Gallery Hoppin: Art Silicon Valley

by tatiana on June 13, 2015

Art Silicon Valley 2014 |

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been MIA for a while, and I have so much to catch you up on!


Late last year my cousin Ryan asked me if I wanted to join him to check out a new art show in the Bay Area called Art Silicon Valley. My response was something to the effect of “Does Silicon Valley even care about art?” to which my cousin replied “Good question, let’s go find out.”


art_silicon_valley_01 art_silicon_valley_05


Art Silicon Valley 2014 |

I’m still not sure if Silicon Valley cares about art, but the pieces at Art Silicon Valley were terrific and definitely worth driving to San Mateo for, and the fair was full of attendees. I naturally gravitate towards pop art, which there was an ample amount of, but there was generally a wide variety of art represented – from sculpture and photography to interactive installations .


Not to mention, art collectors wear the best outfits, as exhibited above. I was mostly trying to get a shot of this woman’s shoes.


art_silicon_valley_04  art_silicon_valley_08 art_silicon_valley_07

The last piece we saw was an interactive installation called “En-Lightening” by Ryan’s friend Nick Dong. This was also the piece that was featured on all of the ads for the show.

Art Silicon Valley 2014 Ad

We waited in line for about 15 minutes for our turn to go inside the room and experience the piece and chatted with Nick while we waited (he is so nice!). I don’t want to give anything away because each person experiences something different inside, but it is indeed very “enlightening.” The piece also made me want to crawl into a ball and nap. (Nick told us that one person went inside and started taking their clothes off. Isn’t art fun?)


The day ended with burgers at Five Guys nearby, which I had never tried before. It was ok! I liked the fries. But overall, I always enjoy hanging out with my cousin and catching up. It’s also relaxing to go from a somewhat stuffy environment to a place with greasy food and a floor covered in peanut shells.

Bummed you missed the first Art Silicon Valley? Fear not, kittens, as their next show will be happening later this year October 8-11. I unfortunately will be in Europe (I know, how sad for me, right?) but I encourage you to check it out! You can learn more by visiting their website (which is really well-designed by the way):


That Time I Went to a Poetry Slam

by tatiana on September 24, 2014

Coming out of a season which my friends and I have dubbed The Summer of Love, where two of my best friends got married, it has been a very busy (very fun!) year. But having done a lot of traveling, I kinda just want to hole up in my apartment for the rest of 2014, hermit style. However, when my friend Jonina emailed with a link to cheap tickets for a poetry slam a short bus ride away from my apartment, I decided that this could be just the low key “outing” that I’d be down for.

I’ve never attended a poetry reading, let alone a poetry “slam”. I imagined that it would be laughably hippie, like a scene straight out of Portlandia. Either way, it was an $8 night that promised a new experience. I figured, why not.

To my utter delight and surprise, it was not at all what I had expected. But first there was booze, and $1 pizzas (to soak up said booze).

That is a happy face, kids.

I don’t want to say happy hour is necessary before going to your first poetry slam, but it wasn’t not helpful. Two cocktails and a really good pizza later, I was ready to embrace the evening. We got to the theater, I grabbed a water (because now I was slightly dehydrated) and we found our seats, middle seats in the middle row, basically at eye level with the folks on stage. If you’ve never been to a poetry slam, newflash – it is a competition. This honestly shocked me. How can you rank art? I thought. That is so rude and blasphemous! I thought. The winner would be published in their quarterly publication Tandem, so there was at least a nice incentive for being judged. A handful of folks from the audience volunteered to be the “editors,” i.e. the judges, and would give each poet a score from 0-10 (10 being the best), and some feedback, the host read both out loud, to everyone. This alone was worth the $8 admission.

The poets were all very different. There were clear creative writers, folks who possibly went to school for this and/or write for a living. Then an emcee, a couple hippies and a dude who is what I imagine all of Burning Man to be like. A lot of superfluous imagery and whimsy.

After each round, one poet was eliminated. There were one, two and three minute rounds. My favorite part of the evening was the guest poet. A woman who has single-handedly changed my mind about poetry and I am a big fan of hers. I also felt like a huge asshole for ever thinking that a night like this would be laughable or silly. Her name is Chinaka Hodge and everyone should know about her. She shared six pieces, I believe, and each one was so incredibly powerful. She brought tears to my eyes, and left me in awe. I’d love to see her recite her work again someday.

In the end, my favorite poet ended up winning. Her pieces were really smart and relatable. Will I attend a poetry slam ever again? YES. All caps. I actually can’t wait to check out more, and take friends with me. I can’t believe I haven’t gone until now. Like going to a museum or gallery to view art, the entire experience was really inspiring. Spoken word/poetry is something that I have never attempted, but I have so much respect for these writers, all of them, especially for being so brave to share their work on stage. With lights. In front of people. I guess we all get in front of a stage with our own work in other ways, right? I left the theater feeling refreshed and rehydrated.


Book Recommendations for Designers

by tatiana on September 18, 2014

Book Recommendations for Designers  |

As graphic designers, it’s our job to make sure things look great, convey messages effectively, and solve problems. How do we step outside of what we know and use everyday to create something innovative and unique? For some, this is an innate and organic ability, and for others it’s learned over time through trial and error — I think it’s a combination of both.

That being said, over the last few years I’ve been asked for book recommendations for designers who are just starting out, or people who are interested in the field. I am by no means an authority on what the right things to read are, I just know what I really like and what has worked for me. So here are some books that helped me grow as a designer, and some that helped me become a better businessperson — which is very important if you decide to do freelance or contract work. Others served as inspiration and reminders to embrace what you love and what interests you and to bring those influences into the work you do.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I had to read this for a film studies class when I was in college, and it’s a book that I’ve held onto and re-read every few years. It poses a lot of important questions about how we view art, film, the media around us, and how those messages that we receive may or may not be manufactured to change the way we perceive ourselves and each other. It is a very critical book, but it helped inform the projects and clients I take on as a designer and the pieces I create.

Golden Nuggets:

“The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images.” // “Publicity images also belong to the moment in the sense that they must be continually renewed and made up-to-date. Yet they never speak of the present. Often they refer to the past and always they speak of the future.” // “[Publicity] proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more. This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer — even though we will be poorer by having spent our money. […] The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour.”

Book Recommendations for Designers |

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

A brilliant marketing friend recommended this book to me a few years ago when I was feeling stagnant and uninspired. This book is brief, brilliant and bold. This is a book I read whenever I need a good kick in the pants, which is about once a year. It happens to all of us right? This book also lives on the bookshelf by my front door so I see it when I leave my apartment every day.

Golden Nuggets:

“Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Being right is also being boring. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas. You are rooted in your own rightness, which is arrogant. Arrogance is a valuable tool, but only if used very sparingly. Worst of all, being right has a tone of morality about it. To be anything else sounds weak or fallible, and people who are right would hate to be thought fallible. So: it’s wrong to be right, because people who are right are rooted in the past, rigid-minded, dull and smug. There’s no talking to them.”

Book Recommendations for Designers |

The Non-Designer’s Type Book by Robin P. Williams

I took a community college typography class and absolutely hated it (because the instructor was terrible) but I LOVED this book. It claims to be for non-designers, but I think it’s really for designers. If you wanna work with type, you better know how to use it, and this is a terrific guide.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller & Veronique Vienne

I didn’t go to school for design, so I’m sure there are tons of books out there that cover the history of graphic design, but I particularly love this one. The layout is sexy, letsbehonest, and it’s fun to flip through hundreds of years of history that relates to design. It’s kind of a coffee table book, but also a lot more informative than a lot of the other books I’ve come across about design history (that are not text books).

Book Recommendations for Designers |

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

When I started my third (and current) full-time design job, I was working under a senior designer who was very meticulous and had a great eye. I wanted to learn everything he knew, and asked for book recommendations. He brought me this gem and I devoured it in a weekend. It’s a pretty dry but incredibly intelligent book about the history of communicating data visually. Written in 1983, this book illustrates how information graphics are used correctly and basically, how easy it is to f*ck them up. It has, as a result, made me very critical of basically every infographic I see on the internet.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Suffragettes to She-Devils by Liz McQuiston

This is a book, as I mentioned in the intro to this post, that inspires me on a personal level. The personal is political, right? This is more of a coffee table book, and I have never actually READ it. I just look at the photos and captions. It’s a wonderful collection of suffragist and feminist posters, postcards, artwork from the last two centuries. Some of my favorite artists are featured in the book, including Guerrilla Girls, Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger. Really phenomenal book to keep in your arsenal if you can find a copy.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers by Shel Perkins

I actually took Shel’s class a few years ago at UC Berkeley Extension. I believe it was called Business Basics for Designers, and this book was our text book for the class. It goes over registering your business, how to set your rate, legal things to consider when creating your invoice and contracts, and more. I think this book would be helpful for any type of creative starting their own business or doing freelance work.

Book Recommendations for Designers |

Role Models by John Waters

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of John Waters’ work, and John Waters as a human being. In this book he shares stories about the people he looks up to. What I love about this book, and about John Waters in general, is that he is unabashedly proud of 1.) where he grew up, 2.) the people he surrounds himself with, and 3.) who he is — and I think this is incredibly inspiring. It’s important to embrace where you’re from and who you are and use it to your creative advantage. He did! And now he hosts a Christmas special every year where he gets to talk about poop and people EAT IT UP. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

Golden Nuggets:

“True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks.”

Have any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re a fellow bookworm, add me on Goodreads!


Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Last Friday I attended my cousin’s solo show opening at Mark Wolfe Contemporary in downtown San Francisco. I’ve written about my cousin Ryan Martin many times before and am a big fan of his work (and not just because he’s my cousin!). So many friends, coworkers and family members showed up that it just felt like a big party, which was great.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary | Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

It’s fun talking to my cousin about his work and his process. As a graphic designer who focuses mostly on web interfaces and communication design, it’s interesting to hear my cousin’s answers to questions that illustrate just how different creating art can be than designing for a client, at least in my experience. I remember asking him about why he chose a specific color and texture in one of his pieces and he responded “I don’t know, it just felt right.” With communication design, I feel like every design decision is made to fulfill an objective or purpose, and it’s fun to recognize the differences between designing for usability vs. creating art for the sake of creating something beautiful, or to convey a message in an entirely different way. It’s incredibly inspiring.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Portraits of George and Mike Kuchar

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Ryan Martin with underground film actress (and all around amazing lady) Linda Martinez and her portrait, and my lovely Aunt Val (Ryan’s mother)

Being someone who spends the majority of her time behind a computer, or at a desk, it’s refreshing to get out of my office or apartment to take in some new visual inspiration, and Ryan’s work is always that for me. His use of color is bold and fearless. The subjects and themes of his pieces can be fun at first glance, but draw you in and the longer you stare at them, the more thought provoking they become. He is truly an expert at his craft, but it’s wonderful to see him grow and evolve as an artist. This show was a great example of that. One major focus was the 37 Portraits of Julian Larach. Just as the title explains, he painted 37 portraits with varying scenes and themes with one model. And luckily for the opening night attendees, Julian was there!

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

I encourage everyone to check out Ryan’s show if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area. And if you’re unable to check out his show, check out your local art galleries! Seeing art in person is such a rich experience, and guess what friends, it’s free. Learn about the artists in your area, figure out what you’re drawn to, and follow those artists on Facebook and Instagram, send them messages of encouragement. If you’re lucky and discover an artist earlier in their career, you might be able to purchase one of their pieces. The world can be a scary place a lot of the time, and it’s truly a gift that there are so many people who are selfless enough to share their talents with all of us. That definitely should be celebrated.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |

Photo credit: All photos taken by Ali

To view more of Ryan’s work, visit, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

Gallery Hoppin: Ryan Martin at Mark Wolfe Contemporary |


FOG Design + Art Fair

by tatiana on January 19, 2014

Above piece: The Future Perfect

This weekend I was fortunate to have two passes to the FOG Design + Art Fair at Fort Mason in San Francisco, so I brought my friend who’s currently attending the Masters of Architecture program at CCA. I figured she’d be a great person to geek out over some good design & art with, and she was! We had a blast, and found the event incredibly inspiring. Here are some highlights from the day (both inside and outside the fair):


The weather was PERFECTION on Saturday. I’m so glad I brought my camera along. You can see Alcatraz in the distance.



After taking many photos of the water and generally marveling at how beautiful it was outside, we finally found our way into the event. The above piece, “Girls at War” by Beth Katleman, was pretty incredible in person.


Pieces in the Ratio 3 booth (a local San Francisco gallery).


Airbnb built miniatures based on real vacation rental properties available through their site.


Quick coffee & snack break, indulging in goodies from Jane (hey, favorite cafe on Fillmore Street!).



The piece above and the interactive installation below are works by Benjamin Rollins Caldwell.



We attended Craig Dykers’ talk on the Architecture of Engagement and the new SFMOMA Expansion. Craig Dykers is a principal architect at Snøhetta, the Oslo-based architecture & design office working on SFMOMA as well as the new Warriors Pavilion near the Bay Bridge. It was inspiring to see Snøhetta’s plans for SFMOMA, and the philosophies & research behind those plans, and fun to get some sneak peeks of how the space will evolve.




We left just in time to enjoy golden hour – which made the already beautiful day look even more spectacular.


FOG Design + Art


Tuesday Inspiration: Portrait of an Artist

by tatiana on December 3, 2013

Portrait of an Artist: Ryan Martin Directed by Nicholas Domaguing

I’ve written about my cousin Ryan Martin before (read about some of our shenanigans here), but regardless of our shared bloodlines, he’s ridiculously talented and this short film is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. I haven’t painted in years and this video makes me want to get my hands (or a brush) into some pretty oil paints.

To learn more about his work, visit, or Like him on Facebook.


Beauty is Embarrassing at the Roxie Theater

by tatiana on September 18, 2012

Paul Reubens and Wayne White on the set of Pee-Wee's Playhouse

Paul Reubens and Wayne White on the set of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse

I don’t think I need to say much about Beauty is Embarrassing that isn’t evident by just watching the trailer (below), or doing a quick Wikipedia search (hey, I just did it for you!). Basically, if you live in SF, or the Bay Area, get yourself to the Roxie Theater this week to catch this inspiring documentary about Wayne White, visual artist, puppeteer, and man whose world is just about as colorful as his language. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.


Happy Sunday, kids. If you’re in San Francisco, I hope you’re enjoying the amaaaazing weather we’ve been having this weekend. And if you’re anywhere else in the country, you’re probably ready for autumn.

Anyway, this last week was pretty great. In between completing a smaller project and trying to finish up two bigger projects (that I’ll write about soon), I took a trip to IKEA and snatched up a really great dresser.

Left: Boxes and piles of yarn, vintage waiting to be altered/upcycled, and fabric. Right: The results of my organization efforts!

This sucker took 3 hours to build (and I missed the Tony Awards!) but it was totally worth it. I’d been using Rubbermaid bins to store my fabric, and my room feels so much more organized with everything nicely placed in this dresser (for now, at least). I even gave myself a Work In Progress drawer for all of those dresses I’ve yet to finish sewing (someday I will get to them!).

Aside from organizing like a maniac, I was able to check out The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor yesterday (it closes today!), and I’m really happy that I went. One of the gals I went with is a Museum Studies grad student and encouraged us to pay the extra $7 for the audio tour. I’m usually pretty frugal, but I decided to live a little. I don’t think I can ever go to a museum again without an audio tour. It was like being accompanied by The History Channel. I loved it. Learned so much. Left feeling really inspired.

A great exhibit at the Legion of Honor followed by an epic picnic in front of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park

As you’re probably aware, today is Father’s Day! I wish I had a great picture of my Dad from the 80s to post here but I do not, so I’m posting this photo taken at breakfast the day after my sister’s wedding. (Although I really need to get my hands on my parents’ wedding photo which features my Dad in a kick ass white Saturday Night Fever-esque suit. It’s pretty boss.)

Twinsies! Also, my uncle’s hand is making a cameo.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing Dad’s out there (including mine!). I’m really lucky to have such a funny, smart and caring Dad, and I hope he gets to see Prometheus today! :)

Oh! I almost forgot to mention… I got the opportunity to see American Idiot on Tuesday (opening night!) here in San Francisco at The Orpheum and the energy from that show has basically powered me through the week (as well as the soundtrack which I purchased on iTunes the day after). It was a phenomenal show. Very punk rock, but still very musical theater. Do go see it if you can. Also, Van Hughes, call me!

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Gallery Hoppin': Downtown SF/Geary St.

by tatiana on January 21, 2011

Has it been a week since I embarked on this gallery hoppin’ journey? Yes. Yes it has. Sheesh. Sorry I’m not the fastest blogger. This entry is about my adventures hoppin’ through the galleries in downtown SF along Geary St. with none other than my fab cousin Ryan (who is also a fine artist!). It was neat having him around to point out artwork made by his friends or professors in these beautiful galleries (with marble elevators… “The epitome of fance.” as Siddiq might describe them). [click to continue…]


I remember having a heated conversation one time (or one too many times) with an anti-currency, anti-government… sort of anti-order in general, friend of mine. (I’m getting a migraine just thinking about our conversations). Anyway, our little chat was centered around the concept of currency. I argued that even if the U.S. dollar was diminished, citizens would quickly establish a new form of currency in order to exchange goods and services. He disagreed and claimed that currency was entirely unnecessary – that civilization could function without any sort of exchange. I don’t know about that. I think those living in his Utopian “civilization” would have to be very open and trusting, maybe like Burning Man-goers. But I don’t think that way of living could last very long. People would start coming down from their happy drugs and bogarting the town’s supply of chicken nuggets and NOT sharing. I know I would.

That being said, I don’t think a civilization could run smoothly solely on a bartering system, but I DO think that a mixture of the two can work. So, we come back to reality. In the world of Etsy, bartering is very much a possibility AND totally awesome.

Pascalle Ballard (aka fabricalchemist) contacted me on Etsy and wanted to exchange something from her shop for a pair of custom red slippers (seen above). I didn’t see anything in her shop that went with the decor in my room, so I asked her if I could possibly request a custom illustration… and she said yes!

The Wasp Duchess, by Pascalle Ballard (5.5″ x 8″)

And OH MY GOD it came out amazing. I can’t wait to frame it. I asked her to draw something Gothic Lolita inspired, using yellow and a dash of lace and what she created was even cooler than I had imagined. The result is this amazing piece. What a wonderful way to collect art! Be sure to check out her shop for her many unique and beautiful pieces.