Smarten Up with Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow



Making art is excellent, but creating a masterpiece with the help of a master artist is even better!  The goal of Smarten Up‘s Creative Learning Workshops is to plant the seed for creativity, inspiration, and curiosity.  We want children to walk away from each workshop experience with an object, image, sound, or movement that will expand their impression of the world around them.  Every moment is filled with unexpected possibilities, and we hope to help our students to discover them.

At our workshop on September 22nd, kids around the ages of 6-12 will have the opportunity to record a song with Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow.  Upon registration, children will be asked to send a sentence or two about their favorite animal.  At the event, the kids will make their own musical instruments (think water bottle maraca, tin can xylophone, shoe box guitar), and hear how their written submissions have been turned into a song.  Then, Wyatt will direct and record the mini-musicians as they sing and play in order to mix a Smarten Up song from the event.  Kids will not only be able to take home their amazing instruments, but they will also get an MP3 to help them remember the workshop forever.
Where: Above Allen at Thompson LES, 190 Allen Street, New York, NY
When: September 22, 2012 from 1:00 to 2:30ish
Tuition: $25
For more info visit, or call 917-297-3764
Space is limited!



Design Research, Cambridge


Before stores like Design Within Reach, IKEA, Crate & Barrel, and Habitat brought design to the masses, there was the Design Research store in Cambridge.  In it you could buy anything from design objects by Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen to eclectic folk materials and textiles from around the world (including Marimekko).

The founder of the store, Ben Thompson, wanted people/consumers to think about how to use and experience the spaces they lived in.  His goal was to create a store that would help customers get ideas about how to put things together in their home and develop a modern style.  Mission accomplished.






Plop! Magazine



Plop!, “The New Magazine of Weird Humor!”, was a comic book published by DC Comics in the mid 1970s. There were 24 issues in all and the series ran from Sept./Oct. 1973 to Nov./Dec. 1976.


Each issue was hosted by three ghoulish characters – Cain, Abel, and Eve – who would try to outgross each other with a story.  To wet your appetite for the foul …


… here is the tale about a gourmet diner whose love for frog legs leads to a predictable amphibian revenge – he is left without his own legs, doomed to navigate the world on a trolley.

Plop! employed a number of the great minds of MAD magazine fame – Basil Wolverton and Wallace Wood provided distinctive some amazingly twisted covers for the first 19 issues, while Sergio Aragones and Dave Manak drew many of the more cartoonish tales and most of the surrounding banter between the three hosts.



Pretty amazingly excellent.  If only more of these sorts of comics were still around I think kids might read more!


Smarten Up: a Learning Company

I’m sure you don’t know this about me, but I am an educator.  I have worked in the classroom and one-on-one with students of all ages and abilities for the last five years.  I am sharing this random bit of information because I have recently launched a learning company with a colleague, and I am eager to spread the word to everyone and anyone that might be interested.

It is called Smarten Up.  Simple enough, right?!  Our goal is to provide each student with a unique learning experience.  To do this we build games, create visuals, and brainstorm activities that are catered to each child’s interest in order to essentially trick kids into becoming more smart.  But, because we believe that intelligence is so much more than getting good grades, at Smarten Up we also offer what we call “Fun” – one-on-one learning experiences that offer children the opportunity to explore their interests and passions with trained professionals.  Whether a kid wants to become the next Martin Scorsese, Tony Hawk, or Coco Chanel, we will find him or her the perfect teacher to inspire creativity, passion, and determination.


Please spread the word …  It’s a good thing to Smarten Up!

Tim Hawkinson is Rad

Tim Hawkinson is a pretty amazing artist.  In fact, his work is so incredible it seems futile to post pictures (though I will to pique your interest), or even give a description of it when PBS did such a good job telling his story on their program Art21.  So just click the link and watch the segment.  It’s worth it!

SEGMENT: Tim Hawkinson in “Time”


Diabolik is one of the coolest superheroes ever because he is the classic anti-hero, with great style and even greater eyebrows.

Diabolik is a ruthless Italian master thief, but of the Robin Hood sort – he steals big, but only from criminals (or mostly I should say).  One would think that ripping off all of the bad guys in town would bring some pretty heavy heat on Diabolik; I mean how does one escape the fury of an entire community of evil genius?  With the help of an ever-chanigng idtentity of course!  Diabolik is also a scientific mastermind with a broad knowledge of chemistry, computers, mechanics, and mask creation – he has an seemingly infinite set of the most lifelike disguises which he uses to fool his opponents, assuming a random identity at will.

Diabolik was raised as an orphan on a secret island hideout of a criminal combine.  It was there that he developed his thieving skills by learning from his neighbors who were all true masters of the trade.  However, when the secret island and its inhabitants had nothing more to offer, Diabolik turned on his “family,” and killed the head of the combine.  He is not one for guns, choosing instead to attack with either his daggers, which he throws with uncanny ability, or a small dart gun with knockout darts. He works solo until issue #3 when he meets Eva Kant, his “moll,” who gains an increasing role as both his partner and lover.

The comic was created in 1962 by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani.  Since then Diabolik has lived on as a comic book, published in both Italian and English, but it has also inspired an amazing film, Danger: Diabolik (1968), inspired a cartoon and a video game, and provided the perfect plot for the Beastie Boys’ video “Body Movin’.”

Martí Guixé and Endless Possibility

Martí Guixé is a Spanish-born designer (who now lives between Barcelona and Berlin). His creations aren’t so much about what he wants you to see, but more about what the owner/creator wants to make for themselves – a toy with seeds for eyes that you can keep and cherish, or plant to create life; a blank clock that allows you to keep time however you want; tape that allows you to create a road across any terrain, or a picture frame around any masterpiece. Guixé used a similar theory in the creation of his coloring books below…

Blank Book is an empty book that offers unlimited scope for the imagination: it’s not a “book-to-be-read”, but a “book-to-be-created”.

Whereas they were once taboo, now tattoos are just about everywhere – from the arms of the toughest guys, to the ankles of the daintiest girls – every hipster/jock/bad boy/intellectual seems to have one.  But if you aren’t ready to commit to the real thing, or your parents won’t let you, you can fantasize about the ink you might one day get with the Tattoo Book.  Use shapes and colours to create your own personal paper body you and you can have another blank one anytime you wish!

No matter if you love traditional or exotic cuisine, cheap fast food or the most carefully prepared 10-course meal, Food Book is a banquet on paper with your all your favorite dishes.  And paper provides just the right way to improvise a meal without the risk of offending taste!

Moebius Monster Scenes

With Halloween around the corner (according to all of the costumes shop popping up around the city), it’s time for a bit of gruesomeness.  Not the contemporary variety that you see in Saw, or PlayStation games like Manhunt or Thrill Kill, I’m talking about good old-fashion creepiness, the vintage sort.

Moebius, the model experts, have re-released their Monster Scenes line in cooperation with Dencomm.  First released in 1971, the Monster Scenes provided kids with a plastic “Victim”—a nubile young beauty in torn halter top and cut-offs —to presumably be tortured or experimented upon in a snap-together torture chamber, handsomely decked out with immortal horror trappings like Edgar Allan Poe’s Pendulum, The Hanging Cage (replete with brazier of red hot coals and pokers), and the subtly-titled Pain Parlor playset. Presiding over this deviltry were the loathsome Dr. Deadly and the scantily-clad Vampirella.

The Monster Scenes’ wholesome tagline: “Rated X- For Excitement!” Needless to say, the models drew heavy protests from feminist and parents’ groups, and were exorcised from hobby store shelves forever after, making them a highly coveted item until their most recent re-release!  Get yours today and add a bit of all-together inappropriate vintage gore to your Halloween.

Gaetano Pesce: The Beauty of Imperfection

Gaetano Pesce is an Italian artist above all, whose form of expression is furniture.  His creations are uniquely beautiful, and often unexpectedly charming in large part because he uses materials in a way that is different than any one of his contemporaries.  Pesce’s focus is on the individuality of the object – the beauty that can be found in the unexpected, the romanticism of hidden forms, and the joy that a piece of furniture, or jewelry, or clothes can bring not only to a home, but to one’s life.  His goal is not perfection, but rather to celebrate the beauty of chance and the uniqueness of imperfections!

Perfectly 70s Magic: Doug Henning

Doug Henning brought magic to the masses in the 70s.  Before Copperfield, Blaine, or Angel there was Doug Henning, only his costumes and poses were WAY better!