Today I’ve got a real treat for you: a peek (only a peek, mind you) at Mohawk’s Mohawk Maker #9. The quarterly’s theme this time around is perfect for National Stationery Show — inspiration! “A restless creative wanderlust marks those of us who make, hinting that underneath the flash and excitement that often accompanies inspiration is something more fundamental: change,” reads the partial page (in part) across the cover.
And in the spirit of inspiration and change, Mohawk Maker has been completely redesigned. While it features pages in staggered sizes and a plethora of surprises, I don’t want to give too much away — I want everyone to experience it for themselves. But take it from me, it’s chock-full of elements that will tickle your fancy and feed your brain.
I always really enjoy the editor’s letter, written by Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr. “‘What inspires you?'” he begins. “It’s probably the question that great artists and makers hear most. As if, by understanding what sparks their ideas, we can effortlessly unlock the secret to their genius. As much as we quest for inspiration, it’s not something we’ll find packaged on a shelf at the corner store. There’s a serendipity to it: it sneaks up on us when we’re not expecting it. It’s almost physically exhilarating when inspiration strikes — we feel a crackle of creativity when a new idea or pathway to a solution reveals itself, and we channel that energy into working on the project.”
Any creative can attest to the magic and mystery of that “Eureka” moment — it almost physically stuns you. There’s a reason people say “inspiration strikes” as opposed to “inspiration appears.” Accordingly, the issue explores the idea and how it expresses itself through the eyes and hands of diverse makers around the world.
First up there’s a story on “Collecting Inspiration” that speaks to the why of collecting, as well as what what it means to the collector.
“Sifting through someone’s collection is like peering into their soul,” begins the piece by Jessie Kuhn. From records to Japanese toys to bicycle headbadges, several collections are presented in their colorful glory, with a bit of explanation from those who have lovingly assembled them. The stamps pictured below belong to Blair Thompson; in them he finds not only the cultural reflection of its country and its identity, but (perhaps most importantly) “creative escapism.”
I love the piece “I Quit,” devoted to a few brave souls who quit their day jobs to pursue their dreams on their own terms. I know there’s more than one NSS exhibitor who has taken that plunge! Profiles include that of Kenesha Sneed, who quit her job as Art Director to become a Ceramic Artist & Freelance Illustrator. Her desert-inspired, wheel-thrown stoneware ceramics range, Tactile Matter, will soon offer printed items as well.
Kenesha emphasized the importance of creative community. “When I was younger all I wanted to do was sit at a desk and draw, tuning out the world at any chance … Now, the relationships I have with friends and peers are a huge part of who I am personally and creatively. At times when I feel not so creative or need some good advice, having that support is so important.”
One of the elements in the redesign is new writers, and guess what folks? I’m one of them. I contributed an article called “Inventing Youth” — but you’re going have to get your own issue to check out my bylined piece! Keep reading to see how to do that.
“NASA: The Art of Science” delves into the agency’s little-known art program “aimed to demystify — even romanticize — space exploration.” Who knew that for 50 years, t0p artists — among them Robert Rauschenberg, Mitchell Jamieson, Norman Rockwell, Annie Liebowitz — were invited to residency programs or commissioned to produce projects?
These works communicate the wonders of unexplored worlds in a way that technical jargon and academic lectures simply cannot. This fabulous travel poster is one of three by the Seattle design duo Invisible Creature.
The Movement section begins with an artist I’d never heard of, Corita Kent, AKA Sister Corita. A nun, feminist and civil rights activist, her screenprinting was inspired by early Warhol pop art as well as abstract painter Josef Albers. “Much of Kent’s work from the 1960s mashes up billboard verbiage with gospel truths using day-glo inks, and she saw no reason to separate words from the bible from words from Newsweek,” the article reads. I love it — and one of her designs looks amazing the cover, presented on Mohawk Loop, Antique Vellum, Milkweed.Also in the Movement is Hannah Waldron, a U.K. fiber artist, who — inspired by the Bauhaus tapestries of Gunta Stölzl — tells stories through her own textiles.
And finally, we have Taxi Fabric. Taxis in India are not only ubiquitous, but have also become an iconic piece of the country’s culture. Drivers give attention to the exterior of their taxis to make them stand out, but often neglect the inside. So this collective helps unite Indian designers with the drivers, with spectacular results! Check out this Bollywood- inspired design by Namrata Gosavi.
This is just a tiny taste of the issue — there is a lot more to enjoy and be inspired by. Pick up your copy at Mohawk’s NSS booth 2656 and 2657 — and don’t miss your chance to see their pop-up exhibit of the Strathmore Archives there! If you can catch a lecture with Chris Harrold, you won’t be sorry! If you can’t make the show, view Mohawk Maker online (up soon) here, or sign up to receive your very own free issue here!
Speaking of NSS, I’m off tomorrow for the show and will hopefully be back here sometime next week. If you see me on the floor, please say hi!