Category Archives:Makers

Weekly Dose : Text

This week, I bring you simple text inspired by placement. It’s less about font and more about the power of repetition, weight of line and context.

Taupe & Birch : Weekly DoseIt’s all Right sign found on Elle Decoration.Taupe & Birch : Weekly DoseArt Nathan Cooley, There Will Be No Miracles Here, 2009Taupe & Birch : Weekly DoseBeing Super Ain’t Easy. by Colin Dunn, 2012 Taupe & Birch : Weekly DosePrint for Youth Magazine. Youth Magazine is a compilation of photographs of sixteen young photographers spotted on the net from around the globe. Taupe & Birch : Weekly DoseSo it goes by Meryl Pataky Taupe & Birch: Weekly DoseBERLIN By Alan Kitching.

Taupe & Birch: Weekly Dose

I found this image circulating on pinterest. Please share if you know the location!

Content curated by Heather Day.


Interview with Photographer Charley Zheng

Charley Zheng, a self-taught photographer living in Portland, first caught my eye as I was browsing VSCO. After a few seconds, I was infatuated with her work and linked out to her personal site. Scrolling through her work, I could sense her passion for capturing these moments in nature and loved that she strived for a particular aesthetic with bold colors, dark hues and the experimentation with the effects of natural sunlight.

Zheng is a self-described urban dweller, outdoor enthusiast and an avid storyteller with an eye constantly on the loose for great experiences. She has collaborated with many local companies in Portland including Siteworks and Snowpeak to name a few and hopes to continue building relationships through her photography. We had the honor of sitting down with Zheng to get the inside scoop.


We absolutely love your photos. Can you tell us how you first got interested in photography, how you pursued it and where it has taken you? I got my start in photography out of a love for women’s fashion magazines. I was in high school; one day I flipped through Vogue for the first time while standing in line at a Walgreens and was instantly enamored. I soon found myself feverishly subscribing to as many fashion related magazines as possible. I was hooked on the look and feel of fashion editorials, and everything about them engulfed my imagination. I often pretended they were movies—glossy little films playing in my head, and from that I had the idea of creating my very own. So that was when I picked up a camera—or more accurately, begged my dad to buy me one—and started shooting. But it’s funny—I shot my first roll of film and was absolutely devastated by how badly they turned out. So discouraged by my ineptitude, I actually returned the camera and didn’t think about photography again until after I graduated college, some four or five years later.

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How long have you been taking photos and what kind of camera do you use? I picked up photography again about a year out of college, when I was riding the whole post-graduation “I’m gonna go work in restaurants” wave, a time when I was juggling three different serving jobs and was starting to feel towards the end like my entire life was out of touch creatively. That was around three years ago. I started shooting on a Nikon D3200, which I still occasionally use, but recently I’ve been shooting on a Canon 5D.

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How did you get interested in focusing on outdoor photography? Do you think it’s important to specialize in one category? I think it kind of happened organically—I just started becoming interested in the outdoors more. At the time I was still working in the service industry, and something in my body was tearing to get out of the city and to do something new; more importantly, see something new. I planned my first trip to go snowshoeing with a co-worker up by Mount Hood and I was immediately hooked. I became infatuated with outdoor photography and wanted to capture all the incredible things I was both seeing and experiencing: sort of like a visual chronicle of my life.

I think it can be an advantage to specialize in one category, and to be able to do one thing really, really well. But I personally also believe that it’s even more valuable to frequently get out of your comfort zone and experiment with different subject matter. It’s about challenging yourself and training your eye to always see things in a new light. I know that I sometimes get fatigued by shooting outdoors scenes all the time, using the same tropes, the same compositions over and over again. I know I’m very comfortable utilizing the techniques I’m most familiar with. It’s good to override them sometimes. When I was in Vietnam, for example, I was terrified of taking shots of the people around me, the shops on the streets, everything in the city. It was one of my biggest challenges because it wasn’t my style at all. But somehow, trying to get myself to take photos of city life and challenge my “eye” actually helped me take better landscape photos. Some of the work I’m most proud of was shot in Vietnam.

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What things do you do/experiment with in order to achieve a particular aesthetic? I love to make my photographs look super cinematic and a little bit surreal, so I chase after a lot of silhouettes, and I love to shoot directly into the sun to cast a dreamy, dappled light across the image to create those crazy multicolored flares. When I edit, I’ll play around with shadows, gradients, and vignetting to make my photos match as much as possible to what I’m seeing in my head—scenes that are rich and exuberant and velvety, like a moving painting.

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What is a favorite memory/experience that you captured and why? Last October, I climbed Mount Saint Helens. I remember the first scene I encountered at the moment of summiting: a thin sheet of spindrift in front of me, with these undulating hillocks of snow to my left. Because there wasn’t much visibility, it almost didn’t feel like I was on a mountain at all and the space up top felt infinite. It was very surreal. One of my climbing partners started wandering out across the snow hills and the scene looked magically apocalyptic. I whipped out my camera as fast as I could and started firing. That was probably one of my favorite moments and one of my favorite shots. The timing and lighting of everything was perfect.


What does a perfect day look and feel like? A perfect day starts early in the morning with a good breakfast—that’s always important. It’d also involve getting out of town—either to explore a new hike or find a campsite by the mountains. Ideally, I’d be active all day climbing up a mountain or canoeing on a crystal clear lake so that by evening, I’d reward myself with a killer dinner, probably a good old fashioned burger and milkshake combo.

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What advice would you give someone wanting to start photography or any other creative endeavor? Do it because it’s fun. Do it because all it takes is for you to just press a button and go. Shoot, keep shooting, and love every second of it.

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Photographs courtesy of Charley Zheng.

Content curated by Sara Chars.

DIY : Copper Accent

Lately I’ve noticed how much I appreciate and started seeking out very simple clothing, home decor items, etc. — but the products that stand out the most are the ones with the subtle differences, i.e. the pocket in the lower right corner, the strip of gold just on the toe part of a sandal, the cuffs or small buttons on the sleeve of a sold colored shirt.

One of my favorite subtleties in home decor (and shoes as mentioned) is a pop of gold or copper which really gives an old/new aesthetic, especially if it’s part of repurposing something through a DIY project. Here are a few examples of fun DIY projects you can do to add a little copper accent to your space.


Love these copper painted pipes with concrete slab tops to create various height plant stands found on Camille Styles.


For the living area or your bedroom, this copper pipe wall sconce will be a detail noted piece.


Don’t have enough closet space? Make a stylish copper pipe clothing rack to display your latest fashion finds.

b3f1150f65b5b8af94694affd1c8671eIf you need to spice up your workspace a little, this DIY copper pipe pencil holder found on A Fabulous Fete will do the trick.

DIY_copper_storage2-767x1024I love the idea of hanging things from homemade ladders. Whether in the kitchen to hang pots from or in your bedroom to drape jeans over, this copper ladder has a nice duel function as an exposed design piece and storage.

Content curated by Sara Chars.


Food Styling with Mary Valentin

This week, we visited Mary Valentin in her Chicago home where she told us all about her life as a food stylist. 

mbv3Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us today. We are big fans of your work and thrilled to feature you on Taupe & Birch.

For starters, can you tell us what your average work day is like? 
I like to get up early enough to really enjoy some coffee and read the paper.  The longer I can sit and do the crossword puzzle, the better.  I still do it on actual newspaper because once I turn on my laptop, the work day has begun. I get out of the house by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. to shop on my way to the studio.  Sometimes I need to source out specific items ahead of time, like organic duck legs, or pea tendrils. I like some of the small produce shops in Chicago, like Stanley’s, but I can get most of what I need at the larger supermarkets.  I’m always apologizing to the baggers, because I’m all over them about how to pack the produce and bread that I’ve just spent an hour selecting for shape, color, and texture.  Most of them think I’m nuts, but a few are really curious about food photography.

Once I get to the studio it takes a while to unpack and get organized.  My assistant can look things over and we’ll start to have a conversation about tasks: who will do what, how many recipes we have to get through. While we’re getting organized, the clients will show up.  We begin to talk to the photographer and the client about what it is that they’re looking for.  There might be a conversation about what feel they want the food to have or who their audience is.

Once food is on set, I work with the photographer to compose the final image.  If there are more elaborate environments involved, there’s a prop stylist on set.  It’s really a group effort at this point.  The client may choose to be involved in the process or just ask us to show them when we think we’ve got it.
There are a few photographers that I love to work with, because they have skill, experience and a sophisticated visual sensibility, but they’re willing to go into every shot with a sense of daring.   They don’t need to control everything, but allow things to develop organically, responding to the scene, rather than dictating. I feel the same way about the food.  It needs to be allowed to do what it does, and that’s where you find the most interesting shot.


When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts?
I didn’t initially understand that I was choosing a career in culinary arts and didn’t get really serious about that until later. I was working on my BFA in painting at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago.  I was an artist.  I still am. Working in restaurants, bartending, and waiting tables were ways to live and pay for school. I started working in the kitchen at the Café du Midi and really loved it.  I watched everything.  I took mental notes while watching the chef Francis Leroux chop, sear, etc. It was sort of a magical time for me.  There was a great crew there, great clientele, and I made life-long friends. I even met my husband there. I worked on the line in this awesome, tiny kitchen until my son was born in 1992.

IMG_4336Can you tell us a little bit about where you started and how your career unfolded?
A great friend of mine was an art director at a big catalogue house in town. She would hire me to paint large backgrounds for the studio, and occasionally prop shop. One day they had a food stylist come in for a kitchen gadget catalogue.  I didn’t know what a food stylist was at this point, but I was asked to help out with the project because a) I was artistic and b) I knew food.  The idea that someone could get paid for making beautiful food and understanding how to compose a visual image was revelatory for me; a marriage of my unrelated skills. It was not as though I could walk out the door that day and call myself a food stylist.

The only way to really learn to make contacts, to become accepted in the industry, was to assist an established food stylist.  The problem was, and still is, that there are few real food stylists and many, many droves of people interested in the field. A lot of food styling assistants these days already have a culinary degree or certification. Early on I did a lot of food propping, making food for product photography where the food is not the hero.  Pots and pans for example, they are usually shown in use. It gave me the chance to work in photo studios and learn the work culture without the pressure of a real commercial food shoot. Once I started assisting, I also went to industry conferences like Food on Film and the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography at BU and the IACP. Those organizations really helped me to become more professional, more skilled, and to meet important people in the industry.  My early clients were Pfaeltzer Brothers, The Pampered Chef, and Fannie May Chocolate.  I began teaching at Kendall College in 2005.  It seemed as though things were evolving quickly.

I had always wanted to pursue a Masters in Gastronomy, but there was no place in Chicago who had such a program.  I mentioned that desire to an acquaintance who was teaching at Kendall College, a culinary school in Chicago.  She turned around and said “why don’t you teach food styling at Kendall?” I didn’t take her seriously, but the next morning she called me and said “I just spoke to the dean about your food styling class and he’s really excited.” I spent a few frantic days coming up with a syllabus, a course schedule, lesson plans and I actually got the job.  I was blown away by the students at Kendall and saw how serious their training was. I decided to pursue their culinary degree.  I got about ¾ of the way through that program and then went on to finish up a baking and pastry certificate, while still teaching.  That changed everything. It always amazes me how much there is to learn, after you think you know it all.

mbv2You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the industry such as Kraft, Godiva, and Panera Bread. How did you come to work with such high profile companies?
It’s hard to say exactly. Luck comes into it, but all we really have to go on is our portfolios and our reputation, Sometimes I’ll get a cold call from someone who’s seen my website but more often it’s someone in the industry who has recommended me to a new client.  This is a relatively small industry, even on a national level. Everyone knows someone who knows you. Relationships are extremely important. You can be a great food stylist, but people have to want to work with you. You can be skilled and experienced, but you also have to be able to put your clients at ease and get them to trust you. You have to play well with others. 

combined_mbvWhat is your favorite type of project to work on? 
I like to work. Period. I’m not real fussy about what kind of projects I’ll take or not take.  That said, I do love to do editorial projects and testing.  Editorial shoots allow for some real artistic freedom.  Testing is when you get together with a photographer and shoot whatever you want.  Maybe it’s just an idea that one of you has and wants to try out: something about lighting or composition or a recipe. I will always make time to test with certain photographers.

mbvcombined4Where do you find inspiration as a food stylist? Do you have any favorite magazines, blogs, restaurants, etc.? 
I still get inspiration from art.  When I was teaching at Kendall College, I would drag my students to the Museum of the Art Institute to look at food in art.  The Dutch Masters spent a hell of a lot of time looking at food: watching how light comes through the pulp of a peeled lemon, at a cracked pastry crust, every errant crumb becoming part of the composition. I love the Valesquez kitchen scenes.  Almost everything you need to know about lighting and styling food is in those still lives. I might steal a composition idea from Irving Penn. I will whip through any cooking magazine but try to not get too hung up on trends. I gave up on looking at blogs a while ago.  There are so many with bad recipes.  It’s my pet peeve. I love the democracy inherent in the internet, but not everyone knows how to write a recipe. It is a specific thing; there is chemistry involved. I just started using instagram and I like the immediacy of it. It also takes the bad recipe out of the equation. The cooking mags that I like the best are Saveur, Food and Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated.  Saveur has gorgeous photography and great articles.  Cooks Illustrated has perfect recipes and solid product reviews. It’s my go-to. I try not to get too caught up in imitating what other people are doing.  In order to be original I feel like I need to go to multiple sources for inspiration and let things percolate.

Tune in with T & B next week where we will be sharing a recent collaboration with Mary.
Content and portrait photography by Heather Day for Taupe & Birch.

Scott Patt : Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.

While exploring the shops on Mississippi Ave in Portland earlier this week, I was in Reading Frenzy (awesome artist zines, cool prints and small edition works) and picked up a copy of Stay Wild, a new quarterly print and digital free adventure magazine.

Inside the Summer 2014 issue of Stay Wild is an article on artist Scott Patt and his project Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. The project is a painting per day for 365 days focusing on life, thoughts, connections, etc. and explores how even so much as what day of the week it is influences the process and how he feels. Patt says he has always been someone who has been “driven by the epic quest” and that really forces him into ‘doing.’

What I love about each painting is not only the aesthetic of the simple, solid, bright colors and painterly texture but also the minimalist feel and messages that are relevant to almost everyone yet in their own unique and personal way. Each painting is also sold in limited print editions of 100.

Watch the video below to hear Patt’s words on the project.

Bigger. Smaller. Funnier. by Scott Patt from KINGSPØKE on Vimeo.

Content selected by Sara Chars.

Pharmacie Home in Minneapolis, MN


Pharmacie Home, a design-centric home decor corner-shop, opened it’s doors early last November in the Lyn-Lake area of Uptown Minneapolis. Shop owners Roger and Sam are some of the most welcoming and friendly people I’ve met. You can feel their eye for design and passion in opening the store upon walking through the door. The shop is filled with handcrafted US products made by independent designers, always has a welcoming vibe and floor displays are changed up regularly to give it a fresh feel. With a great balance of product category from unique lighting to offbeat kitchenware and tongue-in-cheek accessories, Pharmacie offers a little of everything as your daily dose of medicine. 2743 Lyndale Ave S | Minneapolis, MN

IMGP2141IMGP2151T & B had the chance to chat with Roger and Sam to get the inside scoop.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! How did the name “Pharmacie” first come about? The name happened mostly by accident – several years ago when were first thinking about opening the shop – we had our eye on the old Burch Pharmacy spot at Hennepin and Franklin. We thought it might be a good location and we loved the building – and hey – why not name the shop “Pharmacie” as a nod to the building’s history. Obviously we didn’t take that space, but the name stuck. We love the idea that (the name) isn’t what we are – but we offer a similar idea – a corner shop where you can find a cure for what ails you – it’s just in pillow form, not pill form.

Haha, we love that! So how do you choose the items you want in the store? We are really interested in unique products that are handcrafted by small independent designers from around the US. We love things that mix unexpected materials, are twists on traditional crafts, or are created using new technologies (we’re suckers for anything 3D printed).


About how many artists (of every kind) do you feature in the store at a given time? It varies – we like to make sure there’s a good mix but not an overload in any given category. 

Where/how do you find the artists? We love design, so we’ve had a million ideas about which designers/brands we wanted to carry forever. We also go to gift/furniture shows a couple times a year and since we’ve opened last November, we’ve had a lot of people come to us wanting to collaborate. 

What do you want the store to feel like? What things have you done to make it feel this way/have a particular vibe? We want the shop to feel like home – warm, inviting, comfortable. Aside from how the shop is decorated – things like playing good music, bringing the dogs with us every day, and offering snacks and (of course) adult beverages to our customers – things like this are what we believe complete the Pharmacie experience.


How did you both get inspired to open a home decor store? And how did you make it a reality? Glutton for punishment??? 🙂 No – it’s something that we’ve always dreamt of doing. When we travel – we often find ourselves spending hours in smaller design shops and knew that Minneapolis, being such a design-centric city, would be supportive of a shop like ours. So far – that’s proven to be true. And it was brought to reality by a ton of hard work, planning, MAJOR help from our friends, family and awesome collaborators… and a few lucky chips falling into place at the right time.

What recent items or future items are you most excited about? We’re crazy for the magnetic lights from Bower studio in NYC. And seriously, the most robust bottle opener we’ve ever used from our friends in Chicago, Strand Design. But we’re especially stoked about launching our own line of furniture – “Chemistry Set” – a suite of table bases (coffee, side, and dining) that can be mixed and matched with different material tops (marble, wood, concrete) to make unique pieces. Stay tuned… we’ll be showing prototypes in the shop the rest of summer.

Photography and content by Sara Chars for Taupe & Birch.

Studio Visit with Erin Mitchell in Oakland, CA

T & B sat down with bay area artist, Erin Mitchell in her Oakland studio to get the scoop on just about everything art related. Between art making, curating, and working in San Francisco – she has a lot going on!

If you aren’t already familiar with the artist, Mitchell is a mixed-media artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally from Los Angeles, Mitchell earned her BFA in Printmaking/Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011. Her work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide, most notably the 2011 Shanghai Youth Biennial. After wrapping up a number of projects in the last month, she’s working towards a debut solo exhibition at Hang Art Gallery for May 2015.

Erin Mitchell’s conceived landscapes set out to explore the implications of being a visceral and temporal individual in an ever-expanding world. Working in a broad range of printmaking, drawing, and painting techniques, Mitchell’s mixed-media works attempt to visually depict the relationship between the rapid, unceasing change of our planet and the weight of our own experience and understanding.

We’re so excited that we were able to grab an hour of her time and here’s the outcome:


For starters, What’s your average day like?

My typical day in the studio starts after I leave work for the day in San Francisco, around 5 p.m. I usually grab some fuel (random snacks) and hop the BART to Fruitvale in Oakland, where my studio building is located.

Wednesdays have somehow become my power days; on those days, I’m usually in to work no later than 7:30 in the morning, which means I can head out earlier and grab a few extra hours in the studio in the afternoon.

Once I’m in Oakland, I’m in work mode. I take off my rings, change out shoes and anything else nice I might be wearing (there’s one really smudgy white tee that hangs out in my studio just for this reason), and slip on the big headphones. These days, I tend to be the last one in our studio building at night, which means I can also dance with abandon.

When I’m looking to start a piece or looking for inspiration, I usually turn to the visual archive I’m constantly compiling. I’ve got a Dropbox folder full of screenshots or found imagery, but now it also permeats my iPhone and my multiple computer desktops. I usually pull up anything that strikes me from here, and often start pieces from relationship between the images I pick.

I work as long as I can, but try to be home before midnight for sanity.


Sounds like a productive day! Can you tell us about the current paintings your working on?

I’m actually in the position to launch into a new series of work, which is a really exciting place to be. In the series I just finished, including piece “Pink Cloud,” I just began to incorporate the influences of the some of the digital and glitch marks I’ve been looking at. I’m interested in the digital mark as something that is a core visual element in the way we consume images and content today; I’m also interested in the way we look through it… like how we don’t see the structure of windows or browsers or look through the static or buffering as we wait for our hiccuping Netflix service to load.

That being said, I’m interested in pushing my materials in the direction of this curiosity. I want to start playing more with light, specifically in terms of luminous or light-manipulating materials and projections. The element of expansion is important as well. All of these images are made of the same color particles of light in screens… what about taking these complexities apart? There’s so many complexities in our world that could be deconstructed and pulled apart.



What are a few challenges you’ve had to work through with the new materials you are working with?

(laughs) Challenges for sure. When you like to play with experimental materials, there’s definitely a learning curve.

I’ve been using CYMK printer toner straight out of the drums recently, and that’s been funny. I’ve definitely been reprimanded by friends for toxicity concerns, and it can make a huge mess. It’s basically superfine, pigmented plastic particles, but it physically just floats and cascades. It’s gorgeous, pure color. It’s a wonderfully seductive and elusive material to manipulate. However, it’s also a material we all frequently handle and take for granted; few of us are conscious of the scope of its use or have even seen it in its raw state. We’re just frustrated when we’re out of it or when it doesn’t work as we need it to. We never interact with it directly, we just feed our printers.

I’m also hoping to start integrating some digital or even video elements in the future, but I’m totally new to this media as well.


What artists are you inspired by? Do you have any other sources for inspiration? 

I find that my inspiration comes less from individual artists these days than from found images; that being said, I have artists whom I greatly respect and whose work I really love. One of these artists working now is Leslie Shows, who creates these projected landscapes that use a wide range of mixed-media. Some of her pieces have this really wonderful collaged or even glitching sort of aesthetic that I really love; it’s as if the natural world collides with painterly abstraction and digital noise and the impositions or trappings of manmade civilization.

In terms of sourcing inspiration, I’m always looking. I shoot on my phone or am constantly pulling images from the internet, or now, taking lots of screenshots where imagery can play off each other (definitely something I want to focus on in forthcoming works). I’m also really interested in the idea of interfaces and how authority is built into certain formats or constructions of receiving images or information. I’m interested in the idea of multiple truths, as in, as more individual voices gain authority with the expansion of the internet, more of them have authoritative tools for communication and dissemination… but how do you know who to trust? Who’s telling the right story? There were a lot of issues with this surrounding last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, of speculative tweets going viral that were factually inaccurate.

I find this blurriness of truth, or even “truthiness,” so fascinating. So maybe I’m watching a lot of different outputs.

Where do you see your work going next? 

Building on the ideas I’ve alluded to above, I’m interested in deepening my exploration into the influence of the digital mark and the concept of the digital interface onto the way we now see our world. I want to incorporate a wider range of new media that speaks more directly to these relationships, and explore ideas of pulling apart the layers of visual (and allegorical) complexity. Personally, I know I will always be drawn to working with a visceral and organic mark, so I want to explore that vocabulary in context of broader contemporary dialogues.

Do you have any shows or projects coming up?

I’m currently working towards a solo exhibition with Hang Art Gallery for May 2015, but I’m fortunate to have just wrapped up a number of really great projects. In addition to participating in this year’s East Bay Open Studios, in the past month, I was invited to curate the most recent Inventory Pick exhibition at Hang Art Gallery, as well as speak about some of my decisions for the show and my own practice. (If you’d like to hear the live recording of the talk, you can check it out here). I was also selected to participate in a silent art auction at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, juried by the museum’s own Beal Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Jen Mergel. My piece, Ray, was sold at auction at the museum’s annual Summer Party gala and benefit on June 7th.

In terms of upcoming events, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be participating in Southern Exposure’s annual Monster Drawing Rally on Friday, July 11th. One of the biggest annual art events in the Bay Area, it always draws a great mix of emerging and established local artists. Attendees can purchase drawings created on the spot, all benefitting Southern Exposure. The lineup this year is pretty stellar! Check it out here.


To view more of Erin Mitchell’s work, take a peek at her website and check out her work at Hang Art gallery in San Francisco.

Content and Photography by Heather Day for Taupe & Birch.

Studio Visit With Bobby Coleman in Baltimore, MD


T & B went behind the scenes with artist, Bobby Coleman in his Baltimore studio. Coleman deconstructs objects, symbols, and colors found within the urban landscape into a deeply layered composition that echoes the chaos and visual noise he encounters in his daily life. He currently has his first solo show on view at Randall Scott Projects in Washington D.C. until May 3rd.


We had the opportunity to sit down with Coleman and get the inside scoop.

For starters, what’s your average day like? I don’t necessarily have an “average” studio day. My day depends on my work schedule as a contract-based art handler. Usually after a day of work, I will go over to the studio to squeeze in a few hours of painting. Even if I am not painting, sometimes I just need to be around my work to keep a consistent schedule. I want the studio process to feel very different from the average day job. That being said, the days I do not go to work are the days that are really good “studio” days. Keeping my schedule open ended and flexible is key.

My studio is only about two to three miles away, so it makes for an inspiring bike ride to help wake me up for the day. When I arrive, I plug in my phone and start listening to music or replay one of my favorite morning talk shows to help me get into the zone.

The studio is strictly for painting. I try not to check emails, take phone calls, or check social media. I like for my studio time to be my time shut out from the world. I like for it to be my time to just create.

Sounds like a great day. Your recent paintings are really intriguing. Can you tell us more about what inspired this series? My recent work (like my previous work) is heavily inspired by the world around me. I draw a lot of inspiration from the urban landscape. Living in Baltimore provides me with a great deal of aesthetics that help fuel my paintings. I also do a lot of doodling in my spare time. These doodles often reference the urban landscape and are manipulations of certain objects in the environment. Graffiti, buildings, telephone lines, phone/water towers are all things that work their way into these doodles and eventually into my paintings.

That being said, it is often hard for me to pinpoint exactly what may have inspired a specific painting. My paintings happen very organically and I do not do any planning. I find this method of working very conducive to me and to my paintings. I like to build layers and see where the painting takes me.


b10 b7Your current show “The Things I Think I Can Make” at Randall Scott Projects is amazing. Where does the title come from?Thank you. That title is actually a title from a smaller painting I did a few years ago, but I felt like it summed up the work in the show perfectly. So much of my process is just trusting myself and trusting that I will create a painting that I deem ‘successful’.

In every painting I strive to create an environment. I strive to create something. I don’t know exactly what that something is when I start the painting, but I know when it is finished. So for me, the title, “The Things I Think I Can Make”, really calls to my whole mentality around creating a painting. Essentially, every painting is an attempt at me trying to make something, or me thinking I can make something.

What were some of the challenges you had to overcome to plan for this current show? The main challenge I had for this show was time. I basically had a month to create the work and I knew I would need about 8 fairly large paintings. Luckily, I had 3 recent paintings that I could use for the show. This left me with a month to create 4-5 new paintings for the exhibition.

After a little push from Randall, I decided to make all of the paintings rather large. One was 8′ x 8′, which is the biggest painting I have made to date. That also proposed another challenge. It was tricky for me to work on a painting where I had to stand on a step stool to reach the top.

But, coming back to it, I think the biggest issue for me was time. There were definite moments where I felt like I bit off more than I could chew, but I got it all done and I am extremely happy with the way the show looks. In hindsight, the challenges ended up being a blessing.

Under normal circumstances, I do not think I would have tried to tackle such large paintings in such a short amount of time. Even with the weight and challenges of the show, I enjoyed working under the pressure and I love the paintings I created in that amount of time.

Where do you see your work going next? That’s such a hard question to answer! I never really know where my work is going to go. For the most part I feel like I am just along for the ride. However, I do have some ideas for future work that I am excited about. I have always been intrigued by installation art and that is something that I want to experiment with. This would be a great challenge for me to take on and could have a great impact on my future paintings as well.

I’m also interested in adding sculptural elements to my paintings. This is something I have already began to play with. A concern of mine is making these additional elements appear cohesive, and not having it seem like a painting with an added 3D element. I want the viewer to not even have to question the addition of the sculptural object.

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b4Don’t forget to check out Bobby Coleman’s work at Randall Scott Projects in Washington D.C. (on view until May 3, 2014).

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. We love your paintings and we’re thrilled to feature you on T & B this week.

Studio Photos by Heather Day for Taupe & Birch.

Gallery Images Courtesy of Randall Scott Projects & Bobby Coleman.