Happy Birthday, BLCKSMTH

Photo by Chase Person (from l to r, Jennie Kay, Michael James Schneider, Nick Mattos, Wayne Bund, Chase Person, Summer Olsson, Logan Lynn) .ig-b- { display: inline-block; } .ig-b- img { visibility: hidden; } .ig-b-:hover { background-position: 0 -60px; } .ig-b-:active { background-position: 0 -120px; } .ig-b-v-24 { width: 137px; height: 24px; background: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24.png) no-repeat 0 0; } @media only screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (-o-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2 / 1), only screen and (min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min-resolution: 192dpi), only screen and (min-resolution: 2dppx) { .ig-b-v-24 { background-image: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24@2x.png); background-size: 160px 178px; } }

Photo by Chase Person (from l to r, Jennie Kay, Michael James Schneider, Nick Mattos, Wayne Bund, Chase Person, Summer Olsson, Logan Lynn)
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Two years ago, when I lived in Los Angeles, I left my job to take a year-long “artistic sabbatical”. I felt a creative itch that was brought about by working with my LA family at Sacred Fools Theater Company. A few months into that year, I went through some shit. I came out on the other side more determined than ever to create a life that was artistically fulfilling, and more than anything true and authentic to myself. I visited Portland for the first time in February of 2013, and instantly fell in love with it, thanks to my good friend and tour guide Summer Olsson. And then a funny thing happened: Continue reading

That Horribly Awkward Time I Came Out

photo by Kevin Truong

photo by Kevin Truong

I wrote a short piece for The Gay Men Project on that really comfortable, easy and natural awkward and uncomfortable time I came out to my parents, back in Ye Olden Tymes of 1991. I also had a photo shoot in one of my favorite places, Tyron Creek Park. Kevin’s a pretty damn talented photographer, to be able to make even me look good. Check out the piece here.

Joyeux Noel

"Joyeux Noel"

“Joyeux Noel”

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Wow. What a year 2013 has been for the BLCKSMTH blog, and for me personally. I really appreciate you reading about my boring journey, and I look forward to a pretty crazy new year. See you in 2014!

August: A Soundtrack

"Metallic Aftertaste", photo by Summer Olsson

“Metallic Aftertaste”, photo by Summer Olsson

Life is weird. Choices often take you in directions you never would have considered before, and lead you to go places and meet people you otherwise might not have. This month’s soundtrack is inspired by the strange serendipity I have experienced recently, and the awesome new friends I made. It’s a little more pop-y and mainstream than my other soundtracks. Deal.

When you wake up the next day and think, “I’m getting too old for this shit”, you’re doing it right. I had a night like that a few weeks ago in Seattle:

Continue reading

The Woman Who Runs With The Wolves, Part 2

photo by Summer Olsson, digital artistry by Tucker Cullinan

photo by Summer Olsson, digital artistry by Tucker Cullinan

Do what you love. Be brave. Take a chance.

These are all things I’ve talked about often on this blog, since my decision to take an artistic sabbatical and share the journey with others. Recently, I met someone else who took a similar leap: Michelle Lesniak-Franklin, winner of Season 11 of Project Runway (yup, it was her I was writing about at the end of this previous post). You’ll remember her personal style and razor-sharp wit, and probably her obsession with wolves, too.

I met the Portland native at her studio last week to chat, and she was just as funny, tough, and candid as she appeared to be on the show. She was also game for a photo shoot in Portland’s Japanese Gardens, inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic, “Princess Mononoke”.

Here’s Part 2 of the interview, click here for Part 1.

BLCKSMTH: We share an obsession for the periodic table of elements. My personal token of strength is the “Fe” symbol for Iron, and yours seems to be “Au” for Gold. When did the transition happen from the name of the brand “Michelle is well” to “Au”?

Michelle Lesniak-Franklin: I got advice from a friend and investor about the name “Michelle Is Well”, that it sounds like a hospital update. “Oh, we went to the hospital to visit Michelle, how is she?” “She’s doing great, Michelle is…well.” I never loved it either, I thought it sounded really juvenile, but was something that just stuck.

I like to be smart, and articulate, and slightly geeky. And so the periodic table…you know I have a little bit of a science background, it just stuck with me. And I wanted it to be Au, to represent a golden moment, a golden piece of clothing that will stay in your closet until the end of time. You know it’s geek chic, but there’s also something tough and hard about gold. Continue reading

The Woman Who Runs With The Wolves

Michelle Lesniak-Franklin, The Woman Who Runs With Wolves.

(l. to r.) Michael James Schneider, Michelle Lesniak Franklin. Photo and mask construction by Summer Olsson, digital artistry by Tucker Cullinan.

Do what you love. Be brave. Take a chance.

These are all things I’ve talked about often on this blog, since my decision to take an artistic sabbatical and share the journey with others. Recently, I met someone else who took a similar leap: Michelle Lesniak-Franklin, winner of Season 11 of Project Runway (yup, it was her I was writing about at the end of this previous post). You’ll remember her personal style and razor-sharp wit, and probably her obsession with wolves, too.

I met the Portland native at her studio this week to chat, and she was just as funny, tough, and candid as she appeared to be on the show. She was also game for a photo shoot in Portland’s Japanese Gardens, inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic, “Princess Mononoke”.

BLCKSMTH: You were excited when I brought up the “Princess Mononoke” concept of the photo shoot, are you a fan of Miyazaki?

Michelle Lesniak-Franklin: I am, definitely!

Explain a little bit of the wolf obsession, please.

At the time of being on the show, you’re alone during filming, and you don’t have your friends and family there. You don’t have your support system for weeks and weeks, and you’re cut off from the world. I felt, too, that my garments weren’t being received very well. Not having the fashion background, it started making me think, “Oh, I’m not good at this, no one will like my aesthetic, it’s not supposed to be out there in the world.” It started getting me down, and I felt like “You can’t be in this dark space, think of a power animal, put yourself into an animal that can survive through all odds.” And it was the wolf. And I ended up being pretty dangerous for the other people. Continue reading

Will The Real Aiden James Please Stand Up?

photo by Summer Olsson, enhancement by Tucker Cullinan

photo by Summer Olsson, duplication by Tucker Cullinan

Between touring and writing/recording his music, Aiden James probably wishes there was a few more of him to go around! He’s a Philly-based, emerging singer/songwriter who headlined Portland Pride a couple weeks ago. His story kind of inspired me, since I’m a little obsessed with connecting with people who have made the choice to leave their day job for creative pursuits. I got a chance to hang with him a bit after his gig, and he was charming, gregarious, and transparent. The fact that he was down for a fun photo shoot was icing on the cake. Here’s an interview with the guy; expect big things from him coming up:

BLCKSMTH: What did you do before what you do now? AJ: Find a way to do what I’m doing now.

What was the job you hated the most? High school … (pause for seriousness)

I was never trapped behind a desk or a slave to the man. That’s not my story. It’s nothing like Dolly Parton in 9 To 5. I’ve been involved with music, even during the early parts of my life. I was a karate instructor for a large chunk of my adolescence, a barista (while I worked the open mic circuit and small coffee house gigs, taught guitar, and then released my first album). Then later down the line… Continue reading