My Thoughts On: The Bay (Part I)

Yesterday we went out gambling at Graton, I won around $145 but lost it all later. My father spent $400 on the machines there, and he basically laughed it all off while the rest of us were completely stunned by it. So that was like are so-called “fun” day basically, by spending money and starring at a screen (oh wait, we have the internet for that… but that will be gone soon in a matter of weeks). I suggested at one point taking trips to visit a barn or a hike in the woods, but they kept ignoring me by talking over me.

It’s been really difficult these few last months, and I know I’m not the only one fretting about finals and holding down a job. I’ve been studying at AAU for nearly ten years and had been living in California around the same time. When I came to the SF Bay Area for the first time I wasn’t even aware of how much history there truly was (Alcatraz, Harvey Milk, etc.), or that there was even a very thriving and prominent art scene (that’s being overtaken right now by the tech industry). I only knew about the Golden Gate Bridge and Full House.

It’s an insanely beautiful place too, you have a mediterranean climate like in Israel where you have warm-hot summers and rainy wet winters. There are many mountains and forests, even in and around the more metropolitan areas, with lots of trees and foliage (if your lucky you might come across some deers near your driveway or a a heard of buffalos). We also looked at each other in the eyes and had normal conversations with each other, sadly I’ve seen less and less of that happening…

The very things that are changing the overall landscape of the region; are high rents, where people who are low and middle class who have been living and working there for decades who can no longer afford playing rent so they move elsewhere or wind up homeless. And gentrification, when people who are usually white and affluent move into areas that were once poorer areas of color, as a result of rent being insanely expensive.

Oddly enough that never affected me on a personal level. I was only eight years old when the dot-com boom first happened, we were one of the very few families in the 90s to own a computer with internet access and the only thing I ever wanted to do after I got home from school then was to be at home browsing the web. There were times I played outside, but my best friends were my computer and my collection of CD-ROMs. I was a hard-core computer nerd… which fortunately got me into web design a decade later.

Little did I know as a child that people then were slowly being priced out of their homes in the Bay and elsewhere to make way for the workers in the tech industry. The very thing that made all of that technology possible for us, was having real consequences for a lot of other people. I could get around any place I want to with ease through an app on my iPhone, but I know that the neighborhood I’m in isn’t the same as it was ten and twenty years ago. The more convenient our lives are getting to be, the more gentrified our neighborhoods keep getting to be. It’s crazy but in some odd way it’s just a part of it.

But in-spite of it all, there is still a lot of beauty and love to this place and that part of it never changes… like what I’ll be writing about next. Stay tuned…

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Learning And Living

Okay, so I’m still internally fighting the power BUT also working and staying more sane at the same time. I realize now that I don’t have as much energy as I did early on today as I was studying but I felt that it was necessary, to go back and fix what I’ve changed over the last several years of being a student at the Academy of Art. I felt like I grew up a lot and that I’m taking more time becoming a serious artist and designer in my final years here, rather than just being an “art student” who is only there for the the college and youth lifestyle (as much as I enjoy witnessing it that’s not really something to aspire to as my future prospect when I’m older).

The web/design industry is super cutthroat compared to other creative industries and they expect you to do your best always, all the time. As an 18 – early 20 something year old that really placed a lot of pressure on me, it wasn’t just walking around San Francisco’s Financial District and eating Chipotle burritos but it was actually doing work. I had already adjusted to life in the United States after living in Israel for seven years and did little to no homework throughout middle and high school. I realized then and there that I had to take my work more seriously, even if one instructor says it was the best they’ve ever seen, then I revise the shit out of it.

On the left is a poster that I first designed for the book Hindsights seven years ago, not really made with much thought, with a font that I liked and some graphics thrown in for interest. On the right is a poster that I’ve designed again for the book, except it took me a while to figure out what type of picture should be used (if it should be drawn by hand or photographed), what kind of font would go well and how everything should be placed. I found a photograph that my family had shot in Colorado, then darkened and blurred out the image in Photoshop, used a white serif based font and rearranged the font to have authors name larger on the very bottom instead of right below the title. It took me more consideration on the second poster in one night than the first one I did in two weeks time.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 12.24.48 AM.png    Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 1.09.00 AM.png

I felt extremely embarrassed as I was handing in the initial poster to class. I knew the instructor then wouldn’t like it (and it wouldn’t be something that the author himself wanted) But I handed it in anyways because I just needed to hand something in instead of getting a flat-out F by handing in nothing at all (and yes I did believe I would get an A- or higher on my then less-than-stellar poster).

The one thing I learned by designing this is the more your dedicated yourself to something, your more than likely to have something come out beautifully if you grow more serious about it and it took me at least five years to get towards that realization.

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No See…

Where do I begin…

First of all, I feel kind of awful not writing in here for so long. Life (and just general nothingness) had ended up getting the best of me.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president two months ago my anxiety had literally went through the roof and everything that I cared about and took for granted (like freedom of speech and our internet) would be jeopardized. I was ridden with anxiety and there would be days where I would be in tears not knowing were we are heading in this country.

Even before the elections I knew I wanted to get involved and be a part of something. Last month I donated $40 to (and another $10 last week), to help combat some of Trumps policies regarding the press and to help maintain an open internet. The money in return would be used to lobby our politicians make those choices for us. I knew I didn’t have enough money but I felt scared and desperate so I ended up donating, knowing that it would appear in my account. Eventually my mother found out later that I donated to this organization and I told her why I did it and what reason I had for it, she told me that she wasn’t willing to pay for it so I paid her back the $40 that I gave to the organization.

The least that I was able to do was to film a video and post it on Youtube expressing my concerns and encouraging viewers to donate and spread awareness about these issues.

I noticed lately that there has been a huge resistance towards the Trump presidency since he was inaugurated into office. The day following the inauguration was the Woman’s March that took place in Washington DC and around the world, regarding Trump’s stance on women and women’s issues. Overall, I think it’s great that both women and men are spreading awareness on women’s rights. However I had my own reservations regarding the march and why I haven’t expressed my views as openly about it.

We can all agree that racism and sexism has been going on for quite some time in this country, but I think people need to be more open and inclusive when it comes to all different racial and ethnic groups and not be selective by shoving them into a category by defining who’s more black, who’s more Latino or who’s more Muslim. There are so many stories and people that are missing from the march. I don’t feel like Orthodox Jewish and Israeli women aren’t given any standing or visibility in the march (it fell on a Saturday, Orthodox Jews can show up and walk in the march if close by but can’t carry signs or use their smartphones to film or take snapshots). I also think that Christian and secular Arabs aren’t given enough representation than Muslim Arabs, since the later are the most visible and make up the majority of all Arabs.

As much as I questions this and other movements, do I think this is going to change anything within our federal government and how it runs today and in the future? It depends on how serious we are and how hard we’re willing to fight for it.

So in the meantime I’m just getting prepared for school next week and just taking some time to relieve any tension that I was pent up with over break. I would like to be as calm and productive as possible while internally fighting the power!

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Revised Gallery For New Site

Before I begin executing the site I redid the links and the gallery portion of the new site.

I'm A Kook New Gallery  I'm A Kook New Gallery Trans Rollover 1 I'm A Kook New Gallery Trans Rollover 2

For the gallery, I took away the white box (like what was used on the Home and About section of the site) and added detailed pictures of the work, when you roll your cursor over each button a white box appears over the detailed work showing the name, date and medium that was used for that particular work. Once you click on each link the picture pops up and is shown in it’s full size.

The last time I’ve done the links for the site three days ago, I wasn’t able to decided exactly what else I wanted to add on the site. So I decided to add a stories and poetry section and an accompanying online forum for the site. Even though they are being used less and less in favor of Facebook, Instagram, Reddit etc, I still feel that forums are a great way to socialize and share different things with other people.

So I just wanted to update you all on the new site, and what changes I made to it so far. I hope I can get this all done by the end of summer vacation, that’s my main goal right now.

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Brand Spanking New Site, And More…

I feel terrible lately for not creating anything. I did a few portraits in Illustrator. I feel like I improved so much on it. Here’s one I did of my bestie Sarah, and another one of a daughter of a former social skills instructor that I used to have.

Sarah-Dooley-(Portrait)   Lilli Gallo (Portrait)

It seemed like over the years as I was using Illustrator, my work is starting to turn out even better overtime. I didn’t focus too much on detail, because I wanted to make it look as flat as possible. However it did have some dimension with the color and lighting (through the gradient effect) so it still has some type a realism in the picture.

Last Friday, I’ve been working on another brand new website. It’s going to have the same premise as the other one that I was working on, but it’s not going to called LeZine, have tons of pages and features and is guaranteed to not hurt your eyes…

I'm A Kook Homepage  I'm A Kook GalleryI'm A Kook Info

It’s a basic blog/website. Everything else is pretty much self explanatory. I’m doing the whole site with WordPress, and I plan on using a responsive pre made theme so that people are able to use the site easily through a tablet or cellphone. I’m still thinking about what other pages I should add to it though, I do plan on adding an art gallery, and I also plan on having a resource page (particularly on art and music). I find whatever sparks my interest, and I post it in that section, and visitors are free to do the same too and are free to comment or discuss on that particular interest. It’s still very complex though, so it’s still in the works. If you have any suggestions of your own then that would be really great.

For the layout, I drew and assembled the pattern myself, the flowers are based on Indian/Mod florals. I was flipping through one of my art books for different color combos and thought that the sky blue/white/black mix looked nice. I used a western style font for the title/logo, the font I’ve used for everything else is the Archer font instead of a typical Helvetica or Times New Roman font for a stylized typewriter effect.

The overall design of the website is based on a variety of sources and the primary inspiration for the design was based on the low-brow Mission School movement which was based in San Francisco, California from the 1990s to the very beginning of the 21st century (Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson were notable members). There art is based on a diverse array of contemporary/traditional influences; such as graffiti, comic and folk art and then updated to reflect the society and culture of that era. Some of the artists were self taught, while some of them had some formal training (most of them had attended the San Francisco Art Institute, hence the “School” name). What really struck me most about this movement, is how relevant it still is to most artists today. These days there are even web and new media designers that are using the same type of indie/DIY aesthetic the Mission School artists used in their work. It’s very low key, but fun and eye catching at the same time. I have visited the Energy That Is All Around exhibition, which was held at the Walter and McBean Gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute last year and had it’s run at Grey Art Gallery at New York University early this year. Pictures from the exhibition in San Francisco can be seen here.

The new name of the website is I’m A Kook which is taken from Margaret Kilgallen’s final 2001 installation Main Drag, featuring some of her trademark figures, wording and foliage. In one large panel of the installation, it features a street scene with a few pedestrians walking across. In it, it shows two surfer talking two each other, with one of them saying “” and another one saying “” which parodies the dot-com boom and the internet culture of that era (people don’t use www in front of a web address anymore). I also wanted to use that name for the site because I thought it sounded humorous. Plus it’s a word that Kilgallen would use often in her own work. It was first shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philedelphia, the Whitney Biennal in 2002 and at MOCA’s Art In The Streets in Los Angeles three years ago. Pictures of it can been seen over here.

So overall I’ve been doing well, I went to the Boardwalk last week just because I felt very bummed out and wanted to do something fun and exciting to keep myself happy. I’ve been working for my parents, so basically I’m just doing whatever I can to keep myself busy and occupied over the summer. It help me feel more inspired and more motivated to work, because it’s been really lacking lately… until then, have a beautiful, inspiring and drama free summer. Cheers!

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Being Sick Sucks

So I’ve been working a studying a lot over the past few months (I’ve also been celebrating Passover the other week and we have to keep this holiday for one more day) and for some reason I came down with an annoying sore throat that I will not go away. I couldn’t use Cold-Eaze (because it contains corn syrup, an ingredient derived from corn, which isn’t allowed on Passover and is considered kitnyot) which sucks because it works really well and helps fight colds (and incoming colds) off faster. So I just waited for it to pass, but it didn’t and it just kept getting worse. I’ll probably wind up with a painful sore throat or a stuffy and runny nose, or both.

I love the weather here in the Bay Area, but I really can’t stand it sometimes. There were days when it would be sunny and would be around 50 degrees and a few others were it would be cloudy but around 70 degrees. I would have a hard time figuring out what to wear during weather like that and I’m always scared of getting sick because I would’t be wearing warm enough clothing when I’m out.

I’ve also noticed that my colds are becoming less worse as I got older. I was in bed a lot, and couldn’t even blow my own nose and didn’t dress warm enough then. It mostly depended on the climate, are bodies are less resistant to germs and diseases when we are in cooler weather. It was always really cold as I was living on Long Island (New York) and my colds would be very excruciating, my sore throats would feel like having a big huge lump in my throat and would have a very heavy and stuffy nose. I felt very week and was always in bed and if I was out of bed I felt very zombie like (I noticed this again while I was attending a cousins wedding in Queens a few years ago). Once we moved back to Israel for seven more years then my colds and sore throats became much lighter and didn’t have them that frequently. Israel is known for it’s warm weather and sometimes it would be year round (it didn’t even rain there for six years one time). I sore throats would still hurt, and sometimes they would be even worse than a stuffy nose, which are almost non-exsistant. Yeah, your nose is runny but it isn’t stuffy and crusty with dry mucus. As I moved to the Bay Area my colds were the same as I was living in Israel (the climate here is almost identical to that in Israel).

But in spite of it I make sure that I try warding off one as much as possible, I dress warmer and I try getting up and do more active things instead of just lying in bed all day (I did that already during my Passover vacation).

All you really have to do to just be healthy and active, and to stay informed, and that’s all there is to being cold-free all season long and year round.

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Back To School

Wow… it looks like I’ve been abandoning this blog for quite some time. I don’t feel there’s really that much to say and prefer that much of my life is away from public eyes as much as possible.

Speaking of privacy I had to make one post private, because I felt like I was releasing to much personal info in that post. I wrote that entry nine months ago and didn’t realize it would effect anyone who would come across it. I’ve learnt that some (if not most) things are meant to be kept private. In that case, I am very sorry…

So I’ve began school again four weeks and have been taking all of my work very seriously. I didn’t realize until late last year that if I’m going to be in the web and design business than I have to study and work hard to build my portfolio in order for me to get hired. As I started studying more I noticed that much of my work has significantly improved and has gotten more professional overtime. Before I felt like school work was like work, but since the portfolio class from last year I was able to improve on my project from the pervious semesters and during this semester I was able to focus and write down notes in class. It’s still work, but it no longer feels like forced work.

When you have an instructor that respects you and give you constructive criticism, then that’s what helps you get better as a student. I don’t think I would of done any better if I had a instructor who criticizes his students and their work all time (and just treats them like crap) just because he feels that he can. I just can’t work with a person who has that kind of attitude, it never helps anyone and it just makes it even harder for that person to focus and do better.

Of course when I first started attending Academy of Art University (in 2008), I didn’t know anything about branding and web design, and had very little knowledge on using Illustrator or Photoshop. I was mostly into Fine Art, but I chose Computer Art/New Media (now known as Web Design/New Media) because I knew that there would be a big demand for that kind of work. My earlier work was very poor to subpar. I didn’t listen to much in class, and I kept being told to do better and I hated that, I always kept thinking that my work looked great even if it looked like utter crap to everyone else. I just wasn’t able to accept any kind of critism, and all of my work ended up really shoddy. It wasn’t until four to five years later that my work needed an overhaul, and that my ultra-resistant attitude to my work needed one too.

So eventually I was able to practice with the Adobe Suite, did some research on different branding/logo designs, tried to learn all the coding in HTML/CSS and overtime that really helped me familiarize and become more adapted to it. I didn’t feel like that all of this was so foreign to me anymore, therefore I was able to do well in all of my work as well.

I feel that I still have more time to do better and learn more with each passing semester. I’m really happy with the path that I’m on now and I feel that this is the kind of job I would want to do for the rest of my life.

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