Thursday, January 27, 2011

Singer/Songwriter Helen Austin "Sing until your head feels light"

She hasn't always been performing popular music. Singer/songwriter Helen Austin from Middlesex, United Kingdom,  started out playing the flute at the national level. Helen just released her new Album "Treehouse". Her self-produced music videos get over half a million viewers online, recently her song "Love is" aired on the CW's famous One Tree Hill. She has also written songs for fundraising occasions such as "Relay" written to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event. With tradeyourtalent she speaks about her second career and how she creates her best songs.

What inspires you to your songs?

All sorts of things. I used to just write about my own experiences but that had potential to get me in trouble. So I started writing about characters from books and movies. A lot of the time I just sit down and start writing and see what words come out of my mouth and take it from there.

Has it been difficult getting to where you are now? 

Yes and No. This is my 2nd career, my first was as a stand up comedian, so I knew what to expect in the amount of work and time it takes to get a career going. But there is a lot of hard work and a lot of it is tedious administrative stuff. I am surprised I have got as far as I have in the last 2 years but I work really hard at this because I really want it to work.

When do you know, you've just finished a great song? 

When it writes itself. The ones that take a long time to write don't flow like the ones that I write in 30mins. Obviously there is some lyric tweaking but my best songs have come to me very quickly. And then there are surprises when people like a song that you thought was just ok.

If you could give advice to young artists with just a couple of lyrics, what would you sing to them? 

oooh... hard one... here's what I can think of now...

Write what you know
You'll feel it when it's right
Work until your hands hurt
And sing until your head feels light

How's that?

For more on Helen

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Must have: The Best Part Blog by Jason Dean "Art is my zen"

Jason Dean:

It's like a big box full of artsy treasures: "The Best Part" is a daily commentary by artist, designer and blogger Jason Dean from Orlando, Florida.  With tradeyourtalent he speaks about looking at thousand of art images every day, taking chances and why he loves his job.

When did you start your design blog?

Technically I started it in 2008, but what I didn't realize at the time was that I've essentially been doing this my whole life. Even before the blog, I compulsively collected anything I found inspiring. I copied images from magazines and books, and downloaded imagery I came across from the web. Today the blog still follows this format, a collection of things I find inspiring.

Why "The Best Part"?"

The name basically refers to the idea that I'm collecting and publishing "The Best Parts" of what's out there on the internet. I look through thousands of images daily to find the things I find to be the most impressive. That's the concept anyway. The truth is that I hijacked the name from an album by one of my favorite hip-hop artists, New York's J-Live.

Do you have favorite designers?

Of course! I really admire people like James Victore and Stefan Sagmeister for having balls and taking chances. They could easily play it safe and make a living, but instead they consistently push the envelope. I'm also a huge fan of Josef Muller-Brockmann, his sense of composition and scale is just impeccable.

Where do you find "the best parts"?

Google Reader (and the RSS feed) is a godsend for me. Before that, I would individually visit between 50-100 blogs every day. At this point, I'm lucky enough to get quite a few amazing submissions. But I still spend an hour at the very least every single day going through my reader to find possible posts. It's my favorite part of what I do, simply looking at tons of work and finding inspiration. Looking at art is my zen, I guess.

What do you do besides blogging?

When I'm not working on the blog, I'm normally creating prints that I sell in my online shop (at That's about it. It's probably a good thing that I have no children and my wife travels a lot for work, because they would probably feel a bit neglected. When I'm focused on my work I can be difficult to be around. It's like nothing else exists in the world. But I guess that's why I love what I do, I wish everyone could have that feeling about their job. The world would be amazing!

Jason Dean:

Jason Dean:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Painter Geoffrey Krawczyk "Connection to the World"

It is something really rare, something that not all artists are able to do. Being able to create surprise and emotional upheaval in the person viewing the piece of art. The artwork of Geoffrey Krawczyk makes you think about the origins of violence and war, it deals with themes and emotions that are often off-limits in our society. This is probably why I was so affected by something in his work that wasn't actually such an obvious symbol of war: the endless night-sky with its countless amount of twinkling stars. How can something so beautiful be enveloping something so evil? 

Geoffrey Krawczyk, The Rivers of Sheol,

Geoffrey Krawczyk, The Birth of Tragedy,

The nature of sacrifice and violence have always influenced the artwork of  Geoffrey Krawczyk, painter and printmaker from Oklahoma. Geoffrey's work has been shown in numerous locations throughout the world, most recently he was included in Wet Paint 2010 at the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago. He just completed an installation that involved 93 paper models of drone aircraft for the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI. Geoffrey is  also teaching art at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

How is spirituality reflected in your work?

I think spirituality is merely a connection to something bigger than ourselves. Often, this connection is manifested through elaborate mythologies and narratives that don't have much to do with a tangible reality but rather give us a way to quantify our world and our place in it, good or bad. My work is an attempt to create mythologies from the world around us. I believe to think about death, war and violence is to contemplate our own mortality, which is also to contemplate something much bigger than ourselves. I want people to come away from my work not with any sort of solution or narrative in mind but simply with a foundation to consider their own spirituality, their own connection to the world.

Why is war such a big theme in your work? How do you deal with it in your work?

War is one of the constants of human civilization. Again, it is one of the features of our societies that causes us to contemplate mortality. I am interested in how conflict and the way we view and experience it shapes our view of ourselves. I try to present parallels between what is bad about war and what good can come from it. I suppose for myself, it is a sort of therapy. My father is a disabled veteran, so I guess I am drawn to the nature of sacrifice because of that. I feel very small when I consider the enormity of the problems facing the world, including war and violence. Creating is my way of coping. Perhaps, as an artist, I also feel this is my contribution to a better world.

Do you think it is hard to be an artist today?

Yes and no. I think with the amazing technology that exists it is possible to really promote yourself globally in a way that was not possible just a few years ago. However, because of that ease, there are many more people jumping into the fray. But I think it is possible to carve out a niche for yourself, even in the midst of thousands of other talented people. In the end, it will always be the ones who work the hardest that succeed.

What was your most difficult project?

This last installation that I mentioned was pretty taxing. It involves 93 paper models of drone aircraft. I only had a few weeks to make them and they were all done by hand. The final result was great but it was a relief to see it completed.

 If your worked together with young artists, what advice would you give them for their future career?

What I tell my students is to never stop working hard and making work. Talent alone will not succeed. If someone notices that you are talented, and gives you an opportunity, you have to follow up that interest with discipline. If they see that you are working very hard, that makes a much bigger impression. Everyone has talent; not very many are willing to cultivate discipline. And, truthfully, working constantly will only improve your work.

Geoffrey Krawczyk, Installation: Sell/ Cell,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Talent Sneak Peak: Transylvanian abstract artwork: Alexandru Jakabhazi "

Alexandru Jakabhazi, Blue Contradiction,

Alexandru Jakabhazi is an abstract artist from Timisoara, Romania, which lies on the border to Hungary and Serbia. He is a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Design in Timisoara, West University. Jakhabazi is usually inspired by dialogue, movement or daily surprise. He works without sketches, using impressions of the moment, unconventional materials and digital interventions. Jakabhazi admires Hans Hartung, Jackson Pollock, generally abstract expressionism and gestural art. Sincerity and passion is what makes great art to him.

Alexandru Jakabhazi: Misterious,


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