The Wind in My Face

SOS-Friday

I often feel like we’re all just restless souls running marathons around each other

We fill so much of our time with the act of being busy. Dodging the noise and spam of everyday life in efforts to excavate the minerals and moments of meaning that it holds. If you’re anything like me, you’re surrounded by a bright splash of confidence and forward motion highs most of the time, while often also hit with lazy lows, hazy skies and neutral mind weather.

I daydream and I wander to escape the mundane. I listen to music to quiet my mind. I do yoga to instill patience and I inject myself with a daily dose of caffeine to carry on. I don’t mean for it to sound dismal because I actually think it’s quite beautiful in its own way. It’s my way.

I’ve actually based a lot of my personal art on this. Common themes I like to explore being: contrast, extremes, duality, longing for something greater, and moments of break through. How many of us feel this way? Extreme impulses of unlimited motivation, later mixed with setbacks, reality and bills to pay. I know it’s not just me. As David Nichtern recently said in a lecture I was listening to, it’s our constant strive as humans for the balance of “heaven” and “earth”. The tangible life that we lead day to day, mixed with the spiritual balance of real true meaning and connection.

Sometimes I secretly wonder if my own personal duality and identity has anything to do with one of the names my parents were going to give to me when I was born. In the back of the baby name book was scribbled,“Joy Anger”. I would have been the culmination of two opposite extreme emotions with a name like that. But for some reason those ideas stuck with me anyway as Holly Danger.

Those dualities may also translate from my experience in holding down a corporate day job for years, while also exploring my journey as an independent artist. It hasn’t been easy to live both of those lives simultaneously but I’ve found my ways and I’m starting to see new paths emerge as a result.

Balance, harmony and alignment are some of my daily intentions in both life and design.

I’m gaining new inspiration for what this means for me this year. Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve had a particularly difficult time starting this year with a rejuvenated spark. The long winter exhausted my body, mind & ideas. The cluttered apartment that I’ve outgrown is my only home base right now and doesn’t lend itself to the inspirational space that I crave.

However, there is a spark that I’m starting to feel. That magic twilight moment of the day where new ideas are born and perspectives shift. You may not understand what I’m talking about right now, but you will. Perhaps it’s the promise of spring. Whatever it is, I’m here and ready to start over and absorb the rejuvenation and rebirth that the equinox brings and I hope you feel it too.

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Spontaneous Love Letters

Anti-V-day

“Happy unimaginative, consumerist-oriented and entirely arbitrary manipulation and shallow interpretation of romance day!!”

This is the phrase that I have (half-jokingly) uttered on February 14th for probably the last 20+ years of Valentine’s Days.  I always loved to hate this day whether I was in or out of a relationship. The image above was something I created back in 2007 expressing just that. While it’s always nice to be surprised with a bouquet of rusty colored roses (a personal favorite of mine), or a spontaneous road trip or love letter, I would be evermore excited to have them turn up on an unassuming day in my life when I’d least expect it. It has always meant more to me that I was thought of just because I was thought of, and not because a date on the calendar reminding you to do so.

However, things always morph and change over time. Maybe it’s because I’m older or maybe it’s because of this crazy guy that adventures with me through life and love…

Color Me Rad

…but, I’ve definitely loosened my grip of distaste for this tradition because in the end, it is all about love, and how can you really dislike something that celebrates that?  I think the important thing is to remember to celebrate love more broadly and whenever possible. In other words, just do something nice for someone because you can. And of course, don’t forget to treat yo’ self too!!

I’ve been treating myself to a melty heart playlist all day and wanted to share it with you!

So folks. “Happy unimaginative, consumerist-oriented and entirely arbitrary manipulation and shallow interpretation of romance day!!”  I love you guys. Thanks for being my inspiration every day!  Found these amazing vintagey monster valentines and I’m in love. Remember the cute valentines you used to give everyone in your class in kindergarten? I remember some hilarious designs from the 80s. I miss those. Enjoy and have a beautiful day!

VDay Monsters

 

No Excuses No Regrets

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I know I’m a little late to be writing my first post of the year, but truth be told I’ve had a hard time getting started.

I’m feeling mildly trapped in the throws of winter, contrasted by daydreams of my last tropical excursion. How do we all manage to balance these emotional swells and swoons of everyday life while everything is so cold and frozen outside? I’m finding it difficult to focus lately and defer to spending most of my time cozied up at home, listening to Beck, baking cupcakes, playing guitar and trying new crockpot recipes while wearing furry knit hats and scraggly handmade scarves. That’s just how I do.

So on this Wednesday in February, I’m sitting here now, hiding from the world in the warmth of of my apartment and working from home. I’m burrowing under blankets and gazing at the snowy wonderland outside, wondering when we’ll get another wink from spring. We’re forced to slow down in weather like this, taking a break from the usual routines. I’m sipping a hot mug of tea and honey and can hear my boyfriend playing acoustic guitar faintly in the background. He doesn’t know I’m listening, but I’m loving every moment of it. Makes me feel this grounded sense of home and love.

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Being here is also making me reflect on my past and future months. I’m not quite sure where the road ahead is leading but instead of floating along I want to carve into it and illustrate the world I crave to see myself living in.

One of the things that has been tough for me lately has been the lack of a studio space. I had grown to really love having an art studio to retreat to whenever I wanted to play with a crazy idea. At the moment, it’s just me and my laptop and my studio is still packed away into dozens of boxes and taking over an entire spare room in our apartment. I had never anticipated this many months going by without having access to all of that stuff. I had also geared up for moving, switching jobs and a whole bunch of other changes that would propel me forward with flying force into 2014. However, the reality of the situation is, sometimes things don’t work out the way you think they will, and the best understanding that I can take away from it is we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

permission

I’m looking forward to letting go of this winter, making room for spring, finding a new studio, embarking on new adventures and having a fresh outlook of creativity. Thanks for continuing to support my art on etsy, coming to my visual shows and for following me on the Danger blog. You can expect to hear a lot more from me and I look forward to sharing with you!

Fate Loves the Fearless

There have been a few moments in the last month, where I think I’ve experienced a magnetism pulling me in a new direction, some sort of “sign”. Or maybe it’s not a “sign”, maybe it’s a higher perception that we synchronize with for a moment and feel a new kind of clarity. Whatever it is, I felt it. And this time I decided to act on it without fear of change holding me back.

I’ll be turning thirty-four in 3 weeks (on the island of Anguilla no less!) and I see this as a turning point in my life and in my career. Time to make moves and shake things up. The Flaming Lips sung a song that struck a chord with me a few weeks ago when they sung, “All we have is now…” One of the most beautiful and exhilarating live performances I’ve seen in awhile.

Over the last few years I’ve really honed in on some skills that I’m passionate about and have wanted to focus my life on entirely. Video editing, after effects animation, motion graphics, live performance art and video installations. I love being around crazy vibrant people who live and breathe creativity daily. I love traveling around the world and exposing myself to this beautiful place we live in while creating art inspired by those experiences. I know all of these things brings out the best in me, and I want to invite more of that into my life on a daily basis in the coming year.

A whole new life is cultivating here and it all starts now!  Wish me luck as I charge forward with a headful of new ideas for my future. The future is now!

 

Do Something Different

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not in a constant state of momentum, I feel stagnant and antsy.

This is a very difficult thing to deal with when working in a creative field. As a working artist of any kind, you are always expected to be “on”. To have all the best ideas and be able to deliver on the spot at a moments notice for a variety of clients, personalities and deadlines. And hey – that’s why you’re a working artist and not a starving one I guess!  But it’s also an added pressure that I’m sure all of us have dealt with as artists. You don’t always have the luxury of having time to explore and experiment. Actually, it’s a rare occasion that I’d every have that luxury! Most days when I edit videos for my clients, I’m given 3 or 4 days to conceptualize, draw, animate, find music and sound effects, then finalize and deliver an amazing flawless piece. After a few of these rushed timelines you start to get completely drained and need to replenish yourself with a new spark of energy. Or at least I do!  Because endless projects like this just leads to creative depletion, writers block and laziness.

When this happens, my underlying wanderlust bubbles under the surface and my need to be impulsive kicks into gear. And I’m at this point right now.

Days and months seem to be flying by so fast that I’ve had trouble keeping up and documenting here on the danger blog like I’ve wanted to. I am a spontaneous sagittarian and have never been good when it comes to keeping schedules of any kind. In the midst of my inner flux of feeling stagnant, I’ve also been struggling with the fact that I don’t have a studio anymore, and not only that, but my computer at home is so outdated that I can barely use photoshop without it crashing. I’m desperately waiting (and saving money) for apple’s latest release and really hope that it happens soon!!

Usually the right mix of music, traveling and being outdoors away from my computer is the exact prescription that I need for escaping those inevitable blocks. Or, if travel isn’t a possibility at the time, even just breaking routines and doing something out of the ordinary helps me break through.

I put this into practice over the last month and attended a variety of random events that I may not normally attend. I chanted mantras with Deva Premal and Mitan, I finally attended a Flaming Lips show, I drank unusual local brews at Half Full’s Rare Beer Night, I purchased tickets to visit somewhere I’ve never been for November (ANGUILLA!!!), I started working on a guerilla street art project, and I attended the Food & Wine Festival where I got to meet Chef Graham Elliot and Chef Richard Blais. (Which is cool and nerdy if you’re into Master Chef or Top Chef).

All of these things have stirred up my creative juices and I’m ready for whatever comes next!  I’ve learned that it’s easy to get comfortable, and that sometimes the best thing you can do is challenge yourself or do something different. If this is applicable to you – this is your reminder to change things up and make different decisions that will lead you away from the expected. It’ll surely lead to new creative directions.

Oh, and if you need more inspiration, check out Scott Dinsmore at TEDx (who created the creed at the top of this post) YouTube Preview Image

 

Holly Danger’s VJ Drive-In at the LAMP Festival

Creative Wellness: Daily Mantras

September has been a very intriguing month for me. The cooler breezes in the air under the sunshine bring an internal feeling of things changing and reflection. Summer is tapering off to a close and as I look back I am grateful for how wonderful it has been.

I encourage and invite change to happen in my life at all times because that is a true testament to personal growth. I recently began meditating daily. As a designer, I spend much of my time working behind computers and interacting with the world in many digital ways. I’ve always found it immensely important to continuously search for new ways to balance my work life with my passions and healthy living. Meditation has been one of those ways that I’ve wanted to explore for awhile, but, like most people, never knew how to “make time” or how to incorporate it into an already very busy lifestyle.

But I keep trying..

This month, I have dedicated myself to a 21 day mantra and meditation challenge, put together by astounding musicians, Deva Premal and Miten. Their music holds a special place in my heart in that when I first started yoga, my teacher, Gwen Reader, would play their music religiously at all of her classes. Their voices and instruments were forever engrained into my soul with every position we would do in her vinyasa class, and I still feel it today.

I’m excited by this challenge because each day has a different mantra to focus on, new beginnings, inner peace, wholeness, love. I wake up and have a new email explaining the focus of the day, and then they provide a guided audio file that compliments the message. It has helped me slow down and realize how important it is to work on yourself daily. Before focusing on what everyone else in your life needs from you, it is so important to do something for yourself.

So, I’m only on day 8 but am already feeling more at peace and more in control of what I strive for each day.  If you are interested in learning more or joining (it’s free) I encourage you to check it out.  Find out more details on their website.

Interestingly enough, I heard Deva Premal and Miten were traveling to perform in Bridgeport on September 19th. Nearly 3 months ago I purchased one ticket to go see them. And that show is tomorrow. I had no idea at the time that I would get involved in following their mantra practice.

Isn’t it interesting how life does that sometimes?  Things just fall into place and feel right. I love it when that happens.

 

 

Holly Danger at Ignite Stamford August 15th

Do you ever find yourself watching TED talks? For those who don’t know, TED is an awesome nonprofit conference that brings together thought leaders from around the world on the basis that they have “ideas worth spreading”. Artists, scientists, authors, philosophers, musicians, inventors, etc.. give short presentations on technology, entertainment, design and beyond.

When I watch these presentations I get completely obsessed and inspired and I can’t stop watching.  They’re super engaging, short presentations, that give you that spark that you wish you had in your life 100% of the time. Speakers have a time limit, which helps keep the audience engaged, the story concise and they always have interesting demonstrations or imagery to go along with their talks.

I often fantasize about what it would be like if I got the opportunity to speak at TED.

So, then there’s this thing that I recently learned about called Ignite Stamford. “Geeky presentations with a twist”. I’ve never gone, but several of my friends have and have even given great talks. Shout out to OmNomCT and Bridget Stokes! I think it was Meg Dalton who described Ignite as “TED talks on steroids” and here’s why…

There are 12 presentations back to back. Each presenter is only given 5 minutes to get up there and engage the audience with stories of their personal or professional passions. You only get to have 20 slides and they auto-advance every 15 seconds.

Now, for most people, public speaking is not something generally looked at as being enjoyable, or even something you’d volunteer yourself for. However, I think it is an incredibly valuable skill to have and is something that I personally always want to work on for myself.  All that being said, I’m giving my first talk in two weeks and I hope you’ll join me! It’ll either be a huge success or a big flop – either way it will be fun (or funny) to watch! All kidding aside, I’m really looking forward to it and I have prepared some great stuff to share with everyone.

Soul Seasons at Digital Graffiti Festival in Alys Beach, FL

My talk will be a behind the scenes look into my latest video installation project, “Soul Seasons”. I’ll be taking you through my creative process from concept to creation, talk about how I got funding for the project, the limitations that actually ended up enhancing my productivity, and the opportunities that enabled the project to exist at all.

If you are someone who is interested in crafting unique ideas and learning how to get funding to create the projects of your dreams, then don’t miss my talk!  Come down to the Ferguson Library in Stamford on Thursday August 15th at 7PM for Digital Ideas & Analog Dreams (and for the amazing line-up of everyone else who is speaking – check it out!)

Oh – and you have to buy your ticket in advance!  It’s only 10 bux and sells out quickly. Buy now at this link.  See you then!

 

 

Visual Goodness: The Week In Pictures – July 26

The theme for most of my photos from this week is SUMMER FOOD!

Inspired by the best purchase made all week – a 5 burner gas grill! You know those purchases you make in your life that make all the difference in the world compared to what you’ve been using forever? Well this was one of them. Huge life upgrade. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been using the crappiest $30 charcoal grills for your whole life and just working with what you have, no big deal. Well, we made the investment in a Charbroil 5-Burner grill and for me, it turns everything you make from amateur dish to gourmet.

Just keep in mind that if you go out and buy a grill you should expect to leave like 2 HOURS of build time before cooking dinner!  We had this grand scheme idea to surprise my family by buying the grill last weekend and cook them dinner – but we neglected to factor in the build time. So there we were, in the sweltering heat wave, the sun is going down and there are 16 steps in the instructions that read like robot code. Thankfully, three of us put our heads together and figured it out before we lost our minds.

Of course after the first 3 steps you begin to think that step 4 should be “order pizza”. Why was I going into all this?  Oh yeah, because the photos are dark for a reason!  Because it took forever to put the grill together and then finally get food on it and then remember to snap photos-but here we are! Everything cooked quickly and evenly and had a beautiful char on it.

After experimenting with the stuff you’d expect to cook on the grill (corn on the cob, bbq chicken, veggie kabobs) we decided to play with some new ideas!  Grilled pizza!

In the photos above we have the before & after shots of my veggie pizza experiment. This was store bought dough (next time I’ll be making my own), pizza sauce mixed with sundried tomato pesto, spinach, roasted garlic and a mixture of shaved cheese (pecorino, parmesan, mozzarella). It was so fabulous I can’t even express this in words. By far some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.

Since pizza on the grill had been such a success – we decided to try another fun idea – something we discovered in Napa earlier this year, beercan chicken!

It’s a crazy thing I had never heard of before. A beercan filled half way, is inserted into a chicken that has been dry rubbed with spices, placed on the grill in an upright position and cooks on indirect heat for an hour. Since we’re new to this I bought a pre-made handcrafted rub that turned out to be fantastic. We made two chickens with two different rubs with cutesy dumb names, “Pixie Dust” and “Chick Magnet”. Chick Magnet was considered to be a southwest rub with paprika, garlic, chili pepper, coriander, onion and turmeric. Pixie Dust was similar but a little simpler mixture with celery seed. Both turned out to be excellent, and the whole process of making beercan chicken was ridiculously simple.

OK, OK, enough about delicious food. I’m getting hungry.

Other successes this week include getting my Holly Danger™ trademark certificate in the mail!

It took me 8 months to get all the paperwork to go through, and 10 years of procrastination to get over!  Totally.Worth.It.  

Finally, at the end of the week the heat wave started to die down. It couldn’t have been a more perfect time for boating on Long Island Sound.

Since having recently received our boat licenses, we have been practicing driving my family’s boat on the weekends. I’m finally starting to get the hang of it, and really enjoy the expansiveness of being in the open water. Red right return!

Happy Friday everyone!  Have a great weekend!

Visual Goodness: The Week in Pictures – July 18

I’m busy playing catch-up here in blog world – this post is my “Week in Pictures” for last Friday!

It’s been a complete nose-to-the-grindstone week full of nothing but deadlines and lethargic heat waves!

I spent three, very motivated, aka, sleepless nights, tired and wired, working on my new motion graphics reel. I am very close to being able to release it to the public soon, and when I do, you’ll be the first to know! The rest of the time I spent working on an animation project at the day job, and some pretty cool movie trailer titles for the film Shepard and Dark. So I haven’t had a lot of time to gallivant and take photos like I would have liked, but hey, thats real life.

I started a photo-log of the food that I’ve been cooking lately, like I mentioned in my last “Creative Wellness” post. I’m trying to come up with a regular menu of healthy stuff that I can make pretty easily throughout the week. Plus it’s fun to take photos of beautiful, colorful food!

At the very end of the week when all the work was put to bed, I did get to make it out for one super fun birthday BBQ, for fellow redhead blogger, Kristien Del Ferraro of OmNomCT. Redhead bloggers unite!!  Check out the OmnomCT site if you haven’t already – it is a super awesome food blog of all things food related in Fairfield County. An absolute must if you want to find anything good in this area to eat or drink, as well as check out upcoming food events! Happy Birthday to Kristien!  Thanks again for the great night of food, friends, music and smores over the fire pit! 

I wore my favorite shades and my pirate best for the party, and appropriately toted around a Rogue Dead Guy Ale growler. Best purchase of the week!

Lastly, I’ve been working out the details for my upcoming talk at Ignite Stamford on August 15th.   Here is a description of what I’ll be talking about!

And thats a wrap for the week in pictures!