Curioos: The New Face of Digital Art

Curioos

What is digital art? No, it’s not one of those trendy finger tattoos. It’s art that uses digital technology (such as computers) as an essential part of its creation or presentation. Curioos.com (pronounced “curious”) is a curated website focusing on these works, and it all grew out of the fan Tumblr blog of Matt Valoatto, Founder/CEO and Chief Curator of the site. We asked him how he got plugged in to the digital art world.

What made you interested in this type of art? Just like me, all of these digital artists grew up grew up in an era of digital media—comic books, video games, TV, the internet. You can find something from all of the above in the art. I’m a computer engineer and business school graduate. From my teenage years, I was very fond of photography, digital art, and digital media. I realized I could mix my three passions—computers, business, and art.

What sets Curioos apart from other digital art businesses? The focus for us is not just to sell. It started as just blog to promote digital artists, and it grew so fast—we very quickly got hundreds of thousands of followers, so we decided to do a website. At first it was not a marketplace, then in early 2012 we thought about monetizing it and helping the artists earn money for their work. We do numbered series of prints. This is very important for the artist to know he’s working with us on a long-term basis.

How do you find your artists? We have almost 2,000 artists, from 90 countries. From day one, our main focus was on curating. All the artists we have are invited. They get one invitation a month to extend to other artists. We monitor blogs and websites. And I moved to New York City from Paris (where we opened our first workshop—near Pere Lachaise Cemetery) two years ago because it’s the best place in the world to meet the digital artists of tomorrow—there are many graphic designers, ad agencies with a lot of artists, and art world entrepreneurs.

Why do you think this type of art is growing in popularity? In my opinion, it’s the new Pop Art. It’s also affordable to make—you can buy a laptop and graphic design software. It’s not just for the elite. And we are really connecting in real time the generation of artists with the same generation of collectors. It’s very important for them to find in the art they buy some symbols of their generation. It’s a big revolution in art—in real-time. Plus, social networks and social media can connect the artists and their fans, the new generation of collectors. Maybe digital art can have the same explosion that street art had like ten years ago.

– Maria Ricapito

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Pick the Perfect Pillow: Tips from a Pro

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There are a few factors that will help you find the perfect pillow to facilitate your REMs and ZZZs. So we got the low-down on down (and other) pillows from Allison Tomblyn, a luxury down manufacturer who works with brands such as Grand Chateau, Alexander Comforts, Nancy Koltes, and Barclay Butera.

What’s your go-to position? Get your mind out of the gutter, because we mean whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach. The key here is providing the proper support. “If you sleep on your stomach, you’re going to want a soft pillow. Otherwise, it’s going to mess with your spinal cord and neck,” she says. Back sleepers should go with medium. “You want support, but not for it to be too stiff,” she says. “If you sleep on your side, you need a really firm pillow to keep your neck straight.”

Why down?  “You never fall asleep in one position and stay in it all night, however,” says Tomblyn. That’s why she’s so, er, down with pillows made from the soft under-feather that insulates and protects birds. “You can mold a down pillow, and shape it to give you the support you need,” she says. “If your pillow is too thick, you can’t mold and shape it–it bounces back.” That leaves you uncomfortable and less likely to have a restful night. If the label mentions “fill power,” that is a measure of strength. “In layman’s terms, it’s the size and the strength of the down,” she says. “The lower the fill power, the less support and strength.” Higher fills give more support, bounce-back, and longevity.

To those who claim to be allergic to down, Tomblyn says Harrumph! She claims the natural fiber is less attractive to mites than synthetics, as well as lasting longer and being more breathable—cool when you want it, warm when you need it. She also points out that, whatever your pillow is made of, you have to keep it clean to cut down on dust and other allergens. She suggests cleaning pillows every three to four months, and recommends finding a professional laundry that is used to dealing with down (Note: she is not suggesting drycleaning).

Or, you can wash down items yourself. Be sure your water temperature is at least 110 degrees (to kill mites) and try a down-specific detergent (other types are “sticky,” she says, and can clump you up). “Then put the pillow in the dryer with a bunch of dryer balls to move it around and fluff it up,” she says. Don’t blast heat too high, though. “Down products are natural fibers, and, if you heat them too much, they’ll singe.”

For those committed to down alternatives: They are less expensive, she says, but, since they’re less durable, they may to be replaced more often.

It’s what’s on the outside that counts. When it comes to your pillow cover, it’s about thread count (just like with your sheets). “The higher it is, the thicker the fabric and the stronger the pillow,” she says. Plus, the outside of a good pillow is usually one of three fabrics: cambric, sateen, or jacquard. “Cambric is a crisp, plain weave. It’s not going to take on as much of your body temperature, but it’s a little bit ‘noisier,’” she says. It’s great for those who tend to overheat in bed. “Sateen is slightly shiny and more lustrous,” she says. The thicker weave makes it a little warmer than cambric. Jacquard merely means that there is a woven-in pattern. Generally, jacquard fabrics are softer and thicker, and provide more warmth and support. Want to give your pillow a longer life? Opt for a pillow protector—but, since you’ve spent so much time finding the perfect pillow, don’t bust out a crinkly plastic one.

Now, go the @#$% to sleep!

 

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Nikki Reed’s Pet Project: The Stunning Actress/Singer on Her Career (and Her Cause)

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Actress, singer — and star animal advocate — Nikki Reed has teamed up with Gilt to design an exclusive, limited-edition dog leash and collar for Found My Animal, which we’re so excited to be presenting on Gilt in a sale which also features her pet design picks. 100% of proceeds from the collar and leash (and 10% of the profits from everything else) benefit the ASPCA.

Here, we got the scoop from Reed on her efforts to help animals, her own (extremely cute) pets, and the latest on her soaring career, which has gone well past the critically acclaimed Twilight Saga film series, in which she captivated us as Rosalie Hale. What we found in her answers, is plenty of heart to go with her beauty and talent.

 

You’re officially an “animal person.” How did this evolve? Did you have pets growing up? I’ve always felt an undeniable connection with animals. All animals — no matter how big, how small, how wild, how tame. I’ve always found a way to relate to them through their ability to love without conditions, speak without language, and show loyalty and innocence by simply living. I grew up with every kind of animal a child could wish for. My love for animals comes from my mother, who has always had a desire to heal and protect any motherless creature walking this earth. We rescued everything from baby birds to coyotes, raccoons to homeless cats. In fact, although we say it half jokingly, my mom actually lives in my guest house now to help with the amount of fosters and strays I bring in. Plus, I just love having her around and close by. Rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals will forever be a part of my life.

Tell us about your dogs and other pets, if any… I have two gorgeous German shepherds, a tiny schnauzer (who belongs to my mom), and two horses. If it were up to me, I’d have more, but the fosters I have coming in and out help suppress that desire because my house would literally become a farm!

Talk about the charity tie-in here; specifically the ASPCA. How did you get involved there? 
When I found out that Gilt wanted to be a part of something that related on every level to something I am so passionate about, it was a no-brainer. I have always supported the ASPCA, whether it’s through donations or volunteer work. This felt like a perfect way to combine the two. Volunteering to design a line as opposed to walking dogs is just a different take on how I’m involving myself this time around. I will always do any and everything I can to create awareness and make a difference in the lives of these animals, and this felt like a cool, unique approach.

Talk about your design. What was the inspiration for it? Why did you select these colors/materials/etc.? We heard you were truly hands-on when it came to the design… The color combination I chose felt very earthy and natural. I’ve always been a fan of the “less-flashy” approach. The woven rope felt rustic and timeless, with a little pop of color on the collar to complement it.

How would you recommend people get involved helping animals, in their own communities? Adoption is obviously most important/critical, but what if they’re not ready to adopt? What else can they do? Animals are incredibly therapeutic, so when you think about taking the time to help animals, remember you’re getting something out of it too. There’s something so healing about volunteering in any form — whether you have five minutes to walk a dog or two at your local shelter, or help distribute flyers around your neighborhood to educate people on spaying and neutering, or foster a dog who may need a little extra love. Even my 14-year-old little brother has found a way to involve himself. He walks dogs for an organization that I foster for. We all have the time and ability; it’s about making it a priority.

What’s your spirit animal? (i.e., if you were an animal which one would you be, and why?) A few years ago I visited Botswana, and while I was there, someone told me that I was an elephant in another life. I’ve always loved elephants, and appreciated how “human” they are. Their depth and soul combined with their mysterious and unique personalities is so powerful, it’s absolutely humbling to be around. So I was completely flattered at even the thought of someone finding parallels between myself and these incredible creatures. I even have an elephant head tattooed in white ink on my forearm (I had it done about 4 years ago) as a reminder.

What’s the biggest splurge you’ve made on your pets? I end up spending a lot of money on my dogs buying practical things that accommodate my lifestyle, such as life vests and boots for them because I go camping/boating a lot. My dogs are spoiled with copious amounts of love and adoration … but I don’t buy them ridiculous presents.

On the animal theme: talk about your latest movie, The Sunday Horse. What’s your personal history with horses? What were both the toughest and most fun aspects about making the movie? I grew up around horses. My grandmother bred Andalusians and Arabs, so I got my first horse when I was just two years old. Her name was Laurita. My love for them has only grown as I’ve gotten older, and I always knew when the time was right I would have another. A couple of years ago I started learning to jump, so when the opportunity to play such an iconic woman in The Sunday Horse presented itself (equestrian rider Debi Connor is a legend in the horse world), I was beyond enthused. It was truly the best experience I’ve ever had on a film, simply because I got to combine my two loves: horses and acting. I spent four months bonding with the horses on my film, learning from them, and growing with them, so as the film came to an end I knew I couldn’t part with two in particular. I ended up becoming the mama to both of my beautiful horses from that movie: Millie and Eagle.

Some folks don’t know you’re a singer — talk about your latest project! (Do you ever sing to your doggies… and do they sing along?) I just released my first full-length album with Paul, and we are both so proud of the music and grateful for the journey. It’s called I’m Not Falling, and it’s currently available on iTunes. Our love for one another as people and as artists is so pure, and so apparent in our songs. One of our dogs, Ira [pictured above], loves to sing. She can’t help herself. She always finds a way to include herself in anything we’re singing together, but she also has a few favorite artists. She sings every single Sam Smith song, and you can tell she is really trying to harmonize with him. My iPhone is filled with so many videos of her, I hardly have room for photos!

Are you as addicted as we are to watching YouTube animal videos? Any faves you can share with us? I follow every single Instagram account I can find that has funny animal videos! Nothing cracks me up more than goofy fur babies doing innocent ridiculous stuff! I love the video of the German shepherd asking for bacon, or the golden retriever running in his sleep! There’s also a really incredible video circulating right now of a cat protecting a toddler from an aggressive dog. It’s pretty impressive. I spent an hour just last night watching “animal odd couples” on Netflix. The Great Dane and deer storyline brought me to tears!

— Stephen Milioti

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Harvey Lynch Word Art

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First there was the word. And it was backwards…and that was good.

When you look carefully at the intricately patterned wall art from Harvey Lynch, you’ll realize that it’s actually just…words.

It all started when Brian O’Hara was a kid. “Basically, I write backwards; I’m highly dyslexic. It’s something I’ve done most of my lifetime,” he says. “I can write backward faster than I can write forward.” He picks words and sayings he finds particularly insightful and compelling, such as “love,” “I am enough,” and “know thyself,” or quotes from inspirational figures like Buddha, Socrates, Ram Das, and Winston Churchill.

“I started doing it with sayings I thought were powerful and uplifting, and that cross lots of barriers,” he says. “The messages are kind of hidden unless you know how to read backwards. Basically, it’s patterns… then it becomes art.”

Available as prints, re-positionable adhesive wall art, and textiles, the designs are almost illegible—and that’s intentional. “We have enough messaging in this world,” he says. “We’re always being told things, and we have mottos and quotes all around us. I like the idea that you can’t tell what it says.”

O’Hara, whose background is in fashion and set design, works closely and creatively with his wife, Melanie Currie O’Hara, who started out working with textile and graphic design. Their Santa Monica-based company, O’Hara Design Group, also does interior design and was founded ten years ago; they co-founded Harvey Lynch (an amalgamation of their mothers’ maiden names) shortly after.

The couple donates a portion of the profits for the word art to the Seva Foundation, a charity devoted to helping preserve and restore sight around the world. They’re also starting Share the Love, an awareness campaign involving stickers with positive messages that kids can put up.

“This is something we’re passionate about,” O’Hara says. “This is bigger than us.”

— Maria Ricapito

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