Platon, Absolutely Platonic by Heather Dunmoyer

Obama, Clooney, Clinton, Putin; they all need their picture taken. Whether it be for an article, editorial, magazine cover or even personal portrait, every one of these figures has to trust someone to complete this surprisingly daunting task. Conceptually, that's not a shocking reality, though it's often taken for granted. These beautiful portraits of leaders all requires an artist behind the lens.

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Recently I got to experience an fantastic presentation given by arguably the most masterful "behind the lens" artist, Platon.

"Photography can be a volatile situation. It can be very potent."
— Platon

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Platon has successfully captured portraits of some of the most loved, and some of the most hated in our time. He recognizes the challenges of interacting with "difficult" clients such as Putin or George W. Bush, Difficult in the sense of security, or just in the sense of fear. Considering "camera shyness" or even just the lack of comfortability to be yourself, Platon works to break down any barriers and is successful in getting to know his subjects before trying to capture them. 

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He describes how being a photographer is a "transition of power" especially when some of his subjects are the most powerful people in the world. To let your wall down and allow a photographer to be in control behind the lens isn't easy. Once Platon begins to get to know his subjects better and helps them to recognize their strengths, they come into their personalities more. It's evident in his work when he shows a portrait before he's conversed and after. Zuckerberg goes from a terrified and awkward small man, into a confident hoodie-wearing tech tycoon that he is; he seems more real. 

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"Photos communicate what we perceive." — Platon 

Platon describes the greatest challenge of being a photographer, perception. Since his work is all visual, each viewer has their own response to his work, good or bad, It teaches him to be intentional and aware of his work to avoid "telling people what to believe." He believes that photography exercises the right to freedom of speech though he does not aim to slant his work. He wants to show only exactly what the subject wishes to share. 

To engage further with Platon and his work, you can watch his episode (7) on the Netflix Abstract series as he delves deeper into the subjects and the experiences that they shared. It's inspiring to learn more about these incredible and fascinating people he shoots, but it's even more refreshing to remember that like us all, they are human. I'm grateful that Platon strives to humanize them more and share more insight into the life of others. 

All photos are done by Platon

SF Design Week Opening Night by Heather Dunmoyer

SF Design week. It’s a tumulus time where every walk of design life comes together to share, explore, and better understand, “what’s new?”

It transcends networking and really helps to inspire and perhaps re-light that design fire. There were so many fascinating and stimulating components to the event that it’s hard to choose the biggest take away. 

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The event was hosted at Pier 27 which is the ideal location to walk through and experience the fascinating interactive components of the opening night. 

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The event hosted a variety of components; product booths, art exhibitions, interactive components, and wonderfully creative displays. Focusing on the products, there were countless innovations, and ideas that could help shape and even change design moving forward. The booth that stood out to me most as a UX/UI designer was the Famous booth. 

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They did a wonderful job describing the Famous tool and how it elevated existing programs like Sketch and Invision so that you could animate your slides directly in the program. This allowed for a far more developed presentation for the client which as designers know, can really help speed up the process when the design is pushed to dev. The future or even present of UX/UI is a difficult one to determine given the thousands of tools cropping up. That being said, it was fascinating and inspiring to see the new Famous platform and I hope to see the final product available soon. 

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Everywhere you looked there was an exciting new idea or product. I was especially taken by the Refold products, something I had only heard about but was so excited to see. The idea is simple, cardboard. When you have a flexible workspace and want to utilize the full potential of an office, refold provides affordable and environmentally friendly standing desks made out of cardboard. It’s no joke, this cardboard is tough. I felt like it’d be nearly impossible to destroy unless it was intentional but it’s really no less strength than a regular desk. It’s wonderful how it folds up and easily transported around too. 

The most impactful installation was “Navigate Ambiguity.” The idea of the installation was to ask students what ambiguity meant to them and provide a personal metaphor. Some we’re heartfelt and introspective. Some related ambiguity to half-set jello. It was great to see the variety and also the importance of ambiguity, especially in design. It left me feeling empowered to take a thoughtful risk with a project, even if the outcome could provide an ambiguous result. Sometimes an open-ended design allows for the user to really project their own ideas on the product and it feels more personal and meaningful to them. 

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The event also had fun and delicious activities, like these phosphorescent backdrops, ideal for taking pictures at. Also delicious free beer provided by Fort Point Beer (perhaps the most beautiful beer can design) and lastly, plenty of food truck options. 

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Safe to say that I left SF Design Opening night feeling inspired and motivated. There was a lot to take in, and I only just covered some highlights. 

Feel free to check out more of what’s going on at SF Design Week as the party continues. 

As it stands: music by Heather Dunmoyer

"It's April." I say begrudgingly. Yes, it's not halfway through the year, but it might as well be. It's all spinning on so rapidly, and with that some of the greatest music has been produced so far. In the last month alone, countless of my favorite bands have released music and I can hardly keep up. Thank goodness my commute is long so I can cram all the listening in. So here's my top list so far, sure to change, and sure to stay the same come the end of 2018.

 

1. Porches - House

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Porches is so dreamy. All hands raised when I ask if you liked their debut, Pool. With Cosmos and this sweet, dream pop bedroom large comforter softness. It's just wonderful. It's not simple in the slightest way with beautiful vocals, carefully constructed beats, and a tinge of sadness. The House doesn't work quite as well as Pool but then again, that's asking for a lot. I love this album for the overall style that Porches provides, the lyrics, and calmness it instills. 

2. Hinds - I Don't Run

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Hinds! Hinds is the reason why I felt like I had to delve back into the music currency list because I just couldn’t wait to listen. I love their grit, whine, and guitar licks to keep you locked in. This album takes their last album Leave Me Alone and just breathes even more life into it. Their last was a wonderful piece, but I Don’t Run feels much more refined in production quality, lyrics, and instrumentals. Overall, it’s an amazing album that doesn’t encourage the “sad girl” genre, or take itself too seriously. It’s a sandy corona at the beach after a long day; relaxed but actually perfect. Give it a spin, and definitely check out: Linda, Soberland, and I Feel Cold But I Feel More. I really hope to see these babes live soon too. They’re on tour :) 

3. Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar

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Young Fathers is difficult to describe as one genre. It’s a mesh of rap, jazz, rock, experimental, and even with glints of soul. Collectively it’s beautiful and I’m punching myself for just now discovering them. I am hooked. Kayus Bankole’s voices marry so well with the experimental music progression and the sometimes darker lyrics. It’s awash in political ideas, romanticism, and realism. The specific song, Turn is the antithesis of Chance’s Blessings stating, “no such thing as blessings.” Though it sounds darker, it’s refreshingly real and not forcing you into a certain mentality. It leaves room for you to think and mull. I love lyrics that do that to you. Overall, the entire album is solid. Songs like Tremelo and Wire are at the top of the list. Listen to this when you’re trying to get inspired or get moving because it’ll motivate for sure. 

4. Soccer Mommy - Clean

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Soccer Mommy is sad. Maybe now I’m a little sad, but it’s that kind of depth in emotions that does a listener good. 
I think the reason why this album is so beautiful is the clarity of it. The lyrics are beautifully sung and performed without strings. There are no weird gimmicks or difficult lyrics. It flows into the places that you once udnerstood emotionally, or are understanding now.  Piercing vulnerability and this sense of realness make this album fit closely to anyone's heart. 

5. Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy

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Car Seat Headrest, Will Toledo, what wrong can this young and talented man do? Apparently none because Twin Fantasy was yet again another fantastic album. Teens of Denial was perhaps the best album of 2016 (and still growing on me now) but some of the tracks on Twin Fantasy, namely, Beach Life-in-death and Cute Thing blew me away. "Give me Frank Ocean's voice..." Is Will in love? Some of these "love" songs really hit me in the right place too and I love how his lyrics and instrumentals tell a story. His rasp and sound always presents itself as though Toledo is giving it his absolute all. I’m so glad he’s not holding back this round and only pushing himself and refining more. This album is an epic meditation and I'm so stoked that Toledo is unstoppable. 

Lady Bird by Heather Dunmoyer

Have you seen the movie Lady Bird yet? You've got to!

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Hometown. For everyone, they picture something different. I picture oak trees, spring mornings when the grass is explosively bright, long suburb streets, stretches of strip malls and of course, my home. It’s strange how “my hometown” Sacramento was suddenly put on the map after Lady Bird stole our hearts. It painfully reminded me of when I moved to Seattle and when people asked where I was from. I would (could) lump it into San Francisco. People were usually satisfied with that answer and I never convinced them otherwise. But no, I’m from the suburb streets of Sacramento born into a wonderful home that never threatened me like San Francisco might. 

As I consider all of this, I have some news. I’ve moved out of Sacramento. After graduating college in Seattle, where I really wanted to stay, I ended getting the one job I applied for in Sacramento at an agency called FUEL. It moved me back home, and for awhile felt surreal. I knew I didn’t want to stay in Sacramento forever but coming back to it was much better than I expected. I feel like both me and the city I knew grew up. I ended up finding an apartment in Curtis Park, a stone throw away from the infamous Gunthers. It was the first time I had my own bedroom in 4 years and It felt so strange and exciting to feel like I was doing it all on my own. Independent of everyone but still dependent on this city that I knew so well. 

 

After some time at FUEL, I moved into a new position as the in-house designer for Pho Hoa and Jazen Tea, the largest pho franchise in the world! I also acted as their social media coordinator so that meant I craved pho daily as I was constantly posting and looking for images. The role was good as it pushed me to work hard, efficiently, and smart as our resources were extremely limited. I love the people there too, some of the best and more hilarious co-workers you’ll ever meet which helped me to feel comfortable and open. 

Okay, but to the point. An important slice to this pie are the people in my life. One of the most important people lived in the Bay Area, and committing to a relationship where every weekend we were driving back and forth, trying to squeeze every moment out of the weekend worked…but it was tiring. It wasn’t flexible and perhaps, not sustainable. So I was secretly hoping, and longing to move. To move on and out of Sacramento as it almost felt like coming back to an old relationship that was good, but we just had to “figure things out.” It seemed like a fallback. As I stayed longer though, I realize that Sacramento is a place to be, and I miss it. 

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A few weeks ago I got offered a job at Gilmour Craves an amazing agency in San Francisco and I was, and still am so ecstatic. It meant change, it meant opportunity, and it meant being a part of this incredible community that I missed so much when I lived in Seattle. Along with this, my closest friend was willing to move with me and we found the perfect place in beautiful Oakland California, right by Lake Merritt. Pretty unreal how it all happened. 

So this is the update post, but also a reflection that hometown doesn’t have to be negative. I enjoyed Sacramento and will be back for the family, for the ice cream, and for the beauty. Overall, I’m just grateful for the places I’ve been and I’m looking forward to this new place I call home. 

So here’s to designing more, working harder, learning more, and mostly enjoying where I’m at. 

 

A matter of scale by Heather Dunmoyer

I finally dusted off my Nor Cal boots and found it in me to take them south. Los Angeles to me seems like a mythological place. It's a place of beauty and chaos, littered freeways and glamorous cocktail bars. It's where people go to "make it big" or people try to leave because it's just "too big." It seems conflicted and wonderful and it really was. 

To consider the stars, the history, the creativity; it’s very overwhelming. However one of the destinations at the very top of my list was to visit The Broad, (Pronounced bro-ed), is a very new addition to the Downtown LA arsenal as it was established at the end of 2015. It sits almost across the street from MOCA and directly next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, so there’s a lot to take in.  

The exterior is beautiful with a honeycomb look constructed at an asymmetrical angle so that it almost seems to be jutting straight into the earth. Like the contents, it looks very contemporary so it fulfills it’s purpose. 

 source:  Benny Chan

source: Benny Chan

As an art history major (nerd) I was looking forward to the expanse of the collection. With over 2,000 pieces I knew there were exciting historic works to be seen. Of course, Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit had just been closed and it was under construction for Jasper Johns, but exhibit or not, the collection was vast and impressive.

The challenge for me with a contemporary-exclusive museum is that it doesn’t always allow for a full-bodied experience, however The Broad did manage to feature some artists who are still “emerging” in the art world. 

Overall though it was awash with the biggest names; Haring, Koons, Basquiat, Warhol, Murakami etc. From an art history standpoint, it hits the mark, but from an outsider it can seem rather spectacle-based. A big part of art museums is adding meaning and purpose and The Broad’s purpose is simply contemporary art. 

That being said, I think it’s valuable for everyone to visit, and I would especially recommend the listening tour as it will explain the “why” behind Christopher Wool’s giant letters, and Rucha’s typography and alluring landscape scenes. Abandon the urge to consider “I could have done that.” Truth be told, much of this collection is work that no one has ever done or attempted. It has a deeper meaning and given the time to listen to the purpose, it’s quick to see how important these artists still are. 

One artist I was especially excited to see was John Baldessari. In school I focused my senior paper on “text in art” and the challenge of this very statement. When do painted letters go from providing a message to a work of art? With this thesis, contemporary art was arguably the fountainhead. Baldessari explored this conundrum in his pieces, “Tips For Artists Who Want To Sell” and “The Spectator is Compelled.” As I focused on these works in my research, it was wonderful to see them in-person. It made all the work seem that much more worthwhile. 

I really enjoyed the exhibit “African’t” by Kara Walker. Walker was a new artist for me, but I was captivated by her work. From a distance, it has a Disney-like Peter Pan silhouette charm, but with a closer look this quickly goes bad. It shows clearly the horrors of white slave owners in the antebellum South but in a more charismatic and shocking way. It’s powerful and creative as it showcases a dark and very real subject in a unique way. 

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I’m very grateful for The Broad and people like Eli and Edythe Broad who are making art more accessible and appreciated. The Broad is FREE to visit. Yes, some exhibitions do cost extra, but considering the collection, this is an incredible effort and opportunity to share and educate. If you’re every in the area or planning to be, make The Broad a stop and take in all that you can. 

 

 

2017 musical garbage shoot by Heather Dunmoyer

It's that time when I try to eek out the best that my ears have heard over the past year. I know I should hold out for a few more weeks, but for now, here's what's been spinning all 2017. 

1. GIRLPOOL — POWERPLANT

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I'm a big fan of Girlpool and their last, Before the World Was Big, had something going for me, but Powerplant really put everything together. The sound is more defined, the lyrics well-crafted, witty, and blue, and the vocals really came through. Cheerful sounds, and dreary lyrics, it's the ironic girl band style that I crave. Songs like Soup had such a good clap and build up, despite being just a two woman band. 123, and Powerplant are well crafted and addicting sounds with the glints of pop and awe covered in rock and apathy. It's such a solid album from cover to cover and will defintiely be a favorite for many years. 

2. (Sandy) Alex G — Rocket

I'm new to this whole (Sandy) Alex G gig, and after listening more I realize that Rocket is a relatively new direction from their previous work, but simultaneously, this album seems to take you in all different directions. If you HAD to put a pin in the genre, I guess you could claim folk, however with the auto-tuned  Sportstar, (that Porches covered ! ) and the grit and angst of Brick, and a heartfelt Alina, you can't really claim anything for this album. Songs like Bobby and Powerful Man take the twang of the banjo and harmonize beautifully while the lyrics take you into an interesting headspace. The more I listen to this record, the more I enjoy it. It's definitely complicated, but I can really appreciate the value in that. I'll keep listeing and enjoying. Thanks G! 

3. Slothrust — Show me how you want it to be

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Does this count? This is a cove album by one of my favorites, Slothrust. Sex and Candy, Hit me Baby One More Time, and a handful more of the classic love and drama songs that we hold onto dearly. It seems like treacherous waters to delve into such established sounds and works, but the 90's grit and sound by Leah Wellbaum works so well for each. I can appreciate their added guitar heavier sounds that round-out the pop and create an entirely new piece of work. Hoping for more! 

4. SZA — ctrl

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Oh SZA! Thank god for you. This album finally went platinum and I am just so stoked for her. I think for so many people this was the album that we needed to hear. It was as real as it can get, t but in a way that wasn't self-defeating or diminishing. SZA is just brushing off the dirt, but she's got so much more coming. Seeing her live was also an incredible experience as it's so clear her passion and talent for what she does. This ballad-like pop/R&B album was the honesty we needed this 2017, and I can't wait to hear more. Everything she touches is beautiful!

5. Big Thief — Capacity

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I know this was on my list earlier, but I just can't shake this album either. #1 of the year for me, Big Thief stole my ears. There's not a real way to describe this album except for, "beautiful." Lyrics that dig deep into stories and hit you in a way that's very personal, even if the characters are only known to Adrianne Lenker. The mellowed out acoustic guitar and haunting voice gets me every time. This album for some requires patience. It's slower and seems to be exhaling rather than inhaling as ideas and lyrics exhaust and try you. Don't let it discourage you as the more you excavate, the more powerful the album becomes. Overall, Capacity feels masterful in all regards; production, lyrics, and sound. It's stunning and I will continue to listen for as long as I'm allowed. 

Honorable Mentions:

6. Baba Zula — XX

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7. Ratboys — GN

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8. Brand New — Science Fiction 

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9. Alvvays — antisocialites

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10. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — Flying Microtonal Banana

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Also, I've got to hand it to Spotify, they sure know how to make a well-designed wrap up to the year: Check it out! 

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Marbled and True by Heather Dunmoyer

 Beautiful hand-dipped paper  from Thailand

Beautiful hand-dipped paper from Thailand

Paper marbling, a 2014 trend that took Pinterest by storm. Everywhere you looked was a DIY tutorial for how to make something look marbled, marble contact paper, marble laptop covers, marble jewelry. It was a full-fledged takeover. At the time I was working at Paper Source in Queen Anne, WA and as it goes, the notorious Queen Anne moms were all over this stuff. Soon we were hosting DIY marbled paper tutorials and trying to cover any scrap of paper in this strange, psychedelic pattern. 

As it turns out, this trend has since fizzled out and been replaced by perhaps more glitter, velvet, wood, unicorns, rose gold, or whatever else is #trending in the craft circles. Marbling though is not a new concept, in-fact the history is pretty fascinating. The origin story is uncertain, simply because it seems that it was discovered by both the Chinese and Japanese around the same time during the 12th century. Paper has existed for over 2,000 years, but the idea of dying and manipulating paper for decor was frivolous and unnecessary. Soon however, individuals saw the potential of this new discovery, and it became a valuable tool for art and literature as it could take ordinary paper and easily create a more unique design. 

The Japanese described their method of marbling as Suminagashi, or "ink floating." This translation refers to their method of creating the design. A shallow tray was filled with water and then the thin inks were carefully dropped on the surface. The inks would spread over the surface of the water and then manipulated with a brush. Eventually it progressed so that they would use bamboo to blow on the ink to create a "target" with the inks and the results would be beautiful and unique.

 An  example  of the blowing technique

An example of the blowing technique

Eventually these ideas moved west and soon Turkey, India, and Persia had their own version of paper marbling known as Ebru. This method involved using oil and water and more opaque inks to create more vivid results. The patterns and styles became more and more intricate as the craft progressed and the results are stunning. Eventually these patterns would become more recognized in those hard-cover books, usually leather-bound and gold embossed. Ebru became a status of wealth and status symbol as it adds so much texture and dimmension to flat paper.

Finally Paper Source met the demand of the marble trend and even went beyond this and started carrying a diy marbling kit. As an instructor, I jumped at the chance to teach a workshop. I soon too was hooked to this wonderful Suminagashi method of creating; It's simple, easy to execute, and I love the originality of each result. I took it upon myself to create various stationary sets with the kit and I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the results. 

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So go, grab a kit, some paper, and try it out. The best part is no matter how "artistic" you claim to be, anyone can be successful at this, artistically trained or not. So stay marbled, and stay true. 

Autumn Spins by Heather Dunmoyer

Like a careful spider, Autumn is plotting and spinning it's crimson and rust-hued web. More satisfying dried leaf crunches, a colder and more favored climate, and finally less sweats. It's nice here, and It's a time for creativity and a push for something new. 

Projects. Something I'm in the constant midst of. It's a revolving door of work, freelance, friend's wishes, and personal strides. So here I am, feeling inspired and wondering what I should aim for. A friend of mine, Angelina Sorokin who's a wonderful person and a fantastic artist released a poetry book a few months back which was beautiful and quirky. I read it all in one swoop and since then will pick it up and sift through carefully as I find more and more each time. Since then she's released yet another poetry book and this one is brimming with text. I can't wait to read it once it's arrived, but until then, I've been inspired. 

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Poetry is a method of expression that I love. It's a more complex way of expressing myself and it's very personal. I've always dabbled, but Angei has inspired my to write a poem a day for the month of November. I've already got a head start, but I know with busy weekends and other motives, I'll miss a day or two, and I'm okay with that. I'm not sure what the final product will be, and I'm not sure that I'll stop at a month. 

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
– William Butler Yeats

Whatever the outcome, I'm writing and every book needs it's vessel, so I'm looking forward to the design aspect once it's compiled. There might be illustrations included? Perhaps pressed flowers, or a pop-up, confetti. It's boundless and that's finally exciting and inspiring. So I'm thankful for creative friends who can kick me in the seat to get back on the personal project spin again. 

🔊 Also to kick-off the season, a nice and warm Autumn playlist for you: