Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Story of Stuff

After another emotional conversation about why buying local and recycled is so important one of the ladies at Pandora's Trunk turned me on to this website: I finally took a look at it and it blew me away!

Story of Stuff with Annie Leon takes a very user friendly and in-depth look at the destructive cycle of mass production and step-by-step dissects it to show you how it all works, why we do it, and what we can do to make a change.

A lot of information she provides is stuff I already knew or suspected, but having it spelled out in economic and psychological terms really hit home. One of the most interesting parts is when Annie talks about how the U.S. became so collectively wasteful in the first place. Here is an excerpt from the film:

Shortly after the World War 2, these guys were figuring out how to ramp up the [U.S.] economy. Retailing analyst Victor Lebow articulated the solution that has become the norm for the whole system. He said: “Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”46

And President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers Chairman said that “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”

Did you know that? I bet you didn't. And this excerpt is just one of many excellent points that should be well known. Another fact they talk about is how today Americans consume twice of what we did fifty years ago but our overall satisfaction has been ever decreasing since 1950s. mean my new ipod nano does not equal ever-lasting bliss? ;-)

I could go on and on, but overall
The Story of Stuff asserts my own passion and urgency for education about the perils of over consumption and purchasing "cheap" items. As you will learn in the film the real-life cost is not factored into many of the things we buy. And I know it is daunting to try and figure out if our purchases are environmentally and socially friendly. Fortunately, the website has lists of resources that can help guide you toward ideas and products that are good for you and the planet.

So watch it, and send it to everyone you know. And come by the store and tell me what you thought of it!

Pandora's Trunk
Haight St.
Wed. 2-8pm, Thursdays 11am-3pm

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Designing the Postcard

This week the final Vagadu meets Kara Maria postcard was created. During this part of the marketing process I got to use some of my other skills like photography, and Photoshop to get the exact "look" I want to express.

The concept for the card was to show the raw, the awkward, forced sexual energy that is particularly prominent in Kara's latest work. This concept is inspired by the Marc Jacobs ads (image to the right ) that have this candid, unproduced quality that is unusual for mainstream designers.

I thought the informal look would work well, because the pornographic images that Kara uses are not from Hustler or Playboy, rather from amateur pornographic magazines, so they have this affected quality that makes you wonder what kind of drugs might have been used to get these people comfortable enough to take the pictures.

So when the models were posing inside the studio space in the co-op I belong to Pandora's Trunk, as they were arranging themselves on the cutting board I told them to try a little "too hard" to be sexy, hot and irresistible (much like the women of Kara's work see above).

The garment they are wearing is a pseudo lingerie piece inspired by the painting "Unspecified Involvement xii". This piece turned out great for the marketing campaign because its features have some of the most obvious connections to Kara's work. The pink swirling smoke of the painting translated into fluffy swirls that decorate the body in a random, unspecific form ;-).

So our low production values echo the low-brow edge in Kara's amateur porn theme. We're giving a voyeuristic guilty peek in a place you maybe shouldn't look. Or you didn't know you wanted to until you did. My models were such good sports (thank you Evelina and Bella) as I asked them over and over to roll all over a cold cutting table in order to get into the more uncomfortable positions.

Fliers are coming out next week, look for them around town!

Favorite Technique of the Week!

We are having so much fun with the process of fabric manipulation for the Kara collection. It has gone beyond just the basics of painting and dying the fabric and expanded into other forms for example....

This past week Megan came up with a great concept for texture of the mini bomber jacket that I described in an earlier blog.

Megan wanted to give a sense of depth to the main body of the garment with an added ruggedness to it. To start, she took a dark green canvas fabric and sandpapered wholes throughout it and then sewed beautiful stay stitches around the holes to keep the fabric from continuously fraying. Underneath the top green layer of the fabric she placed strips of different fabric composed of bright patterns which allowed for different designs to peer out from behind each hole.

The overall effect is magnificent, a carefully crafted callousness overlaying bright beauty that out from behind. The symbolism of this piece is somewhat contrary to Kara's work whose top layer is bright and cheery, however the more you explore the art, the more the darker elements begin to shine through.

I love this rubbed out technique and could see it applied to many different projects. The only drawback of it is the labor involved. It took Megan 2 hours to sandpaper the holes into a very small amount of fabric, so this technique is not for the easily distracted. I really want to do more with this method but I think the key to doing it is a lot of this is to have a sandpapering party where each person sands for 5-10 minutes and then passes it on to the next person.

My philosophy of late is-- if something seems like too much labor find a way to still do it. One solution is to share it and make it fun. But there are many other solutions out there. Like I have stated in other blogs, Vagadu is a slow clothing movement, we don't want to cheat, we are about process and creating our vision however labor intensive if it accomplishes our goal. Because in the end it is worth it. The pride you will have for having done it, long outlast the fading memories of the struggles endured to create the piece.

(Note: We tried sandpapering the fabric technique and it is VERY advisable to use a dust mask when trying this, epecially if doing it indoors. The fibers in the fabric get into your nose and if you have asthma or allergies it could be pretty toxic.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Workshop #2: Menswear

This second workshop was so much fun. We met at Angela's house to rework some men's shirts a la Kara Maria. I was able to pick up some men's tops in fun colors along with some vests that we could add fun elements to add to its brightness and playfulness that is key to Kara's artwork and as rumor has are looking for in their clothes!

So, as is the typical format for our workshops we start off by hanging up a certain number of Kara's paintings and start playing with adding to the garments different elements of fabric paint, fabric pens, fabric swatches that we cut into special shapes, and went to town.

It reminded me of the craft table at daycare where materials were abundant and we were told to go crazy and create. I played the role of the counselor who encouraged everyone to keep going, keep adding. Like many of Kara's paintings, it is about layering and layering again. Adding to a certain aspect of excess or as I see it, abundance.

What I love about these workshops are the techniques you learn. For instance, Alix had an idea of cutting up a potato to use as a stamp. She ended up creating a very neat gun stamp from the root that worked out really nice.

Then Angela had a brilliant idea of using an eraser as a way to embellish shapes into thicker fabric like a velvet vest we had on hand. She cut out a star design of an eraser then to place the eraser design under the right side of the fabric, and press it with a hot iron for 3-5 seconds. The end result is an "imprint" of the design in the fabric. It looks great.

Overall, the things we produced were really fun and it got all our juices flowing for the next few weeks of producing before the big show. Time is ticking and we have a lot more creating to to do in the meantime which also bring me to the point of.....tixs are now on sale so get yours while they are still will be a show you won't want to miss!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vagadu has a Store Front!

Great news! VAGADU has joined the local SF co-op Pandora's Box. What does that mean? It means that I have a public storefront where I have my own section of vagadulandia. My fabulous interior designer friend Alex Steinhouse is going to take all the important elements of VAGADU like art, recycling, playfulness to display my stuff like you've never seen. I can't wait! We've already talked wall paper, paint, texture, lights, and other recycled elements.

Being apart of Pandora's collective is allowing me to get out of my studio and meet the world. To be part of something bigger than myself where we all come together and support each other with our respective talents. In a way it is like an instant family.

What I really like about this group is the fun energy, eclectic style and artistic sensibility. There are reconstructed clothes, recycled clothes, and all all are def. locally made. We are all small designers with lots of energy who alone couldn't dream of affording our own retail shop. I had been dreaming about starting my own co-op but then this opportunity came up, I jumped for it. Why not join something that is already started?

A little background on Pandora's Trunk. It was founded by Rachel Hospodar of Medium Reality and Miranda Caroligne the author of "Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies" and seems to have her foot in every cool art and fashion event, happening or performance here in the Bay.

Today when I started working the cash register it brought back memories. I mean I haven't worked retail in years, and it feels good to finally be selling a product that I feel proud to be representing.

So come on down, and see what I have, and check out the other artists too, you will probably find something you love.

Pandora's Trunk
544 Haight St.
11am-8pm Daily
Closed Tuesdays
I will be working here most likely Weds. 11am to 5 and Thursdays 11am-3pm.