my most profound artistic projects on hold, and briefly forgot that I flourish when I create content, whether my own work or that of my digital clients.

For a writer, the voice is everything. And the ability to write in other voices is a gift, paramount to success.

So let's take it back to music and lyrics.  One of my favorite songs of 2013-into-2014 is by Feist, a nice Canadian gal that my friends from Timber Timbre toured with for her album, Metals.  Lyrical passion.  Rare crescendo.     


"A Commotion"
- Feist

It flickered to light
It turned broke what was right
Got the roots by the hair
What was no longer there
It blocked out the sun
It climbed up the stairs
And then it slipped through the cracks
I wasn't watching my back

A commotion

If it rips you all apart,
Glad you've still got your heart

It stalked through the rooms
And then it tore the sheets off the bed
It ripped the books off the shelf, it turned heaven to hell
held me down tight
took all my fight
It broke all the windows
In came flame from the candle

A commotion
If it rips you all apart,
Glad you've still got your heart.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays circa 2013

Happy Holidays and thanks for the support.

The latest Minx 2013 comic book is all yours, via a digital download:

Art by Chris Royal

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Be Alone

Another creative film project I worked on this fall with my talented director friend Donari Braxton is part of a series of shorts called How to Be Alone.

Donari's films are experimental and evoke the interior landscape of an artist. 

My film is entitled How to Make An Art Video and you can watch it, below.

how to make an art video || from how-to-be-alone . com on Vimeo.

This is the inspiration for the series: 

these videos are intended to most directly benefit people who do not know how to be alone.
personal feelings indicating applicability for personal-use of these videos may include:

- general discomfit/malaise
- attenuated attention span / "browser finger"
- fear of dark / etc.
- compulsion to share lunch photographies
- desire to be more handy around the house
- complicated relationship status or elsewise
- addiction to online chess
- preoccupation with liking and/or aversion to love
- lack of purpose in executing remedial tasks (completion of charts, etc)
- lack of self-confidence in executing rudimentary tasks (walking up the stairs, etc.)
- systematic refusal to worship celebrities (two or more celebrities)
- insincere text-messaging
- is currently trending
- cartoon deity angst
- easily distracted by cats (one or more cats)
- irresistible impulse to apologize
- number symbol
- melting
- persistent fear of public forums
- for iron
- just tagged
- delusions of grandeur (encyclopedic compendiums)
- tunnel vision / opposite
- delete delete delete
- general longing 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Evan Ønly Music Video

It's true that due to tech issues last summer I abandoned WordPress. But I've worked on some creative projects that I am proud to showcase, and this is a venerable medium for such things.

Enter Evan Ønly, and a video shoot from Fall 2013.

Under the alias Evan Ønly, New York songwriter Evan Brody is making music that’s decidedly more streamlined than the ramshackle guitar pop of his old band, Family Portrait. “From The Stone” is an early taste of this new aesthetic, and it’s all ice-cold synths, processed vocals and cassette-quality drum kicks. It has the minimal pulse of 1980s radio fare, but also some unsentimental, texturally gritty elements that reflect a contemporary ear for production. The track will appear on his forthcoming No Matter What EP, which drops in February 18th via Underwater Peoples, the label Brody co-founded. He’s teasing the release with a series of short, surreal videos directed by Charles Poekel.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Digital Narcissism vs Digital Fatigue

So I spent the 2 weeks' worth of evenings on what was about to be a digitally-brilliant essay - and the WordPress deleted it upon my final edit WITHOUT MY HITTING ANY BUTTON ON THE KEYBOARD.

Taking it as a sign of my recent research: WordPress blogs are antiquated because people view media in a different/more visual way.

Therefore, I am abandoning this platform.

Follow me on Instagram instead - it's way more visual and fun:

Thanks xo

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

To Germany With Love...

How many places are as historically controversial or as gorgeous as Berlin, by turns equally dystopian and futuristic? I visited for the second time this summer, and felt so fortunate to have such lovely friends who enveloped me into their world, carving out time to tour the coolest local places, maintaining patience as I took photos of every beautiful deconstructed wall of graffiti, every gilded monument.


- Nena's hit song 99 Luft Balloons (an anti-nuclear protest song circa 1983).

- Alphaville's song To Germany With Love  circa 1984, (classic 80s synth pop).

- Leonard Cohen's famous song:  "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin" (of course you had both of them in the palm of your hand, LC). 

- Karl Lagerfeld + Chanel

- My British grandfather battling the Germans in WWII as a Grenadier Guard and one of Queen Elizabeth's bodyguards.

- The infamous Berlin wall coming down in my lifetime...but I only really visualized the geography upon this second visit, since there are two Wests - multiple layers of circle within a square, if you will.

Here is how Wikipedia explains it:

In Berlin, there are two Wests. The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic in 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin  

The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches.

The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany.

In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period, actually implying that neighbouring West Germany had not been fully de-Nazified.

The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the "Wall of Shame"—a term coined while condemning the Wall's restriction on freedom of movement.

Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border that demarcated the border between West Germany, both borders came to symbolize the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.


- Peeling layers of graffitied walls, everywhere.

- The hidden cross in the TV tower, visible in intense sunlight

- People make a plan and stick to it, and they burn cool, logical heat...always fun.

# # #

An essay on Prague is next.

As a creative, one must take in inspiration mathematically greater than the overall output lest we fade like a battery...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Going Off the Grid...

I broke my cell phone on Monday night (trying to get the protective case off with a sharp knife so that I could play music for the gals at a wonderful party in the Hamptons).  

Going underground for a couple of days was a profound experience.  As one who has built a career within the perplexing realm of digital media, my phone has been an extension of my fingertips for much longer than what is probably healthy.  Case in point:  Several theoretically intense conversations via text that I would rather have had in person.

Photo by Simon Thorpe, Hair/Make-Up by Heather Thomas

Surely I missed a plethora of phone calls and texts, but the only thing I emotionally missed was the camera. Without the din of constant communication I saw things with a different vision, and New York City looked more beautiful than it has in a while.

Someone rang my doorbell this evening, and it was startling since it's rare for people to show up unannounced.  Two strangers were holding a huge box that had just been delivered, asking whether it belonged to me.  It was for someone downstairs, another neighbor that I probably avoid eye contact with in the laundry room. Somehow, that seemed to epitomize how we withdraw so deep into our skins these days, how we speak by writing things to each other in a digital form of what we hope is perfumed stationary.

Conversations are far more decadent in real-time, so perhaps we should consider calling one another on the phone once in a while rather than typing out our sentiments...Let's see who answers.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

City Living: Alienation, Connection, and Finding Moments of Silence

Probably because I've been working on my second Minx graphic novel and am hypersensitive to dialogue, I've been thinking about the tone in which we speak to one another, sculpting ideas.  How much cadence, subtext, and insinuation differ region to region. Some aspects of our interactions are akin to foreign languages that cannot be easily translated.

There are days when I want to actually draw what I am trying to convey with a Sharpie marker on a piece of paper rather than describing it (a killer PowerPoint presentation also works wonders).  Especially when communicating to my artists things such as the sky in Dreamtime is purple, or the way a character's posture is transformed after a harrowing battle or emotional betrayal.  When dialogue is needed to drive the plot forward versus mandatory silence accompanied by strong visuals.

Andrea Grant photographed by Gigi Stoll 2012: "Shadow Series".
I've lived in tiny towns and tremendous cities, with New York being the most extreme version of them all.

Initially, when I moved here, I found it odd how the neighbors would ignore each other in the laundry room, making vague, surreptitious eye contact, ignoring acquaintances walking down the street because they are in too much of a rush to stop and chat (I am always polite over laundry, but I've been guilty of the latter). 

How people choose their need for silence in certain moments above social niceties is fascinating.

In a place that's so physically crowded that you have to wrestle for space in order to breathe, it's imperative to go inward.  A lot of people vanish into the mythology of their own veneer, building their boundaries so high that no one can see them. Others don't have enough of a barrier put in place, and their vulnerability seems agonizing.  Finding balance is an intricate dance.

One of my favorite poems about the need for solitude is by Leonard Cohen:    

I have a lot of moments of practically turning my skin inside out in order to enter that nether region of uninterrupted silence (I think writers have a particularly high need for isolation).  A city garden on a rainy day, a run on the beach in winter, or just staying inside the apartment for a few hours, listening to music in order to drown out the din of sirens and loud-talkers (few things are as terrible as someone yelling right outside your window about something dumb).

To replenish, I go home to Vancouver Island and take a walk in the cedar woods or a swim in the cold Pacific. The silence at night where stars are visible and the crickets sing have a long-lasting impact that stays with me in Manhattan.  

Where do you find your silence?