Monday, November 26, 2012


I remember my job interview with Mariko. I was almost done with my classes at the University of Central Florida and I needed to get an internship. I had two great interviews with two different ad agencies and in both instances I was the second choice. It was great to come so close but frustrating to be just good enough to not get the position. I complained to a coworker at Starbucks about my struggle to find an internship. She worked briefly at the Arts and Cultural Alliance downtown and recommended that I call Mariko to see if she could offer me an internship. I took the number and called Mariko. She told me that the Arts and Cultural Alliance did not need any interns at the time, however, she did have her own side project and asked if I would be interested in helping her. I agreed and we decided to meet for an interview.

My car was broken down at the time and my friend Neill offered to drive me. As I was getting dressed I tried on a few conservative looks I had worn to the other interviews. Nothing felt right. I hadn't had any luck before so I wanted to take a risk this time. I decided to change into a bohemian shirt with a lovely blue trim and some sequin accents. When Neill came to pick me up he raised an eyebrow at my unconventional attire.

"Are you sure you want to wear that?"
"Yes" I said with confidence. "I've got a good feeling about this."

He drove me to the interview destination which was Dandelion Tea. I had never been before and I was expecting a formal restaurant. Dandelion was a small, bright green cafe tucked inside a renovated house. Neill said he would wait for my interview to be done and I headed inside.

I got their before Mariko and nervously thumbed through my portfolio while I waited. When she arrived I was surprised to find out that she was only a few years older than me. She was very nice, she asked me more questions about myself than anyone else I had interviewed with. She bought my food and took time going over my portfolio with me.

At the end of the interview she said that she would like to work with me. We made plans to meet again and I ran out to Neill's car. I was so happy I startled him from his nap.

"What? What's wrong? Did you get it?" he asked as he adjusted his seat back up.
"I GOT IT! I GOT IT!" I remember smiling from ear to ear.

It was an unusual project to say the least. There were late night meetings in backyards of people I had never met. I was spay painting canvas and rolling up plastic tarps. I was holding props and learning to listen for my cues which were timed to music. I remember not having any idea what I was doing. This had nothing to do with graphic design. But everyone I met was nice and the project seemed interesting so I decided to stick it out.

We were actually getting ready for our performance in the 2008 Orlando Fringe Festival. I had never been until that year so I didn't realize what a big deal it was until I was knee deep. We had one of the most complex set ups that had ever been at the Fringe Festival, and we couldn't get a drop of paint anywhere. I always had a towel with me just in case I spotted any stray drops. Everyday we had to move an enormous thirteen foot tall waterfall box in and out of the venue.

Once the performance started I had a hard time keeping up with my cues. By now I knew where they were but I was so enthralled by the performance that it was hard to pull myself away. Up until then I had only seen bits and pieces of the show, but now I was able to see how everything fit together and it was beautiful. Watching the excitement the audiences faces was extremely rewarding. I remember actually being happy to take dirty towels home from the show to wash them. I knew that if I was this happy doing laundry that this was something I need to stay involved in.

At the end of our run at the Fringe Festival Mariko thanked me for all of my help. I just remember looking at her and saying "You will never be rid of me". And I am proud to say that I have been with DRIP since that day. Now, aside from Mariko, I have been with the company the longest.

It took me a while but I found that one of the reasons I fell in love with DRIP was deeply rooted in my childhood. When I was younger I used to try to choreograph dances and plays to music with my younger siblings. As I got older I moved into other types of art. I almost forgot those childhood plays until years later when I found DRIP. In an unusual coincidence, I discovered that Mariko actually did the same thing with her siblings when she was younger.

I had also been through a rough year before joining DRIP and I recall that being a part of that production was one of the first times I had felt truly happy in a long time. That experience was also part of the inspiration for my tattoo. I wanted something to commemorate that for the first time in my life I felt like part of an artistic community. I have six hands done in the style of those found on cave paintings on my right shoulder. It reminds me of the connection I share with all artist who have come before me.

From that show at the Fringe Festival it has been about six years to get our own venue on International Drive. I can't express to you how good it feels to finally be open.

Light illuminating the smoke for our show. 

Dancers waiting in their places during one of the shows performances. 

Jessie splashing in water coming from one of the chandeliers. 

Jessie performing in a piece called "Cleanse". 

The rainbow of colors left on the floor after the show. 

People often ask me if I do any graphic design anymore. I would have to say no. I am immensely proud of what I was able to accomplish at the University of Central Florida and I have absolutely no regrets. I still use all of the knowledge I acquired even if it doesn't manifest in a traditional way. I have always loved art and I realized that as long as I am still making it I will be happy. 

I think that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to follow my instincts. Those instincts have let me to create my website, work with DRIP, and grow as an artist as well as an individual beyond anything I thought I could do. I am so glad that I let myself explore instead of following a narrow path. I firmly believe that the rewards are great if you take risks to do what you love. I have more than I ever thought I would and I owe it all to being open. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Abstracted Landscape

I was taking photos during a walk through Winter Park one day. In between some of the lavish houses was a wooden path that lead to a beautiful lakeside view. I took several photos that day - with great care to frame the scene and adjust the zoom. But this one became my favorite. 

I didn't realize it at the time, but as I slide my phone into my pocket I had accidentally taken one last shot. I managed to catch the edge of the dock and a skewed view of the landscape. I didn't know I had taken this photo until it was loaded on to my computer. I love the symmetry and the minimalist feel. It looks like a post modern painting until you tilt your head. I love this photo because it reminds me that despite all my effort accidental photos can sometimes turn out to be the best ones. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The River

My uncle has some property in Dunnellon, Florida where we occasionally go camping. His house borders the Withlacoochee River and it is brimming with wildlife and beautiful scenery. He has no direct neighbors and you can't see the road from the house. It is easy to forget that the modern world exists beyond the trees. Ever since I can remember we have always collectively referred to the area as "The River".

While here as a child I spent most of my time on the dock. Being on that small patch of wood over the water was like standing on the edge of the unknown. 

The early afternoon sun shining through the trees. 

The neighboring house next door. It looks like it has been abandoned since the 1960's. 

I went exploring in the abandoned house with my siblings and cousins. It was like being on a episode of "Life After People". The long forgotten clothing in the closets was the only thing not covered by a think layer of dirt and leaves. I did like this view of the ceiling. It had collapsed after years of neglect to reveal the robust greenery slowly consuming it inch by inch. 

The sun and its reflection meeting at dusk. 

My brother Jonathan and cousin Andy fishing off the dock. 

My sister Jennifer talking with her boyfriend after her college graduation. 

A view of the creamy evening sky melting into the landscape. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I was at the Blue Bird Bake Shop yet again to grab another delicious cupcake. As I was sitting on one of the lush stuffed chairs my eyes moved around the room. There is a lot to take in: the painting on the wall, the little blue bird statues lining the shelves, and the modest holiday display in the center of the room.

For me, the most striking part of the room was the area where the legs of the table meet the floor.

Although the bake shop is only a few years old the building it is housed in dates back much earlier. The dainty hexagon pattern is old and most likely the original flooring. It was probably white at one time but has mellowed into a soft cream color. The shiny blue legs of the metal table strike down to the floor in smooth, bold lines. They break up the delicate ceramic honeycomb. Modern gloss upon weathered tile.