Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Pins and Needles

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2008 at 5:51 am

Pin Cushion.jpg

Pins and needles require no sitter

We choose the seat because we want them to prick us

Nothing needs to pin us or needle us

If we allow what we do, instead, to free us

Build a Blue Bike

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow on January 9, 2008 at 11:58 am

As a kick off to 2008, and in honor of my book being published this year, I am offering a couple of excerpts from Build a Blue Bike for you to read. I have also posted these on the sidebar if you wish to let others know they are available.


An Artistic 180° Creates Economic Value

The Art of Refrigerator Art

We are Vane Clothing

In Interesting Articles on January 8, 2008 at 7:42 am

Check out this interesting article that ran in Debonair Magazine about these young artistic entrepreneurs that teamed up together to form Vane Clothing. If you would like to know more about Vane click here.

On a balmy spring night in New York, three young dark-skinned men make their way up a cramped downtown apartment with two giant boxes in tow. Sweating from the humidity, the three reach their destination and hurriedly tear open the boxes, knowing that an arduous night of work lay in front of them. All three men are from different backgrounds—Indian, Pakistani and Chinese—but they quickly begin working together, cutting tags, steaming shirts, refolding and packaging the merchandise.

Far from another sweatshop, this was the humble beginning of Vane Lifestyle, a new Manhattan-based streetwear label. Founders Ravi Thanawala, Atif Ateeq and Eric Poon teamed up during their senior year of undergraduate study at New York University, sharing a vision to create something independent and unique that would also reflect the diversity of their backgrounds. “Eric and I had that itch to do something positive for ourselves, for our friends, and for our community,” Ateeq says.

The company’s namesake, a play on the definition of “vain,” reflects the apathetic image of the youth generation. Poon and Ateeq says they conjured the idea to replicate the “growing cultural, political and artistic chaos,” that they saw was a direct result of globalization and the Internet. The trio takes a swing at the corporate culture that they believe is cannibalizing the youthful energy and talents of many of their peers. “I think there are a lot of young people who have incredible talent, but they’re just so afraid of making a mistake that they end up making a bigger one,” Poon says. “They end up working twelve hour days, sitting in a cubicle and a monkey suit praying for the weekend.”

Over the course of two years, Ateeq, a photographer and photo editor by trade, and Poon, a graphic designer and writer with marketing experience at Triple 5 Soul, began to flesh out their idea, sketching a name and a crude logo.

Eventually, the two developed a manifesto, the current pair of logos and a myriad of designs inspired by cultural and street imagery, with a healthy dose of irony behind all their artwork.

Although the creative element was in place, the two still lacked the business logic necessary to run a company. The pair teamed up with Thanawala, whose finance and fashion background at Gucci and Balenciaga was a perfect fit for the more creative Ateeq and Poon. Former classmates Anna Frenkel and Meg Minuskin also joined the duo to lead the team’s marketing and promotion efforts. “We came together like Voltron,” Poon says. “When we combined our talents and networks, things just started jumping off.”

Once the five began working together, Vane became more than just ideas and designs, and Vane Lifestyle was born. “It’s been the meticulous process of coming up with an idea, and then designing, sourcing, and promoting it that sets us apart from a lot of other start up brands,” Thanawala says. “We quickly realized that we couldn’t gloss over the smallest details. We took all the necessary steps to be legit—like getting trademarks and getting incorporated so that we could have wholesale accounts—so that we could be serious with Vane, and I think a lot of people respect that.”

The response to Vane from their friends and peers was overwhelmingly positive, and even respected industry veterans like Gregg Wolf began to take notice of the eye-catching Vane prints that had begun to permeate Lower Manhattan. Sensing that there was both substance and longevity behind the Vane movement, the team was able to launch Vane into a legitimate business. “People were quick to realize that Vane was not just another ‘college garage band’ endeavor,” Frenkel says.

Why Wait?

In The Idea on January 7, 2008 at 2:47 am

This weekend I had the privilege of participating in a “ Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever” retreat with Tama Kieves in Santa Fe New Mexico. I have blogged about Tama before, but if you are new to ETA then you may not know about her fabulous book This Time I Dance. (If you want to be inspired to reach for your dreams in life, read her book.)

I went to this retreat not only for the benefits of being a participant, but also to see Tama at work and to see who attends her workshops. I found myself amongst writers, painters, a talk show host, hypnotist, life coach and a number of inspired-life seekers.

Some of the inspired-life seekers were miserable in their jobs and some felt adrift in their ho-hum lives, but all were seeking refuge inside the safety of their desires to produce a life they love. Everyone who attended this retreat was at least 40 and I would guess the average to be 50ish.

What struck me the most about this weekend was not Tama’s great coaching or inspiration, but instead how easy it is to put your desires on hold and to watch your life march on without you fully in it. It really does not matter your age or your accomplishments, as these retreat attendees demonstrated. At any age and with any level of accomplishment you can fear change, distrust your inner voice, squash your desires and slowly let you soul die.

What it takes to live an inspired-life is changing your internal voice and listening to that which nourishes, protects, and applauds your efforts, with every step, as you risk becoming who you really are. Waiting for more money, your kids to leave the nest, the perfect dream or your confidence to appear with age is simply not going to happen. So why wait? Risk with your heart. Take a step.

I watched a few women make this vow. I hope for them they do what comes next –act on their intention- because if they do, I know the net they need to protect their dream will appear. Even if it comes in a new shape they did not foresee, or changes direction, it is only through action that your path to your inspired-life can begin.

CAF Artist Competition in Chicago

In Current Events on January 5, 2008 at 6:42 am

The Union League Civic and Arts Foundation in Chicago have added some wonderful new competitions to their well known classical music competition for 2008. Now if you are a classical instrumentalists or singer, compose jazz music, creatively write, improvise jazz or are a visual artist– then this competition is for you.

Applicants must live or study in the Chicago metropolitan area. All of these competitions have a high school, college and young adult division.

As a two time winner in the classical performance division, as well as having been a judge of this competition in recent years, I can attest to this foundation not only being well run, but to the award money being a meaningful sum to help you on your artistic and/or entreprenurial journey.

Classical instrumentalist/vocal first place prizes range from $3000 to $15000
Jazz composition from $600 to $1200
Creative writing from $1000 to $3500
Jazz improvisation from $1000 to $4500
Visual arts from $3000 to $5000

All applications are available to download at All applications must be postmarked by June 2, 2008.

Zero to One Million

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow on January 4, 2008 at 5:25 am


Author Ryan Allis wrote this book when he was 18 years old. Now at 22 he has two different technology companies with annual revenue of over 6 million. Check out this clip about Ryan and his success.

Guessing at the Numbers

In Accounting, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on January 3, 2008 at 9:46 am

About twenty-two years ago, just before I started my first business from my college dorm room, my very first step was to prepare three years of financial projections. My father had pounded it into my head that if you want to be an entrepreneur you better learn to run your business by the numbers. While I had no idea exactly what that meant back then, I was determined I needed to do it.

My father had tried to get me to memorize the difference between a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet back when I was in high school. I remember him quizzing me on the definitions of cost of goods sold, gross profit, the difference between general and administrative expenses versus sales expenses, assets versus liabilities and net worth. I memorized it all like a champ, though it did not mean much of anything to me at the time– other than it made my father smile.

While attending Northwestern, as a music major, I also had taken Accounting 101. I already knew what all the words meant on the profit and loss statement and balance sheet, and, I had received an A in the class. In my mind, what more could I possible need to be prepared to undertake building a three year projection as a young entrepreneur?

But it was only when I began to create, and regularly massage, both of these essential financial reporting tools that I really learned how they make a business work.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, how incredibly painful it was to do my first three-year projection. What would next year’s sales be? I had no idea. I was having trouble with next week. And how much would the telephone and delivery services cost? What about marketing expenses- how much and what kind would I spend money on? Oh, and how much profit would I make?

I cannot begin to tell you how very hard it was for me the first time to write down on paper my guesses and use them as predictors of the future for my new start-up. I felt both ashamed at not knowing better what the answers should be, frightened that I would be completely wrong and miserably fail, and at the same time, when I completed my projections, assured that on what felt like a hard final exam I would be handed a really good grade.

But what I quickly found out was that even though these projections would never earn me the A’s that so assured me in school, this seemingly lifeless document was far more than a final exam and totally possible of evolution and change before my very eyes. ( No letter grade for a class in school could ever do that!)

As soon as a few months of transactions and expenses had gone by, my lifeless final exam projections became a working real living entity. All of a sudden my guesses were being measured against reality. As each day, month and quarter passed I found a new way to measure, which allowed me to get more comfortable and risk making some new guesses against items on the profit and loss statement and balance sheet that were beginning to show signs of being far more concrete.

While there certainly were many times over the course of the first year’s projections I was shocked at how “off” my guesses were, what I learned by risking and guessing soon became a far better understanding of how my business worked. In time, I became a far better guesser, learned where to focus my energy to improve my business, and learned to trust my projected numbers as leading indicators, eventually, of what I might expect to have happen.

You need to start with projections- so start by guessing. It works!

God Bless Brad Pitt

In Emotional Intelligence, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS on January 2, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I can’t say I ever thought I would say this but God Bless Brad Pitt.

God knows Brad might be easy on the eyes, but who ever thought he was more than a pretty face? Certainly, up until now, not I.

I admit to being enamored with Hollywood figures, not for their physical beauty or often incredible stupidity-that only too much money can bring- but instead, because I wonder just exactly how did they get there? Call me odd, but I find myself the most curious about why people wind up in the places in life they do- famous or not.

Well, at least for me, if not the rest of the world, I now know why Brad Pitt is where he is. It is not to be a famous actor or to have been involved romantically with two very pretty women. Nor is it to raise his newly adopted children, as generous as that may seem.

I think Brad Pitt is beginning to find his true calling- finally- and New Orleans is going to benefit from the wealth and fame that his art form, acting, has brought to help him accomplish it. I would buy a ticket to the next film Brad Pitt makes for this reason alone.

Pitt’s passion is easy to spot with his Make it Right project for New Orleans. Pitt intends to build 150 affordable eco-friendly homes during the next two years in the still devastated Lower Ninth Ward. Pitt and film producer Steve Bing have each promised to match five million in contributions to the project.

While Pitt could fund this project entirely on his own, to me, makes little difference. What I see is a man beginning to risk and act with his heart, letting everyone see a part of who he really is. He is using his art form as a tool to change what he can about the world even if not a single one of his movies, that made him rich and famous in the first place, has.

I hope every artist can find his or her own way to be so lucky.