Monday, January 28, 2013

The Do Not Enter Diaries: PREMIERE

Photo by Robert Wright for The NY Times

On a Saturday morning about two months ago, a kind mustachioed gentleman named Michael Tortorello visited me in my home to interview me about a website I co-run called The Do Not Enter Diaries for this newspaper called The New York Times. Michael had heard of our project after I left the NYTimes a long, excited voicemail about it. I am still in awe that this happened, and the reactions that have come about since have been humbling (read the full article here). For those of you who don’t know The Do Not Enter Diaries, it’s a weekly webseries I founded with my best friend Emily Cohn that tells the stories of teenagers through their bedrooms. From top-to-bottom our site is of-teens-by-teens, dedicated to broadening our definition of the teenage bedroom.
Emily films and edits the videos, while I interview our teen subjects, created/ run our website (read our co-founder’s diaries here). We currently post a new video every Wednesday at 4PM, but in the coming months we’ll be adding columns on Mondays and Fridays as well. I am most excited about Mondays’ Correspondent’s Corner. Because we are dedicated to making The Do Not Enter Diaries as global as possible, one way of accomplishing this is through our correspondent program, where teenagers with a strong interest in film, help us reach teens in areas to which we cannot travel. Correspondents are responsible for cultivating a unique group of teenagers whom they know, filming them in our style, and sending us the footage to edit as we see fit. You can fill out the application to become a correspondent here.
In addition to the NY Times, other people of the internet have been writing really kind things about our project. Thank you to Refinery29, Urban Outfitters, Rookie, and everyone else!!

We also have a lot of other online and print media projects coming out in the coming months to keep an eye out for. But, as always, we are looking for teens who have a connection to their room. Don’t hesitate to apply or shoot us an email at , Tweets us @donotenterdiary or like us on Facebook to share questions/comments . 

Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition

Friday, January 25, 2013

RAD TALK: An Interview With Summer Camp's Kayla Mattes

"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring artist, Kayla Mattes. A new interview is posted on Fridays. 
"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" necklace

Q: How did you first get interested in fiber arts?

A: “As a kid I used to build homemade looms for weaving, and my great-grandmother taught me how to hand-knit. I’ve generally always had a natural attraction to pattern and textures but didn’t fully realize it until I first saw the textiles studio at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) two weeks before the major declaration deadline. The hundreds of cones of brightly colored yarn, and crazy contraptions throughout the studios are what basically sold me. Working with fibers quickly became an obsession!”

Q: Materials seem to be such an important part to your work. How do you choose the materials you want to work with?
A: “I guess I'm kind of an oddball in terms of my attractions to yarns and fabrics because unlike a lot of textile designers I often overlook traditionally 'high-end' materials like silks and natural fibers. I mostly find myself obsessed with plastics and spandex and fabrics with crazy finishes. Something about synthetics drives me wild, but I do often love working with wools and mohairs because you can dye them (NEON) so easily, plus they feel nice. I'm constantly material sourcing and collecting. I am in the midst of designing my F/W jewelry collection, which is mostly constructed with these air hoses I found at this amazing rubber store in NY. The hoses have this really unique flexibility to them, and I have found some fun ways to pair them with knits and metals.”

Q: Your S/S ‘13 summer camp collection is great. I have such distinct memories of camp, when the tradition of the lanyard stitching was passed down to me---a time when making friendship bracelets felt so consequential to relationships. I love how much thought you gave to naming each jewelry piece in the collection…. I can really imagine some tween girl sitting around camp with her lanyard in each of these situations.  Do you have close ties to your camp days or is it just a vibe you’re trying to emulate?
A: “Thanks! I put a lot of thought into the names, which were definitely sourced from memories of my own camp days. From the fires, the bunk-beds, the mess hall, and the friendships, all of those experiences along with my textile and material sensibilities are what helped shaped the development of the collection.” 

"Friendships 4 a lifetime'" necklace
"Trail 2 the treasure" Necklace

Q: Do you have any specific memories involving lanyard when you were younger you can share?
A: “’I kept all of my lanyard creations tucked away in this special hand-painted box, and I recently realized my Dad still uses a lanyard keychain that I made for him more than 10 years ago. Apparently lanyards last forever.”

Q: I’ve read that you have plans to expand Summer Camp into a large textile collection. Not only am I super excited about this, but I am already dreaming of a collection debut involving roasting marshmallows over the campfire.  What do you have in mind?

A: “Well Summer Camp is its own collection, meaning my upcoming Fall jewelry collection will work with a totally new concept, but I'm definitely planning to expand my line to include knitwear of a similar spirit. I've been dabbling with programming my electronic Brother knitting machine to hook up to my laptop so that I can knit out Photoshopped patterns. I love working with really graphic knits, as you can see from the furbies, smileys, and aliens featured in my Neo-90ies knitwear collection. I'm hoping to release a collection of graphic-knit sweaters using this laptop-technique within the next year or so!”

"Top Bunk Dreamin'" necklace
"1st Kiss By the Council Fire" necklace
Q:  It’s lanyard-making only from an Internet perspective. A lot of your work seems to derive inspiration from the Internet, right? Can you talk about this?
A: “I'm fascinated with the parallels between the birth of the internet, and the playful aesthetics that the internet embraced in its beginnings. Its childhood was often plastered with brightly colored unreadable text, gifs crawling all over the pages, and midi's screaming unnecessarily. I like thinking about the internet as an actual person whose brain has filled with more information and content and memories. You can still find parts of its aesthetic beginnings intact and unchanged, ex: Craigslist, and some hidden gems.”

Q: I love the video you made to accompany your collection. I thought that was such a creative way to go about featuring your work. How did the idea for the Summer Camp S/S ’13 video come to pass?
Thanks! While designing the Summer Camp Collection I must have listened to the song featured in the video (Jungle Beat by Harold and Bob) at least 100 times. Eventually the necklaces started literally dancing in my head to the beat of Jungle Beat, which is technically how the idea for the video began. My amazing boyfriend Justin Seibert made these ideas a reality with all of the animation featured in the video. While location-scouting we found this actual camp tucked away in the hills of Griffith Park right in the center of LA. The camp was abandoned at the time, which was really serendipitous because it definitely helped add to the eerie, yet playful and psychedelic nature of the video. 

Q: Now, this is just a personal interest question. But I started a website called The Do Not Enter Diaries devoted to filming to stories of teenagers and their bedrooms, and I would love to know what you were like as a teenager. What was your bedroom like?

A: “Being a relatively reclusive and contemplative teenager I spent most of my time in my room, so that space definitely meant a lot to me. My walls were painted a super bright combination of salmon pink and neon lime green, and every surface was covered with my treasures and nicknacks. MySpace, homework, drawing things realistically, an AIM addiction, and my CD collection are the things I remember.”

"Craft class BLAST" necklace
Q: I really love the philosophy of Otherwild. How did you first get involved with them?
A: “It's been so great working with Otherwild and I am so happy to have my pieces at their shop. I came across the store soon after it opened last summer in LA. I then met with the founders Marisa Suarez-Orozco and Rachel Berks who immediately expressed interest in the Summer Camp pieces. I recently teamed up with Otherwild in a video series they produced which focuses on the studio practice of various artists whose work is sold at Otherwild. The series gives a perfect depiction of the shop and it's incredible philosophy!”

"Totally Teamwork" necklace
Q: Do you have any other creative projects in the works?

A: “Along with designing my F/W 2013 jewelry collection, I’m also in the midst of putting my ASCII CATZ t-shirts into production. I’m working with the artist Ryan McIntosh of Art is Shit Editions for the screen printing, the photographer Marina Fini for the collection shoot, and the artist/graphic designer Nicole Killian with the lookbooks and promotional materials. It’s great to be collaborating with amazing artists who I feel very connected to in terms of their work and ideas. The shirts should be available by late winter/early spring in three different color schemes which I am super excited about! A variation of the ASCII CATZ print, along with several other prints will also be specially released in February as tapestry wall hangings at Urban Outfitters. I am also designing some knitted wall hangings for the web-shop Beklina. It’s really exciting to be working on such a wide variety of projects. I knew when I launched my jewelry collection this past Fall that I didn’t want to confine myself to jewelry making, but I didn’t think the transition would happen so quickly.” 

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: “You can stay tuned with the launch all of my upcoming projects by connecting with my Facebook Page, Twitter, and Tumblr!”

Shop Kayla Mattes' Summer Camp S/S 2013 collection and see more of her work here.

Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition

Monday, January 21, 2013

Printed Matter

Printed Matter is a magical store where your traditional notion of an art book goes to die and gets recreated in crafty heaven.  You could say that Printed Matter is the fairy godmother to the independent publisher’s world.  You could say that and you’d be right. The ruby slippers to the whole operation are the artists who, in 1976, clicked their glittery heels together and wished for a space where art collectives, individual artists, and independent presses could find a safe haven of sorts. Their wish found a space in SoHo, which has since moved to Chelsea, where after years of hard work, has helped culminate the bylines of over 15,000 projects in-store. Totally created by the people for the people.

What you’ll find in Printed Matter is like no other bookshop around, for starters because it’s the largest of its genre. Everything in Printed Matter is filed in a creative yet slightly schizophrenic organizing scheme, where categorizing vibes rules over alphabetization. And I love it just like that. Because without this organization scheme, you wouldn’t be able to stumble upon a book donated from the MoMA teens program sandwiched in-between books about sex. These books are not your typical coffee table art books---they are totally handmade, often ephemera crafts, and about topics as specific as types of fur. Printed Matter’s shelves are always stocked with new pin, book, zine, and t-shirt artists you’ve most likely never heard of, although they do stock some more well-known figures such as Yoko Ono and Sophie Calle (one of my absolute favorite artists who catalogs her performances pieces in beautifully-bound books). But after spending but a few seconds walking in through the door, you’ll realize that there is something there for everyone. I know for myself, even their $1 cartoon zines and Barbara Kruger postcards are something to look forward to with my babysitting money. And when I was there, I bought the Guerrilla Girls’ latest book, The Guerilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to Western Art, a must-read for any female who owns, makes, or appreciates art and its history.  Everything is super niche-y in a good way in that nowhere else can you find a bookstore that would highlight the weird crap that rolls in their door. Speaking of which! While I was there, Todd Oldham’s assistant came in to drop off all of these boxes books he was donating. Which is another huge part of Printed Matter. They are a completely non-profit organization, devoted to giving back to the DIY movement. However, their vitality is based on community giving. Most recently, with Hurricane Sandy, they lost 9,000 books which were stored in their basement. And now, more than ever Printed Matter is looking for donations. Looking at the photos of Printed Matter immediately after the hurricane was incredibly devastating, but it’s amazing to see how quickly they’ve gotten back up and running.  

But Printed Matter is more than just a book store. It’s also a community space—whether in times of a zine reading or cleaning out a flooded basement, it’s sustained by the voices of its people...and yours can be next! 

Barbara Kruger +  Scorpio Rising postcards on the rack. 

On this shelf: featuring work by Destroy All The Monsters 

MoMA P.S. 1 book fair zine

Printed Matter, 195 Tenth Avenue; New York, NY, 10011; 212-925-0464
Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition

Friday, January 18, 2013

RAD TALK: An Interview With Lelsey Arfin

"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring one of my all-time favorite writers, Lesley Arfin. I couldn't be more excited about this one, guys! A new interview is posted on Fridays. 
Image courtesy of Cafe con Lesley

Q: How did first get interested in writing? Was it the moment you wrote your first diary entry? 
A: "Probably very soon after that. I was always a big reader so once I started writing; it was like a key fitting into a lock." 

Q: What interests you about advice columns, specifically? What is the best advice you’d give to a girl of the Tumblr Generation? 
A: “I am not interested in advice columns. I liked writing "Ask Barf" for Street Carnage because it seemed like a natural evolution from Dear Diary. I totally can't remember what the best advice, or really any advice I gave anyone. I think that's a question for someone who actually took my advice!” 

Q: I love reading your writing from the Missbehave era… it’s all so honest and colloquial and sometimes I wonder if you are really reading my own diaries. I know that’s not what you do now, but I personally hope to become an editor someday myself. So, I am interested, how did you get involved with Missbehave? What did you learn most from that whole experience? 
A: “Missbehave was so much fun during the short time I was there. The reason for my hiring was Samantha Moeller who owned the magazine. She's a little pixie Peter Pan badass-troublemaker genius girl. I think the most crucial lesson I learned from that job was that I didn't want to be an editor and to always show up early to work.” 

Q: What fascinates me about you is that you don’t cap-off at one job title. You put yourself into all these different varying projects: from authoring Dear Diary to DJing to keeping up all of those blogs. Is that something you do so you won’t get bored/ something you’re conscious of?  
A: “It's only something I do so I don't go broke! I think that's sort of the me of the past though. I definitely no longer DJ and I rarely blog. I like to think of my title as simply just a writer. I don't think I could ever truly commit myself to just one genre.” 
Image courtesy of Cafe con Lesley

Q: You, seemingly out of anyone else from the Girls cast, have received the most flack from the media about the show’s portrayal of race. That really bugged me, because Girls has always been about taking an accurate snapshot of 20-somethings in Brooklyn. Why would you just throw in diversity for the sake of it? Who goes to a Tyler Perry movie and complains that there aren’t enough white people? 
A: “Well I got a lot of flack because I made a sarcastic and flippant comment about the movie Precious, which I love by the way, and do feel represented in, which was the point I was trying to make. I felt with Girls that you didn't need to be a certain color, race, gender, or creed to identify with the feelings that the characters were having but I guess some other people felt differently. I think it was ultimately a good lesson for me to have because I have been so careless about the things I've said in the past, never thinking that anyone actually cared or was listening. I'm also schooled by the early Vice generation, which was sort of like a punk rock MAD magazine, super anti-PC and anarchistic, which we idealized as twentysomethings, but now that I'm in my 30s, I sadly need to act like a grown-up and take responsibility for my actions.” 

Q: Not only are you working on Girls, but you also started working on MTV’s Awkward. The two offer very different perspectives on young people. What attracts you to working with a young age bracket?  
A: “Well Awkward is teenagers and Girls is 20s, so they're different. It honestly has nothing to do with the age bracket except maybe that my reference points are sharper since I've been-there-done-that kinda thing. I wanted to work on Awkward because I LOVED the show and was a huge fan. I begged Lauren Iungerich to hire me and she did. That lady knows how to write one hell of a TV show.” 

Image courtesy of Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin
Q: In Dear Diary, you reflect on your experiences in high school. Since writing the book have you kept in touch with any past friends/boyfriends/enemies that make an appearance? 
A: “Of course! If anything the book made me closer to a lot of those people I had lost touch with. Everyone who participated in the book was such a good sport about the whole thing.”

Q: What was one of your most "awkward" high school experiences?
A: “I was a Freshman right? And at that time all the punks, hippies, metal kids, skaters, et al. hung out together. We just called ourselves "alternative." We were sitting in a circle and this dude was playing Helter Skelter on the guitar and I think I was so excited that I actually knew the words that I belted it out, full singing voice style. It was really weird.” 

Q: If you could be more like any character on TV right now, who would it be and why?
A: “I would be Khaleesi aka Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones because even in the wake of despair and desperation she remains brave and confident. She has so much faith she makes having faith look easy. And she's the mother of dragons, nbd.

Q:  What is the biggest regret you had in your adolescence?
A: “Not getting in touch with my psychic abilities.” 

Q: I recently co-founded a website called The Do Not Enter Diaries, devoted to telling the stories of teenagers through their bedrooms. What was your bedroom like as a teenager? 
A: “My bedroom was my sanctuary. I had a weird flood on my bedroom floor so my carpet was uneven and bumpy but I was always laying on floor making mix tapes, writing, drawing, etc. I had a huge Lemonheads poster and a huge Beastie Boys poster. I had the Sassy cover that Juliana Hatfield was on and a picture from Reality Bites. Very 90's. My furniture was wood and my color scheme was different shades of mint green: so chic. When I was a senior I was allowed to have a TV in my room. The TV was really small but the remote was a tiny little replica of the TV. Awesome much? I also had my own phone line and a pink and turquoise Swatch phone.” 

Q: I loved your “I Never Go Out Blog.” I am sad it died. Can I assume since its defunct, you go out now? What’s your ideal staycation? 
“Ha no way! I still never go out, I just got lazy and didn't feel like uploading pictures all the time. I should start it up again. I should do a blog called I'm Really Lazy. My ideal staycation is a rainy day and a delicious book that's no less than 800 pages long. All meals delivered promptly. At night, friends over for movies and jokes.” 

Q: On the topic of blogs, Let’s talk about Real 90's. I was born in 1995. Therefore, Real 90’s to me means Tomagotchi games and The Rugrats. Oh, and candy choker necklaces. Those were big in my playdate circle… How do you feel about the interpretation of 1990’s that’s been revivified in fashion/art/music comelately? 
A: “Well, White Lightning aka Elizabeth Spiridakis and I started the blog because we were so annoyed with all these younger kids being obsessed with our 90s and totally romanticizing it and getting it wrong. We were working in an office together at the time so it was a good distraction. Plus we were both kinda unemployed. Now Elizabeth is the art director at Bon Appetit and I'm in LA so it got sort of hard to maintain. We both felt territorial over our 90's, now I don't think we care as much. We just kinda roll our eyes.” 

Image of Lesley's New York apartment via Cafe con Lesley

Q: I keep up with a lot of your work; I always still cherish the words you’ve written on living in New York. Are you in LA now? If so, how do you think living in New York has shaped your experiences?  
“I am in LA now, yes. New York is where I am from so I don't know how it's shaped my experiences exactly, only because I can't imagine having lived any other way. New York is a city for the young and it's a city for the rich. At this moment I am neither of those things but as soon as I get young again, I'll be moving back.”

Image  of Lelsey's needlepoint courtesy of Cafe con Lesley

Q: Lastly, I watched your video about needlepoint for Opening Ceremony's The Hobbyist series. Do you have any other rad hobbies you want to share? 
“Besides Needlepoint and reading I also enjoy buying stuff and hanging out with animals and going to the diner with my friends. I also love singing and dancing. I like talking. I like listening to the radio.”

To learn more about the latest with Lesley Arfin, check out her main website, here

Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition

Friday, January 11, 2013

RAD TALK: An Interview With Ultra Terrestrial

"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. A new interview is posted on Fridays. 

For me, an artist’s process is sometimes more interesting than the outcome. For this installment of “Rad Talk,” I interviewed Becca Kacanda, an artist currently residing in Iowa, who has enough philosophies on art to color the page. Raised in an evangelical home, today, Becca speaks out openly about her beliefs in the interplay between psychedelics and religion as it manifests in her own work and life. Read on below for our interview: 

Q: How would you describe your art to someone who’s never seen it before?
A: “Ecstatic, childlike, visionary, crafty, girly, colorful, personal, and psychedelic.”

Q: Some artists feel that colors dictate their process; others feel that they use certain colors by whim, and that colors don’t really add a specific meaning to the piece. Do feel like colors are an important aspect of your work thus far?
A: “Colors are very important. I have always felt really drawn to super bright colors and unusual color's definitely one of my obsessions.  The trick is figuring out how to make a design that shows off the interplay of colors really well and is also emotionally captivating. It's weird to me that so many artists are shy about using color because to me they are the greatest joy of making's very intuitive and emotional and sometimes I will know the color of an object I'm painting before I know what the object is.”

Q: On your Etsy shop, many of your jewelry pieces are made with shrinky dinks. What other materials do you use/ want to use? What role does material play in your work?
A: “I haven't made shrinky dink pieces in a while but I think it is somewhat overlooked as a good medium, its really durable and you can even print or draw complex images onto it before shrinking. Prior to that I had learned that using acrylic on plexiglass is a thing (Jim Nutt did it really well and I recently saw and loved his pieces at the Madison museum of Contemporary Art) and I want to do that, but it's expensive. Shrinky Dinks were the next closest thing. As far as materials go, I am definitely attracted to fake, unnatural mass produced stuff from the dollar store and cheesy craft supplies.  I think those types of things have made such an impression on my brain, probably because I grew up in Flushing, Queens and saw a lot of cheap, imported knock-off toys that were really weird and more importantly, not associated with narrated characters on TV, so they felt more inviting and personal. At the same time, I know these things are horrible for the environment and probably all made in miserable toxic factories...the thought of contributing to the destruction of the earth to make plastic wiggly eyeballs or glitter or toys that are going to fall apart in 2 days is pretty nuts. Pom Poms aren't symbols of childhood innocence anymore, because they were dyed with toxic chemicals and made in China... but if we stopped making useless shit our current economy would fall apart.   If I was an adult 30 years ago, I probably wouldn't be having thoughts like this... I still really want to make things that are totally beautiful and fake and glorious with all this horrible colorful glittering stuff. Hopefully that makes sense.”

Q: You work under the byline, Ultra Terrestrial. What significance does it have to you and your work, besides just sounding totally rad?
A: “I lifted that phrase from Phillip K Dick's book VALIS, which is an extremely important book to me for so many reasons. I haven't read a great amount of his work, but one of his central concepts is that of multiple universes/timelines existing simultaneously and occasionally crossing over and revealing themselves in unexpected and mysterious ways. I am also fascinated by all of the ancient alien stuff and the idea that our DNA is extra terrestrial. A lot of people like to make fun of that idea but if you think about how fucking mysterious and crazy life is it really doesn't seem far out at all. So Ultra Terrestrial is really just about embracing that alien-like weirdness. I think a lot of people are stuck in the thinking that they're not smart or special, they can't accomplish amazing things because they're not brilliant or whatever, and that's such tragic thinking and it's so wrong and self defeating. The cosmos is massively intelligent ( VALIS stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System) and since we are part of the cosmos, we are privy to it. That really inspires me to make work. I think right now most of human kind is very out of touch with themselves which is why we are doing so many stupid and destructive things. Most people are operating on a very sober reality at all times. We should not be sober all the time. I believe psychedelic substances were put here for a reason--- it helps us to access that vast intelligence....which we REALLY need right now.”

Q: Is making art your main job? If not, please describe your job below.
A: “I desperately wish it was but that hasn't happened yet. My day job is not creative at all, I work in a call center.  It takes up tons of time obviously, but having money and a steady job and being able to afford to live, buy art supplies and have a studio in my apartment has been incredibly conducive to making art despite the time sucking. So the next step is to figure out how to not have the job at the same time.”

Q: You recently moved from New York to Iowa. In terms of the art community, what have you observed is the biggest difference/ similarity? Are people in Iowa more or less receptive to your work?
A: “I feel like I can answer this question two different ways. In terms of my town's "art community" as perceived through gallery openings and art fairs I would say it's pretty safe, the art here is very much realistic/pastoral scenes and pottery and other traditional crafts, a lot of cutesy decorations for your yard, that type of thing.  I think the general Iowa populace probably perceives visual art as a quaint hobby here...something older people do when they retire, which is obviously really different than how artists are perceived in NY for sure. So I don't have a lot in common with that and so I'm not actively trying to show work here...but of course I would if I felt there was an appropriate audience.  I mean, even though Iowa may sometimes seem hopeless there are still people out there who break the mold and make cool shit and hey, I'm friends with some of them! One of my friends who I have the best art conversations with primarily does organic farming and that probably wouldn't have happened in New York. And really when it comes down to it your art community is your friends. And now that we have the internet your friends can be anywhere, so I think your physical location is not as important as it used to be.”

Q: My favorite art of yours is actually your sculptures. I really hope you continue to do more of those. Where do you get the materials for them? Is it stuff just laying around your house that you choose to refurbish or are you on the hunt for a certain something?
A: “Thanks! I have a lot of fun with the sculptures and they are a very new direction for meI acquire objects from thrift stores mostly. Like my "Grass Cloud" was made from a cloud-shaped piece of wood someone made for their kid probably and then just gave it away to the thrift store. I had just been collecting those weird objects and picking up vintage craft supplies for next to nothing as well as using coupons at craft stores to acquire anything I found interesting even if I had no idea what to do with it. They are very indulgent and I don't think about them as much as my paintings, but they have gotten the most love on the internet. Funny how the stuff that you slave over the least always seems to be the most popular.”

Q: You integrate a lot of cultural references in your work: psychedelia, organic living, and a lot of tribal references. Where do the ingredients for this melting pot come from?
A: “All of those things you mentioned are my primary areas of interest. I have always been attracted to psychedelic artwork even a kid, just an intuitive knowing that it was getting at something very deep below the surface that's not often talked about ....which was comforting.  It wasn't until much later that I had my first psychedelic experiences which completely changed my perspective on life. Its pretty interesting because I grew up going to church and sitting there being sober listening to someone tell me that there's more to life, but you just have to trust that there is. But when you take psychedelics you can experience it all directly- love and understanding and wisdom (even hell) -- it seems like religion is kind of a counterfeit form of the real thing since it just talks about this stuff but says you can't have it until you die. I recently just speculated that maybe early Christians had been eating mushrooms together and that Jesus represented that experience.  And then like two weeks later I stumbled across an interview with John A Rush who wrote a book called The Mushroom in Christian Art and it’s this whole theory that is very weighty and well supported with visual art work-- that Jesus actually is the personification of a psychedelic mushroom. That connection totally turned my world upside down because religion and psychedelics were the two things that have affected my life probably more than anything else.  And a lot of tribal art is really psychedelic too and just looks so rad.  And I definitely think tribal cultures have incredible wisdom and their art work is just totally mind-blowing and beautiful and they had a deeper understanding of life, they were more empowered, but it was also very physical.  I think a lot of that is because they weren't disconnected from the earth like we are now--  now things like nudity and living off the land are considered backwards or obscene or gross now, but it's what makes us human. Older cultures realized that certain foods could heal the body and they were holy- they contained wisdom. So that's where the whole organic interest comes in. I've been eating primarily organic food for about 4 years and it's amazing how much better it tastes and how much better you feel.  Right now most modern people are just taking in whatever is given to them- whatever the conventional foods are, whatever is on TV, it's very dangerous. We are in a place where we can get away with just following orders, consuming without comprehension or questioning. Our lives have become very ersatz. That's very different from growing and eating your own food and building your own home and creating your community with your neighbors from the natural resources around you. They were so smart and self sufficient and understood life and death in such a profound way.”

Q: This is kind of a more personal interest question, because I recently co-founded a website called The Do Not Enter Diaries, devoted to filming the stories of teenagers and their bedrooms, but I am interested to know what you were like as a teenager.  Was your room covered with art projects in-the-making?
A: “Actually my teen years were not very creative and I didn't make art until the tail end of high school. This is probably hard for most people to relate to if they haven't gone through it, but my early teen years were very much influenced by church and youth group and breaking away from that was very difficult and scary and I did not know how to express what I was going through. My brain's thoughts just could not correlate with (Evangelical) Christian thought anymore and everything fell apart mentally. I really didn't feel like I could express myself creatively at home.  I was getting into some cool underground music and books through the internet but I wasn't brave enough to start covering my walls with my new interests....although if there had been sites like yours at the time it might have empowered and inspired me.  Now that I am an adult with my own apartment I cover my studio walls with all sorts of awesome things so it’s kind of like having the dream teenage bedroom I never had. I think having a space that is personalized is so important. I watched your Do Not Enter Diaries sneak peak and I am really looking forward to the full launch!”

Q: Do you have any projects in the works we can look forward to?
A: “Right now I am working on pieces for a show titled "Works on Paper" on March 9th at the Open Space Gallery in Baltimore. The show is sort of the kick off for the Print and Multiples Fair that will be held in Baltimore. too. So, [it will include] pretty big paintings on paper and then I will be making a zine which I am planning on [devoting] to Jesus and mushrooms. After that I am planning on continuing more paintings on paper and sculptures.”

Thanks so much, Becca!

All images on this post are courtesy of Becca Kacanda

To check out more of Becca Kacanda and her Ultra Terrestrial art, click here

Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition

Friday, January 4, 2013

RAD TALK: An Interview With Claudio Parentela

I often interview artists and designers for my professional work. Yet, in the past, I haven’t featured such interviews at my own blog. I founded The Emma Edition to highlight style/art/culture in NYC and beyond from a teenage perspective-and I’ve decided that it’s no less an important part of my mission to highlight those on the Internet who influence me, as it is to write about a thrift store that I cherish shopping at. To that end, I am starting a new feature at The Emma Edition for 2013 called “Rad Talk,” wherein, I’ll be interviewing creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Read on below for the first installment…

It’s not often one hears about zine culture in Italy. Yet, Claudio Parentela: artist, blogger, illustrator, and self-made zinester, has been active in all forms of Italy’s underground art scene, participating in various mail projects, for quite some time. So it makes sense that his own art is fueled by various forms of ephemera. Parentela creates collages that deal with a series of female characters, disfigured by clownish makeup and colorful backdrops.

In a way, they remind me of Pedro Almodovar’s movie, Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown, if one took photographs of the film and then put them into a blender. Parentela’s art is surreal, fun, and yet, absolutely topical, by commenting on the place of women in the media. As Claudio is located all the way in Italy, our interview was held via email, where I got to enjoy his stream of consciousness firsthand. If anything, Claudio is a extension of the world created in his art, exemplified by every mysterious ellipsis and capricious jab. Read on for a Q&A with the artist himself, below.

Q: You occasionally use very famous celebrities in your work, such as Kate Moss or Salvador Dali. Do you always base your paintings off of real people?
A: “It depends on my moods…on the phases of the moon…..on the music I’ve in mind…I never know what I’ll do….the game is always new and different every time….but…sure I’m very interested in weird fashion….and in my art yes there is so much fashion, Salvador Dalì sure….Kate Moss (oh, I love her…..),Mickey Mouse and Diamanda Galas…my natural madness…”

Q: Collage is such an interesting medium because you can piece together so many different forms of inspiration in one painting. What first got you interested in working with collage?
A: “Oh…..for 14-15 years I painted only in black and white with tons of black Indian ink…I needed of colours and to experiment with other materials….it was natural to switch to colour….though I think that there is colour, much colour , in the thousand shades between black and white.
Q: Did you read magazines as kid? Do you read magazines now? If so, which were/are your favorites?
A: “[I read] many, many, many…. I read especially many books but also magazines…..some of my favourites are Juxtapoz, Ozon, i-D,
Dazed & Confused, Chaos-mag, Verve, Soma Mag, Ion Mag, Hi-Fructose, NY Arts Magazine, Frieze Magazine…..and a lot of others…..when I was a kid I read only horror books...I looked only at horror movies…I thought only horror ideas….”

Q: I’ve read that you often work on zines. It’s really interesting because in America, zines were really big in the 1990’s, as a part of a movement of do-it-yourself culture, as a part of rebelling against the magazine world. They are slowly trickling back into niches. But I am interested to know how that translates overseas in Italy. How did you first get interested in making/ contributing to zines?
A: “I started doing this strange work in 1995…I drew crazy comics then….The fantastic Stripburger magazine published my first comics….There was a fervent movement then  in Eastern Europe, many fantastic creative people there….many bands…fantastic music…..many many wonderful zines….yes I started to draw there, in Eastern Europe….not in Italy, strange true…...a case…a wonderful case…I’ve great memories of those early years.
Q: A lot of your artwork seems to deal with the media’s effect on women and domesticity. You mix images typically found in a women’s fashion magazines, and turn them into these amazing surrealist art forms. Would you say that your work has a feminist tone to it?
A: “Maybe yes….maybe not….my works have yes a feminist tone surely….a bit of anarchic feminist tone too….a crazy queer tone too….an alien tone very much… strange beings inhabit my artworks…

Q: What would you say is the mission statement of your art? What do you hope your art achieves?
A: “I hope to continue to draw, to draw, to draw … continue to do  this fantastic shamanic journey for all the days of my life…

Q: Do you think fashion is art?

A: “Sure… a formidable exquisite art form…

Q: Do you dress as interesting as your art?
A: “Oh not…. I'm too lazy to spend time to choose my own clothes…but my heart and my mind yes….they dress with crazy clothes every day….
Q: Claudio, how did you come up with idea for your wacky website? I love it. Often times, websites seem like an afterthought, but yours really seems like an extension of your work!
A: “Thanx…you’re really very kind….I’m not [too good at creating] web sites….I can do a few things with my Dreamweaver… I did everything by myself many animated gif…I love them so much…..!!!!!

Q: What projects can we look forward from you in the future?

I'm working on a show that I will do in the coming months in Kiev, and I’ve to prepare something for [2 other shows] also in the next months....I've started just in these days my new tarot deck and my new comic book....working on some interviews…a lot of interesting things yes....!

All images from this interview are copyright © Claudio Parentela.

Learn  more about Claudio and his art, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition
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