Friday, May 29, 2009

Architecture Translated into Photography

I have always been fascinated when people cross into different fields and carry their background and their perspective with them to create something completely refreshing. These photos from NYC architecture firm dbox has influenced me for the past few years and continue to.

They play with space and time, but the series also remind me of the architectural influence of elevation and plan view of buildings translated here into portrait photography.

Photos from dbox.


Inspired Below is a "plan view" of Atticus as part of a series of photos in a birth announcement to introduce him to the world. Wish I could show more but I can't find those files.

Fave Find: Kids Graphic Tees

Atticus has been receiving the greatest gifts from my cousin Somaly from Threadless Kids, an online store with very cute and humorous graphic tees for both adults and kids. One of Atticus' favorites, pictured above, is called Yeti hated his size 5 feet. Favorite picks that will make great gifts for future occassions follow.


217 Finicky Fish

Complimentary Colors

Photo Finish

Prices range from $9 to $18. Any one can submit their own t-shirt graphic designs and make money. Check them out at

Helvetica The Movie

My husband thinks I'm such a geek for actually watching a movie about a font but the documentary about the modern font Helvetica presented the overall topic of typography and design quite well. Below is the theme I took from the movie.

"Typography is really white, it’s not even black. It’s the space between the blacks that really makes it. It’s just like music. It’s the space between the notes that make the music.”
~Massimo Vignelli

There was criticism of Helvetica as a boring and corporate typeface that even gave negative connotations because of the government's use of it but current designers The Experimental Jetset echoes Massimo's statement in saying it's not so much the font but the way in which you space the fonts and use it to construct an overall design.

Not unlike graphic design, architecture is also about the negative space, the spaces in between. Also, great architecture has come out of the use of new and innovative materials but it's the architecture that uses the simplest building block in a fresh modern way that is most innovative and impressive. Architects like Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de Leon of Office DA uses brick, a building block used for centuries, in the most experimental ways. That's innovation.

Tongxian Gate House by Office DA

Tongxian Art Center {model} by Office DA

Helvetica is out on dvd and is available on i-tunes and for instant play on Netflix.

The Man Behind Coconut Records

Coconut Records is the solo project of well-known indie actor Jason Schwartzman. You may have seen him in several Wes Anderson films such as Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited. I fell in love with the band before making this delightful discovery. Unlike most actors that think they can start a band, Jason was in the band Phantom Planet before beginning his acting career. His brother is also in a band called Rooney.

The Summer ~ the song for today is from his second album Davy. Click image to order.
Summer Day ~ the bonus song is from the first album Nighttiming. It was featured on the Dentyne "make face time" commercial. Kirsten Dunst is singing background vocals.
West Coast ~ a previous song of the day. Great, great song.

Photos from Young Baby Records and Last.FM

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memphis Tonight: Levitt Shell Free Summer Concert Series Kicks Off

Levitt Shell Free Summer Concert Series
Jack Clement Memphis native and "The most famous musician you, perhaps, have never heard of."
Thursday, May 28, 2009 ~ 7pm
Overton Park near the Brooks Museum
Click on photo above to visit the Levitt Shell website for more details.

Bring a picnic and a blanket to enjoy a free show under the stars. Kids enjoy running around on the grass and dancing next to the stage. Saturdays at 5pm there is a special show and activity especially for the kids .

Photos from Levitt Shell.

Must-Have Music

ZEE AVI's debut album released a few days ago with a lot of buzz. My latest issue of Elle raved about her voice but not until she showed up on my most reliable music source KCRW did I really take notice. Watch or listen to her live performance and interview on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic here. She will also be performing at the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN on June 13.

The song for today Bitter Heart is from her debut album.
Click here to order. Click here to visit her official website.

A bonus song for today is Petra Haden's acapella cover of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. I found this through music curator Chris Douridas who has a great show on KCRW. On his latest show, he described that the new Fox show Glee covers the song with some similarity to Petra Haden's version recorded 2 years ago but found out she was not involved with the show's version.
In a related music topic, KCRW has also introduced the music world to an acapella group called Sonos that cover great indie songs such as Radiohead's Everything in its Right Place and Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek. Watch or listen to their live performance and interview with Chris Douridas here. Worth checking out.
Click here to listen to the latest show from Chris Douridas. His music selections cover all genres. The only connection is that it's worth listening to, which is also the rule I apply to my ear treasures playlist. Chris is also a music consultant to movies and i-tunes and has even taken the time to recommend some great music for a couple of fashion shows I helped coordinate. Chris, if you ever retire, I'll gladly take your job.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cafe Eclectic

We’ve eaten at Café Eclectic many times for lunch and dinner but this past Sunday got a chance to try their brunch menu. They had plenty of special dishes such as The French Omelet with fresh spinach, white cheddar, and crème fraiche, but we ventured down the path of just plain comforting. The waffle which Atticus devoured is described on the menu as “The traditional waffle, why change what works?”

Comfort is what they aim for, from the cozy couch seating and live music to the extensive menu including coffees, pastries and breads made from fresh ingredients. Situated on the corner of a midtown residential neighborhood, Café Eclectic has achieved owner Cathy Boulden’s vision of giving the community a second home to socialize and enjoy just a simple cup of coffee.

We are so thankful that they just recently opened for Sunday brunch. A laidback Sunday morning was the best time to enjoy the atmosphere of live music provided by talented guitarists Chip Henderson and John Bass, music professors at nearby University of Memphis and Rhodes College respectively. They plan to play every Sunday at the café. Definitely check them out next week.

What they offer
Classic Soda Fountain
Homemade doughnuts and desserts
Fresh bread
Coffees and Teas
Soups / Sandwiches / Salads
You can read more about the café and see their menu at

What we recommend {so far}
The Hamburger ~ Locally raised Black Angus Beef and non-traditional bun makes it the best around.
The Brie and Fresh Pear Sandwich ~ The honey coating on the toasted bread adds the little extra wow.
The BLT&A ~ The classic BLT with the A for Avocado and Awesome.
And of course, The Traditional Waffle

Café Eclectic
603 N. McLean Boulevard
Memphis, TN 38107
Tel +1.901.725.1718

Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. / Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All photos by Sophorn McRae

Cafe Eclectic on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fave Find: Whimsical Tableware

Bailey Doesn't Bark is not your ordinary porcelain designer. Re Jin's designs seem to come from a graphic design background but in fact she has a fashion design background. I posted my favorites from her collection:

The Ant Series Prices range from $11 to $43.

The Roach Series Prices range from $31 to $47.

Fave Find: Gift for a Photographer

Polaroid Mirror by Colin O'Dowd ~ $23 ~ Click here to order online.

This will make the perfect gift for my photographer friends. So simple yet fascinating.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

O-Wow! #1

Welcome to the first posting in a series I'm labeling O-Wow! which features anything that amazes me and is worth shouting about. Today's example may prove that even the simplest of things can be amazing if executed correctly.

The Stamen Chandeliers by Daisuke Hiraiwa.

The flexible disc was created by a relatively simple process of gluing the heads of several hundred toothpicks together.

Shown on display at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City this past week. Click here to read more.

Graphic label design by Sophorn. Photos from Inhabitat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idea Notebook: Furniture

Pleat Coffee Table
Graphically and fashion inspired furniture from my favorite new furniture site Here are ones churning new ideas in my brain and definitely part of my idea notebook.

Hive Coffee Table

Nebula Console Table

Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Architecture Spotlight: A First

Congratulations to the first LEED certified project completed in Shelby County, Tennessee. In fact, it didn't just get the minimum certified rating as intended but achieved a LEED Silver rating this week, one rating higher than the minimum.

Independent Bank Germantown
Corner of Poplar Avenue and Germantown Road
Germantown, Tennessee { just outside of Memphis }
Completed 2008

Project Team
Looney Ricks Kiss {Architects}, OGCB {Mechanical}, ETI {Civil}, DePouw Engineering {Electrical}, Grinder Taber Grinder {Contractors}
Upcoming Presentation discussing I-bank Germantown's Path to LEED Certification ~ Part of the AIA LEEDSeries Lunch and Learn
{one (1) AIA / Sustainable Design Learning Unit approved}

Thursday, May 21 ~ 11:30 am
The University Club of Memphis ~ 1346 Central Avenue
$20 AIA members / $25 non-members (includes lunch)

Jason Weeks, Project Manager, Looney Ricks Kiss {LRK}
Tony Pellicciotti, Studio Director, LRK
Brett Grinder, Grinder Taber Grinder
Jim Prillaman, OGCB

Required Registration or 525-3818 by Tuesday, May 19 ~ 12 noon
This was also the first LEED project for LRK, and as one of the project team designers, I had a chance to understand the LEED process first hand. Check back next week for a detailed posting on this project.
Photo courtesy of Looney Ricks Kiss

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Memphis Art Spotlight {S.Julian}

Memphis photographer S. Julian is one of the best local talents I've discovered, but unfortunately, only a small percentage of Memphians will care to uncover an unknown artist. If you join me on this journey inside his creative mind, I assure you that you'll find incredibly fresh imagery created through his love for storytelling, culture, and philosophy.

I wanted to post our email conversation as unedited as possible to keep the intimate and raw vibe. Below he shares his thoughts on photography derived from our initial conversation on the challenge that photographers face of the unwelcoming Memphis perspective of photography in the art world or in their world.

Photography as the Medium for Creative Expression
I didn't really get into photography b/c I knew that was what I wanted to do; I basically took a career test and it all lead towards the creative. I've always enjoyed drawing and sketching but I didn't know I wanted to do photography right off. Actually, I didn't even buy a camera until I was 18 and out of high school. Initially, I wanted to be a philosophy major and that was pretty much what I declared once I got there. I had so many questions about truth, life, what does it mean to win, lose, why do we need God, etc.

With that said, I have always loved imagery. I, like many people, collect magazines. I've always been intrigued by fashion and culture magazines in particular. One day I kind of said to myself, "I could do that." [I also figured I could decorate my own living space inexpensively with my own stuff]. I loved the idea of a pictorial and also the fact that fashion didn't necessarily make sense. So, shortly afterwards photography became my medium.
A week long trip to England also solidified my goals as a photographer. The still frame truly captivates me. I suppose the precursor to that is cinema and my love of movies. Particularly, Alfred Hitchcock and old Twilight Zone episodes. Their use of camera angles, lighting, production values and wardrobe was always an amazement to me even if I didn't know what I was looking at the time. I see my life in scenes, stills and themes. I feel very strongly one day I will direct a short movie and do very well. Photography is my main medium. I actually love painting and would love to do it more, but I don't have any room for it. I've already got a storage unit full of photography materials. I'm running out of room!

Approaching Portraits
Well, I wouldn't really call myself a portraitist at all. I ultimately like to think conceptually with time, place and location. I do whatever works to get what I need. I don't really have a specific approach per se. Sometimes, I give scripts to the models, sometimes I talk them through and sometimes I ask questions to elicit a specific response in20body language. And once they are fairly comfortable, I embellish off whatever they're already doing. I'm still trying to learn how to really shoot

Photo background: “Candy Killed Her” Revisited {Third Set Left Photo}
The chocolate death was an idea I had about a year ago called "Candy Killed Her." I had set up a lot of drug overdose productions and used pixy sticks, M&M's, milkshakes and lots of other candy. Subsequently, all my computer gear was stolen and I had to start over with many things. This was a recent reshoot. I don't think many people will admit this out loud, but violence/death is intriguing and interesting. Most everyone loves a good action movie, especially, when it's glamorized [Watch Pulp Fiction or Casino]. I don't want to get too much into it, but chocolate is the most basic of sweets and has somewhat of a sexual nature to it. People can become obsessed by candy and for this man it might have taken his life...or, is he dead? I like to play onto the psychology of things like that. My images are about choosing your own adventure.
Memphis as Backdrop
I consciously choose certain places in Memphis that have a recognizable appeal or make Memphis look a bit different or "big city." I like to shoot on location primarily and give authenticity to /for the viewer to make them say ''hey, he really went there."

Photo Background: “Hail to the King” {Top/First Photo}
The idea that turned me on to the Elvis photo was, here is this man who was a walking phallic symbol and even 20+ years later and people still worship him. I actually call that image "Hail to the King." Elvis is still a phenomenon and cultural icon to this day and looked at as a very strong sex symbol just as James Dean or any other relevant rock star today. I also think the image is quite funny.
Changing the Memphis Perspective
I'm sure the readers are gonna hate me for saying this, but Memphis isn't looked at as a cool city. It's just the truth. With all the history of music, movies being filmed and art that's in Memphis; Nashville gets all of Tennessee’s glory. Also, Memphis is not only Beale Street. Much the problem is the mentality of a lot of Memphians. But, while I'm here I want people to see my perspective on how I look at landmarks and places I think are interesting.

I really believe we need a new way to look at the city. My Elvis photo is another way to look at a landmark. I don't know about you, but I'm sick of the same post-card pictures of the Pyramid and the Mississippi Bridge. Anybody could shoot that stuff - literally. I feel like I have a fresh perspective and more importantly a progressive and contemporary one. So, I will continue to shoot the landmarks my way.

Well, I don't think it's as easy as Memphis is not as receptive to photography as art, I think it's the kind of photography/art that people are willing to buy. When people will buy Thomas Kinkade and not spend the same amount on something original that really says something. We spoke about this briefly; people are always worried about art matching their furniture. And at the root of that is - "will my friends like it?" I know it sounds childish, but Memphis [in general] is a very cliquish city and it outstretches regionally, so it’s hard to get things done. Which also creeps into people not working together, crime goes up, murders, etc...but, back to the point, we have to raise the bar and let go of many things. I feel like I have many contemporary and progressive ideas with my photography and also the success of art in general and to add to that, I don't believe in finding a solution to this, but being a solution.

"If I had my way?"
A great deal of the photography here is very typical blues, southern folklore imagery - and I wouldn't do away with it, but lets just be honest, you can get that stuff anywhere. So, I would limit the amount of that kind of work coming in and being displayed. In a way, you've got to be bias and also make sure the work coming in is on the level technically and aesthetically. Or, at least a fresh perspective to an old idea. I think a lot of people are just getting by. We also have to educate clientele when they talk to us to open their minds and expand their mental palette. It's just like many of our radio stations that play the same 15 songs all day. If that’s all you hear, that's what people will think is good. As far as I know there's not an association for Memphis photographers or for that matter big photo exhibits that pass through the city on a semi to regular basis.

Also, for some reason the public thinks photography is easy, and there are lots of fundamentals that are getting pushed under the rug. Almost as if - you've got a camera, got Photoshop? Ok, you're good to go! Sad but true.

I would also force galleries to have at least 2 to 3 photography shows a year and educate people that the best art is not an abstract painting that can virtually match anything in your house. With that said, there actually are some galleries downtown that have photography in them - but they are hardly ever open, while complaining that business is no good. Although, Sue Layman Designs [where I've sold much of my work] has always been open to photography and anything different. I've had a few shows there and Sue truly keeps an open mind to photography and anything well executed in art."

The Memphis Flyer always showcases 25 recognizable Memphian's every year and they typically seem to be restaurant owners, news people, but never many artists or photographers for that matter.

But honestly, I still have great hope for my art being accepted and represented in a major way in Memphis. Things are slowly but surely changing in this city with firms like ModoHome
, influx of people to the city, and even many of our restaurants and bars have a new and different feeling to them. It's getting better.


One of those few Memphians uncovering the homegrown talent is Justin Timberlake who with Jessica Biel purchased an editorial series of six photographs of his on their visit to Memphis last fall at Sue Layman Designs {photo above from that series "Kate and Gloria"}. You can become a supporter of local photography as well by purchasing one of his pieces or commissioning him for your next project: integrate custom work in your home or art collection, document live music performances, shoot band covers, or any promotional material. You can help change the Memphis perspective to value real talent.

S. Julian

Web Portfolio

“I love being a ‘gun for hire’ - as Helmut Newton would say.” ~ S. Julian
Related Link
Sue Layman Designs
125 G.E. Patterson #103
South Main Arts District, Memphis
All photos courtesy and property of S. Julian. Thanks S!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Design Preview

I have been testing out some stationery designs that focus more on envelope design as the first impression to the actual contents. Texture is added to the printed word "love" with continuous stitching from the sewing machine. The phrase would be read as "love to: {recipient and address on label}"

The length of one side is stitched and tied to the recipient's address label. After handwriting on label, it would be taped over to secure to the envelope. The recipient would open the envelope by pulling up the label and pulling out the stitching from the envelope. The perforation allows for a relatively clean tear.
My friend Sheetal is working on her own stationery ideas, and we'll possibly start an etsy shop together. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Memphis Tonight: Architecture and Youth Art Competition

Architecture and Youth Art Competition
show opening + award reception

Tonight ~ Tuesday, May 12
5:30 - 7:00 pm ~ awards ceremony 6:15 pm
Howard Hall 2282 Madison Avenue
Show runs through May 29, 2009

For a 5th year, AIA Memphis and Memphis Heritage showcase architecture inspired artwork from 4th - 12th graders around the city. Come to the youth friendly show opening and see what buildings inspired this years show!

For more information contact AIA Memphis at 901.525.3818 /

Must-Have: Music

Dark was The Night Compilation Album
Benefits the Red Hot Organization to raise funds
and awareness of HIV/AIDS
Produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National {in photo above}

The 31 track double cd is full of great indie artists. Favorites include song of the day {Cello Song by the Books and Jose Gonzalez}, So Far Around the Bend by the National, You are the Blood by Sufjan Stevens, and Big Red Machine by Justin Vernon and Aaron Dressner.

To order, click on above image. To visit the official website and see the complete tracklist, click here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On the Board

Anytime Dress for Success needs graphic help, I'm there to help. Unfortunately sometimes they need it the next day. Above are two options for the Professional Women's Group ad for the June issue of Skirt! Magazine. Only had four hours to work on each option. They decided to go with the one on the right which emphasizes the theme "Women about Change."

The Professional Women's Group {PWG} is a program for the clients of Dress for Success Memphis to help further their skills for the workplace. To learn about the PWG and the upcoming luncheon,
click here.
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