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Top Design: The Weekly Dish

I’m super happy that Becky from Hatch has decided to come back to decor8 for a little once-a-week guest blogging to cover Bravo’s Top Design for us. She’ll be posting here weekly the day after the show, so please visit decor8 to catch her dish and to chime in with your own opinions. I would have authored this column myself, but Top Design does not air here in Germany and besides… Becky did such a great job last season blogging HGTV’s Design Star that I figured it would be an honor to have her back to talk about Top Design. Take it away, Becky!

The new and improved Top Design started last night with new host India Hicks. I’ve been a huge fan of Todd Oldham’s since “Todd Time” on MTV’s Cindy Crawford-hosted House of Style, but I think it was wise to place him in more of a studio critic role for this show’s purposes. Wow, I would love to have had him as my design prof!

So, the show has been retooled. Personally, I LOVED it. It was a half a million times better than last season, and at least a million times better than Design Star. The backgrounds of most of the contestants was very impressive (Sex and the City set decorator? Martha Stewart Living editor = dream jobs!). The challenge was creative – I adored that they were designing for the judges and that they had to junk shop – my favorite kind of shopping! What was funny was realizing that books by all four judges are four of my favorite, most inspiring design tomes – I glean design inspiration from all four of them all of the time! It must be hard to design for someone whose style you admire – how do you find a balance between emulating and showcasing your own style?

So let’s dish. Who were your favorite contestants, and whom do you like the least? Personally, I love Kerry just because he’s from Georgia and his nickname is Big Daddy. Kyra Sedgewick needs to study his accent closely for The Closer – she really misses the mark (THAIHNK YEEEEWWW!!!) and his is a perfectly pleasing Georgia accent. I am interested in Wizit’s fashion background. I love to study the relationship between fashion design and interior design. Jennifer’s architecture background intrigues me; it means she should have a very good understanding of spatial relationships, construction and lighting. OK, and if you are about my age (36), you dreamed of living in a Silver Spoons mansion with a mini-train going through it, and that’s all I could think about when I heard one of the contestants is married to Ricky Rick Schroeder.

As for my least favorites, it’s kind of too early to tell. I liked Shazia’s personality a lot but thought she was weak. I also did not see Natalie contributing much, and her Pop Design concept was so yearbook staff.

Speaking of which, what did you think of the “Pop Design” concept? I really liked it. One of my complaints with these shows is that when they work in groups, individuals are not able to show off their own talents. This concept takes care of that problem.

Did you get the impression that the contestants knew much about the judges’ styles? I was thinking things like “India Hicks – HELLO, do a fabulous tablescape! Think of the book Island Style! DUH!!!” I didn’t get the feeling anyone knew anything about her!

Will you be tuning in to the rest of the season? In the upcoming scenes, I spotted three of my favorite personalities of all time – Simon Doonan, Jeff Lewis, and Santino – whoo-hoo, I CANNOT WAIT!

OK, enough from me! If you watched last season, did you find this season improved? Who do you have your eye on as the winner? Which contestant do you think may get cut next? Which design was your favorite, and which one do you think was a bust?

I can’t wait to dish with you all! SPOILER ALERT: We’ll be talking about the results in the comments section!

Becky

Posted in guest bloggers, reality tv on September 04, 2008

The Enormous Tiny Art Show – Now Online!

I’ve talked about The Enormous Tiny Art Show that takes place at the Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire a few times each year (opening reception this Friday, September 5th from 5-8 pm) but now there’s something new and fantastic to tell you about! Nahcotta was clever enough to build a website where those of us who cannot attend the fabulous show in person can still access the work and easily purchase it online. How exciting!

With artists like Rachel Austin, Susie Ghahremani, Marisa Haedike, Mati McDonough, Cathy Nichols, Amy Ruppel, Tara Hogan, Stephanie DosReis, Betsy Thompson, Jennifer Davis, and a ton of other great talents you won’t want to miss out on your chance to own affordable original paintings.

The best part — they ship worldwide! Now those outside of the U.S. can purchase work from some of their favorite artists. I just picked up a painting from Mati that they’ll be sending off to me here in Germany. How exciting!

(images from nahcotta)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, events + markets on September 04, 2008

Contest: Win the decor8 Book of the Week (& a print!)

Looking for inspiration? Would you like to win a free book to help you get started on some art projects you’ve been putting off? I’m so very pleased to talk about Kelly Rae Roberts today and the release of her new book Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings as well as a mini contest in which you can win a free autographed copy along with one limited edition print!

Before I tell you how to win, let’s talk about Kelly’s life and book for a moment shall we? I’ve decided to make it the decor8 book of the week since the theme of this book has already inspired me so much that I’m going to purchase a copy to rekindle my artistic side a little. With Fall on it’s way, it’s the perfect time to find some ‘cozy’ at home projects to work on and painting couldn’t be more fun!

Taking Flight Book Cover.

Kelly is what you’d call a late bloomer. I don’t mean this as an insult, but you know how it works. One is expected to go to college and settle on a career and go with that for as long as possible. There are bills to pay! Kids to feed! No time (or money) to change the tide and decide to take on a new career once you’re neck deep in what’s called “life”. I personally find this general mindset (one that forces sticking to one profession for life) both frustrating and mundane. If a person genuinely wants to change their course, I say GO FOR IT. Whether you change your career or just add to your day job with an exciting evening pursuit, dream big and jump right in. My goodness, we only will be the age we are today for one year and then we move on to the next and the next and soon we’re living with regrets (or let’s hope not) that we didn’t go for our dreams much sooner.? I’m especially fond of what society calls “late bloomers” like Kelly because I happen to be one myself, I didn’t listen to my creative voice until I turned 30. Kelly is a successful mixed-media artist who didn’t listen and develop her creative side until she was 30 but once she did, she found nothing but success by listening to her inner longing. How about that?

Maybe you can be another Kelly. Any why not? I believe that if you associate with successful people (whether online, through books, magazines, in person, whatever) you can become a success. That’s why I think it’s important to surround oneself with those who are reaching goals and fulfilling dreams like Kelly. We may never meet her in ‘real’ life, but we can meet her online, read her website and blog, and read her new book and there we can be around her and breath in her positivity. Perhaps this sounds corny or way too hyped-up but you know what? I believe it. To repeat what we’ve all heard a million times as children, “You are the company you keep”.

In addition to her new book, her work has been published both online and in magazines, she runs workshops, has a busy little Etsy store, she presents in juried art shows regularly, and her paintings are known, and collected, all over the world. The internet has given her business wings, as much of her networking takes place online and also during art shows, but through her etsy store, blog, website, and the supportive network of fellow artists online, her life has literally exploded into the things dreams are made of. Magic.

Win this Limited Edition Print.

That’s not all… Kelly just received a long-term licensing agreement with a large publishing company so you can expect to see more of Kelly on greeting cards, magnets, calendar, wall art (reproductions), and journals throughout America. All I can say is YOU GO GIRLFRIEND (*snap*snap*snap*)!

This is one inspiration story that deserves the spotlight. I think it’s exciting to see her grow right before our eyes online, I remember first hearing about her a few years ago and now to see how far she’s come further proves that with so many success stories out there, why not be one yourself if you heart happens to long for a walk down an alternate career path. Who knows what will await you if you follow your dreams.

Would you like to know a little about Taking Flight? It’s an art how-to book that demonstrates step-by-step instruction guiding you through creating your own mixed-media painting. Kelly, along with seven contributing artists show you the ropes offering a fresh new perspective to this medium. She also shares inspirational quotes, encouraging stories, and encouragement that may help you find, and follow, your bliss too. Of course no art book would interest any of us without images! Kelly features pages of her own work along with those from contributing artists so there is a nice range for your enjoyment and inspiration.

Interested in winning a free, autographed copy of Taking Flight along with a free limited-edition print? Kelly has offered to give these things away to 3 lucky decor8 readers today. The contest will end on Friday at midnight EST and winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 9th. Kelly will sign and ship your prizes to you personally!

To win… Please comment below telling Kelly and I about your dream job and whether or not you are currently pursuing it. If you are living your dream, comment with the best advice you can give others to encourage them to do the same. If you are not living the dream, comment on why you are not and by all means, go into as much detail as you’d like. Have you found balance between the day job and a fun evening or weekend pursuit? No answer is wrong as they will be selected at random according to comment number. The goal here is to encourage yourself while encouraging others and hey, you just may win some free goodies so why not!?

Ready!? Set… Go comment!

(images from kelly rae roberts)

Posted in Books + Magazines, contests on September 03, 2008

Etsy Take Five Tuesday

I am so happy to share with you today another edition of Etsy Take Five Tuesday. Today I’ll be brief since I wrote so much earlier in other posts but I’m certain you’ll fall in love with my favorite five Etsy sellers this week. Enjoy!

First up, Lolley Land and her owls. Oh I cannot resist such cuteness, and I love the folksy feel, they have a very Scandinavian vibe I think. What do you think? Are they the cutest owls ever or what?!

Next is Anke’s Little Shop, also known as Linotte created by Anke Weckmann in London. Her pins and prints are super sweet. She has a lot of talent and a very original style.


I found Ulmer, or James Ulmer Illustrations, through Anke and instantly fell in love with this Philadelphia-based artist and his prints. Again, more original work in a style all his own. Love it. Yip Yip and Happy Days are insta-faves of mine.

I’m really enjoying the bag designer Made By Hank right down to the brand name stitched onto each and every bag — love this level of detail.

And finally for Take Five Tuesday today I’d like to share with you Bound To and her handmade books. I am a book and journal junkie, I have so many unused journals just waiting for me to pen a few words. But I stash and I stash and for what reason? No clue. But I tell you this, I’m not stopping anytime soon. Anyone share this addiction with me?

(images linked above to their origins)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, Etsy Take 5 Tuesday on September 02, 2008

Books:

Available now on Amazon

Further editions available include: Portuguese, Danish, Czech, Slovak, French

Courses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way for Beginners
e-course, April 17 – May 15, 2014
Find out more and sign up now.

Styling With Holly Becker
London, May 2014 (Date TBD)