Categories
Earth People technology

Photography’s hottest stars are on Twitter

Happy Sunday to you all. After Wednesday’s wonderful post, I thought it would be great to follow up today with astrophotography. What else are you going to do on a Sunday night besides look up at the sky?

As usual, when you view, please remember to visit each account and leave some feedback for the talented photographers. We have lots of tweets to view, so sit back and scroll.

Amit, Exploring Night Sky, is on Twitter. By day, he is a software developer. His work as an astrophotographer has won him awards. He is based in New Zealand, and he says that his photography of the night sky has helped him overcome the fear of darkness. This is why he enjoys bringing the night sky to you. He is dedicated to his art, and in Guiding Light, his patience won out after eight hours of driving and eight hundred steps to the top of a lighthouse. After a long wait, the dark clouds cleared, and you can see what his camera lens picked up.

Adrien Mauduit is an engineer, author, aurora guide, professional night sky photographer and cinematographer. He is mostly specialising in time lapse images. This collection features some of his most innovative astrolapse work, which is also the first such photography work to be minted on the ethereum blockchain.

Ross is an astrophotographer from the UK and he uses photographs to inspire people to get outdoors and see the beauty in the heavens above. His favourite image is one of the Andromeda Galaxy, but I am going to showcase this video of the Orion images he has worked on. Ross did a lot to help organise this showcase, and he did so by spreading the word among his colleagues and friends. Thank you, Ross.

Mustafa Aydin, from Turkey, is a superstar on Twitter. Shield your eyes before looking at his spectacular follower count. He is adored on Twitter, and I will tell you why. He takes amazing photographs and he has a great personality. He regularly drops into conversations by replying to my tweets, and he was kind enough to join in this showcase today. Mustafa is interested in deep space astrophotography as well as widefield and Milky Way astrophotography. He loves the endless learning curve and we love the goosebumps we get from looking at his work.

Josh is a sixteen-year-old New Zealander, and he is part of the Twitter astrophotography community. During the day, he explores our beautiful planet, and at night, the stunning night sky above. You can see some of his beautiful work on his Twitter profile.

Tom is also from New Zealand, and he is the same age as Josh. Isn’t it heartwarming to see young people so enamoured by our planet, our solar system, and this expansive universe? Tom is well-loved wherever he goes, and it is always a joy to chat with him in Twitter Spaces. He reminds us that his work is based around creating a connection between earth, people and the universe. His passion for art and the stars has been there ever since he was very young. Like him, I am happy he discovered this amazing hobby.

In his own words, “My work is based around creating a connection between earth, people and the universe: to bring it to those who can’t access it due to the sad reality of light pollution within our cities. I try to spark a sense of curiosity for the night sky through my images, as I believe it can teach us valuable perspectives on how we live our lives, the world around us, and who we are as people. My appreciation for art and the stars has been there from a young age, first inspired by the Hubble space telescopes incredible images. I am so happy to have found something that I’m passionate about and to have others supporting me with it!”

Diego Juaregui is from Argentina and he is an amateur astrophotographer. He likes the feeling of being alone in a faraway place watching the stars and thinking about infinity. It is a comforting feeling.

Marcel Strelow is a landscape photographer from Munich, Germany. He has been into nightscapes forever and fell in love with deep sky photography during the last lockdown in winter.

Mark Coull is from Scotland and is relatively new to astrophotography. He is learning incredibly quickly. His fast progress might be due to his eye for detail, which he refined as a multimedia designer. He loves to learn and is here to teach. We are glad he is. Our galaxy has a beautiful palette, and you can find more of it on Mark’s timeline.

Yusuf Qureshi is a UK astrophotographer now based in New Zealand. He says that the skies out there feel so special. And under the shining stars, he feels at peace as he is pointing his camera lens up towards them. Let us join him outside soon.

From Switzerland, we have Marco Kern, a landscape photographer who is passionate about stargazing. He loves the silence of the night when he can be alone under the stars.

And here comes Willard Sharp, stormchaser from Madrid, Iowa. It was wonderful meeting an American astrophotographer, as my time zone puts me closer to Europe, Asia and Oceania. In this image, you can see the rig he set up in his backyard. Then look below to see an example of what he captured. That is a truly spectacular view.

In India, we have Ubik, a photographer and filmmaker who has been documenting life in photos for the past 12 years. He enjoys running around on sleepless nights to get a glimpse of the night sky. And then, he takes it all in on camera. He finds the process meditative and we love that about his work.

Ronan Hunt is from rainy Ireland, and we are happy he is able to capture beautiful images for us to enjoy. If you want to make friends with Ronan, his Discord server is linked on his Twitter bio. Feel free to follow him or add him to your list of favourite photographers so you can keep up with his amazing work.

Our other American friend comes to us from New Jersey. His handle name is Desclafani Photography and he loves to share his knowledge of photography with his followers. Visit his profile and follow him. He is always ready to share his process.

Lee and Brenda Amber are a family of photographers based in California. They have a fascinating story, and if you want to learn more, please join them in Twitter Spaces. As a family, they love the magic of capturing a moment with a camera. They enjoy sharing images that show what they saw and how they felt.

Across the ocean, in the UK, we meet Sajjad, who is based in London. He traveled back to Pakistan to take photos of the night sky here. From his rooftop, he took some of the Helix Nebula, NGC 729, a planetary nebula located in Aquarius. Below that, you can see the image he captured of the North American Nebula, NGC 7000.

Give a warm welcome to Thai photographer, Notto. I am happy when I see his work in my timeline. And not only is he a member of one of the most wonderful communities of artists on Twitter, but his work there is also admired by photographers everywhere. Visit his profile, follow him, and enjoy his wonderful work.

We round out the presentation with Jack, a New Zealander who is actively involved in the NFT community. He was the first person to respond to my call for submissions and I am so glad he did because his work is stunning. Or is it, “Stella”?

I think we have covered most of the planet, and I am proud to be colleagues with these talented artists. Each of the astrophotographers featured creates non fungible tokens from their photography work. They are also active members of the NFT community and we wish them all the best. Thank you for viewing this gallery.

Categories
about me art creative writing fashion women writing

Everyone wants the cherry on top but it takes work to get there

Commitment Cupcake

Does anyone remember who said, “Follow your joy”? I think this quote is popular because everyone can imagine feeling happy at the final stage of a project. Recently, I told Caring for Art that my nightmares have become work product. I was not exaggerating. Public speakers will never tell you that you must hard work to find the thing to which you can happily commit. If they told you to face reality, nobody would pay them $50,000 to talk about themselves for 30 minutes.

And because I know that the truth is hard to hear, I feel confident that no-one will copy my secret formula, which I am going to share in this post. This is my recipe for staying committed and focused on the way to finding joy. First read it, then scroll down for a taste test. 

🧁 Commitment Cupcake 🧁

Ingredients
Absolutely everything real about you right now. 

Directions 

  1. Write down every idea you have but stay loosely attached.
  2. Seek advice from qualified experts. 
  3. Listen to advice and evaluate for quality.  
  4. Search for useful ideas in negative feedback.
  5. Be assertive but never argue, no matter what.
  6. Lose fixation on irrelevant details.
  7. Shut down anyone who attempts to devalue you. 
  8. Transfer your idea from a “hard” medium to a “soft” one. 
  9. Follow up on each new idea (see item 1).  
  10. Table, pin, or expunge unworkable ideas. 
  11. Shred your lists.  
  12. Start over. 
  13. Keep at it. 

The taste testCovers only
Item 8 became especially important this week when my plans came to a full stop. And though I was feeling isolated and trapped, I decided to shred everything and start over.  

Contessa Magazine: Cover 2 in Icelandic

One of many ideas I had written down was “launch a magazine”. However, I threw it out because there are billions of writers, millions of magazines, and only a handful of subscribers.

From that, I imagined what it would be like for a young writer to dream of launching a magazine only to hit roadblock after roadblock. How would this writer solve these problems? The answers to that question became the treatment for a writing project. My preferred medium for presenting that story is a “hard” one, so I pinned it for later.

The transfer to a “soft” medium was a frictionless fusion of my interests. After careful research, I did some math: photography + fashion + world cultures + health + making stuff up + graphic design = a concept that I really like.

That is to say, I will only produce the covers. I’ve posted two test copies for you and I hope you like them. 

Contessa Magazine: Cover 1 in English
(Spoiled it, so don’t look too closely)

Categories
art creative writing fiction opinion poem poetry women writing

Ascension / Bring me higher

Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Garnet – Love
Runic transcription of poem - Ascension/Bring me higher
Runic transcription
Runic script of poem on magazine page. Image from Tokyo Fashion Edge.
Bring me higher – Runic transcription
Ascension - English
Ascension / Bring me higher
Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Runic transcription – Opening stanzas
Image with handwritten English cursive script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Citrine – Abundance
Image with handwritten English script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Quartz – Purity


Presented with love and gratitude. Poem “Ascension/Bring me higher” was written by me. Big ups to my homey, the 9th century poet, Cynewulf. My poem is inspired by his awesome work, Christ II. Images are from Tokyo Fashion Edge Magazine Volume 35, September 2019, with an overlay of handwritten runic and English scripts in watercolour. Have a healing week ahead.

Categories
art creative writing fiction writing

Accession

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was writing a coronation scene for a new novel. The story is set in 2033, and unfolds in the same universe as The Quarter Percent. We follow events from three perspectives. One belongs to Sebastian Sax-Gault, who happens to be a nephew of Cordial’s.

Whereas it hath pleased our Most Blessed Lady to recall to us Her glorious memory in the noble crown which is solely and rightfully come to the High Prince Carroll Patrice Saints Maud et Agnes:

Still drafting, but I know how the story ends. In the very last scene, after a bombshell revelation the previous evening, a hush falls over the nation on Coronation Day. The new monarch is Sebastian’s bestie, 35-year-old Carroll. In this draft of the story, Carroll’s father is still alive, so the proclamation of accession has to take place at the coronation.

Proclamation of accession (fiction).

By this point in the story, we have eavesdropped on meetings and know that the coronation will be stripped of pomp and pageantry. Sebastian has been asked to whittle down the government’s expenditure on the ceremony to mere shillings. The ceremony is a reckoning with the public which, after a display of hubris, has completely lost face. Nonetheless, the ordeal has been humiliating for Carroll.

Bless and sanctify thy servant Carroll, Inheritor of this realm, who we anoint and consecrate King. Imbue him with the wisdom of the Mighty Reformer Jonas, as we, with one voice, proclaim him King, Servant and Steward, with hearty and weighty affection.

The proclamation text is based on EIIR’s 1952 accession and 1953 coronation. (Read a short story inspired by the latter). As mentioned in that earlier post, Google was reading over my shoulder and recommended gospel music to me on YouTube. I made some artwork to display the text that was misunderstood. I hope you like it.

Note: This post was originally intended for publication on this date, 09/20, but I moved it up a week. I moved it back here to make way for a different post. Thank you for your attention, as always. Header image: Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz, Poland, by Jacques Bopp, via Unsplash. Concept art: “Accession proclamation for King Carroll”, Posca watercolour pens, and Pilot Juice metallic ink on matte/glossy magazine paper.

Categories
People

Her Late Majesty The Queen

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Image courtesy Bettman via Vogue.

Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at her home in Balmoral last Thursday and the world has not been the same. As a person who grew up in the British Commonwealth, Her Late Majesty’s story is familiar to me, as are the life stories of most members of The Royal Family dating back nearly a millennium.

Something that has struck me in the wake of the sad occasion of the death of Her Majesty has been the response by some members of the public.

People somehow feel that in order to express disestablishmentarian views, it is necessary to denigrate a family in mourning. Yes, monarchies are outdated in these times. Governments are outdated, too. Democratic societies are ruled by influential groups calling for laws to censor dictionary words. Large corporations pay lobby groups to (bribe) lawmakers. Most people don’t go out to vote. We pay taxes that fund overseas wars while people at home live on the street.

But these same people saying nasty things about a woman with impeccable work ethic (70 years full-time) are happy to worship PR created effigies built upon armies of bots. Their respected divas buy their own albums and pay to have them piped into your local shopping malls. Harry Styles is a Gucci dress-up doll who can’t act. Tell me, do you know how the world really works?

We should not be bowing and scraping to anyone. Royalty is anachronistic, and at times the formality can feel silly. But it recalls a time when there was reverence for the dignity of human existence.

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in a carriage in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park in July 1940. Image courtesy: Vogue.

Let us recognise this for what it is. First, by themselves, the pomp and pageantry are real life versions of a fairytale. Imagine being inside the pages of a storybook as a story is unfolding. This is the magic and mystery of royalty.

Second, it is naïve for anyone to believe that reigning monarchs in this day and age are sitting around as staff serve them tea and biscuits. King Charles III, when he was Duke of Cornwall, hired 31 accountants at Clarence House. Among his staff were researchers and other advisors. He is a consummate business networker. He has met every head of state in the entire world. And he is on speaking terms with them: even the despots who starve their own people and hold stashes of national wealth in tiny island banks.

KC is a diplomat, Long Live KC.

A word that I use to describe the way people should act is “decorum”. That brings me to my third point: The King rules by consent of the people. It’s in the Constitution, the people voted on it, and the Privy Council affirmed everything at the Accession Council. Rather than insulting the person at the top, it would be a better idea to try and change the minds of people who consented for him to rule.

Instead of saying vulgar things, people should be taking time to reflect on the meaning and value of the stories we are fed in the media. Instead of insulting a culture, tradition, and history, people should try to understand the hidden hand at play in situations.

Now, I feel I should inform you that none of the negative comments are moving the needle. KC’s press office has been using the furore surrounding his candid on-camera remarks to boost his image as a strong male leader. The commentary and images firmly separate him from his late mother The Queen. They humanise him, and prepare people for what to expect. This is brilliant British PR at work.

And you know what? People are eating it up. More people are lining the streets to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. More people are asking to meet the new King. The funeral of the Late Queen will be the most watched televised broadcast of all time. Royal magic is created by connected people in media, government and business. They are advised by educated people who are diligent, bright and perceptive. And rest assured, there was lots of data analytics in the mix.

What is the right way to act when a person dies and you didn’t agree with their politics? Ignore the coverage. Get on with your life. There are plenty of better things to be in a strop about.


Categories
art creative writing fiction news opinion technology TV women writing

What revolution?


Fabric swatches on canvas with makeshift cardboard frames
Fabric swatches on canvas

The Netflix film, 365 Days, is not the worst film ever made. That distinction belongs to the threequel, The Next 365 Days. And this is according to journos who got paid to write nice things about it. The films are based on the series of novels by Polish author, Blanka Lipińska.

According to the Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon, stories like 365 Days serve an important purpose. They allow us to watch as the inversion of our values play out in real world scenarios. And as we watch the scenes play out, our tablet or TV screens shield us from the consequences.

Sketchbook doodle from Charlie Esposito

Now, I think that as we broadcast disapproval of fan-fiction hot sex, we are avoiding the real hot topics. We might tell ourselves that we are staying neutral on those issues. But there is no political fence, not really.

Based on my experiences on social media over the past year, these are some questions I feel like asking people I am meeting for the first time:

Are you all in on a multicultural society? Can same-sex couples get married if they want? Can people with wombs please get a prescription filled without a pharmacist asking them to pee on a stick so their religious rules are not broken?

Dr. Emily Porter finds that medical professionals doing their job is going to be very frustrating

Neutrality is a nice word that means we are scared of saying what we think in case someone screams in our faces. Being human is already a lot of work, which is why we elect public officials to help us out. Yet, we keep electing representatives who won’t let us get on with living. They create legislation on matters that should remain private; and drag their feet on issues that are in the public’s interest. This is precisely the reason why more of us are speaking out.

With all of that in the background, I now ask you to consider the artist’s work during times of struggle. One of the best things about being an artist is that we usually end up collaborating to start a movement. The movement is whatever we choose to call it. We make noise as a collective, and people pay attention to our message.

Medusa Marie is on Twitter. Follow her for more fabulous visual art.

Unfortunately, the creative space is most vulnerable to interference. Because we artists are living in a society filled with outrage, our worst enemy becomes what we think others want from us. Fear stifles our productivity. But if we don’t make things, we cannot refine our process and become better artists.

Artists are people with feelings, and this makes us easy targets. And people use their own reactions to our relatively benign creations as an excuse to avoid the draft.

If you are a hobbyist critic, should you pack up and leave? Not so fast. There is still time to get some real work done.

Find balance in everything you do. drawing of stones balanced on top of each other.
“Find balance in everything you do” Artwork by MHBB via Twitter

Here are some people who will benefit from your support: Women, children, minority ethnic groups, refugees, the homeless, the starving, the physically challenged, the mentally unwell, recovering addicts and the orphaned. Dial up your voice to the usual strength. Vote for representatives who can help. Keep writing letters to them until they mobilise resources to alleviate pain and suffering.

Fairies are real and help us achieve our dreams as we sleep. AI assisted digital painting by Simply Veronica.
Fairies are real and assist us in our dreams – artwork by Simply Veronica

The revolution calls you to the draft. There is no need to burn your old scripts. Find a new cause, make some edits, and read them again. You might need a change of costume. Maybe a haircut. Or perhaps a 15-minute session on IG Live will get the ball rolling. The energy expenditure will leave you exhausted and restless. But soon enough, someone will hear you. And then, they will listen.

Good luck out there.

❤️

Postscript: Big shout outs to my lovely friends, Charlie Esposito, Medusa Marie, MHBB, and Simply Veronica. Thank you very much for responding to that last-minute request. Keep inspiring everyone with your activism and hard work.

Categories
art entrepreneurs men women

Sephi Bergerson

Intro
Happy Thursday, everyone. Today’s post features nude photography. In addition to that, we learn more about photographer Sephi Bergerson’s philosophy of “One”, evolved minds, and how religious beliefs shape our perception of the world. Today, we invite you to catch a glimpse of this surreal collection with the religious motifs enfolding each subject. And what about you? Are you searching for your own divine source?

Sephi Bergerson
Looking for God in a church, synagogue, or mosque is religion. Looking for God inside is spirituality. This is what I believe. And you may be surprised to learn that I was born in a secular Jewish house. Yes, they really exist. And that is what I am referencing when I say that I believe in God, but I do not follow any organised religion.

I feel that religions have historically divided humanity, while spirituality is universal and brings us together. Many people take great comfort in the teachings laid down by the religion they follow. However, in my opinion, religions are all based on half-truths. They also tend to bind followers to a set of core assumptions and dogmatic thinking. And thus, in most cases, do not encourage free thinking.

There is one truth. I believe that evolve minds understand this truth even though they call it by many names. What I mean is that we can all speak about the same God. But because of our upbringing and environment, we use different names for the same deity that so many religions speak about. Those who are not restricted by their religion usually agree on this idea.

My work is an exploration of the emotions triggered by various religious symbols. I believe that inspiration is divine grace, and I am searching for a connection to this source of inspiration. I am particularly interested in how people perceive and react to the use of religious items in art and specifically connected with the human body.

I create photos using religious objects as styling for nude photographs. By doing so, I want to reclaim these worldly objects and alter their original religious purpose to question the attitudes, fears and unwritten rules which have formed religious dogma and people’s behaviour within it.

I focus on the three most influential monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as they were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another. Christianity was born within the Jewish tradition, and Islam developed from Christianity and Judaism. Growing up in Israel, I was surrounded by the monuments and realities of these three religions that formed the background of my upbringing and my visual language.

I am aware of the controversial side of this body of work. Some people might find my work offensive to their religious beliefs, and voice their protest accordingly. I would like to have a conversation about God and inspiration, but I know this subject brings out a lot of emotions. I have not experienced any violence with regard to this project, but a few people on twitter did say they find it offensive. I expect more of this once the project gets more exposure.

For example, we have also witnessed violence against artists who chose to depict religious items or subjects in their work. It is not uncommon that museums and galleries are forced to take a stand or forced to remove controversial work from their exhibition walls due to public outcry. There will always be those who oppose these ideas and rush to the defence of religion like white blood cells rushing to fight a virus.

I feel that God is everywhere, and the one I believe in does not require any protection, yet I think there is a high chance that gallery owners or museum curators would think twice before showing this work. This is why I believe that virtual galleries, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens are a good fit for this work.

Outro
Thank you for reading. Sephi Bergerson is an award-winning documentary and corporate photographer, and author. Follow him on Twitter. And of course, you can find the full range of his photography work on Instagram. After living in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, New York City, San Francisco, Paris and New Delhi, Sephi set down roots with his wife and children in Goa, India, in 2002. After moving to India, he started taking documentary assignments for corporate clients, international NGOs, and print publications.

Visit his website, Sephi Bergerson, and view all the photographs in this project, The Truth is One. Purchase items from this collection as non-fungible tokens on Foundation.

This photography project has won the following awards:

  • Budapest International Foto Awards 2021: SILVER In Fine Art/ Nudes
  • Tokyo International Foto Awards 2020: Silver In Fine Art/Nudes
  • Tokyo International Foto Awards 2020: Silver In Portfolio/Fine Art
  • One Eye Land Photography Awards 2018 – Silver Award
  • 11th Annual Black & White SPIDER Awards 2017 – Nominee
  • IPA ~ International Photography Awards 2016 – Honourable Mention
  • 10th Annual Black & White SPIDER Awards 2016 Honourable Mention
Categories
art entrepreneurs technology women

Designing the Future: Charlie Esposito

Charlie Esposito

Several years ago, I watched a video clip on my Facebook feed. It featured an augmented reality exhibition which inspired me to pay closer attention to the future of digital art. Later, I was spurred on by an artist whose journey into Web 3 (decentralised platforms which use blockchain technology) I watched unfold on Instagram. As I was researching blockchain technology, I decided to list digital versions of my physical works on the Open Sea platform. This was how I got started with creating digital and hybrid art.

(Re)Connect

It was a natural progression for me because I am fascinated by anything innovative. I was mesmerised by the vast potential of virtual reality. This is because I realise that I could use this to overcome the barriers to owning my own physical gallery.

Then, I discovered Spatial, which is a great platform for creating free VR spaces. Using that platform, I was able to realise my dream of starting my own gallery. This was incredible because my gallery space can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It really is an invaluable tool because it can help artists to independently reach a much wider audience.

The Lights

Artists can set up and curate galleries themselves and hyperlink to their online shops. They can create any number of events and bring in people to network with. Virtual galleries are also a great way to host collectors, and hold artist talks or educational workshops.

Emotive abstractions web gallery

More recently, I decided to set up a gallery for my own Web 3 community. I wanted to do something to elevate others and I wanted to provide a completely free exhibition opportunity for artists. The Charlie ART Community Gallery went live over the last few weeks.

Displaced

There are endless possibilities for VR exhibiting and experiences. I eventually want to develop and make my galleries more immersive, and I’m looking forward to expanding into other platforms. I urge all other artists to discover and learn more about art in the Metaverse.

(Re)Connect on the cover of Excursions postgraduate journal

Outro
Artist Charlotte Esposito has been making both large and small scale artworks for over thirty years. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram. She also creates high end murals for interiors and makes bespoke apparel. She has exhibited widely and has sold works to both public and private collections. Her physical artwork is currently available via her website and at Saatchi Art. Her genesis collection of digital art is available as non-fungible tokens and can be collected on Open Sea.

Interview for Path of Flight
Categories
art creative writing fiction women writing

The Lotus (Short film): Meet Australian filmmaker Bernadette Walsh

The Lotus: Short film by Bernadette Walsh

Thank you for viewing The Lotus, a short film by Australian filmmaker, Bernadette Walsh. It has been a while since the last short film Friday. When I caught up with Bernadette in Twitter Spaces the other night, I knew her activism would resonate well with you. Read on as she opens a window into her project.

The Lotus: Behind the scenes with director Bernadette Walsh

My name is Bernadette Walsh and I wrote and directed the short film, The Lotus. The film tells the mythical story of a brother and sister who were rescued from the darkest of places, and given a future with hope. I wrote the story in 2019, because I was inspired by the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an NGO based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bernadette Walsh and her sister, Kate Walsh

The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was founded by Australian philanthropist Michael Brosowski in 2004, when he saw the need to rescue children from exploitation by labour and sex traffickers. Michael founded the NGO to provide these children with the care and support they would need to help rebuild their lives. In 2020, Blue Dragon rescued the 1,000th survivor of human trafficking. Today Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is still working with over 10,000 children and youth from around Vietnam.

Transforming the lives of children who were trafficked is hard work. And I knew that I wanted to support the NGO in any way I could. Working together with Blue Dragon, I raised funds through the Australian crowdfunding platform, Pozible, to make my film project a reality. My family and friends also chipped in to offer support.

The Lotus was brought to life by sand animation artist, Kseniya Simonova who rose to prominence in 2009, after winning Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009. Ten years later, she participated in The Champion on America’s got Talent. And on Britain’s Got Talent, she was the only act to receive two Golden Buzzers. Kseniya is an extraordinary artist who brings to life moving stories through incredible sand art. Having previously seen her work online, she immediately came to mind as the person who could breathe life into the story.

Sand art by Kseniya Simonova

The other wonderful, creative and talented people working on The Lotus included fine artist Kate Walsh, who created the storyboard visuals for Kseniya. The original music was created by Australian film composer, Robert John Sedky. And as the narrator, my 11-year-old son, Michael, was happy to offer his voice.

I enjoy testing new narrative styles in storytelling. This is why my next film project, Navigating a Pandemic will be testing more boundaries. For this project, I will be using artificial intelligent software to animate pandemic-related data into a 3D pigmented sculpture. I am fortunate to have the support of a high-performance computer company, which is supplying me with the computing power I need to render the project.

Kseniya Simonova meeting with King Jigme of Bhutan

Next stop? Raising funds to produce the project, and I will do that via the sale of non-fungible tokens. For me, token sales to multiple buyers works in the same way as traditional fundraising platforms. Supporters will be funding the project with the proceeds of their crypto investments. In the meantime, I am working to focus my fundraising activities within the community of crypto investors. The possibilities are both exciting and daunting. Wish me luck.

The Lotus has received the following awards:

  • Special Jury Animation Award at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles (Oct 2019)
  • Finalist at the Rome Independent Prisma Awards (March 2020)
  • Award of Merit at Best Shorts Festival in California (Apr 2020)
  • Finalist Mescalito Biopic Fes (Nov 2020)
  • Finalist JellyFEST Season 6 (Feb 2021)
  • Humanitarian Award at the Best Shorts Competition 2020 (2020)

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Categories
art men

Hendro Soetrisno: Chasing Perfection

LIFE by Hendro Soetrisno

Hendro Soetrisno’s his art is easy on the eyes. He has spent 25 years chasing perfection. His second collection of crypto artwork, LIFE, is on Sloika. Before we start, you can follow him on Twitter or find him on Instagram. And now, let’s get to know him.

Pelican Mood

What does it mean to be a visual storyteller?
My fine art nature images are real and also a part of my imagination, where the color of the water is sometimes pink instead of blue, where birds and other animals speak to me when I speak to them. My work is a result of more than 25 years of photography, thousands of captures, endless waiting for a single perfect moment followed by months of post production to bring my world of imagination to you.

And your signature style?
There are a lot of talented photographers in the world, and I was told that I needed to distinguish my work from theirs. So, I chose not to be known as a nature photographer. I wanted to see myself as a visual story teller who uses animal fine art to share my imagination.

Lavender Cupid

In other words, you paint images in your imagination and bring them to life in photos. And how long have you identified as a photographer?
I have been doing photography for 25+ years using a large and a medium format film before switching to digital. I was a landscape photographer at the beginning but then my interest expanded to include wedding and portrait before settling down in fine art nature.

Twilight Curtains

You enjoy photography competitions. Tell us more about those.
One of my proudest moments was being chosen to represent the United States in the prestigious World Photographic Cup. Olympics of professional photography. I brought home a gold medal in Nature category and also won the Best of Nations. But I remember where it all started. I entered my first professional competition in the Australia Institute of Professional Photography where I got my first awards. Then, I began entering major professional competitions like the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, Professional Photographers of America, and Master Photographers International. In total, I’ve won 150 awards so far.

Primrose Seal

One hundred and fifty awards is quite an accomplishment. You must have many adoring apprentices.
Thank you, it is an honour to be considered a mentor, and yes, I have helped fellow photographers to develop their skills. The feeling I get when I see them doing very well has been satisfying.

Is there a signature style we can see with you and your students?
My current photography style is a combination of what I learned and experience as a landscape and wedding/portrait photographer. While landscape is quite dependent on natural light, wedding/portrait can be manipulated using man made. I “light” my animals using the same principles as how I would light a human either using natural or artificial light. The event that brought me to my current style was actually a casual conversation with one of the most reputable wedding photographers in the world. I attended his workshop and during a break he told me that I needed to be my own not just a copy of him. This is something I tell the photographers I mentor, too.

Follow Hendro on Instagram

And how did you enter the world of cryptoart? How have you done so far?
I started minting NFTs in mid January 2022 after receiving an acceptance letter from the curated photography marketplace @sloikaxyz. I sold out Vivid, a collection of ten photographs, in four weeks. And now, I am presenting my second series on the same platform. This collection is about celebrating life. The collection is brought together from thousands of captures, and the endless wait for a perfect moment. This life is my unique vision.

Categories
celebrity creative writing entrepreneurs men news writing

Curtis Richardson: Rihanna’s multi-platinum music producer chats with Charles Myambo


Happy Saturday, everyone. In this post, you will meet the multiplatinum music producer Curtis Richardson, who has written songs with Jennifer Lopez, produced music for Rihanna, and worked with David Guetta, Tiësto and John Legend. He is speaking with the fabulous celebrity interviewer, Charles Myambo.

How was it working with Jennifer Lopez?

Well, I first started working with Jennifer Lopez before she was mainstream. She came at a time where the world was itching for a breakout Latina star. At the time, its safe to say that Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer, not only in the US, but also around the world. To date, she is one of the biggest stars worldwide, but it was not always this way. Jennifer was extremely hardworking and determined when I first started working with her. She had a day job and needed to balance that with recording music. Combine all that with the pressure of being a Latina entertainer during a time where not many like her were global superstars, and you can see how Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer. To this day, she is one of my favourite artists to work with. 

Curtis Richardson

What are your thoughts on musicians becoming huge without the help of a record label?

You have to understand that record labels are like machines when it comes to artist promotion. The top tier record labels are exceptional at branding artists and giving them exposure to a global audience. If your question is whether artists can be filthy rich without record labels, then the answer is definitely yes. ChanceThaRapper for instance, is independent and extremely well-off. However, if your question is whether an artist can become as big as Nicki Minaj or Drake without a record label, then I have to say no. Not impossible but it is extremely difficult.

The room on Clubhouse

What tough-love advice would you have for aspiring musicians today?

It’s not easy. The music industry is very much cutthroat. You can gain or lose relevance so quickly. The volatility of music fans is simply astonishing and without careful planning and strategy, almost any artist can start becoming irrelevent very quickly. Obviously, you have your Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, and JLo, who are household names globally and they are unlikely to ever become irrelevant. However, that’s part of the issue.

Fight about it

We have young artists who try and mimic exactly what these huge stars are doing while failing to understand that it took years for those superstars to be able to produce one album without promoting it on Instagram and it becomes a hit. Today’s artists need to understand that the music game costs money, requires time and effort, demands creativity, and also social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook to promote upcoming tracks. Artists also have to be willing to adapt to trend changes in order to become relevant and perhaps even one day become the trendsetters.

If you don’t feel like quitting, your dream isn’t big enough

Do you feel like a celebrity?

No not really. Never feel too comfortable. You can always achieve more. Pride is the enemy of progress.

What was the most difficult part about the pandemic for you?

I love travelling, and I couldn’t travel as much as I really wanted.

It’s not that deep, baby

What is one major thing still left on your checkbox?

I’d love to travel more. I’d like to explore more of the world than I have already. Gain more new perspectives through learning about different cultures, music, ethnicities and heritage. 

👀

Thank you for reading this interview, which was provided by Charles Myambo. Follow him on Instagram. Charles is an actuarial scientist by day. And by night, he is founder of the celebrity networking community, Team Smooth. Since 2019, he has worked with hundreds of celebrities from all over the world. Team Smooth has a vision of presenting the community outreach of celebrities and some of the world’s most notable names and brands. Their mission is to spark positive change in the world by bringing awareness to worthy causes and communities.

Categories
art creative writing science fiction technology women writing

A gift of birth (W I P)

Floral montage with fabric swatches on canvas

A work in progress. Still drafting the story, even though I am about six months behind in writing. The best part is that this delay has allowed me to rethink the story I am trying to tell, and build more rounded characters.

In mid-January, I drafted two scenes to show faith intersecting science and politics. This is an important theme in the story because the politics are influenced by a religious doctrine. Blending them will be interesting, because I do not plan to make anything obvious. In this untitled scene, the science is explained in a conversation between two government officials.

Fabric swatches and acrylic on canvas

“That was their colossal cock up,” shouted the health minister. The minister was not inside his study, so Sebastian was talking to an empty desk this afternoon. The health minister was speaking from a different room, and he was shouting even though his voice was transmitted over voice activated smart mics in his home.

“Sir,” replied Sebastian, “Treasury does not have jurisdiction over private medical cases.”

“You can revoke their funding,” was the minister’s surly response.

“True, but taking away funding from medical research into fertility treatment would be tantamount to a human rights violation,” said a smirking Sebastian. He was rather pleased with himself. “And may I remind you that overseas investors are plugging large amounts of cash into the research and development?”

“Money, money, money,” said the health minister. “She is suing me for lack of oversight. Me, personally. The research shows that uterine cells never generate fetal tissues even when exposed to a massive cocktail of hormones.”

“It was an act of God,” said Sebastian. He was laughing silently because he knew the statement would annoy his colleague. He stopped laughing and raised an eyebrow because he wondered if the health minister could see his face on a monitor somewhere.

Collage elements, fabric swatches and acrylic on canvas

“An outdated notion,” was the swift correction from the health minister’s voice.

Sebastian rolled his eyes, slightly relieved that his mocking behaviour had not been noticed.

He said, “She is with the Congregation, so those notions are alive and well. And support, across the world, has been universally positive. Also, remember that this is a giant leap forward for fertility research. The value of stock portfolios of biotech investors have skyrocketed. Absolutely everyone loves her.”

“Fine,” replied the health minister. “She is raising her daughter, and enjoying sainthood, but why is she suing me … and the government for the near fatal heart attack she suffered minutes after giving birth? I feel sorry that she had to go through that, but the same technology reprinted her blood vessels that were damaged. She is alive because of us and is suing us? Yet, everyone believes her actions are justified. Especially after that fiction!”

“Creative non-fiction, sir,” corrected Sebastian. He glanced over on his screen to review the article published in the National Gazette, in which the woman recounted the experience of giving birth to a girl less than a year after male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. Bloating, swelling and discomfort were normal after these procedures. She and her doctors did not know she was pregnant and there were no sperm or egg donors. Her doctors guessed that because of the hormone protocol she received, some of the cells in her ovaries had changed to reproductive cells. After exhaustive tests, they concluded that the most likely explanation was that one of the cells moved to her uterus and started dividing spontaneously. The hormone protocol facilitated the pregnancy, and the fetus was delivered at the six month mark.

Sebastian looked at the highlighted text of an email which was opened in another window on his screen. His cousin, Gala of Vale, was the first person he contacted when the health minister asked him for a meeting. She had replied to him with a voice message. Reading the transcription, he saw that it had everything he needed.

“Technically,” Sebsastian continued, “she cloned herself but this not a flaw in the medicine. She is reproducing, which is, biologically, what her body is supposed to do. Ask your team to focus on that argument and petition the tribunal to force a settlement on those grounds. But while you do that, tread softly. Her story is about family, faith, and the belief in miracles. Something that is lost in our world. People like hoping for things. We shouldn’t try to take it away from them.”

Paper collage with 3D elements

“All right,” replied the health minister with a sigh. “And what can I do?”

“Hire her as a special health advocate,” answered Sebastian.

“Even though she’s suing me,” retorted the health minister.

“Yes. Exactly,” replied Sebastian. He glanced over at the rest of the notes from his cousin. “And for the settlement negotiations, you personally offer money and resources only if she agrees to set up a foundation. Ask the Congregation to join the negotiations as an appropriate third party. As health minister, you will appoint an advisory board to represent the Congregation and the biotech industry. Instead of fighting her at a tribunal, we should help her to build a platform and set an agenda for the next three decades.”

“All right, Sebs. I am going to get legal on the phone, and I want another meeting with all of you before dinnertime today.”

“Yes, minister. We will see each other then.”

Categories
art news opinion People women

Peace x Ash Wednesday

Peace (dry)

March 2, Ash Wednesday

Pause for a moment and reflect on human lives and dignity lost to conflict, strife, and intolerance. Honour the strength of will that brings us closer together.

Peace (washed)

Peace: Kimono fabric swatches, emulsion paint, and watercolor on ripped canvas.

Categories
art men opinion

Jelly Doods by Ron Schippert: Journey to Recovery

Piano Dood by Ron Schippert

Intro
Greetings everyone, and happy Thursday because I have another guest post for you. Yesterday, February 23, was the Emperor Reiwa’s birthday and a national holiday. And I thought, what would it be like to spend 12 hours cohosting a Twitter Space for artists? Starting at 11:00 JST, I did just that. The energy in the space was warm, vibrant, and supportive. Because of that, I felt revived after three long weeks of burnout and autoimmune flareups.

One of our guests in the fourth hour was artist and community activist named Ron Schippert. As I listened to his story, I knew you would warmly welcome him here. Please read his story, and enjoy the cute Jelly Dood characters he created for a worthy cause. Thank you.

Skater Chef Dood

Hello everyone, my name is Ron Schippert and I am a 45-year-old artist from Pennsylvania, USA. I am an addict in recovery and I celebrated 10 years clean on February 10. At an early age, I never felt like I fit in anywhere, whether at school, sports or just outside playing. As years went by and I got older, I turned to other substances to feel like I belonged. In reality, I was walking down a path of self-destruction. After spending years in and out of hospitals, detox clinics, psych wards, and rehabilitation centers, I decided to go into treatment one last time. I had no idea what the future would hold. That day, February 10, 2012, marked the day of my rebirth.

Piano Wizard Dood

After completing full treatment, I moved to South Florida. There, in the early days of my recovery, I felt a strong desire to help others who were struggling with addiction. That meant spending sleepless nights sitting in waiting rooms, and driving people to detox clinics or hospitals. Doing something to help others made me feel whole again. Because of that, I continued my work with recovering addicts. I have supported hundreds of addicts as they got clean but unfortunately, some of my friends did not make it. In spite of that, I am committed to doing whatever I can to help.

Football Dood

Even today, ten clean years later, I still see the many obstacles that recovering addicts face with health insurance or finances. There should never be a reason for someone to be refused the help that they need. This is why I have created a fundraising project using non-fungible tokens. The artwork is called Jelly Doods NFT. Proceeds from sales of these tokens are used to pay for addiction treatment for people who cannot afford it.

And why did I choose art? Ever since I was young, art has helped me settle my mind and feel all right with myself. Making art takes me to a place of peace and serenity. This is the purpose of the Jelly Doods characters. They are simple, fun characters created to bring a smile to your face. If this project can help one more person receive treatment for substance abuse, then it will have served its purpose.

Blue Dood

In life, I have only a few passions. Art has remained number one because it is something that I do for others. And my dearest wish is to use my art to give someone their life back. I live by the motto, “I can only keep what I have by giving it away.” And I give you Jelly Doods.

Follow the Jelly Doods on Twitter

Outro
Thank you everyone for reading this presentation and for viewing this gallery of art. Ron may be reached on socials at the links below. Please be sure to follow him. I imagine that you were sending him your positive thoughts of appreciation while you were reading. I know that Ron appreciates the support you have given him with your attention today. Thank you.

Jelly Doods website

@JellyDoods on Twitter

Join Jelly Doods on Discord

Full Jelly Doods NFT Collection

Categories
Ancient Past art men

A spark of renewed antiquity: Artist Alberto Ballocca

Italian fine artist Alberto Ballocca

Hello everyone, I am Alberto Ballocca, a self-made contemporary painter from Italy. Through my art, I am trying to catch my spark. I work to emulate ancient customs and combine them with my futuristic ideas. In the present, I attempt to breathe new life into antiquity by balancing dimensions of time within myself.

My work lives on the Ethereum blockchain and my first exhibition of art is already live in South Africa. Follow me on Twitter for highlights.

Primeval Rah

On a technical level, my process is based on the mixing of different types of mediums on canvas, panels, glass, aluminium. My pigments include wall enamels, acrylics, oil, natural pigments, charcoals, graphite, collage elements and gold foil.

Throughout symbols (closeup)

If you are familiar with digital image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, you could imagine that I am emulating that process by applying one layer on top of the other as I allow interesting shapes to appear. As I paint, I am trying to catch these new shapes on a spark of intuition. For me, creating art is a game of balancing abstract themes and realistic figures.

Gallery of physical works

On a conceptual level, I read a lot of books and meditate on what I’ve read. My favourite subjects include Aristotle’s poems, ancient Egyptian symbolism, Greek mythology, Plato’s writings and anything concerned with the deep nature of reality.

Using that energy, which I believe is the source of our modern-day culture, I try to crack emotional codes so that these energies can resonate within my paintings. And from then on, I pass these to the observer. Follow me on Instagram to see more of my creative process.

Working with natural pigments

As for showcasing my work, I am in love with the interactions on Twitter Spaces because I have met a lot of amazing new people. I can interact with people all over the world with very little effort. I believe it is super important for us as artists and creative people to be connected in this way.

As for the future, I am looking forward to collabs with well-known and respected artists in the art world. Many of them are my friends in the Metaverse.

Thank you for taking a walk with me today. I hope to see you again soon.

.
.
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Postscript: Digital versions of my physical paintings are listed on several sales platforms. Each collection is separated by theme, and you can find links to the galleries below.

Known Origin

Foundation

Open Sea

Minty Art

Hodooi

Categories
art creative writing opinion technology women writing

A loving me thing: 8 steps to an Instagram turnaround

Hello everyone. This is a followup to my post last year when I realised why IG was sending me followers though I did barely anything. As opposed to the year before. At that time, I reached 300 followers even as I posted infrequently, and used zero hashtags. Shortly after publishing that post, I reached 500 followers.

I have since that point started using hashtags. I also hid reels and archived posts to create a tight, focused grid. At some point, I will take down most of my current grid so I can keep the focus on installations of my artwork.

My Instagram account is attached to Clubhouse (and Spotify Greenroom). Quite a few of my early follows were coming from there because I participated in room discussions. I was also asking people in Twitter Spaces to join me on Clubhouse, and they found me on Instagram as well.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the above results with a friend, and I came to understand that by posting to my Story daily, I was creating space for Instagram to place ads between accounts. People are used to tapping on the right side of their screens to see new stories, and that gives 5-second ads a place to breathe. I believe that my steady gain of followers daily had something to do with that. In other words, Story is where active accounts thrive, and you raise the likelihood of IG recommending your accounts to people interested in your niche.

By the end of 2021, (CH/Twitter) collaborations with some larger accounts were also boosting my account. Accounts with massive followings were talking about our collabs on Clubhouse and they reposted my stories (about them) to their stories. I have also been mentioned in their IG Live broadcasts. Remember that I am using IG for business and these were my goals all along.

Step by step, let’s review the method I used, with an updated set of 8 enhancements. These are also low effort and consistently applied, with focus on the Story feature.

  1. Share the work of other artists
    First, do for others. Instead of scrolling, think about whether you would like to share a post in your Story. I recommend that you share posts to Story if (a) the account supports you or (b) if the account is somewhat popular. In the latter case, a story mention (using the mention tag) ensures that you stand out in their notifications.
  2. Keep it up in messages
    Socialise via text and voice messages. The more time you spend sharing accounts in a meaningful way, the more you find yourself receiving kind notes from creators in your messages. And sooner or later, you will feel like you’re talking to your friends. Follow up by explaining why you like their work. Be interested in their methods or techniques, and ask them what other projects they are working on.
  3. Follow and share accounts that look like yours
    If an account is doing work that you want to do and it is not too big (over 100K followers), you should try to show that you have something in common. Show your followers that your ideas have been brought to light by another creator. Use the text or drawing feature in notes to make it obvious why you like the post you’re sharing. Be adventurous and you will find support.
  4. Pay attention to accounts with great content and few comments
    When a new post bubbles into view, look for comments first. Then, if this account is familiar to you and you know they will respond, leave a comment. Comments are precious, so offer them generously and try to keep them light and positive.
  5. Check stories and comments
    Quite a few popular creators schedule their posts and no matter how amazing your comment is, they (or their team) might never see it. One way to make sure that an account is active is to look at their Story. Active accounts may be more willing to engage with yours, and this is what you want.
  6. FL!RT
    This is the one time when I will advocate making the first approach. On the account of a popular creative (artist/writer) in your niche, look at comments on their most recent post. Did the post author reply to comments? If not, among the replies, look for accounts that engage with their followers. Come back to the post and reply to their comment. Then, heart some posts on their account, and wait.
  7. Mute
    There are accounts that produce amazing work, but a swath of posts down your timeline two days in a row is no bueno. Mute the account so you can see other posts. Or, if you feel so-so about a single post, hide the post so Instagram doesn’t keep showing more of what you don’t want. You can always see other posts from the account later.
  8. Unfollow
    What’s it like when you notice a live broadcast or a post that seems out of left field? It pays to do regular checks of accounts that you are following. Use the “most/least interacted with” feature in Instagram to check for accounts that are far outside your interests. First and foremost, focus your attention on accounts actively supporting you. From there, branch out with confidence, and bring new friends with similar interests into your fold.

Thank you for reading this post. I imagine you might realise that a low effort method of using social media takes … effort. Overnight, you could have great results, but that’s because you were consistent in the past. None of these methods require you to spend a whole day scrolling. Based on what I have shared so far, create a plan that fits comfortably with your needs and objectives. Never give up on your dreams, the saying goes, but you should be prepared to work for them. Best of luck.

Categories
art men technology

Gingerpotter: Ralph Khoury guest blogs from Lebanon

Hello, I am Ralph Khoury, a Lebanese artist. My artistic journey started around three years ago when I decided to take my art seriously and push myself to create something new every week. This led me to grow my portfolio made up of illustrations, paintings, doodles and animations tackling mental health, my different thoughts and current events in my country and the world.

Lost

Although it was fulfilling to be able to create like this, it wasnt really paying the bills especially living in my country where art is not really appreciated, and where the minimum wage has dropped drastically because of the huge inflation that the country went through since 2019. The prospect of having to take a full-time job that would be underpaying me, would still be a better form of income then selling my art.

Beirut Beauty

That outcome was becoming an eventuality until the NFT space came to my attention and basically changed my life in every way for the better. Finally, I was able to value my art for what it was worth. I was also able to showcase it on the international stage, and people all over the world supported me. I am happy that I have gained so many friends in the community.

Gingerpotter, the artist himself

And after selling my art as non-fungible tokens, I realised what a powerful tool blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can be for my artists in Lebanon. If they can bring themselves out of the depressing cycle our country has thrown us in, they will be able to make a good living doing what they love. Hopefully, their collective strength will lead to reforms on a larger scale for the whole nation.

Colorful nights

Through my art I was able to make a decent living in a short time, and I have earned what I would have only been able to achieve after many years work in a regular job.

What’s the exchange rate today?

Even though Open Sea recently banned Lebanon from being able to access their website, and my government already bans cryptocurrencies in general, these two bumps in the road will not deter me from onboarding more people in this space.

We have become early adopters, hopefully putting up the building blocks for a brighter future that our current political class could never dream to achieve.

At the end of the day, I truly believe that even if art is bigger than artists, individual artists will always find a way to stand out. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories
art fiction women writing

Thirsty Girl

I am waiting to hear more words. Certainly, she had a working vocabulary and used them to acquire her fancy credentials. Over fifteen thousand followers on social media as a filmmaker, public speaker, and academic who barely speaks. What was her magic formula? I needed to retrieve that algorithm and save myself hours socialising online each week.

I had never heard her speak in more than three full sentences in the two months that I had known her. In my memory, her voice is a deep vocal fry of utterances that I cannot spell out. My brain is trying to make sense of what sounds like a guttural “ghehaaaaa” strummed on a loose D string.

A split second after I decided to leave the space, I noticed a name floating below an avatar. I hopped back in immediately because a few days earlier, she had told me and sixty others that he was her boyfriend. Actually, all she said was, “Lyyyyyyyke, uhhhhm … weeee … him … aaaah.” We grasped the situation when he said, “She’s the wife.”

Scrolling through his media folder, I soon discovered that he was a blond dude bro covered in tattoos. He looked young enough to be her son. He had an alien face for a head, which was fine, but the croaking sounds he was making left me wondering how their relationship got started in the first place.

“… was supposed to fly out to see her this Thursday, but the sex dungeon is closed,” I heard him wailing to the host.

“I didn’t saaaaay you couldn’t caaaaaahm,” she fried, nasally. That was the second full sentence I had ever heard from her.

I waited to hear more words but I gave up and left after fifteen excruciating minutes of silence punctuated by croaking sounds and vocal fries.

“Ribbit!”

“Hyhhaaaaahh.”

The next morning, I learned why a cohost’s microphone was muted. I read his messages to her in the screen capture she sent me, and I understood that he was doing something with his dominant hand.

“No,” I thought. “How was that possible while her boyfriend was sat there talking to them?” But before I could ask any more questions, she sent me a fresh message.

“Holy shit,” it read, “That hot guy you were talking to the other night? His body is like wow. He’s in a room with me now.”

“You should say hello,” I offered. I was still somewhat confused. And I would learn later that the hot guy was married and that his wife was newly pregnant.

“Oh, I already messaged him,” read her smug response. And I was gobsmacked. But what else should I expect from a thirsty girl?

Categories
art opinion poetry technology women writing

Octophina: Life and the art of healing

Fine artist Octophina

Not every artist’s origin story begins with the artist falling unconscious to the floor. But mine does. My name is Sophie. I am a Bulgarian mixed media abstract artist, TEDx speaker, and mental health advocate. Until I turned 32, I was an artist in denial. And I say that because I never had the courage to admit that I wanted to make art.

Octophina is on Twitter

After a very challenging period in my life, creating art helped me sculpt a new self-identity. I was also able to redesign my reality. The process saved me, and every day, I share my story with others to help them find their true calling.

I call myself Octophina because I’ve always felt like a human octopus, who like a real octopus, has at least three hearts and nine brains. Art helps me to use my “bugs” as features. This way of thinking enables me to see every challenge as an opportunity to grow. My path to becoming an artist was an unexpected journey of healing through inner exploration.

If my life had a prequel, it would be my corporate background as a trained journalist specialising in graphic design, PR, and IT. I was also a prominent international food blogger, a certified Mind Body Eating coach and founder of a social enterprise. And yet, despite everything I achieved, I struggled with depression for over a decade. Navigating the world through this brain has been a weird experience. Today, I capture all of that in my art.

In recent years, after numerous traumatic events, including the pandemic destroying my business and leaving me broke, moving alone to a new country to restart my life at 31, and my mom getting diagnosed with breast cancer, I was emotionally, physically, and psychologically drained.

On May 8, 2021, I fainted in my kitchen and when I woke up, I felt completely apathetic about the projects and initiatives I had been passionate about for years. It was as though my entire identity had been wiped out. Over the next four months, I was trapped in major depression. And it was difficult for me to articulate what I was experiencing internally. I felt terrified.

My therapist encouraged me to start making art to clear my mental cache, improve my emotional metabolism, and practice self-care. Today, almost six months later, we are working on a start-up which will merge psychotherapy, art, and blockchain technology. We started this business to help people improve their mental health and financial well-being.

Follow Octophina’s journey on Instagram

In celebration of this resurrection of life, presence and hope for the future, I launched a collection of NFTs on Open Sea called Pain to Power. This is a constellation of reflective artwork I created between November and December 2021. The date of the release is January 19, 2022, is the date my mom got her breast cancer diagnosis last year. After almost a year in hell, my mom recovered completely and is doing well. Sharing my transformational healing art with the world on the anniversary of her diagnosis is for me a celebration of resilience, which is what makes the human experience special.

Art has helped me discover my identity outside of social conditioning, peer pressure, and others’ expectations. As I create art, I am healing emotional wounds and building a healthy sense of self-worth. I invite you to stay with me on this journey.

Outro
Happy Friday, everyone. Thank you for reading Sophie’s story. We are five days away from her genesis drop (first collection of NFT art) on Open Sea. Let us send her our best wishes for the sale of her collection. In the meantime, why don’t you go ahead and visit her website, then follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Medium. She is looking forward to sharing her adventures in art and life with you.