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A little terrarium inspiration for Global Talent Search

 The Global Talent Search is here, and I just submitted my piece for the first round of the contest! I was pretty set on not entering the contest at first, figuring I have no chance in hell of winning. It’s only been a few short months since I decided to focus on illustration and collected random bits of personal projects to begin this portfolio site. It was pretty thin at first but week by week, with Lilla Roger’s MATS A course and Bootcamp briefs I have been adding to it and improving my skills. I still  think my odds are very slim but my feeling has changed: why not enter?  At the very least I get another opportunity to further my skills with another professional brief. Besides, both my classmates and Lilla Rogers’ team made such a compelling argument for it even a stubborn elephant couldn’t resist! Check out the details on her site, you’ll see what I mean. So, without further ado I’ll tell you the subject of this first brief: Wall Art based on the theme “a little terrarium”.

We received the brief on August 5th and had two weeks to complete it, that was last Monday August 18. Now we have to wait until next Tuesday the 26th for the results while Lilla pours through a thousand submissions and selects 50 to be shortlisted for the next round. What a tough job that must be! We’ve been asked not to share our final piece publicly until the results come out, so in the meantime I thought I would share my inspirations and concept sketches. The terrariums I was most drawn to were the modern looking terrariums showing colorful plants in a white gravel.

August 5th was also my first day of being self-employed and to celebrate I went to the LACMA museum. Quite a luxury to be able to see the Van Gogh to Kandisky exhibit on a weekday without piles of people in front of every painting! It was a beautiful exhibit with lots of unseen work from private collections. Many paintings had colorful palettes and I loved the contrast of the few black and white etchings also on display.

You would think with all my new “free” time I would have had a bunch of sketches and ideas in that first week, but I found my mind distracted with matters like health insurance, 401K, updating my linkedIn profile and storing away 7 years of company swag in my tiny space, unable to focus and think creatively. I figured it would be more productive to go on fun outings for inspiration rather than staying home trying to force it. So when my friend Minh suggested to visit the Sunset idea house on show in Manhattan Beach, I said sure!

Above are beautiful ceramics displayed with book titles that somehow found their way in my final concept. You never know what the subconscious picks up on! By the way all the ceramics in the house are by Heather Rosenman, we worked at the same company years ago, she makes wonderful pots and sculptures (and her facebook page is worth a like!).  

Here’s a bit of the landscape and then my friends Minh and Joe in the lounge room. They are talented graphic and landscape designers that I am very grateful to have as friends. I always leave inspired after we hang out. 

We had a lot of fun taking pictures of the house and Joe had the good idea to stop for ice cream on the way back. We stumbled upon Coolhaus, an architecturally inspired ice cream parlor with flavors like chocolate chipotle or olive oil and thyme gelato (actually really good!). There you can even snap a photo with Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas ;).

Another source of visual inspiration is the store where I rehearse with my music group once a week. Lots of succulents on display there, and check out that air plant in the cute black and white ceramic planter.

Throughout the week I made some leaf impressions that I thought I could use in whatever form of terrarium I would end up creating.

It could be because of the Sunset house visit, but I found myself attracted to terrariums pictured in a home decor. It gave me ideas of terrariums intertwined with people and houses. I imagined terrariums with roofs like little houses, making a terrarium city. I tried sketching it but in the end decided not to pursue this idea.

One of the main thing that was blocking me to start drawing was that we had to have words in our terrarium piece. To me that had to be the starting point. Terrariums were popular in the 70s and just recently made a comeback, now becoming a huge trend. I wondered why, what is it about these little indoor gardens that is striking a chord with this current time? With the concurrent popularity of lettered quotes it seems people have a need to be more introspective. I wrote down a few ideas and decided to go with “grow from the inside” and elaborate one of the terrarium houses from the city sketch.

While doing a bit of research on the internet I learned that terrariums where invented at the turn of the century by a botanist named Ward. He left a fern inside a jar by accident and noticed it kept growing because of the condensation formed in the closed container. I figured I could borrow from the Art Nouveau architecture of the same period for the design of my terrarium house. It was such an expressive time, filled with cool elements.

After a couple study sketches here is my final concept, which served as the blueprint for my piece. Check back again next Tuesday for the final artwork reveal and contest results. No matter what the outcome, I’m very glad I participated because I learned so much from this assignment, not only from the research but also from pushing myself out of my comfort zone with painting and lettering. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive in this group, it doesn’t really feel like a competition but more like a shared opportunity to learn and grow,  just like our little indoor gardens. Good luck everyone!


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