Artist Initiative Update: Jon & Chris Schoonover

Earlier this year, we were exceptionally proud to launch our Artist Initiative program, a $1,000,000 USD fund created to support established and emerging artists working in any medium. Since its launch, the Artist Initiative has supported over 15 talented artists, and we are honored to be working alongside them to fund, advise, and advocate for them as they work on their projects. Today, we are pleased to share an update on the progress made by two of these artists, brothers Jon and Chris Schoonover, as they reach the midway mark in their work.

Several months ago, Jon and Chris found themselves reminiscing over something they both remembered fondly from their childhood: watching pro wrestling. As kids, they loved the pageantry of the competition. As adults, their conversation turned to current amateur and independent pro wrestling leagues. They found the unique subculture of the sport intriguing and desired to explore it through photography. Through their project, their goal is to shine a contemporary light on their subjects and give viewers a fresh look at the world of pro wrestling. Read on for a preliminary look at Jon and Chris’ project and view the initial images from their collection. Also, be sure to visit both Jon and Chris’ VSCO Grids, where they will be posting new work as they go.

As Jon and Chris’ passion for this project stems from their childhood enjoyment of watching pro wrestling, their intention is to instill that same pleasure in their viewers through the photographs they capture. “We’re hoping people will get excited about wrestling like they may have been when they were younger and allow themselves to enjoy it again.” As for Jon and Chris, the series has already brought them joy. “We’ve high-fived a lot while shooting it, and we’re hoping to pass that on to those viewing our finished body of work.”

Image by Jon Schoonover / S3 Preset

Image by Jon Schoonover / HB1 Preset

Creating any new body of work comes with its challenges; an exploration of the subculture of pro wrestling presents unique ones. The Schoonovers share, “We’ve been kicked, yelled at, landed on, and had chairs thrown at us. So far, we haven’t come up with any effective way of avoiding these hazards.”

Despite these unusual setbacks, their process has been one of effective teamwork. Jon and Chris often work together and have an established workflow. “We work well together, and we each bring our own strengths to the table; so it’s been a relatively smooth process.”

We look forward to sharing Jon and Chris’ full collection of images soon.

Discover VSCO Grid™: Coffee

A simple cup of coffee can have complex connotations. For some, it is a daily ritual to be enjoyed over breakfast. For others, it is an elegant process to craft the quintessential cup, and for others still, a job that provides for their family. From the cultivator who labored over the crop itself, to the barista who fastidiously arranges milk and foam into an elegantly poured cup, each mug of joe speaks to a history that goes beyond a dose of daily caffeine.

Coffee’s unique appeal transcends its culinary properties to entice us with its social component as well. We gather with friends in a café, just as we gather our cold hands around a steaming mug. We huddle together in the office break room to make a fresh pot and clear our heads, or we sit around a campfire with a kettle to enjoy one another’s company. And yet for some, consuming a cup of coffee is a morning ritual, a solitary experience that occurs before a single word is uttered. No matter the scenario, coffee is an established fixture of daily life for many and has solidified its indisputable place in our lives.

To discover more beautiful images related to coffee from across the globe, be sure to use the Image and Map Search functions on VSCO Grid. Remember to hashtag your own images with key words and locations as well, so that others can discover your curated photos. From farms in Uganda to trendy cafés in Melbourne and roasters in Portland, discover coffee through the eyes of the VSCO Grid community.

Image by Shrly

Image by Darlene Phan / G3

Image by Michael Stetson / HB1

Image by Anthony Adams / F2

Image by Jay Kim / G2

Image by Lorant Pandea / A1

Image by Phi Tran / F2

Image by Joon Siau / S2

Image by Daniel Chae / M5

Image by Diala Canelo

Image by Irene Kim 

Image by Mylene Chung / S3

Image by Jason Yong / M6

Image by Joel Flory / B3

Image by Voros Mate 

Image by Stumptown Coffee / A4

Image by Emily Blincoe / M3

Stella Maria Baer : The Evolution of an Artist

Cool, subtle blues and greens, haunting oranges and reds, faded tans, browns, and grays; these understated yet enchanting hues dominate artist Stella Maria Baer’s paint palette. Creating in watercolors and oils alike, Stella explores color, geometry, shape, and nature through painting. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Stella’s paintings carry with them the mesmerizing spirit of the American southwest. “I do sense that I am haunted by the southwest,” she admits. Now living on the East Coast, Stella finds her work reveals a longing to be surrounded by the colors of the desert. “I find myself thinking a lot about sand, the colors of the rocks, the lines in the canyons, the cacti, the horses. That longing for the desert is present in my paintings, but usually not directly.” From animals to organic shapes to an entire series of watercolors capturing various moons throughout the solar system, each of Stella’s paintings are unique and display a true command of her medium.

The daughter of a weaver and a gallery curator, and stemming from a long line of craftsmen, Stella seems to have the makings of an artist in her blood. To be certain, Stella possesses a true, given talent for painting.Yet, having worked for the past eight years to establish her creative life, Stella also knows that living life as a fine artist comes with endurance, hard work, and dedication. She has found ways to incorporate risk, challenge, and discipline into her daily work routine to keep her pieces fresh and evolving.

Read more below to learn about Stella’s life as an artist. Additionally, see photographs Stella has captured of her paintings in various stages. All images were processed using VSCO Cam®.

 

These days, Stella keeps a strict 9-5 work schedule in her studio. Over the years, she’s spent time honing not only her craft but her routine. In the early years, Stella’s practice was private, almost a secret. Her subject was, for the most part, portraits of people painted as animals. She would share her work with only a select group of family and friends, but over time, she grew more confident. When people started requesting commissions, she took them. At this stage, she was also working as a studio and research assistant for artist Titus Kaphar. It was here that Stella learned what it meant to develop an artist’s practice. Now, Stella’s routine has been honed to an art in and of itself. “I try to spend a little time early every morning writing about things I want to make, being silent, and listening. I’ve found that journaling during that lucid early morning time is really important to my practice,” she says. Additionally, Stella believes she does her best painting between 9 am and 2 pm; so it’s important for her to be in the studio during those times. Finally, Stella seeks out time with other artists who inspire her, including her former boss, Titus Kaphar.

Stella’s subject matter has expanded as she’s taken bold steps to broaden & develop her creativity. After several years of painting animals almost exclusively, she grew bored and knew she needed to push herself. “I longed to take a greater risk in my painting practice but wasn’t sure what that would mean,” Stella shares. She followed her instincts and began to shift her concentration, exploring color, geometry, and the human form. “I made a decision to start making larger scale pieces – something I’d wanted to do for a long time.” Recently, Stella completed a 68 x 42” oil painting of a man riding a snail. It took 5 months to complete.

 

On a day-to-day basis, Stella creates in both watercolor and oils, moving back and forth between the two. “The oils are slow moving, tightly controlled, and take months to complete. The watercolors are quick, out of control, and are finished in one or two sittings. I really like moving back and forth between the two mediums and the balance it brings to my time in the studio,” Stella says. The two mediums also offer Stella another outlet to challenge and stretch herself. “Every day, I try to take a risk with my painting, and do something that I’m not sure will work. I’ve found that’s the only way to get closer to what I most want to make.”

 

Exploring Stella’s VSCO Grid, viewers will find any number of paintings in various stages of development. The images reveal Stella’s process in a way that the finished product never could. She shares, “Taking photographs of paintings while they are in process is a way for me to record something that is about to disappear. They also invite other people into my space to witness something that is incomplete and still evolving. [This] sometimes feels risky but seems important somehow; I think, because it’s a more honest look at how things come into being than just posting a finished painting.” Furthermore, Stella’s Grid images speak to an interesting paradox between the digital and the analog. “I find it interesting that in an age where almost everything can be made by computers, there is a return to valuing what is handmade,” she says. “And at the same time, those of us making things by hand so often capture what we make with our phones. It’s an interesting tension – this celebration of the handmade via technology. I think my work thrives in that paradox, for whatever the reason.”

 

Inspired by the Blood Moon eclipse this past April, Stella decided to paint the enchanting site. “I was struck by how flooding the surface of the paper with water and then bleeding in the paint created a texture that resembled the natural surface of the moon.”This realization urged Stella to begin a series depicting different planets and moons. In turn, Stella has made an effort to learn quite a bit about astronomy. “I’ve loved researching different planets and moons and learning more about the Greek myths they’re often named after and the various gases and elements that compose them,” she says. “It’s a convergence of science, mythology, geometry, and color that I just love.”

A Look Back on 'The Beautiful Game'

For the past month, a central point of the world’s attention has been concentrated on following the legendary games of the 2014 World Cup. The challenging and electrifying pastime of football gives humanity a source of unity and friendly competition unlike any other. It is a unique time when people hailing from many different countries and cultural backgrounds are focused intently on one, shared experience.

The competition this year was neck and neck, at times resulting in high pressure games that were both exhilarating and stress inducing. During the games, we saw athletes diving feet first for possession, leaping dangerously to redirect the ball with headers, dribbling wildly to confound opponents, and taking powerful, precision shots on goal. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed over the illustrious prize of being the World Cup champions, with Germany finally claiming the title after a well-matched fight against Argentina.

At the beginning of the World Cup, we published a curated VSCO Grid entitled ‘The Beautiful Game’ in honor of the international event. We asked people to share their images centered around football with the hashtag #BeautifulGame. Make sure to look at the amusing collection of images from around the world by visiting beautifulgame.vsco.co. Below, we’ve included a selection of some of our favorite instances shared to VSCO Grid over the past month.

Image by Angie Wu / A5

Image by Dirk Blauton / A4

Image by Tutu Mntambo / G3

Image by Ryan Garza / SE3

Image by Mars Upial / X1

Image by Maren Speyer 

Image by Jovan Salazar / E4

Image by Doug Klembara / E4

Image by Hector Alvarez / K3

Image by Caleb Troy / E3

Image by Eugene Kan / HB1

Image by Carra Sykes / C1

Discover VSCO Grid℠: Hands

Our hands allow us to more fully experience the world around us. It is our natural instinct to reach out, using our hands to apprehend and decipher our surroundings. We lean in, palms outstretched, to feel the heat of a flame; we dip our fingertips into the spray of a rushing river to perceive the icy cool of the water. As children, before we can even speak, we learn to say hello with our hands, waving an unspoken greeting. And to some degree, we all use our hands to speak, some gesturing in concurrence with their words, others signing as an important means of communication. With no two fingerprints alike, it’s no wonder that our hands allow us to express our uniqueness. Whether a painter, ceramist, or photographer, we make use of our hands to form our artistic vision. From a musician playing the piano to a florist arranging a bouquet, hands can give rise to beauty. Furthermore, our hands are a means to express our tenderness. Through a gentle caress or the joining of hands with another, we show affection and feel a sense of connectedness. Even the posture of our hands give insight into our mood, perhaps playful and welcoming, or at times, tense and angry. Many even decorate their hands, painting their nails, bejeweling their fingers with rings, or adorning their palms with henna. Indeed, our hands tell a silent story, and as we age they show the lines of a life well-lived.

Below are some of our favorite VSCO Cam images featuring hands. Be sure to view more images showcasing hands by using Image Search on VSCO Grid. In addition, remember to hashtag your own images with key words and locations so that others can find your curated photographs. From time to time, search for words and places that interest you, as Image and Map Search is a dynamic and inspiring way to search VSCO Grid.

 

Image by Kathleen Sayer / G1

Image by Andrew Milligan / F1

Image by Barrut / A6

Image by Alex Strohl / M5

Image by Marcelo Almeida / M3

Image by Mathieu Tan / C3

Image by Gaby Azarcon 

Image by Gusta Pratama / E4

Image by Hannah Merritt / LV1

Image by Alexei Dorofeey / F2

Image by Caviar Du Jour

Image by Hamad Alaimi / B2

Image by Melody Hansen / M5

Image by Rosie Ubacher / G3

Image by Anna Miu / M3

Image by Izzy Eveux / LV2

Image by Patrick Chin / M5

Image by Trinette + Chris / S3

Image by Carissa Gallo / S2

Image by Andrew Gallo / A3

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