"So what's it gonna take? Silver shadow believer..." -Shiny Toy Guns

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Sauce

As I reflect on this past summer, I also must announce that I was laid off from work. My time at this agency was spent amongst seasoned professionals who guided and helped me to acknowledge my strengths. I feel fortunate and will miss everyone I worked with, as we all part ways on different paths.
I will never forget when I interviewed with them, one of the requirements was to write an argumentative essay and turn it in by 7pm the following day. I was to choose a stance and persuade my readers to take my viewpoint. The subject matter was up for grabs and I was incredibly nervous and indecisive about what to write about. I asked friends who suggested heavy duty things like "capital punishment" and "the war on terror," but I need something I was passionate about so I wrote about my favorite hot sauce, Tapatio:

Tap into Tapatio
Tapatio is a superior hot sauce, much better than the more widely accepted, Tabasco Sauce. When dining in a restaurant, ask the waiter for “hot sauce” and Tabasco is generally what will be served. Often it’s already out on the table, amongst the salt and pepper. Tabasco calls its product, “legendary.” Understandably, they have been around since 1868, but what about Tapatio? What about a sauce with perfect consistency and flavor? Tapatio is an excellent addition to just about any meal and is simply more cost efficient than Tabasco Sauce. “El Tap,” once only known for its use in Mexican style dishes, is now a household name and yet receives inadequate recognition.

Tabasco may be the most well known hot sauce with the longest run, but Tapatio is by far the tastiest. It’s stronger, spicier, and possesses a smokier flavor, with a hint of garlic. It’s a better condiment, a thicker and more substantial sauce, and can even hold its own on a tortilla chip, oyster or cocktail shrimp. Tabasco is weak sauce – of thin consistency, sweet in taste, combined with an overwhelming flavor of vinegar. Vinegar, unless sprinkled on a salad or fish & chips, is a flavor that tends to compete with the taste of food.

Tapatio works in conjunction with food, joining forces to produce the delectable. It holds its own quite nicely and serves as an excellent additive for cooking as well. Originally, El Tap was just applied in preparing foods like burritos and tacos, but now runs the gamut in many different styles of cuisine. It is delicious in soups, casseroles, and sauces; and because of its thicker stature it blends better than Tabasco sauce. Cooking requires creativity and Tapatio adds flair to eggs, pizza, sandwiches, and hamburgers. It is even superb for doctoring up garlic bread, Top Ramen, a bowl of popcorn, or a Bloody Mary.

While there are many uses for hot sauces and specific recipes that call for them, another benefit that sets Tapatio apart from the rest is its price. It is extremely affordable, much less expensive than Tabasco sauce. In a price comparison, recently conducted at Lucky’s Grocery Store, a 5 oz. bottle of Tabasco (the big size) goes for roughly $4.59; a 5 oz. bottle of Tapatio is only $0.77. Their 10 oz. bottle is $1.17 and their jumbo, 32 oz. size is only $3.19. It’s a no-brainer; save a couple bucks for a much better buy.

Shall we settle the score? Developed in Louisiana, Tabasco was the first hot sauce and upholds a good reputation, but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice. Tapatio was only founded 37 years ago, here in California, and yet has surpassed Tabasco’s value by proving to be a stronger and more flavorful sauce. It has demonstrated that it works just as well, if not better, with various types of food, while cooking, on snacks, and in beverages. Lastly, Tapatio has established itself as the low price leader. It is said that, “the secret is in the sauce,” but Tapatio’s excellence will not stay quiet for long. Look out Tabasco; it’s only a matter of time before Tapatio gets the respect it deserves.

Too funny to reread it, almost two years later, there are so many things I would add now. Needless to say, I got the job. It was to ensure I could meet deadlines and that I wasn't an idiot, I think. But, it turned out to include consumer insights about the category, competing brands, and price comparison and would later pave the way for me to participate in new business. When I was hired, the Managing Director said, "You have two qualities I just can't teach someone: you're smart and you can write. You can learn the rest and while you work here, you will live and breathe advertising." And I did. Luckily, my time out of work has been short. I recently received a position at a very smart agency in San Francisco doing social media again. The people are nice, the clients exciting, and I am working alongside my former colleagues who were kind enough to recommend me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Interview With N8 Van Dyke

This summer, I was honored to interview San Francisco illustrator, Nate Van Dyke. When I had agreed to write the piece for Four G’s Magazine some time before, I had never seen his work. Well, I had, I just didn’t know it yet. About a week before our scheduled interview, I started doing my homework—some extensive Internet research—trying to familiarize myself with his pieces and determine what this artist is all about.

What I found out was that I had most definitely seen his work before. He had worked with big brands and advertising agencies I was familiar with, and had been interviewed by many magazines, including Juxtapoz. This research was supposed to better prepare me and perfect my questions, but instead it just made me incredibly nervous. I was no longer interviewing Nate Van Dyke the artist; I was interviewing Nate Van Dyke the genius.

When we arrived at the bar he suggested to meet at in the Haight, I started to relax a bit. “If he wants to do the interview in a bar, he must be pretty chill,” I thought to myself. And he was. We sat down with a pitcher of beer, questions loaded, and recorder on. My left hand worked furiously writing copious notes, as I conversed with a brilliant illustrator. My nerves quickly faded as Nate began talking. For someone who draws some truly crazy stuff, he was very considerate and just genuinely really nice.

After the interview, he invited us back to see his house and studio. I was in awe; his art was everywhere and it was amazing to see the originals in real life. Like a giant nerd, I snapped as many photos as I could with my phone. The experience was one I will never forget and the article was extremely inspiring to write. Issue 3 of Four G’s Magazine comes out sometime in November and my piece N8 Van Dyke, the Man Behind the Chimp will be featured. Please check back for more information.

Below is a parting gift Nate left me in my notebook.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Influx Curated Inspiration

Last month, I attended Influx Curated, in SF with one of my Creative Directors. I have been trying to write about it for weeks and now finally made the time. The conference was organized by Influx Strategic Consulting, a BSSP company. 10 speakers were selected to speak and invite two friends, resulting in 30 speakers total, and all were limited to only 5 minutes each. As the invite read, "Their brief was simple to: instigate, stir, motivate, and inspire." There was a lot of hope flying around, I captured some in my notes and will try to give you a little of what they gave us:

Become a part of the notion for common good.
Design can change the world.
The 20th century was all about what we could produce and the 21st century is all about what we can sustain.
Be open-minded.
Be problem solvers and find a way to do things better.
Now is the chance to be both teacher and student.
On a networked planet, connection is frictionless.
Roll up your sleeves and get involved!
The two most inspiring words in the English language are: YES & AND. “And” is the word that unites things.
Have the ability to integrate.
Power of the word: YES. Have no fear, be grateful, be open, forgive, love (acceptance), have honesty, and humanity.
Fear as a motivator is a joke.
Find a way to care and make it personal.
Power of the word: No. How to deal with blocks? Change can be a gift. Don’t get discouraged.
People will have similar ideas, don’t let this stop you.
Some of your most creative works will come from sudden change.
Stop trying too hard to be creative and unique and it will come.
Writers: you must keep storytelling active.
It’s never boring to try to improve something.
Don’t abandon advertising, improve it.
Reality is how you perceive it.
What engages an audience? Give the audience nothing and co-create with them.
Be comfortable with silence.
Story tell, the past inspires us.
Build strong stories and roots for our future.
Break rules.
We live in a culture of fear.
You can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t, look again.
Have a perception altering experience.
Trust your own intuition and have no fear.
Change is ultimately what we make of it.
Define good: the consumer doesn’t know what is “good” anymore.
Be authentic; the brand itself has to connect with its audience.
Create a culture.

These notes I try to reread when I am feeling discouraged. At a time when things are extremely uncertain, we need to look to one another for inspiration. The conference was a gift on multiple levels: as a person who works in advertising, as a writer, and as an art lover. Jeben Berg, who works on Marketing and Creative Strategy at YouTube spoke about online video, its interpretations, and connectivity. But, what I found even more stimulating was that his presentation included a fantastic video of time-lapsed graffiti. I was thrilled to be at a conference for work, all the while watching a beautiful piece unfold amidst a concrete jungle. It was like everything had come full circle, and I was viewing my generation making their mark in more ways than one.

I connected with Jeben to thank him and his response was nothing short of poetic, "One can only hope that a few words of a 5 minute presentation penetrate deep enough to take hold and provide an anchor from which to develop your own courses of action. YouTube is a great free place to launch an online journey but it takes all of the web to give it life."

His art, even more so profound: youtube.com/beakdip

More on Jeben, covered by Juxtapoz Magazine. So many new influences for me to admire and study. I am so thankful to all the people who spoke. A full list can be found here. And a special thank you to work, for sending me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Most Def. Consider "ReconsidART"

Artist, Ricky Watts has been a great friend and inspiration to me for a number of years. His work is always innovative and a truly perception altering experience. Anyone with an interest in graffiti, works made of recycled material, or simply looking to expand your mind for the evening should join us for:


Friday, July 10 7:00p to 10:00p
at Petaluma Mail Depot, Petaluma, CA

Event Info

All art lovers in or around Sonoma County, should stop by. Visit Petaluma for some downtown dining and then head over to the Mail Depot for some creativity!

His work will be featured with Nate Burleson's, a must see combo. I caught a sneak peak of some of the pieces and they are mind blowing fantastic! A personal interview with Ricky can be found here on Azy Does It.

Also visit his site!

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Which Witch is Wicked?

It wasn't a great shocker to discover there was a witch in my family, 16th century. Plagued by intuition, vivid dreams, and constant introspective thought, it actually makes perfect sense. I suppose it's no accident that Halloween is my favorite holiday and I'd dress like a witch more than once a year if I had my way. According to my cousin (the family historian) my ancestor, Mercy was sentenced to death for not following suit. Supposedly, a few town's people's crops and herds died after a run in with her. Coincidence? Probably. Still pretty cool though. She was issued a reprieve and lived instead, good news for me or else I wouldn't be here.

No surprise, that going to see the Broadway musical Wicked with my witchy family at The Orpheum, was a thrilling experience for me. It was in a word: superb. I was a little nervous too; I am not a big fan of musicals. I love the Wizard of Oz, but others had told me it was nothing like it and that I might be disappointed. After seeing it I recognize the grave differences between the two - but none of them are disappointing.

It was rich in its story lines, costumes, and sets, and beyond just its visual elements - it was smartly written. A political tale of good and evil, right and wrong, leaders and followers, a nation of fear, equal rights, animal rights, discrimination, prejudice, ethics, and standing up for what you believe in - it was hard for me to imagine how anyone could be disappointed. I won't say too much more, except that it makes you question the definition of the word: wicked.

Mercy was considered a witch because she didn't believe what the others did. How sad that people were/still are persecuted for having a different point of view. Wicked was inspiring and when I wasn't enthralled with the show, I was starring at the ceiling! The Orpheum Theater in itself an architectural work of art. I spent the entire intermission looking up. The show was magic. Anyone who can, should go before it is gone.

A special thanks to my cousin Rod for making it happen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Santigold Trouble Blank!

For weeks, I have been meaning to write about a few things and just never got them down. In May, I went to see Santigold, Amanda Blank, and Trouble Andrew perform at the Warfield, in San Francisco. They rocked it; I absolutely loved the show. These three musicians are incredibly unique, all containing different styles, but complement each other nicely and perform well together. I love anything cutting edge and they are nothing short of it!

I have been a huge fan of Miss Santigold since I first heard her voice a year or so back, at the Roshambo Winery Tournament, in Sonoma. I liked her so much, I remembered a verse, and Googled it when I got home. Since purchasing her album, I have gone on to find that she has performed many singles with other well-known artists. From rap, to hip-hop, to punk, to alternative, to pop, she fits nicely into any genre. Her music is hard to classify because she encompasses so many styles and I believe this is what true artistry is all about. In fact, just about every song on her album could be considered a different genre; it is so rich in variety, it’s ridiculous. She had excellent stage presence and was truly personable to her audience. She even brought a bunch of people up on stage to do the last song with her!

Trouble Andrew, I discovered through a friend who was a fan. What can I say, he’s a professional snowboarder for Burton and I love his punk rock-ness. Because he opened the show, I didn’t get to enjoy him long enough. Amanda Blank, I heard for the first time and she was a fantastic performer; there is nothing blank about her personality! She had spunk. Definitely one of the best female rap artists I have heard to date.

The show was amazing; I love Santigold’s album and just bought two albums from her previous work in a band called Stiffed, and all of them are great volumes of music. I also purchased Trouble Andrew’s album this year and am looking forward to Amanda Blank’s coming out in July (I heard). Now go listen to their music!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NY Street Advertising Takeover

I meant to write about this last month when I first read of it, but time got away from me. I love advertising, but as a creative person and lover of art, I must admit that this project is absolute brilliance. NYSAT (New York Street Advertising Takeover) was created in response to the illegal billboards throughout NYC. Illegal, because they are not registered with city, who wasn't doing much to stop billboard companies from cluttering them with eyesores. So, NYSAT white washed 120 illegal billboards and over 80 artists went out and filled them with beauty.
The project is the mastermind of www.publicadcampaign.com and while marketing is in many ways my passion, this is worth mention. It's incredibly revolutionary.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Story of Graphic Designer and Fine Arts Creator, Richard “Ricky” Watts

“Completing pieces is like growing limbs, you cut one off and a new one grows.” –Ricky Watts

Ricky Watts is a freelance graphic designer and artist based in Northern California. He is proficient in all aspects of graphic design from concept, to production, to completion. A skilled painter and illustrator, exploring many mediums--brush, pen, mouse, pencil, and can–-he feeds his passion for fine art on canvases shown in galleries and commissioned surfaces up and down the west coast.

Ricky Watts has been an artist his whole life, but it wasn’t until his early teens that he got serious about his true passion. He was born in San Francisco and soon after, moved north to Sonoma County. With the encouragement of his family, it was here that he made the decision to do what he loved for the rest of his life. Ricky’s dad was always supportive, “I think it was mostly because of his love for art, he was a painter too, and never seriously pursued it,” Ricky said. Not only just a contributor to Ricky’s pursuit in fine art, his dad also paved the way for his interest in graphic design, “When I was in high school, my dad brought home an old Apple computer from work as a birthday present–-it had Photoshop 3.0 on it--so I started messing around with it and really enjoyed working with the program.”

Growing up, Ricky spent a lot of time drawing and studying typography. Through peers in junior high, he was introduced to graffiti art, which would later become an important aspect of his career. “In eighth grade my friend Jared brought the magazine Can Control, out of Seattle, to math class and after seeing it, I knew I wanted to do it.” Always interested in bending letters, style writing came naturally to him, “Sneaking out in the middle of the night to go paint; it was rebellious and exciting.” He decided he wanted to pursue the art form, both personally and professionally. Into adulthood, his love for aerosol lead to the creation of pieces on paper and canvas, where he turned “rebellious graffiti” into sophisticated works of art.

He went on to complete advanced placement art classes in high school and after graduation, went to college. “I thought to myself, how can I turn art into making money? I’ll go to art school.” He accepted many jobs to get him by while in school–-Blockbuster, Safeway, even a doctor’s office, “I was dead broke, so I took a job at Safeway, where they promoted me to the meat department. It was the worst promotion of my life! I had the cleanup shift--it was disgusting. I lasted 3 months.” He received a degree in graphic design at the Art Institute of California in San Diego and got a job at a print shop where he did just about everything. Designing logos and marketing elements came naturally coming from his background and so did his promotions, as Ricky moved up in his career. But after two and half years in San Diego, a degree, and numerous completed pieces, Ricky decided to come home. He moved back to Petaluma experienced and with an impressive portfolio to show for it.

Ricky continued working for print shops, carried out his passion for painting and drawing, and did freelance anywhere and everywhere in between. “I worked at design during the day and painted at night. I was doing a lot of canvases and exploring other fine art elements.” Being in the industry for the last 8 years, Ricky has developed a very unique skill set. He’s covered all aspects of print media–-designing as well as preflighting and production. He’s designed numerous event flyers, marketing materials and worked on collaborative projects with other artists and designers.

Ricky has finished hundreds of fine art pieces, in multiple mediums, having had his work displayed in many shows and galleries. “The first show I actually ever did was at Sonoma State University, in the Student Union. It brought about a lot of visibility to my work.” Ricky has since done shows as far south as San Diego to as far north as Portland. “I have put paintings in shows and after taking them down, have added to them, only for them to go up in shows again. I have a lot of unfinished projects.” That’s ok, Ricky Watts in himself is a constant work in progress, always reinventing and emerging with new innovations for design and art works.

If you are in need of a fresh new perspective, Ricky is currently taking on new freelance design projects. He also has beautiful prints available for sale in limited amounts, each signed and numbered. For more information, please visit: www.rickywatts.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"TimeBomb" is Timeless

Time Bomb - Interactive Graffiti (StupidKrap & Holler) from Mike Hill on Vimeo.

This is so FRESH! TimeBomb is an interactive graffiti piece that includes 9 artists whose work is layered over one another, all shot in time-lapse photography. The artists: DMOTE, Kid Zoom, Ben Frost, Numskull, Roach, John Doe, Creon, Bennett and KissKiss. The project is the genius of digital artist Lukasz Karluk (Holler) and Maddi Boyd (KissKiss), sculptor/painter. The work is being shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Sydney, Australia. The installation features 2 graffiti walls. One is the painting itself, the other is the projection of the film. The film aspect is motion censored; people have the ability to effect how it changes with their movements, as the piece displays the history of the wall and layers of art beneath. So often graffiti is painted over and this shows the art in stages and what lived on the wall before.
Click here for more info

Friday, May 22, 2009

Azy Does NY

I have always wanted to go to New York, but have yet to have made it. Dear friends of mine artist, Ricky Watts and his fantastic girlfriend, Noe just went. They took with them my "Azy Does It" promotional button and Noe took Azy's picture everywhere! It's kind of like I was there. So thoughtful, so cool, so funny. It's just plain RAD. Loves!

Monday, May 18, 2009

MoMA Sees: Life is Art

This MoMA (Modern Museum of Art) video made me teary eyed today. It is one part of their ad campaign, “I See” and beautifully shows that art can be a definitive comparison to day-to-day life. It shows how art evokes emotion and speaks to us as human beings. I am a big believer in the “art is everywhere” philosophy and thus, truly love this. MoMA gets it, they definitely see. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My New Blog: Cause For Creative

I just started a new blog, Cause For Creative. I am so excited! Check it out, it's all for a good cause.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Circus

Some say life is a bowl of cherries, others a jar of jalapeƱos, or a box of chocolate. I once wrote it was like a quarter machine: http://azydoesit.blogspot.com/2008/08/life-is-like-quarter-machine.html

My newest: Life is like the circus. You have to jump through flaming hoops, tame the lions, walk a tightrope, and deal with a bunch of clowns for any chance of making the big top.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interaction Can Rebuild Trust

Oh yes, Marketing. The glorious field is also an undeniable curse. Once interested in it, there is no going back. Every consumer product is up for subjective criticism, and you can longer watch an ad without having an opinion or go to the movies without pointing out product placement. I had professor in college warn me that such a day would come. He was my Media Criticism teacher, a smart man, who taught me how to decide which way an ad was skewed and to recognize underlying messages in story content. In one sense I am grateful, in another cursed. No longer interested in TV and barely relaxed enough to get through a whole movie, my subjective criticism haunts me.
I now notice if there are only Audi's featured in a film or that Snapple changed their packaging. But, are consumers noticing? Maybe. But are they influenced to buy because of it? Probably not. I find consumer behavior fascinating. But let’s face it, the good ol’ consumer just isn’t as fun to watch anymore and isn’t as easily motivated either. While the behavior is still interesting, it’s very different. We have found ourselves in the midst of uncertain times where consumers, myself included in this, aren’t spending the way they used to. What once worked in ads before doesn't anymore. Or maybe it does, but just not for right now. The best ads these days feature a very simple quality that most advertising was lacking for a long time: Honesty.
I think about my fellow consumer often. Mostly because I am one and it’s my job. My first thought is, “What would I want to hear and why?” The “what and why” are the trickiest part of a system I had adopted from Journalism early on. In trying to comprehend a target audience, I embrace the 5W's, the “who, what, when, where, and why.” And really, when you think about it, this rule can be applied to any situation involving people and communication. In the case of Journalism it's a structure for an interview, or maybe simply an outline to better understand the audience reading. In the case of Marketing, apply them to your product, and again to simply understand your audience's buying behavior. Merely knowing your audience and what they are about is the key to any act of enticement.
This is where I believe we failed so long ago, not only media but society at large. There is no trust anymore, only skepticism. If social media has taught anything about marketing and promoting, it's that people trust their peers. WOM (word-of-mouth) is still a very effective vehicle – now more than ever, consumers rely on people they trust for the answers. Companies need to become a part of the conversation but must do it in an honest way. Start caring about your customers again by practicing a little CRM (customer relationship management) in other words: interact with them. Still aren’t convinced? Consider this, in a time so riddled with ads, where some consumers are immune and others out of tune, and everyone and everything is uncertain, wouldn't it be nice to just be able to trust?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Need New Fits? Trust in the Celestials, Celes Clothing Company

Anytime I see something cutting edge I’m on top of it, like a cherry on a sundae. When I came across Celes Clothing Company it was their pop art style lips design that I first noticed – so Warhol, so bright, so me, so different. When I caught word that they were launching their new website this year on April Fools’ Day, I wanted to write a little something to give it a push. Since gentle pushes is what I do best.

Celes Clothing Company was founded in 2001 and is based down in Southern California, in the founder’s hometown of Santa Paula. Currently, a lot of what Celes Clothing is doing comes straight out of the bay, right here in San Francisco. The name “Celes” came from the word, “celestial.” Celes Clothing’s founder, Gabe Chavez thought of it one very clear, starry night following a soccer practice. As he was jotting down potential names for the company in his sketch book, he glanced up at the sky and thought, “Celestial” which later morphed into “Celest” and finally found its true title in “Celes.”

“It’s a really simple story, but the idea behind it is enormous. When someone is having a rough day they don’t look down, they look up for help and motivation,” Gabe explained. His passion for Celes originated years ago, while in middle school. “I remember thinking how interesting it was that everyone was wearing some kind shirt, you might think this was a simple observation, but it really got me thinking, about how cool it would be to have these people wear a shirt that I designed.” And so the dream was born and the brainstorming began, and this was the embryo of what would be Celes Clothing Company.

Celes now is a company with multiple designs for casual skate clothing and decks. They focus on skateboarding as an art form and have an awesome new website: www.celesclothing.com. I was incredibly impressed with the art direction and interactive nature of this site. Not only does it exist as a place to purchase, but it acts as a social site as well, offering many other facets, like a Music section, the Celes Skate Team, and Celes Underground.

While the company encompasses many arts, skating is its true basis. Currently Celes skate team has one solo member, Frank Oliva, myspace.com/bighairfrankthetank. “Celes has gone from having about five sponsored skaters to our current team: count of one! Some people might think that this isn’t a team at all, but I’d rather have one skater that is committed and having fun, then a whole team that only wants to receive free stuff now and then.” They are currently offering sponsorships to qualifying candidates who would like to be a part of the Celes family. But, they select their team members very carefully.

Celes Clothing also sponsors up and coming bands. Their website’s Music page is used mainly to promote and expose theses musicians. Gabe’s hope is that it will eventually act as a blog for sponsored bands to discuss whatever they want to. “As with our skateboard sponsorships, we take music sponsorships very serious and delicately,” he told me. Right now, Celes sponsors the band End Transmission, myspace.com/endtransmissionrock. Members include two of Gabe’s childhood buddies, “They are funny, creative, and serious about their music so I believe it was a good decision to have them on board with Celes. Sponsorships just really depend on how good the band is, and how well they fit in with the Celes lifestyle and attitude.” Soon the band Reborn, from Tijuana, Mexico will be joining the Celes family. “They are a Classic Rock / Metal band that will be breaking necks and driving peoples ears crazy with their melodic music,” Gabe told me. Check them out on MySpace: myspace.com/tjreborn.

Of all Celes’ ventures and the different avenues their company and website explore, I was most impressed with their concept for Celes Underground. Celes Underground division will partner with artists of various types in designing one original shirt – that’s right only Uno. Gabe explains the sheer brilliance of the project: “Celes Underground will be a very unique branch off of Celes Clothing. One of a kind t-shirts will be designed not only by Celes, but by collaborating artists, bands, skaters, and anyone you can think of. Because these shirts are one of a kind (and by that I mean only one will be made ever) each will tell a story.” Pure genius. They are to act as collector’s items, each will come with their story in a booklet, will be featured in a custom package, and numbered. Any artists interested in the Celes Underground project can email: underground@celesclothing.com.

Celes is also currently looking for models. Their recent venture the Celes’ “Exposure Series” proved to be a great success and now they are coming up on the “Exposure Series 2.” Skate decks will feature different models from different cities and cultures. Models will receive you guessed it: exposure, and also lots of promotion on their new site. Her persona will be featured on the deck and the coolest part: the deck itself will be named after her! Contact: Celesmodel@celesclothing.com for more information.

Celes is not Gabe Chavez’s only passion he also skates and loves soccer. These elements facilitate the motivation behind the concepts for his designs. Most all of the designs are currently of Gabe’s creation. But he does receive a lot of help from his friends, Sergio Oseguera, Alex Puga, Miranda Ko, Michele Oralnado who are also a part of Celes Clothing Company.

To purchase Celes merchandise, you can do so at their website, www.celesclothing.com or through their MySpace, myspace.com/celesclothingco. Search for them on Facebook, by looking for "Celes Man." Jump on it like I did, before the herd.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Warhol in a Word: There isn’t One

Going to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the de Young Museum was what my spirit needed more than anything. To be surrounded by genius is an occurrence that even the weakest of heart can take something away from. Absolute brilliance is inspiring. I went knowing I’d enjoy it as my best friend, Noelle had arranged to take me for my birthday. But what I left with was something I had no idea I could acquire in one afternoon, the gift of fresh new ambition.

I won’t lie I am huge fan of Andy Warhol’s work. I like art to be bright, definitive, and colorful. I like it to evoke a feeling of freshness and for brilliant color to wake something up deep inside. Primary colors are pleasing to me and because of this pop art and graffiti are high on the list of favorite styles. Andy Warhol’s work is also a huge gift because it characterizes a generation that I grew up in: the fabulous 80’s.

The exhibit blew me away. I knew he was fantastic painter and silkscreen artist and that he helped to lead the pop art movement. But, I didn’t know was that he was also an illustrator, filmmaker, record producer, director, author, editor, photographer, and magazine creator. Literally, he touched on every form of media imaginable in his time. Warhol’s greatest gift to us was his strong association to American society and everything that it encompasses. Everything he created was iconic of pop culture.

So much of the exhibit I want to write about, but I will leave some surprises for those who will go see it after reading this. Two early works I stared at for awhile and had never seen before were spray paint and stencil pieces – Two Horns and Violin & Bow, both created in the 1950’s. They may have been the oldest pieces I have ever seen done by use of a spray can, so simple – just black paint and yet so impactful.

His silkscreen work was spectacular to see in person. Having worked in silkscreen a few years myself, I felt a deep rooted connection to these pieces beyond just their cultural relation. This Side Up - 1962, was a personal favorite. It just says, “This side up” over and over again. It’s all done in one color: Red. One of his quotes painted on the wall in this section of the exhibit simply said, “I like boring things. I like things to be the same over and over again.” Many of his pieces are simply amazing because of their repetition. The creation of one original work is astonishing but to recreate the same, over and over again is a different kind of amazing. It shows true dedication and the goal for perfection. Also shown were his Brillo Boxes, from 1964 and 1969. Twenty Brillo Boxes – all identical; he once said, "I'm painting this way because I want to be a machine." So many of his subjects were images from advertising or mass media and in so many ways he embraced our culture. Yet in so many others, he forced us to look at the commercialistic and impersonal society that we had become.

Many of his album covers, posters, bits of films, and photography were also key elements of the exhibit. Rolling Stones, “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” played as you entered a Studio 54 inspired room, with a disco ball and art and film projected on the walls. My favorite was of course the, Night Clubbing Section, where his brightly painted portraits of Capote, Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Prince and so many other celebrities all hung in unison. But it was his copies of Interview Magazine (1970-86) that were the most compelling for me. He founded the gossip magazine and used it to promote celebrities, friends, companies, and products that he endorsed. Sounds so much like this Azy Does It girl I know. There’s a little Warhol in all of us, I suppose. The exhibit will be up at the de Young Museum, in San Francisco until May 17. Do yourself a favor and go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Words of Wisdom Discovered in LA?

What is this rare find, you ask? Simply Jo Designs, http://www.simplyjodesigns.com/ is a brand new line of jewelry fresh out of LA. It’s so new that it hasn’t really even been discovered yet. I wanted to write about it first and was able to take advantage – as the designer, Amanda Jo is a friend. The pieces are beautiful – each one an uplifting icon, with simple words and delicate, touching phrases. Knowing the designer personally, I have found her to be a very spiritual individual with a caring heart. An artist with such gifts tends to pour those traits into their work and that’s definitely the case in Simply Jo Designs.
Amanda Jo’s love for inspirational words is what led her to create the line in the first place, “While in college I carried (and still do) a small book around, and when I'd think of something simple and inspirational I’d write it down. Something about seeing a word or two of inspiration always made me hold my head high when I was feeling down.”
Jotting these words down on paper developed into getting them tattooed, “And then, I realized I can't tattoo myself every time I'm inspired,” Amanda told me. So she started painting the words on her walls and from there she had the notion to create Simply Jo. “I found that I could handcraft something meaningful that lies close to the heart and is with me all day.”
Each work is handmade and every piece, an expressive original. But styles can always be recreated, or customized to fit the desire of the recipient. Amanda engraves each letter one by one and all by hand. “No piece is ever the same nor is it perfect or intended to be, that is what I love about them.” These works can be viewed and purchased on their website, http://www.simplyjodesigns.com/ and are categorized by style genres that include, Inspire Me, Younger Me, and Just For Me. Inspire Me contains designs with words of encouragement, Younger Me contains youthful phrases and styles, and Just For Me are items that can be personalized.
By Mother’s Day, Simply Jo expects to have the Mommy & Me section up and running. “Children love getting into their mother’s jewelry and playing dress up. My idea behind creating this is, now she can be just like Mommy because they share the same piece.” Children play an important role in the philosophies portrayed within the jewelry. Many of her designs are there to remind us of what is pure and whimsical in nature.
“My favorite design is the very first piece I ever made. It's the "Be Free" pendant, but with a tiny gold heart dangling. The heart was actually my mother’s when she was in high school. I wear it every day because it reminds me to not get caught up in LA.” It’s hard for me to imagine that happening, as Amanda is one who remembers where she comes from and maintains her genuine personality, and now displays this throughout her craft to share with all of us. What can we expect to see in the future for Simply Jo Designs? In addition to handcrafting each piece, they will soon begin melting and creating their own silver as well, giving each a more vintage and whimsical appearance. Simply Jo Designs is also in the process of calibrating with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Amanda has created a necklace for the children and their families suffering from the disease. Be sure to check out their site for some the cleanest designs you have seen in a while, find a piece that expresses what you feel, and purchase! They have great prices, make fabulous gifts, and through April offer free shipping.
In times of such uncertainty, where the answers aren’t always clear we all need something to believe in – these simple words of wisdom will be hanging around your neck to remind you. For more information, please visit: http://www.simplyjodesigns.com/

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pay to Pray

There is a theory that says that the Internet will eventually wipe out our existence. That we have developed what will be the ultimate cause of our demise. As much as I believe there is some truth to this, I love the Internet. Absolutely, positively couldn’t live without it. Not in a million years or for a million dollars. There is only one thing that interests me more than this little devil and that is the beauty of human connection. Simply put: people, communication, human compassion and belief – there is nothing more concrete, nothing more pure and nothing more real.
So in my most humble opinion as amazing as the Internet may be, this tool we created to assist us, will never completely replace us. But, will continue to do what it was designed for: make life easier. Some argue it makes us lazy, I say productive. Some say it overtook jobs, I say it created some. The argument leads me neatly to my reason for this post. I came across an article on one of my favorite blogs, TechCrunch, about a new site that prays for you. That’s right, if you don’t have time to pray this site will take care of it for you. Now, I am all about the advancements of technology and preying on the ignorant. But, I just am not sure how this site would work? In 2007, I wrote a post on the Power of Prayer vs. Positive Thinking, explaining that there really is no difference between the two. But a website that prays for you? How? Maybe it works the same. You believe they are praying for you and so it will work.
Prayer is kind of a sacred thing though, is it not? I mean that connection you feel to a higher power or positive thoughts going on within are pretty heavy duty to in trust to a website. Not to mention the things you usually pray for are for the well being of your loved ones. In my mind, that’s part of what gives it power, your compassion for someone else or even for yourself would enable you to manifest it. But, maybe that’s just me. And much like an email has replaced a handwritten letter, this could be next. I can’t wait to send this little dilly off to my Aunt who is a nun to catch her thoughts.
No matter how you slice it; it’s pretty hilarious: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/17/too-busy-to-pray-dont-worry-indulgences-are-back/

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wait, I’m a Writer? My name is in Four G’s Magazine!

What did you want to be when you were a kid, a Cowboy or an Indian? I wanted to be a divorce attorney. “Little girl from broken home wants to help dissolve marriages peacefully,” the headline read…

I changed my mind quickly when I grew up. In college I took on journalism but never said I wanted to be a writer. All I said was, “I want to have a job where I can write” and I am very fortunate to have a career in marketing that allows me the luxury of doing so. I love my job, but sometimes I miss journalism – interviewing interesting subjects is an exciting experience. And as a writer, there is something to be said for seeing your work in printed form – holding something tangible, in your hands, with your name on it. Something about that byline makes it all worthwhile, and this is why writing for Four G’s Magazine was such an honor.

The magazine is truly a work of art – from cover to cover; each page is bright with color and rich with content. And while the mag contains subject matter that doesn’t necessarily reflect my views or opinions, I respect it, and am incredibly proud to have been part of it. Four G’s creativity and uniqueness gives it a standalone quality that makes it unlike any other magazine I’ve ever seen. It’s the type of book you could look at on numerous occasions and notice something different with each glance.

Four G’s Magazine is the innovative brainchild of its creator Andy Souza, whose imagination and perfectionism have led him to produce an exceptional product. His diligence and dedication to his craft are admirable and I value the opportunity of working with him. Andy’s critique of my work and meticulous attention to detail encouraged me to strive to write better, and the end result is an article I am quite proud of.

Four G’s Magazine’s basis is art and I will always take on anything for art’s sake. My contribution was an article written on San Francisco hip-hop artist, TOPR. The experience of meeting and interviewing him, and then writing a piece about his life and music was truly an honor. To read it you must first buy the mag at: www.fourgsmagazine.com . Do yourself a favor and buy it anyway, it truly is something special. Trust me; you’ll notice right away, its superiority sets it apart from the rest.

*The Four G’s Issue Release Party is Saturday, March 7th, Club 6, in San Francisco. For more details please visit: www.myspace.com/fourgsmagazine or www.fourgsmagazine.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SUPPORT: the Phoenix Theater, go to the Guitar Gala

The Phoenix Theater is a place that is important to me. My reasoning for this is extensive but mostly, I feel that Petaluma would be lacking something without it. I was lucky enough to spend many a night at the theater in my youth, watching shows. Because it was right there in town it was easy to go. Do you have any idea how impossible it is for a 14 year old kid to get to the city to see a band perform? I do and I haven’t forgotten.
So many concerts, I might not have ever seen if it weren’t for the Phoenix. Those of you who grew up in the area know what I am taking about. But, have you been to the Phoenix lately? I have, just last year. I went to see hip-hop legends Too$hort, Method Man and Red Man, and for my friend and war casualty Kawika’s memorial. I love the place, it holds memories and it’s got its charm, but is in need of some definite renovation. And since this theater has given so much to the community, it’s only right that we pull together to participate in preserving this historical location and the wonderful programs it offers our youth.
The Phoenix has organized its Carnival and Guitar Gala, scheduled to take place this Saturday. The event will feature close to 20 guitars donated by the Gibson Foundation. Each one has been designed by a different artist, three of whom I know personally: Ricky Watts, Jared Powell and Josh Faure-Brac. I can’t begin to express the pride I take in knowing these three creative individuals and to be blessed with their astonishing work. Other artists include the likes of George Lucas, Seth Green, Stan Lee, Les Claypool, and many others. Please visit, phoenixguitargala.com for the full list.
“I knew in my heart and soul it was something I needed to contribute to. It's such an honor to be a part of this show, with so many great people contributing,” Ricky Watts told me. The artist and local visionary also helped in designing the poster that added to the overall look and feel for the Gala’s promotion and website. “How could I say no? Gibson Guitars donated all the materials and it was a dream come true to deface my very own Les Paul,” he joked.
The Gala is this Saturday, February 28th, at 7pm. It will feature a live Internet auction, cocktail party, silent auction featuring artist memorabilia, and appearances by a few of the artists. Tickets are only $30 each, $50 per couple and information can be found here. 100% of all proceeds will go towards supporting free after-school music, theater and arts programs for at-risk youth of the North Bay and will help to maintain our one and only Phoenix Theater.
Remember: the mission of the Phoenix is to, “foster the emotional, physical and social development of the young people we serve, specifically at risk youth, by enabling them to create and engage in programs for music, the arts, and health and wellness, while preserving and improving the historic Phoenix Theater as a resource for youth and the community at large.” Let that ideal live in your heart and let’s work together to keep it going. After all, children are our future; I was once a Phoenix punk kid who turned out alright.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super Bowl Commercial: Jack Got Hit by a Bus

A follow up to my last post…

I just watched the Jack in the Box Commercial from the Super
Bowl. I am a big fan of all of their work and oh my god, this ad is hilarious.
But it is the marketing campaign surrounding it that is sheer brilliance. Bravo
Jack. Nice work. Go to: http://www.hangintherejack.com/

I’m praying for you buddy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What Kind of Nerd Watches the Super Bowl for the Ads?

Me, that’s who.

Well, I typically do. I enjoy taking in some of the game as well, especially if I have decided to bet. But this year I wasn’t really in one place long enough to watch the whole thing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just different. I didn’t get to spend as much time with the commercials as I usually do.
I knew I was in trouble when I showed up at my friend’s house just after the first quarter. Her 3 year old, incredibly bright, son handed me a pair of 3D glasses. My response was, “Thanks, but what are these for?” His was, “It’s for the commercials, after the second quarter.”
Huh? It was then that Auntie Azy realized two things: 1.) A toddler is more aware than her and 2.)She had totally blown it. Didn’t study prior for what was coming, failed at any attempt of research, and didn’t pay much attention before and during the game so far to any of the ads. Super Bowl is the biggest television advertising time of the year, so where was I?
I work for an advertising agency for heaven’s sake. At that moment I knew it was time to start paying attention. And I did; I got to watch history being made as the first 3D commercials aired. There was the DreamWorks Monsters vs. Aliens trailer, the SoBe lizards, and the TV show, Chuck promo. The effects weren’t too off the charts amazing and all the other bloggers writing reviews out there concur. But, what do you expect? It’s a commercial on TV, in your living room, and you are wearing free cardboard 3D glasses? I will say that the SoBe commercial was my favorite of the three and I will go see Monsters vs. Aliens, in theaters for sure.
Sadly, the only other ad I remember is the Cheetos pigeon commercial. I was totally bummed to hear that I had missed Pepsi’s MacGruber ad; those skits are some of my all time favorites from SNL. Oh well, the Web has all of them here for us to watch again. If you are anything like me (absent) Google them.
Sobe: NFL Ballerinas

P.S. Who is smarter than a 3 year old? Definitely not Azy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

And from the Purpose of Life to the Purchases of it...

Recently, I opened my 2008 yearly summary sent from my BF, Visa with love. Goddamn my frivolous spending! It’s so unbelievably ridiculous, that it’s hilarious. The funniest part about the summary is that this year they broke it down into categories for me, so I can see exactly where my debt is accumulating.

Could ya please not tell me where I am wasting money? Thanks.

The sad truth – in 2008, Azy spent:

  • Airlines - $655.00
  • Retail - $614.01
  • Bars & Restaurants -$304.13
  • And the kicker, a measly -$100.35 on Groceries

Are you laughing? Because I am. You can tell where my priorities lie: skipping town, shopping and drinking. That was just the highline items too and doesn’t include purchases made on my debit card or retailer cards. Pretty safe to say, this party girl may have to hang up her disco shoes or at least be prepared to stay home in her tube socks some of the time. But what are you going to do? It’s a proven fact that singles spend more money than the “coupleds” and not because we want to, but because we have to.

If I could rename those categories the new Visa statement would look like this:

  • Sanity - $655.00
  • Therapy - $614.01
  • Medication -$304.13
  • And Groceries? You mean Ramen? Who cooks anymore? I mean really.

As fun as charging all this was, their statement only reinstalls the statement I made earlier. Sign of the times: this year is going to be about proficiency, not profligacy. (Not sure what that one means? Look it up and amaze your friends with a new word for the day.)