Book review: Artists Living With Art



When I went to NYC in February to speak at Etsy, I also visited the Whitney Museum of Art. The Frank Stella Retrospective on display was wildly impressive (aside from a security guard who mistook normal friendliness as flirtation and tried to give me his number. Uh, thanks? So not here for that.) it was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Of course, no museum adventure is complete without a browse through the museum shop where I found this book Artists Living with Art by Stacey Goergen & Amanda Benchley. Instantly I was taken with it, but feeling it’s heft knowing I’d have to schlep it back to Brooklyn and into my suitcase back to Chicago, I passed on it thinking I would snag it on Amazon. Finally, I did just that.

Beyond the gorgeous photos by Oberto Gili, it’s a peek into some incredible artist’s homes. My favorite part is seeing the seemingly random assortment of objects they’ve chosen to inhabit their space. Such mystery and intrigue, why and how they were found and collected. What stories they tell their owners and how they influence the work. More often than not, it’s those types of objects that tell an artist lives in such a space. Anyone can develop a taste and collection of art for their walls, but it says something more when there’s seemingly random collection of materials lying about, or enough of an unusual presence in the space that it blares ARTIST LIVING HERE to almost anyone dropping by.  And sometimes there is a direct correlation between an artist’s work and their domestic life, and sometimes the two are entirely divorced. Both of which I find fascinating because this fact says so much about how a person lives and what their artmaking process is like.

Here are some of my favorite spaces in the book, in no particular order.

artist-living-with-art-5Multi-disciplinary artist Rashid Johnson’s dining room and mantle. The colors in that painting by Sam Gilliam!! Whoa. Paired with the restrained works by Tony Lewis and Glenn Ligon respectively make a bold statement. Glenn’s home also makes an appearance in this book too.


Mary Heilmann’s living room, chock full of art. This is what I mean when I talk about spaces only an artist would create. Few would fill an entire wall up, right down to the floor, unconcerned about degrading a work by putting it on the floor. It’s so unpretentious. I love it. Note the peek of the outdoors through the back, and I’m imagining a lush green space complimenting every window view.

artists-living-with-art-3Michelle Oka Doner. A new artist to me, I gasped when I laid eyes on this massive wall drawing by Doha sheiks. Paired with a jumble of sticks and what appears to be massive geodes or rocks, it’s a perfect match. Lots of botanical items, oversized driftwood, bronze, and books everywhere make this a space I could dwell in for ages.


Helen & Brice Marden’s space. Love how the textiles play off the texture in the works by Helen herself, and how the sunlight sparkles off the Eames lounge chair. This is a space that positively dazzles with vibrant color and warmth.


Eric Fischl & April Gornik’s Asian inspired home is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and seems to be custom designed and build to be as gorgeous as the art inside. A wealth of interesting angles to see, in this spread there is even a glass-walled library in an elevated mezzanine-style catwalk. Please. It’s too good. I can’t take it.


Another new-to-me artist, E.V. Day’s space is equal parts feminine and feral. Strikes me as the quintessential New York style loft space most people think of when they imagine an artist’s space. What I love about this photo is the tension in E.V.’s work paired with the floral and cobalt blues. Most of the space appears to have been styled while the rest is entirely lived in and worked in, full of clutter. She strikes me as someone who is unconcerned about the difference between her domestic and work selves.


Francesco Clementine house is full of warmth, with this golden yellow hue gracing much of the place. That Cy Twombly drawing above the fireplace is so much yes, paired with a Basquiat drawing to the left, Noguchi tables, and Frank Lloyd Wright chairs. Timeless perfection.


Cindy Sherman’s space surprised me. I didn’t expect this master of disguise to create a space that is quite so approachable. Clearly unafraid of color, texture, there is much happening at once which can feel claustrophobic, but here is invigorating. It feels like the art on her walls are her friends, and ours too, should one be lucky enough to visit.

Overall, A+ for any art or interior design fan. The writing style overall is as pleasant and easy to read as the photos are to look at. Not overwrought or dry like so much art writing can be, making it full of substance and style. Just my cup of tea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go re-arrange my own space. This book has given me so many ideas!

Japanese Visual Research


It’s been awhile since I’ve shared some visual goodies with y’all. Feels like a fresh return to the old days before the internet was a content firehose. These are things I’ve come across in my various feeds and internet travels that are giving me the oooh yeahs. I’ve gotten into using Pocket (hat tip to my friend Meighan for telling me about this) specifically for saving things online and it’s drastically reduced my too-many-browser-tabs-open habit. Pocket is a cross between Instapaper, Dropmark, Pinterest, and Ello. It’s less social than Pinterest and Ello, which I prefer because it keeps me focused on the content I want to save later and it’s also got an algorithm that suggests similar and popular items so I can discover new stuff too. Best part is I go without being distracted by clothes I don’t need to buy, getting sideswiped by a topical essay I didn’t intend to read, or sucked into an internet K-hole. This way, I check in with my Pocket account and read/tidy/organize what’s in there. To read, pin, and share. Whoop!

One of the earliest forms of poetry my Dad taught me about was Haiku, obviously Japanese, and when he got sick, this memory came back like a pile of bricks (also another favorite phrase of his). I started researching other Japanese concepts and art forms. For the last 9 months or so I’ve been on a tear, everything from Japanese textiles to prints, calligraphy, architecture, and of course the food.  Every so often I dig around and see what else I can find, these beauties came from Pinterest (still using it despite by Pocket endorsement above).

Jun Kaneko

I desperately wish I could sport this delightful Haori style jacket, but alas, it’s one off custom piece from 1979 by Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko.

Iwami Reika

Thank you, internet, for leading me to discover Iwami Reika, the first female Japanese woodblock artist to achieve the same level of status and respect to the long history of male woodblock designers/printers. Most of her work was produced in the period following WW2, but I can’t get over how contemporary it looks still. The link to this piece is defunct, but you can learn more about Rieka here.

Fumio Fujita Fumio Fujita

Fumio Fujita Fumio Fujita. 1967 Woodblock print Image size: 10 1/2″ x 15″. Source. Most of Fujita’s work is more realistic in nature, but I’m clearly feeling the more abstract style of this, along with the other abstract pieces I’ve selected here.

Masaji Yoshida Moss Koke No 1

Masaji Yoshida / Moss (Koke) No. 1 / c.1950 / Japanese / woodblock print; ink and color on paper. Source. Love the soft colors and shapes, very soothing and introspective.

Ray Morimura

Next to no information on this artwork, other than it’s available to license on Photobucket? Regardless, I like the flat graphic quality and the architectural feel of it.

Like what you see here? Hop on over to my Japanese themed Pinterest board for regular additions to this.

P0WeR LADiE$ Pomodoro Playlist

ladies-600px giphy-1 giphy-3 giphy unnamed giphy-2 24a95e0fc7a1355bc7ec45a606ac1b98

Y’all. Do I ever have a treat for you today! Aside from lots of amazing animated .gifs, I mean, it’s  a Pomodoro playlist all about the lady and non-conforming gender-fluid love. Sometimes we all need some power ladies in our ears and this is that. Of course there are MANY iterations of this playlist but it can’t be more than 45 minutes, so I could make this a series. Any recommendations? I will always want to know about the ladies that give you an extra dose of life. Today’s mix is all about raw, strong beats, and boss vocals.

{What’s Pomodoro? Good question! It’s a modified version of the Pomodoro Technique which uses a 20-min timer to stay on task and help track time spent on them. You can read more here and here.}

Let Me Hear Your Money Talk

When I filed taxes for the first time as a teenager I remember not understanding what the fuss was about. You get some paperwork in the mail, you fill out the form and then you get money BACK. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me! Ah, so young, so naive. I did have a vague notion that it was probably more complicated for actual adults who had more factors at play beyond my basic wages as a swimming lessons instructor.

How little did I know then! It wasn’t until I started this business that I understood how complicated indeed. That most self-employed people or business owners almost never get a refund back and beyond the normal percentage of income taxes that everyone pays, the self-employed also have to pay a steep self-employment tax and our own social security. These are things that if you’re on payroll with a company, they pay *for* you.

It’s also a common misconception that having an accountant means everything is handled behind closed doors. They manage all the books, paperwork, and you send them a hefty check for their efforts none the wiser. While large businesses DO have accountants and bookkeepers on staff for this, most small business accountants require us to manage our own bookkeeping which is actually super smart. It helps understand spending habits and controls costs for both parties. At one point I also experimented with hiring a bookkeeper to manage my expenses for me and I ultimately decided it’s not for me. Not worth the cost & time, because I still had to do just as much admin as I was before.

Only you can know best how you spend your money and what things are a write-off and what things aren’t. But it still requires quite a bit of footwork to keep track of and manage, even with the best tools. So when people like me say we’re working on taxes, it really means going through the last several months of expenses and organizing them. Also means scanning many 1099 forms from various clients, proof of health insurance form (1095A), student loan interest forms, and any other documents from large purchases or investments if applicable. I go into more detail about my bookkeeping habits here in my Skillshare class if you want more! Or ask any specific questions in the comments.

Recently, I’ve found two new-to-me apps that have been making saving money, like, fun actually. Did you just roll your eyes? I did too, but believe it, comrade this is the real deal. The first app is called Digit (iPhone only, for now, Android coming soon) and it’s a delight to use. I mean, they text you animated .gifs like this:

IMG_6798Beyond that, it works by deducting a small percentage out of your account every time you make a transaction. It uses an algorithm that deducts a negligible amount based on your spending habits. Could be a few cents or a few dollars, but no more than $50. This money goes into a dedicated Digit account and sits there until you are ready to use it. It’s great for saving up for upgrades, treats, trips, or other medium level purchase. Did I mention it’s free?

Click here to sign up and get yourself $5.


The other app is called Acorns, available for both iPhone and Android, is a slightly more traditional investment tool. Send them a lump sum, or set up a recurring deposit, and their “smart portfolios” invest for you based on how quickly and how much you want to save. Good for helping with longer term savings goals, so you won’t want to withdraw from here if you can avoid it. It’s free for students, 1$/mo for accounts with balances under $5k, and if you have more than $5k, the fee is yearly at 0.25% of your balance.

Get Acorn here!

I should note that while both of these are legit FDIC insured and secure platforms, neither of them will take the place of a financial planner and a retirement fund, but are really great for those with limited means, or who are just starting out and want to get a bit more control on spending. Also, none of this is intended to be a set it and forget it plan. No trustworthy, reasonable financial advice would make that claim. It’s a tempting ideas especially at the beginning to dream of a system we don’t have to think about and just let it do its thing. Ideally, these tools fight that instinct and teach a more empowering way to handle money. Best of luck out there and tell me if you make use of either of these!

{Ps – This post is entirely unsponsored, the links I’ve provided will give us both a slight kickback should you choose to use them. That’s your call!}

Hip-Hop/Electronic Pomodoro Playlist


This is the first post since I’ve spruced up things around my website (thank you, Debbie, for that!). Much more mobile friendly, so reading on your devices’ll be easier. And comments!! Comments are back if you ever feel like stopping into say hi this is easier than ever. Another cool thing that’s gotten me thoroughly motivated to spend more time on ye old blogge, my newsletter, and on my other favorite socials is the help of Meighan O’Toole’s creative online strategy. Among so many helpful tips and shortcuts, we’ve constructed an editorial calendar, content buckets, and sorted out my boundaries for what goes online and what is better offline. This is something I’ve been meaning to do forever, and hiring someone like Meighan is the best way to affect change for me. I’m not one of those people who can read an instructional blog post from my feed and reliably expect to experience any last effect from it. If you are, tell me all your secrets so I can learn your baller ways!

Anyway, the goal for now is 1-2 blog posts per week and I’ve committed to publishing a newsletter every 3rd Thursday of the month. Why then? Well, no day is going to be ideal honestly so this is an educated guess that just has to be adhered to. Studies do show that open rates for newsletters are highest on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Fridays. So, that’s the plan.

Enough with the housekeeping, eh? As for the actual content today, how about a playlist?! A couple years ago I got really into the Pomodoro Technique for time management that has a huuuuge fanbase, but in short it’s essentially a timer that you set for yourself to block out other distractions for a set amount of time. Pomodoro says 20 minutes = 1 Pomodoro but that’s just not enough time for me to get anything more complicated than an email done. I find about 40 minutes is my sweet spot, and instead of waiting for a timer to go off, this comes with the benefit of funky beats, man.

Upbeat but not too frenetic is the pace I like to set when working. Gets me into a nice flow, sets a pace for a speed that feels breezy and efficient, but not so fast that it feels chaotic or stressful either.

This particular mix is hip-hop and electronic inspired, but variety is the spice of life so they say, so I’ve already got two more other playlists queued up for the next couple weeks if this isn’t your particular vibe today. This one is heavier on the electronic and is mostly free of lyrics if you’re averse to those when you work.

So? Thoughts? What are you listening to these days?