You Lighthouse My Life

When I was very young, whenever we would pass a particular cemetery in Joliet, Illinois, without fail I would point to the limestone entrance which was a single castle-esque cylindrical cupola with a door, and say “That’s my house. I’m going to live there.” For years this went on. And when I pass it to this day I secretly think to myself, “That’s mine.” I dig the single cupola look, which is why I adore lighthouses. Being enamored with the ocean and old ships, a love of lighthouses comes naturally (must I always contend that I was born in the wrong era?). In high school I went through an actual “lighthouse phase”, trying to figure out just how I could eventually live in one. I had drawn out all these plans in Drafting class for the different chambers and designated levels. Ah, I was such a dreamer – and with one unaccounted for problem: I suffer from a SEVERE fear of open heights. Looking at photos of great heights or just talking about them makes my hands sweat, so living in a lighthouse would require the top to be capped. That would come at an extra expense. I would write that check to the contractor from my very imaginary bank account of millions.

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A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for pilots at sea or on inland waterways. Lighthouses are used to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals and reefs, and safe entries to harbors, and can also assist in aerial navigation. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and replacement by modern electronic navigational aids. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Technology has made these gorgeous structures obsolete, and many are under the protection of historical societies. As with churches, I envy those who can buy them and make them into their homes. Practicality or feasibility will never dampen my envisioned romanticism about living vertically along the ocean coast, listening to the waves crash against the shore while watching a storm roll in. It’s there waiting for me, located somewhere between Port Heaven and My Dreamsville.

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An Interview with Chicago Graphic Designer Brooke Becker

I was lucky enough to sit down with the lovely and talented Brooke Becker. In this interview she gives some insight into her design-rich background, what she digs about art, and how she stays sane as a graduate student and professional.

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SARAH: Brooke, you’ve got a great sense of design. Did growing up around art influence your education?

BROOKE: My mom was an art teacher; I was exposed to art at an early age. Other than elementary and middle school art classes, my first art class was my senior year of high school. I played the viola and my mom insisted that I be in the orchestra all four years and take four years of math! So, this was the first year I had extra electives that I could take an art class. Thankfully, the teacher knew my mom and allowed me to join with the other senior classes, Illustration and Commercial Design. In college, I was a Visual Art major with a concentration in Graphic Design. This program didn’t really get established until my junior year, when they built a new Mac lab and brought in adjunct teachers who were in the industry. Currently, I am getting my Masters in Arts in New Media at DePaul University.

SARAH: What’s your favorite kind of art?

BROOKE: I have always been drawn to photography. I like the idea that the moment captured by the photographer will be forever saved and documented.

SARAH: What is your key advice to others just getting into the creative arts field?

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BROOKE: I recommend getting exposed to creative environments and industries by doing internships or summer jobs. I wish I would have been a bit more focused on the types of creative companies out there and tried to get in at the ones that excited me.

SARAH: What is your “expertise specialty”? Has this stemmed or grown from something else?

BROOKE: I consider myself an expert in design for print and web. I am much better executing print work. However, I feel I have become more of a design consultant for print and web projects. Assessing bad design and making it better. I think this has just stemmed from being exposed to both print and web design for so long, and having a strong art background helps me communicate my ideas.

SARAH: What have you found to be most valuable being in the New Media Studies Program?

BROOKE: I love the fact that the NMS program is interdisciplinary allowing each NMS student to explore their own interests. I also have enjoyed the people I have met and collaborated with on projects.

SARAH: How do you keep life balance as a “constantly connected” new media artist?

BROOKE:  I used to do a lot of improv comedy…I’m still doing a little here and there. I play volleyball. I’m also trying to take more fine art classes. I took an oil painting class last summer and it was amazing the amount of anxiety I had from starting the painting. You can always delete or create multiple versions in digital art, so I feel that pushing my creativity to be more decisive is a good thing.

SARAH: And lastly…where can we view your current portfolio?

BROOKE:  www.brookebeckerdesign.com – I use WordPress for my site which allows me to easily update work and include descriptions.

[And be sure to follow Brooke on Twitter]

Travis Sylvester, Master of Natural Reflectives

Travis Sylvester. What can I say about his work except “WOW”. This man has the uncannily ethereal ability to capture water and beautiful reflective fish in his amazing and dynamic color pencil works. I had the pleasure of encountering his work on the Prismacolor artists forum and I follow his progress on Facebook as well. Anyone who is into nature or who appreciates the beauty and skill of creating reflective surfaces should look at his work.

“Brookie” by Travis Sylvester

Travis was born in the Salt Lake City area and still calls it home. He states “I love what Utah has to offer as far as the mountains, desert, and countless lakes and streams. I can leave my home and be at 10,000 feet in elevation and far away from the crowds within an hours drive.” Loving anything fishing-related it is obvious that Travis channels this love into his art. Among other venues, Travis’s art has been displayed in galleries in the Salt Lake area. He also enters competitions and unsurprisingly works on commissioned pieces. “Since November of 2009, I have completed twelve new drawings, four of which have been commissioned. I entered one of them, “Bonneville Cutthroat” into the Utah State Fair and won two honorable mention ribbons on it.”

“Rainbow Reflections” by Travis Sylvester
Artist, Travis Sylvester

In addition to fishing / nature / outdoor subjects, Travis also creates abstract / surrealism, portraits, and digitally enhances works.

I highly recommend viewing his extensive and masterfully crafted showcase on his website. One can also purchase giclee prints of Mr. Sylvester’s works from his website http://travzart.homestead.com/

Decorgasm? Yes, Please!

Some people you come across in life are effortlessly hip.
Some people you know may communicate purposefully.
And some could even belong to that rare tribe of industry professionals who are just …cool as hell. But I find that few people are all three. 

However, Laura is.

An Illinois senior interior designer by trade, Laura’s aptly titled blog, Decorgasm, is a culmination of an obvious love affair with several facets of style mixed with a keen and concise conveyance of what inspires a design professional.

Sharing her experiences in what inspires her and what her clients demand, Laura’s style of conversational writing is a breath of {non-pretentious} fresh air: intertwining amusing asides, practical bullet-pointed lists of observations, and reader assignments attached with invitations for photo-sharing opportunities. One specific post highlights an honest love/hate relationship with abstract art. Laura posts interior design situations where she opines on the visual conflict presented, linking and referencing publications as she goes. Laura’s colorful posts are as stylishly fun as they are informative.

We’re all in need of a good Decorgasm so I recommend checking out this blog …it is certain to satisfy.