August 28, 2015

Why I think Sustainability & Creativity go Hand in Hand

As an art maker, I create a lot of waste. This reality can really stink.

As a painter, I regularly throw out a dollop of leftover paint. Every time I spill ink or get my chair pushed while I'm working (cue accidental scribbles) on a drawing, I waste a piece of paper. When I work with water colours and tape down my paper, the tape just gets thrown out after. When I use paper towel to clean my brushes (because I was taught that fiber cloth can contain dirt that gets in your paint), my garbage can fill up by the end of things. The paints that I use sometimes contain toxic ingredients, yet I wash them off my brushes, down the sink, and into the water system.

Moreover, as a human being living in a contemporary, first world society, I create a lot of waste. Did you know that on average, North Americans produce 68 pounds of textile waste a year? Eco Fashion week even does a 68 Pound challenge with Value Village, giving designers 68 pounds of secondhand materials to create a fashion line out of. Reading about this challenge when I was still in high school was what got me interested in sustainable fashion, I even did a final project on it - using second hand materials to create a dress as part of my design class.

So, I like art. I like fashion. These are two of the ways that I express my creativity. I also like living; existing, in this lucky society. Yet the amount of waste I create bugs me. It just doesn't make sense to me - that I should get to live this way, so well, so fortunately, without direct or apparent consequence on myself, but with so much consequence on the environment and on less fortunate workers around the world.

If there is an attainable alternative to creating this waste over and over again, why not take it? Why not pay a little more attention and make a little extra effort to make sure my actions have as little negative impact on the world as I can?

You occupy this world. You exist, in this world and no where else*. If it is good for the world, it is good for you.

Living well, feeling good, and being able to create while doing so, is so important to me. If I feel good, if I know I am having as little negative impact as possible, I feel so much more inspired and free to create. To make to my little heart's content, to exist freely and happily!


*if you do happen to exist somewhere other than this earth, please let me know, that sounds pretty rad and interesting and I'd love to meet an alien one day.

August 25, 2015

Art Fart: Wisdom Tooth Recovery

This has been a bit of a slow week for me as I recover from my wisdom teeth removal surgery. It's not been so bad, just seriously uncomfortable & a couple bouts of pain in my mouth. It's no fun though, to be tired and nauseous from all the meds and recovery. I feel like a numb potato sometimes! I'm sure some of you have experienced it too?

I just wanted to check in and say hello and share my little collage reflecting on this experience titled: "self portrait (with 4 fewer wisdom teeth)".

Have you had your wisdom teeth taken out?


August 21, 2015

Weekly Photo Capsule 08.21.15

It's been a really nice week!

I've seen lots of friends and family. My friend Sabrina got two new pet rats and they are so teenie tiny and adorable and I nearly took them home with me. She named them Miso and Shoyu which are the cutest names too. My friend Tiffany came over for dinner, and my friends Kayleigh and Kelsey got me this beautiful One Bead bracelet as a belated graduation gift (mine is the dark blue!).

One Bead seems like a really cool company: they are a charitable business that supports schools and workers in Africa. The beads are made at a glass blowing studio in Nairobi, and all the profits support schools and other various projects of One Bead. Read more about it here! It's also just super pretty, so I'm very thankful for it!

I'm off this morning to get my wisdom teeth out - gah! Wish me luck.


August 19, 2015

4 Thrifting Tips: Finding Workplace Clothes

As I've mentioned before, I've been applying for jobs, some of which have business-casual environments. I felt great on my very first interview - wearing some nice clothes I already owned, feeling fabulous and grown up. But then I got a second interview and - AHH - what was I going to wear? They'd already seen my one good outfit. Well, shit. If I could barely make it through 2 interviews how would I manage if I got the job? Time to go shopping!

I thought this would be one of the hardest parts of my Year of Thrift challenge yet. I usually find comfy casual cool clothing at my favourite thrifty haunts. I've been determined though, not to fall off the wagon for the sake of convenience (because that's the whole damn point of this challenge isn't it.) So I went out, and I bought a total of 3 pants and 3 tops that I can mix and match and all go together and I feel absolutely ready to take on the business-casual workplace!

So how did I go about getting (nice) thrifted business casual clothing?

1. Mix it up - Go to higher end consignment/designer second hand shops.
There are a ton of independently run small businesses that cater directly to this kind of need! I found all sorts of fabulously priced designer goodies and brands that are normally way out of my price range, all because I went to stores that I knew wouldn't be re-selling your teenage sister's impulse H&M purchases. (Which I normally would go to.) Instead they re-sell your fabulous fashionable aunt's garments from last season, that totally work for you for this season ;)

2. Bring along someone who knows their business wear & designer goods.
This was important for me since, I've never truly worked in a business environment before. Sure, I have as a summer student, but at that point in time it was a little more relaxed since I wouldn't be around very long. My step mom joined me in my thrifting adventure this time (Thanks!) and she was able to tell me if something 1. fit properly, 2. was appropriate, 3. was worth a little splurge or not, given the brand name.

3. Fight your "Ooh Shiny!" impulses.
When I go to thrift shops, I generally tend towards the unusual patterns, funky colours, and overall unique items. Why? That's part of why I love thrifting; the unexpected exciting finds. This time around I made sure to fight that impulse and focus on classic, mixable items, and ones that were still "me" but also professional looking.  
Key word: Classics. Black and/or tan trousers, neutral blouses/tops, a simple black handbag, etc.

4. Shop the Sales.
For me, designer second hand shops can still be far out of budget, especially if I want a whole set of clothing. I splurged on one pair of pants (vintage Prada!) but that was the only item I payed full price for. The rest I bought from the sale section, or from a store that was having a 50% everything sale! Look online for when stores have their sales, and keep an eye out for sales sections everywhere you go!

What is your best business-casual/fancy second hand find?


August 17, 2015

Art Fart: The Cactus Club & Thank You!

A few weeks ago a family friend mentioned a restaurant called "Cactus Club" in western Canada, and I couldn't help this fun image from popping into my head! This particular piece is digital because I had very specific images in mind, which is not usually the case for my collages as I normally just wing it.

I want to thank you all for being so positive and supportive about my collage work when I first posted it. It's something new to me and it really means a lot that people are expressing that they like them. I know an artist should work for themselves first (and I do!) but it's always a bit worrisome when you discover something new that you love love love and are finally happy with, and at first people don't seem quite as excited as you. But all your blog post comments and instagram comments have been really encouraging and I'm so excited with where collage is taking me!

You're all the best!

ps. you can follow me on instagram @katiaengell_ for more collage posts! 

August 15, 2015

Weekly Photo Capsule 08.15.15

This past week hasn't been much of a photo-taking week. I've been working on projects, cuddling my dog, hanging out with the family, going to interviews, etc. That being said, my dog is incredibly photographic even 7 years down the road (even when he's giving me the evil eye for disturbing his sleepy cuddles), and the projects I'm working on are really fun! Right now I have a series of kid-friendly illustrations on the go for a philanthropic start up, a birth banner for my cousin's brand new baby girl, and some personal things too.

Next week I've got an appointment to get my wisdom teeth out- wuh oh! Hopefully my recovery time is speedy so I can enjoy the rest of this summer!

Well, that's my quick little update on me.
What have you been up to this week?


Spread The Love: 3 of my Fav Sustainability Blogs!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Today I want to share some of my favourite blogs that focus on sustainability in life, makeup, fashion, etc. I'm just going to call them Sustainability Blogs, for lack of better wording. Correct me if there's a better term for them! I found it a little bit tough to find other like minded individuals in the blogging community at first, but once you open the door to it, it's like a pandora's box (of positive things, though). I thought I'd start sharing my finds with everyone, for I'm certain we all cover different territory with our blogs and there is so much good information and so many great ideas out there!

Hello Natural
Full of tips and tricks and lists and how-to's. (and beautiful photography!).  I love how informative this website is on healthy living in general. There are recipes with good-for-you ingredients and explanations as to why each ingredient is helpful and good for you. There are lists of the multitude of ways to use coconut oil in your daily routine, and many topics that I wouldn't have even thought of (ie. Natural Ways to Stop a Headache). From healthy eating, all-natural beauty, to recycling, Hello Natural covers all of my favourite topics! I LOVE it!

TLV Birdie Blog
I love the TLV Birdie Blog for scoping out all-natural makeup and beauty alternatives! The reviews are in depth, and there are often posts about specific ingredients that are good for your skin, like Aloe and Lavender - which are illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators, Kelzuki! (I was sooo pumped when they started this collaboration as I follow them both!) The blog is also beautiful and earthy and super nice to be on.

Chambray and Curls
I was so so happy to come across Laura's blog. She took a very similar pledge as mine, her "Ethical Fashion Pledge" which is super similar to my Year of Thrift Manifesto but with her own special twist! Her fashion sense is fun, and her adventures in Ethical Fashion are really great to follow. It is so nice to discover someone with the same intentions as me and the same ideas as me, all the way across the pond!

What are your favourite Sustainability Blogs? 
Do you have a sustainability blog?

Share your links in the comments!

August 12, 2015

Window Shopping || 12

Indigo Hand Woven Scarf:  Honest Alchemy | Crop Top: MillaLoop Vintage | Black Marble Clutch: Scout & Catalogue | Vintage High Waisted Jeans: Skinny & Bernie 

I am very excited to share this Honest Alchemy Scarf as part of a window shopping outfit this week! I can't even remember how I stumbled upon the Honest Alchemy etsy store but I am so glad that I did. Here's a snippet off the shop description to explain why:

"Honest Alchemy is a sustainable textile and accessory design company that uses 100% natural fibers and plant-based pigments. Handmade by Philadelphia-based artist Elizabeth McTear, each piece is made with a deliberate consideration for tradition and timeless style."

Sustainability? Handmade? All Natural? Textiles? Timeless style? It's like this little description was written exactly to appeal to me! Good stuff, Ms. McTear. This is one of those window shopping moments where I'd seriously consider buying something from Honest Alchemy (They have fabulous wall hangings/weavings too! Ah!) and if it were a fabulous scarf like this I would style it like so! Letting the scarf be the statement, and letting the the clutch act as a nice texture balance.

Have you something on your mind you've been wanting to purchase lately?

Ps. Can you tell I am going through another tie-dye style phase? My fella and I just did tie-dye again last week and decided to do some fabric this time! I'm using some of it for a birth-banner for my cousin's baby. I used an olive green dye and it's looking very fun in the background of the project. Yay!

August 9, 2015

Art Fart: Moon Woman

Don't you love it when the moon is actually a well-shot, ceramic dinner plate?
Another reason I love college.

This is my "troll-doll-esque" Moon Woman collage from earlier this week. I have always been a sunshine kind of girl, but lately I have been venturing into moon and night time imagery.

Coincidentally I have had this Homeshake song stuck in my head all week, though I am not sure which came first: the song in my head, or the Moon Woman collage!

Happy weekend everyone!

August 5, 2015

A Thought or Two: The Creative's Reward

Being a creative in a professional capacity can be very discouraging at the get-go. This isn't a surprise, of course. Society taught me from a young age (as I'm sure it teaches many) that the creative route is not likely to be a lucrative one. Professors at school would warn us; it takes at least 5 years after graduating before you start really making money with your work. But don't give up! People ask us; what now? And it's tough to give an answer because I don't know.

I think that's the hardest part, is the not knowing what path I'll take. It's also the most exciting part, though. I don't know where my personal art practice will take me, I don't know where my professional art practice will take me - if it even will take me somewhere. I love making art, I love teaching art, I love being around art. It's too bad that it's so difficult to sell art, in every capacity! Even art instruction and teaching art is often severely undervalued. Needless to say it can all be very frustrating.

But then you get a job, a fluke, an email sent about art instruction that results instead in a design job. You quote a little too low because you've never written an actual contract in the real world before, and you put tons of time into it anyway and you feel a bit badly that you under-quoted yourself. But then you finish the job and the client loves it so much and loved working with you so much that they offer you a bonus and a tshirt with the finished design on it - What's your size? Come by in September for a T-Shirt! I LOVE IT, in all caps. I'll be back.

That's a good feeling, that's when you realize how rewarding being a professional creative can really be.

What was one of your most rewarding moments, as a creative or otherwise? I would LOVE to hear your stories in the comments, please share!

August 4, 2015

Creative Crush: Sergio Mora

Sergio Mora (aka Magicomora) is an artist from Barcelona whose magical characters and scenes never cease to appeal to both my inner child and outward adult. The naivety of some elements is matched with a wonderful, masterful use of material and technique, which always yields pleasing, playful results. His work is fantastic in all senses of the word!

"There are people who do not settle with what is generally called reality. Due to this their life becomes complex and therefore is enriched extraordinarily, by having an attitude of not limiting themselves to accepting reality without questioning it,"

Mora's bio on his website is just as fun and magical! I love this quote from the very beginning of it. The bio discusses Mora's desire to re-create and define his own reality - an idea that I think most creatives can relate to.

Be sure to check out more of Sergio Mora's work on his website and follow him on instagram.

 What creatives have you been crushing on lately?