Once the shirt has served it’s purpose as clothing, the wearer is encouraged to cut out the printed image and create a decoration for their own altar by simply attaching the arms and legs to the torso.
My design is intentionally open, so that the new collaborator can add their own decorations, flowers, or write directly on the printed cloth. By working together, we both realize our creative vision, celebrating the spirit of our ancestors and loved ones. Truly a move toward Open Fashion.
When I was in Europe in May I flew through London and got to visit with a very close friend of mine. Nicole and I met at Cornell, and we really hit it off athlete to athlete. She was studying in the hotel school and I was studying fine art. The ways in which we spent our time were very different besides our academic pursuits. She was in the pool practicing her water polo shots and defense while I was doing everything to run faster and jump higher at the track. Despite our disparate likes, both of us shared a love of sport.
While I was at school, she gave me “The Little Book of Olympic Inspiration”, what a thoughtful present it was. So many of the pages are dog-eared and offer up pearls of wisdom. A personal favorite is from Bobby Joe Borrow, a runner who struck gold in the 1956 Melbourne Games, “Whatever success I have had is due to being so perfectly relaxed that I can feel my jaw muscles wiggle.”
This resonated very much with me before I approached the bar to leap 2.15m in 2001…absolute calm and clarity led to a successful jump. This clarity wasn’t an instant type of thing that you can turn on and off. It is learned, practiced, and developed over long periods of time.
I’ve talked in the past about decision making and when to nuke ideas, I want to share a small excerpt from Daniel F. Chambliss, who is a sociology expert and also a coach.
Great accomplishments, we often assume, require heroic motivation: an intense desire to be the best, an inner strength beyond all measure, some special love of school, of family, of country. Some one of these, must, we think, drive the superlative athlete…In fact, world-class athletes get to the top level by making a thousand little decisions every morning and night.
If you make the right choice on each of these — decide to get up and go to practice, decide to work hard today, decide to volunteer to do an extra event to help your team — then others will save you ‘have’ dedication. But it is only the doing of those little things, all taken together, that makes that dedication. Great [athletes] aren’t made in the long run; they are made every day.
Jumping back to the summer of 2002, I can remember the best answer I ever heard to the question “What is an artist?” was from a 20 year old art student I was dating named Katie.
She simply replied, “Artists make decisions.”
That graceful answer has been with me for 8 years, I’ve never heard a better one…I’ve listened to many other people try to explain what an artist is, but it gets too complex and grandiose. Frequently people, including other artists, will lose their train of thought and become scattered in their definition.
Before I edited my artist statement for this year, it used to read “I’m in the business of communicating ideas. I solve problems. I think abstractly. I make decisions.” So applying Chambliss’ concept to an artistic career, one must make the same assumption — that an artist must, every day, make critical decisions that all add up to success…
So fast forward to 2010, presently Nicole is an water polo playing hospitality expert and will be marrying a British soccer fanatic in 2011. Clearly she’s been making the right decisions…Her club team the Otters has even competed (and won) against some national teams from eastern Europe. Recently I was asked to design their “save the date” card. I really enjoy looking at the happy couple in their respective sporting outfits in a simple red and black composition.
There are certain moments that drastically alter the trajectory of a life-path. Being open and aware to those instants is absolutely essential regardless of one’s career.
I returned from the Libre Graphics Meeting that was rife with inspiration. The event was hosted at the Pianofabriek in Brussels, Belgium May 27-30. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience, here’s what I learned:
I arrived in London, downloaded Jolicloud which is based on Ubuntu and started to play around on the train to Brussels. The issue was that I’d not used Unix/Linux since I worked in Motorola in 1999…my how things have changed, so easy to use (yes I like GUI)! So I thought that I was going to give my presentation using Open Office, well when I saw How to Run an Art School on Free and Open Source Software by Florian Cramer, Aymeric Mansoux, Michael Murtaugh I was blown out of the water by their image-centric presentation. I got to chat with them after the talk, and they told me about the FOSS program Impress!ve.
At this point, Christopher Adams showed me how to use a shortcut (alt + F2) to access the repository by calling on gksu synaptic.
So at that moment I scrapped my plans of the standard Power Point-esq (gasp) presentation. After just a few hours at the LGM I already knew how to utilize new tools, and put down some roots with other artist do-ers with similar interests. Rad.
After a vegan lunch we relaxed in the courtyard drinking Belgian beer (thank goodness for the Westmalle tripel) and getting to know our peers.
Another important aspect for me was the instant application of what I learned. WiFi was free and available all over the complex, so while you were watching a talk you could download and try out the software to apply the concepts that were being explained. In addition, birds of a feather (BOF) meetings were scheduled so that people with similar interests could gather to speak about a topic. In my case I was inspired by Susan Spencer’s talk and her project relating to OPEN FASHION. You can learn more at Sew Brilliant. In the BOF meeting, she pulled out one of the most amazing contraptions I’ve ever seen, it was a brass pattern adjuster, that would change scale by rotating a series of screws in a certain order. She even had the manual that dated from 1888.
Basically it was a slide rule for tailors and seamstresses. Susan’s and her partner Steve Conklin (who is a developer for Ubuntu) have a vision where a designer can upload a pattern, another person (who may not be the same size) can adjust it to fit using the program which is based on scalable vector graphics, print and tape up the pattern and sew the custom garment. What an excellent idea, so naturally I included it into my talk. Now check out the video of Pete Ippel relating Asian stitching, 80′s sweaters,Tron, quilts, and weaving to open source graphics.
Confused? Ask for help
It is incredible how generous people were at the conference, as a n00b it was invaluable to be able to ask a question and get a straight answer, and if the person asking didn’t know, they would refer you to someone who did…The organizers wore aprons and buttons and were always available for help.
Reclaim your tools
I began to understand this overarching theme after a few days into the conference. Formerly I’d been envisioning code as magic. After seeing the Nodebox 2 demo, I downloaded the beta and was able to modify an image or a line of code to make changes to an output. That was a huge breakthrough for me I saw directly that through transparency comes understanding. That’s what F/LOSS gives when code is viewable and modifiable the developer and user are on an even plane, and both can create new tools to suit their needs. There exists a sense of community that is absolutely impossible with closed code.
I’ve been licensing my art under Creative Commons for a few years, and I am confident that as the young people who have “grown up digital” and the first generations of free culture pioneers continue to push for more openness and transparency on many facets of life from government to software, clipart to color we are in for a very exciting ride.
Resources for downloads mentioned in this post
Desktop publishing Scribus
Vector graphic editing Inkscape
Bitmap editing Gimp
Bitmap editing and painting (check out the new brushes) Krita
3d modeling and animation Blender
A new software application for creating generative art using procedural graphics and a new way to approach graphic design Nodebox 2
Ditch hierarchy Peer-To-Peer Design Strategies
How I got involved in Free Culture / F/LOSS / Creative Commons
Often growth is sparked by a change in community…prompted by a different geographic location.
In October 2002, I had just moved to San Francisco and was looking for community. Leaving the comfort of my undergraduate institution and support network in New York, I was seeking attachment to my new home.
I initiated a project called “Free Memory” where the intent was to give away an anonymous gift that brought attention to technology and our relationship with memory both on a disk and in our mind. Looking back at the task I stated that free meant free from price, obligation, need to pay, and also free content.
I desired to connect with the folks on the street, and get out from behind the computer screen…to enrich online life with offline life and vice-versa. Looking back, mobile computing was not an option for me, I had a desktop computer. That project grew and spread so that I even got a video response from across the country:
Alan Toffler states in his book Future Shock from 1970, “…that enormous changes ahead…overthrow our values with respect to money and success.”
After creating the project OBAY.INFO I was contacted by council for Ebay.com and subsequently looked to Lessig’s Group at Stanford (which lead me to Creative Commons), was fingered in a Canadian Ad Campaign, and was invited to the To Share Festival in Turin Italy. Read all the posts about Obay.
Following Obay project I took a job working as a mentor for pre-professional dancers at the San Francisco Ballet. Over the six years I was there, I learned that a robust community was built with freedom. What I found was that kids would act more like adults when they were given the opportunity to do so. The same was true when I coached high school basketball for 4 years.
I left the Ballet at the end of 2009, and when I moved from San Francisco to Ventura, California, I began an intense production phase to kick-start my full-time art career. By comparing pixels to patchwork, vectors to stitches, bitmaps to patterns, and layers to quilts, I started to discover the aesthetic and community relationships between open source graphics and the fiber arts.
So why does all this happen? Enjoy the following video to gain some insight on the cognitive reasoning: