Shop UO UO Blog

Interview: Abbey Watkins for Morning Warrior

Tobacco & Leather's Abbey Watkins is an London-based illustrator and print designer with a penchant for skulls, women and a bit of warping. When Los Angeles clothing company Morning Warrior asked Abbey to work on a few summer tank tops for them, she conjured up the energetic warrior spirit of the brand and brought her earth-inspired designs to a whole new world. Here we talk to the 25-year-old beauty to get a glimpse inside her life, workspace and a sneak peek at the look book for the collection.
Interview by Ally Mullen

Introduce yourself!
I'm Abbey Watkins of Tobacco & Leather. I'm 25, living in London and working as an illustrator and print designer.

Where did you go to school?
I went to Manchester Metroplitan Universirty and studied textile design for fashion. I chose Manchester because it's a vibrant city, but it's not too overwhelming. At the time I struggled a lot with my confidence so this played a big part in my decision. 

I always wanted to study fashion in London, but this was the best I could do with the tools and finances I had. It worked out well in the end as I ended up with the best tutor, Alex Russell, and I got a career out of it which I'm very grateful for. I'm from a very small town in the middle of nowhere so university was my way out and my first experience of a real city.

How did you get involved with Morning Warrior and when and how did this collaboration come together?
I was already aware of Morning Warrior when they got in touch about working together; it was obvious we shared some interests and creative visions so we got together and created these three designs.

Tell us about the influences behind your art! 
There are many, many influences but it's really hard to name them! I'm influenced by mythology and ancient gods, strange creatures—especially the mixture of animal and human. I'm interested in things like the occult and witchcraft, shamanism, and hallucingenic visions. I have this deep-rooted love for tribes and people that live closely to the earth, treating nature like a language that can be interpreted and returned. I guess all of that mixed with some '60s pychedelia and old metal album covers is somehwere near my vision. I've still got a lot of work to do to bring it all together though.

What was the driving inspiration behind your collaboration?
There was a loose brief for the collaboration, but with themes like "Mystical", "Animal" and "Bad Girl Biker", Morning Warrior and I were already pretty much on the same page, so it flowed nicely.

How would you describe your style of art to someone who hasn't seen it yet?
I still can't find an answer that satisfies, but the basis of my work is set in pencil realism, with subjects of naked women, skulls, animals, mythic elements and hints of surrealism.

What is your favorite medium to use when creating your illustrations?
Pencil. It's the only one that comforts. If there's color, it's done digitally.

Of the shirts you designed, which is your personal favorite?

I haven't seen them in the flesh yet! But my favorite is the grey Eagles Tank Top. That was my favorite one because I remember learning from it. You are always learning every time you draw but sometimes you can feel it, and I enjoyed that time.

What are your favorite things to draw?
Naked women, skulls, anything where I can play with its form and mold it into something else. That's my new favorite thing to do!

Are you going to wear your own designs?
I never wear my own designs. I hope nobody takes that personally! I just feel weird wearing something that I drew. Like it's somehow saying, "Look what I did!” And that makes me uncomfortable.

What was the… 
Last song or album you listened to: "Desert Ceremony" by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats 
Last movie you watched: Iron Monkey
Last purchase you made: A black, leather, bondage thigh-harness from Etsy that clips onto your belt loops and wraps around your thigh.
Best part about doing this collaboration: That I got to draw and create and was given artistic freedom. Morning Warrior were an absolute pleasure to work for. It's not always that way with commissions.

Look Book Information: 
Photography by Emman Montalvan
Hair and Makeup by Brittany Sullivan
Model: Courtney Money at PhotoGenics L.A.
Styling by Julie Swinford & Renee Garcia
Clothing by Morning Warrior: Twitter | Instagram

Better Together: Monica Ramos and Leah Goren

If you don’t know them by name, you probably know Monica Ramos and Leah Goren through their work or have purchased their items on Etsy. Monica and Leah, both Brooklyn-based, share a studio with lots of light, plants and snacks. Between illustrating for publications like The New York Times and designing book covers, they also work on sticker packs, make a Sad Girls Zine, and do impressively accurate drawings of what they wear to the studio. Here’s what they had to say about being better together, as friends and as artists.
Interview by Maitri Mehta

Totes by Leah and Monica

So the feature is called Better Together— how are you ladies better together?
Leah: That’s so cute! Before I moved in here I worked at home by myself, or I guess with my boyfriend, but he’s not an illustrator so I was basically alone. It’s amazing to have Monica around to talk to about my work.
Monica: She keeps me from being a total bum.
Leah: It’s good teamwork to get here at a good time and make coffee or tea and talk about what we’re working on—
Monica: And share frustrations.
Leah: It makes us feel like we’re part of a bigger picture of illustration work rather than just being cooped up alone. You can go crazy working alone.

How long have you been in this studio?
Leah: Almost a year!
Monica: I was working in my living room before. It was so depressing! I would be there every day and I wouldn’t go out.

Where are y’all from?
Monica: The Philippines.
Leah: San Diego. Both warmer climates.
Monica: People think I’m from California, I think because how I talk.
Leah: We were talking about moving to California some day, but we’d ALL have to go, because otherwise it’d be too lonely.

And you two met at Parsons?
Leah: Yes. We were trying to figure out what class it was but it’s all kind of a blur—
Monica: I think we met in a printmaking class because I remember Leah did all these block prints of girls’ faces—
Leah: We were making .gifs! I don’t even know anymore! We have a lot of friends from school but I don’t know when we all met. They just showed up at some point.

How did you decide to move into a studio together?
Leah: I started here with Rachel [Levit] and some other friends, and then we convinced Monica to move in.
Monica: I was actually really resistant because I was so comfortable in my living room. I was like, I’m just never gonna leave. But no, it’s been so good. I feel like a normal person here [laughs], with a place to do work.

Catdish by Leah

Alpacas by Monica

What are you working on right now, individually?
Monica: I have this one group show in Copenhagen, it’s about swimming. And a few months later I have another duo show also in Denmark, and I’m hoping to fly there.
Leah: I got an editorial thing this morning! So I worked on sketches today. It’s for an essay. I’m learning things about writing today. It’s a quick turnaround as usual, and then just answering emails, always.

I get bad email anxiety, do you?
Monica: If I answer an email at 1 AM, is that bad?
Leah: I don’t think it’s bad, I think it just means you’re on the clock all the time.
Monica: But not like, 4 AM, right? 4 AM is bad.

What are you working on together?
Monica: We’re working on a ceramics pop-up show, which is how we spend most of our time—
Leah: Yeah, I think it’s the most fun thing I do, because it doesn’t feel like work. Not that my work isn’t fun. We’ve been taking ceramics for maybe a year, or a little over. I started just making things with my mom who’s an art teacher and then taking actual classes in New York.
Monica: I took one class in high school, because my grandmother on my dad’s side used to have a ceramics studio, and then I started maybe half a year ago here in New York because Leah was taking classes and it seemed like a lot of fun. They had all this cool stuff! We just hang out at the ceramics studio, talking and making things. I mostly make a lot of alpacas.
Leah: She’s notorious at the studio for her alpacas.

Ceramics by Leah and Monica

Is it hard making art for business?
Monica: Yeah, it’s strange. Because you want to pursue something like illustration and then you’re like, "OMG I’m gonna love my career," and then it ends up giving you stress at the same time.
Leah: It puts an edge on it, yeah.

Do you guys talk to each other about your own personal projects?
Leah: Yeah, I would say since we’re still just starting out, two years out of school, there are a lot of questions we have to figure out and apply, like pricing and how to answer clients’ questions. Even more basic stuff like, “Is this sketch good?”
Monica: It’s reassuring, too. It helps just being in the same room as people who are doing things that are creative. I think it’s a pretty tough industry to get into and it’s nice to see other friends at the same point. We’re all trying to get to the same place. I don’t know what I would do if not for the studio at this point. I feel so at home here.
Leah: And we’re always so excited for each other when we get jobs! And we also get really mad at things together.
Monica: Also, Leah has been helping me get better at Instagram! She is amazing at it.
Leah: No, you’re really good at it, but you don’t post enough. I grade her Instagrams. "A minus."

Illustration by Monica

Illustration by Leah

What do y’all like to do together that’s not work?
Leah: Go to Vanessa’s Dumplings.
Monica: Yes, dumplings.
Leah: Go to the movies, buy plants… we love to go plant shopping.
Monica: We had a poker night before! We also love to go to ceramics together.

Tell me more about your pop-up shop.
Leah: It’s gonna be in Greenpoint!
Monica: Originally we were thinking of doing a gallery show but then as we were making things it just seemed like a lot of the things were functional so it would be better as a pop-up.
Leah: I think even though Monica does more group shows in a fine arts context, I think our ceramics are more commercial and it makes sense to sell them that way.
Monica: And we wanna be more in control of how our ceramics are sold.
Leah: I think having these nice little home objects that are decorative and affordable is relevant to our interests right now, and we have some other friends who are putting stuff in the show, like quilts and jewelry.
Monica: We’ve been talking about shelves. It’s a totally empty space so we get to put whatever we want in there. It’s gonna be so much fun.

Friday Download: December 27, 2013

We made it to the end of the year, y'all. And while we don't have a comprehensive breakdown of everything that happened this year (the internet told us it would explode if another "Year End" list was made), our links do have some things to look forward to in 2014, and some good cheer to take us into the new year. See everyone in 2014! Katie

Stereogum 100 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014
Okay, we're including one end-of-year list, but it's a good one. We love Stereogum's Most Anticipated Albums of 2014 list because it doesn't recap a bunch of stuff that's already happened, but rather a bunch of albums coming out that we can look forward to. *Waits patiently for new Robyn.*

Pitchfork Guide to NYE
The Pitchfork Guide to NYE is exactly that - a guide to some of the coolest shows happening across the globe on New Year's Eve. Sure, it's easy for NYE to be the worst (forced fun and drunk bros), but getting a chance to see your favorite band makes everything just a littttle bit better.

Yuck "Somewhere"
I'm happy that these guys are back this year, and to end the year with a new video was a good way to go out. This song also makes me feel super nostalgic and mopey, and if that isn't fitting for the end of the year, then I don't know what is.

Couple Shoots Up-inspired Photos

This is just a cute, cute, cute "oh-my-god-I'm-crying" story about a couple (married for 61 years) who shot some photos inspired by the movie Up. It is just adorable, and will take us all into 2014 with smiles on our faces and songs in our hearts.

Photo Diary: Art Basel Miami Beach

Photo Diary by Jackie Linton

Art Basel Miami Beach is a mad dash; by cab, foot or rented bike, it’s nearly impossible to see all the absurdity, abundance and amazement that the fairs, events and parties have to offerespecially if you sometimes secretly just want to be at the beach! Banner planes fly overhead promoting energy drinks and club nights, and soon enough, once you’ve immersed yourself in the culture of this art week, it won’t seem foreign or unappetizing, to consider either option. There are certainly more things I wish I saw and experienced while I was there, but I’m already looking forward to next year. Here are some of my highlights from three top art fairs, and my first trip to Miami. 

With UNTITLED. Fair only in its second year, it was impressive to see it located right at the beach on Ocean Drive. My favorite galleries included Cooper ColeBeverly’s, and Rawson Projects, as well as this sculpture by Allen Glatter.

If you take an even casual interest in cars, there’s plenty to see outside the fairs—this '60s Porsche 550 Spyder is a legend for being the car that James Dean famously crashed. It's practically a pop art installation in itself.
On the way into Art Basel Miami, I stopped by Printed Matter, one of the best artist edition bookstores, as well as the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to print culture. Here’s Jordan and Keith manning the booth. They had just released a new art book edition, Sender, with photographer Peter Sutherland.

It was cool to see the latest issue of Bad Day there too.

Art Basel is colossal; the whole thing is so definitive that it's difficult to describe it with any shade of personality. Pretty much every established artist in the world is on display. All of it is very institutional, and yet, here I am taking a picture of my reflection against a mirror with garbage.

Many people were attracted to this optical piece Female Stretch by Evan Penny at Sperone Westwater.

As a lot of the work on show draws attention to the spectacle of art and commodity, there’s no better example than Barbara Kruger, showing Untitled (Value) at Mary Boone.

You’ll hear people tell you that NADA Art Miami is the best art fair to see, and this is fairly true. It certainly shows the most international showcase of emerging artists and galleries. It's also a fair with a great sense of humor, which I like. Here’s an artist edition T-shirt that Andrew Kuo made on sale outside. 

Running through the show quickly, I was most taken by this piece by Margaret Lee at Jack Hanley Gallery. I love her use of dots with a ceramic dalmatian, as well as the sense of utility and playfulness. 

Another great thing about NADA is it backs out onto a hotel pool. Really great to combine these two Miami must-dos in one place!

I ran into UO's Assistant Photo Director, Julia Sadler, down by the beach!

More cars for Piston Head in the Herzog & de Meuron parking garage where a whole floor was transformed with artist-commissioned vintage cars. Here’s a classic Buick, once painted by Keith Haring. 

Later, on the final night of the weekend, Bad Day hosted a party with Petra Collins. It was great to relax, see everyone one last time, and celebrate the insanity. We're already talking about what to do for next year!

Dana’s purse was a real weekend party trick. Woof!

Jackie Linton is the Publisher of Bad Day Magazine, a biannual arts and culture magazine. You can find her writing at Alldayeveryday and you can follow her on Twitter @linton_weeks!

Read Your Heart Out: Kim Krans

For this series, we've been reaching out to some of our favorite people to ask for themed book suggestions. We then make those books available for you to purchase online. Easy! What better way to get to know some authors you might have overlooked?

For this installment,
we spoke to Kim Krans, the incredibly talented artist behind The Wild Unknown. In the spirit of the season, we found out what books Kim recommends to keep the mind mystical.
(Photo above by Daniel Arnold)

Kim's choices:

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges
"The perfect bedtime book for anyone with a mystical mind. Borges tells the tales of over a hundred magical creatures, the likes of which you’ve never imagined before. My very favorites are the Animals That Live Inside The Mirror. And then there’s the classic tales of the Phoenix, Fairies, Gnomes, and Dragons. Oh but wait… you’ve never heard their stories told like this before."

The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda
"If you want to fall asleep at night and feel like you’re steering the dream wheel (at least a little bit), this is the book for you. Don Juan drops super knowledge on how to be a true 'sorcerer' and walk consciously through the sleeping hours. Believe it or not, your dream life is there for the taking – it’s just a matter of practice."

Shakti Woman by Vicki Noble
"Ladies, its time to get down with the Dark Goddess. Here’s why: Vicki Noble (author of the Motherpeace Tarot) gives us like a million reasons why not acknowledging this force within keeps us from finding inner peace, true creativity, and power. And then she gives us lots of ways to unearth this shakti, allowing it to unfold and brighten our lives. Ladies night book club, here we come."

Dune by Frank Herbert
"For years I made the mistake of thinking this was a sci-fi book for dudes only. Totally wrong. This is the most beautiful, spiritual, and intensely yogic story ever told. I am obsessed. If stranded on a desert island and I had to pick one book, this would be it. It’s wild and otherworldly and will have you sweating and crying at the same time. HBO, will you make a series out of this please?"

Shop The Wild Unknown Tarot

Interview: Moffat Nyangau

19-years-old Moffat Nyangau is an illustration student at Rhode Island School of Design. Moffat moved to the US as a young boy and, inspired by American cartoons, he started to draw. Last year, Moffat visited our Urban Outfitters SoHo store and ended up submitting drawings for a sketch contest at UO's Night Outinspired by our Women's Silence + Noise design Fall 2013 concept

The sweater featured in these photos come from his winning design, which (along with a cash prize) was chosen by Dossier Journal’s Polina Aronova, stylist Doria Santlofer, designer Katie Gallagher and Urban Outfitters’ very own Marissa Maximo to be turned from rough draft into reality.

Hi Moffat! Give us a description of your background.
I moved from Kenya, Africa around the year 2001 and continued to grow with the American culture, which at an early age influenced my love for art—all these new things widen my vision of what could be. Now I attend Rhode Island School of Design.

How did you get involved with the competition?
My friends and I were at UO's Night Out to see Icona Pop. While they were setting up, we went upstairs and found the competition was still going on, so I entered.

Silence + Noise X Moffat Nyangau Intarsia Knit Pullover Sweater

Describe your winning design!
It's a combination of a cat, fish scales and water. The cat would be centered, and it was also my intention to give it huge Buddha beads and added gold to make it look very ancient and majestic.

What was your initial reaction when you heard you won?
It was a lot more than I could handle! It was just another regular day of me checking my mail. It took a couple of minutes to register that I had won, which isn’t something I thought would happen. I walked around the room cheering, but no actual words coming out, rolling my arm in the air.

What's your personal style like?
I’ve grown in style of what I’ve worn over the years after having seen what other is out there, from what was only limited to me. I'm an Urban dresser. I wear anything from my granddad's sweaters to Obey and Stussy. The kinds of shirts I like to wear are simple and less graphic. I’m still trying to find new styles that are better than the last, while still maturing with my age — I can’t dress the same way forever.

What's your dream label to design for?
Obey. I love the color choices, which influence me in a lot of ways as an artist.

What do you want to do in the future?
Illustration for a published comic book company, which is something I really want to accomplish—specifically drawing for a continuing Superman story and some of it's covers. I love to create from my mind and create stories. Animation would be next in line — being able to bring ideas to life. My goal is to spread the magic of art to another child, like it was to me. Thanks to constantly watching Dragonball Z, my love for art grew into every form. 

Be honest. Are you going to buy the sweater?
Without question. Seeing something I have made displayed in Urban Outfitters is an achievement worthy of doing so. 

Moffat's Original Design  
Why would you want to collaborate with Urban Outfitters?
"I would like to introduce people to my unique sense of style, so that I'm not the only one dressing like this."

BloodMilk Jewelry

BloodMilk Jewelry, based right here in Philadelphia, has some awesomely creepy  jewelry for sale. Whether it's the owl skull rings pictured above, or the bear tooth engagement ring, there's something for everybody (assuming everybody you know has a penchant for skulls and teeth). I know if someone proposed to me with a bear tooth ring I'd have a hard time saying no. (Hint hint, Scott Speedman. HINT! HINT!) —Katie

Recap: Station to Station Happening, Los Angeles

For three days last week, I joined the merry band of artists, musicians, craftspeople, chefs, coworkers and documentarians on Doug Aitken’s cross-country art train for Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening, made possible by Levi’s®. —Dave

I nearly bumped into Beck walking out of an art yurt. That was how my Station to Station journey began, really.

I had wandered onto the South Patio at Union Station to find crews in the process of setting up for LA Happening. The guys from No Age checked amps and drums at the center of a formal garden. Film crews milled about, preparing and documenting. Artists from Folk Fibers and Junkyard Jeans crafted their wares in the skeletal Levi’s® Makers tent. 

And in the middle of it all, I found the Station to Station yurts. So I did what you’re supposed to do: I explored.

Ernesto Neto’s monochromatic, biomorphic interior, begging to be touched.

Photo via Misha Vladimirskiy

Kenneth Anger’s blood red videodome, with a pentagram-shaped seat from which to reckon with his experimental films.

Photo via Misha Vladimirskiy

A hallucinogenic disco nap in Urs Fischer’s glimmering, smoke-filled dream bed.

Photo via Misha Vladimirskiy

And finally, a light-absorbing felt maze from Liz Glynn. During the proper operating hours of the Happening, Glynn could be found inside her creation, lecturing visitors on the history of the universe. But during my visit, no one was there. Until I walked out. And that’s when I nearly bumped into Beck! So we did what two guys on either end of a cosmic art yurt experience would do: we nodded politely and went our separate ways. Bottles and cans and just clap your hands.

Photo via Misha Vladimirskiy

After that, it wasn’t very long until the front gates opened and the Happening began. People filtered in, exploring the grounds and experiencing the yurts as I had done. Then, from the depths of the train station marched a procession of drummers led by world champion whip cracker Chris “The Whip Guy” Camp. They led a crowd to the center of the South Patio, passing the torch of performance to No Age.


No Age played a sprawling, noisy instrumental set, at times sounding very much like the train at the philosophical center of the Station to Station project. They skronked, thunked, willed feedback from contact mics and then they were done.  

The crowd broke up and wandered through the giant space, ultimately catching on to the fact that the show was continuing inside the massive space of the station’s original Ticket Lobby. So inside we went to find legendary Jamaican reggae group The Congos performing with Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras and friends. It’s a combination that barely makes sense on paper, but the result is a kind of slightly glitchy take on roots reggae that feels entirely right on.

Art films played as sound crews switched stage rigs between sets. And before long, Dan Deacon was ready to party. Set up on the floor at the foot of the stage, in the crowd and of the crowd, Deacon led the room through one of his undeniably (almost aggressively) fun performances. Tweaking an improvised hypercolor sound board and singing through a haze of pitch-altered vocal effects, Deacon was hilarious, engaging and completely insistent that you join his dance party. Late in the set, audience members used his Dan Deacon iPhone app (it’s available for Android, too), creating an interactive light and sound show powered by Deacon’s music. Felt a bit like the future.

After another short break, headliner Beck took the stage. His set was created specifically for the Station to Station shows and featured an absolutely massive Gospel choir, who lent disembodied voices to a chilling “The Golden Age,” singing from the sidelines before joining Beck on stage for the remainder of the night. Things quickly went to church, as the choir bolstered down-home renditions of “One Foot in the Grave,”  “Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods” and “Where It’s At.”

Beck’s set felt at once informed by and dislodged from the past; songs old and new, reimagined with Gospel choir force and performed in a forgotten wing of the last great American railroad station. The place itself held significance for Beck, who grew up in LA and spent childhood days reading in the station's lobby. He has fond memories of Union Station. I think I’ll have them too.

I took the Metro Rail back to my hotel. There was an after-party there. I stopped in, but I didn’t stay long. I needed to get some rest. The next morning, I was getting on the Station to Station train for an epic 12-hour journey to Oakland. More to come...

Visit the Station to Station site for additional (incredible) coverage.

Shop: Women's Levi’s® / Men's Levi’s®

Toro Y Moi: "Rose Quartz"

Toro Y Moi just released this magnificent video for "Rose Quartz," off his third upcoming record, Anything in Return. Created by artist Lauren Gregory, the video depicts lead singer Chaz Bundick (as well as his backing band) as a moving painting. I've never seen such a visually interesting music video in my life! Toro Y Moi's slow jam goes along quite well with this painterly stop motion-like animation - oh, and not to mention all of that lovely glitter. I'm pretty sure something like this could only be imagined from a dream. Too cool. Anything in Return is out on Carpark Records on January 22nd. Maddie

Friday the 13th Tattoos

Ben Kopp

It's Friday the 13th so you know what that means... it's time to dig through your couch and old purses for some change to take to TD Bank, so you can scrounge up enough money to get a $13 tattoo of something FT13th-inspired!  

We know tattoos last like, a really long time or whatever, so to make it easier for you to choose on this super-duper-stitious day, our lovely team in the art department have provided us with awesome designs to share with you! 

It's simple: Just print one of these bad boys out, take it to your local parlor, and get it tattooed on you! We suggest your face as the best possible spot.

P.S. If you DO happen to get one done, please send us an email of it at! —Ally

This tattoo will remain timeless as your body withers away and dies.

And it's only 13 calories!

What a tough pussy.


I feel like I just lost 10 years of my life by just POSTING this last one.

Ben Sifel
2 cute 2 resist. Seriously, try to tell me with a straight face you don't want this right now.

Judy Gelles: Fourth Grade Project

Right now Judy Gelles portrait series, titled “Fourth Grade Project,” is available for viewing at the Gallery at 543 Urban Outfitters at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia (5000 S. Broad St.). The photos will be on display from September 4 – October 3, Monday-Friday 8-5.

For this project, Gelles spent the last 4 years photographing children of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. To get a sense of their various upbringings, Gelles asked the children the same three questions to see how their answers would differ: With whom do you live? What do you wish for? What do you worry about? These simple questions prove to show a lot more about the childrens' lives than one might think. The entire exhibit is definitely worth a look if you find yourself in the Philadelphia area in the next month. —Katie

Cartoons at NYFW

In honor of the start of NYFW, Swagger New York put up a really fun post that features 6 cartoons from the '90s all decked out in designer clothes. My favorite is Sailor Moon up there. SO CUTE. The designer, Michele Moricci, also put the characters in actual clothes from the designers' F/W '13 shows. Daria is looking so elegantè. —Katie
(via R29)

2nd Annual Teen Creeps Art Exhibition

Not busy next Friday? Then I've found something cool for you to do. On Friday, September 6th at The Vex in Los Angeles, the 2nd Annual Teen Creeps Art Exhibition, sponsored by Vans, Blood Is The New Black, and Origami Vinyl is happening. Named after the No Age song, "Teen Creeps," the event is being put on for a second year by Clara Polito, whom you may have heard of because of her awesome baking company, Clara Cakes. The art show has an excellent DIY mentality, and features artwork created by teenagers of LA. Admission is free, but make sure you bring a little cash for tasty treats that will be sold at the show, and wear your dancing shoes because there will be performances by Cherry Glazerr and Party Jail, plus a DJ set by Origami Vinyl. Come out and support independent art! RSVP here!

Interview: Tepsic Magazine

Tepsic Magazine is the large-format brainchild of Morgan Tepsic, who sends customized disposable cameras to artists and asks them to document their lives. The results are poster-sized spreads of a rarely seen perspective; a trip behind the scenes with musicians like recent cover subjects A$AP Rocky and Toro Y Moi. I spoke with Morgan about the simplicity of disposable cameras, making a DIY magazine and what's next for the mag. Angelo

When did you first realize you wanted to make magazines?
I don't think I ever realized that I wanted to make magazines, really. I just really wanted to share with people great pictures and art from artists that I really respected and liked. I guess magazines were really just the cheapest outlet for me to get stuff I liked out there. The first time I worked on a magazine was in 2009 when I contributed some weird art for a friend's zine. But I wanted to take a concept of a magazine and see how far I could take it.

What drew you to disposable cameras?
The most important thing to me was getting cameras out to as many artists as possible, and so that really left me with no other choice than disposable cameras. But then after I began decorating them for the artists, I really embraced the realness that disposable cameras capture. It can be spontaneously glamorous at times and capture the energy of the night really well, because people aren't afraid of being themselves with a dinky, funky looking camera around. The camera becomes a part of the party and knows that the next night everyone is gonna forget about the pics they took anyway. That's the beauty of it. A camera that's hidden in plain sight.

To me, the large format is nostalgic to when my room used to be plastered with posters and magazine covers. Is that a vibe you were going for? 
Exactly. I remember my brother having a stack of Transworld mags that went up like 5 feet, and I would just spend all day picking out my favorite pics from different issues. I never understood why music magazines were heavily focused on the opinion-side of things. If I had the choice to pay good money to spend on nothing but dope pictures or pages filled with opinions I may not agree with and corny interviews, I'm gonna want the pics every time. I'm doing the magazine for those people who dig looking at pictures.

How do you typically approach an artist you want to feature? How has the response been from musicians?
The approach has always been from the standpoint of a fan. Once the artist realizes that there is a mutual understanding of art in its many forms and how their contribution would be dope, then it's cake. The response has definitely changed since the first issue. I got ignored by a lot of artists that I ended up printing in future issues because THEY contacted me. Just goes to show being persistent pays off.

People like A$AP Rocky, Toro Y Moi, even Anthony Bourdain — those are huge gets. Do you feel like now nobody is out of your reach? Who's somebody huge you would love to feature in Tepsic, or can you give a hint at who might show up in the next issue or two?
Nobody is out of my reach. I may not get an artist immediately when I want to, but I usually find a way to eventually explain to their crew what I'm doing is something they need to be a part of. I'm never going to give out hints of who's in the next issue, but I will say that I would print an entire issue shot by Kanye if I ever got the chance. I need to get that on the record just in case he's out there shopping on UO or something.

The mag is almost entirely image based. Is that a direct refusal of text-heavy publications? Do you plan to feature more writing in the future or is Tepsic inherently an image driven project? 
I'm not going to say I'll never feature writing in the magazine, because at the end of the day it's a magazine created by the artists if an artist felt the need to express themselves using text, then I wouldn't be opposed to it. But as for now, I like to keep it with as many photos as possible without anything you don't need. I'm creating a personal commentary between the pictures the artists take and the readers of the magazine. 

What advice would you give to kids who want to make magazines but think it might be too hard or expensive?
If you're strapped for cash use a Xerox machine and do what you can. Letting loose of your creative side is the best thing you can do for your mind. Even if the project you're working on kinda sucks, it's still one step closer to another great idea/project/whatever. The first magazines I ever made were used making a simple word-processing app that was free, and if you don't have a computer then I'm wondering how you can read this right now.

Who are 3 artists you're especially digging right now?
Kanye, Drake, DJ Shadow 

Where do you see Tepsic in 3.66 years? 

I'm not gonna stop evolving and changing how I deliver the message of Tepsic. Times change, people change what they like, technology changes how we see things and I change my mind pretty much every 30 minutes. But if you stick around for the ride, I guarantee the journey is exciting to watch.

Carla McRae

I'm really loving Aussie illustrator Carla McRae's cute and colorful illustrations which are of everything from sailors and sk8r girls to some of my favorite musicians like Claire Boucher and Cassie Ramone. I'm also into her Grumpy Girl t-shirt which is just perfect for every life situation in which you seriously don't wanna talk to anyone. Hazel

Interview: Emily Spivack of Sentimental Value

Emily Spivack curates Sentimental Value, a website that focuses on the stories behind clothing items on eBay, and she spoke to us about the site's beginnings, her plans for the future, and the craziest stories she's come across.
Interview by Katie Gregory

Hi Emily! Introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about Sentimental Value.

Sure! So, I started Sentimental Value as a web-based art project back in 2007. I’d been spending time on eBay for years and I’d always been interested in vintage clothing and weird tchotchkes, all the fun random things that you could find on eBay, clothing and beyond.

One day I think I was looking for a pair of vintage heels and I came upon this Playboy bunny costume from the mid-'60s; it was complete with the earpiece, the tail, the stockings, and it had the vintage heels and everything the woman would wear. It also came with her ID card. It was like a very basic black and white photo of this woman. It was fascinating. Obviously I didn’t bid on the shoes because the whole thing was expensive since it was a collector’s piece and I didn’t need the rest of the bunny outfit [laughs], but it was this moment where I was like wow, there are people and stories behind these things being sold, and really seeing a name and face with the garment, and in that instance the contrast between the ID photo and the more extravagant outfit, that was the moment when I had the idea for Sentimental Value.

After that, I started looking around on eBay to see if there were any more stories I could find. Once I did, I started putting them on the website, and then in 2010 I started bidding on the actual items. On the website I’ve collected about 600 stories and I probably have about 60 physical objects in my collection. [A selection of which are on display now at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.]

Is there anything in particular you like to search for on eBay or do you just dig around?
I sort of just do a lot of digging around. I know that vintage things are going to tend to have more of a story, obviously. A lot of the time a story might be kind of basic and not all that interesting, but just when you think you won’t find anything else, you find another incredible story.

Anything you tried to bid on but lost out on at the last minute?
One thing I feel like I should have bid on but I did not was this Jawbreaker hoodie. It was this incredible story, but it was expensive. I don’t just bid on anything because it’s like a weird thing to bid on these items since I’m not wearing them, but I should have bid on this because the story is just incredible. It’s a love story, it talks about Myspace; it kind of taps into all the elements of why I like this project.

What’s one of the craziest stories you’ve come across?
There’s a pretty amazing story about a woman who would shop in her sleep. Things would arrive in the mail and she’d have no recollection of purchasing them and they wouldn’t be things she’d normally purchase. She realized that she was sleep shopping. She had to set her alarm every night to remember to check and see if she had bid on anything the night before.

And you also have a book coming out soon. Is that tied to Sentimental Value?
It’s a different project, a different website. It’s called Worn Stories. That’s where I go and interview people about a piece of clothing that has some story, memory or extraordinary event attached it. Sentimental Value, everything is really found, but with Worn Stories I’m going in and talking to lots of different people, and the book will be coming out in 2014 on Princeton Architectural Press.

And where do you keep all the things you buy for Sentimental Value?
[Laughs] Well, I have a spare closet and I try to keep it all organized in bins in this extra closet. Eventually I’m going to have to figure out something else because that can only last so long. If this project keeps going, and I can’t imagine it ending anytime soon, I’m going to outgrow the closet at some point!

How to Take Dreamy Photos

Photography is fun, I mean really fun, so much so that I've decided to study it at school. It is also a really cool hobby, where you can learn to use tons of awesome cameras and film to create some of the dreamiest photos you'll ever see by taking multiple exposures, light-painting, and more, all with your film camera. Lomography and The Impossible Project will help you create photographs that look like they're from another magical world! Maddie

Lomography Diana + Dreamer Camera
The Diana camera takes wonderful photos, and this one is mini, so you can take it anywhere. This will create lovely, lo-fi images.

Lomography Fisheye Baby 110 Camera
Make all your photos warped with an awesome fisheye camera. This allows you to get a slightly wider shot.

Disposable Camera
If you're not ready to buy a whole new camera to make effects, get one of these great disposable ones! They transpose a funny image, like unicorns, rainbows, and other crazy shit, onto the photograph you take. Something you can only create with this magical camera!

Lomography 35mm Color Negative Film - Pack of 3
This film is a great starter for all of your dreamy photos. You can use it in any 35mm film camera, and it'll give you bright hues, plus lovely light leaks when your camera allows!

Lomography 35mm 400 Speed Black & White Negative Film - Pack of 3
I feel like everything looks dreamier and prettier in black and white.

Vintage Polaroid 600 Camera Kit by Impossible Project
Polaroid cameras and film create the perfect aged photograph without an Instagram filter! Here's a little bundle that gives you the camera, black and white film, and color film.

Shop cameras and film.

Instagram Inspiration


BOOOOOOOM! has been running a Best of Instagram series over on their site and this week there's some great inspiration for you, especially if you're getting a little sick of gramming your pizza and cat. Hard to believe some of these are just camera photos! Use these to make your last snaps of summer the best they can be. —Katie






Interview: Amy Symonds from Calamity Pass Trading Company

Amy Symonds combines nature with artistic nurture to create beautiful hand-painted skulls and jewelry under the name Calamity Pass Trading Company. Below, she tells us about how her upbringing has influenced her, shares her work process, and teaches us what a spit bath is. Make sure to check out Amy's art, some which will be available for purchase at our new Malibu store opening on August 15!
Interview by Ally Mullen

Introduce yourself! Where are you from and what was your childhood like? Where do you live now?

Hi! I’m Amy Symonds, owner of Calamity Pass Trading Company. I live in the Never Summer Mountains, in a tiny Colorado town, very close to my childhood home where my father was the caretaker of an abandoned Fluorite mine. 

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I am a mother, a wife, a collector and creator. 

Your work uses a lot of found and recycled materials. How much did your upbringing play a part into the materials you use?
Major!! The mine was literally a ghost town on the jagged side of a mountain. We drove snow machines to meet the school bus! We were always outside, looking for rocks, bone or arrowheads from the Ute Indians. We would snoop through abandoned miners shacks left with food in cupboards even clothes in the closets. Our favorite shack had pictures of naked ladies plastered across the wall. There were huge old mine buildings to explore made of rusty corrugated steel. This is where I fell in love with old things.

In the summer, my sisters and I would sleep outside and lay awake listening to coyotes howl. I am still so connected to nature—the smell of dirt…the wild.

Isolated and stuck together, my father (a solid, quiet, outdoorsmen,) hauled in water for bathing and drinking, and showed us how to skin an elk. My mom (an eccentric artist and free-spirit) taught us how to conserve and reuse and how to sew fabulous costumes for impromptu back porch performances. I learned to look at things in different ways.

P.S. I can also take a mean “spit bath”. (it’s not really spit, it’s using a washcloth and a very little amount of water.) Thanks mom!

What are some of the materials you work with the most? Which is the hardest? The most fun?
Most materials I work with are from nature. Porcupine Quills are the hardest. The tiny bastards make your eyes cross and poke your fingers. The most fun are animal skulls. I believe they keep and radiate their amazing wild animal spirit. I love capturing that, making it something you can hold in your hand. 

How many animal skulls do you think you have you ever made?
About 40. 

What's the process like for making them?
I hike around and find them, or local ranchers drop them on my porch. I love skulls that are old and deteriorated, the ones with half a face that look like they have been to hell and back. I also buy them from a local animal control contractor. We work together to reuse every part of the animal possible.

Then, some skulls require cleaning. This is very gross and stinky. The only one who enjoys this part is my dog. Then I paint them. I prefer to use ink as it soaks in becoming part of the bone. I free hand tiny designs into the skull, creating a folky, colorful feel. 

How long do most skulls paintings take? What's the longest you've ever worked on one, and tell us what it was/what it looked like? 
Most take about two to four hours. The most complicated went down like this: I had just scored a rad rattlesnake skin at a Mountain Man Rendezvous. I was stupidly inspired. Do you know how long it takes to recreate snakeskin on a cow skull!? Like six damn hours.

Tell us about your other works of art! 
I make one-of-a kind jewelry pieces from spent bullet casings, porcupine quills, leather and stones.

You also work with crystals. Do you believe in all of the powers that people believe they hold? What's your favorite one? 
 Yes absolutely! When you feel something from this earth in your hand, it calms you, reconnects you. Fluorite is obviously my favorite by far! 

You spend a lot of time collecting materials… things must begin to add up. Do you hold off on using them until you're ready to create the right piece? If so, what do you have the most of? Do you ever keep anything for yourself? 
I admit I have some sheds. They’re (crammed) full of fabric and fur, vintage clothing mixed with rusty machinery parts, dirty cow skulls, old bottles and wire... some pitchforks. When creating my motto goes, “One for you, one for me.”

So you'll be taking part in the opening of our UO Malibu store. What types of products will you have for sale? Any plans for opening day? 
My skulls will be featured to sell in Malibu. I am dreaming of showing up with my husband on our Harley to celebrate the opening and then cruise Highway 1 for a few days. 

Why do you think your skulls are perfect for the Malibu customer? 
Malibu is the west. Although I have never been there, it seems not so traditionally western. Like my work, it’s free spirited and bohemian, yet still has a rugged western vibe.

Give us your favorite quote about nature.
“To see the world in a grain of sand, heaven in a wildflower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour” —William Blake

Interview: Rob Guillory of Chew

Rob Guillory is the artist behind Chew, the witty, gory, awesome-y comic that has become a favorite of mine and hordes of others over the past few years. Written by John Layman, Chew takes place in an alternate reality wherein food regulation has evolved to violent extremes. I talked with Guillory about the process behind making Chew come to life, sneaking in pop culture critiques and styling protagonist/cannibal Tony Chu. Angelo

What is your process like working with writer John Layman? Does the art or story take shape first?
John hits me with a full script first. His scripts are detailed enough to give me a feel for what he's envisioning, but loose enough to really let me experiment and put my own stamp on it. From there, I pencil, ink and color it (with my color assistant Taylor Wells). Then Layman letters it, and Image Comics shoots it to the printers. A standard issue takes about 5 weeks from start to finish.

I ask because I was wondering: there are tons of pop-culture references littered throughout Chew — things like TPS reports (from Office Space) and Paula Deen posters — do these things come from you or John or both?
I do about 90% of them. I'm the bigger pop culture fan of the two of us, so I just throw them in as fun little extra content. They're not crucial to the story, but they're fun bonuses for attentive readers.

Chew obviously deals a lot with modern food culture, processing, celebrity chefs — was this an area of interest to you before working on the comic?
Nope! I have a love/hate relationship with food, so I would've never come up with a food-centric comic. Layman loves food far more than I do.

If the FDA was really a militarized organization in 2013, who would they be busting?
I wish they'd bust the guy that thought serving a Lobster Sub at Quizno's was a good idea. He's a sick man.

Does Tony have a particular style? Do use any references for how Tony dresses?
Tony is a complete square, so when he's not in basic black suits, he's usually in muted colors. Because of his generally grim demeanor, I view him as sort of a former-Goth, so I always put him in drab unexciting clothes.

Your illustrations have a bit of the frenetic energy of a fashion sketch and details that make me think you're someone that pays attention to clothing. Is that just me projecting or do you have an interest in fashion?
I didn't have any interest in fashion... until I met my wife, who's big on fashion. So in the nearly ten years we've been together, I've developed a real appreciation for well-made clothing and accessories. My latest acquisition is a really sturdy bag from Chrome that is just friggin' EPIC.