Getting Crafty: photo safaris and collage nights done right!

At the end of last month Aver held two different workshops aimed straight at the crafty section of the brain. One of which was the Mission District edition of our first photo safari (lead by Laura Cohen, Mission local/surrealist photographer), the other was a field trip to collect supplies from the 50th Annual Big Book Sale at Fort Mason and then a full on collaborative collage session at lovely home of Travis White (our own filmmaking fiend). How did it go? Well we've got a detailed report on the proceedings below:

Rrrwar! Photo safari!!!

Starting out at Laura's house we got a quick history lesson on the Mission District and the various types of street art to be found in this hipster paradise. Then we tinkered around with her treasure trove of cameras, were given a rundown on how analog cameras and film work, and we were off! First we passed the Women's Building as it was recently retouched, enhancing the colors on the mural so they were bright enough to make a person pull out their sunglasses. Once we had an eyeful of the building we checked out Clarion Alley, which took a great deal of time as it's jam packed with an ever rotating cache of amazing murals, stencils, and stickers. From there we moved on to a stunning piece on 18th and Lexington by Andrew Schoultz and Aaron Noble, one of Colin's favorite murals. 

At this point we decided to stop at Dandelion Chocolate for some samples of their small batch artisanal treats and we took a moment to peek into the alternative art space known as Incline Gallery, where we may be curating a show in the coming months. After all the art and fancy chocolate we only had time to venture to 19th and Mission for a long look at a mural in progress of Mission hero Carlos Santana. Though we hardly saw a fraction of the district it was almost too much to take in, however that just means we will have to have a second safari in order to get through the wealth of street art offered in this chameleon of a neighborhood. 

- Laura Cohen


Rather than a play by play of our collage night, I'm going to talk about how after a couple of collage parties, I've noticed that each person approaches making collages with a unique method and vision.

Travis's method was to have a composition in mind, then seek out the clippings to assemble into his vision.My method involved flipping through all the available images, picking out ones that caught my eye individually, then finding a way to arrange them together. My approach was more the juxtaposition of a collection of separate elements, compared to Travis's approach of assembling a preimagined composition. It makes sense when you consider that Travis is a filmmaker in the business of telling stories through sound and image. While as a product designer I go through my day searching for and observing all the details within everyday objects that add up to making our lives more fulfilling and efficient. Eventually when it comes time to design something, I'm able to translate what I find into overall concepts that guide and direct the design of an object.

Ty's collage method appeared more similar to mine. However, there is an obvious contrast in the ultimate tone of our collages. I found that the collage that Ty made was thematic and interactively assembled.  Each individual clipping flowed from one to another and when put together and viewed from a distance presented a very unified piece of work.  Very similar to what goes on in any kind of graphic layout such as what Ty works with day to day as a graphic designer.  My collages were more along the lines of being stark representations of a concept against a void.   Another way I looked at it was the contrast between a close up photo of a Nebula in space versus staring into the night sky at a single star.   With a Nebula you are looking at something light-years across and even more light-years away, zoomed in close enough to discern the details.  Much as a graphic designer is able to layout something onto print that brings distant or abstract information into full view and understanding. 

As a product designer, my creations tend to be standalone objects. Although an extraordinary amount of care is put into the smallest details of any product, it is almost impossible to consider the merit of a designed object without viewing it against the backdrop of everything else in the world. My design mindset is constantly in a state of being outside the box and looking at the larger picture.  As a result, my collages end up being conceptions, viewed from an amateur telescope, compared to Ty's deliberately composed collages, the message clear and evident, no matter how abstract. The difference between losing yourself in the warmth of our own sun, despite never being able to look directly at it, as opposed to any other everdistant celestial body, known only though our sense of sight with the aid of telescopes and spectrometers, without any other way to connect with them.

There are eight collages below.  One each belong to Travis, Ty, and Jenni.  The rest are mine.  Can you tell which are whose?

- Colin Wang