why is most of the content lifestyle bloggers + people with giant wellness empires post is dressed up ads (current trend: all pastel colors) for countless brands that are subliminally sprinkled in their picture perfect kitchens + beauty cabinets? products that are supposed to aid in your ‘wellness’ and help you ‘live your best life’. i understand their business model is to be sponsored by said brands, but to package it as wellness is sneaky + toxic. another big contribution to addict everyone to shop online everyday for shit they absolutely do not need and seek ways to fill their ever expanding emptiness...all for the purpose of more beauty + youth. this crazy dependence to stuff that’s supposed to make us well is the opposite of wellness. we click on the ‘skip ad’ button when we see advertisement that shows up on our screens the traditional way, but these wellness accounts are gorgeous and curated so nicely that we ourselves go to them willingly, for ‘inspiration’. we follow them so we won’t miss their ads on our feed. it’s a big lie and i hate the whole thing.
this Camus passage changed my life. when i read it, a seed was planted and i eventually took the clean + digestible 'just do it' nike slogan that so many of us unconsciously live by, and morphed it into my own motto: 'just be'.
"Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but 'steal' some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be." -Albert Camu
my body + nerves prefer this way of being. because it takes the result out of the equation, i don't grip everything tight to control the bends of the day's processes.
this perspective also helps me get up early in the morning. makes me not accost my nerves to kick into high functioning gear straight out of bed. i remind myself that all i will do when i get up is to just be: make matcha, mist my plants, just look at things. whatever it means to just be. this state doesn't feel like a total kick in the pants when i'm deciding between getting up + snoozing.
most 'success' habits promote getting amped up and launching into turbo mode, but i think we all make better decisions and do more when we're calm. 'just be' does just that.
i drew a lot of creatures in the process of animating my lawless flawless video. here's a sort of behind the scenes look at some of these characters before they were made into animation, straight from my notebook.
in case you missed the video, i released it a couple of weeks ago. have a look below:
i grew up in iran where almost all western music is illegal. you can maybe get your hands on some bootleg tapes, but concerts are definitely out of question. the symphony is alive + well though and i went to many classical concerts as a child. years later, i've made a circle back.
been harrrrd core enjoying classical music in the morning as the sun comes up in my studio while writing or drawing. sets a romantic sort of tone and i take my work more seriously somehow with this type of sound in the background. better focus. listen to it on my walks too. intense love!
i made a playlist of some of the pieces i revisit most.
this is the Aquarelle album cover.
i wrote this album about a series of characters who generate structures to force inhuman systems to crack + crumble. this through their sharp care for honest expression, and a matured distaste for settling + lingering within socially assigned boxes. outside society, outside of lines. like watercolor...Aquarelle.
you can call this anarchy, honesty, or whatever you want.
sculpture by me, made of metal + clay. photo by Paul Barker.
if you wish to order this album along with limited edition visual packages, you can do so for another few weeks on my kickstarter campaign here
years ago, i went through a transition that came with a good bit of pain + discomfort. the kind that makes you want to either busy yourself with something obsessive or stay submerged in a brimming pot of a really good time. temporary relief, via whatever distraction.
i was lucky to come across Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet in that same time period. that book taught me the importance of sitting with pain, which was a new concept to me at the time. it taught me to not engage with distractions when the thick of the discomfort had me at my squirmiest. taught me to pay attention to my pain and the thoughts + feelings that surround it, and endure the pain. that's when growth happens. but you have to be paying attention to get to grow. otherwise you won't pick up the actual benefits of pain.
i found almost the same advice recently in The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran - this quote from the chapter On Pain: "much of your pain is self-chosen. it is the bitter potion by which the physician in you heals your sick self. trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility."
i need reminders of this big lesson all the time.
i'm playing all 3 cold waves festivals this year. really happy to be a part of it.
ticket information + daily lineups will be announced on their website on 3APR2018.
more fall 2018 tour dates coming soon.
i'm running some plant experiments at home + in the process went down this rabbit hole that led me to one of my favorite discoveries of late. i'll skip the rabbit hole bit and tell you what i found at the bottom. the latest bottom anyway :: willow tree magic.
no wonder squirrels don’t get headaches: in 5th century B.C., the Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote that chewing bark of a willow tree could relieve pain + fever.
german pain management: in 1829, the effective ingredient, salicin, was successfully isolated from willow bark. end of the 19th century, the Bayer company in Germany trademarked a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid, calling it “aspirin”.
native americans go + help everything thrive: Native Americans used willow bark for toothaches + applied it to the source of other pains. But they also recognized that you can actually grow a whole new willow tree by taking a stem and sticking it in moist soil. the hormones in willows cause rapid rooting, and they discovered these same hormones could induce rooting in other plants, too. to harness this power, they made a tonic called “WILLOW WATER".
willow water recipe: gather 2 cups of pencil-thin willow branches. cut to 1-3 inch lengths. steep twigs in a half-gallon of boiling water overnight. pour the water on newly planted trees. or soak cuttings you wish to root, overnight. etc, etc - store left over water in refrigerator for up to 2 months.
worth a mention: willow is often planted next to ponds + in standing water for its water-cleaning properties.
here's the release of my first video from aquarelle.
i've wanted to learn animation for years and like most things i figured out how to make it happen by doing it. happiness, really, comes from problem solving. and that's what crafting this video was for me: problem solving. and happiness. hope you enjoy this video + song.
i have a kickstarter campaign to bring the manufacturing of this album to fruition. if you wish to be part of this effort and in exchange receive music + art by me, here's the campaign link: aquarelle . thank you for your support! 💋
polaroids: stills from the lawless flawless video
my brother's friend had a microscope when i was growing up. we would peel onion skins and whatever we could gather from the kitchen + garden and take turns looking at each slice on a slide. i still think about those images from time to time.
i was gifted a book of botanical wall charts recently. the microscopic illustrations in it are reopening the same awe i felt looking through that microscope ages ago. funny how life makes these circles for us, especially if we're paying attention. i sense a big body of work around the corner, inspired by the link formed between this book and that tiny detail in my childhood.
i made my first said inspired piece this morning as the sun was rising, leading up to the spring equinox. silent hours staring closely at fertility, renewal, hope...a No Ruz "new day", as called in persian celebrations of the new year.
collage :: double fertilization of lilium martagon
study to death what tools + tactics highly functioning creators use. what life hacks + daily rituals they practice. read about optimum ways to design your work space: standing desk vs treadmill desk vs under-water-on-the-back-of-a-whale desk...
if you've noticed, there's a huge industry that's been brewing on high heat for the past few years all about productivity tricks, what things you can buy and what habits you can inhabit just to get your ass to sit down and make something. hours + hours of your week go into eagerly learning about how your favorite people come to make the things they do. pumped with hope you set up plans to utilize these new tactics into your day tomorrow. on + on, you pile tricks on top of each other.
i've only started to really see the negative effects of my participation in this industry recently and i'm horrified to discover that it's just entertainment masked as education + self-improvement. another elaborate way to put off actual work that our hands + mind are already capable of. another way to hide and not make. it's definitely a shiny light to run to when you want to escape work that you fear might end up in failure. we trick ourselves to procrastinate in such sneaky ways.
the time we dedicate to learning what other people's practices look like, is time we're not building a practice of our own. the trust we're putting in other people's way of producing work we admire, is trust we're not putting in ourselves to draw a path of our own.
i was lucky to get to read some great books last year. this was/is one of my favorites. i'm a slow reader, but read this in one day. the rhythm + language is so ultra awesome that i was pacing around, reading most of it out loud...i think my body wanted to soak it up with more senses. couldn't eat it up fast enough. time very well spent.
extremely creative book. 40 think pieces: each one a very short fictional fable about humans, post death. the structure of this book alone makes me want to write. take one concept and keep turning it.
i like ceremonies. especially home-made ones that are my own and not handed down by some club.
this year i wanted to have a new years eve ceremony. i thought it would be nice to build a small talisman to carry around that represents something i want to remember throughout the year.
what i want to remember: as much as there is noise + resistance against good work everywhere around us, there is as much open space to walk through and engage with something true + exciting in 5...4...3...2...1 seconds. to remember and catch those moments when someone is gossiping at me and walk away into clean + open space. not endure people bombarding me with their dirty habits, out of politeness. clean air to flourish.
i got to build clay talismans on new years eve with the dearest people in my life. i don't know anyone else's meaning for their talismans. beautiful art objects nevertheless. i broke mine a few weeks ago. broke it 3 times in one day in fact. what's up with that? so i made a new one today. this time with black clay. it will go places in my wallet. pocket. around my neck. and i'll breathe clean air.
magic markers cost over $100 when they were first introduced in the 1900s! i would have to be a rich-on-paper person to be making the art i make now if this were the 50s. but today i can throw my markers around + not know where half of them are.
life lesson: seemingly basic objects we're granted daily contact with came from a lineage of devotion + invention and have gone through decades of refinement to take shape in their modern state. objects that make us far richer than the people who came before us. something to wonder about...i have access i am rich. i have access i am rich. what am i making with it of it from it?
- 1944 - walter j de groft patented a 'marking pen' that held ink in liquid form in its handle + used a felt tip
- 1953 - sidney rosenthal invented the first modern + usable 'magic marker' and started selling it
- 1964 - this patent became a 'sharpie' pen
i don't listen to much music outside my own work. oddly i usually prefer silence, but here's a selection i'm living with right now.
there's always scott walker + nina simone in rotation.
i don't know how many werner herzog interviews i've consumed...but at some point in each interview he serves up this platter of advice that goes like this: "read read read read read..."
and of course, someone thought to cut these bits all into one 3 minute video
current schools are expensive, filled up with cheap curriculum + noise that keep you occupied and in your seat throughout your day for whatever reason. education, however, can be cheap + even free. you can read read read read read, and who your parents are, where you grow up, all your disadvantages become irrelevant - because despite everything, you've given yourself access to the spirits of the greatest.
i can come up with a whole list of 'disadvantages' in my life that could've shaped me to be a total dummy, but at some point i became a reader, and look at me now. uh...yeah. sometimes i went through cornflake best sellers. sometimes i happened upon brilliant reads. random path that gets curated more + more to my taste. i wish someone::something nudged me in this direction when i was a single digit person, or even a teen. but whatever...that's more hunger + longing i can throw at the thing now. i'm into it.
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all the foreign dots that have found each other, formed new shapes and become trusted homes in my miiiind palace...these dots + lines were initially sparked by curiosity, not attached to goals and not really invested in rewards. just wandering points. i'm finding it a fun + fruitful practice to allow these seemingly unrelated ventures to have their space in my life, to form and play with each other and occupy my attention :: leafing through knitting, physics, botany books - whatever :: now i trust these dots will find each other and make a little organic thing, with very little interference.
while paying attention to the subject of curiosity, i came across this great and funny interview with brian grazer. his practice of "curiosity conversations" is ultra cool. he meets with interesting people from all walks of life and just...talks to them - out of mere curiosity, not to get anything from them: a job or movie deal. he's been doing this for decades. here's the link to that interview.
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if you feel like you're repeating yourself and your work is starting to imitate itself, have a go at something like this:
i plopped a secondary desk in the middle of my living room and it is an exclusively analogue desk - color pencils, glue, tape, paper, stencils, etc. having electronic tools stripped away, i'm working strictly with my hands. and hands, i suppose, don't hesitate as much as they would on a laptop keyboard as when you're holding scissors and glue. they just take the wheel away from you and go go. next thing you know, you made something totally fresh that you can't even take credit for, because you don't know who just jumped inside your koNtRoLfReAk body and splish splashed a bunch of color + feel.
been a nice time at the flux haus + my work looks like nothing i've made before. the living room looks a little messier but i'll find a remedy for that too.
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this is a tiny corner of a projekt i've been working on for the past 30 days.
today marks the last day of my 30 day projekt and for once I did something consistently for 30 days. fuckin' a, the number of 30 day challenges i've started with hope, and abandoned with shame. i did miss a few days here + there...but i made up for it the next day each time. soooo, it counts.
this projekt was a little different. it was just for fun. i gave myself permission to spend an hour +/- of my free time everyday to play around on something that's not directly related to my music career, for no other objective than to enjoy my time at my desk. i get down on myself for lacking discipline, work ethic, and you name it, all the time. but thankfully i journal a lot and sometimes get a rare flash of a nice idea to try. so i suppose 31 days ago i had a flash of a thought in my morning writing that if i'm gonna teach myself discipline, positive habits and learn to keep my own appointments, i need to practice and maybe this time start from a place of fun. all my 30 day challenges in the past were just hard. not the kind of stuff that made me launch out of bed with obsessive itches + craving.
but this worked. i got up at 6am, at 4am, and whenever...with excitement! playtime waiting for me. yes yes. and like i was hoping i strengthened my discipline muscle a little. i can just feel it.
through this objective-free/for-fun-only projekt i happened upon a way to tie my various creative endeavors together under one enveloping umbrella. for years i took creative time away from one discipline to nurture another, in guilt-ridden circles, round + around, without one discipline ever advancing fast enough for my liking. and now i think i can make all this work together with gravity towards each other and a leg up for all of them little ladies. my creative purpose doesn't feel so scattered anymore. what? are you kidding me? i'm throwing a big parade in my head from how thrilling this is.
all right...so what am i trying to communicate to you that's worth your reading time?
start something for fun. let that thing breathe and drive you where it wants to take you. if you drive, you're more likely than not going to drive down the same old familiar paths you know and never end up anywhere new. and one day is not enough. let the thing drive you around everyday for a while. ooh, i'm excited for where you're gonna go. send a postcard.
as for my postcards, i'll be sending them through my newsletter. click on the jellyfish below to receive my notes. or here
it’s dinner time. am I eating because I’m hungry?
resistance creeps up into my workflow and everything starts to itch. i stop. open instagram. sometimes it’s one of those days where i’ve deleted all my black hole apps. so i eat something instead. if this lines up with the ‘appropriate’ time for supper, i don’t see what it is i’m really doing.
these socially normal mood leveling behaviors // drugs prevent me from feeling anything all the way. bliss. boredom. though i'm aware that it’s going through these extremes where the genuine feeling of being alive lies. maybe a thorough observance through an episode of boredom will light up how utterly BORING it is to be bored, so snapping back out will be sweet. enthusiastic. maybe sit with the void. move on. repeat if i have to.