Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paris // Sunday Brunchday

Today was myyy kind of Sunday!

My friends and I had a perfect brunch potluck. I made my guacamole, others grabbed fresh fruit and eggs from the market, and perfectly crisp but soft bread and croissants from local boulangeries, & the one friend, Gregor, got all domestic and made a goat cheese, caramelized onion tarte. Super scrumptious! We rocked brunch, if I do say so myself.

After filling our tummies with goodies and resting a wee while to digest, a few of us checked out a nearby vintage market. It was a themed event and people sure did dress the part, it was amazing! Music playing on record players, men with perfect coifs and tattooed arms, and funky women with hair in victory rolls. I snagged myself the most amazing purse from the loveliest vendor, which I'll share on the blog soon. It can only be done justice with a post of it's own.. it's that great of a bag.

Such a lovely way to finish off the month of March and greet this timid Springtime with wide open arms!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Humpday Digs | 26.03.14

Just short of being creatively titled 'Humpday Humpables', Humpday Digs is a new feature I'll be keeping up with on the blog. My intention is to share with you whatever has recently tickled the chin of my fancies or gotten the wheels of my thinktank spinnin'. Maybe it'll do the same for you! Plus, everyone needs a little pick me up on Wednesdays. So grab yourself a beer (or a coffee, depending what time of day it is), kick back and take a look at the glorious things the interwebs have revealed to me this week! 

• It makes me so happy when bands grow up and break away from the mold they'd previously built for themselves, without losing their talent behind weird attempts at being new and funky fresh, subsequently sinking themselves in the deep end. The Kooks is one of those bands that year after year I revisit and love just as much as I did when I first discovered them as a young teen. When I listened to this new song, 'Down', at first I was really taken aback by how different it was, but the more I listen, the more I loooooove it. This new sound is totally weird and new and funky fresh, but they made it work! Their days of writing poetic moody songs as angst ridden youths are far behind them (not that I didn't love those songs too). 'Down' feels more about the grooves and twists and jumps of the music, and the video is anxiously abstract, and I dig it a lot a lot a lot. So props to these boys for growing up well alongside their fans!

• This past Halloween, Juxtapoz posted a series of old Halloween photos, claiming that Halloween was WAY creepier back then. We'll it's true, but I'm constantly revisiting the photos anyway!  The costumes are absolutely fascinating and make me feel like I walked right into a bizarre, surrealist dream. Check out more of them here.

• "Non cogito; ergo sum." My marketing prof brought this up last week during his introduction of the class, somewhere between the story of his career in the perfume industry and his theory on asian countries taking over the world (um.). He thought it was a brilliant expression about intuition, and trusting one's gut. I'm a huge believer in instincts and in the idea that one can find truth when NOT thinking. Then again, I am a perpetual over-thinker so I often have to resort to trusting my gut to make any decisions in life. But hey - I think it's been working out okay so far?

Happy Wednesday Everyone!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

le Graphisme 01

Since my last post where I expressed my discomfort with graphic design and having to be in a graphic design program over here ('Le Graphisme', as the french call it), I've decided to take off my complain-y pants and take the initiative to learn instead!

And so I embark on a personal challenge to experiment with graphic design, and I will be posting my experiments on the blog as a means to keep me accountable for doing these. I really do love design, and love a variety of styles that are pretty 'current' that I'd like to explore, at least while I do my learning/experimenting! My hope is to post at least one every week and to look back every once in a while to see how I've done, and hopefully to see some improvement as time goes on!

So here's number 1:

Since this is me learning, if you are a graphic design junkie and you feel an insatiable need to superglue your eyelids shut when looking at this, please do tell me why in the comments, so I can keep it in mind for next time!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reality: Beyond the Crop I & II

"I added beyond the cropping of beautiful Rococo paintings to show the (entirely fabricated by me) satiric ‘reality’ behind the luxe portrayals of the people of the time.

Original paintings by Alexander Roslin (first) and Aleksei Antropov (second)

(c) Katia Engell"

Well folks, this is the first assignment I've done here in Paris that I am proud of. I haven't really mentioned this on the blog, but I'm really confused by this school. It's great - don't get me wrong, but it's not for me.

They accepted me based on my portfolio which was entirely made up of illustrations. Not even illustration within design. It was all full-on-nothing-but illustration work. Yet, they've plunked me into a heavily graphic-design focused curriculum, in a year that is equivalent to their MASTERS program... um. Hello, I haven't properly studied graphic design in my life!! Needless to say, I am learning, but I am also struggling to produce work that I'm happy with, which is always a bit discouraging. I am of course trying to take it as an opportunity to learn something I otherwise wouldn't, and taking any chance I have to throw some illustration into the mix. Like with this project!

For one of my classes we got a project called "Inserts'. Meaning, we had to insert our own work into something pre-existing somehow. It was a very vague brief, so it was the perfect chance for me to do something illustrative. I chose to add onto Rococo paintings to make a statement about how, beyond the cropping of a photo, we have no idea what's really going on (instagram anyone?). I'm not sure what my teachers thought, but that's ok. I realllly enjoyed doing this, and want to add more to the series! I like a challenge, and trying to make my additions match the original is tough, but rewarding. Especially all that drapery... yikes!

Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Weekend by the Ocean

Ahhh. For those who have followed the blog for while, you'll know I used to work at a little french pastry shop back in Toronto. One of my coworkers/managers, Graziella, is actually from France and was in Toronto for a year for work! It was sad when she left after the year (Sunday closing shifts were never the same!) but then I got news that I'd been accepted for this exchange in Paris, and we talked about meeting up at some point! I didn't know she lived by the sea, but boy oh boy was I happy when she invited me to visit for a weekend and mentioned the beach! Especially after a very busy week at school, I was eager to get away for a little break.

So after my class on Friday I hopped on the train and made my way to the coast. It was so nice to be travelling, moving, headed somewhere for a little adventure! What a feeling to watch the scenery zoom past and change from city to countryside to small town to seaside all in one seamless blur!

Graziella and her boyfriend picked me up at the station and we went right to the beach, just in time for some sunset scenes on the water! We then had muscles for dinner (moules frites!) and I had a nice long sleep. The next day all their friends came over and we had a day-long barbecue outside, we had the perfect weather and it REALLY felt like summer. I'd forgotten how nice it was to run around barefoot, soak up the sun and breathe big  lung-fulls of fresh air. So refreshing.

I was really sad to leave such a beautiful town, such wonderful weather, and the sea! I am also so thankful to have made a friend as kind and generous as Graziella, and that her friends were all so welcoming and patient with me as I occasionally struggled with my french! Such a nice group of people, combined with the sun, my heart was very full and warm!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pattern: Witch Bitch

I made this for a round on Lifeboat Jamboree that has yet to be posted. Originally it was a full page illustration of this character, but lately I've been super obsessed with patterns. And when I say super obsessed I mean I have trouble making or looking at anything without turning it into a pattern, either on photoshop if its tangible, or in my head if it's just something beautiful I spot on the street.

I think this started when I got to Paris. The sewer grates have new patterns, the café chairs have new patterns, the bowls in restaurants have new patterns, just patterns patterns patterns everywhere!!

It's a bit of a sensory overload in a way, but it really excites me and has me pattern-crazed. I always have been to some extent (if you look at the clothing I brought with me here, it's frustratingly patterned - I had to buy a few classic black pieces since I got here!) but it's more accentuated nowadays. I'm not complaining! It's an interesting phase as an artist and I'm excited to see where it takes me...


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Humpday Digs | 12.3.14

Just short of being creatively titled 'Humpday Humpables', Humpday Digs is a new feature I'll be keeping up with on the blog. My intention is to share with you whatever has recently tickled the chin of my fancies or gotten the wheels of my thinktank spinnin'. Maybe it'll do the same for you! Plus, everyone needs a little pick me up on Wednesdays. So grab yourself a beer (or a coffee, depending what time of day it is), kick back and take a look at the glorious things the interwebs have revealed to me this week!

• Kyla, the lovely blogger behind Kyla is Inspired has such an eye for design, in all senses of it. She does this really great series of illustrations based on her favourite fashion designs. Uhm, illustration and fashion all in one? I dig it. Check out her other illustrations from this series here!

This guy found a way to play music out of slices of tree trunks, based on the idea that tree rings can be read by a record player!

• I got an email from Jules the other day reaching out to a bunch of us blogger gals inviting us all to swap buttons, collaborate, and generally foster the blogging community and bring it BACK.

Yes, back. Jules points out that instagram and twitter have taken its toll on traditional 'blogging' (if there even is such a thing as traditional blogging... you know what I mean though!) and I am in complete agreement and was really happy to receive Jules's email. She's rad, and has the sweetest blog. She's actually got a really great giveaway on right now! I'm stoked on it, you could win one of my favourite books ever, Perks of Being a Wallflower! I've read it three times, and yes it's even better than the movie. I highly recommend you enter! Enter here!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Paris // Sunny Days

The sun has finally poked its head out for longer than an afternoon - we've had a few days of sunshine and 17 degree (Celcius) weather and I am feelin' as fresh as a newborn babe. Spending some time outdoors really makes me feel that way, always. I feel newly enchanted with Paris and my little life here.

I spent a few hours after class on Friday, sitting by the Seine with friends, shedding my winter layers and soaking up the sun and the buzzing, happy energy of a sunny day. We watched ducks poke about for bits of food in the water and various cruise boats float by. It was both peaceful and energizing, I felt great.

It's a busy weekend/week here, with lots of school work due this coming week. Which is a shame since we're supposed to have amazing weather aaalllll week. It's ok though, it'll make my walk home that much nicer. I'm still baffled by the fact that I pass by Notre Dame and Hotel de Ville every day on my route home. It's not even a detour, it's just the best way to go. Crazy!