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Speartalks: Marion Peck

Our general consensus is that it is in the eyes. It has to be, for there is nothing else to offer up that feeling of wrongness in the art of Marion Peck. Her palate is sunny enough, her subjects innocent enough, her landscapes full of greens and lights and other indications of virtue. But the eyes "“ the eyes hold none of those characteristics.

Some of us think that the eyes are that feeling you get five minutes before you find out your best friend was in a car accident, the rest of us think of them in only slightly less ominous terms, but all of us find in them the reason that we always look again. Yes, the paintings are beautiful, but it's the dreams in them that draw our attention. They are familiar, they are unfamiliar; they are disconcerting, they are comforting. They are in the eyes, vacant, but not abandoned, and we can't stop looking.

Joshspear.com: Can you share your background with our readers, please?

Marion Peck: I grew up in Seattle, W.A., and went to art school on the east coast. I did a little bit of graduate school in Italy, then dropped out of school and stayed in Italy for a few years. That had a big effect on me. Then, I was back in Seattle until five years ago, when I moved down to L.A. to live with Mark Ryden. (more…)

SpearTalks: Luke McCann for Mottainai

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You know, as a resident of Boulder, CO (a place that, for those unfamiliar, holds the earth in higher regard than 102% of the rest of the world) I shouldn't be saying this. Progress is progress, as they say, and of all things to rip on, things that treat Mother Nature with respect should be far from the top of the list (and if you feel the need to rip on me in recompense for this, please comment).

However, I have to say it, and here it is: Eco-style, thanks to the prevailing hype of its prefix, has had the opportunity to suck much worse than other areas of fashion. Attention to detail, structure, tailoring "“ vanities, really, when all you need to move units is organic cotton, perpetuated by a sort of user-generated laziness that buys anything that promises to stop global warming.

Well, wake up eco-fashionistas; your golden age is almost over, and we're welcoming your newest competitors with arms wide open. First on our list of new thrills: Mottainai, an NYC-born, Mother-loving label whose designs are as mindful as the materials used to create them.

Joshspear.com: The word "mottainai" has a really interesting meaning "“ can you tell us about it?

Luke McCann: Sure. "Mottainai," in its most basic form, means “what a waste,” or, “it's too valuable to waste.” In Japan, it is used in everyday conversations and embedded in folktales. There's a story in Japan about the Mottainai Ghost that will come for you if you waste something.

Think of it as when you see someone throwing away something perfectly useful, like food (you better eat all that!). The idea behind it is that a lot of people worked hard to bring that food (or in our case, clothes) to you, and in return you should be thankful and appreciative for what you were given, and use it to its fullest.

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Speartalks: Grant Hamilton

You have heard by now that Polaroid film is dying. Rightfully, no, but inevitably, yes, and we have few words to appropriately state our reaction (of the few we have, the following do share company: appalled, mystified, f*cking pissed).

Of course, while we are all justified in experiencing some emotion over this unnecessary loss, there are those among us who have even more right to mourn (see also: picket, riot, send death threats, etc.). One of them is Grant Hamilton, an Iowa City-based professional photographer who cites a 1975 Polariod SX-70 as his camera of choice "“ and who will, come next year, be to find a new medium.

Join us as we A) Take a moment of silence for a great thing lost; and B) Chat with an artist who is approaching some serious changes.

Joshspear.com: Let's cut to the chase: What will you do when your film runs out?

Grant Hamilton: My film will never run out. As long as there is one pack left in my refrigerator, Polaroid isn’t dead.

JS: Are you stockpiling, or are you transitioning into something new?

GH: I currently have 77 packs of 600 and seven packs of Time Zero. So, I guess I am a bit of a hoarder. (more…)

SpearTalks: Alyson Fox

Alyson Fox likes doing things. In her case, ‘things’ mean drawing, taking pictures, designing clothes, making shop windows pretty – and probably one or two more ‘things’ since we last talked.

But Alyson hasn't always been so dexterous; rather, it was a series of events that gradually gifted the Austin-based twenty-something with her now ample selection of talents. She started as a photographer, where the time she spent in the darkroom quickly turned her on to the happy powers of creativity. Then, it was on to drawing, where her faceless forms still managed to bleed emotion all over the page. Not to be deterred, or to abandon her past pursuits (which she hasn’t), it was on to fashion design, where her hand-drawn characters were suddenly permitted to step off of the page to share their clothes with real people.

It's good thing for her that she has done all of these things "“ but it's an even better thing for us, because Alyson Fox happens to be incredibly talented at all of them. Recently, we were blessed with another good thing, when Alyson decided to take some time out of her crafty days to chat with us.

Joshspear.com: Your first interest was photography, which then branched out into visuals, fashion design, and drawing. How did this progression unfold itself?

Alyson Fox: The first medium that I really connected to was photography. Maybe because it was my first studio class? I was able to shoot rolls and rolls of film and then edit them in the darkroom. (more…)

SpearTalks: Ryan Catbird

Several months ago, I wrote an embarrassingly impassioned post regarding a music blog. It was a sappy, raison d'etre-style diatribe, involving too many adjectives, too many hallelujahs, and way too many myspace references. I don't think I was drunk when I wrote it. Anyway, being blessed with a good editor, the post had hardly left my email box when it was returned with a gentle reminder that “We're not in the general habit of publishing love letters," and “Could you please cut it down to about 200 words?" [Ed note: Think slobber-soaked, pre-teen romance; that's about half as sloppy as that love letter was. -H]

I did cut it down, and you can still read the slightly saner post here. However, in all honesty, I still have shamefully strong feelings for the music blog Catbirdseat, and equally strong feelings for Catbird Records, the related indie record label whose pure love for music represents just how closely sound is analogous to art.

We chatted with the man behind both Catbird Records and Catbirdseat about how it is that he runs such un-average enterprises, and decided we were right all along: Ryan is the cat(bird)s pajamas.

Joshspear.com: Which came first "“ Catbirdseat or Catbird Records?

Ryan Catbird: Catbirdseat begat Catbird Records, and I think ‘begat’ is definitely the right word there because the relationship remains a very much Parent/Child one. Catbirdseat.org came to life in 2002, essentially as a means for me to share my listening habits with my friends (who were always asking, “hey, what are you listening to these days?”). (more…)

SpearTalks: Matthew Waldman, Nooka

According to what we learned in kindergarten, a watch is a watch is a watch. However, according to Matthew Waldman, the free-thinking founder of New York's Nooka, a watch is just another opportunity to turn a washed-up concept into a fresh idea.

Now in its sixth year, what began as a grade school flashback has grown into an entirely new way of telling time. Intellectually alluring, visually impelling, and incredibly functional, Nooka's unusual materials and playful methodology have reinterpreted the traditional method of watching the hours fly, and trendsetting time-tellers (us and so forth) are snapping them up like Vampire Weekend remixes (not to imply we have any strong feelings, positive or otherwise, for turbo-hyped indie bands).

We've been watching Nooka for a few years now, and each new season brings us more reasons to keep on keepin' on. Join us as we chat with Matthew about the past, present, and future of our favorite non-watchlike watch company.

JoshSpear.com: Nooka was born from a first grade flashback – Can you tell us more about that, and give us a brief history of the company?

Matthew Waldman: I was a creative director of an interactive design studio in the late 1990s when I began to explore information architecture over aesthetic design for my clients. When I try to figure something out, it’s in my head 24/7, running like a program until it figures things out. The rule for intuitive design is simple: If you need instruction, it’s not intuitive. Seeing a big wall clock gave me a flashback to first grade where we learned how to tell time… and if someone had to teach it, how intuitive is it really? This was my inspiration to explore alternative systems. (more…)

SpearTalks: Gizmodo's Brian Lam

Whether you're willing to call yourself a nerd or not, you've likely perused the pages of Gizmodo, one of the internet's favorite gadget guides. Reporting techie playthings at the rate of around 60 posts per day, Gizmodo employees chase dorky developments with all the frenzy of paparazzi, sharing their wired finds with hoards of daily visitors.

Currently translated into nine different languages, readers of Gizmodo don't have to speak binary to learn about the newest toys. With a staff of writers gifted at making dock connectors sound sexy – and Apple products practically pornographic – the pages of Gizmodo are loved by software developers and day traders alike, and serve to keep those in search of wit, wisdom, and the next best conversation starter happily satiated.

Heading up the Gizmodo revolution is Brian Lam, a Wired expat, known for his trade show disguise tactics and nerdy know-how. Read on as we learn why the internet is the new magazine, the blog is the new suburbia, and why Engadget can, uh, just call itself Pepsi.

Joshspear.com: What enticed you to leave Wired for your current position at Gizmodo?

Brian Lam: I got a lot of my content from blogs. That didn’t feel great.

JS: You've been the editor of Gizmodo for almost two years now. How has the site progressed in that time?

BL: I’d say there’s a lot more teamwork going on, and that’s helped us pass a lot of operations that work as a set of lone wolves. (more…)

SpearTalks: Leah McSweeney

It's good to be Leah McSweeney, the twenty-five year-old head of women's label Married to the M.O.B. (that's Most Official Bitches).

For starters, her small company — born from a porch stoop, a plan to make a few tee shirts, and a wholesome dose of Irish irreverence — has taken the streetwear scene by storm natural disaster. Add that to M.O.B,'s well curated collaborations with artists like Fafi and KAWS, the blog headed up by Futura's daughter, the window display at Colette in Paris, and the, ahem, vibrant personality of Ms. McSweeney herself, and there you have it: The perfect recipe for a street label that bitches (and boys) go crazy over.

Read on as we chat with Leah about the state of women's streetwear, her new Cobrasnake/Uffie fronted spring line, and the next best place for Karl Lagerfeld to dip his well-moisturized fingers.

Joshspear.com: A lot has changed since you started MOB in 2004 — today, you're a mother, MOB is huge, and the women's streetwear scene is… well, some say it's blossoming, some say it's just getting fat. What has the path been like?

Leah McSweeney: It's been real that's for sure. It started pretty humbly on the stoop of my old crib on Spring St. and it grew into something very substantial. I think after a few months once coming out with the line I realized I had something special. But when I started it, it was really for fun and to give some stuff to my friends to wear because there were no cute tee shirts for girls. (more…)

SpearTalks: Vulcan

Thirty years ago, when graffiti was withheld the respect of the subtitle "Art Form," a twelve year-old Vulcan hit the subway cars of New York with his collection of wildly colored paintcans. Over thirty years — and countless walls, trains, and buses — later, the now San Francisco-based graffiti legend has made a smooth transition from street to START SOMA, where the artist-in-residence uses his decades of experience to continue doing what he's done all along — create some of the most significant works of art, both street and otherwise, this side of 1973.

We chatted with Vulcan about his graffiti past and his gallery present, and came out the other side in agreement with the artist: Corporate or communal, gallery or "˜getting up'; art is art, and making it is what truly matters.

Joshspear.com: As one of the earlier writers, what graffiti represents to you is probably somewhat different than what it represents to today’s newest artists. Has any important meaning been lost over the years?

Vulcan: When I was 12 years old in Harlem, I wanted to CREATE. But options were pretty limited – scavenged paint cans and public surfaces were pretty much my only options. Throughout my teens, I painted wherever and whatever I could – buses, subway trains, city walls. I painted my name. I painted giant robots. I planned ‘masterpieces’ in my notebooks at school, and horded paint cans until I had literally hundreds of colors. But I didn’t call what I was doing ‘graffiti’. I was just painting. As I honed my technical skills and found my voice, at some point I was making ART – but it was never a conscious progression. (more…)

SpearTalks: Simone Legno

Not so many years ago, an Italian by the name of Simone Legno created a site from which he could display his artwork. A successful Rome-based illustrator, Legno had formed a love of Japanese culture in his early childhood, and his artwork reflected as much. Dark eyed women, equally shy and strong, gave the term "cute' new meaning — a meaning as dangerous as it was endearing, and as forceful as it was adorable.

The site was tokidoki, and before long, Legno's cute-oozing, Japan-blasted caricatures had attracted the attention of Hard Candy Cosmetic's co-founder Pooneh Mohajer and her husband, Ivan Arnold. In 2003, the pair flew the artist to Los Angeles, where talks were soon underway to turn Legno's tokidoki into a brand of it's own — a brand that would soon be bigger than what any of them expected.

Now, only a few years after that first meeting, the world of tokidoki covers everything from shoes, snowboards, and skate decks, to bags, walls, and tour busses. Legno's trademark mix of innocence and allure has won fans the world over — a side effect that seems to strike regardless of age, sex, race, or gender. We chatted with Legno about his inspiration, his long list of collaborations, and his plans for the future.

Joshspear.com: A lot has changed since you first came to L.A. in 2003 — did you ever dream that tokidoki would become what it is today?

Simone Legno: Yes; I dreamed so, I believed in it, and it happened. I was lucky, but I've worked very hard for it, day and night — weekends included. (more…)

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