anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Archive for the ‘Design + Creativity’ Category

24 Days of Making, Doing and Being: A Digital Advent Calendar

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The month of December has a tendency to pass in a flurry, the main focus concentrated on Christmas Day. The other days pass in anticipation, and often, a stress inducing countdown. December has become an extension of our overbooked, over-planned, over-digitized lives; a month where chaos and stress levels collide.

It’s cliché to say that we’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, that today, Christmas is an over-commercialized affair that’s about the procurement of things rather than generosity, caring and celebrating.

Given this frenzy, it’s no surprise that Christmas advertising and marketing works; it sells a cozy, slow image that we’re all craving. Families in pajama sets sitting by the fire smiling at each other (if only you invested in those pajamas, your family would be happy too). A cup of tea on the windowsill overlooking a snowy morning (make sure to buy this particular brand on tea, or your mornings won’t look like this). A couple on a winter walk through the woods (trust us, you can’t go on one of these walks without buying these boots).

Here’s the secret to that kind of living: you can’t buy your way to that feeling, you have to create it yourself.

For me, part of creating that seasonal magic has come in the form of an advent calendar. Growing up, every December meant the enjoyment of an advent calendar. There would always be more than one. Often, a beautifully illustrated one sent from relatives in Sweden, and the other one was an advent calendar that my mother had woven, each day made to hold a small slip of paper. My parents would write a note every night, so that it was the first thing I saw when I woke up the next morning. The note might say something fun that we would do that day (“build a gingerbread house”) or just be a reminder to enjoy the season (“curl up with a book and a cup of tea”). The advent wasn’t a countdown to Christmas, it was a way of making every day during the month of December special.

I have had that advent calendar hanging on the wall every single December since I can remember. Today, it’s a link to the past, an object that carries a lot of magical childhood memories. But it’s also a reminder of the present, the prompt to focus on the now and create a little magic every day during the holiday season.

This is a time of year focused on consumption. It’s a time of year that can be stressful. It’s a time of year that’s frantic. The U.S. version of my book Live Lagom comes out at the end of December, and I have been thinking a lot about how lagom applies to the holidays. Certainly, it means a little indulgence, in the form of a plethora of holiday cookies and glögg, Swedish mulled wine. But it also means balance. It means slowing down, spending time with family, taking winter walks. All the things that we often tell ourselves we will do, but never make the time for.

So this year, I’m putting together a digital advent calendar that’s focused on slowing down, creating and experiencing rather than consuming. The advent calendar will be in newsletter format, sent out every morning. It will include everything from holiday recipes to creative prompts, something new every day. You’re sure to find a little Scandinavian inspiration as well. The goal with this advent calendar is to help you create a little magic every day during the month of December, but also focus on slowing down, finding balance, breathing.

It all kicks off on Friday, December 1, 2017, so if you want to receive the advent calendar, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

 

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Written by Anna Brones

November 29, 2017 at 11:21

Welcoming the Darkness

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It’s so easy to complain about the lack of light this time of year, particularly after we have set our clocks back and the afternoon succumbs to darkness even earlier. Yet with that darkness comes a beautiful quietness and stillness that’s hard to find at other times of year.

The Scandinavian way to enjoy this is to bring in lots of candlelight. I’ve been lighting candles both in the morning and the afternoon, a way to welcome the darkness instead of falling prey to it. In Finnish, “kaamos” is the world that refers to the time of year when the sun doesn’t even rise, yet there is still a magical lightness that covers the winter landscape. It doesn’t matter if you live in a place of pure winter darkness or not, candles and a pot of tea or a cup of coffee always help.

So in the coming weeks, invite a friend over and have fika by candlelight. (Here’s a recipe for sourdough cardamom buns, if you are in the mood for a little baking)

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A couple of Scandinavian classics featured in the papercut above: the Kivi candleholders from Iittala and a teapot and mug in the Unikko design from Marimekko. Kivi means “stone” in Finnish, and the candleholder is a gentle nod to the fact that so much of Scandinavian design is influenced by nature. The Marimekko Unniko design dates back all the way to 1964, when the company’s founder Armi Ratia declared that the company would never print a flower pattern again. Designer Maija Isola thought otherwise, and came up with this iconic poppy print that is still used today, over half a century later.

 

Written by Anna Brones

November 9, 2017 at 10:44

2018 Desk Calendar with Papercut Illustrations

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I have always loved calendars. In fact this year, I’ve had three different calendars hanging in my office. Not because I need multiple reminders of what day it is, but because they all feature different artwork that I wanted to surround myself with as I work. Good daily inspiration.

When I was younger, I used to make calendars for Christmas presents, drawing a grid for the days of the week and separate illustration for each month. My parents would take me to Kinko’s to get color copies made so that I could give them away to all my family members.

This year I decided to revive the tradition (but with the help of a professional printer). But I wanted to do something just a little different.

Over the course of the years, I have found that with calendars that I like, I’ve often cut off the month/days once the year is over so that I can use the artwork, either to frame it or send to a friend. Why not have a calendar that’s made to be used in this way?

That’s what my 2018 desk calendar is. After the month is over, you’re intended to cut along the line on the back and turn it into a postcard. I’m hoping it inspires some handwritten notes, because who doesn’t like getting mail?

The calendars are 5×7″ and feature one of my original papercut illustrations every month. They are printed on recycled paper in Seattle, Washington. Each calendar is handwrapped, making it easy to give as a gift.

You can order a calendar here.

Written by Anna Brones

November 1, 2017 at 12:21

Comestible on Shortlist for Stack Awards 2017 ‘Best Use of Illustration’

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Ever since I read about a writer’s goal for 100 rejections a year, I have been trying harder to do more submissions, whether they are for writing, for residencies, for awards, etc. The idea of course is that if you aim for 100 rejections in a year, somewhere along the way, you’re going to get a response that says “yes” instead of “no.”

I decided to submit my indie food zine Comestible to the Stack Awards 2017, a selection of awards for independent magazines. These days, the indie mag scene is strong, and every time I go into the bookstore I am amazed (perhaps slightly overwhelmed as well) at the high caliber of content and editorial vision that is out there.

I submitted Comestible to the Best Use of Illustration category, since I think that’s a large part of what makes the publication different. The food media space is inundated with gorgeous food photography, and when I started Comestible I wanted something different. Every issue has featured my own papercut illustrations as well as drawn illustrations by some of my favorite illustrators, Jessie Kanelos Weiner for the issues in 2016 and Molly Reeder for the issues in 2017.

How shocked was I when I learned that Comestible had made it onto the shortlist of magazines for the award? Quite shocked! I am honored to have it be a part of a group of such incredible publications with creative and unique artwork. Check out the full list here.

Yet another reminder that it’s always worth it to put your work out there.

Image: Stack Magazines

Written by Anna Brones

October 25, 2017 at 12:03

Slow Fashion October: Mending

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Over the last month, Slow Fashion October has been running a series devoted to discussing slow fashion, challenging followers to discuss the who, why and what of slow fashion. This week’s prompt is “where.” When we think about the “where” in relationship to slow fashion, we often think about the places to purchase more sustainable items.

As my own relationship with slow fashion has developed, I have found that personally what has become more and more important are not necessarily the resources of where to get things, but the resources of where to gain knowledge about slow fashion skills.

In the world of fast fashion, where we impulse buy an item and then toss it out in exchange for something new the next week, we have lost some of our most basic skills that previous generations practiced on a regular basis, like mending a pair of pants, darning a pair of socks, altering a dress so that it fits just a little better.

As an interest in slow fashion grows, so does an interest in these time honored traditions of making sure that quality items endure a long life. If you’re new to the world of slow fashion, don’t start by googling “eco friendly jeans” – start by mending a hole in a pair you already have. Think of it in the sense of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Reduce your consumption by shopping less, and investing in quality items that will last. Reuse what you have by fixing something. Recycle by turning an old garment into something new entirely, or by physically recycling a garment, which helps to deal with the issue of textile waste.

I grew up with a mother who mended. I didn’t come around to it until the last few years, and I am very much a beginner. But that’s the beauty of mending; you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be someone who wants to add a little more life to a loved garment.

Mending means not only giving a garment new life, but it makes you an active participant in your wardrobe instead of a passive one. It makes you a creator and not just a consumer.

Here are some of my own favorite mending resources:

  • The Far Woods – sisters Sonya and Nina Montenegro are creative and resourceful, and not only do they share a lot of visible mending inspiration on their Instagram feed, they also offer a custom mending service.
  • Katrina Rodabaugh – a fiber artist turned slow fashion activist, Katrina Rodabaugh practices the beautiful art of traditional Japanese sashiko mending. She teaches workshops on the topic, and her blog and Instagram account are great resources for mending inspiration.
  • Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching and Darning by Raleigh Briggs – a great book published by Microcosm Publishing that offers all the basics that you need to feel confident about your mending skills.
  • Patagonia Worn Wear – If you ever see Patagonia’s Worn Wear truck roll into town, make sure to stop in and have an article of clothing mended. The outdoor apparel company’s initiative also has an online presence, where you can learn about how to take care of various types of outdoor clothing and technical gear as well as ask repair questions.

Written by Anna Brones

October 24, 2017 at 09:55

Adventure Journals

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What inspires you to get out and adventure?

That was the driving question behind this collection of three Adventure Journals, a special, limited edition collaboration with my friends over at Wylder Goods. Inspired by the pursuit of adventure – whether it’s a bike ride, a cup of coffee brewed outside, or a night under the stars – these journals are there to accompany you and provide a home for your thoughts, musings and ponderings.

They each feature one of my papercuts, and are printed by Scout Books in Portland, Oregon.

What makes these special:

  • 100% recycled Kraft cover!
  • 100% recycle white interior paper!
  • 100% awesome!

You can snag them in my shop or over on Wylder Goods.

Written by Anna Brones

June 30, 2017 at 14:31

‘I Look Like a Fisherman’ Greeting Cards

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In honor and support of the women who fish our seas, I teamed up with Salmon Sisters to make a limited edition of benefit greeting cards. They were inspired by the I Look Like a Farmer cards I did last fall.

The result is five different cards featuring papercuts of mine. The series is titled ‘I Look Like a Fisherman’ and 50% of proceeds will be donated to sponsoring a promising young female fishermen to attend the 2017 Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in Anchorage, Alaska.

The Summit takes place December 6-8, 2017, and is an incredible resource for fishermen getting started in the industry. Each set of five cards comes with five envelopes. The 5×7″ greeting cards are printed on 100 lb. cover Desert Storm Neenah Environment paper, FSC certified and 30% post consumer. The cards are printed in Seattle, Washington by women-owned printing company Girlie Press.

I love working on projects like these that highlight (and also support) the hard work of our food producers. You can buy a set of cards on the Salmon Sisters website or on my site

 

Written by Anna Brones

March 23, 2017 at 11:07