Thursday, July 30, 2009

Help! I've fallen down the rabbit hole and I can't get up!

So today is one of those days where I think I'll have to make a mandatory demand of myself to go home and take a nap (or at the very least, lie/lay down in bed). I have been doing a mass online craft/ indie and freelance designer site hunt because I feel like I need to be more immersed in all the goings on of the craft world. I think I may have overdone it a little. Oops! Now, I am just totally overwhelmed by all the new things I'm finding out about and feel like I should be revamping and scrapping some of my stuff.

On the one hand, finding out about lots of stuff like Bust Magazine (where have I been that I haven't found out about this already btw?) is awesome amazing. On the other other hand, scoping out lots of other artists' works makes me really doubt my jewelry and its originality. On top of that, I feel like I should re-do all the photos I have of my work to get better quality pics with less shadows, etc. However, I don't really have the money to cough up a chunk of change for a light box or any fancy pants photography equipment. That task is just daunting enough in itself because I hate taking pictures. It's probably one of my least favorite regular tasks for maintaining my Etsy site and business in general. All this online hunting also makes me feel like I'll never be able to get the word out to people about my jewelry. I've contemplated just giving away a lot of jewelry for free to my friends in hopes that it would make me get a fresh start, but that would be a huge waste of money. I think I also kinda hate having to think about the business side of things for selling my jewelry when I just want to purely pursue the art aspect. *le sigh* Enough about that though!

I've added a few things onto the blog- a few new sites to share with y'all as well as a few DGAJ press spots (hopefully there will be more to add to this in the future!). Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated anyhow! I'm sure this is just one of my spells where I'm convinced that everything I make is unoriginal/not all that great in the first place and that I'll be over it in a few days. Hope everyone's looking forward to the weekend!

Action Jackson out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rock Out with Your Bach Out

I giggle a little every time I or someone else says that. Try it next time you see me, and without fail I'll probably do it without even thinking about it. Anyway, since I've spent a great deal of my life and energy devoted to music (as well as pointing out to people that my jewelry and its very name are greatly influenced by the music I listen to), I figured it was about time I post something musically-relevant. Right? Don't worry, there won't be any long drawn-out bios here- just a little brief blip for everyone who doesn't know me as well.

I started being involved in music when I was about 9 and took piano lessons (for much less time than I would have liked, in retrospect). Then, when I was 11, I joined band and started my 11 year- long flautist career. Fast forward through years of hardcore prodigy pruning (anyone who's been in an intense band program can attest to this being how it is, not me overstating it) to college when I picked up piccolo for about 4 years, intermittently took some piano lessons (and learned to sing and play), and wrap up with me learning guitar, some bass, and a little bit of music theory. That about brings you up to speed, i.e. where I am now.

For the past few months, I've been writing my own songs, but there are so many ruts that seem to make the process go a little slower than I'd like. In all honesty, I wish I knew so much more than I do. I wish I'd started guitar when I picked up flute, I wish I knew more music theory, I wish I knew more about pop music (not mainstream pop, more so the loose "pop" term music majors throw around). I wish, I wish, I wish... The bit of cold comfort I think I'm provided is that knowledge of music, like knowledge of anything else, is relative. Good thing too. I'm always amazed at the fact, for example, that I can wow a crowd of non-musicians by singing and playing simultaneously even if what I'm doing isn't musically technically difficult. When I reference some artist or album that my boyfriend, who knows way more about good "pop" music than I ever will, hasn't heard of, it gives me hope.

I don't mean to sound like an arrogant jerk with any and all of this. Instead, I mean to convey that music is a slow process, and it doesn't mix well with impatient type-A's with sky high expectations like, oh yeah, me. Sometimes, I get so caught up in thinking about my inadequacies of music knowledge and any stagnation of progress that I think it hinders what I'm capable of. In times when that really hits me hard, I remember what every music teacher I've ever had would say: put down the instrument and walk away. I feel I've done that off and on with guitar for a while now. And, now I think I'm ready to give it a real go again. On Saturday, I went to the Tori Amos concert with Claire, which turned out to be a really great show. Good shows always inspire
me. We also did a little shopping while she was in town. And, I'm not sure if I'm more proud or ashamed to say that I bought my first vinyl for myself. What would I pick for my very first? Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, which is arguably one of the most produced albums, not overly so though because it sounds amazing. I figured if I want an album where I'll really hear what's more true to the studio recording, that would be the one. Also picked up another one of their albums and You'd Prefer an Astronaut by Hum, who, on a side note, I only have minor gripes with because at times they sound like Switchfoot *barf*.

Do we see a theme here in what yours truly is listening to? Lots of fuzz, distortion, echo-y space-y sounds. I think that there's a great deal that can be done with sound modulation even with everything that's already been done. Granted, I have no intentions of making music that resembles the bands you see that are clearly trying to be weird and experimental that no one gets (and I literally mean no one). Like I said before, the loose concepts are all there for ideas that I need to work out; it's just a matter of precision and making those ideas materialize.

Action Jackson out!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feathers, Art Deco, and Crystals. Oh my!

Okay, so admittedly some of this will be old news for some of you. However, almost immediately after I made my last post, a wave of inspiration hit me like a speeding semi. I swear, I fell over and everything. Anyway, a few Etsy supply searches, sketches, and aha moments later/after that, I had a clear idea of what I needed to do. Overall, the aesthetic will be very light/feathery and ethereal mixed with a few strong art deco-y pieces. The color palette will still be whites, off whites, and various pastels. For the art deco pieces, I'll make these! I did a few spiral shapes and descending tier drawings that I think will look stellar as earrings and necklaces, respectively. So, the pieces I'll be focusing on are lace and feather headbands, lightweight yet big earrings with lotsa bling (feathers, nouveau/baroque shapes, and probably one art deco spiral pair), ladylike cuffs (maybe reusing some appliques-may need help on this one), and bold bib necklaces.

This week, I'll be focusing on a mini-overhaul of my Etsy shop as well as trying out a few new things to make my blog and shop more fun and interactive for anyone who keeps up with my jewelry. I've been told people read my blog, but it's one of those things that I'm never really sure of. Anyhow, I think I'll start working on the line and ordering supplies once I see the bad news of this month's credit card bill. I'd hate to spend money that I only think I have. Money aside, I'm happy to say I feel like I really milked that spurt of inspiration I had last week. I'm already thinking about a new mini "line" (I can never get used to calling it that, honestly) to do after I wrap this one up. It will be a little more true to fall fashion in style and colors. The solid ideas definitely aren't there yet, but the gears upstairs are turning.

I'm thinking this new line will consist of bold fuschias, cobalt blues, and chartreuse hues and will be inspired by a very glamorous night life that yours truly definitely doesn't have. Stylistically, it'll be poppy (but in good DGAJ taste) and will include lots of spheres, lucite pendants, and the like. I promise it won't be anything too obnoxious, by my standards at least. I've already got a playlist going to be paired with it- I mean, if you're going to have a night life theme, you've got to have music, right? I am my father's daughter (for anyone who doesn't know my dad, he loves all things super-themey even if it's way too much).

The good fortune Friday, I'm happy to say, also bled over into the music sector of the AJ realm. Definitely always a good thing. I've been editing old songs I wrote, adding on to newer songs, experimenting with sounds a little more, etc, etc. I also twisted Claire's (awesome friend from high school, she was in band with me) arm to lay down some drum tracks for me (Thanks, Claire!). Now if I could just get that process to go a little faster, *says in a Lumberg voice* that would be greeeeat.

Action Jackson out!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

For the past few days, I've had mad scientist syndrome and have been obsessing over new jewelry ideas. Even though AFW's done and over, my adrenaline's still making my brain constantly tick and I've just got to get these brain waves to materialize somehow! With fall, my very favorite fashion season, coming up, I thought it would be really awesome to challenge myself to make a cohesive new "line" of about 10-15 pieces. I figure it'll kick the ole thinker into gear and will be a good challenge for me, and what Type-A doesn't love a good challenge? In my spare interspace web hunt time, I've been been browsing for new ideas and muses and have been stewing on everything I find.
A really great idea came to me the other day to use Bioshock, a seamlessly crafted art deco-style retro anachronistic post-apocaliptic first person shooter game (see above image), as my inspiration. The game is set in a dystopian underwater futuristically retro (hence the anachronistic aspect) city and many of the game's themes and storyline concepts are based on Ayn Rand books. *Enter brief tangent* Personally, I HATE first person shooter games (as a player) because they are way too fast paced and there are too many weapon & item options for my level of gaming experience and style. However, when my boyfriend was showing me some of the games he'd been playing and replaying (which he does on a regular basis since he's an avid a.d.d. gamer), Bioshock really stood out to me (the same can be said for Fallout 3). It's one of those games that I watch and wish I had the gamer skills for because it's got an enticing story, beautiful aesthetics, and an overall great feel to it. Anyway, since my hobbies take precedent over my improving my first person shooter game skills, I've had my boyfriend play the game for me. *End brief yet semi-relevant tangent*

So what does this mean for the new jewelry line? Definitely burlesque/flapper-inspired feather headbands with crystal accents. I can't tell you how long I've been wanting to make those. And that's about where the idea well runs dry. How anticlimatic is that? I did some extensive art deco supply and jewelry searches on Etsy yesterday and just wasn't really happy with what I found. The super angular pieces available would be tacky-kitschy vintage when paired with Swarovski crystals (and yes, I DO feel the need to put those on everything I make), and so many people already do that kinda thing. Plus, I'm not really into that style in the first place. All of that made me feel very torn and stumped because I really liked the idea of translating Bioshock into jewelry, but I hated the parts and pieces that were readily available to me. When I told my go-to roomie about my predicament, who I ask for advice on everything, she suggested I try putting my spin on art deco instead of the other way around.

Simple as that might seem, that seemed to resusitate my frustrated beaten down brain. Admittedly, I'm still kinda stumped. It may be one of those things I have to put on the shelf for a few days and come back to. I really want to do a lot of whites, creams and pastels, but since fall's coming up (even though the Texas weather won't admit that til November) I feel obligated to do emerald greens, cobalt blues, plums, and deep reds. Another point of feeling torn. Oh well. I guess my mutual inspiration and cold comfort in all of this is Tarina Tarantino's been able to make a few art deco pieces that really work (see above, side), so maybe I can too?

Action Jackson out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Austin Fashion Week Concludes! Now what?

A few days after the conclusion of the highly anticipated and very exciting Austin Fashion Week and I'm still trying to catch my breath! I just started a new job this past Monday, so there was no rest for the weary in the immediate post-AFW state for yours truly. I must say that I really do love my new job, but I can't help but wish I had more time to work on making jewelry, doing blog write-ups for my blog as well as the Etsy blog, and hunting for new pieces. *le sigh* It's definitely always a transition figuring out how and where to fit everything on the ole to-do list when you have an 8-5 work schedule.

But that is not what I'm here to talk about! First, a quick recap of AFW in the Diamonds and Guns world. The Sparkles and Sweets Soiree was truly a success in my eyes. It was a packed house from start to finish with great friends and lots of new faces, the DJ's lived up to being great muses all night, and I got to meet some really fantastic people. I owe so much to the gals of Urban Betty Salon and all the work they put into getting the word out about the party, organizing the raffles and swag bags that were provided, and assuring that we'd have plenty of cupcakes and pink cocktails. To give you an idea of how awesome they were about that, I still have leftover cupcakes from the supply I brought for the partay (see my proud cupcakes above!).

As for the AFW Awards, I'm sad to say that there were no golden boots handed out to DGAJ or Urban Betty Salon, however, the always lovely and super sweet Kim of Broken Ear Productions (fellow Etsy Austinite too!) went home with the Rising Star golden boot award. If you see her, be sure to congratulate her; she worked very hard leading up to the week! The awards show was fun, though I could have done without the prep problems my boyfriend and I had with wardrobe malfunctions and the like. Ladies, I know you hear me when I say that last minute uncooperative catching zippers on the ONLY dress you planned to wear for an evening is no laughing matter. Highlights of the AFWA were definitely the performances by Ume (Sonic Youth crossed with Pretty Girls Make Graves) and the Octopus Project (they had a theramin (sp?) onstage!), the UT students' fashion shows, and seeing Kim win the Rising Star award! I'm a little sad I missed out on the after party, but when you work and 8-5er, sleep is not something to be messed with! Anyway, I've rambled on long enough, so I'll save my energy for the next post.

Action Jackson out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Austin Fashion Week With Sweet Potato Island

Action Jackson reporting here from the middle of Austin Fashion Week. It doesn't get much more exciting than this, folks! I was lucky enough to make it out for Cindy's (of Sweet Potato Island) Primping, Purses, and Pictures Party at the Thomas Saverio Salon and Spa. The moment I entered the door, I was hit with the warm cocktail hour ambiance of the salon and thought to myself, "If this is a preview for how this week's going to be, I'll be in heaven for the next few days". At the entrance, I was greeted by the super-talented Cindy who was beaming of excitement and busy playing hostess. And upon hearing that News 8 Austin had been by to cover the hot lil soiree, I can imagine why.

I started off my night by snagging one of the house cocktails, courtesy of Dripping Springs Vodka and Paula's Texas Orange. Absolutely delish. I then worked my way into the next room where the only thing that looked more delectable than the yummy h'or dourves were the Sweet Potato Island bags. I'm always impressed when I see the craftsmanship of these bags; you can tell at a glance that hours of hard work go into creating these beautiful yet sturdy clutches and handbags. And, of course, I have to mention that the display was absolutely chic and adorable and made you feel like you were in a Zen garden just looking at it.

After chatting with Cindy for a while, she'd asked if I had gotten my free manicure. At which my heart skipped a beat and I couldn't help but play back, "Free manicure?!" The rest of the night, the lovely ladies of the Thomas Saverio Salon as well as our fantastic Cindy helped to assure I had a great evening. Following my free mani, I had a free makeup session and hair consultation. And who doesn't that sound good to? There were a few raffles that were also going on in the midst of all this excitement. Sadly, I wasn't one of the lucky winners, but it didn't matter because I was having a blast anyway. If you haven't made your way out for one of the fabulous AFW events, especially those of our very own Etsy Austin members, I encourage you to do so and promise it will be time well spent. In the words of someone summing up the week, "think of it as a week-long free happy hour". Enjoy!

Action Jackson out.
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