There are so many interesting jobs with really quirky, fun, cool people behind them here at Free People. We think they’re awesome, and we think you will too. So, beginning this week, we’ll be starting something new on the blog to get to know them better – employee of the week!
This week’s employee is our assistant web merchandiser. Read her introduction below, and stay tuned all week for daily updates on who she is and what she’s doing!
in the time that i’ve been blogging here, i’ve posted a lot – and i mean a lot – of beautiful photography that i find around the web. one of the first photographers i “discovered” was maggie lochtenberg, and to this day she remains a personal favorite – one of her photos has been my computer desktop for months now. her photography seems to capture the elements of freedom, youth, dreaminess and magic that i always tend to love, and in a way i have never seen before. her work is so unique and recognizable, and also has such a nostalgic, vintage quality that leads me to think she must be wise beyond her years – an old soul that, without even knowing, i felt i could relate to. read on for an interview with maggie and to see some of her incredible work!
When and why did you first get into photography?
I had always drawn and painted, and for so long I never considered photography a fine art, but that was a long time ago and my existence was callow beyond my own understanding. I took photos to preserve memories, and to look cool on Myspace…you know how it was. It wasn’t until ancient photo albums belonging to my parents and grandparents resurfaced in the process of moving into a new home. The aesthetic of the vintage photos, and the time period they represented moved me to begin collecting vintage cameras and shooting on expired film. From then on I was hooked, and my photographic style continues to develop every day (pun intended).
Is your goal to be a professional photographer? If not, what is your dream job?
I do hope to be a professional photographer someday, but my happiness is not confined to a single art form, and I’m open to any career that allows me time to work on a personal portfolio of both paintings and photographs. As long as I can exercise my creativity and get my artistic “fix”, I will be content. My dream job is probably to be the director of photography for a magazine or company whose vision is parallel to my own.
Do you carry a camera with you at all times? What’s your favorite type of camera to shoot with?
My favorite camera to shoot with is my Mamiya RB67 with a Polaroid back. It weighs nearly 10lbs so I rarely carry it around with me, but I almost always have a disposable camera or a 35mm waiting to emerge from my purse in order to capture fun, beautiful, or just plain silly moments.
If you had a time machine, where would you go?
I would go to prehistoric times. I want to see the earth before it was diseased by buildings and freeways and businessmen, and I have a secret crush on long neck dinosaurs.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work? Who are some of your personal favorite photographers/artists?
I draw inspiration from all around me. My brain and body seem to be in constant motion… so it’s difficult to pinpoint any divine source of inspiration, but if I find a river, I drink from it. My personal favorite photographers are all females; I adore Sally Mann’s work, I worship Francesca Woodman. Amalia Chimera and Alison Scarpulla are amazing artists as well- they are so young and fresh, and their photographs, enchanting.
Tell me five music artists you love right now.
1) Iron & Wine
2) Avi Buffalo
3) Band of Horses
4) The Velvet Underground
5) The Tallest Man on Earth
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
So far, the best advice I’ve ever been given was to embrace human experience, good and bad, not just chase pleasures in life, and never accept numbness. Robert Frost told me that in a poem or two.
If your life was a movie what would the theme song be?
Over the Hills & Far Away by Led Zeppelin
Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I never ever play any sports, in fact I’m hardly active, but I used to play on an all-boys rugby team. My father is a big Australian guy, he used to play, and he somehow managed to get me to join. I was a tough kid; I used to get in fights every so often and beat up all the boys before they passed through puberty. When adolescence rudely interrupted our innocent fun, I discovered that I wasn’t stronger than boys anymore, and my pre-pubescent tough-kid days were through. People who know me now may find that difficult to believe.
Do you have a personal favorite photo that you’ve taken?
It’s very difficult to chose a favorite photo, because they all have deep emotional attachments to me, but I think the one of my two friends and I, fully naked, and about to leap into a little lake we found, is quite lovely and magical for me. We were swimming, to our fearful delight, with large catfish and surrounded by huge redwood trees, spied on only by spiders and squirrels. Lining the modest lake was a marshy shore teeming with the most beautiful red and blue dragonflies, and there wasn’t a house or human to be seen around us. In the bottom right corner of the Polaroid (near the rightmost girl’s calves), you can make out a blurry red mark… little do most people know that it’s one of the dragonflies gracefully passing by just in time to become my most precious and miraculous accident. (view photo here).
go check out her flickr page and be prepared to be blown away! thank you so much maggie.
sometimes artwork is a lot more complex than it might appear at first glance, and that is certainly the case with these paintings by mark warren jacques. don’t get me wrong, i love the colors and patterns and imagery he creates but even just knowing the titles to these pieces gives them a much more meaningful context.
“work is love made visible”
“i wasn’t there when you made it but i feel like i’m there when i’m lookin at it.”
“you and me and our perpetual emotion”
“suddenly we meet”
“a daydream / spacing out”
“the things i think, they dangle from me like this.”
“smile in the morning, everyday is a beautiful day.”
“tonight we are the moon, glowing in the light of the sun, and woman you are my shelter, happy for the warmth of my fire.”
i feel like i’ve been hearing a lot about stevie nicks lately… maybe its because she’s touring right now so she’s at the forefront of people’s minds. even my boyfriend has a crush on her- which is totally fine, she’s amazing (the first concert he ever went to was fleetwood mac, isn’t that cute?). one of my friends posted this video on facebook today and watching it, i’ve got a bit of a crush on her too. so, since we could all use a little stevie every once in a while, here’s that video and some of my fave quotes and pics of her. she will always be one of those inspirations that never, ever goes out of style.
“She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness”
“Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering
What you had
And what you lost…”
“And it all comes down to you
Well you know that it does, well…
Lightning strikes…maybe once…maybe twice…
Oh and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy”
“She broke down and let me in
Made me see where I’ve been
Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again”
i just got an email with the subject “patti smith and store 808” and i had to blink a couple of times and make sure i was reading correctly- but a couple of our fp girls in boston did in fact get to meet patti smith herself at a book signing and lecture that took place last week at the museum of fine arts. i am so jealous… since reading her book she has become a huge inspiration for me, and i wish i had known her story sooner and gone to one of her appearances because to hear her speak in person would be life changing.
luckily our fp girls took some great notes! here’s a recap of the event from ava, our MIT in boston.
Last week Christine (our assistant store manager) and I had the opportunity to go meet Patti Smith at the Museum of Fine Arts for a book signing and lecture….. It was an amazing experience! We snapped a few photos, and jotted down quotes from her lecture.
We first went to the book signing – we could barely contain our excitement while waiting in line, along with our Sales Associate Kaly. We had the opportunity to talk to her at the table, and were completely star struck – she was so nice, completely approachable and laid back. I’m sure I mumbled something dumb to Patti about her being wonderful.
After the book signing we went into the auditorium, and when we saw her guitar on stage – we knew we were in for a special treat! She read excerpts from Just Kids, told stories, took questions and even sang a couple of songs.
patti’s guitar, from “objects of life”
I jotted down some quotes below that I was scribbling in my note book. When Patti saw Kaly holding her notebook, she asked her “Are you a writer?” and Kaly said, “No, I’m an artist.” and Patti replied “You can always spot writers and artists because they always keep their notebook close!”
A lot of Patti’s talk emphasized the importance of labor within the realm of art.
“The goal of an artist is to magnify one’s vision to make it flesh. … A true artist’s ultimate goal is not celebrity.”
patti’s jacket with rimbaud pin, from “objects of life”
At one point Patti was reading from her book, and came to a passage that mentioned a long blue raincoat and she stopped, and said “I had to mention that rain coat. I’m a coat freak. In fact, I was signing books earlier and I was coveting at least two people’s coats!”
“All my outfits had names… Actually, the whole history of new wave film I had in two drawers.”
handmade tambourine, from “objects of life”
On Song Origins:
As an opening to her song Wing – she said “I always screw up when I do this song. I wrote it, but it sort of expresses my state of mind as a young girl of 20, before I met Robert Mapplethorpe…”
I was free
it was beautiful
it was beautiful
Talking about how she came up with the song Grateful, right before she sang it:
“I was feeling a little low– and I was standing there so sad and I had this vision of Jerry Garcia and he smiled at me and shook his hair, and this song came into my head so I named it ‘Grateful.’ It felt like a gift from Jerry…. Life is tough, but things work out.”
suitcase from “objects of life”
Talking about NYC:
“I went to NYC the way I usually did things- not having any money, not knowing where I was going to stay, not telling where I was going. Truthfully I still often travel that way… It’s exciting!”
“We lived at the Chelsea Hotel. Everyday was an adventure… some people accuse me of name dropping in my book. I can’t help it everyone. Everyone was there in the late 60s.”
When Robert asked me to write this book he was here in Boston, so I always have a special sense of him when I am here.
What do you think about audiobooks?
“I’ll never not love books. I love the paper and to hold it. However, there’s a lot of trash that is being written that doesn’t deserve to be a beautiful object….. I was against color tv when it came out. You people think I am so cutting edge, but I never want anything to change.”
She did reveal she’s doing an audiobook of Just Kids, even though she didn’t know what a Kindle was about a year ago.
paintbrush from “objects of life”
I’m a 20 year old unemployed painter. How do I grow up to be as cool as you? (Patti’s response to this was one of our favorite moments!)
“I never knew a 20 year old employed painter!
The main reason I went to NYC wasn’t to be a rich, famous artist, but to get a job. We do what we can in order to survive. Work really hard to magnify your vision. Don’t worry about selling work. Just evolve. Work hard.
If you mean you don’t have a job – GET ONE! I was always aware that you need to work in order to have food, or materials. If you mean you aren’t selling it, don’t worry about it.
First thing: Do good work. Worry about selling it later. Make it first.
People think “oh, if you are a punk rocker you don’t work….. Uh… sorry!
I got married, scrubbed floors, raised children, and I was still an artist everyday. Unfortunately, I was not a very good housekeeper.”
(She then sang My Blakean Year)
What historical woman would you consider to be punk rock?
“Joan of Arc!”
How do you feel about being called the Godmother of Punk?
“To me people worrying about who was, who is punk rock, it’s like when my husband and brother in law would make fantasy baseball teams and argue for hours and hour about who was better… it’s all theoretical.
First it was Princess of Piss. Then Queen of punk, now Godmother. Next I’ll be the Dinosaur.”
In a room full of 400 people, it felt like we were sitting in a living room just hanging out. She ended her lecture by leading the entire crowd in an acapella sing along of ‘Because the Night’ (one of my favorite songs of ALLLLLL TIME) after reading the excerpt about hearing it on the radio while walking down the street- it was absolutely amazing!
some of our designers have just been traveling in asia, and today i wanted to share a few of the lovely photos from tokyo, taipei and hong kong. our thoughts go out to the people of japan right now in the wake of last night’s earthquake… we have a great deal of love for the beautiful people and country.
all photos via chau’s blog; check out her website here – and if you’re in philly, she’s having an art show tomorrow night at 10th st laundromat called “required reading.” stop by!
it’s no surprise that the woman who lives in the geodesic dome where we shot part of our february catalog is also an artist. melanie rothschild is a self-taught artist who studied ethnic art and anthropology. she creates both functional (frames, tables, boxes) and non-functional art that she describes as “intuitive. rather than starting out with a single concept, the work reveals its meaning as the process unfolds. it is never intended to have a single interpretation.”
her work is full of colors, shapes and patterns very reminiscent of her home itself…my favorite are the tables, which she calls “paintings with legs.”
earlier this week i had the wonderful opportunity to visit the studio of floral and event designer sullivan owen, which just opened in queens village in philadelphia. i love talking to people who are passionate about what they do…their love for their craft is infectious. i could have spent an entire day in her beautiful studio listening to her talk about the artistry behind floral arrangements and watching her work.
when designing her studio space, sullivan wanted to use a soothing palette with shades of soft gray and white so that when entering the space, your attention goes straight to the flowers. indeed- when i walked in, my eyes were immediately drawn to the pops of color peppering the studio.
when she was younger, sullivan worked at one of the first urban outfitters stores. she recalls the president of the company visiting often to chat with employees and see how the store was doing, and it was a huge inspiration for her to see someone with a dream who was able to make such a successful career out of it. her dream was to tie together her fine arts background with her love of flowers, which is exactly what she is doing today.
in addition to floral arrangements, sullivan owen offers complete event design – from mood boards and color palettes to textiles like bouquet wraps and table linens. to her it is about creating an entire atmosphere- an idea that reminded me very much of our free people stores.
bits of inspiration from around the studio: vintage knick knacks, beaded belts, books and handmade table linens from her own wedding.
a beautiful wall of vases and jars that can be rented for events – with the exception of the shelf of vintage glass bottles, which are her private collection inherited from her grandfather and serve as inspiration.
when i arrived, sullivan was in the back finishing up an arrangement, and i sat and watched while she talked excitedly about how the floral industry is starting to attract a younger audience of people who appreciate the fine arts. with her own background in the arts, her approach to putting together an arrangement is very much like an artist painting a picture – paying special attention to color and texture, and layering in a way that is also almost like fashion.
a mood board hangs over her work table and incorporates fashion, color and landscape – all things she thinks about when putting together a bouquet.
the flowers sullivan works with are all very special – for example at top left, a ranunculus that comes from japan where these delicate flowers are designed to be perfect. the one at bottom right is a dutch variety of the ranunculus, with a really unique color gradation. at top right is the anemone, a beautiful black and white flower with hints of purple that is one of her favorites to work with.
above and below are what she calls the “spare parts vase” – where the flowers go if they’re cut the wrong length, the stems break or they just don’t make it into a final design. she doesn’t like to throw them away, plus they’re quite beautiful!
she gave me a quick little lesson in putting together the above bouquet, and then i tried my own:
i think i could use some help… luckily sullivan is going to be holding classes at her studio so you can go learn all about how to put together the perfect bouquet, and then take it home with you :) i will definitely be attending! you can find more info on the classes here.
the studio is open by appointment only – i definitely recommend checking it out. go see the website for more info and to see more photos of her incredible work: sullivanowen.com.
i could spend hours wandering around our building checking out peoples’ desks… each one is like a window into who that person is – what they love and choose to surround themselves with and the things that inspire them when they’re creating. here are just a few of the amazing desk spaces from around the office…