Do Something Different

10.21.2013

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also been struggling with the fact that I don’t have a studio anymore, and not only that, but my computer at home is so outdated that I can barely use photoshop without it crashing.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

10.04.2013

Creative Wellness: Daily Mantras

09.18.2013

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

07.30.2013

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

07.26.2013

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

07.18.2013

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!

 

Creative Wellness: Coffee Isn’t A Drug, It’s A Vitamin

07.17.2013

I find that for me, the healthier I am, the more productive I am in every aspect of my life. When I started my weekly Creative Wellness posts, my intention was to keep the topic of health on everyone’s minds, including my own. If you’re like me, a creative person in a sedentary work environment, you have to come up with creative ways to keep yourself accountable.

Knowing that I have planned to check in every Wednesday has been a helpful way to remind myself of the goals I’ve set & it’s my hope that it might do the same for you.

I look at these posts as if it were a weekly “check in”. I ask myself, “Am I accomplishing the things I wanted to this week?”  “Am I trying to eat healthier and cooking more foods at home?” “If I’m not doing either of those things, what has held me back?” “What can I do to get closer to achieving them?” Then I would re-set my goals and check-in the following week.

Pretty straight forward right?  I think it truly helps.  However, this week I noticed something I was doing that I didn’t like. I was lying to myself. OK, to be honest, I wasn’t lying directly like reporting that I’m 10 lbs lighter when I’m not (although I’ve done that before), I wasn’t being honest with myself about the food choices I was making. Coffee isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin, right?!

About a month ago I vowed to cook 90% of my meals at home, as clean as possible (as in, organic, no preservatives etc) and that I would make it to the gym 3 times a week despite my busy schedule.

I started my own photo-log of meals that I was cooking and consuming and noticed that I only took photos of them if they were bountifully green, healthy, home-cooked meals so that I would inevitable feel like I hit my goal.  At the end of the week I would review my photos only to realize that I neglected to capture the good and the bad. No greasy french fry pictures in my collection. Only beautiful green salads, wraps and stir-frys – I’m awesome!  It’s important to be aware of things like this that we do because that type of data really shows you actual progress, and where improvement is needed.

And what is progress without data?  It’s a little nerdy, but tracking your progress is one of the most effective ways to getting closer to your goals, whatever they may be. I’m glad I checked in and realized I was doing this because it helps me re-set my focus. If I’m aiming to eat 90% of healthy clean foods and find myself constantly failing, maybe I should cut myself some slack and take it back a notch and aim for 75%, then strive for 80% the next week, then 85% etc. You get the point. Gradually set yourself up for success.

I’ve been learning that little changes over time can really go a long way. Sooner or later you end up with a routine that works for you. Keep testing and failing until something clicks. But above all, be honest with yourself and you’ll watch your progress get better and better. Check in with me each week!

 

 

Jumpstart: New Reel Coming Soon

07.15.2013

In the last week I’ve been searching for inspiring motion graphic and video reels, which (for those of you who don’t know) is a concisely cut video-portfolio of work that is edited together by an artist/videographer/editor etc., so that your audience can get a sense for your style, skills and experience.

I’ve made several reels over the past few years and noticed that I was way overdue to re-cut my own. It was a lot of fun digging through the archives, and also totally embarrassing to watch my old ones, like my FIRST EVER from 2002. However, it also made me realize how awesome it is to keep all that old stuff, to see how far you’ve come and to remember where you’ve been. The last one I did in 2007 was still in standard definition with 4:3 ratio!  Yikes!

After doing my research, I realized that most of the reels out there don’t tell the full story. They mostly show you bits and pieces of projects that the artist (and maybe even entire teams) have worked on, which often lacks a personal connection to the creator. For me, I’ve struggled with re-making mine over the years because I’ve worked in a corporate environment, on corporate projects that don’t necessarily reflect my personal style.  I’ve been designing and building on one brand over the last 6 years, and the work I do is very internally focused with a lot of wording that not many people outside of the company would understand. I took this as a challenge and made a decision.

I needed to find a creative solution that enables me to showcase my work & also reflects who I am as an artist.

With this new motivation, I came up with the idea to re-mix all of the projects that I’ve created in the last year and tell my story through the graphics in my own personal way. This meant re-writing, re-scoring, re-coloring and completely re-working it into an entirely new direction.

I know you’re dying to see what I mean by all of this, but my new reel will not be released to the public just yet. Please stay tuned and I will share the final results of this idea very soon!

While searching for motion graphics inspiration for my own work, I came across dozens of great videos that I had to share.  Here is a really beautiful audio/visual collaboration called “That Will Be The Day” by composer Aldo Aréchar and motion graphics artist Matthew DiVito (Mr. Div). Make sure you check out Mr. Div’s page. I’ve actually been a fan of his for awhile, when I fell in love with his simple retro style gifs.

 

Totally mesmerizing and beautiful right?!

Here is some more brilliant music & visual combos….

I’ve been listening to Tame Impala all weekend long and wanted to feature one of my favorite stop-motion music videos by them called “Half Full Glass of Wine”. 

 

I was so obsessed this weekend that I ended up doing what I do best, and spontaneously purchased tickets to go see them play with the Flaming Lips at Terminal 5 in October.  Here is another great song of theirs, called “Elephant”.

 

Hope everyone has an inspiring & productive week!

 

 

 

 

Creative Wellness: Eating Clean & Green

07.10.2013

I’ve made a real effort this week to take some of my own advice and use those planning skills I talked about in the last Creative Wellness post.

I find it so easy to get lazy after working 8+ hours in front of a computer and not wanting to bother with cooking at the end of the day. Made even easier to slack by discovered sites like seamless and grubhub (which is so dumb and easy that you just click a few buttons and food magically arrives at your doorstep!) To counteract the inevitable, I did a massive amount of shopping so my fridge would be packed and I wouldn’t have the excuse for taking the easy way out.

It has made a huge difference having a clean, colorful, variety of food within arms reach and has enabled me to want to cook that much more.  I also find that once you start cooking, the momentum continues much more easily because you end up with leftovers and can later mix them into stir frys, etc, and make a whole new concoction of goodness.

This is all very basic stuff you already know, but sometimes it’s important to be reminded of the little things we can do to make our lives better & healthier every day.

One thing that has really transformed my views over the last few years has been to really focus on clean and green foods!  By clean, I mean, no preservatives, organic 90% of the time, and as little (and pronounceable) ingredients as possible. By green, I mean, literally all things green in color! One of my cooking mantras is to always find something green to mix into whatever it is I’m making. With these mindsets in place, you generally tend to eat better overall.

Why am bringing this up? Well, because for me, this ultimately leads to much more productivity and happiness. And I know it will for you too if that is something you want.

I wasn’t always obsessed with food and health the way I am now. In my teenage years I worked in retail and remember endless half hour breaks that included McNuggets (Mmm…autolyzed yeast extract! Click that McNugget link, go ahead!), fries and a coke!  Back then, we didn’t know or care what was in the food.  In fact, our whole generation grew up with it. It was always seen as convenient, affordable, entertainment to bring your kids to McDonalds. But – with all the things we know now about food – how can people STILL eat there??  Unless you really don’t care, don’t believe, or don’t understand that what you put into your body actually affects you.

I’m hyper conscious of all of this because I watch my family continue to buy and consume products with high fructose corn syrup, and all those other bad things that you learn will give you cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Why do we do these things instead of making changes?  Are we so set in our ways that we can’t conceive of making different choices?

If you do nothing else to change what you do eat – at least consider the top things NOT to eat.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Read the ingredients, it’s in EVERYTHING!  Heinz ketchup you’ve been using for years, yup, it’s in there too.  It’s made from mutated, genetically modified corn, and causes so many diseases, obesity, high blood pressure. If you want to build a healthy immune system, you have to remove this from your diet.

MSG – It is used as a flavor enhancer added to chinese food, canned veggies, salad dressing, soups and processed meats. If you look it up, on every site the phrase “generally recognized as safe” is always in quotes. Why? Because it’s not freakin safe to eat, and has been known to give people a slew of symptoms including numbness, burning sensations in the face and neck, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea.

Hydrogenated Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Oil & Trans Fats – This stuff is found in most processed foods and nearly 90% of foods at the grocery store. Hydrogenation is the chemical process by which liquid vegetable oil is turned into solid fat. It literally means that hydrogen was added to oil to change the shelf life of food to a ridiculously long time. Think of how long that stays in your system!  These oils have been linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart disease and obesity.

Artificial Sweeteners, Aspartame, Sucralose, Phenalalanine – AKA, Sweet and Low, Splenda and Equal, and it’s in a ton of diet sodas and drinks. Mmm… chemicals. Please don’t ever use this stuff. Even when I was a kid, I remember sitting at the diners and scribbling on all the fake sugar packets saying “CAUSES CANCER”. Just don’t use it. There are SO many other alternatives. There are so many bad things to list of what using this shit causes.. just click the link above. Too much to say here.

White sugar & white flour: Bleached and Enriched foods – Don’t buy anything that says it has been BLEACHED or ENRICHED. Do you like to eat bleach?? In order to get white flour, the nutrients are removed and it becomes a form of sugar for your body.  Did you know that sugar has bone char in it?  It’s used to process sugar and is made from the bones of cattle. Sugar depresses the immune system, increases your risk of cancer, it just leads to so many bad things. 

Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) – This stuff is toxic and found in most processed foods. Food is genetically modified when genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans are inserted into its DNA to alter the organism’s characteristics. This is done to food crops in order to create plants that are resistant to the herbicides used to destroy weeds and to enable them to produce their own poison to kill insects harmful to crops. The dangers of genetically modified foods should not be underestimated, and a concerted effort needs to be made to limit or ban their use, as has already been done in Europe. However, with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, having close ties to biotech giant Monsanto, and the senior adviser to the FDA, Michael Taylor, being a former Monsanto vice president.

Luckily, in my state, the state of CT, a law was just passed to LABEL these foods. Be on the look out for things that are NON-GMO. Here is a great article on how to avoid genetically modified foods. 

I’ll leave my ranting there.  I didn’t originally intend to post this much info on the subject. It’s all readily available all over the place. However, I feel the need to reinforce this stuff because there are so many people that don’t know how serious all of this really is.

This info is important to me and I hope it’s important to you and your families!

Have a happy, productive & healthy Wednesday!

Jumpstart: Feeling Good & Moody

07.08.2013

I hope everyone had a great weekend!!  Even just four days of vacation feels like a complete mental refresh from where I was last week.  It just goes to show you how important it is to unplug – and by unplug I mean, sit on the beach and soak up some fresh air and sun!  These are things I don’t really get enough of, working in my editing suite day in and day out. You have to make time for that.

This week’s Jumpstart column is all about the visual goodness of pinterest and making mood boards!

I’m a late bloomer into the Pinterest world, having only joined earlier this year, but have found it to be incredibly motivating and inspiring in so many ways. I also find this site to be a totally necessary tool if you are a designer or artist of any kind. Never before have we had such an extensive resource of so much visual material all categorized digitally in one place. I think I used to use google image searches to do visual research – Pinterest is so much better! 

I primarily use this site for creating mood boards for future art projects. I often accidentally find myself searching for hours because each page never really has an ending point. It’s very addictive, but also very rewarding! You hit the search button and scroll down the giant library of images and it continues to reload 20 more amazing images, each more awesome than the next. I have lost so many hours of my life doing this!  But I’ve also gained a serious collection of ideas, color palettes, font options and visual references that have helped me when creating new work.

If you want to search the funnier side of pinterest, check out the site: Pinterest You Are Drunk, for all the super weird and crazy things that people have pinned.

In the last few months I’ve been signing up for random skillshare classes, which is a really affordable and super fun way to learn some new tips and tricks in a variety of fields. Classes usually run you twenty bucks and you get connected to a variety of other people who share your interests and can credibly give you feedback.

The most recent class I took was an illustrator class called, Digital Illustration: Communication with Color Pattern and Texture, by Brad Woodard. This class forced me to take time out from my regular routines of creating video and gave me a great opportunity to work on my vector-drawing chops. The first part of the class was purely just the art of sketching with good old pen and paper. As part of my initial research, I used pinterest to create a mood board for this project. The challenge was to visually illustrate the word “quiet” or the word “loud”.

I had been immersed in yoga classes at the time and decided to follow my inspiration into drawing poses and combining the image of yoga with nature to illustrate the word “quiet”. The images I pinned on my boards helped me to see patterns of what I was attracted to, because I would start to see similar images, or similar colors and textures. It also gave me a reference point to start drawing the body positions that I wanted to portray in the final piece.

Due to some unexpected family health issues at the time, I must confess that I have yet to finish my final illustration, otherwise I would be posting it here. However, here is a sample of what my notebook looked like as I started my initial sketching of ideas, along with some keywords I scribbled out to capture the intention of the piece. I intend to finish the piece this month and will be updating this post when that happens. That’s another great thing about skillshare, you can work at your own pace!

So for today’s jumpstart, I’d like to share with you my mood board for my illustration project. I’m in love with this particular board of images and would love to continue designing in these styles. I could seriously pin all day if I didn’t have deadlines to hit!

Do you use pinterest?  If so, what brings you to that site?  What types of images do you search for?

Please connect with my on pinterest if you haven’t already!  Happy Monday & Happy Pinning!