#562: People post incredible stuff like…

This was #561. [Press play and see what happens].

-Amanda


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I’m sooooooooo endlessly excited to be the latest blogger for PAPERMAG (Thanks David H. and Alexis for being so cool and inviting me to do this!!!). Each week I’m going to interview a young creative who’s sharing their work and building their audience on the Web. So I get to turn my obsession with Flickr, Lookbook, Etsy, MySpace Music, etc into something productive and meet and chat with cool people in the process. Seriously, I was actually giddy when Alexis, PAPERMAG’s managing editor, told me that my first post was up. 

Here’s my first post with Yokoo, one of my favorite young designers I’ve been following on Flickr and Etsy for a while. I was pleased to find that she’s even more interesting, friendly and cool than I imaged she’d be after seeing her incredible work. 

If you have recommendations of who I should interview next, drop me an email at mooney[dot]amanda@gmail or DM me on Twitter (@amandamooney).

Yokoo_Paper.jpgMeet the newest member of our PAPERMAG blogging team, Amanda Mooney, a digital kid who spends far too much time in social networks and is addicted to finding fresh talent emerging somewhere between Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Lookbook and MySpace. In her weekly column, “Wwwe Could Be Next,” Mooney will chat with one of these young creatives, to share their work, perspective and advice.

A few months back, I started seeing Yokoo, a self-described “accidental knitting wunderkind,” show up everywhere on the web. Known for her charming and slightly subversive scarves and accessories, Yokoo has taken a fresh approach to establishing her brand and audience. As sheposts her new accessories, scarves and dresses for summer and announces her new collaboration with BleubirdVintage, I caught up with her to chat about her work and adventures as a promising young designer with a growing roster of devoted digital fanboys.

OK, so in 140 characters or less of course, describe your style.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFLqX_cYuVc

How did you get into fashion?
I fell into fashion by accident…. I was always inventive. And I always somehow knew that there was something just beyond the horizon of what most people considered success. I started to see other young people that were my age doing amazing things with backgrounds that were similar to mine. It took a lot of time to put it all together- more time than I care to admit.

And now, I’ve been able to quit my lousy retail job and dedicate every waking hour to turning my high school hobby into the launching pad for a handmade empire…. With backorders piling up, I’m adding new pieces to my line. That’s kind of nuts since I do it all by myself.

And how did you start sharing you work on the Web?
It all started with my desire to start a street fashion blog. I wanted to start a street fashion blog since being introduced to Cutie Magazine out of Japan. They would carry Cutie Magazine at the now defunct Toward Records. No one knew about them. And the stuff that American kids are doing now, they were doing ten years ago. So around 2004, I decided to start a street fashion magazine website. But the technology was not readily available the way it is today to make it reasonably efficient.

Then RSS feeds were introduced around 2006. That’s when I started to build what I thought was the first street fashion blog on the Internet. But then when I came across a Flickr group called Wardrobe Remix and it collapsed all of my dreams and ambitions because it was ten times better than my website. So I just started contributing my photographs to that group and working on other projects altogether.

What’s the biggest advantage or frustration of being a young designer today?
I would definitely say the challenge of the information age is both frustrating and thrilling to many of today’s designers. But I find this problem allows for the more creative designers to eclipse their competition. Many of the designers that I talk to everyday feel worn out and threatened by the speed at which the Internet has allowed personal expression to be replicated, commodified and quickly perpetrated, but I find that those with a keen eye for style can tell the difference, and those who don’t aren’t supposed to.

Before, you had so many close minded individuals who would never in a million years accept the work that I am putting out, who now find it daring and on the peripheral of what they might start wearing next season. This, to me, allows me to get out a lot of my ideas, and then move on to the next thing.

There is a new movement towards avant-garde street fashion that’s allowing a voice for young designers to be as expressive as your traditional runway designers, but still accepted as clothes the one can wear in the streets of bigger cities like New York, or London.

How have Flickr and Etsy specifically helped you build your brand?
I don’t think it was that easy. Branding is very difficult and something that takes more thought than I care to mention. Etsy and Flickr have allowed me to express my brand at a particular level. It allows me to enter at a particular market in specific kind of way. But at the same time it has also prohibited me from reaching beyond to other markets in a more traditional way. It’s upon the artist to decipher the riddle that’s involved in rebranding himself to a different audience. But it’s very much like a puzzle, and I enjoy it that way.

And on all of these sites, you’re the actual face for your brand. What’s that like?
I find when people sincerely let down there guard and open themselves up, they can be absolutely fascinating.Well, that’s all I am trying to do with my brand. I am trying to tell my little story in my little corner of the world. I know it sounds trite, but that’s what it is.

Leave us with some links… Who are your favorite people on Lookbook and what sites are you devoted to on the web?

Lookbook: PASCALMARTHAIDA and CEDRIC JEAN PIERRE.
General sites: Garance DoréDwellBoracatThe Sartorialist and NY Times.

Images from Yokoo on Flickr. 

-Amanda M. 


I was talking with my brother this weekend and the subject of Oprah on Twitter came up. He said her first tweet all in caps reminded him of our dad. Ha. My dad uses caps as a shortcut and we’ve come to love that only we can tell that HE’S ACTUALLY NOT YELLING AT US AT ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. :) Oh and I actually love celebs on Twitter. Aside from random challenges to get a trillion followers for no intelligent reason, celebs like Shaq are fun to see in my feed. But yeah, I too was #herebeforeoprah and pretty proud of that. 

0j9t50qtymg4v1sarjnka82yo1_500Image via one of my favorite Tumblr blogs. 

-Amanda Mooney


I’m watching Coachella live via AT&T here.

at&t coachella

I love when brands sponsor this kind of stuff. AT&T has me sitting on its site for at least a few hours now. Better than any standard ad could ever do.

-Amanda


I was trading links with @lizlee a week or so ago of random Facebook groups like this one that remind us how amazingly privileged we are to be ’90’s kids/digital hipsters. 

dinosaursRebecca, whoever you are, you’re amazing for putting this up on Facebook

Oh and I also think the good, upstanding people responsible for putting the following up on the Web completely deserve our undying appreciation:

MASH Game. BTW don’t you wish you could update your Facebook relationship status by playing this?

This…

Super secret note squares

This… 

This…
90s-kid

You know you’re a 90’s kid and getting old if…

You’ve ever ended a sentence with the word “PSYCHE!”

You can sing the rap to “The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air”

You know that “WOAH” comes from Joey from “Blossom” and that “How Rude!” comes from Stephanie from “Full House.”

You remember when it was actually worth getting up early
on a Saturday to watch cartoons

You got super excited when it was Oregon Trail day in computer class at school.

You remember reading “Goosebumps.”

-Amanda


A few weeks ago, I wrote a little post about how Joe Mietus made me completely rethink Yelp because he started using his reviews space for storytelling. Well, recently, I stumbled into Tommy Ga-Ken Wan on Flickr and tweeted, “This 23 year old’s Flickr feed is more interesting than most movies.”

I’m completely impressed and (somehow still) always surprised by the way digital kids my age are taking pretty basic sites and making them so compelling because they have the guts to do more than throw up a few posts and have the creativity to rethink and rework the medium. As Tommy quotes Sontag on his Facebook profile, “There is the surface. Now think- or rather feel, intuit- what is beyond it.”

I asked Tommy if he’d mind introducing himself to everyone reading here and dropping his thoughts on his work and how he’s using the Web to tell the kind of story he wants to share as a photographer.

Amanda: Hey Tommy, tell us a little about yourself…
Tommy: I describe myself in my profile as “a literature graduate, aspiring philosopher, habitual drunkard, amateur actor, avid reader, occasional writer, pretentious fop and…first and foremost, a photographer. The truth is, though, I’m just like everyone else, trying to make sense out of life and get through it in the best way possible. We all use different tools in this quest: mine is the camera.

Amanda: When/how did you get into photography

Tommy: When I was fourteen, my parents gave me the digital camera that was a free gift with the PC they’d bought. I remember very vividly that summer afternoon when I ran about photographing everything I saw, and my Mum saying “Tom has a new toy!” By the standards of today’s technology, though, it’s obselete: 0.35 megapixels! As I got older, I bought new cameras at the rate of one a year or so – digital point and shoots – and learned more and more about their functions. When I was 19, I bought my first SLR, a Nikon D70. I worked completely manually, but I didn’t understand the technicalities of shutter speed and aperture: I only knew that “if this number is higher it does this and means that I have to do this” and so on.

Amanda: Describe your style…
Tommy: Cinematic, certainly. It’s the sense of detachment that I like: when I photograph someone, I don’t want to produce an image of her as she is when a camera is being pointed at her: I want to photograph her in her life, I want her to forget that the camera is there.
Amanda: Your Flickr feed is like a movie. That’s one of the first things that struck me about your work. When you’re posting photos, do you think of the story each will tell individually and what story your whole Flickr feed tells?

Tommy: Absolutely. I have always had a love for stories, fictions, narratives. When I was very young, this expressed itself in the computer games I used to love playing: fantasy RPGS like the Final Fantasy series, which is very story and character-based. As I grew older, this developed into a love of novels, which took me to University and to a degree in English Literature.
I always had the desire to create, but I found that I didn’t have the imagination to write novels or stories. I would have these ideas I thought were wonderful, and then I didn’t know where to take them. And photography was the perfect outlet for that: all the stories I would see taking place around me, I could make an image of them, of a single moment. Each photo is only a suggestion: the viewer creates his or her own story around it.
Amanda: It seems like Flickr and your Web site are the key spots where you share your work? What purpose does Flickr vs. your site serve for you?
Tommy: My website is really aimed at clients, larger organizations who may not be interested in me as a person, they just want somebody to take good photographs for them, and so it contains only what I feel to be my best work, and without much background of the images themselves. My Flickr, on the other hand, is very personal and very open: it’s used by my friends and online acquaintances, and has also been a wonderful place to meet new friends.
Amanda: How have you used the Web to grow your audience?
Tommy: Flickr has been key in this regard, too. People who have never heard of me might stumble across my work and mention it in their blog, spreading the word even further.
Amanda: Are most of your followers and commenters on Flickr people you know or random people you met while sharing your work on the Web?
Tommy: Mostly the latter, many of whom have become people I know and whose work I also admire.
Amanda: And besides photography, what are you into?
Tommy: Other than team sports, there’s very little that I’m not into. I devour books, films and music, and I love to cook, to eat, to drink, to dance. I love to be outdoors and indoors, I love the country and the city. All these things would be almost meaningless, though, if I did not have friends and family to share them with. And what is wonderful about photography is that I can incorporate it into every one of these.
Amanda: And besides Flickr, what sites are really important for you?
Tommy: YouTube, certainly, I think it is invaluable, and one of the most important cultural creations of my lifetime. Likewise Wikipedia. Comment Is Free is the Guardian’s politics and news blog where I spend a lot of time. Other than that, not very much, though: I used to spend a huge amount of time on the internet, and only quite recently did I realize that it was taking a great deal away from my enjoyment of life. Now, I try to limit myself. Instead of wasting an afternoon chatting to friends on Facebook, I’ll arrange to meet with them and spend some real, quality time together.
Amanda: Leave us with some of your top favorite young photographers on Flickr we can check out.
Tommy:
Graeme Nicol – www.flickr.com/slavers – Frank O’Hara once remarked that, other than his own, he didn’t really like poetry unless it was so good it forced him to admire it. I feel more or less the same about photography, and Graeme’s is one of those streams that insists on being admired. I was lucky enough to discover it during my first week on Flickr, and it has been among my favourites ever since.
Lavi – www.flickr.com/mayastar – My admiration for Lavi’s work is seemingly endless: her ability to make the ordinary utterly extraordinary never ceases to amaze me.
Markus Bollingmo – www.flickr.com/sipho84 – a wonderful talent, his work is just so human.

Image used in this post are all from Tommy’s Flickr feed here.
-Amanda Mooney

My favorite commercial, even though it’s not new, is the AT&T commercial with the girl and the stuffed animal. Besides how adorable it is and totally reflective of my childhood with my stuffed animal, Lamby, I think it is very well done. The more creative part about it is how it plays into the “more bars in more places” slogan with bars in almost every scene, from palm trees to office buildings. See if you can count them all. Or just watch and enjoy. Weirdest part-I’m Verizon loyal.

-Sarah


Saw this over on the completely outdated “Twitter” micoblogging site. Just wanted to share the newest in nanoblogging! :)

– Sarah


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Ever since Will wrote a little post on ASL about MySpace angles and Adrant’s Steve Hall joined in, I’ve been really interested in how people share their identity online and how brands and artists qualify and elevate their choices.

Recently, I talked with New York based artist Matt Held about his new project that involves turning the Faecbook profile photos 200 average Facebook users and turning them into gallery-worthy portraiture. Matt describes his work saying,

“With the development of social networking sites, I’ve developed an interest in how people take simple or complex snapshots of themselves, post them to their page as a representation of who they are and what they want people to see. It is an interesting form of control and, in a way, self-preservation. However, there is a strong likelihood that many people who don’t know you will see this photo representation and make passing judgments as to who you may or may not be, much in the same way we make passing judgments on people we see in our neighborhoods every day. Take a collection of these portraits and put them into the context of a gallery space or like setting, and you see a community of individuals – their likeness elevated and memorialized like the original commissioners of portrait painting; the rich and powerful – displayed as a portrait’s original intent: expression of an individuals’ character and moral quality.”

A few months into the project and with over 3,500 profile photos submitted for his consideration, I was curious to hear his observations from his work.Here’s our chat, carried out via Facebook of course.

Amanda: So first, when and why did you decide to start working on this project?
Matt: This project started, really, over Thanksgiving weekend 2008. I had been trying to work through this horrendous painters block and decided to paint a photo of my wife that she had on her Facebook profile – angry faced, disheveled hair, finger waging war at the iPhoto camera. Call it luck, call it a breakthrough – I don’t know, but something clicked and I started rummaging through my friends profiles looking for others to paint. It’s fairly apparent that most people put a decent amount of effort to find good photos that represent their “self” and I started thinking about the implications of that in the context of classic portraiture. I think I had finished a large handful of paintings of our friends before my wife suggested putting up the group as a way socialize the idea and get beyond our immediate connections.

Amanda: Why Facebook? Why not MySpace or any other social network?
Matt: I don’t have a MySpace account, and it took a while before my wife convinced me to join Facebook. It’s not that I was anti-social media, I just thought it to be a waste of time. Of course, I geeked out on it for a while after joining, the games, the videos, chatting. However, it very quickly became clear that this is a perfect platform for an artist with a project such as this that involves crowd-sourcing and image-sourcing. In the first few weeks of the project, before the group went up, we went through the images of friends on my wife’s MySpace account in the same way we were using Facebook. But after the group went up, it’s become exclusively FB. I’ve had people suggest I take a look at their photos on MySpace and I just don’t have the time to toggle between the two or any other social network for that matter.

Amanda: What’s your criteria for selecting a profile photo to paint?
Matt: I have some loose criteria. I like quirky photos, color (no b/w), just the individual – no kids, no dogs, no significant other, no famous people, maybe a prop or something to add to the story. It has to be clear, and a good size as I enlarge the photo to grab detail. I don’t like super posed shots and I don’t paint photos that are clearly done for professional purposes (i.e. modeling, acting, etc). I can’t say exactly what makes a photo jump at me, but if you look through the gallery of ones that have been painted you’ll get a pretty good idea.

Amanda: You’ve already produced and posted several portraits. What are some interesting observations you’ve had about how people represent themselves here on Facebook? Are there any shared characteristics or particularly compelling individual stories you’ve found along the way?
Matt: I believe people choose photos they think are an accurate measure of their ‘self’. Most of these people I’ve never met, but once I decide on a picture I want to paint, I’ll rummage around their profile trying to ascertain who they are, what they are like – how their nose looks in different angles. A photograph can capture so many different things in lighting and color and contrasts – that by the time I am finished with the painting and then meet the person, the portrait may or may not look like the human person it’s concerned with.

For the most part, so far, all subjects are very vast and different. Although most share some common traits in that they are drawn to art and technology.

Amanda: What are some of your favorite portraits you’ve captured so far?
Matt: It’s tough to say what my favorite’s are, but a few that I am fond of ‘Jillian’, ‘Jessica’, ‘Angie’, ‘Heidi’, ‘Jason’, ‘Jordy’, “Ardalan’, ‘Bobby’…it changes. My wife’s of course!

angie.jpgJason.jpg

Amanda: What has the reaction been like from the people you’ve painted in this project?
Matt: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Only one person didn’t respond. It’s crazy – 6 months ago I couldn’t give my paintings away and now I can’t get into the studio enough to meet the demand. It’s a good thing. There have been a few critical mentions in comments of others’ paintings, but they are typically from other artists and we are the worst critics of each other so I expect that a bit.

Amanda: Ultimately, what do you hope the outcome of this is?
Matt: Ultimately, I would like to finish the 200 portraits and see them all in a show together at the end of the project and a few smaller shows along the way. Portraiture kind of fell off the map of relevancy in the art world and I’d certainly like to see it front and center again.

If you’d like to participate in this project and submit your own profile photo for consideration, you can join the Facebook group and add Matt Held as a friend.

Main image of Matt Held borrowed from his Facebook profile, courtesy of An Xiao and additional images from theMatt Held Studios Web site.

-Amanda Mooney


I recently had the chance to experience both the new Virgin America and Delta Airlines, on flights to and from Boston to LAX and Boston to Atlanta to New Orleans, respectively. Despite differences in weather conditions, flight times, delays, etc. I have to say I am ecstatic about the future of air travel, and now realize why Delta and other major carriers have found themselves nearing bankruptcy year after year.

I won’t get into specifics about why my Delta experience was so horrid, but I will say, that it’s no wonder why passengers have become increasingly more frustrated with big airlines and have chosen to try out newer, discount airlines. Also, in hindsight, if I had flown to New Orleans on Virgin America, I am positive that I would have had an enjoyable flight, despite any delays.

Like many others, I don’t fly well and tend to get a little anxious during flight. To my complete surprise, Virgin provided the most calming atmosphere while waiting to board and while in flight. Their boarding staff was cool, calm, friendly, and engaging as soon as we entered the gate (after it took only 15 minutes to travel from Beacon Hill through Logan security!!). The boarding process was just as easy as the online seat selection. The flight attendants made all the passengers feel at home, while swanky background music played and dim purple and red lights gleamed as we took their seats-in comfortable spacious leather seats.

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The best part of the flight, which really sets the airline apart from all others–even Jet Blue–is Red, Virgin America’s in flight entertainment. Red kicks off with a witty video about in flight safety, which honestly puts all other hokey seat belt demonstrations to shame. Besides Wi-Fi access, the system offers numerous movies for purchase, TV shows, radio, games (touch screen and controller based), and a make your own playlist option. Furthermore, you can browse and order meals, snacks and beverages right from your seat, delivered promptly by the attentive staff.

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Virgin’s slogan, This is How to Fly, really says it all. I don’t know how we ever expected anything less. Even if Virgin didn’t have such amazing low fares (I flew to LA for only $99 each way!) I would still opt to fly Virgin over another major carrier…now that’s value & brand equity!

-Sarah Hutton