Finally a trend I'm truly excited about! The return of the '20s next January!
I love Art Deco, (though Art Nouveau will always be my first love.) My great-grandmother, who I was lucky to have until I was twenty, was a flapper and told me about the slang, the attitude - and the dancing! So in honor of all that I learned from her, and the return of the "Roaring 20's", I've created a new set of designs on RedBubble.
Flapper Slang, Speakeasy sign, Tango sign in Art Deco design, and La Guardia Nueva!
I'm still looking at the product and design offerings with a tanguera's eye though - milonga themed decor, clothes that work for dancing, and of course a celebration of 1920's tango - La Guardia Nueva! I'll have more designs coming over the next week - so keep checking if the Jazz Age and Art Deco are 'the bees knees' for you too!
No fewer than 8 people recommended that book to me, probably more but I don't remember. I think I knew it would be a kick in the ass. I wasn't sure I was ready for it. It took me ages to get around to it. Now I'm the one recommending it to every writer and creative who will listen to me (who hasn't already read it.)
It's a fast read. Pressfield doesn't waste your time, doesn't insult your intelligence and doesn't pull punches. It's what you need to read to get off your ass and do the work (to borrow the title of another one of his books.) I finished it in a few days and then started over and read it again.
How you think of your work, and how you think of yourself doing that work, are crucial to your success. There are so many ways we sabotage ourselves before we've even begun - before we've even put pen or brush to paper. He addresses the biggest mental blocks that keep us from our work, and from succeeding in our creative endeavors. And he does it in a frank, occasionally brutally honest, way.
You know what? Stop reading this review and just go read the book. It won't take long. Stop stalling - the work is calling.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Some of this is tongue-in-cheek and highlights the conflicting instruction we get as Argentine Tango students. But some of it, particularly "Just walk naturally", are particularly frustrating bits of advice.
I often heard "Just walk naturally," directed at followers, from male instructors (to both male and female students.) The more I heard it, the more irritated I got. I don't know how much time instructors spend their day walking backwards - particularly in 3-4" high heels, but there's nothing natural about it. We can learn to do it - and do it very well, but we're not structurally built to spend our time doing it. It's not at all natural - in heels or otherwise.
In all honesty, and speaking as a personal trainer for dancers, it's just lazy phrasing. "Naturally" has no objective meaning. Do you mean relax? Do you mean breathe? Say what you mean specifically and leave out short-cut phrases that don't mean anything to students - especially newer students.
A few of my other favorites in the "not very helpful" category:
- Be grounded. - Walk like a cat. - Feel the floor. - Feel the music. - You're too heavy. - You're too light.
If you want your students to really change what they're doing and understand what you're asking, be specific. Say what you mean in a way that is actionable for the student. I had a friend I used to see in festival classes all the time and she would call it "Tango Class Bingo". Don't play tango class bingo with your students, for the sake of their engagement and learning. Figure out what you really need your students to change and tell them something specific and useful. */end rant.
People who know me in tango know that at one time I designed custom tango shoes for clients. I worked with MrTangoshoes.com shoes out of Colombia to make shoes that matched clothes, shoes for hard to fit feet, custom sizing, custom materials - the works. I loved designing for clients - but I hated having an inventory to carry around to milongas and practicas to sell enough volume to keep afloat. In the end, I gave up the business to concentrate on my main (non-tango) job and personal training.
As I've written in the past few posts, I'm designing again - this time accessories instead of shoes. I take commissions for custom work as I'm able and keep a steady supply of new designs hitting my RedBubble virtual shelves. It's the best of both worlds - I get to design to my heart's content, but not have to worry about an inventory to lug around.
Lately though, I've really, really been missing the shoes. So I decided to do some shoe-themed designed to make myself feel better. These are so much - now to keep my own mitts off my merchandise and try to save a little money. I'm always my biggest customer. :)
Have I mentioned I love shoes?
Variations of the designs on the large drawstring, heavy-duty shoe bags.
One of the things I really like about RedBubble.com is that my orders, because I'm in the US, are made and shipped from the US. If you're in Europe, most products will be made there as well, etc etc.
They've even been transparent enough about the process to break it down. Here are a few examples. You can go to this page to see the full list of where everything is made, based on where it is being shipped to. Not only does this get products to clients faster and cheaper - it means that the quality is generally higher. That's good for everyone.
I just created a global languages Tango poster to celebrate the fact that you can dance tango in almost every major (and not so major) city in the world. My go-to translator looked it over but she's not sure on a couple of the renderings. Finding a font that would render all the characters correctly was a challenge.
Dear readers and connections, could you let me know if you find something that needs correcting? Meanwhile, dance everywhere!
Just a quick update since several people have asked for the list. Here are the art resources I use most for the majority of my work. Keep in mind, I use a Mac so with other platforms, your results might vary.
This is PhotoPea which does a great job, to a point. The larger the photo, the slower it gets.
Paid/Desktop Apps/Software - available for desktop and tablets:
Adobe Photoshop and Design, now available on subscription plans which is helpful if you're on a budget: https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html I still use this for some of the short cuts I've developed, but more and more, I'm using Affinity Photo and Designer more.
Affinity Photo and Designer: I'm using Serif's Affinity products more lately as they offer the flexibility of GIMP and the robust offerings of Photoshop, for less money. A new product, Publisher, is available for pre-order and I'm getting curious about that one. https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/store/
First, thank you to everyone who has been sending me their feedback, ideas, suggestions and critiques - you are all amazing and I love you!
Golden Age Tango Orchestras on Tango Banner
As of this morning, I have almost 100 designs in the shop (!), with each design on anywhere from 10-40 products each! On RedBubble, my shop is now one of the largest focused on Argentine Tango, and I still have over 30 designs waiting to be finalized and uploaded.
There are several new design categories:
Educational(-ish) word art designs that list works by tango orchestra or period.
Tango/Milonga humor category called #milongaexcuses
Traditional Art pieces (that have been remastered to better render on RedBubble's products)
Geometric designs - usually commissioned works to match specific shoes, clothes or accessories, or to be personalized.
"I'm sorry I missed your cabeceo. That was just my RBF. *Resting Bitch Face #milongaexcuses
Los Dos Angeles - Vargas and D'Agostino stickers in black music note and red heart.
Combo sticker packs - more than one sticker design available on a single sheet. Since I had several designs that I liked, but maybe wouldn't be appropriate for a t-shirt because of color or size limitations, I worked those designs into stickers and added them into combinations. Remember with combo sticker sheets, that the individual stickers will be smaller - so pick out the larger sheet if you need them to be big.
Shower curtains and bath mats are coming! Throw blankets are already here! Who wouldn't want a blue D'Arienzo throw blanket with a bandoneon on it, I ask you?
Juan D'Arienzo blue throw with some of D'Arienzo's greatest hits on a black bandoneon background.
More orchestras - I'll never run out of these but they can be time consuming to create as each "design" actually has 3-6 different variations to fit on each product.
Products for dancers in other areas. Since tango dancers often dance more than just tango, I'm going to creating some designs for dance generalists, and dances that are also popular with tango dancers - blues, salsa and swing for example.
More "spilling the tango tea" as the kids say. More milonga humor and fun, colorful, lighter-hearted designs. #milongaexcuses
Cabeceo with cat like laser focus!
Paying it forward
So many people have helped me find resources in free art tools, advice, design ideas etc., that I'm going to post what I've learned on this blog. There are so many free, easy to use, web based tools you can use that if you have any ideas for something to put on a sticker or a t-shirt etc., there's no excuse not to try out Print on Demand sites. RedBubble is extremely easy to use - especially once you have the tools in place. Look for updates on this blog and on my Infinite Tango blog (and of course the RedBubble journal as well) for tips, resources and guides.
The plan is coming together! Well, mostly. Thanks to feedback and requests from tango friends from all over the world, I have a pretty solid plan of action for my tango designs on the Infinitetango RedBubble Store.
There are, at this time, 3 departments in the shop:
1. Custom Designs - these are designs, usually geometric or abstract, to match specific shoes, apparel or other requests. These are mostly geometric patterns created from color picking directly from the image of the shoe or garment, and then creating patterns with the exactly colors for the best possible match.
2. Tango Quotes - both famous and a bit more obscure. I have a huge library of quotes in Scrivener that I've been trying to decide what to do with. Once I realized that the tango quotes are my most popular posts on my Instagram page, I knew what to do!
3. Digital Artwork - Most of these are created from pictures of my trip to Buenos Aires. Some are from local milongas though, as well.
I'm developing all three lines simultaneously as I'm inspired, have time or have requests. I am getting a little bit overloaded with commissions, so turnaround time on custom requests is about 2 weeks right now. I appreciate everyone's patience with this!
First, thank you readers and friends for such swift feedback on my previous posts! Your emails mean the world to me! Some of you already know what lit a fire under me to get this latest RedBubble project going, but for those who don't, please read on . . .
So let's back up . . .
The last 7 months have been devastating financially. My husband was very ill and in the hospital for a week. Our furnace/air conditioning units failed and cost twice what we were quoted 2 years ago. The ceiling of our garage caved in (and because it wasn't storm related, but poor workmanship, insurance wouldn't pay anything.) We've had to gut our house so that nearly everything in it can be bleached or boiled, to help protect my husband from future infections.
That's the just the big (and human-related) stuff. If this were a TV show, it would be some kind of dark comedy. The crazy thing is, the hospital bills that usually bury us, got paid by the insurance company. Miracle of miracles. But it's been literally everything else that has piled up. All the home care, all the broken appliances. I still have a leaky sink, a broken bathroom fan and and various other small things that will have to wait until I can figure out how to fix them myself.
Aside from the human challenges, both of our Shibas have had their own problems. Kuma lost an eye to glaucoma. His surgery was two weeks ago. Now he looks very much like one of those over-loved teddy bears that's missing his button eye. Just as he was healing (last week), Vixen got sick from something we've yet to identify. She's currently in a veterinary hospital while they try to figure out why she can't eat. They're tube feeding her to build up her strength. Tonight will be her third night away from us.
Any two or maybe even three of these things together, we could have weathered, at least eventually. All of this together is more than we can cope with.
It's time, as Pema Chödrön wrote, to lean in to the sharp points. It's time to turn toward the storm and get busy.
That's how I settled on finally getting this RedBubble print-on-demand shop off the ground. I had the artwork - I just had to clean it all up for upload and printing. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the design work and that's actually been helping me cope with the stress. But the biggest thing I need is a second income - from home, so I can work around all the cleaning, the dog care, the infection control protocols . . . the everything our lives are right now.
We planned for these things - we just didn't plan for them to happen all at the same time - or with such severity. So all of this is just to say thank you to those of you reading who've already reached out, and a request to share my store with anyone you think might be interested.
One last thing.
I wrote and deleted this line 3 times. This is my fourth try to get it down without berating myself and deleting it again:
If you would like to donate to Vixen and Kuma's bills, you can donate through PAYPAL at my email address: INFINITETANGO(at)GMAIL.COM. (Using "at" instead of "@" to slow down the bots from grabbing my email address.)
It is just under $1,000 a night for all that they are doing for her while they try to figure out what happened to her. Even if she had a miraculous turnaround tomorrow, she would probably need one more night there.
Vixen on the left before she went to the vet hospital, and Kuma trying to get some rays while in his "cone of shame."
Thank you again for reading this far, for sharing this post, for sharing my store, if you feel the desire to, and for the well-wishes you've sent thus far. It is so very much appreciated. Abrazos and warm, happy dances to you all. --M