Threading the needle

I found this journal prompt and decided (as I often do) to make a list. When I liked the list I made, I decided to share it with you! 🙂

  1. Relax.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Slow down.
  4. Practice patience–the things you seek are already on their way to you.
  5. Your life is okay as it is.
  6. Don’t postpone happiness–it’s yours today, if you want it.
  7. You are so loved! More than you probably know.
  8. You can still do more of the things you love.
  9. It’s okay to say no sometimes. Give yourself a break.
  10. Do at least one thing today that will help your “future self.”

Then I found this image on Pinterest when I searched “patience art.”


I was struck by its simplicity but also its message. Patience is threading the needle. You have to slow down! I drank too much coffee today–the caffeine is making me jittery and anxious. I can’t “thread my needle” when I’m like this! I’m going to practice 1-4 the rest of the day until I feel calm enough to try again.


set on you forever – a tattoo story

I’m commitment phobic. Totally always have been. My style evolves constantly, my tastes, my interests. But I’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo. I grew up in a small town and was raised by very conservative parents with old-fashioned values – many of which I think are great to have. When it comes to “body modifications,” however, I’ve always been fascinated and curious. I never saw many tattoos growing up, until I hit my twenties, and every other boyfriend was heavily tattooed. Over the years I’ve had three piercings other than my ears (belly button, nose, and a medusa), each of which my mom flipped out over. I’ve always admired tattoos on other people, when they’re well done. I think it’s probably been about two or three years that I really, really wanted to get myself inked – for real.

I was always apprehensive about the idea of something being on my own precious skin forever and ever. I would obsess over it. How could I commit to the idea of having an image set permanently in place? What if it came out badly? What if I hated it? What if I needed to cover it up for work? What if it affected my job adversely? All things to consider. Which is why I took great pains to do my research, select my artist based on his portfolio, and sit with my design for a long time. I wanted two birds – one male and one female, one holding a key in his beak and one with a lock set in her belly. Flowers. Girly. Pretty. The “meaning” I guess, if you insist on it, is kind of obvious – one having the key to my heart and whatnot. (I used to be stuck on the idea that every tattoo had to have a very profound meaning – ain’t so. Get whatever you like. Just make sure you like it a lot.) Initially I wanted to get them done on my forearms. When my apartment was burglarized in November, I shelved my tattoo indefinitely. I still held the idea in the back of my mind, though. (And continued to fill up my tattoo savings account!) Six months later, I still wanted the birds, but decided to have them placed on my upper back instead. I was freaking about the visibility and commitment level of a forearm tattoo.

I booked a consultation with my artist (J.M. Wulfe at Grim North in Portsmouth, New Hampshire). As soon as I talked about it with James put the deposit down, I knew I was ready. So. Fucking. Ready! I’m a tattoo obsessor. I stalk blogs like Sometimes Sweet for its Tattoo Tuesday posts (Danielle Hampton has some gorgeous ink) and Decorated Skin is another of my favorites. I watch all “Ink” shows (with a grain of salt, those shows are highly stylized). Good tattoos, man. It may sound silly but I have just been dying to be tattooed for so long. I kind of always suspected I would be someone who would wind up with a bunch of tattoos, but I was also at war with my conservative background and mercurial nature. “What ifs” plagued me – until I finally mentally committed.

Two weeks later, I committed in ink. I brought my friend Kyle with me to the tattoo studio and had an amazing three hour session with James – lines and shading are done. The design is beautiful and more than I could have hoped for. It’s unique to me and James did so well with bringing what I had envisioned to reality. The pain wasn’t bad, either. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it almost brought out a certain toughness in me – you know it’s going to be worth it in the end, so after awhile you get in this zone and you feel sort of invincible. It was emotional for me, too (although I held it totally together like the cool cat I am) – getting something you’ve deeply wanted for so long and taking a plunge into something I know I’m absolutely into. I got my first “nice ink” from a stranger in a gas station. I feel different, even when my tattoo is covered by my office appropriate clothes. Sexier. I can’t stop looking in the mirror. It’s beautiful to have something that moves with my skin that can never be washed off, can never be stolen from me. I just love that.

In progress of course. James’ photo is better than mine which were taken on my iPhone, and it’s hard to take pictures of my back. But yes. It’s healing gorgeously and I go back for colorrrrrss on June 2! If you have any ideas, be sure to post them. Oh yes… and I’m already planning my next big piece. 😀

Tara McPherson – limited edition “Skeleton Heart” poster

I am so pumped for this:

Today one of my all-time favorite artists, poster & comic book art queen Tara McPherson, released a limited run edition of her 2011 Williamsburg Waterfront concert poster entitled “Skeleton Heart.” Only 400 were printed and she is only selling 40 online. I was able to order one (fist pump!) and I can’t wait for it to arrive, even though I barely have the wall space for it. I love how girly and edgy it is a the same time, just like Ms. McPherson herself. The colors rock and so does the fabulous, rainbow-oozing, rock and roll skeleton. Endless hearts! Purchase yours here, if there are any left!

Can we also talk about how badly I want the Hello Kitty figurine by Kidrobot & Tara McPherson? OMG!

artist spotlight: Angelique Houtkamp

I adore Angelique Houtkamp’s work. She’s a tattoer and artist from Amsterdam, whose works are heavily inspired by old school sailor-style tattoo flash. Her inspirations include 1920s and 30s illustrations, circus “freaks,” gypsies, fortunetellers and nautical imagery. Angelique’s works are known for bold lines and heavy shadows. I have a tiny 5×7 “pistol” print I purchased from Mode Merr (local designer & friend Angela Zampbell!) which is one of my personal favorite artworks in my small but growing collection. I’ve also been reading her second book, Tattoo Mystique, and really have enjoyed learning more about her process, inspirations and lifestyle.

All artwork by A. Houtkamp.

drama in the dark: Gaga’s Monster Ball concert review

We arrived for the Monster Ball expecting to be thrilled, and thrilled we were. Lady Gaga is the epitome of a perfect pop star: Irreverent, talented, alluring, grotesque, shameless and unique. (Among a slew of other adjectives…and somehow, Gaga evades description.)  After suffering through the agonizing gender-bending glam-rock performance by the Semi-Precious Weapons, Lady Gaga Herself finally emerged after much teasing for “Dance in the Dark.” Her appearance itself was climactic and ecstatic as she slowly emerges from behind a multicolored screen and sheds her sequined jacket and giant sunglasses (if you could call them that). The energy of the audience pulsed along with the electro-dance beats. Gaga’s show is much more than smoke and mirrors: It’s a mishmash of Cirque du Soleil meets Phantom of the Opera, with a bit of the gay-transgender-centric Priscilla, Queen of the Desert thrown in. Add epically catchy pop beats and scale the drama up exponentially, add lights, sensational-surreal costumes and Gaga herself and you have an instant phenomenon, a lavish feast for eyes and ears.

Lady Gaga notoriously adores her fans, and the love sparks back and forth throughout the evening, audience to pop star and back. She perpetually thanks her “little monsters,” declaring that she has the best fans in the world. Gaga crumples on the stage, saying she is like Tinkerbell and needs applause to live: The crowd roars in response, urging Gaga back to larger-than-life. Toward the end of the concert, she ardently screams “no one will ever love you more than I love you, goddamnit!” Crazy thing is, you can’t help but believe her. Gaga plays to sold-out stadiums and arenas all over the world and it feels like she is crooning for you alone. Lady Gaga loves me. Even the most jaded person will have a difficult time not feeling personally connected to Gaga at the Monster Ball; she embraces her fans of all orientations and sexual varieties and has become a tremendous icon in the gay-lesbian-transgender community. Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball is a place for all the freaks to be themselves, she declares, to be free.

Costumes didn’t disappoint, and Gaga was avant garde as ever. Almost all of Gaga’s outfits showcased her enviably lean legs (top to bottom), and there was no shortage of pleather. Female concert attendees paid homage to the star in their own renditions of Gaga-inspired attire; ranging from Telephone video soda-can hair rollers to the iconic giant hair bow made of actual hair, ripped leggings and fishnets, glam rock gone supercharged. Anyone who has ever heard of Gaga or explored her on the Internet will know that her outfits are legendary and her concert costumes were indeed phenomenal. As I took it all in I wondered how on earth I would find adjectives with which to describe her outfits. Some were quite simply beyond description. Lady Gaga has shifted her look a bit in recent months, edging into something darker and more classic; milky skin and blood-red lips in contrast to her formerly fake-tanned and frosted look.  Best of all was her outfit during “Paparazzi” that spits sparks from her chest and crotch, to me was so powerful it made my eyes well with tears.

Lady Gaga is an epic performer and an accomplished musician. Throughout her show, she maintains consistent energy, saving enough for the euphoric encore performance of “Bad Romance.” Other noteworthy highlights: A heartfelt rendition of “Speechless,” with Gaga playing piano (some backwards) and a brand-new song called “You and I” from her newest album (insert squeals of delight here) and a dramatic rendition of “So Happy I Could Die” in which Gaga sports a fully-automated ice queen outfit and rises up towards the crowd. And of course, my personal favorite Gaga song, “Paparazzi,” with its infectious chorus: “I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me, paparazzi/Baby there’s no other superstar, you know they love me, paparazzi/Promise I’ll be kind, but I won’t stop until that boy is mine/Baby you’ll be famous, chase you down until you love me, paparazzi.”

Lady Gaga hates the truth (even more than she claims to hate money, apparently). During her set she declares “I’d rather have a giant dose of bullshit every day than the truth.” And so we spend our time with her in a suspended reality; a wall of fantasy and magic. Even as Gaga took short breaks offstage, the monitors showed uber-artsy videos and poses featuring Gaga. She’s a chameleon-like performer who keeps her fans guessing. It’s hard to imagine that to her friends and family, she is still Stefani Germanotta. To the world, she is “Lady Fucking Gaga” (aptly introduced by Semi Precious Weapons’ Justin Tranter), worldwide superstar. Gaga is perpetually in character. It seems to be her reason for being on this planet. Her transformative veneer is endlessly fascinating to me. Gaga’s inspirations are often transparent: She draws from high fashion as much as it draws from her, she’s an “art whore,” she loves David Bowie, old horror films, and although some say she’s reminiscent of Madonna’s reign in the 80s–Lady Gaga has forged her own brand of performance art, infused with too many influences to count and marked with her own creative brilliance. She’s on top because she does it better than anyone else who’s out there; accept no imitations. I’d venture to say that although she isn’t always going for it, Lady Gaga is universally beautiful. And her show is sensational and well worth the megabucks; so see it if you can.


Crystals (and raw gemstones and geodes) are everywhere this summer: In art, on clothes, on necklines–even draped around reality’s most obnoxious star, Spencer Pratt. Crystals have long been renowned for their supposed healing and energetic powers. I just think they’re pretty. Whether organic or laser cut, here are some crystals–both real and stylized–that I’ve been enjoying lately.

From Marc Johns. Love.

Above: Force Field necklace from Cursive Design.

Above, clockwise from left: Acne crystal tank (close-up of print), irizided crystal ring by Mark Walsh, “Rock Group” tee by ModCloth, Geode ring by Kabiri, rock candy swizzlers by ohnuts, rock candy bracelet by Kenneth Jay Lane.

Above: Gorgeous watercolor geos by Carly Waito via ArtzSkool.

Above: Spencer Pratt with his crystals; he reportedly spent Valentine’s Day 2010 cuddling with Heidi, their puppy and their crystal. Honestly, WTF.

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other

Above: Snapshot from I Wish Your Wish, 2003.

I stumbled across this post on The New York Times’ website. Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander is doing another “ribbon” exhibition. Her first exhibition was done in 2003 and was all in Portugese. The concept is simple: Colorful silk ribbons hung en masse on a wall, stamped with the wishes of past visitors. New visitors can take a wish ribbon to wear on their wrists in exchange for writing down a new wish which could be perhaps used in a future exhibition. This work of art is based on a tradition which occurs in a Brazilian church; according to the tradition, when the ribbon falls off, the wish will be fulfilled. The exhibition will be on display June 23 – September 19 at New York City’s New Museum.

Wishes include: “I wish democracy was real,” “I wish it was benign,” “I wish for a job I love,” “I wish for more time with my boyfriend,” “I wish Obama to be re-elected,” “I wish for peace in Afghanistan…” and so on. What would you wish for, if you could declare it on one among many ribbons for all to see?

I also discovered some of her abstract thought bubbles via ffffound and and MoMA, which I think are just so cool in their simplicity.