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a statement on art and self

One of the most agonizing parts of making art is trying to explain your work to other people. A majority of artists would probably agree with me when I say art work is supposed to speak for itself; that’s why we make art work in the first place. If we could have expressed the idea/concept/feeling in words, then we would be writers and poets. Our gesture is our word and our end product is the essay.

But of course, the world just doesn’t work that way. Audiences want to understand what they see using context and background of the creator themselves. Thus the ever-annoying request for the “artist statement” (as if the work itself didn’t state anything already). If you look closely enough, I think all art is merely a reflection or manifestation of the personality of the artist. Sometimes they can cite theories, events, and other matters that informed their original purpose – but in the end, I kind of just don’t even care. I know that sounds pretty terrible to say as a person in the art world, but regardless of how much I learn about the artist or what the work is about, all I really need to know is how the work makes me feel.

Georgia O'Keefe

Artwork is a form of communication that relies heavily on the success of impressing internal change within a viewer. It’s a personal experience informed by subjective opinions and histories. Work that makes you gasp, work that that makes you cringe, and work that makes you love and hate – it all did something noticeable to you and perhaps even only you.

I am pretty uncomfortable and sometimes terrified when people as me what my work is “about”. I wish there were a simple elevator speech I could regurgitate on command. And I wish all my work had a single meaning or perspective, easily understood with a concise goal in mind. But here’s the thing. It just isn’t.

I do my best work when I don’t have a plan. When I am free to act on impulse without worrying about meaning or judgment, the marks flow through my hands readily and I enter a state of pseudo-meditation. I guess you could say I’m “in the zone”. Letting go of the “statement” of my work gives it the room to breathe and find its own visual voice. After a few of these sessions, I can sometimes say that the drawing is complete, but rarely am I ever proud of what I’ve made. The equal amounts of loving and loathing seem to negate each other and they just are what they are.

My work is me. It’s from me, it’s about me. Everything that I am as a person has some sort of influence on what comes out of my hands. My history, my aspirations, my self-imposed handicaps… it’s all there on the paper.

discovering east lake atlanta

There are way too many effin cute neighborhoods in Atlanta. It’s wonderfully overwhelming and keeps me feeling alive to discover all the little gems scattered inside the perimeter. A recent Saturday took me to East Lake in search of Thread Count, a unique vendor’s market focused on raising awareness for local craftsmanship, sustainability, and design. In other words, it pretty much had my name written all over it plus there was no cover charge at all. I expected the typical Atlanta craft market experience where you come, covet, eat, and leave. Little did I know that East Lake’s neighborhood would charm the pants off of me. Why?… Just look.

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

On the way to Thread Count, Ben and I stumbled upon the East Lake Urban Farm. Due to our impending move to a duplex unit with a backyard begging for a garden, I’ve recently become obsessed with nurseries, farms, and vegetable gardens. Perhaps it’s the farm to table trend seeping into my blood. Perhaps it’s my desire to save money. Either way – it’s a healthy new interest and I’m looking forward to what I might be able to pull up from the earth with my own two hands. In the meantime, I’ll just keep ogling cute places like this.

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

The event was held in the East Lake Community Garden which is filled rows of blooming vegetables and a den of weed-eating goats (even little ones). Though there weren’t many vendors in total, each one was dripping with a genuine desire to share the love of their craft. Not to mention there was also free beer from New Belgium. Did I mention that I like stuff that’s free?

East Lake Community Garden in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Thread Count at the East Lake Community Garden in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

I met a number of darling artisans who were just beginning their creative journey. Like KJo – audiologist by day and jewelry maker by night! She scavenges for vintage items and reclaims them into sweet little pieces to wear. Her display felt like the awesome attic of an eccentric aunt who has a taste for the feminine along with the slightly strange.

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

And Rachael of Neva Opet, who hand-crafts elegant leather accessories. She’s an absolute doll and more on her later!

Neva Opet at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Neva Opet at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Do you need any more convincing to go see East Lake for yourself? Just a little drive around the neighborhood will do you a world of good, but a visit to the garden and farm will be enough to make you want to plant your own roots here.

creative masters: jeanée ledoux of finely crafted

While I enjoy sharing the struggles and triumphs of my own life, I thought it might do everyone well to start exploring the lives of others who are also striving to manifest their dreams. I’ve decided to entitle this interview series “Creative Masters” because all of these individuals have mastered the art of forging their own paths and are a great inspiration to me (and hopefully you too). They listen to their inner selves and are willing their unique visions of grandeur into reality. I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of coming across so many talented creative professionals in the past few years and I’m so excited to be sharing with you how they came to be the amazing pathfinders they are today.

Atlanta is so pleasantly filled to the brim with extraordinary people who make it their life goal to enhance your visual living experience. Jeanée Ledoux, of Finely Crafted, is exactly one of those people. She and I met through the blogosphere and I was immediately enchanted by all the colorful and charming goods her store has to offer. After finally meeting her in person, I knew I had to do this wonder woman justice by sharing her awesome story on T&B. Jeanee is one of those girls you’d love to have in your friend group because even upon first meeting (an impromptu one at that) she is so lovely and easygoing. Not to mention she obviously could decorate your house at the drop of a hat. Jeanée opened Finely Crafted less than a year ago (seriously) and is already making her mark among the ranks of the awesome. If you don’t have a chance to check out Finely Crafted at Paris On Ponce, do not fret. Finely Crafted is officially going online in September of this year!.. Just in time to make our holiday season that much merrier.

Jeanee Ledoux of Finely Crafted

Describe Finely Crafted in three sentences.

Finely Crafted is a cheerful destination for home decor, gifts, and personal accessories inspired by modernism and mid-century kitsch. My boutique supports independent artists and small companies who pour their hearts into their creations, many of which are handmade. The Finely Crafted blog delivers store updates and artist info, but it’s also a source for DIY projects and a community that celebrates the craft movement and modern design.

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

It’s a delightfully curated store for sure! Tell me more about your background and how it led you to this.

I’ve been hot and heavy with the craft movement since 1999, when I took my first job as an editorial assistant at Storey Books in North Adams, Mass. We published DIY books on cooking, gardening, sewing, etc., and I’d spend lunch breaks poring over projects and dreaming of writing my own craft book one day. In 2005, after several years of thrifty decorating projects in a few apartments, I wrote “Abode a la Mode: 44 Projects for Hip Home Decor,” published by Sterling. “ReadyMade” magazine was new, and book publishers seemed to be scrambling to find young makers with a fresh point of view on crafts. That same year, my sister Suzanne and I founded Honeydoux jewelry, which featured vintage buttons and stones. We got into several boutiques and sold directly at craft markets, which gave me some merchandising practice. In 2009 I designed the projects for the DVD “Re-Construct: Eco-Friendly Crafts Made Easy,” co-hosted by Garth Johnson of Extreme Craft and produced by Eyekiss Films. All my crafting seemed to hover around hobby status, financially speaking, so I took a break in 2011. I stayed involved in the handmade community by volunteering at craft shows, like ICE, and supporting makers I admire. I began thinking of myself as a craft cheerleader rather than a crafter, but I knew I wouldn’t be content on the sidelines for long. Last summer I felt drawn toward retail, so I made an “If I had a store” Pinterest page. I made a casual inquiry at Paris on Ponce and showed my page to one of the owners, and I had a signed contract for my own mini-boutique just a few days later!

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

Wow. You’ve had quite a journey! What gave you the courage to make the leap to begin Finely Crafted?

I’ve never been afraid of starting businesses — Finely Crafted is my third! Renting booth space at Paris on Ponce is a low-risk way to dip my toe into the retail pond and see whether I like it. I do need to give myself lots of pep talks, though, to feel confident about designing the store. I’m not an artist and have very little merchandising experience, so I can spiral into heart-wrenching “who am I to do this . . . ?” thoughts. Having a space that hundreds of people judge every week makes me feel quite vulnerable! I’ve always been a fast learner and hard worker, though, so in the end I trust that I’ll scrape together enough know-how and style to be successful.

I know how you feel about being vulnerable. But your love for the work of the artists you represent obviously shines through. Who’s your current fave among the Finely Crafted artists and why?

I’m crazy about Leah Duncan! Her wall art and home decor (I carry prints, tea towels, and pillows) are inspired by diverse genres — from impressionism to Scandinavian folk art — but the patterns and colors are always distinctly her. There’s a joyful, dynamic movement to her drawings. For example, the paddle cactus on her tea towel looks like it’s dancing. Her oh-so-50s colors are some of my personal favorites, like sea foam, peachy pink, and goldenrod. Leah and I are collaborating on limited-edition prints that will be sold by Finely Crafted only, beginning this fall. I’m so excited and grateful that an established artist I admire is willing to take a risk on a retail rookie!

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

I can’t wait to see them! I doubt anyone could call you a rookie of any kind with the life experience you’ve had and the collaboration sounds perfect. The craft and DIY movement is very hip right now. How do you set yourself apart from others like you, yet still remain relevant? 

nadia tarr

I just can’t get over the beautifully designed dresses and lookbooks from Nadia Tarr ever since I saw them on Miss Moss. The silhouettes of her design are stunning and timeless. The first thing you’d want to do in her clothing is twirl, which makes sense given her background as a dancer and choreographer.

Nadia-Tarr-Bridal-1

Nadia-Tarr-Bridal-4

I’m lusting over the lookbooks just as much as I am the clothing.

paris in atlanta

Sometimes I fall into the delusional trap of thinking I’ve seen it all. Seen all the places, eaten all the food, roamed all the markets. As much as I try to convince myself that sitting at home on the weekends is the best course of action, it just isn’t true. There is just too much to be found out there in our wonderful city and even the things you think you know can surprise you. Case in point: Paris On Ponce.

antiques and boutiques at Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

antiques and boutiques at Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

I used to go to Paris on Ponce pretty frequently when I first moved here to ogle the mass amount of antiques (not gonna lie, also because they so adorably laid out cookies and lemonade too), but had fallen off the wagon due to the fact that I could never take home the secondhand furniture I coveted. A chance whim took me back there recently and I was stunned at all the changes that had taken place, in a very good way.

Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

Paris on Ponce is now Paris on Ponce & POP Marché. Still housing a crazy amount of antique treasures, but now also home to unique vignette boutiques filled with home goods from various vendors and curators from around the city. And here I was, thinking it couldn’t get any better! Every booth is like a miniature world with a landscape abundant with patterns, texture, and color.

antiques and boutiques at Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

Kitchen Papers at Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

antiques and boutiques at Paris on Ponce | Atlanta

Despite my best efforts, I didn’t manage to make it out empty-handed.

pattern play

Thanks to the flourishing film industry in Atlanta, I’ve gotten the chance to make a few bucks on the side by doing extra work on tv shows and films. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but all the sitting around gives me a chance to play with some pen and paper. Perhaps someday soon I’ll get to see these come to life! Do you like this pattern? What would you like to see it on?

geo pattern by Christina Kwan

the industrial organic

I’ve lived in Atlanta for about three years now so you can imagine how many art festivals and markets I’ve been to. After a while, everything starts to look the same to me. Not in a bad way – just in the fact that I’ve seen all the local vendors already. Thankfully, I was recently and pleasantly proven wrong when I stumbled upon MDC Interiors at ARTlantis.

concrete planter by MDC Interiors in Atlanta | tide & bloom

concrete succulent planters by MDC Interiors in Atlanta | tide & bloom

In their sweet and humble booth full of tiny treasures, I met the warm and ever-so-lovely Mona Patel. She and her partner, Mike, began MDC Interiors to craft custom objects that are visually striking as well as beneficial for the environment. While I didn’t get to see their furniture pieces (due to the limited amount of space), I absolutely fell in love

sweet summer style

The idea of a style post scares the hell out of me. While I’ve always loved fashion (wearing and coveting), I’m so much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. Thankfully there’s no shortage of cutie-pies in my life to showcase and posting pictures of my friends will help me feel less awk about posting pictures of myself. First up is Kylie!

Kylie's Summer Style | Crop Top and High-Low Skirt

Kylie is a brave and beautiful girl I know back from my ol’ college dancing days. We used to spend most of our time together figuring out West African dance moves or shakin’ our rumps on stage. She’s already a success at the tender age of 22 because she’s strong, independent, and knows what she wants out of life. Her style reflects exactly this – always poised and pretty, with a little bit of fun flair mixed in. Kylie said her inspiration for this outfit was Carrie Bradshaw (whose isn’t?) and I was basically ready to steal this crop top right off her back.

Christina's Summer Style: Lasercut High-waisted Skirt | tide & bloom

head to toe: sunglasses / necklace / tankskirt / shoes

Though I was cringing editing these photos so graciously taken my patient boyfriend, I know that it’s healthy for me to put these out there.

instamadness

Yes, I finally joined Instagram @tideandbloom #latebloomer. Guess I just can’t resist yet another way to share my experiences! Here’s a little sample of where I’m beginning:

[instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/ZN6dNkn_yW/ width=325] [instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/ZdtKEpn_9f/ width=325][instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/ZdspvhH_8o/ width=325] [instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/ZdvJN3H_xG/ width=325] [instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/Zd05G_H_6M/ width=325] [instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/Zdfk_mn_1f/ width=325]

Are you addicted to Instagram? Are there any particularly interesting Instaphotographers I need to follow?