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the modern issue

issue no. I


 
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THE CREATIVE PROCESS  I

 

 

Here's the deal.  Somewhere in June, one of us threw out an idea, "What if we made a magazine?" What if? We sat on the idea for awhile, had a meeting or two but didn't really know what we were doing. The magazine lived in "What if" for months.  We kept meeting, kept talking, kept creating and somewhere in there "What if" became "Yes and."  Articles began to appear, pictures formed and videos filmed.  The gravity of what we had endeavored upon began to weigh on each one of us and the potential for something great made us hungry to finish what we started.  Small details continued to change but one huge element has stayed the same from the first day: we wanted to create and we wanted to understand and inspire other creatives and their creative process.  To do this, we thought, we need to understand our own.  So each one of us took to a pen and paper (or iPhone or receipt paper) and talked about how we got the juices flowing.  Each issue, we'll have different artists explaining their process. But first, here's ours. Enjoy.


Crumpled and half-torn idea ridden pages strewn across the floor. Doodles. Epiphanies. Seven cups of coffee run bone dry. Eraser marks. Tip of the tongue. Silence. Face-palms. Frivolous typing. Donuts. THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS to me is a very dirty, organized cycle. It starts by making one specific choice and building off of that choice, like a spiderweb. Then you end up hating that choice, you change everything you know about that choice, and come up with something completely different. Then you fall in love with the new idea just to end up hating it minutes later. But the second idea wouldn’t have existed without the first. And the third won’t without the second and the first and so on. Once you have seven, or forty-two, or a thousand webs, somewhere in there, you have your gem. The creative process is finding that gem and having the fire in you to create it. And sometimes, if done in such a way, the final product will have a hint of each web in it. Or it won’t. It’s all up to you.

Concentrate. Realign your thinking. Endless possibilities. Acquire snacks. Take your time. Invite the weird voice, your "wrong" or "too crazy" thoughts. Eat. Play around. Relax. Open up. Collaborate. Exercise your imagination. Step back and admire your creativity. Sleep.

My inspiration comes from everywhere. Whether it be the squeak from a door opening, the laughter of children, or the tear running down a homeless person's cheek. There is art, life, and feeling everywhere. It's when you become receptive to it, that you find the beauty. When I write, I try to think of universal thoughts. Things people have felt or thought since the beginning of time. Sometimes, these thoughts can seem basic and petty, but they're still undeniably real. To think that a piece of art can survive through time and be relatable hundreds of years after the artist has passed, is amazing. That's when you've truly captured something special. I think these universal thoughts show us how human we all are, how similar we all are. These type of thoughts can bring the people together, and maybe even gradually the world.

I’m a perfectionist, but the worst kind. If I feel that I can’t do something the exact way I hope it to turn out, I put it off, or simply refuse. This doesn’t lend itself to accomplishing many tasks, especially those things that you’re simply obligated to do. Being an artist is my job. With any job, there are parts of it that aren’t fun to do, but are required in order for you to effectively execute your role. Sitting down every day to create is one of those duties. Obsessing and agonizing over every last word I write to the extent that I do is ludicrous, sometimes it feels like a word every ten minutes. It hurts. I pace, I cry, I scream, I wonder why I put myself through this. But at the same time, I kind of love this pain. It’s along the same lines as getting a tattoo -  a sustained, controlled way of feeling the pain. This is strangely cathartic. In a way, it brings me closer to the human experience.

For me, THE CREATIVE PROCESS differs for each project but there are a few basics that carry me through each endeavor I take on. First comes inspiration! It can hit me anywhere, therefore I try to always carry a notebook with me so I can write ideas down as soon as they come to me. I find inspiration in everything from my own experiences to a stranger's random Instagram post. Next, is my most passionate stage, brainstorming! I do yoga or play some music to open my mind. Then just let the ideas flow without limits or any expectations. Finally, the last stage, execution! Basically trying and failing over and over again. But its all worth it for the feeling you get when you see your idea come to life, all sparked from a single moment of inspiration.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS is something intangible. It is forever morphing and changing, person to person, art to art. Personally I cannot say I have nailed a “perfect process,” for that would be foolish and not accomplishable. I do know whenever I create it is sparked from inspiration. Something that triggered fire to explode inside me and erupt from my hands, mouth, eyes, every orifice as one "creative vomit-shit mess." Necessity is never a good reason to create, unless it is necessary that you physically create something because you have the urge to do so. Inspiration is most often, for myself, followed by logic. “What are the steps I now must take to create "x"? What materials do I need? How do I go about this? Logic is always followed by, “well fuck, that didn’t work.” And that is followed by trial and error until I am satisfied. Creation should always end in satisfaction or what the hell are we doing this for in the anyway? 

Sometimes, THE CREATIVE PROCESS gets stuck. It’s filthy and frustrating and not fruitful at all. You know you want to make something incredible but you just can’t get there. You get stuck on a word or a thought or a color. You get snippy and you walk away, insisting you’re really done this time.

But,

Sometimes, ideas come as easy as breathing and it’s the only thing capable of bringing you back.

 

So we try again.

And we try again.

And we try again.

 

We can’t get enough of this forever exhausting reward.  Which brings us here, a group of creatives doing exactly that.


 

 

 

UNDERGROUND LA

KINGSWELL

 

When you hang around Los Feliz, the east Los Angeles neighborhood, you won’t find a shortage of boutiques or coffee shops. Small, eclectic bookstores are as common as Warby Parker moms pushing their newborns who sport the same hip glasses. Here, life is nice. It’s where you want to raise a kid. But amongst the quaintness, tucked right between two of the busiest streets, there lies the dopest skate shop in LA, KINGSWELL

The store is owned and run by retired professional skater, DJ Chavez, who wanted to bring a little edge to the calm. After being fed up with all of the “bullshit business” aspects of professional skating, DJ wanted to do something different in the skate world. New Mexico was home for him and also where he helped run a shop a lot like his own now. It was after he spent some time away from Los Angeles, surrounded by his old homies, in both there and Colorado, that he decided to open up this shop in the city of angels. 

KINGSWELL the name comes from the street they’re located on but you’d think it was something more thought up seeing as it fits the store and vibe so perfectly. They carry all men’s skate wear head to toe, from beanies to boards, and if you feel like you need a little more ink or a whole new chest piece, KINGSWELL has you covered there too with their tattoo shop in the back. Wallets, bottle openers, socks, kicks, art, glasses, and a shit ton more, they’ve got it all. It’s a place where you want to just go and kick it, and you can. Although they only sell men’s wear, anybody and everybody is welcome to come and skate, or hang out, or plug in with their in-house guitar. The shop brings in all different kinds of people, “which is rad,” DJ says, “because it, ya know, it shows the diversity that skateboarding can bring.” 

Go into KINGSWELL and rest assured, you won’t want to leave. Even if you’ve never skated a day in your life, they have something for you. If you leave empty handed, you’ll still want to kick it and you’ll still walk out feeling a little more badass. It’s the raddest part of the neighborhood and it’s where you need to be.


music // MARSHALL - EXES

 

to see what else is going on at KINGSWELL follow their instagrams @kingswell_losfeliz // @kingswelltattoo


 

 

 

PANTONE

RACHEL SANDERSON

 

Color is a curious thing. Much like a person, each hue has its own, unique personality. But it’s humans who have prescribed these personalities to colors. Like, blue. Just look at the logos for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, American Express or IBM. They’re all blue, because in our eyes, this color is synonymous with trust, authority and calmness. 

Now, think about pink logos. Could you? And if so, are the ones you could think of for feminine companies? It’s companies like Barbie, Cosmopolitan and Victoria’s Secret that have pink logos, not financial institutions and social media giants. Pink, unlike blue, does not evoke feelings of trust, authority or calmness; pink is loving, caring, gentle, and above all, feminine. 

Blue and pink have distinct personalities that are derived from historical definitions of masculinity and femininity. During the scientific revolution of the 18th century, many aspects of society were explained by science, including gender. And because women are biologically predisposed to motherhood, they were characterized as loving, caring and in opposition to working, authoritative patriarchs. But it isn’t science keeping these gender norms alive, it’s society.

We continue to define men and women by antiquated notions of gender when we insist that blue and pink are oppositional. We don’t live in the 18th century, though. Gender is a social construct open to interpretation and we can’t insist on drenching men and women in their sex. Every person, regardless of which gender they choose to identify as, has a bit of pink and blue inside of them. A move toward viewing gender as fluid is occurring, and color authority Pantone is aware of that. 

Each year Pantone chooses a Color Of The Year that is “a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” However, for 2016 they chose two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity. This combination of pink and blue “challenges traditional perceptions of color association” and coincides with current efforts toward gender fluidity and equality. 

Much like a color, we’ve learned to associate gender with certain characteristics. But gender is a curious thing. Gender isn’t blue and pink. It’s a combination of various hues of blue and pink, black and white, yellow and green. Color and gender are what we make it to be, and we have the ability to make it something different, too.

to see more from pantone, check out @pantone


 

 

 

THE TINDER GENERATION

TAYLOR BYERS

 

By now, everyone and their mother has heard of the app, Tinder. In an age where our phones are practically glued to our hands, Tinder has finally given young twenty-somethings everywhere a way to connect without actually having to talk to another human face-to-face. Searching through profile after profile, swiping left or right, and maybe somewhere along the way finding your Tinderella (or Tinderfella as the case may be) can be a slightly addicting process.

I heard about Tinder a few years ago when it first became popular. I got the basic idea, swipe right for yes or left for no. There were so many jokes and internet memes surrounding the app that I felt like I knew everything about it without ever actually downloading it myself. Honestly, I thought it was a fun idea, but I was in college, and thoroughly convinced that I had no need for Tinder while I was constantly surrounded by roughly five hundred people my own age with similar interests. Post-graduation, however, my mindset changed. After one too many Friday nights alone with cheap wine and bad Netflix movies, I suddenly found myself setting up my very own Tinder page. After twenty minutes of deliberating over which pictures I should use, it was time to start swiping.

At first, I went through each profile that came across my screen thoroughly. I would look through all of their photos and read their interests to see if we were compatible.  I would sit and deliberate for a few minutes, putting a lot of thought into which way I would be swiping. I finally decided to swipe right and, hey! A match! At first it seemed like each swipe held so much importance and deserved several minutes of full-on, undivided focus. Of course, after about half an hour of Tinder-ing, my attention span became much, much shorter. As time went on I became less and less patient with the awkward online chit chat and started suggesting we meet for coffee or drinks to get to know each other instead.

Before I knew it, I had dates lined up for every night of the week. Weekends were completely dedicated to balancing multiple dates per day and my phone was dinging with incoming text messages more than it had in my entire life. It became almost a full-time job, trying to balance all of the dates I had set up. Sometimes I would even get them mixed up and forget their name while I was on the date with them! Within one week of joining tinder, I was practically drowning in messages.  My dating life had gone from ‘Tina Fey in 30 Rock’ to ‘Megan Fox in any movie ever’ in no time flat and I was more than a little overwhelmed.

However chaotic the experience was, it did teach me a lot about what is important for a first date and how to make a good impression.  Most of the dates were okay. Nothing special, but I’m not complaining about a free cocktail or two. Some, however, did not go so smoothly. The following is a compilation of my worst Tinder date stories from my month-long stint with the app. *All names have been changed to protect the identity (and dignity) of those involved.

My first date was with a guy named Bairam. He was twenty-two, a recently graduated music producer, and, my favorite quality, foreign. Turkish, to be specific.  For me, an accent is just the best thing a guy can have, so I was instantly drawn in when he started speaking. We met for drinks at one of my favorite spots in Hollywood. I was nervous, and I think he was too, judging by how much time we both spent staring at our straws and stirring our drinks. Seriously, how often does a Jack-and-Coke need to be stirred? I got to the bottom of my multiple drinks a little too quickly and ended up back at his place….and, yep, you guessed it: sex on the first date. Not exactly setting myself up for a long-lasting relationship here, I know. But he was Turkish! How does a girl resist a tall, dark and handsome man speaking to her in a foreign language, especially after two Jack-and-Cokes and a vodka-Redbull? I’ll give you a hint: She doesn’t. So, I went for it. His apartment had soft lighting, romantic music, and so many mirrors in the bedroom you could watch yourself from any and all angles. Everything was great, until…the face. Now, I realize everyone has a less than perfect O-face, and, generally I’m willing to chalk it up to the heat of the moment and pretend I didn’t see your barely recognizable features all knotted up while you flop back and forth and make weird noises… But imagine seeing that "O-face" the entire time you’re having sex. Every time I looked anywhere above his chest I saw him baring his teeth, squinting his eyes, grunting like a caveman. Suddenly his foreign charm wasn’t so prevalent and it was everything I could do to sprint for the chicken exit and pretend to finish so it could just be over already. All I can say is it’s a good thing I hold a degree in acting, because it was the performance of a lifetime for me to hold it together until the end on that one. 

But perhaps even worse than that was my date with a guy named Kirik. He was a twenty-eight year old computer programmer from India. After several days of texting, we met for a movie. Side note: In the days leading up to our date he kept trying to get me to come to the gym with him before the movie. Is that weird? That seems weird to me. Who does that on a first date? I mean, even just logistically speaking that seems like kind of a nightmare for hair and makeup prep. Anyway, back to the story…He picked me up in a totally decked out Mercedes, which I’ll admit, did make me a little more excited, as terrible as that is. But as the night went on, that feeling quickly faded. One of the first things he did was talk about how easy acting is and how all non-famous actors are just lazy. Hello, I’m a non-famous actor! Probably not the person you want to say that to. He followed this with a story of his one audition that he did for fun, and concluded by saying it didn’t matter that he didn’t get the part, because he made more money than the casting director and the actor who got the part combined. Because how much money you have determines your worth as a human being, right? He was clearly bitter about not landing the role. What a jerk. The rest of the night was basically him talking to me in a puppy voice about how he could take care of me and send me on trips to wherever I wanted. Honestly, before this particular date, I would have said hell yes to that offer.  But the whole puppy voice thing really turned me off, and I got the feeling he wanted more of a pet than a woman with her own goals and aspirations. Finally, to end this not-so-wonderful date, as he was driving me home he tried to playfully reenact a scene from the movie we had seen. The problem was that the scene was about a woman getting punched in the stomach…and he actually punched me in the stomach! He apologized and said he meant to stop before he hit me but didn’t (…um, what?) but that pretty much solidified the end of that for me. I mean come on, you can’t really recover from punching me on the first date.

As long as we’re on the subject of hugely entitled jerks, let’s talk about my date with a guy named Rodrigo. In all fairness, he is only twenty-two and already successful enough to pay his own rent for a penthouse suite, which I have to give props to. However, that does not cancel out his ridiculous behavior. When we agreed to get together, we said we would meet at his apartment and then walk to a bar he knew from there. Conveniently, he “forgot” his jacket upstairs when he came down to meet me. So of course we went up to his apartment for him to get it. Once we were inside he “just so happened to see” his half-empty beer glass on the counter that he “just had to finish”, and poured me one too because he “just felt rude drinking without me”. Also, his entire penthouse was only lit by candles because he “just really likes candles.” The worst part was that he actually thought he was pulling one over on me. You’d have to be pretty dense to miss all the clues in this one: He wanted to hookup. However, after my experience with Bairam I wasn’t so keen on jumping straight into bed with this one. So we talked for a little bit before I said I had to go because it was getting late and I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. His reaction to this was to try to create one of those “I need you right now” moments by pushing me up against the wall and sticking his tongue down my throat. Normally, I’d probably be super into that, but I was still slightly jaded from Bairam and getting some serious douche bag vibes from this guy, so I insisted we stop and he take me home.  Sounds like I made it through the worst of it, right? Wrong. For the entire car ride home he gave me this lecture about how he was not just a piece of meat and how I really needed to get to know him before I tried to sleep with him like that. The whole time I was thinking, “Wait, weren’t you the one who was just trying to swallow my entire face five minutes ago?” I could have gone on a rant about how his strategy to make me feel guilty and in turn feel like I owe him something (aka the sex he was trying to get in the first place) was so obvious. But I figured that would only prolong the time I had to spend in his car, so I just bit my tongue and never called him back.

As awkward as that car ride was, though, it was nothing compared to my date with a guy named Thomas. We met at my favorite local coffee shop for some afternoon caffeine and live music. I’m a pretty low-maintenance date, so all he had to do to make this afternoon perfect for me was talk…about anything, really. But he didn’t. He spent a lot of time just looking at me. Not in that, “I’m so comfortable with you I don’t feel the need to fill the silence” way. In that “Should I pull out my pepper spray?” way. Finally when I couldn’t stand it any longer I went to leave. As I got up he said, “Oh. You’re leaving? I thought we could go somewhere for some kissing time.” Kissing time?! Who asks for that?! Needless to say I got out of there as fast as I could. I thought I had completely Neo-dodged the bullet with this one, until a couple of days later when he just would not stop texting me. The reason, you ask? He was super into 3-D printing and wanted to scan my body so he could 3-D print a copy of me. Yeah, sounds like I should have used my pepper spray at the coffee shop. I eventually got so creeped out that I had to block his number from contacting me at all.

Of course I’ve also run into multiple people who don’t look like their pictures, but my date with a guy named David was the worst case of this I’ve ever experienced. We met for fro-yo in Studio City on a nice Thursday evening. I was excited for this one, because he was in the film industry too so we could totally geek out over that together, and he seemed really nice when we were chatting. However, he forgot to mention that he is shorter than me (I’m 5’2”) and probably about half my body weight. Now, I’m fairly secure in my body so I don’t mind dating a guy who is skinnier than me, but skinnier and shorter was an instant deal breaker. I want to feel petite and sexy, not like I’m a giant towering over you (and probably feeling like I’m crushing you in bed). But how do you say that to someone, right? So I sat through the date, which felt like it would not stop dragging on, until I could politely find an excuse to leave. I felt pretty bad after this one, because my reason for never calling him back was something he couldn’t control. I guess I’m a little shallow. You live and you learn, right?

Speaking of lessons learned, thanks to a flake named Max I recently had to face one of my biggest dating fears, being stood up. We were supposed to meet for drinks at a bar near my apartment. We had set it up a few days prior and I hadn’t talked to him since then. When I left home I texted him to let him know I was heading there, but didn’t hear anything back. I should have known then where this was going, but of course I didn’t. I arrived at the bar and took a seat near the door. The bartenders started asking right away if I wanted to order or if I was waiting for someone…and after their fourth or fifth time of asking they started giving me the look. The “I know what’s happening here and I’m sorry” look. And I gave my best “no, he’ll actually be here any second” look right back. But ultimately, after waiting for forty minutes, I had to make the most shameful exit I’ve ever made from a bar. The bartenders didn’t say anything, but we definitely had another exchange of “Sorry you got stood up,” and, “Fine, you were right” looks.

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But luckily for me I have at least a little bit of good karma on my side, so not all of the dates have been terrible. Shout out to these guys for making it to a second date:

Serouj, thank you for being the best sexter I’ve ever encountered in my life. Normally, I’m not into sexting. I find it boring and trite and will only get suckered into it if I really like a guy. With Serouj, however, I couldn’t wait to hear back from him. I was constantly re-reading our conversations for “inspiration” later and even discovered that I can be pretty good at sexting too if I’m really into it. So thanks for opening that door, Serouj.

Dmitri, thank you for keeping it classy and not trying to get in my pants on the first date. It’s a rarity these days and I really, really appreciated it. He was a perfect gentleman the entire night and made me feel like I was on one of the dates I used to watch Carrie Bradshaw go on when I would sneak Sex and the City episodes growing up. Hats off to you, man.

Omar, thanks for making me almost pee my pants from laughing so hard. I’m sure as a stand-up comedian he gets that a lot, but seriously. It’s not every day you meet a guy who just gets your sense of humor and runs with it until your sides ache from so much laughter. I definitely needed that after the collection of terrible Tinder dates I had leading up to that point. Muchas gracias, Omar.

What I learned from my month of dating in the Tinderverse is that it isn’t so different from dating in the real world after all. You may run into some (okay, a lot of) weirdos, but at the end of the day you just might meet someone who makes it all worth it. Or not. But either way, it’s an unforgettable experience that’ll give you endless funny stories…or at the very least, a solid collection of ammo to ward off your drunk aunt from ever asking about your love life at Thanksgiving dinner again. Yeah, you’re welcome.


 

 

 

YOU WILL BE LOST

JORDAN WILSON

 

Some people discover themselves in their twenties by traveling the world, joining fitness clubs and making drunken memories with good friends to laugh at in later years. I, on the other hand, will every so often aimlessly roam around a Target as a mild form of soul searching. Not a very conventional method but a method for a Midwestern reared millennial nonetheless. I have arrived without reason, save for trying to fall into the rhythm of busy shoppers checking off grocery lists and tending to fussy babies in carts.

 It is all so familiar here, a universal and consistent place to breathe when a funk hits. Making my way through the cleaning supplies aisles, smelling candles and forgetting that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. Jangling the loose change in my wallet, trying to attach myself to items that I think will fill this strangely empty space inside my chest that I usually brush off as premature heartburn symptoms. Here I am. Teary eyed, in the midst of neatly organized shelves and fluorescent lighting. Arms full of travel sized toothpastes and clearance socks. Completely lost. Mourning for my youth at the ripe age of twenty-one.

Eventually after I’ve exhausted every aisle twice I settle on a tub of cheap ice cream and maybe a new mug. I feel better. This, I think to myself, is…well, it’s weird but it’s okay. I’m going to be just fine. 


 

 

 

WALK WITH ME  I

KARA HAUPT

 

O N E  A R T I S T  //  O N E  D I S P O S A B L E  C A M E R A  //  O N E  S T R E E T

My name is Kara Haupt and I'm a designer and artist, currently kicking it in Portland, Oregon. I run a media project called Babe Vibes, we create a variety of art and design work (interviews, interactive design, photography series, etc.) with creative women. Hard to put Babe Vibes in a box, because we're trying to stay lean, limber, and interesting! 

Portland often feels way too small to me and I'm tired of living here in many ways, but if I could bottle up my neighborhood (Northwest), particularly my block and move it to another city, I would. I love my apartment (so cozy and we have the best balcony!), the downstairs coffeeshop where the baristas know my name, the dirty, wet streets, and how I can hear street fights from my apartment at night. It feels like a neighborhood — in the truest sense. Home, for now.

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you can see more of the cool things Kara is working on by following her on insta // @karahaupt and @xobabevibes


 

 

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

TAYLOR BYERS

 

Another year has come and gone once again. And as we raise our only slightly colder than room-temperature champagne glasses and dance beneath explosions of silver confetti at midnight, the chatter of New Year’s Resolutions begins to circulate. Of course, everyone has the best intentions when making their annual “I’ll be better at these things” list. Trying to change into a more productive version of you sounds like a great idea, in theory. But the reality of how that plays out year after year is usually way off. Maybe we should just be honest with ourselves and cut to the chase a little sooner when creating our resolutions this year.

…Because a new year doesn’t always mean a new you.  But hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. We can’t do it all! Some days, it’s all we can do to find two clean socks to wear underneath our overpriced TopShop ankle boots. And sometimes, that’s perfectly okay.

 

In addition to being a stunning model Tanerèlle (above) is also a brilliant singer/songwriter. Check out her new single that we have on repeat // Siren


 

 

FIVE MINUTE CHALLENGE  I

EMERSON HARPER

 

Alright guys and gals, welcome to the five minute challenge where we get an intimate look at an artist and their process. The Creative finds an artist and challenges them to create a piece in whatever medium they choose and in five minutes see what they manifest. Those five minutes are a glimpse into the artist's beautiful inception of an idea, we see them make decisions and execute their vision. If after the five minutes the artist has not completed their piece thats awesome! The creative process has been recognized and we let them go finish up so we can see their fully actualized vision (because come on thats one of the best parts). 

For our inaugural issue we found an artist who's talents are incredible. He is a creative that cannot be stopped. 


NAME: EMERSON HARPER

AGE: 18

EDUCATION: MILWAUKEE INSTITUTE OF ART AND DESIGN IN MILWAUKEE, WI

medium: sketching


Emerson is a guy who oozes cool and effortlessly creates phenomenal artwork on the page and off. At MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) Emerson is perfecting his skill as a graphic artist and paving the way for his career as an industrial designer. His skills with the pencil are only rivaled by his skill for consuming candy, mainly Sour Patch Kids. We gave Emerson the challenge of creating a piece in five minutes with the prompt of "New Beginnings." Armed with his killer five panel hat and his set of pencils and pens Emerson dove in head first. Here is the magic that ensued...

music // STEPH CURRY - CITY JAMES

follow Emerson to see more of his awesome work and adventures // @ralphwaldome


 

 

 

the modern human

jordan wilson // darrin bush

 

She is not just bold. She is color. She sometimes cannot find matching socks but leaves the house anyway. She is messy, innovative, creative and motivated. She fits no molds, values her worth, and is unapologetically flawed. She is smart. She is modern. She is woman.

He is a man that can never shine through the shadow of the “men” that came before. Men who controlled, judged, destroyed. Men who manipulated people, governments, continents for personal gain. He has been given a world that was tainted with the aftertaste of our predecessors. How can he rise out of the darkness of hatred when we have been drowning for so long? The Modern Man must fight.

The woman has undeniably gnawed and pecked her way through a world that for a long time has been largely governed by the idea that man is power. Now, it is true that our male counterparts are quite the incredible creatures and have earnestly paved incredible roads for this world and aided women on our path to gender equality. Togetherness is the most important tool we have and though there are men who have joined the fight, there are also a lot of men who have not. Men who have not joined us but instead fight against us.

The modern man is the man who fights to be better everyday, he strives to wipe away the foggy perception that “man” is bad. For he is good. Good to others. Women, children, his mother, fellow man. He is black, white, and rainbow flavored. Coated in powdered sugar baking with his daughters. The modern man is sawdust and scotch. The modern man is working 60 hour weeks providing for himself and his loved ones in a city that can’t stop siphoning his seconds. He lets no one take from another. He stands for justice and truth from and for all. He receives humbly. And he gives graciously. The modern man makes mistakes. He stumbles. He gets back up and keeps moving. Moving toward something greater. The modern man is a game changer, an oil changer, and a diaper changer. He is sad sometimes and can't figure out why. He is happy sometimes and doesn’t question it. The modern man is not free. His kindness and his generosity must be met with the same. He can be angry. He is dynamite. He will explode. But is not malicious. The modern man is just, eloquent, and smooth. He is a dreamer, a doer, a magic maker. He builds, with his hands and with his mind. He is a silver tongue story man, a whisperer of sweet nothings. What the modern man is is something so tangible so concrete that it cannot be torn down or burned. He is adamant.

Society has essentially given us these strengths: curves, make-up, clothes, mother- hood, crying, sexuality, and softness. These are what we have been told are essences of feminine traits, but this is not absolute. There is also a kick-ass kind of beauty in the dirty, unconventional kind of woman. The trouble with these pre-conceived standards is not to resent these socially conditioned strengths, but to utilize them. They are available and they are there, so why not use them? The modern woman understands and celebrates the idea that man and woman are in fact very different and encourages these differences to embrace equality. The goal is not to glorify women but to discredit the idea that we are not messy and flawed. Dirty. Jealous. Wrong. Men and women can make the same mistakes. We are just as capable of having the same faults and vices as men are.

Perfection is for the gods, only men who are consumed with self and power believe perfection is in their grasp. The modern man is wise. He will never be perfect, but he will always be human. The inevitability of the modern man is deafening, roaring into his place among the people he stands resolute to endure the trials ahead. He will confront hate, cruelty, madness, and in return he will give understanding, strength, and love.

As we continue to progress as a society, the woman has progressed as her own entity and fiercely proclaims her power. The modern woman does not boast about her achievements but she does take pride in her hard work. She is not one thing, one type, one way for someone and another for someone else. She comes in all shapes, all sizes, all colors. The modern woman is doused in bottles of perfume and covered in face paint. The modern woman is two whiskeys in and half buttoned into her overalls. The modern woman is scarred and bare faced, struggling to find her place. The modern woman is wrinkle-ridden and wise with stories of rebellious youth. The modern woman is human and her existence is utterly beautiful.

Fortunately as we evolve as a society, the Human has evolved as a being. There have always been those who seek to be good and do good, and in this awakening of The Modern Human we find that many of us are built for so much more. More than those who came before. We are built to love, however flawed we may be, our love for our fellow human will prevail. The Modern Human is now.

follow these amazing humans featured in this photo spread // @sashamarie_  // @n.y.k


 

 

 

perm & prejudice

erika nichols

 

Ever since I was young, I’ve been getting a perm. It was like a mini-ritual that I began to look forward to because it made me feel America’s Next Top Model fabulous. But, to be technical, a perm is a chemical treatment that you put in your hair to style it. Watch any 80’s movie, and I can promise you that at least one of the characters had one. Normally a perm is meant to make your hair curly, but for my type of hair, it makes it silky and straight. By no means is it good for me, like I said it is a chemical and it sure burns like one, but for me it's worth it. Sure, my hair suffers and it could be considered a mild brand of torture, but I looked like Raven-Symoné for a few months (The “Doctor Dolittle” years, not “ The Cosby Show” ones). It became the norm for me. I never thought of it as trying to be something I wasn’t or going against nature or even being ashamed of my hair. It was all I knew and frankly all I could handle. I didn’t know how to style my natural hair, but I didn’t really worry about that. My straight hair made me feel pretty. It got to the point where I began to squirm when my baby hairs started to curl up and my kitchen started to get nappy. I craved "good hair." Not surprisingly, since all I saw on TV everyday was flowing, silky hair. Growing up, I identified with Tia and Tamara or Ashley Banks, but I was definitely also a Mary Kate and Ashley or Hilary Duff. I never thought much about myself in terms personality vs. race. I was just who I was, which was a Bobby Jack loving science olympiad. Until I got to middle school, and comments like “ you don’t talk like a black person” and “ you’re really pretty for a black girl” became more and more common. Evidently, I had missed the memo where all black people talked the same, and finding a beautiful black girl was like trying to find Waldo. Couldn’t I be a little bit of everything? Couldn’t I want to date Shawn Hunter but still swoon over Usher? Couldn’t I have a Mariah Carey poster on one side of my closet, and a Breaking Benjamin poster on the other? Maybe I wasn’t exactly like all of the other black kids in my school, or on TV, or even my family, but I thought that was ok. Yes, you would color me in as brown…but couldn’t my personality fit every crayon in the Crayola 64 pack?

It was disorienting, and throughout middle school I did my best to fit in. By the time I got to high school though, I was tired of playing the part everyone else had written for me. I started letting every bit of me shine through. Yes, I loved science. Yes, I hated to swim. Yes, I celebrated when they played hip hop at school dances. Yes, I also sang along when they played Katy Perry. I defiantly declared to my mother that I was attracted to men of all ethnicities (thinking this was completely rebellious to the dating scene) and prepared for her combative response, but was simply greeted with a simple “Ok." It wasn’t a big deal to my family or my friends anymore, so it became less of an issue for me. I understood the look that strangers gave me when they first heard my voice, and though I knew what they were thinking, I tried not to focus on it. Unfortunately, there were still days when I just wished that I was white, or that I sounded differently, or that I had grown up somewhere else. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t still have those days. I understand how fortunate I am having never been subjected to extreme racism considering stories that I’ve heard, not only in the media, but from my very own friends. Friends who grew up in the same neighborhood, school, or state as me. However, at the same time, it’s important that we realize that it’s also the little comments, the ones we don’t think twice about, that can also leave a bit of dust on us and dampers our self esteem. That can make us carry a complex far into our lives that we may not even see.

When I first brought up some of these points to my friends, I were greeted with some confusion. Where was the harm in telling someone that they don’t act like a normal black girl? Well, that’s the problem. We don’t see it until it’s too late. I don’t want to hide who I am to fit into any preconceived stereotypes. I don’t want to make anybody of any race feel obligated to play a part. It is now officially 2016, and I have begun to construct my life like a puzzle made up of many different pieces, and I hope all of you do the same. No matter what you look like. And yes, I still get a perm. And no, I don’t feel bad about it, and you can’t make me.


 

 

 

kids book: adulting  I

elle stempe

 

We all know and love Shel Silverstein’s silly and irreverent children’s poetry with its simple rhymes, and bizarre and funny pen illustrations. They’re not necessarily “deep,” and don’t attempt to move you emotionally. But let me tell you about a little bitch of a book by this same man, where the sole purpose of it is to destroy your tender, little heart.  Confused?

I'll give you a summary of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein:  A grown tree loves a little boy, who spends his days playing games with the tree, napping in its shade, climbing its branches, and picking its delicious apples. Day after day they played with each other, and the tree was always happy. But as time goes on and the boy gets older, the boy doesn’t visit as often. When he finally comes back, the tree asks him to play. The boy says he has no time to play, and needs money to buy things and have fun. So the tree offers the boy his apples to sell for money, which he accepts and takes. After a period of being left alone, the boy (now older) comes back to the tree and takes the branches the tree offers him in order to build a house. When the boy comes back a third time, older still, guess what? He takes again. This time, it’s the tree’s entire trunk. There the tree is left, now nothing but a stump, and the tree misses the time when the boy would play with him. The boy shows up one last time, now as an old man, and tells the tree that he is weary and simply needs a place to sit. The tree stands up as tall as it can, and offers a seat to the old boy. And then...Well, Shel says the tree was happy.

After I’m done reading this story, I feel slightly icky and unsettled. EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THE TREE WAS HAPPY. Turning back to the first pages in search of some sort of explanation, I glance at the dedication: “To Nicky.” My brain is screaming, “Nicky, you ungrateful dick, would you just say thank you every once in a while to poor Shel?”

It doesn’t take a Sherlock to gather that the basic gist of this story is about the unrelenting generosity of parents. Maybe it’s because I’m not a parent yet. Maybe I just “don’t get it,” and I’m unable to comprehend the extent of that selfless love and wanting to give someone absolutely everything. All I’m saying is from a 24-year-old standpoint I see the little boy in The Giving Tree (Nicky, I’m assuming - are you listening?) as someone who just takes, and takes, and takes, and comes back without affection, and wants more, and takes more, and then leaves without a trace, never knowing if he will return again! I mean come on, what a jerk. This story makes me want to cry, but not in the “Oh, this is so sweet how the tree just freely gives her unconditional love to the boy forever” type of way. It’s because of the overwhelming guilt that balls itself up in my stomach. With this story comes an overwhelming veil of sadness and empathy for the tree that makes me question if I’ve taken my parents for granted all these years. 

And there it is…Oh Shel, you quirky genius, you. Is that what you were going for all along? Are we all just little Nicky’s running around who need to check ourselves and really make sure that we’re not taking advantage of those we love most? With that being said, here are the five very adult lessons we can take away after reading the children’s book, The Giving Tree:


 
  1. Say thank you for absolutely everything people say and do for you out of kindness. Being gracious to those people is sometimes all that they need. Especially if you cannot repay the favor with something that is tangible, it is the acknowledgement of their efforts that counts.
  2. Be affectionate with those you love. There’s no point in being shy about it when our time is limited.  Cling to them while they’re still here and relish in the time that you have with each other.
  3. Always keep your childlike positivity and zest for life. Don’t let the problems and misfortunes of it jade you and turn you into a crotchety old man, because every last one of us is dealing with the same fight and just trying to make their way through the muck. That zest is all we have to make it worthwhile. 
  4. Even if someone says it’s okay, never take ALL of their apples, or ALL of their branches, because then they’re left with nothing. What kind of dick move is that?
  5. If you’re a parent, be constant in your support. Give everything, and listen to everything. This may seem contradictory because, yes, young people can be awful and be a “Nicky” now and again. But both parties have to do their part. In time we will come around. We’d love you to be there for us when we can finally say those words you’ve always been waiting to hear: “You were right.”

 

 

 

in process  I

vania morales

 

"Dark lip, pink lip. Go." reads a text on my phone from Vania, minutes before we're scheduled to shoot. Before I have a chance to respond, another text reads "Cominggggggggg." This is Vania, an ever-moving force of nature, perfectly timed quips, and hands that never stop fixing: brushing her hair, adjusting her effortlessly incredible outfit.  She continues cracking jokes about "Love and Hip Hop" even after the cameras are rolling, right up until the moment she starts to play.  Then, instantly, there's a new Vania; a calmer, more intimate creature.  With each note, becoming more and more precise.  The song ends and, without missing a beat, she's halfway into another reality-tv quote.  


In Process is all about seeing where an artist is in their process of creating their work. We met up with Vania and were able to seal the deal on a raw studio session. Perched on a stool in a dining room, all other furniture stacked on the nearby wall, her guitar gently humming as she tuned. We turned on the lights, focused the lenses and sparks flew. Vania shared with us an original track "Creature of the Night." 



While we had Vania in front of our cameras we were able to squeeze one more song out of her. We didn't know how she was going to follow her haunting love song that we were still recovering from, after she blew us away, but she didn't disappoint. She wowed us with this angelic cover of Tori Kelly's "Paper Hearts."


follow Vania on instagram to see her exciting day to day and hear her killer voice // @vaninipanini


 

 

 

we are millenial

rachel sanderson

 

Pop culture was the best babysitter. Wasted time trying to find Carmen Sandiego. Constantly grabbing at the newest toy, gizmo, and gadget. Growing up with the ideas and dreams pushed by our parents. We became fighters afraid to lose. We are the first to step up to confrontation, ready to defend our… everything. Love quickly to avoid loneliness. Our future looks bright. I’ll throw on some ray bans.

A Millennial is categorized as a person born somewhere between the 1980's - 2000's. The 1980's marks the end of the digital revolution and the beginning of the information age! A time where the tools we use aren't just found in dusty old sheds, but in our pockets filled with endless possibilities. A time where most problems can be fixed with a simple "there's an app for that" and questions can be answered with search engines designed to scour every inch of the world wide web. A time where the global community is so connected that information can spread to the corners of the earth within seconds. A time where technology is progressing exponentially and we see no end in sight. Millenials brought up in this age have grown to think differently. To think bigger. To think faster. We've seen technology change so much in our short lives, we have been conditioned to look into the future, because if we don't, we'll get stuck in the past. 

For us, some nights it’s leftover pizza and some nights it’s sushi that may just compromise the rent on a tiny but somehow charming apartment. But in this moment sushi sounds better than saving and there’s plenty of time to figure it all out before the end of the month. We are the generation of questions, not sure what adulthood really is and certainly not sure that’s what we want. Seemingly part alien to our predecessors and hell bent on doing it all a different way.  Educated by the back of the school bus and Hey Arnold. Living by the hustle. Inspired by each other and connected by the technology we’re creating.

We won't back down from injustice, intolerability, indifference. A Millennial doesn't cower to technology but is humble enough to know we're all vulnerable. He or she knows that there is no real limit to success. We were raised by Robin Williams, broken by terrorism, and stay more connected to one another than any generation to come before us. Our art is bold. Our words are precise. Our disdain for complacency is the fuel that allows us to continually reshape this world.

We are the generation where the word “terrorism” completely shaped the way we were raised. It’s kind of a funny thing how that in singular event, that moment when the second plane hit, there was some sort of understanding amongst all of us “youngins” of how this moment was going to change everything. Somehow, despite this event’s atrocities, we got through it with this empowering feeling of being able to change our world, and we still seem to believe that to be true. But how is it that we are so optimistic? Because now that we are fresh college graduates (or having been graduated for a solid few years now), we’re figuring out that things are a lot more difficult than we thought they’d be. People told us how hard it would be. We didn’t believe them, and now we fuckin’ believe them. We see more clearly how the odds are stacked against us. Apparently, we are unable to connect with other live humans because the birth of social media ruined our real-life social skills. Apparently, we are material-object and celebrity obsessed. Apparently, we are unaware of what hard work, self-discipline, and quality really mean. But here’s how we Millennials see it: Social media has given us the opportunity to connect faster with people you never would have been able to in the past. Learning how to stay ahead of the curve and manipulate technology, rather than having it manipulate you, is the name of the game.  We don’t view it as an obsession with celebrities, but rather as an admiration of entrepreneurial mentalities and skillsets. And who are they to say we have no idea what hard work is, when we are forced into a system where higher education is a must, but unaffordable for nearly everyone?  They keep putting us down, so we’re going to keep standing back up. And although the terror attacks caused a permanent veil of fear over older generations of Americans, we Millennials were prompted to step up and change our way of dealing with things. We chose optimism over fear, because we all deserve the chance to make something of ourselves and share our gifts in order to evoke change, understanding, and a more cooperative way for humans to live on our shared earth.

Hand-fed. Bull headed. Grazers. A generation of cattle dreaming of the greenest pasture. Constantly being milked of the value we wear like a tag and the leather of our ideas. Exhausted and told we are not exhausting ourselves enough, we need to "try harder," need to be like those that came before. But we have our "moo" our voice. A sound strong enough to reach anywhere with 4G. Hand-fed, bull headed, grazers more powerful than all that preceded them.

 I am a a hardworking individual that knows what a dollar is worth, although I don’t always spend them that way. I didn’t have a smart phone until I was 20 and I still don’t fully understand how it works. When I was a kid, we played outside and didn’t have to be back till dinner. We read books, we played board games, we had to deal with dial up. But all of these are small everyday things that help define a generation, our parents were hippies, our grandparents were baby boomers, we are Millennials. The thing that really defines us is our desire to achieve, to reach for the stars. Unlike any other generation we are able to utilize social media and our strong work ethic to build. Build companies, build amazing technology, and build our dreams. We are millennials and we are here to change the world.

Being a Millennial means being a part of something bigger. We are a generation that holds the power to change the world. We are a group full of new-age thinkers, creators, innovators, and artists. We are independent. We do not live by the standards set for us by our predecessors, and we don’t buy into beliefs just because our parents said that is what’s right. Our world is broader than that. We constantly question everything. We see the bigger picture and we strive to find our place in it. We recognize that we can create the world we want to live in. We create our own circumstances. We create our own jobs. We create our own lives. We choose happiness over money. We want to get outside, get involved, and live adventurously in our careers. We value meaningful experiences over a higher pay grade. Being a Millennial is empowerment. It is opportunity. It is open-mindedness and acceptance. It is change. And as we are now less than one generation away from becoming the next set of global leaders, we can begin to realize the potential this generation has to offer and impact the world in a positive way. WE ARE MILLENNIAL.