Caitlin Chock: Featured Artist

Caitlin Chock is a writer, author, artist, cartoonist and still finds time to run.

First and foremost, tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Roseville, CA, the oldest of four children. I always loved making up stories for my younger siblings and coming up with art projects to do with them. I took part in lots of different activities and in high school took to track and cross-country. Which eventually led me to Portland, Oregon after I graduated high school to run professionally with Nike. For most of my life my focus was on running but I’d always continued to do art when I wasn’t training just for fun. In 2010 I was struck by a hit and run driver and nearly lost my lower leg. During my recovery from the accident is when I started working as an artist and writer. The doctors told me I would never run again, but I think the fact that I had been a runner (being stubborn and used to that pain and hard work…haha) and that I was quite happy to live in the imaginary in creating my art, helped me stay focused and eventually prove the doctors wrong.

How did you get into doing art? School, driven by passion?

I shared a bit of that above, but I’d say being obsessed with Disney, and later Tim Burton, from my first VHS helped…haha. I was always drawing and art was a passion of mine.

 

You have a unique style, how did that come to be?

Thank you. I’d say my style is a bit of a ‘marriage’ between Disney and Tim Burton. I’m also very inspired by fashion photography. For so many years people would comment in a negative manner that my characters were ‘too skinny’, but then I saw fashion illustrators and thought, “Hey!! This is what I’m doing!! It’s okay to draw skinny if I want!” So I went even more dramatic with the long, willowy limbs, and got even more angular with my figures.

You’re a freelancer, who have you freelanced for?

I’ve done cards and character illustrations for individuals, businesses, and magazines. Be it for marketing purposes, website headers, logos, or a unique Christmas card or one-of-a-kind gift. As for writing, the majority of my work there has been running related for outlets such as Running Times, Competitor, and RunBlogRun.

 

Tell us about your writing, what do you write about and who is your audience?

Because of my background in running at a very high level I had both a personal knowledge and experience within the sport as well as contacts with other athletes, experts, and coaches. So I ventured down that avenue for my work there. I also do the ‘fun’ creative writing on my own, and wrote ‘And Then She Ate the Wolf’ (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B010WKCQEA) which is a collection of short tales. Think an adult’s children’s book, giving stories to a few of my character illustrations.

Lastly, tell us about your passion for running, your running shirt line, and your comic strip:)?

I was always active in sports growing up, but have no coordination AT ALL! I won’t lie; I started running cross-country right before high school because I was cut from every other sport. BUT, once I got to the point where I wasn’t sore every day there was this moment when everything clicked and I thought, “THIS!! I LOVE THIS!!” Running gives you a special kind of high and I knew I’d always be a runner. I started my line of Ezzere shirts (www.ezzere.com) during my recovery from the car accident because it united both my passions for art and running and I hoped to inspire others to always dream BIG, just as I did when I refused to accept I’d never run again. And the cartoons…well, I’d say I’m probably about 99% sarcasm, so I had to find an outlet for that. 😉 My Adventures of Leo cartoon series on his Instagram page @leotheshihtz proves he is just as snarky and food-obsessed as his mom.

To follow all of Caitlin’s latest work, be sure to visit her website.

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Marcellas Reynolds: Featured Artist

Marcellas Reynolds: Celebrity Stylist, TV Host, Innovative Artist

Tell us a little about yourself, what age did you start to fall in love with fashion?

I am wardrobe stylist and TV presenter Marcellas Reynolds. I live in LA, but travel to New York & Chicago constantly. I was born & raised in Chicago. Fashion was always a part of my life. My mother was an extremely creative & very well dressed woman. My grandmother, the doyenne of our family, believed everyone should be properly dressed at all times. She wore hats, gloves & fur, and shopped at the best stores.

 

How did you get your start as a stylist?

My career as a stylist really began when I started in retail at 15. I was the only male salesperson in a high-end women’s boutique. I had an impressive clientele and really worked with my customers to create their dream wardrobes. I worked in retail for years & loved it. Every part of it. Sales, merchandising, display. All of it.

What steps did you take?

In 1995 while working at a restaurant in Chicago I was discovered by a very prominent model agent. She started the careers of Cindy Crawford, Shakara Ledard, the Riker Brothers & Colin Egglesfield. I wasn’t the tallest or hottest guy but I had a look & a great personality. I worked well for years & was known for my personal style. It was just a natural progression that I’d begin fashion styling. My 1st gig was for British Vogue. A pal who was an editor didn’t have a stylist (she thought she could do it herself) and asked me. I said yes & so it began. It was a cover try and 6 pages inside. As I was still modeling and in order to really learn the technical side of styling, I assisted a very prominent stylist. That’s how I learned to steam, pin, tuck, sew! The real brass tacks of styling. I learned the good and bad tricks of being a stylist. The lessons were invaluable.

How do you keep up with trends?

I am a voracious reader of magazines. Italian Vogue, Vogue, W, POP, Bazaar, Elle, Surface, Wallpaper, i-D. Everything. I also watch movies from every decade & genre. I spend hours at art museums. I don’t believe in trends necessarily. I believe in beauty. Function. Style. Class. Sophistication. Those things supersede trends. They create them.

 

Do you attend fashion weeks?

I used to walk in shows as a model. Some of my favorite moments happened backstage at the shows. I opened Ralph, closed Tommy & Nautica. Those moments were brilliant. I’ve attended shows but now with my work as a TV host I’m usually working and can’t attend. Honestly the spectacle of who is attending & who gets front row bores me. It should be about the clothes and the models.

Can you tell us what it is like on set working with photographers? Is there a lot of communication involved during the shoot? How do you prep?

The relationship between stylist and photographer is sacrosanct. When you have a great team that vibes well there is nothing better. It sets the tone for excellence. When the photographer & stylist are in accord it makes it easy for the model to do her job in comfort and feeling supported. It’s the key to great photos. The best photographers use the stylist as another set of eyes. Sometimes we (stylist) see things that the photographer misses.

What is your dream job?

I have my dream job. A few years ago I had to decide what would make me happy. I was constantly chasing a TV career which left my stylist career suffering. I finally decided to go back to what I love. Fashion. Being on sets. Working with models. But I hated styling editorial. There is A LOT of prep work & begging that goes into that. I also hated styling celebrities. I’m bored with the culture of celebrity. I had bad experiences working with celebrities. It’s very competitive. Fashion houses only want to deal with A List stars. Most annoying, celebrities don’t want to pay the stylist or for anything. It’s not worth it. Where is the glamor? I’m now a catalog fashion stylist. I’m signed by Ford Artists. I work with companies like Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, Bonton, and Meijer. I do the occasional celebrity styling gig. Shoot the occasional editorial for magazines like LadyGUNN, Angeleno & Reflex Homme, and style ad campaigns for stores like Garmany. I’m also brand spokesman for Joyus.com & Midnight Velvet. I work constantly, and for clients I respect, only with companies that give back to the community, and only with people who are respectful of my talent and time.

What does the future hold for you? What’s next?

What’s next for me? More TV. I recently worked for E! again & loved it. I’m pitching my own crime show & a few fashion shows. I have a major book coming. I’m working on a project with publisher Sterling Lord Literistic that is really taking shape. I’m thinking about designing a fashion line. But first look for me collaborating with several brands as a way to get my feet wet as a designer!

To follow his latest work, visit marcellasreynolds.com

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Michael Donovan: Featured Artist

Michael Donovan is a NY based, editorial, portrait and beauty photographer.

Let’s start with the basics. How did you get your start and what drew you to fashion photography?

I was pulled in because there were so many attractive qualities of the environment that don’t exist elsewhere. This is the place where I can work with curious minds that appreciate style and art, people who question and admire beauty, and individuals who like to work sort of nomadically within a space that promotes teamwork. I’m happily involved with a highly social environment for people seeking both inner and outer growth.

But the pull probably started when I was young. One day I took my grandma’s magazines so I could draw on the faces of the models and found myself wandering through a Harpers Bazaar looking at the beautiful women attending classy parties while wearing sexy dresses. They were all surrounded by great typography, graphic design, and fine art so it peaked my interest. My grandma was a very stylish woman and I loved being around girls so it must have left a deep impression. I tried other careers but this environment pulled me in from afar. I tried to escape it 1.5 years ago and it just pulled me back in. I like making visuals and telling stories and the best pieces for that are tucked in this sphere.

You have worked with many talented stylists, models, designers etc… What is that like?

It can be exciting or it can be frustrating depending on the day and the project. Sometimes you work with a really huge person, team or client and you lose all your freedom to make decisions. You find yourself as a mute cog fulfilling an order from a mysterious committee, which is too scared to look in the mirror. Then the next day you get to be surrounded by a progressive team working with an exciting client that sees a greater vision. I’m fortunate that my experiences are becoming more and more creative-friendly. I think more clients are shifting away from ugly homogenous and gentrified fashion images and they are seeking out work by me and a few others who have been emphasizing a hybrid between fine art and fashion. So the people on set seem to be more excited and capable of putting that vision forward. It’s inspiring when you’re on set with all these talented people.

What projects are you working on right now?

So much is happening right now and I don’t think I will fully appreciate this experience until I can look back at it a year from now. So I’m expanding my base to cover more ground while I wait for that reflection. This is a huge deal for me. I have been in NYC for over 7 years and now I’ve added LA to my spiritual repertoire. I have been here a few times for short trips before but this has been four months of exploring myself and the creative scene in order to foster a new expansion of spirit, creativity, and business. LA has taught me to push myself in new ways and I’m continuing those lessons as I return to NY.

How would you describe your work to someone that has never seen it?

 

My work is fun if you enjoy a collection of non-fashion images built within the fashion genre. I still fulfill a few fashion cliché’s but my work tends to lean toward stylized cinematic, raw, sexy, smart, emotional, authentic, and bold images. I like to blend indie and underground aesthetics alongside mainstream and pop features to create my own world representative of my cultural affiliations.

Some people may get a little freaked because I openly play with taboo subjects (think a hard Rated R in the 80’s before things got weak) but the goal is to capture the human experience as a whole. I still produce a lot of Family Friendly G-Rated things for people looking toward that.

And of course women are a huge factor in my images. I simply love women and hold them in a very high regard. I feel that is a critical part of my work.

What does fashion mean to you?

Simply put: fashion is an element, which assists in forming personal and collective style. Left alone fashion is the result of abstract thinking coalescing in to a single item, which becomes the unifying solution for class, utility, tribal connections and more. Combined with other fashion it’s a single unit, which holds the potential to spark imagination through a person’s ability to form remixes, and mashups. Fashion choices are excellent ways for the spirit to express itself and place itself on display. It’s also a great spiritual protector and beacon for people seeking their tribe.

You lived in New York and now LA, what’s next? What drew you to LA versus NY?

I quit shooting for about a year following a spiritual meltdown. I was broken because I felt I was making art which contributed to unnecessary social and environmental issues. I sorted out those issues through conversations with guests on my podcast and decided to get back in the game. I started to flex the creative muscles in NY but found I was weak and lacked momentum, I was floundering.

So friends in LA called me and said “Yo dude, you’re tired in NY. Come get a tan and learn to swim. We’ll give you a free place all to yourself with an amazing pool and you will have a bunch of friends waiting for you while you get yourself sorted.” How could I say no to that?!

I got rid of all my possessions except a duffle bag, backpack and a carry-on then bought a one-way ticket to LA where I learned how to couch surf in luxury. My friends and the spaces helped me gather new momentum and steam. I found myself shooting things I couldn’t do in NY no matter how much I tried. I also picked up some new business skills I never built during my time in NY.

Now I’m heading back to NY for a few months. I have some speaking engagements and there are some projects that I simply can’t do here because LA isn’t set up for some of the things I like to do with fashion. I’m excited to bring back some exotic ideas I discovered while here in LA. I’m also setting my focus on Europe. I want to live in Paris for a few seasons and learn from their culture. I feel there is a special romantic between fashion and Paris that have enchanted women from around the world and I want to learn what that is about. I want to better understand that relationship with a hope it can unlock something inside of my creative and spiritual souls. I’m also looking forward to London, Oslo, and Moscow to see what I can learn from the cities. Overall the future looks just as exciting as this moment here!

To follow Michael’s fashion, watch the website here or subscribe to the Podcast here.

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Juan Pablo Ruiz: Featured Artist

Juan Ruiz is a fine artist in the representational and figurative tradition.

Tell us how you got into art.

I always hate this question because the usual answer is so clichéd; “Ever since I was little…blah blah blah” Almost every artist has this same back-story. But it has become a cliché precisely because it is so true. Almost every artist had some spark of expressive creativity or artistic talent from a very young age. In my case, I remember being 4 or 5 yrs old and my mother sitting down with me and my sister to draw little scenes of stick figures next to houses, trees, cars, etc. I was the one that took an interest right away. Then she discovered I had a talent for working with clay so she would get me non-hardening clay and I’d take it with me everywhere. I made scenes on a piece of Masonite with animals, dinosaurs, and cartoon characters. My mother also always talked to me about the Renaissance, especially artists like da Vinci and Michelangelo. So I grew up with Renaissance art as my model of what high art should be. A model that has been hard to shake.

What are you thinking about when you’re creating art?

I try to think of an engaging image, something that will catch the viewer’s attention. I used to think that I was making art for “other” viewers, now the viewer is increasingly myself. I think of what will catch MY eye as the viewer because in the end my paintings are questions that I am asking myself. Since being at Pafa (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) I have had the opportunity to attend several workshops with Vincent Desiderio, as well as having a couple of private critiques with him in my studio. He is one of the most interesting and intelligent painters working today. Among the many things that comprise his artistic philosophy is the idea that the “technical narrative” is of utmost importance in a painting – perhaps more so than the “dramatic narrative.” The dramatic narrative is the story being acted out inside the picture frame but the technical narrative is made up of all the technical choices that the artist has made in order to arrive at the painting you have in front of you: composition, handling of paint and other media (whether paint is brushed on, smeared on, scraped, glazed) the tools used, etc. The technical narrative is of supreme importance because it allows a glimpse into the artist’s mind and thought-process more so than the story he or she is portraying on the canvas. I’ve always had a poor knowledge and engagement with art history so I’ve also tried to look at more art since being at Pafa, both historical and contemporary in order to learn how other artists have dealt with similar technical and conceptual issues.

Tell us about your educational/personal training?

Sometimes I think of myself as a self-taught artist. My undergraduate art department was very small and although they were very supportive and allowed us freedom to explore our own approaches to art, they did not have a significant emphasis on skills training. I often found myself asking questions about glazing and other traditional painting methods and finding very few answers among the faculty. So I constantly turned to Google for questions about painting materials and techniques and then learned through trial-and-error as I experimented on the canvas. I still go through a process of trial-and error but one that is not so blind anymore and which is more confident. I also studied History and a little bit of Political Philosophy so my paintings are the creations of a worldview shaped by these disciplines.

Where do you find inspiration?

From different sources…Sometimes other art, especially master paintings; but always from the world we live in. My paintings are also always influenced by my interest in history, philosophy and politics. Although I hate being called a political artist. Over time I’ve discovered that I always deal with some aspect of humanity. My favorite paintings of all time deal with the human condition: How humans deal with being human – religious experience, moral questions, great events, everyday life, our own biology. People sometimes ask me why I always paint negative things: injustice, violence, etc. I think it is easy to paint puppies and kittens and rainbows, everybody loves these things, but great art challenges us. Great art dares us to ask difficult questions and doesn’t always have a happy ending. Along with the pleasant and beautiful the human world also has many things that are hard to think about in their ugliness and sadness. I think it is important to keep this in mind so that we don’t ignore it just because it isn’t happening in our own backyard.

What is your favorite medium to work with?

Drawing has always come naturally to me and painting is something that I’ve always struggled with. Recently I’ve started to try to combine the two by working monochromatically with oil paint more as a drawing tool than as a painterly one. I now find that I am better at drawing this way than with the traditional pencil or charcoal stick. I usually prepare the canvas with a translucent burnt umber ground, let it dry completely and then draw with thinned raw umber. I use a bristle brush, usually round, and scrub the paint into the canvas, almost sculpting with it as I move it around. The result is similar to Mark Tansey’s monochromatic paintings – “Triumph of the New York School” being a well-known example. I use this approach for studies and underpainting. But I’m also slowly trying to teach myself how to apply the paint in different ways, with a palette knife, wet into wet as opposed to indirectly, impasto, etc. And to make better use of color, which I’ve always struggled with. In the end I hope to arrive at a technique that merges thick and thin, translucent with opaque, and rough with smooth. Similar to the way paint was applied during the Baroque.

To follow his current work, visit Juan’s Facebook page.

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Launch Your Collection: Featured Brand

Launch Your Collection is a one-stop shop apparel launch company for emerging fashion brands.

Tell us about your background.

I am the founder of Launch Your Collection, the author of the book, Becoming a Fashion Designer (Wiley), which published worldwide in English in 2013, published in Mandarin in May 2015, and will publish in Arabic in 2018, and a New York fashion industry veteran, having worked for Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and J. Mendel.

What kind of response have you had to your new site?

We have received a solid, steady stream of traffic to our website, which we believe comes from the wide array of products and services that we offer, our fun and engaging social media posts, and our compelling website design. I designed the website myself, and as the founder of Launch Your Collection, I wanted to ensure that it offered an inviting brand experience, where creative entrepreneurs could come to get educated on both the creative and business aspects of fashion, learn what we do and get launched – all at the same time, while being inspired along the way. We have become famous for our inspirational library, with new categories being added monthly!

 

What sets you apart from other consultants or agencies that offer assistance to emerging designers?

I have yet to come across another launch company that provides the breadth and depth of packages, products and services that we offer emerging fashion brands. No matter what stage an emerging fashion designer is in the process, we are here to become their trusted launch partner. Our services range from custom logo and website design and social media channel creation, to product development, from the initial concept stage, to sample and bulk development, including sketching, fabric/trim sourcing and tech pack development. Our clients will even get to participate in remote fit sessions with their very own fit models! We create lookbooks, linesheets, media kits, customized buyer order forms, provide our clients with valuable tools, such as our Fashion Branding Guide and our Fashion Attorney Guide, teach them how to write a business plan, how to cost their line, and how to conduct press outreach with a special insider tool called Get Media Happy from Launch Grow Joy. From there, we help promote, market and sell their line. We take pride in tailoring our services to each of our client’s unique needs, so an emerging fashion brand receives only as much or as little guidance as they need to get launched.

Tell us about your new website, www.launchyourcollection.com

Launch Your Collection is a one-stop apparel launch company for emerging fashion brands. Whether a creative entrepreneur has a fashion design degree or no fashion background whatsoever, we creatively guide them step-by-step through the launch process, with one simple goal in mind: To turn their fashion vision into a commercially viable apparel collection.

Tell us why designers would benefit from your services?

No matter what stage an aspiring fashion designer is in the process, Launch Your Collection can help them get launch ready. We offer all the necessary products and services needed to create an apparel collection from the initial concept stage. I have also put together a fantastic team of people who are superstars in their respective areas of expertise. Along with myself, we have a technical designer, a director of sales and marketing and a brand stylist – who all work collaboratively to give our clients the very best expertise for their apparel launch. The process of launching a fashion brand is a very complex one, with so many different moving parts. We pool all of our years of experience together to help our clients save valuable time and avoid costly setbacks.

What’s next?

We are in the process of launching our LYC Fashion Series, which will be comprised of webinars and online educational courses. We think this is going to be an exciting addition to our portfolio of products and services that we currently offer, and add a valuable component for our clientele base.

For help in any stage of your collection, visit Launch Your Collection here.

Follow Launch Your Collection on social media.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LaunchYourCollection
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/getlaunchednow
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/launchyourcollection/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/launchyourline

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Brian Davie: Featured Artist

Motion Picture Production Designer, Brian Davie

Tell us your story. How you got to where you are?

I always had an artistic calling and was fortunate to be accepted into some excellent art schools. After graduation I kicked around between low-paying art jobs like hand-painting jewelry, coats of arms, or signs writing – sometimes getting a commission for some graphics work or a painting. Luckily the movie business started flourishing in Vancouver where I lived, and all the odd art jobs I’d been doing turned out to be invaluable training for an entry-level job in the art department.

 

What is a production designer?

A production designer is responsible for the visual look of the film. In it’s fullest definition, this extends to translating the script into visual metaphors, creating a palette, establishing architectural and period details, selecting locations, designing and decorating sets, coordinating the costume, make-up, and hair styles into a pictorial scheme, and collaborating with the director and director of photography to define how the film should be conceived and photographed.

 

What is your creative process? Inspiration?

My creative process always begins with the script. Like most people do when reading a book, I read the story and imagine the setting. I analyze in great detail what the setting should look like and how it would best support the story. The trick is to find the fine line wherein the production design best supports the story, without distancing from it.

 

Of all your projects, what has been your favorite and why?

I have fond memories of many projects for different reasons, but perhaps the most unique project I’ve worked on was Ridley Scott’s epic “1492: Conquest of Paradise”. It was relatively early in my career when I found myself working in Costa Rica with some of the finest film workers on earth. The film is a biopic about Christopher Columbus and participating in the research, building sets, which included pre-Columbian villages and the first Spanish settlement, then working on-set with the great Ridley Scott was a remarkable and very educational experience.

 

If you were not a production designer, what would you be?

I’ve been in the movie business for most of my adult life, so it’s difficult for me to imagine not being in the movie business. If I were to start over again, I might pursue a career in directing.

 

Give advice for those who would love to work with you or have a job like yours one day!

A great advantage that young people have today is information! When I started out, nobody owned a computer and just trying to find out how to get into the film business was next to impossible. Today a person can go to websites for film organizations such as I.A.T.S.E., which often spell out the entry-level requirements. Skills like computer drafting, graphics, and 3D modeling are highly sought after. Although I hire a lot of people, I rarely hire entry-level positions. Film production is like a giant pyramid system where each level hires the next. A director or producer hires me, then I hire department heads like the set decorator, props master, etcetera, and then they hire their assistants and so on.

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