A Name for a Chair

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 3 Comments

I mentioned I was redoing an old family high chair in the post about Laelia’s birthday inspiration board, and here is a peek! I took a long time to do this; at first I was going to strip off the old & peeling varnish, and then sand it all smooth and stain it some color, and then re-seal it–but then I couldn’t decide on a color to stain it (espresso like my dining room table and my bedroom furniture? Is that too dark for babies? Is that too much of that stain color all over my house? But that cherry walnut is just so 90s… etc,etc), and I also recognized how that whole process was just going to take to long and too much effort for the time being… So I decided to spray paint, instead of stain it, which did cut down on my prep time because I just had to give it a good sanding and then prime it, and then paint it and seal it. I was having trouble deciding a color for a while, but then I decided on white. Usually, I opt for a “color”, but I feel that making it white was the right choice, especially because I have been planning on painting our name in the space on the top of the chair since I first laid eyes on it.

This is the highchair all primed up before I spray painted it.

Doesn’t that space just scream “put something here”. Considering this chair came down from the Marés side and hopefully it will last more than one child, I hear it screaming “Marés”. Now, if I were my mother-in-law I’m sure I would do something by hand and not even think about sketching something out first, as she used to teach tole painting and work at a sign shop, but my husband and I don’t have as much practice with lettering, so we have to see about a million options first, and into the computer it goes. I traced the shape in illustrator, turned off the photo path and printed out the shape on a few sheets of paper for my husband and I to go to town filling in the shape.

Then, we decided on the elements we liked from what we drew, and I scanned it in, and then went to town on it in illustrator.

And now we just have to decide how to transfer it to the high chair (so I guess we aren’t really “painting” it, after all). There are a few methods to transfer a print to wood, and we haven’t exactly decided on what we will do yet. We can do a heat transfer, or we can just do something simple with mod podge and glue. We’ll see. Check back in soon to see the finished product!

Color Band Motif

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 2 Comments

I’m extremely drawn to color (hello, aren’t most humans?!). However, I’m particularly drawn to bands of color. I’ve been noticing this more and more as I compile images for inspiration and favorite things at places like etsy. Also, my bookshelf love probably has something to do with my more general love of many colored blocks placed near each other. I love how rectangles of varying shape, size and hue, aligned in a staggered formation come together to make something so simple, yet so dynamic and interesting to look at. I particularly enjoy how while the flow in one direction is seamless, it becomes jagged if your eye travels in opposite direction. I have compiled many images to showcase this particular motif, and how it is used in many aspects of art, design and everyday life.

Paint Square on Etsy

Motivational Prints by Orange Beautiful

Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing no 681 C, 1993


Saul Bass’ Fuller Paints Pole sculpture in Sacramento

Anna Maria Horner’s Volumes in Rose; It is all over my house.

Obviously, bookshelves fall into this motif

Scala, an instalation in Wuppertal, Germany by artist and professor Horst Gläsker

Aaron Jasinski’s old portfolio site, designed by Section Seven

The flash website of the group Section Seven is another great example of this. (And I’m not particularly fond of flash websites, but I think this site uses it well, even if it is old).

Vincent Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace At Night, 1888-detail

Maybe the impressionists and the post impressionists had the same attraction, or maybe that’s why I love impressionist paintings!

I’m not exactly sure how this attraction will come to fruition in my own work, but I have been thinking about making a quilt inspired by this concept one day, and I have some visions of watercolors floating around in my head. We’ll see! Does anyone know of other images that fit into this motif?

Update: This post is exactly what pinterest is good for. Check out my pinterest board color bands!

Costume Portfolio Online!

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Hi All! I just wanted to make a little note here on my blog that my costume portfolio is now online, despite the fact that I am still hunting down some photos for the press & photos section, and I don’t have all of the costumes I designed on display. I have a feeling I lost more files than I thought in the Great HD Crash of October 2010… Regardless, I wanted to mark the progress that I have made, and talk a little about the babystyle costumes.

Designing costumes was probably one of the most unexpected things I have had a chance to do in my career, but it also is something I have always wanted to do, and it turns out designing them is some of the most sheer fun you can have! It came to me pretty naturally. I just put myself back into my three-year old mindset, and thought, “would would I want to be? What small details would make me want to wear something, and would spark my imagination”. At least, that’s how I felt about the kid costumes I designed. When it came to the baby costumes, I would think about making a large stuffed animal that a baby could wear and become adorably cuddly, or incredibly sweet, or just plain funny.

One of the things babystyle was most well known for was our “Costume Boo-tique”. People would start searching for it in June. We usually released it in July, and the most popular costumes would sell out before the end of August… and then we’d see them sell on eBay for over $100. When I first started there in July of 2006, the costumes designed by the previous designer, Beth Albrecht (who was Beth Bilodeau at the time), had just hit. She designed the infamous peacock costume that you see at the end of every episode of 30 Rock. What’s funny is how hard Beth and the toy buyer had to fight to keep the peacock, and it ended up being the top seller! And that’s how I came into babystyle, with all this talk about the peacock, lol… I ended up designing a peacock bunting because it was so popular, and I had to pick a shorter pile plush fabric for the body because the original became too expensive — so you know that you have a more rare babystyle peacock costume if it has a slightly more royal blue long pile plush on the main body! The next year, the ladybug costume I designed was a huge hit, and the following year it was the witch costume (we had decided to really flesh out our toddler line that year). I had 3 costumes featured in People magazine’s 10 cutest costumes of 2008, and Britney Spears bought the lion and the turtle from the Sherman Oaks store for her boys.

Britney Spears has her boys in the Turtle and the Lion costumes.

Every January I would go with the VP of Product Development and Import Logistics (a.k.a. my boss) to Hong Kong for the annual toy show and to the plush factory in China to go over all the details and development of the new costumes. It was an incredible experience! The last line of costumes (also my favorite) I designed never hit the stores–two weeks to the day that we came back from overseas they pulled the plug on us. It was also the day our first dress up samples came in (I have one photo of the colonial dress from that day — see below). I still feel like it was such a shame. :( But now you can see some of the designs in my costume portfolio!

You can see me talking to the baby & kids designer Robin in the background, the rack of costumes on the right, and even Kitty is standing on some boxes!

And now I’m trying to figure out the best way to display hundreds of prints in an online forum…

First Birthday Inspiration Board

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 7 Comments

1) Tissue Garland inspired by Confetti System; to be assembled on a crafty day! (image: Confetti System).

2) My own Oberland Quilt from Anthroplogie; perfect for babies to play on, not perfect for muddy shoes, but this is machine washable! (image: Anthropologie)

3) 60s Print Liberty of London Platter from Target; I own it.

4) Pastel Beach Balls; to be tossed about during the party. Buy at least 3! Also maybe some of these.

5) Cake stands for dessert & finger food display; I own these exact three, plus another 4, so I think we are good… (Yes, I’m kinda obsessed with cake stands).  (image: Martha Stewart)

6) Cupcakes? I might to similarly decorated sugar cookies, and buy a cake from Porto’s bakery. (image: rainbow and cupcake cupcakes by Hello Naomi)

7) White vintage high chair; for Laelia to eat her  first cake in a special chair and have tons of balloons and ribbon tied to it. I’m in the middle of sanding and priming a chair that was in Tyler’s family–His mom said it was Blake and Olivia’s (his youngest siblings), but the manufacturer’s sticker says 10-11-82, putting it right around when he would have been starting solids!

8) Large, HUGE, round balloons. I kinda wanted these for my wedding, but I think it works better for this theme.  (image: Laura Baron, Martha Stewart.com)

9) Fabric bunting; I’ve been meaning to make one for Laelia’s room anyway! (image: Kate Landers Events)

10) Mini candy buffet? I already have the apothecary jars from my wedding candy buffet (which I still haven’t seen a photo of–and I never saw it at my wedding. /insert eternal sad face here) the cake stands, and I could make all the cute little labels easily, I just don’t know if I need it. This goes in the category of “If it works out, it works out, if not, nbd”. (image: Kate Landers Events)

11) Paper Pinwheels! I love how these double as decorations and favors. Also to be assembled on a craft day. (image: Jaimee Rose,  Michael McNamara, AZ Central).

12) Teal Floral Bliss Tunic by PerryFinalia; I finally picked a dress. I have loved this Amy Butler fabric forever, and I know I won’t get around to sewing a dress for her myself, and I think this is the perfect solution! Maybe I’ll knit a little shrug like I did here, but I think I’d be okay buying something too. I have a lot of freelance projects coming up…

13) Painted Fancy Frames as a photo prop; I have a few frames  (currently sans artwork) I could paint like this, and I’m sure I could find some on free craigslist or from friends and family. (image: can’t find original source. I know I’ve seen it on pinterest, please leave a comment if  you know it! Thanks!)

Yay! Now I have all my ideas in one place, and I can get started on the invites. Woo!


New Name: Visual Vocabulary

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 1 Comment

So, you may have noticed that I have a new name for my blog, visual vocabulary. It literally came to me in the middle of the night last week (I have trouble sleeping, because I’m always designing something in my head). I have been trying to determine what exactly I want this blog to be about for a long time now; a lot of people think blogs need to have a razor thin focus, and quite frankly, I just don’t want to be limited like that (I believe artists need to be limitless to really live up to their full potential)… and since this blog is primarily for me and my creative pursuits,  and not to please anyone else, I don’t think I need to make sure I only post about home decor, or art, or paper designers, or fashion, etc. So I want a name that sums all that up! And so when I thought about how on my resume I have “strong visual vocabulary” listed as a strength, I thought “DUH! That should be the name of my blog!”.

When I say I have a “strong visual vocabulary” I’m saying that I know and use a lot of terms relating to the visual world that the average person doesn’t know, or use, or even have the need to know or use. It’s about using language to describe what you see, and if you think about it, it’s not necessarily an easy task. Consider a situation in which you are asked to describe a photo. If you have a design or art background, hours and hours of sitting in meetings, critiques and art theory & criticism and art history classes have given you a robust set of words to pull from to describe something. But someone who lacks that background is usually limited to primary, secondary and occasionally tertiary colors, and basic words like “old”, “big”, etc.  I think it would be an interesting study to give people of varying backgrounds the same batch of photos, ask them to describe  them to each other, and then have them try to guess which photo they are describing. The outcome would perfectly illustrate the what I am talking about! How many times has someone described something to you, and when you finally saw it you thought, “this is not at all how I imagined it”. That is the power of visual vocabulary, for good or bad.

When you are a professional in the design world, part of your job is to interpret what the suits are saying, and reiterate using visual vocabulary. As with all jobs communication is key, but as designers a lot can get lost in interpretation. It’s of the utmost importance to use language to describe every detail to ensure that you and your client are on the same page. A tiny bout of arrogance in this manner can have disastrous consequences… for instance, I had a client that said she was doing a nautical line of girls clothing, and she wanted “nautical, but not geeky”. I said I totally understood what she meant. Our problem was that we had two totally different ideas of what “nautical, but not geeky” meant. I made her some graphics and she came back with “not literally nautical”. If I had asked her to elaborate a little more on what she wanted, perhaps she would have mentioned she didn’t want a literal interpretation of “nautical” before I drew a bunch of anchors and compasses and life rings. Lesson learned.

So, now that I have explained what the term means to me, let me explain how it relates to my blog. While words help us draw a picture in our imagination, an image can help us understand language. In fact, part of the reason why it can be so hard to talk about something visual is because the object does such a good job explaining itself by just sitting there and existing, and having someone look at it.  (Does it still exist if no one is looking at it? We will never know… ~.^) Words pale in comparison to an actual sighting. We draw so much from a vision that we know and understand with out the use of vocabulary; the image itself becomes a part of our vocabulary, even if it is silent. And so, since my blog is so focused on aesthetics, I thought I do a lot of my primary communication through images in addition to words, I felt that visual vocabulary summed it up.

Looking back, it’s totally not a surprise that someone who holds degrees in both fine arts and visual anthropology would end up with a blog called “visual vocabulary”. Hee. Also, I have other visions for this term… and I snagged it on etsy. Score! And so ends a post where I include no images, but I talk a lot about them. How self-reflective! Post-modern post is post-modern. >_>

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