Noted by Adam TurnbullFrom NOTED by Adam Turnbull, with permission of Tarcher Perigee, a division of Penguin Random House.

Greenpoint-based artist, designer and author Adam Turnbull is releasing a new book today, Noted – A Journal to Explore How We Shape, Create and Develop Ideas. The book is sort of a creative choose-your-own-adventure, designed to lead you to new ideas by taking note of the different mediums around you. Any humble scrap of paper can be the starting point to your next great idea.

From Noted by Adam Turnbull© 2015 Adam Turnbull

Turnbull argues that ideas aren’t precious – they’re messy, they’re meant to be explored and worked on and reinvented as they take their final shape. With open-ended cues, the book aims to spark new ideas and jumpstart your creative process, facing all kinds of unexpected mediums. Now you can finally unleash your inner street artist without breaking the law. What would you write on that blank wall?

From Noted by Adam Turnbull© 2015 Adam Turnbull

The concept of the book stemmed from Turnbull’s habit of jotting down ideas on any piece of paper available – postcards, receipts, envelopes… He started binding these objects into small books, and those ‘canvases’ would help shape new ideas. The result is an interactive journal that is sure to inspire you. Whether you use it to document your next trip, come up with a plan for your new business, or help inspire your everyday, Noted is sure to kickstart your creativity. Read on for our Q&A with Adam Turnbull.

Adam TurnbullPhoto credit Nick Brinle

What are readers going to find in NOTED?
Noted is a series of text and images that channel the energy of idea generation and lateral thinking. The book is filled with images of things I have collected over the years—photos, objects, writing, and quotes—along with illustrations that spark some type of visual cue to change your train of thought. For example, when one sees an old envelope they may think of their grandmother’s handwriting, their pen pal as a child, receiving a check in the mail or a bill that has sat too long on their desk.

With apps like Evernote and endless digital options, why is paper better?
I don’t necessarily think paper is better. Evernote and apps serve a specific a purpose and are great. Writing things on paper is a different process than writing in an app. Writing ideas on paper allows a person to make choices in a different way than you can digitally, everyone writes in their own way, especially when getting ideas down. The flow of information, the type of pen or pencil one will use, making mistakes and leaving them on the page—paper allows a much more expressive and unique process when generating ideas than a digital medium. Sometimes when writing an idea down so as not to forget, someone only needs a tiny sketch or doodle or even the association of where the paper came from. However, on a well-developed app everyone is writing and reading the same sans serif font in the same color. I’m not saying this is better or worse, the two are quite different.

How do you shake off a Monday morning funk / creative block?
Eating a good breakfast and having a good coffee is a great way to start a Monday. Writing a to-do list and mapping out the day/week also helps.

What do you love about your neighborhood?
I live in Greenpoint. I like that it has a nice mix of people, a good mix of industrial and residential buildings, and a great park and lots of Polish food.

You can meet author Adam Turnbull and get a signed copy tomorrow, October 7th at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, 7pm-9pm.

heartell_press_rachel_kroh_portrait_july_2015

We want you to get to know the all-star vendors for our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar. From now until late November, we’ll be running a series of interviews with some of these talented makers. We’re super excited to open the series with Rachel Kroh of Heartell Press!

Their beautiful art prints and cards owe their unique aesthetic to a hands-on production process. After creating a design, Rachel carves it by hand on a woodblock and then prints each piece using a letterpress at the Heartell Press studio in Gowanus.

The designs are full of love and warmth – perfect for making someone’s day or brightening up your home.

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A little trivia about yourself

– Born & raised: In Chicago, Illinois until I was 11 when my sporty parents moved us to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be near the mountains.

– Cups of coffee a day: One — my husband and I take turns making it (whoever wakes up first) and we take it back to bed to drink as we quietly wake up and get ready to start the day. I need that time, I feel crazy if I try to do anything else first!

– Currently reading: I just finished Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf. Haruf’s novels are about a small town in Colorado and I love the quiet pace and humble humanity of his work.

– Currently listening to: Currents by Tame Impala

– Favorite pizza place: Table 87 opened on 3rd Ave and 10th street last year and it’s a friendly, unpretentious place with great coal oven pizza. I especially love the pots of roasted garlic and hot peppers they have on every table for toppings.

– Hidden talent: I love to sing, and for the last few years I’ve been involved with an organization that teaches people how to lead groups of people in singing without written music, regardless of age or musical training. So if all the people who are reading this right now were in a room together, I could get us all singing in harmony!

– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a… There are so many answers to this question — I wish I had twelve days in a week so I could be and do so many things. If I didn’t feel compelled to make art the way I do, I think I’d be doing some kind of counseling or ministry work, being with people who are struggling and trying to help them in some way.

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What inspired you to start your business?

The idea for Heartell Press came to me after my mom got sick with cancer in 2012-2013. She is well now, thankfully, but for a while things were really hard, and between visits I spent a lot of time in stationery stores looking for cards to send her. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I started having ideas for making my own.

The first Heartell collection I released in the fall of 2014 consisted of sympathy cards with a warm, sincere tone that lets the giver be present to the person receiving the card, without trying to explain or fix or avoid the hard thing that is happening. Around the time my mom was getting better, I made a change in my work situation that freed up a lot of my time, making it possible for me to devote the necessary time and attention to build a small business from scratch. Heartell is a full line of cards for all occasions now, but I strive to maintain that standard of warmth, sincerity and presence in every card I design.

What is your production process like, from concept to finished product?

Each Heartell card begins by making a drawing on paper to act as a guide for carving. I refine and rework the drawing until I’m happy with it. If it has text, I’ll scan it and set the type on the computer so that the carved letters will be legible and evenly spaced (hand lettering is not my forte!). The drawing also has to be in reverse so that the print doesn’t come out backwards, and the computer is useful for that. Then I print it out again and transfer the drawing to a block. My favorite material for blocks is Shina plywood, which is made in Japan and favored by woodblock printers because it has a fine grain and is easy to carve but is strong enough to hold fine detail. Sometimes I use linoleum blocks since linoleum has different properties that work better for some images.

My favorite part is carving the design by hand using Japanese-style hand tools. Carving is meditative, and seeing the finished design is very satisfying. Printing the blocks on my Chandler and Price Pilot letterpress is the last step, using high quality recycled cotton paper and special inks that are highly pigmented to create bold, saturated colors.

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What are you planning for the next few months?

I’m always adding new cards to the line, and I’m thinking about adding some other paper products for the holidays including table cards, gift wrap and gift tags. I’m starting to sell my cards to retailers so that people can buy them in stores, so I’ve been working on my wholesale catalog.

I’m participating in Gowanus Open Studios in October, which is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Hundreds of artists participate, and we all open our spaces to the public. I love talking to people about what I do and hearing their stories. I might even do some live printing demonstrations so people can see how the press works. And of course, I’m looking forward to being a vendor at the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar in November! I didn’t get to visit last year but I heard rumors about hot chocolate drinks with giant marshmallows.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Running a business means managing lots of different projects and keeping many balls in the air at once. I just read Getting Things Done by David Allen (never thought I’d be reading business books but now I gobble them up like candy!) and started using an app called Trello to organize all my to-do lists and projects. The change has been pretty revolutionary in terms of my clarity of focus and productivity. I’ve tried lots of different systems but I think I have hit on the right one for me, and I wish I’d known about it a year ago.

On a more philosophical level, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that developing an idea and growing a business takes time, and that’s a good thing. I was anxious to figure everything out at once at the beginning, but I’ve realized that if a project is something you really care about (and Heartell Press definitely is for me), you’re going to be doing it for a long time, and it’s OK to build it slowly at your own pace and enjoy the process.

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What neighborhood are you in? What are your favorite spots?

I’m in Gowanus, and I love it! New businesses and projects of all sorts have popped up during the six years I’ve lived here and I feel spoiled having access to so much within walking distance (my home and my studio are a five-minute walk apart).

I live on the same block as the pie shop Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which is a little dangerous because their pies are so delicious. There are excellent art spaces in the neighborhood, including Brooklyn Art Space and Trestle Gallery, Gowanus Art Space and Gowanus Print Lab, and a new place called Craftsman Ave for taking classes. Supplies of all kinds are easy to find at Artists and Craftsman on 2nd Street, Build It Green and the flea market New York Old Iron under the F train overpass on 9th Street, and of course good old Lowe’s.

For drinks I am loyal to Halyards, it opened a couple of years after I moved here and I have now celebrated all kinds of occasions there over the years like birthdays, art shows and even our wedding in 2013.

Cheers to Heartell Press! You can shop the full collection at http://heartellpress.com. Don’t miss Rachel in person at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar!

A new book by Greenpoint-based artist Meera Lee Patel is your new secret weapon to start creating. Start Where You Are, A Journal for Self-Exploration, out August 11th, is a beautiful illustrated gem of a book packed with Meera’s whimsical illustrations and ideas, exercises and tips to ditch your lack of confidence and get working on your creative projects.

"Start Where You Are" by Meera Lee PatelFrom START WHERE YOU ARE by Meera Lee Patel, published August 11 by Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

Equal parts journal, manual and art book, Start Where You Are is designed to nurture creativity, explore inner thoughts, and help us focus on how to move forward — with both our creative abilities and life. Read on for our interview with Meera – and a chance to win a copy of Start Where You Are!

Excerpt from Meera Lee Patel's "Start Where You Are"© 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

What are readers going to find in Start Where You Are?

Readers will discover a wide array of prompts (writing exercises, questions, charts, graphics) that ask them to look inside themselves and listen. Each prompt is paired with an illustrated quote that offers a helping hand and encourages the reader to continue moving forward. Self-reflection is hard and can be scary, but as you do the work, you see that there’s an entire world waiting for you on the other side – one that is a bit clearer, stronger, and filled with endless possibility.

Excerpt from Meera Lee Patel's "Start Where You Are"
© 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

How do you shake off a Monday morning funk or creative block?

My favorite way to get my creativity moving is by getting my feet moving. I’m lucky to live in Brooklyn, where there is a non-stop rhythm moving through the air and endless inspiration covering the streets. I’ll go for a quick walk to the small park near my house, or just aimlessly walk through my neighborhood. To me, there’s nothing more inspirational then remembering there is so much beauty around me.

What are some steps to ease a non-creative or beginner into working on their own creative projects?

– Make a list: write down ideas or concepts that you have and work your way through them. It’s much easier to begin a project when your ideas are all in front of you.

– Begin a 30-day creative retreat: every day, make something small – a painting, a poem, writing a few words on a page. Creativity, like all things, is a practice, and you’ll find that as you begin to exercise it daily, it will become easier and easier to do so.

When did you become an entrepreneur?

I began writing and illustrating a few years ago, after I graduated from college and began working as an editor at a publishing company. It was then that I turned to illustration as a kind of solace. Painting became my inspiration, motivation, and a spark in my otherwise dry, monotonous work day. I couldn’t imagine living my life without purpose, and so I decided that a career as an artist is what I most wanted to work towards.

Since then, it’s been a continual battle to find balance – to manage my time between full-time work and freelance opportunities, to keep inspiration and desire close when tiredness and frustration settles in. It’s difficult, but it’s a good kind of fight. My dream is to work for myself, creating paintings and stories that brings a smile or thought to other people, and I’m going to try my best to get there.

What are your favorite spots in your neighborhood?

I’m luckily a short walk away from McCarren Park (good energy) and McGolrick Park (great trees), which are both wonderful for reading and naps and wandering. I’m a big fan of C.Lo Café, an adorable health cafe that opened up a few blocks away from me on Bushwick Avenue. I’m also incredibly loyal to The Blue Stove, which makes the best homemade pastries and pies in the area. I love going there with a sketchbook and spending a few hours working there, people-watching and imagining what other lives look like.

Giveaway!

Start Where You Are comes out August 11th. We were very excited to partner with Penguin to give away TWO copies of Meera Lee Patel’s beautiful book. The giveaway period ended August 13th 2015 at 11.59pm.

Brooklyn Map Print by Pepper Press

Is this Brooklyn? It is… or it was, in the 17th century. Pepper Press created this amazing map of Brooklyn based on a vintage map from the time when Brooklyn was actually five independent towns. Designer Ursula Jaroszewicz has a passion for old maps, and used to spend hours at the New York Public Library just looking through old treasures.

Maps are just one of the many sources of inspiration for Pepper Press. Typography, nature and our environment play an important role in their designs. Oh, and whiskey.

Celebrate Card by Pepper Press

Ursula began working with letterpress in 2010, and printed her designs at a local studio. After a few months she was totally hooked, and Pepper Press was officially launched on Valentine’s Day 2011. Ursula began the daunting search for her own press. Good working presses are scarce, and hers was waiting a good trek upstate, stored in a (wait for it) school bus. “It was like an episode of hoarders”. The press was pretty beat-up but Ursula was able to restore it, and now her C&P Pilot press works non-stop along with a vintage Vanderhook, producing amazing cards like this one:

Birthday Tree Rings by Pepper Press

Sustainability is a central part of her business. Pepper Press uses recycled and eco-friendly materials as much as possible, such as cellophane packaging for single cards (instead of plastic) or post-consumer recycled envelopes.

“I strive to have as little environmental impact with my work as possible, because I don’t want to contribute to depleting the natural resources nor add to the load of trash. I feel that the planet is a living, breathing thing, and already has to deal with so much harmful stuff – landfills filled with toxic materials, spills and trash in our waterways, air pollution, pesticides – I could go on (I watch waay too many environmental type movies, etc), but you get the point. When I’m out in nature, it feels immediately restorative to the psyche. I work with an outdoor adventure company, Brooklyn Outfitters, where we take people out of the city into nature, and it’s so gratifying to see people’s moods alter, from busy city types to calm and serene, all in a matter of hours. Who wouldn’t want that? And who wouldn’t want that to be there for the next generations to enjoy? It can’t be all about “all about me and all about right now” but should be more of “for everyone and sustainably – nurtured, preserved and able to self maintain).

I’ve always felt connected to the earth and have a deep appreciation of how great the natural world is. Until I was about 11, I grew up in Poland, in a world where people were much more conscious of nature, it was a big part of people’s lives, people knew that it was necessary to have these undisturbed natural environments (or at least the way I saw it, and the way I reflect on it now), and it certainly rubbed off on me. There was no special ‘organic’ food sections, for example, because everything was organic by default (no one even used that word – it just was natural and really good). That was greatly highlighted and apparent, because when I moved here with my family, we moved to New York (City), where the contrast to my previous setting was so opposite.”

Brooklyn Brownstone Note Card by Pepper Press

Ursula lives in Clinton Hill and keeps her studio in Prospect Heights, two adjoining neighborhoods that she loves. She makes a little neighborhood guide for us:

Urban Vintage Cafe (Clinton Hill), a superbly curated half cafe, half vintage furniture, knick-knacks and design ephemera, artfully mixed into what some call Clinton Hill’s “living room”.

Fulton Grand (Clinton Hill), my neighborhood bar with chilled out, cozy atmosphere and friendly bartenders, and great outdoor seating in the warm weather, perfect spot to watch the sunset straight down Fulton Street.

Brooklyn Flea, the outdoor weekend market in Clinton Hill / Fort Greene border is a constant source of great finds and inspiration, as well as awesome people watching. The food vendors are the icing on the cake!

BAM doesn’t cease to surprise, entertain and educate. My favorite movie theater in the city – plays the finely curated ‘nationwide’ films, as well as priceless retrospectives, shorts, revivals series, talks with directors, etc. I like going to their live performances in the cafe sometimes, as well as concerts and their theater on Fulton St makes it very accessible to go to plays more often.

Gen Sushi (Prospect Heights), creative and fresh sushi made by a Japanese Rastafarian chef. It’s soo good.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden (Prospect Heights). It’s kind of hard to believe that this massive garden space is there, and not a bunch of luxury condos! Seriously, what’s not to love about an ode to nature, gardening and botany (not to mention their dedication to educating the masses on sustainability!). Best place to relax is while sitting on the viewing platform overlooking the Japanese Pond – and watching the huge koi fish swim by (and the turtles vegetating on the rocks under the sun). Also, don’t miss the Cherry Blossom Festival in April, the Bonsai trees collection (year round) and the ‘climate’ pavilions – my favorite is the ‘tropical’ pavilion – I love heat and humidity, and the variety of lush plant life that thrives in it.

Pepper Press cards and prints are available on their Etsy Shops and boutiques around the country.

A few weeks ago I set off on the search for a case for my new phone. With two technology-loving kiddos in the house and a deceased phone already on their record, a case is crucial. I got pretty overwhelmed quickly – there’s some 50 billion to choose from. The stars aligned in a magical pattern and I came across this one by Maps of Imaginary Places just as my head was starting to spin.


Maps of Imaginary Places is the creative outlet of Christina Panarese, an interface designer and front-end developer who has had an interest in shapes since a tender age: “I was good at geometry in high school and still remember quite a bit. So some of my designs are based on the Pythagorean Theorem, others are more about calculating the angles of a shape to understand how it fits into other shapes“.

This note card (sold as a set of 3 for $12) is pretty perfect to send some bright holiday cheer:

The results are fascinating color explosions. Christina loves experimenting with the interaction of shapes and colors. Some of the designs are very structured, creating a pattern:


Others are more free-form and almost seem to be in motion:


Christina’s geometric designs are available at Society 6 as prints, notecards, iPhone cases and iPad / laptop skins. She loves being able to connect with people through her designs: “I had a great time putting this collection together and thought other people might enjoy it too, that’s the best part.  Whether people are reblogging shapes on Tumblr or a pinning them to their inspiration board on Pinterest, I know that I made someone feel good that day“.

As much as I don’t like winter, I do love a cup of hot coffee in the morning. I recently kicked it up a notch with this gorgeous mug by Beth Bolgla:

The coaster looks like a makeshift pedestal where the happy little mug stands proudly. I met Beth Bolgla during the GO Brooklyn weekend and I loved her work – she is a delightful person and didn’t mind me snooping around. We ended up talking for a while at her Park Slope studio, which she opens to the public several times a year.

Since receiving her Master’s in Fine Arts from Georgia State University in 1978, Beth’s work has touched ceramics, painting, drawing… lots of stories to tell, including a stint in the Middle East working with women artists. A veteran of the New York art scene, she recently relocated her studio from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and she couldn’t be happier. Beth talked to us about her career, her inspiration, Brooklyn, and even one of her other passions – pie.

When did you make the transition from Manhattan to Brooklyn? How was the change?

I moved from 37th Street and 8th Ave., in the heart of the ‘fashion district’ in Manhattan to my current location in Park Slope, Brooklyn in March 2011… so I’ve been in Brooklyn almost two years now. I can’t say I ever even looked back, and although the commute is a bit longer, I love riding on trains. The time it takes going there and back is always well spent either preparing for the day making lists or doing sketches, reading, or simply thinking and observing. There really is never a dull moment in this amazing city. The studio in Manhattan was very well equipped, and although I had close relationships with some of my studio mates, I did find it difficult to concentrate in such a large group setting of about 20 ceramic artists. I now have only one studio mate, the very talented May Luk, and our studio is set up so that our individual spaces are quite private, and we have very different work schedules.

Also very important for me, is that my immediate neighborhood and really Brooklyn as a whole is very supportive of artists and of all things handmade.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

It’s a good question, but one I rarely consider much at this stage of my life. I no longer really question where my ideas come from. I am very much the sum of many experiences, including deep human relationships both personal and professional, incredible travels to wondrous places… Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, and lots of the rest of Europe, and my higher education and varied work experiences. My place as a woman and mother is also profoundly experiential.

I would say at this point, within my peaceful, basically solitary work environment… my inspiration can be drawn from deep within me from my wealth of experiences, my process, or from something as simple as an observation on the subway, leaves or the pavement in a park, music, my students, or politics. I really am an open vessel.

Your work includes not just ceramics, but also painting and sculpture. How are you different in each discipline?

I have actually thought about this quite a bit, because I do find the energy expended on painting is quite different than that for doing ceramic work. Two-dimensional work is a very abstracted expression, somewhat detached from the physical; where as working in clay is more an expression of the objective world. The difference in standing in front of a canvas and sitting at a potter’s wheel is kind of like the difference in ‘thinking’ and ‘making’. Although there is a ‘making’ component in painting and drawing, and a ‘thinking’ component in ceramics, for me at the moment, there is nothing more grounding and energetically charged than throwing on the wheel or handling clay in almost any way.

Having said this, and in as much as I can step back and observe my work and my process, I do sense the bridge between the two expressions is becoming more easily traveled. The two disciplines are feeding each other, and the processes are becoming more fluid and less polarized.

You recently participated in GO Brooklyn and the Gowanus Open Studio Weekend. What do you like about opening the doors to your studio?

There’s so much I like about opening my studio doors to the public, starting with the simplest, which is the forced opportunity to clean, reorganize and asses what I can get rid of in an attempt to make my work environment more and more of a creative haven. I think of each opening as a one-person show, where unlike a gallery setting, I can really offer a true look into my process as well as my completed pieces. After years of involvement in the ‘art world’, it has become crystal clear to me that, although each work of art should be able to stand on its own, real appreciation and understanding of art comes from looking at a body of work, and/or learning about the process and life of the artist.

Also, the economy of being able to sell work directly out of my studio, eliminating a middle person or the huge costs of shipping, is a political issue that I am committed to. I am able to charge a bit less when I sell out of the studio, making handmade objects more accessible to more income brackets. This a great advantage, as I know that using handmade objects or hanging original drawings or paintings greatly enhances quality of life, and not in a ‘keeping up with the Jones way’… but in a spiritual way. Unlike factory-made objects, each handmade piece provides an opportunity to pause and self-reflect.

It’s that time of the year when it’s allowed to eat pie every day (at least in my house). As a southern girl, you must know your pie. What’s your favorite?

So glad you ask about pies… [I’m] the ‘queen’ of baked goods. I have been making pies since I was in my late 20’s I guess. The key to a great pie is a flakey crust, and I find the key to that is cold ingredients and quick and sure handling of them. I love lots of different kinds of pies, but I think peaches are the best fruit for making the filling… with apples coming in a very close second. Incidentally, in the last couple of years, I have begun making pie-baking dishes. I can’t think of anything more lovely than a perfectly baked pie in a handmade ceramic pie dish.

Your studio is in the ‘Park Slope meets Gowanus’ area, which has been changing so quickly. What are some of your favorite local spots?

I have to say that I don’t venture out all that much once I’m in the studio and working… honestly, that’s my favorite spot. However, there is a wonderful Swedish coffee shop up the block on 5th Ave called Konditori… fantastic Swedish blends and such a friendly inviting place. I love The Textile Art Center, and took a great weekend screen-printing workshop there when I first moved to my Brooklyn studio. Also, I think Brooklyn Art Space is a fabulous resource for artists, for studio space, exhibition space, workshops, and classes. Finally, there’s the wonderful shop/gallery space at 261 Smith Street, called By Brooklyn. The owner, Gaia DiLoreto has got a great eye, and is a delight to work with. I know there is so much more to see locally, and I look forward in the coming years to discovering other favorite places.

Beth will open her studio doors again on December 15 & 16 (689 Sacket Street, between 4th & 5th Ave). The studio is also open by appointment. You can see more pieces available on her website, BethBolgla.com. At By Brooklyn in Cobble Hill you can find an exclusive ‘Brooklyn’ edition of her dot collection.