June 26, 2015

All Ice Cream, All The Time

I hear you say, "Hey Betty Turbo, will you ever get sick of drawing and painting ice cream?"  And I'm here to tell ya, NOTTTTT LIKELY!

The general inspiration of dessert is enhanced by ice cream's magical cold properties, which are related to my ice cold Alaska snow baby mojo. Unlike treats of the cake family (SO over it), ice cream never lost its magic once I peeked behind the curtain!  Most baked goods are less amazing to me now that I know how to make them.  I'm no ice cream PROFESSIONAL (minus those few days feeding gelato samples to Nicole Kidman) but I do make my own ice cream frequently, and despite knowing all the science-y bits about the process, still maintain my fascination and adoration.

Ice cream is a sweet, glorious treat for kiddos and adults alike. It can provide us interesting conversations about our behaviors towards food and consumption of indulgences of all kinds. It turns from goopy liquid into magic awesomeness because of science. It's going to be the highlight of our summer in this funky old house with no air conditioning because it's the best way to cool down. You really don't have to miss out if you're vegan or lactose-intolerant, because scientific advancements in the world of soy, almond, and coconut ice creams are really pretty great lately, and, well, fruit sorbets ALMOST count.

When some kind folks who had already collected some of my work asked me to show art at their ice cream shop this spring, I jumped at the chance and made a brand new batch of ice cream paintings for the occasion. Not only did my band of weirdos and I decide Frite and Scoop was our new favorite place on Earth, the weekend was barely over before we were trying to plan ANOTHER ice cream show, so now we're screenprinting a new series of ice cream posters to paper their walls in August. I'm not bored of it yet, are you??  (Hint: say no.)

I wanna help you stay cool this summer so I'm gonna send you some ice cream.  It's not the edible kind, but it will cool your spirit and you'll have to find the real life kind to chill out your physical self. I'll will send one winner the ice cream softie friend you see here and copy of each of the all-purpose ice cream cards you see in the photos above!

Get more information about "The Best" and these ice cream cards in my shop!  I actually have SIXTEEN items featuring ice cream for sale at the moment, and some of the paintings you see here are still available, so let me know if you have any questions!  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway - you can choose any or all of the entry options given for up to five chances. (The email you supply is only for me to contact you if you win.) Giveaway is open worldwide, for ages 18 and over, and will run a little over a week on account of holidays. (I'll be busy eating ice cream.) Winner will be chosen randomly July 6th and I will be contacting the winner via email. You must respond within 24 hours to claim your prize or a new winner will be chosen! No purchase necessary to win!

Note added 7/2: Seem to have some issues with the Rafflecopter widget, sorry for anyone having trouble!  The automatic tweet isn't linking correctly but I'll still validate all entries that shared it :P

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 16, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Rala

I'm back to introduce you to another fun shop!  The only thing I could think of that I know about Knoxville is how good The Tomato Head is and then I got really hungry thinking about it.  But I haven't visited since before today's guest was on the scene, so now I have another pin in my mental map. Take a peek inside Rala!

For starters, please tell me your name, what shop you represent, and where you are located:

Hello! I am Alaina Smith, and I manage a small shop in Knoxville, TN called Rala.

Are there any specialties your shop is known for?

We specialize in fantastic gifts and letterpress items. We love finding unique and funky printed paper to carry. It's fun to shop for cards for Rala, because I always have people in mind when I write an order.

What are five things I'd be sure to see if I wandered the neighborhood where your shop is located?

First of all, you would see the historic Tennessee Theatre across the street from us. You would also run into a man that dances and plays saxophone ­ he's fun. You would pass through Market Square: a large open shopping and dining area with a fountain and a stage. If you walk an extra block away you will see the radio station, WDVX. They are home to the Blue Plate Special, and they play lots of local bluegrass and country music. Lastly, you would see the Sunsphere. It's a giant gold disco ball in the sky and Knox locals love the thing.

What occasions do you think are most underrepresented in the world of greeting cards?

Good question: Probably "like" cards. Everyone makes love cards, but not everyone is in love. Many people are only in like.

Are you an artist or craftsperson yourself? If so, please tell me a little bit about what you create:

I am! I make simple leather goods and geometric jewelry under the brand name Cold Gold. I sell in
the store, on etsy, and through etsy wholesale. (( coldgold.etsy.com ))

Does your shop have any resident pets or mascots?

I wish! We've always joked about a shop cat. We do have a teeny tiny plastic pig that we hide notes to each other on. Where did that little guy go?

Describe the most exciting or weird customer you have ever had.

Oh goodness. We are in a downtown area, so we meet all the weirdos down here. There is a man that parks right outside our store and buffs his blue go cart car for hours.

If your shop had a coat of arms, what images would be on it, and what would your motto be?

There would be many cats. Like a herd of cats. And Dolly Parton, but dressed as a Catholic saint. And the coat of arms would probably be in the shape of a pie. Our motto would be something along the lines of "If you can't snuggle it, sing along to it, or eat it, what's the point?"

And lastly, because I'm Betty Turbo, I must ask: What is your favorite dessert?

Shoo­whee. That's a difficult question. My fave is angel food cake with whipped cream frosting and blueberries. It's the best. But I don't know, have you ever put a donut in the microwave? (Long live Liz Lemon).

June 9, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Paperish Mess

Howdy friends!  I've taken the time to ask a few juicy questions of some of the fine folks who carry my products in their shops.  I send my goodies out to many places I never get to visit, so I thought I should learn a little more about these habitats where you might find a Betty Turbo card in the wild!  Please check these folks out if you get a chance! I mean, they obviously have great taste...

For starters, please tell me your name, what shop you represent, and where you are located:

Sean Murty & Lisa Muscato (soon-to-be Murty! We just got engaged after 10 years of high school sweetheart-ness). The two of us own Paperish Mess in Chicago, IL. Located within the very cute neighborhood of Ukrainian Village.

Are there any specialties your shop is known for?

We sell handcrafted wares from over 100 different artists, focusing on stationery, jewelry, home decor, and art prints, among other handmade pieces. We also have a rotating gallery space where we host fine art openings, installations and the occasional pop-up shop!

What are five things I'd be sure to see if I wandered the neighborhood where your shop is located?

1.) Beautiful architecture-- Ukrainian Village is known for it's old churches nestled between apartment buildings-- each are breathtaking up close (but, really even from afar)!
2.) Super cute local businesses! Just within the past year, there's been so many new additions to Chicago Ave, It's been so fun to see the growth and development of our neighborhood and people investing themselves into creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
3.) Friendly smiles! We see so many neighbors-turned customers-turned friends walking around, enjoying the local offerings. We live just a two-minute walk away from the shop and just within those 2 minutes we often end up saying hi and chatting with upwards of five different people along the way! It's super fun.
4.) Trees! Trees are such a rarity in a big city and there are so many trees along the sidewalks and within backyards in Ukrainian Village! It makes for a really pretty walk while exploring the area.
5.) The skyline! Though it's not in our neighborhood, you can still see it very clearly from our intersection and it's so cool to be able to be a straight shot to downtown and enjoy the view, but be just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of major tourist attractions.  

Which occasions do you think are most underrepresented in the world of greeting cards?

House/Apartment warming cards, Sympathy cards, Graduation cards. People ask for them all the time, so we heard enough customer requests and made sure to make these selections available, among all of the other occasions too.

Are you an artist or craftsperson yourself?  If so, please tell me a little bit about what you create:

Yes! Lisa creates jewelry from vintage bookpages (this is how we got the name of the shop-- I always had little paperish messes around me!). Sean is a woodworker! We have a wood studio downstairs and you can often hear him hammering/sawing away on custom furniture projects, creating record crates for vinyl collectors and of course, more displays for the shop! :) 

Does your shop have any resident pets or mascots?

Oh yes, we do! Mishka! aka ShopKitty. She is usually asleep in a little drawer underneath the children's section

Describe the most exciting or weird customer you have ever had. 

It's probably not super exciting to anyone else, but to us-- it's great. We had been open just a few days and an adorable couple stopped in to purchase artwork for their house. It had been one of the biggest purchases we had rung up at that point. Pretty sure my hands were shaking as I entered the credit card number.  After that, they would stop in often for new pieces, eventually commissioning Sean to make them a coffee table, sending us a postcard of their baby boy's birth announcement, and often referring us for custom furniture projects. It's been so fun getting to know them over the years and we are incredibly grateful for all of the support they have shown to us, as is the same with all of our customers of course. :) 

If your shop had a coat of arms, what images would be on it, and what would your motto be?

A siamese kitty, a hammer and a writing pen. (stationery has quickly become one of our best-selling items, so we've become very stationery-focused over the past year especially). Our motto: "Pet Cats, Write More, Make Stuff."

And lastly, because I'm Betty Turbo, I must ask: What is your favorite dessert?

Lisa: PIE! or Napoleons. Yum. Sean: Coffee Ice Cream! or Starbursts. 

Check out more Paperish Mess on their website, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram!

June 8, 2015

New and Improved Radness on They Draw and Cook

Today's the day They Draw and Cook unleashes their brand new fancy updated website!  I've been a fan of theirs for some time now, and I'm really excited about the upgrades they've made.  As a viewer you can now bookmark your favorite recipes. As a contributing artist you now get your own profile page where you can link up to your other websites so folks can check out more of your work! It's also become super simplified to order prints when you find crushingly awesome recipe artwork you want to put on your wall.  I'm adding more recipes frequently!  Here is a recent addition I'm sure you need try for yourself: 

Let's be honest, my life is all rhubarb, all the time.

Please go scope out the site, and stay tuned because there are more recipes added almost every day and I bet they break 5000 this summer!  Leave comments on your favorites, get inspired to do some cooking, and find some new artists you really love!  This is not a paid advertisement, it's just a blog post full of exclamation points because this site combines so many things I love and is such a fun community!  Join us!!

June 5, 2015

A Few Superheroes I Know

Time to go Inside the Agnes Studio again!  Humor, pop culture, and food are all fast access points to enjoy most of what I do, but if you'd like to dig deeper, please pull up your comfy chair and several handfuls of snacks.  Here's a peek into how some recent paintings took shape in my brain which might give you some important clues about inspiration and context.  The images below are works I completed in early 2015 and exhibited at Sally Centigrade in a show with Sara M. Lyons and Mandy Hazell.  These paintings developed as a natural continuation of some of the ideas I kick around with my wrestling drawings (see a recent interview here) and my Eye Sharpener products.  Their existence began with some pages in my sketchbook labeled "Lady Business."  Your host over there to the left is James Lipton.

Ms. Turbo, what is Lady Business?  Lady Business refers to the general business of being a lady, serves as a euphemism for lady things and lady parts, and is also a title for a superhero who we perhaps don't know yet but certainly need.  I set out on a quest to depict (and if necessary invent) some representations of who Lady Business could be.  I wondered about how we model excellence (now and throughout history), who we celebrate, what we learn from our mothers, what makes us feel powerful, how we costume ourselves, and what superpowers we might have.  This is what I came up with!

Jane as Joan

What is going on here? Is that the broad from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?  Yes! My favorite scene in this film is when Joan of Arc takes over the aerobics class in the mall, and this stunned expression (not taken from the scene I mentioned) really summed up the total insanity of that cultural collision for me.  In addition to the interesting juxtaposition of Joan of Arc and some 80s aerobics babes, Joan was played by Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos, who deserves superhero status in her own right! 

Norway and Mum

What movie are these from? I don't recognize these people!  These people are folks I know, who posted some totally inspiring photographs on the internet.  I found myself staring at these images again and again. They contain a very unique yet somehow universal magic and some important essence of girlhood.  I gave Chelsea, enjoying all the ice cream she deserves, a bullfighter-inspired jacket because I was determined some incarnation of Lady Business would be a fighter of Bull.  Additionally, the world of actual bullfighting (about which I admittedly know little) is so overwhelmingly male-dominated, yet the bright shiny costumes would fit in any professional wrestling ring both on level of outrageousness and as a puzzling choice for demonstrating masculinity.  Norway helping her mum put on makeup was such a great moment as a slice of essential lady activity in a literal sense, but also in a broader sense of looking at beauty culture and our methods of decorating and armoring ourselves for our journeys out into the world.

Wait! I know this one! Julia Child, right?  But of course.  Julia, perhaps the most recognizable of anyone in this series, made a perfect addition to the lineup.  I am struck by what a warrior she was, and the impact she made with her work and even just her physical presence.  She is an inspirational figure who always reminds me to be fearless and blaze the necessary trails to do what I gotta do.  The sledgehammer is a favorite tool/weapon of mine, so when I came across an image of Julia with a kitchen mallet I couldn't resist.

But what's with the mask?  A mask, whether of the luchador, or superhero, or another variety, takes its wearer beyond the personal and specific, to stand for something greater and more powerful.  It's Julia but... it could be any of us, you know?  It's a larger-than-life presence whose magic is more than one person.  Masked wrestlers are played by multiple actual people over the years! In a quest for archetypal superbabes to fight on behalf of ladies everywhere, I definitely think masks would enter into the equation.

Laura Becoming Prickly

And this lady is... getting some acupuncture?  This creature is also someone I know!  Laura posted a picture that struck me as really beautiful in its simplicity.  Self portraits and looking at ourselves in the mirror are images that we see EVERYWHERE these days and I for one... am still really interested in them.  There was such honesty and calm in this picture, but it felt vulnerable at the same time.  A magical element which I wanted to incorporate somewhere was from last year in Alaska when I saw a HUGE ASS PORCUPINE.  After this encounter I looked up porcupine symbolism and was sure Lady Business would need to have some porcupine powers.  What's that you said, porcupine?  Calm, confident, nonchalant?  Self defense carried in quills representing the storytelling and wisdom of your ancestors? Yes please. I had the word "prickly" circled in my sketchbook as a note that really resonated with me in consideration of women warriors.  Prickly is seen so negatively, whether it is a convoluted politicalization of the very hair on our bodies, or the bristling of those self-defense quills that might be invisible on most of us.  Definitely gonna collect more porcupine mojo.

The Great Birdie
Is there somebody famous under that baggy mask? They look quite small...  This is also someone whom I admire on the interwebs, who is still a fresh enough human to readily embody pure joy and creative expression.  I deeply enjoy her exploits and adventures with her very artistic and fun parents (inasmuch as I can observe the highlights online) which remind of being a crazy little girl in the olden times, before I felt certain societal pressures.  I will also admit I did zero to embellish this costume and pose, it's straight outta real life magic.  I  would like to bestow all the medals and trophys on little girls exploding with self-confidence and pizzazz and hope that they hold on to that zest as long as possible.  

What are all the doodles in the backgrounds of these paintings?  For more on my personal use of diamonds and the eye images, please consult the Eye Sharpener Manifesto and/or consider the actual useful properties of diamonds!  The larger crystal things are sort of magical gemstones related to the diamonds, but were shaped in imitation of an object you can see in "the future" in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure! Perhaps it's used for time travel.  The elements individual to each painting represent tools or magic talismans specific to their respective portraits: Joan's sword, Chelsea's ice cream, Norway's lipstick, Julia's sledgehammer, Laura's quills (and bonus prickliness in cactus form), and Birdie's gold trophy.  I am very interested in the use of recurring motifs for storytelling purposes and you will see many of these images used in other work of mine as well.  

Thank you to James Lipton for conducting this interview, and thank you very much to Chelsea and her photographer friend, Norway and her family, Laura, and Birdie and her family, for letting me use their wonderful photos and faces for inspiration.

Betty Turbo