Spend time... Making a beautiful you

Relax with Miyazaki, learn from McFetridge, reminisce about gay bars and more

Spend time making a brand new you

Over the past few weeks I kept seeing friends with these cute little avatar versions of themselves, with these great stylistic line weights and colors to them. I dug around and found they’re being made through Makowka Character Maker II, created by illustrator Lisa Makowka. There are so many fun options to play with, a ton of diverse representation, and basically every option you can imagine to make an avatar that really reflects you (or you know, make the ultimate anime version of yourself with horns and scars).

Spend time relaxing with Miyazaki

Playing into the trends of ambient viewing, ASMR, and lofi hip hop, HBO Max has released a 30 minute video featuring scenes from Studio Ghibli films with nature sounds placed over them. It's cool to see the films contextualized this way and the intended effect absolutely works. Leave this on like a screensaver for your TV and I bet your space will feel incredibly chill.

Spend time gayly reminiscing

More than a decade ago I met a couple of fantastic creatives, Jeremy Lin and Jamie Atherton, who at the time were making charming calendars with watercolored pictures. Jump to last month where I'm seeing reviews for a new book titled Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, written by the now married Jeremy Atherton Lin. Such a small world!

The book, which reads as part memoir/part historical look at the identity and politics of gay bars, is a blunt and colorful journey at what bars for queer people have been like over the last 50 or so years. As a queer person I found it to be the right mix of nostalgia paired with a sobering dose of modern clarity. I'm halfway through and I've loved every page so far.

Spend time learning from Geoff McFetridge

I'm sure many of you remember my fondness for Geoff McFetridge, graphic designer and fine artist. This video from 2013 is a talk he gave at the Walker Art Center, sharing how he thinks about design and making imagery, which to this day is still applicable as well inspiring. I respect Geoff so much because I feel like he really takes the time to stop and think about what his work means, something I feel like I’m really bad at.

In what I think is an interesting pairing, It's Nice That just recently spoke with Geoff in January and he speaks about how a single painting helped inform a body of work. Again, a lot of critical thinking and exploration, as well as heavy documentation. in order to get to a desired result.

Spend time learning about Japanese American artists

Artbound is an arts and culture documentary series that has a wealth of incredible programming that you can watch for free. There’s this wonderful episode that explores the history of Japanese American creatives and the profound impact they had on American culture, folks like Isamu Noguchi, Ruth Asawa, and S. Neil Fujita. It's incredibly inspiring but also eye-opening, especially the travesty of encampment and incarceration. I knew some about these artists but this episode taught me a lot as well.

Spend time chilling with Visible Cloaks

One of my favorite musicians who's work I come back too often is Visible Cloaks, the artist name of Spencer Doran. Last year they put together a mix for Études (also one of my favorite clothing brands) that features a beautifully chilled out collection of experimental, classic, and ambient tracks to soundtrack your day. When I really need to focus on a project this is a go-to mix for me.

Spend time in a fictional future

When I heard that author Kazuo Ishiguro had a new book coming out I was curious to see which direction he might take. I was a fan of Never Let Me Go, the slow burning emotional rollercoaster of a book that throws you for an incredible loop midway through. Seems like he’s playing in familiar territory once again with his new novel.

Klara and the Sun, seems to be about in the U.S. in the near future, in a world where technology has created a divided system of privilege (not far off from real life) and we follow the journey of Klara, who is an "artificial friend." I haven’t read too much about it because I don’t want to see any spoilers, though I’m hoping to start the book this weekend.

Spend time hiking with friends

I keep thinking that I need to spend more time outside, specifically, going on hikes. This piece really resonated with me, and interview by Julie Beck, who speaks to a group of guys who have been going on monthly hikes together for the last 25 years. Not gonna lie, it made me a little emotional, especially when they talk about how having one another got them through all the tough stuff life can hand you.

"I think it would have been hard for us to keep our friendship close without this hike. It’s been a lifetime of births, deaths, job changes, and moves."