Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

It's 98 degrees outside today in Chicago. So instead of showing you my newly-made fall coat (I promise, I will!), I'm going take you on a magical mystery tour of sorts - a journey to today and how all the pieces of your life end up coming together.

I ended up watching The Secret the other day even though my dad told me to watch it about 5 years ago, but I could never find it. Or I'd forget. It's gotten me thinking again to how I got to what I'm doing today.

It's odd how a bunch of things happen, really. When you're younger, you feel like you're floating around, trying a little bit of everything because you don't really know what you want to do. (Hint: many of us still don't know entirely what we want, but we pick something and just try to reach that goal for the time being.)

 I knew I always wanted to live in a big city - NYC was my first pick of course, but mostly because I had family in Connecticut. My mom convinced me to move to Chicago because at that time, she was in Michigan and Chicago is 3 hours away though she ended up moving back to the east coast. Needless to say, since 2004 I never left Chicago, so I must like it.

Me circa 2005, a year into college.

But here's how many pieces fall into play:

I started out my creative life as mostly a writer. A plain ol' writer. Mostly I did short stories, dabbled in poetry, and enjoyed making essay assignments overly creative. I was published in our school literary magazine a few times (I don't think I have copies anymore!) and even won some local library writing contest in high school. This was with a sarcastically-written free-verse poem about the kids that shopped at Hot Topic who thought they were punk by listening to nowhere near punk, Avril Lavigne. They were just buying into a capitalist idea, not really living the lifestyle. (Yes, I hung around some real punk kids in high school, though they didn't always dress it. That's an argument for another day.) I'm not sure if people understood the sarcasm in the poem but maybe they did.

Me in 2003, mocking Avril Lavigne
But writing was always my outlet.

I was also interested in photography back then and would tout around a Nikon Coolpix 2500. I mainly don't remember what I took photos of but I did learn in all those years how to frame shots even using a chintzy camera and developed black and white film in my photography class. I guess who didn't? I occasionally cut apart thrift store clothes and put them back together to make Halloween costumes for people and while I loved doing it, that was something I didn't think was worth going to school for.

Out of all of this, I was on the pathway my junior year to choosing journalism as a career. Seriously, thiiiiiiiiiiiis close to journalism. My 2nd choice was psychology (super into psych/social psych to this day) and my 3rd choice? Fashion design.
 
 One night I literally put all 3 into a hat (I'm serious) and picked. Out came fashion design.

So I went towards it and took a sewing class because I had almost no idea how to sew. Here's the first shirt I ever made, from my mom's 70s pattern. It was a stretch knit, mind you.

Yes, I was young and pimply. 2003.



Some beyond early sketches from 2003. These are not that amazing.

And if you knew me back then this is what I usually looked like:

                     Usually this.  2003.                                                          Sometimes this. 2003.


 Fast forward to 2007, graduating from design school. I learned a bit, but admittedly a novice at everything. I made cool things, but I didn't know where I fit in with the fashion world.

So I quit fashion design and went off on 2 distinct tangents: photography (mostly fashion-related) and art.

I took photos like these:
Lomo camera, 2010
And this:
Lomo camera, 2009.



This was my favorite shoot, in a graveyard with my friend Jane, taken with a DSLR.

Then I got to shoot a men's lookbook for online publishing in 2010.


And then I even got to do this in 2011, using a photo I took for this event:


In the midst, I was working on little pieces on and off which I called prismatic designs and eventually was asked to be in a group art show in 2011:

I was quite convinced I would leave fashion design behind and just be an all around creative. And if you've watched The Secret, I totally attracted all these things to me: I wanted to do photography, so other than only doing it, I showed everyone and magically, people would come to me about photography-ish things. I even was a contributor to a Chicago street style/art blog taking photos of people on the streets, eventually starting my own street fashion blog, then called Undercurrent.

I attracted all kind of people into my world, living in Chicago: musicians (some famous, some who ended up in Spin, and many who eventually quit the biz but all very talented), artists, photographers, fellow fashion designers, writers, and yet somehow I never considered myself amongst them or "one of them". I really don't know why. 

But then the girl who was running the street style blog saw my garments from college. She thought they were amazing. I thought nothing of them, thought all of them should be dumped off at a thrift store. Some were unfinished because I sincerely didn't believe I could finish them and many showed how much of a novice I truly was at the time.

Yet she saw something of value in them somehow.
 
But in late 2011 early 2012, something finally clicked. A mural-artist friend of mine saw that I was off on this tangent and said to me one day during Wicker Park Fest "ah, you don't love your craft".

In doing my prismatics in which I generally design in quadrants, I realized it was very, very close to pattern making which is something I had struggled with forever.

The Elk, 2011.
Once I decided I was doing fashion design again, an opportunity to be a costume designer (something I had dabbled in during high school, remember?) for a webseries came up, and I was responsible for the collaboration of costumes to be worn by an amazing actor/drag queen.


Manic Pop (the blog) was born in late 2011 -almost 2 years to the day- and it's something I still love doing.  I decided this year, I needed an internship and got one, then decided I needed to make a 5-piece dress collection which I am currently finishing for the official Manic Pop launch.

And of course this year, I finally had a chance to do an exhibition - something I never saw coming. 


I guess what I'm trying to say is (especially to high schoolers, college students) is to go on tangents. Do something that deviates from your "career". We have so many things to choose from to play with. You never know when something you're "just playing with" will help you out in the future.

My writing, photography skills, and art background help with my blog greatly. My love of collage in high school helps me put together really fun inspiration boards. My seemingly "passing interest" in symmetrical art helped me figure out pattern making and also can be used for surface design prints in the future.

Something else of note: if you're in retail, don't despise it! TALK to people! You wouldn't believe how many artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and in general awesome people I have met just by talking to them. I'm not someone who goes out at all, and yet I know so many talented people who are doing fantastic things. I'm really in awe of them.

So sit down, think of what you want really hard. Visualize it. Ask for it. And then as many people say, "Fake it until you become it". Tell people what you are and believe it. That's what I've learned over the last 6 years in the "real world" since college (I graduated September of 2007.) It works.

Have fun with it. Do what you always wanted to do, dream up the impossible dream because it happens. Yes, you do have to follow through and "complete your assignments" - what would I be if all I did was think about pattern making and sewing? - but you can do it! You can do whatever you choose.

Use a planner and schedule out the time you do have for things you want to do and always be grateful. Don't rest on your laurels and definitely plan ahead, but take some time to reflect. Don't worry exactly how things will work out because they just will. Go fervently in a direction and the rest will fall into place (literally).

Inspiration board, 2009


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