Category Archives: Travel

Grab a Bag, but not of Candy!

Happy Halloween! I’m not one for “fashiony” blog posts, seeing as there are enough of those out there. But I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to share a little collaboration that a sustainably minded brand, Looptworks, and everyone’s favorite (?) airlines, Southwest, have been working on. Where is the contact point of these two seemingly perpendicular companies? Basically, Looptworks is an Oregon based company  – not surprisingly- which works with other companies to re purpose their materials. For example, in the past, Looptworks has made laptop cases from excess neoprene from the wetsuit industry, up-cycled polyester backpacks,  and ipad cases from excess belt leather. Now that Southwest Airlines, in an attempt to create lighter weight more fuel efficient aircraft, is replacing their seat covers, Looptworks has partnered with them to take all that leftover leather from the previous versions  and launch a collection of “weekend” (aka duffel) and tote bags.

LUV-Seat-Sales-SheetNow the great thing about these bags is that not only are they pretty darn sustainable, but they are also retain the same attributes we prized as disaster-proof seat covers. Heck, maybe one day you may even need to use it as a floating device.  Another great thing is Looptwork’s Loopt4Life guarantee, which, in an attempt to never contribute to landfills is the company’s lifetime warranty on all their products. So send them back for repairs, but please don’t throw them away.

Finally, these bags are rather exclusive, and once the material is used up, that’s it. So get one while you can, support something great, and know you are keeping your earth and those around you healthy. Strange to talk about health on Halloween…Muhahahaha!

Also, check out the video to get a better vision for the product and the company:

Project LUV Seat – Repurpose with Purpose from Looptworks on Vimeo.

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Upcycling the Seat

Hey guys! Excited to share some insider teasers from LA! There’s a great up-cycling project going down right now between Oregon based company LOOPTWORKS and Southwest Airlines.  It’s all still under “embargo” until the 30th of October, but come back for a nice little Halloween treat! For now, check out some sneaky pics.

It's a bird, it's a plane...it's under embargo...
It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s under embargo…

Looptworks project

 

 

Art Alley and Black Hills Adventures

The south western corner of South Dakota, just past the Badlands and inhabiting the Black Hills, is the most uniquely happening place. History book towns with old western roots grow out of the forested  hills. Shear amber rock walls jut upwards and cut into their  fertile faces. Crusty billboards cry out their invitations to explore crystal caverns and underground waterfalls. The loneliness of a bald eagle screams out above Deadwood, the final resting place of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. In late summer the roar of biker life echoes through the forested canyons, Sturgis screaming with its annual rally, as the rocky presidential faces gaze out from Rushmore with immortalized eyes. Tourists are everywhere sharing in the universal wonder of new discovery. With so much to do, from wild life safaris, camping, scenic drives, local art, reenactments, and atmospheric dining, the Black Hills area is truly a treasure. The best part is that it all still feels so wild and tucked away. If you can, give yourself a week in the area and be sure to check about camping in Custer State Park so you can experience the large, wild herds of native Bison. If you plan on enjoying a summer vacation, look up accommodation (including RV and tent camping) availability in advanced, especially around the *Sturgis Rally as spots fill up very quickly.

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On the way, heading west into the region you’ll first have to pass through the much cited Rapid City, home to Art Alley. If you have the time, it’s worth a look. The art is pretty diverse, with your classic “graffiti” and murals blanketing most of the space, the rest littered with photography, childrens’ pieces, mixed media and sculpture. No surface is sacred and you’ll be sure to find dumpsters, doors and windows painted over. Take time to explore the city if that strikes your fancy. When you feel ready to start exploring the wild nature of Rushmore and the Black Hills, know that lodging and campsites are close by and abundant throughout the region. We found campsite pricing for tenting to range between $15-$34 with RV sites about $10-$20 more.

Enter Deadwood, cradled within it’s historic, fog-hugged canyon, for a nice encounter with the Old West. Eat at Saloon 10, founded in 1876 and home to great food, dusky atmosphere, and live reenactments of Wild Bill’s assassination (Saloon 10 is actually where it happened!). There are further reenactments  of the trial of his murderer a couple buildings down the street. Note: reenactments cease during the week of Sturgis. To get the full dose of Wild Bill history, check out his grave at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, climbing to the very top for a great overlook of the town. Make sure to bring cash as the cemetery charges $1 for entry.

Don’t forget, South Dakota is wild, and it really feels like the beginning of “the West”. So don’t be afraid to cut loose and get really lost in your surroundings…because in SD, you still can. Heeyah!

*2015 is the 75th anniversary of Sturgis bike rally and booking for lodging has already begun. I was told by the guy who ran our campsite that the rally predicts one million to attend next year. Keep that in mind as you plan your trip.

Hipsters are Taking over the Mainstream?

IMG_2369 I found this “hipster emporium” during a routine lunch run to  Road Kill Grill while in Las Vegas.  I didn’t have the time to check out the racks, but I found the marketing to be somewhat ironic. In retrospect it would have been nice to see what the mainstream-corp eye might define hipster as, and so the “hipster” study continues.

 

Note: Road Kill Grill is the best barbecue pulled pork I have ever had, definitely a “need to eat”.

How to Lose your Clothes in Europe

Okay. So this must sound like someone was going for the whole nudist travel thing (wait…is that a thing?) but I honestly wasn’t. Heck, I slept near a nudist beach in Zandvoort and was in Amsterdam on 4/20; I didn’t strip down or smoke pot. But I was running out of clothes. Very slowly, very methodically, and for all the right (and wrong) reasons.

So how does one go about losing clothes, correctly? Well, as a minimalist traveler, that meaning that I pack only what I’ll need to survive my time without looking like  a crazy, hippie vagabond, I was already a bit dis attached to the frivolities of clothing, but who knew I could become even more so. Basically, as I traveled from one place to the next my needs shifted and changed. While in Switzerland, living with the same good people day after day, my desire for change was awakened by the sameness of my surroundings, and so variety in any form was more of a psychological necessity. At this point I was glad I had brought everything I had. But once I tripped to London and the weight of my pack began to communicate with my shoulders, I desired less and less. The constant change in my scenery and the fear of an overstuffed carry-on on picky airlines brought me to leave behind what I thought were necessary pieces.

So I gifted two long sleeved shirts, in Cambridge, to my lovely friend (no need to bother with birthday presents!) figuring Spain would be a bit warmer anyways. Once in Spain I grew even less attached to any idea of “clean clothes” so long as my pack grew lighter and lighter. After walking eight hours every day on the El Camino,  through mud, rain and dusty roads, a shower and fresh four-day-dirty clothes felt downy soft and clean.  I learned to walk in the same outfits and sleep in my relatively clean ones. Honestly, the only person who knew was me…that I’m aware of. However, I did wash what I had in sinks as often as possible, especially the socks and intimates, and dried them on the heaters inside the pilgrim hostels/albergues. The one time I tried to simply air dry them I failed. So when I left the albergue the next morning, I left two pairs of wet socks as well.

In Santiago, Spain, I completely forgot one bra and a shirt hanging on the balcony (it was an amazing hostel right by the cathedral for only 12 euro a night) so maybe they’re still out there, traveling on another pilgrim. By this point I was starting to feel confident that I’d dropped all the possible baggage I could. As well as what I’d mentioned, I was down one sweater, my snow boots, and pair of leggings after lending my extra pair to a friend  in Switzerland and never getting it back, and I’d exchanged three foreign language books for a Spanish to English pocket dictionary all before leaving L’Abri. I was beginning to feel like a true survivor. But wait, there’s a cliff hanger…1438

My last drop off of my three month stint in Europe happened on the Galacian coast, somewhere between Muxia and Finisterre, the alternate last leg of the El Camino. Attempting to traverse the coastal route directed by my guide book, I wondered about, making wrong turns until I found myself precariously stuck on the edge, literally the edge, of the coastal cliffs. To give you a picture, the path was  overgrown by thorny shrubs and about six-eight inches wide.  Wait…I’ll just give you a picture(s):

Oh you misleading path...
Oh you misleading path…you can see the rest of the “coastal route” to the top right of the image.
This is the widest point. It halved in width just after this photo was taken.
This is the widest point. It halved in width just after this photo was taken.
Do you SEE a path?
Do you SEE a path?

 

 Do you SEE a path, yet?
Do you SEE a path, yet?
And then I turned around.
…And then I turned around.

But man it was beautiful. Somewhere up there, amongst my panic, the thorny bushes, and strange thoughts of cliff jumping, I lost my trusty and warm alpaca sweater. The thorny shrubs had claimed it and I had no nerves left to fight back for it.  I knew cliff hanging and 40L back packs on a 5’1″ girl just didn’t mix well.  The whole ordeal caused me to start stress eating my empanada and Santiago tarte, which was a bad idea since I’d just lost my fat-day sweater. Truly, by now I could count all my articles of clothing (excluding my undies and socks) on eight fingers. Nature sure shows you necessity best.

That was the last article of clothing I lost and the only piece I actually regretted losing. Strange that it was the only loss not of my choosing. So for the last week of my trip I was naked armed. Nudity wouldn’t have worked in Zandvoort anyways, since the beach was freezingly windy.  So I never stripped down, really, although I did, in many ways, strip down.

Traveler’s Shock and Isolation pt.2

Day 1: Wave 2

Finally you are on the ground riding a train and the seating is really nice. Lot’s of space for your legs, more than you’ve had for the last 12 hours. Thank God the woman at the train platform spoke some decent English otherwise you’d still be wondering about at the station. Only really knowing your final destination and the general necessity for a train and bus to get there, you’d been a bit unhelpful to the woman at the train ticket counter. Anyways, here you are calmly gazing out of the window, not really seeing as you listen to the sounds of voices engaged in incomprehensible conversations, and as the train attendant punches your ticket she smiles gently and introduces to you the fact that this is not 2nd class. For a moment you stare, stumbling over her implication, until you realize in simultaneous movement of your pack and body, that you are in the wrong section.

Second class. More people, more seats, more noise. But you don’t mind because it’s what you are use to. You’re pack sits on the seat next to you because you need your space even though you wish so much for a conversation. But you remain silent, not knowing a lick of French nor wishing to get mixed up in the stereotype of ignorant, under-bred (obnoxious) American foreigner.

A good looking man sits to your left, across the isle, and you glance every once in a while in his direction, but he remains watching the Swiss mountains that pass constantly outside his window. Your own eyes grow tired as you slump against your pack and passionately lust after sleep. You’ve been traveling almost 16 hours now and exhaustion has annulled all functions, including hunger.

By the time you reach your bus stop the town is empty. Only two aging women sit across from you with their grocery bags and gobble to each other in french. It appears to be a very small town, they look at you and you stare back. You don’t really know if this is the right bus stop, but some old man in a flannel  button down and suspenders guided you by the shoulders to this one when you muttered, “Huemoz?” in a terrible accent.

The sun is setting as the bus ascends the mountain, quaint villages  disappearing beneath you. Feeling the incline and watching the distance pass by, you laugh at your naive notions that you’d have had enough fortitude to hike up this mountain after  a full day of travel. Realizing that you can overestimate your adventurousness causes a momentary disquiet. You get off the bus at the wrong stop, a woman speaks to you in french because you look about dazed. Both of you interchange awkwardly, speaking to the other as if they have a clue as to what you are saying. But the same things keep getting repeated. back at each other and you are unsure if maybe you should just run away. Then you catch, through her very thick accent, the word L’Abri, realizing that you simply have been mispronouncing it with that all too articulate English of yours. You take note, must learn to speak with a congested throat sound. Pushed back onto the idling bus you take your seat and ride it with embarrassment to the next stop where an end of driveway sign blatantly posted at the road screams “L’ABRI”. Wow, couldn’t have missed it if you’d tried. Another note: Be patient and relax everything will eventually reveal itself. 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Traveler’s Shock and Isolation pt. 1

Day 1:  Wave 1

It sets in like a cold, symptom by symptom. Nervousness in airport transit, languages you can not identify pummeling your ears. Crowds pressing up all around you, every individual sharing in the common denominator of travel, sharing the same air, but all too wrapped up in their own journey to notice much else or speak beyond the basics of finding their gates. Security. Your anonymity and scrutiny are in painful magnification.

Your clutching your passport tightly, feeling it every few minutes to check yet again if it remains in your pocket. You’re paranoid of European pick pocketing. But the reality is that you are surrounded by internationals from every continent, 99.9% of them doing the same thing as you: slightly panicking about getting to their destination.  Again you pat your chest to feel that comforting rectangle. You pull it out for quick showing as you hustle into what looks like more security checks. No. It’s only  the English customs check and they don’t need to see it yet. You have to mix your luggage up a bit to find  your  liquids to show  them. They talk loudly and articulately, but not kindly, not to their fault…it’s their job to get people through. You’re fumbling at the supplied tables, trying not to hold up the line. Have you got everything? You scurry toward security to be checked again, and you tap your pocket, but you feel nothing. You panic. Has your trip ended before you’ve even finished transit? Even worse, your no one without that laminated rectangle; you have essentially become as misplaced as it.  Sweat begins to bead your upper lip and your jacket feels like a wearable greenhouse. How you smell has become irrelevant. Your at basic instincts level, already.  Wobbling about, trying to disguise the fact that you are in panic, your eyes strain for some sighting of the lost passport. How could you have misplaced it? You’d been so careful…too careful. You’d touched it too many times, the neurotic necessity to handle it and feel it in your possession blinding you to your own human error. You could die right now and no one back home would know! In fact, you probably will die! Geeze, they’ll probably just toss your body into recycling or you’ll end up in one of those “BODIES” exhibits!!!

“Passport! Someone need their passport?!” Oh man! You race toward the voice with a mechanical smile plastered over your lips which are slightly trembling. Ironic, you’d picked your own pocket.

 

 

Travel Shock and Isolation

It comes on like a cold. Symptom by symptom, sometimes suddenly, sometimes unnoticeable until you are in the throws of the worst of it. And how it’s handled is dependent, person to person. It’s what I call nomadic loneliness. Solo travelers may attest that traveling in foreign lands (especially in places where the entire language is different) can breed intense loneliness.

This loneliness stems from the  isolation that comes from stepping outside your own cultural context and into another. Conversations change, inherently,  and the realities of camaraderie bred by lingual connection between peoples becomes very apparent. In fact a conversation or, simply, human interaction becomes a priority and necessity. It’s easy, within your own comfortable group at home, to forget how quiet you can be among people, how much you can recede into yourself  when others around you are talking and interacting. But being the constant, wordless observer takes a toll on a body. It can also take a lot of the fun out of travel.

Never having struggled with loneliness in my life at home, I figured I’d be a perfect candidate for solo travel. But a three month stint over seas in countries where English is most definitely a second language, gave me my first taste of it. The fact that the first nine weeks were spent in a close knit community based environment, with almost constant discussions definitely caused  the solitariness of the rest of my trip to be more acutely felt.  Having spent the time at L’Abri (the commune-like place) being enlightened to the importance of language and how it shapes so much of our lives, cultures, and thoughts, gave me an interesting perspective during the rest of my trip. But to give you some of an idea of what one might go through during their first solo back-packing trip, what  follows are some mini- chapters on my traveler’s shock and the isolation that lead to it.

A Question of Form

Some quick experiments with capturing form and mood.
Some quick experiments with capturing form and mood.

One of the most difficult elements of mediating concept to presentation, in fashion illustration, is stylization. To be honest style weaves itself into the very nature of fashion, and these days, often overshadows function. But branding is a monstrous necessity and image is everything in the market, and to a great extent the consumer. That covers everything from visual appeal (ie. pockets that don’t work, uncomfortable fits etc…) to brand and trend shopping. These rather mundane necessities of trade aside, for the artist stylizing their imagery and ideas is as much a stamp of their identity as is their finger print. What exactly do I mean by stylization? In essence it the personal touch of the artist, often a deviation from actual form or realistic visuals. It is that “artistic touch”/ expression that is presented in an image.

We might think that stylization would come rather naturally to the artist, and in many ways it does. But often, especially in the beginning, an individual’s style is muddled and confused. We could contribute this, generally, to immaturity of craft. More specifically, confusion can come from a great many things: the remnants left behind by foundational art school instructions to “closet personal style” in order to learn the basics of form,  the constant bombardment of many contemporary and historical styles, time-sensitive assignments leaving no time for experimentation, or even a lack of confidence and a fear of failure.

Let’s be clear. Stylization can manifest in many forms, not simply illustration or in 2D art. But for this discussion I’m focusing specifically on 2D illustration. As a designer in the fashion industry, one in which hand rendered illustrations have become an endangered species, my desire for interpretation of thought and ideas hinges much on my ability to render, into sketch, what I envision in my mind. Not only for myself, but these sketches serve as a blue print for my clients. While simple and quick sketches will often do to get the basics down on paper, the mood and character of my designs require illustrations that incorporate feelings and expression which transcend the function of the garment. The question then lies with what the purpose of the rendering is for, and so design manifests it’s differentiation from “just art” in that the customer/viewer is an integral influence upon the final product. An artist is expressive and a designer is too, yet the designer’s viewer is the consumer and in order for a design to be worth while, the second party is necessarily involved. Therefore designers must be visually expressive while also maintaining functionality. Both parts must work together.

In fashion illustration we sometimes break these two elements a part, using technical drawings and flats for strait forward, manufacturing purposes and artistically expressive renderings for product promotion and concept representation. Both serve their purposes, but in the past  I’ve struggled with the latter type.

An example of the technical aspect of design illustration.
An example of the technical aspect of design illustration.

During my trip across the world, as I had some quality time with my pencil, the illustrations at the beginning were some of my doodles discussing shape, light and mood.  Let me know what you think.

 

 

Just a little Bite

It’s been a while. Shall I tantalize you with just a smell of all the good stuffs I’ve been holding out on? IMG_0310

It’s nature, I know, but in a place like the Swiss Alps what’s more lovely to look at? Like a constant painting, the peaks  package in the picturesque place that is Huemoz and the mountainside villages.