The Art of Doing

David Chang: An Artist’s Interpretation

Momofuku’s David Chang has a nearly insane work ethic that rivals that of the late great Godfather of Soul.

Momofuku chef/restaurateur David Chang as illustrated by Scott Menchin

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project is a collaboration between us and artists who depict superachievers from our book, “The Art of Doing.”

David Chang’s nearly insane work ethic rivals that of the Godfather of Soul. Working his way through some of New York City’s finest restaurant kitchens in his mid-20’s with cooks “as badass as Navy Seals,” Chang told us that he believed he’d never be a great chef—at least not in the classic sense. Instead he had to find his own voice. Every since he’d been a kid he’d been obsessed with noodles. So he quit his high-end kitchen job and went on a noodle quest, apprenticing himself to soba and ramen noodle makers in Japan. When he returned, he opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in a tiny space in the East Village no bigger than a one-car garage. His goal was to make a humble bowl of noodle soup made with 4-star chef technique. Continue reading “David Chang: An Artist’s Interpretation”

War Photographer Lynsey Addario is on a Mission:
An Artist’s Interpretation

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario has focused on covering conflicts and human rights issues for over two decades. Her mission, she says, is clear.

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation project is a collaboration between us and imaginative artists we’ve chosen to depict the superachievers we interviewed for our book using excerpts from the book.

Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s mission is to capture the truth.

When we asked illustrator and controversial cartoonist Danny Hellman to create a work of art about one of the participants in our book he chose war photographer Lynsey Addario. Hellman depicts Addario, a 5’1″ Connecticut native, self-taught photographer, as just a lens’ length away from Mars, the God of War himself, whose path of destruction Addario has unflinchingly followed for the last two decades.

Addario, who we interviewed for a chapter on “How to Shoot a Great War Shot Without Getting Shot,” has been a witness to devastation, death and destruction in Haiti, Iraq, Dafur, Afghanistan and Libya. Her photography has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, Time Magazine and other major publications and she has won a Pulitzer prize and a MacArthur genius grant for her work. Continue reading “War Photographer Lynsey Addario is on a Mission:
An Artist’s Interpretation”

Opera Diva Anna Netrebko: An Artist’s Interpretation

Opera’s reigning diva is as practical as she is passionate.

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click to enlarge

The Face of Modern Opera

Opera, as an art form, is nearly 500 years old with a parade of famous and infamous divas. Competing for attention in today’s celebrity-driven entertainment culture, the opera world has pinned its hopes on its latest star Russian-born soprano Anna Netrebko, who we had a fascinating interview with on “How to Be a Diva” for our book.

For our project, Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation, we asked Russian artist and illustrator, Yvetta Fedorova to imagine Netrebko for us. Fedorova’s bold rendition captures Netrebko’s iconic status as an operatic superstar while weaving her quotes—which range from the practical to the passionate—into Netrebko’s tresses. [Click on the image to enlarge.] Continue reading “Opera Diva Anna Netrebko: An Artist’s Interpretation”

Alien Hunter, Jill Tarter:
An Artist’s Interpretation

Mankind has been gazing up at the stars for hundreds of thousands of years, wondering, “Are we alone?” Astronomer Jill Tarter, one of the world’s leading alien hunters, has put this quest at the center of her life.

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation project is a collaboration between us and imaginative artists we’ve chosen to depict the superachievers in our book.

Since we think artist Michael Wertz’s work is brilliant, we asked him to create a piece of art about one of our superachievers. Because of Wertz’s love of all things extraterrestrial—from his childhood pillowcase covered in cosmic Peter Max imagery to the Carpenters’ ode to space, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”—he jumped at the chance to depict astronomer Jill Tarter, one the world’s most prominent alien hunters. (Chapter 15 in our book on “How to Find Extraterrestrial Life.”)

The term alien hunter might conjure up images of Roswellian conspiracy theorists or UFOlogists, scanning the skies for sleek hovering spaceships and little green men, but astronomer Jill Tarter is far from that. Tarter is a TED prize-winning leader at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) where a team of scientists at the Hat Creek Observatory in Northern California operates a powerful telescope array in the world’s most technologically advanced search for signs of life in the universe. Continue reading “Alien Hunter, Jill Tarter:
An Artist’s Interpretation”

Visionary Vintner Randall Grahm:
An Artist’s Interpretation

Terroir wines have been cultivated in Europe for centuries. But could it be done in the New World? Visionary vintner Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard took up the challenge, asking himself: “Am I capable of such a transcendental feat?” Read more here.

Randall Grahm by Karen Barbour
Randall Grahm by Karen Barbour with excerpt from “The Art of Doing”

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project is a collaboration between us and the artists we’ve asked to depict superachievers from our book, “The Art of Doing.”

When we wanted to find someone to portray the wildly imaginative Northern Californian vintner Randall Graham we thought of the wildly imaginative Northern Californian artist Karen Barbour whose work—in its joyful organic complexity—looks like how we imagine Grahm’s mind to be with its visionary thoughts floating and exploding.

Grahm is the wine world’s renegade, a viticulture rebel, who knows as much about the grape as anyone and yet has ceremoniously rejected the cork (and held a mock funeral), slapped on full-disclosure ingredient lists to his bottles “to keep himself honest” and prodigiously markets his tongue-in-cheek vintages like Le Cigare Volant (The Flying Cigar), named after U.F.O.’s feared by Frenchmen in the Rhone region in the1950’s.

But that was all before Grahm took the ultimate step, eschewing millennia of man’s attempt to tame Nature to produce the wine of his dreams—vins du terroir. These are the wines, Grahm explains, that so embody the essence of the soil and microclimate from whence they come that when tasted, they express a sense of place. These wines only exist in the Old World where they have been cultivated in centuries’ old vineyards. Continue reading “Visionary Vintner Randall Grahm:
An Artist’s Interpretation”

Teen Solo Circumnavigator Jessica Watson: An Artist’s Interpretation

Artist Amy Crehore’s artistic interpretation of Teen Solo Circumnavigator Jessica Watson

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project is a collaboration between us and artists we’ve asked to depict superachievers from our book, “The Art of Doing.”

Because of her affinity for nature and her ability to evoke the dreamlike quality of life, we asked artist Amy Crehore to capture a moment of the incredible journey of Jessica Watson. Watson, who we interviewed for our book in the chapter, “How to Sail Around the World,” first dreamed of taking her epic journey when she was only 11 years old. It took her five years, many skills to acquire and seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome before she set sail from Sydney Harbor on a 34-foot sailboat The Pink Lady. And once she was at sea, Watson had to endure loneliness, boredom, fear and mechanical failures. She was weeks away from help in storms that threw her boat upside down in waves that looked like “giant black mountains,” before she returned seven and a half months later, the youngest person ever to sail the world solo.

Watson told us that despite her struggles, the most important advice she got from the fellow circumnavigators she had turned to before she began her journey was to remember to take time to enjoy herself:

“I had read and reread books about solo sailing around the world but once I set off on my voyage, I began to understand their stories in a whole new way. The feeling of solitude, when all I could see in any direction was endless ocean and endless sky, made me feel connected to them, even to Joshua Slocum, who’d done the sail more than a century before me. On The Pink Lady there was only the moment. Looking out at the horizon, I felt alive and exhilarated.”

More posts on Jessica Watson here and here.

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Erotic Filmmaker Candida Royalle:
An Artist’s Interpretation

The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation Project is a collaboration between us and imaginative artists we choose to depict superachievers from our upcoming book from Plume/Penguin coming out Jan 29, 2013. (Which you can preorder here!)

When we wondered who could best portray the trailblazing erotic filmmaker Candida Royalle, we immediately thought of fine artist Robert Piersanti who has devoted the last ten years of his life to painting a stunning cast of sensual and strongly independent women including rock n’ rollers, burlesque performers, barmaids and other locals from his Jersey City neighborhood.

Royalle (who we interviewed for our upcoming book in a chapter on How to Make Erotica that Turns Women On) was a porn star in the 70’s and early 80’s. She came to hate the way the business represented women as sex objects to serve male fantasies. So she quit. And then she struggled with what to do next. She believed in a cinematic sexuality that would celebrate the human body without demeaning women but she felt that the traditional male-centric adult film industry had gotten it wrong. The question she asked herself was:

“What would erotic films be like if they were made from a women’s perspective?”

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In 1984, when few believed there was a market for erotic films for women Royalle took the leap and formed Femme Productions. She opened up a whole new way of portraying women’s sexuality by producing films with realistic plots, believable actors and depictions of naturalistic lovemaking rather than the gymnastic, porn-by-the-numbers, money-shot-ethos of traditional pornography. Royalle was a game-changer in her industry and a godmother to women filmmakers who followed in her field.

Despite what you may think about adult films, Royalle can be a model for those of us who have become disillusioned by our workplace or the industry we work in. Rather than to wallow in the psychic space of feeling exploited and discouraged by working in a business whose values conflicted with her own, Royalle challenged the status quo. Of course, she had no guarantee of success. But just as with pioneers of other industries, if she hadn’t tried she never would have come up with a whole new way of doing things.

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Simon Doonan: An Artist’s Interpretation

We are madly in love with the brilliant work of conceptual photographer Henry Hargreaves. So we sent him our chapter (“How to be the Most Fabulous You”) on Simon Doonan—author, style maven, creative ambassador of Barneys New York and high priest of the gliteratti—and implored Hargreaves to “capture” Doonan.

Hargreaves, who has created a portrait of Queen Elizabeth out of 1400 pieces of toast, a Damien Hirst dot series out of M&M’s and a portrait of himself out of Jello, decided Doonan was best represented with glitter. GENIUS! And since Doonan’s chapter reminded Hargreaves of “that kind of kid-like thinking where anything’s possible,” he glittered his glasses red as an homage to Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz.

HOW PERFECT?! Dorothy in her magical slippers envisioned an Emerald City much like Doonan who has not only conjured “emerald cities” in his iconoclastic Barneys windows, but encourages us through our clothes, attitude and very way of being to create “emerald cities” of our selves.

But in the end, just as Dorothy had to look no further than her ruby slippers for what she needed, Doonan tells us that while fashion arbiters may spark our imagination, it is only when we look inside of ourselves and find our most idiosyncratic individuality that we will discover our most fabulous selves. His fashion credo,

“Evolving your own brand of unique glamour is a process of self-discovery. Reimagine your personal style by uncovering and exaggerating all that is unique about you.”

Hargreaves’s art is based on an iconic photograph of Doonan by Roxanne Lowit.

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The Art of Doing Artist’s Interpretation project is a collaboration between us and imaginative artists we’ve chosen to depict the superachievers we interviewed for our upcoming book using excerpts from the book.