Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Big Journey Out West - The Matriarch Approves.

Dreamt that the ocean was giving signs of the pending end of the world. Giant pelicans were falling to their death in packs of 3 (biggest, big, smallest - families). I knew that their deaths were caused by man but I could not pin-point the cause. People were gathering by water - in fear and awe and anticipation. I was with my Gaspesian family. There was a sense of panic. I turned around and my gre
at-grandmother was sitting on a beach chair in her bathing suit - wearing a big floral visor, as she always did. Relaxed and unafraid. She was calm. She said, "Get to the West Coast while you still can". She looked at Peter and smiled, gave me her blessing to move forward with him. She said he was a lucky being and lucky for me. I wish I'd touched her hands before I woke up. The first time Tip Nanny has made herself so present to me in a long time. I am moved.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Photoshoot time!

Got a great contract doing a visual identity for a young, super great, super fun DJ named Angelo Esposito. Meet Angelo - he likes to dance:

p.s. Follow-up post coming soon! Been a busy busy summer, you kno!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In response to "5 Lies We've Been Told All Our Lives"

I'm a big fan of Thought Catalog. The articles make me ponder life, ponder my youth, ponder my career, my friendships, my pending 30's.

This article: -- really got to me. I felt sad for the author. Sad that she doesn't believe that all of these things are possible.

People - the power of self-awareness, positive thinking, hard work, setting goals, is limitless. You are your only hurdle to achieving a life you love. Some people have it worse than others, of course. And I was blessed with supportive parents, inspired communities, a life in a cultural hub - maybe it's easier for me. I truly believe though, that it's all in your mind. The power of the mind to push you up or drag you down....

Here was my response to the article:

Well written and funny but I have an issue with the simplification and generalization.
As children, we all need direction. The problem is not being told that we can be anything we want to be; The problem stems from denying us the exploration and the pursuit of fields that truly stimulate the best in us. Yes - we are told we can be anything - and shortly afterwards, pushed into areas that older generations deem economically sound, fields of status - sciences, mathematics, linguistics, politics. This occurs from a very young age. Of course that leads to so many of us pursuing careers in which we are bound to not necessarily fail, but not necessarily thrive since they are not areas that truly drive us as passionate people. Being told that our true interests are silly or hobbies or time-wasters does a job to our lifelong morale. We choose jobs, careers, lives that don't drive us and then yes... all these statements manifest themselves as lies.
What if we were told we could be anything and then left free, without judgement, to explore the areas we truly love? (Read: The Element by Ken Robinson). What if our parents and elementary schools placed more importance on different kinds of intelligence (body, sound, sight, touch). How many of us would dream of being artists, dancers, musicians, dog whisperers, tree planeters, motivational speakers, world travelers, fort builders,...
I believe, without societal pressures, in encouraging environments - these lies are not lies - they should just come with disclaimers:
 1. When you pursue what you are truly passionate about,“You can be anything you want to be.”
2. (I'm simplifying but I believe at the heart of it, positive attracts positive) If you know yourself and love your life you are more likely , “... to grow up and find your very own Prince Charming to marry.”
3. If you study something you're actually interested in and fully commit to your development in the field, “College is the iron-clad guarantee of a f-cking awesome job!!!!!!1″
4. If you know yourself and love what you are doing, you will be more prone to positive sentiment and self-actualizing thoughts and personal success:
“You are beautiful and unique and special, there is no one like you.”
5. When pursuing something you care about deeply, victory is not the end goal. Simply being a part of it is gratifying.
“Even if you lose, you still get a participation trophy.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

BEING A (SUCCESSFUL) CREATOR - lessons learned.

Inspired by a few big names and sources of big thoughts (Stefan Sagmeister, Micheal Gillette, Ze Frank, Paul Labonté aka Paul107), I've decided to write down my lessons learned/discoveries about how to succeed creatively, emotionally and financially as a freelance designer.

When you're pushing yourself forward, you're bound to make some embarrassing mistakes, you're bound to stumble. The important thing here is to dust yourself off and embrace the embarassment - see what you've learned. Chances are you won't stumble so easily the next time. While the blood leaves your blushed cheeks, remind yourself:
- How to stay creative
- How to stay above the drama
- How to surpass your competition

My way of embracing the embarrassment is to list my lessons learned in an attempt to grow and move forward. I do some wallowing in self-pity every once in a while just like everybody else though. Yes, I allow myself that - but not for long. I'm on a mission after all - gotta keep pushing pushing pushing, envisioning and moving.

Keep in mind - I'm so new to the game, still crawling through the lessons that keep piling on top of me. Maybe my list of lessons will be off and I'll have to revisit and edit it several times throughout the next year. However, I have a very good sense of myself, where I fit in and how to treat people in order to develop mutually beneficial relationships, so I think I'm on the right track. And if I'm wrong, at least I'm wrong while being self-reflective. Self-reflection is always a plus in my book. These are things I think about while I stretch in the morning or brush my teeth; my positive mantras to remind myself that although I may struggle, I do so in the name of personal development. No moving forward if I cower when tested.


1) AUTHENTICITY IS KING (Inspired by Paul 107)
Be you and support what you believe in. Design things the way you want to design them. Forge your style. BE REAL. There are so many sickeningly fake people in this industry - all vying for your spot - being you, real, trustworthy, honest, may just be the thing that sets you apart. And at the end of the day, you'll feel happier for being true to yourself.

Don't stress the project. You're doing what you love so just have fun and play around. Explore. Learn. Test. Be spontaneous. Don't plan your playing. This always, always, always leads to discoveries. And an open-mind, ready to learn is far more likely to discover something that hasn't yet been found. Plus, playing is exciting and keeps you keen on design/creation.

No matter how confident you are in your skills and creative abilities - that confidence gets swept right out the door when there's a senior behind you complaining that you aren't doing it right or quickly enough. As I mentioned, those moments where your confidence wavers are bound to happen. The key is to embrace them and tap into your COURAGE to push through!

You may be on a big creative/career streak but maintain your perspective:
- you always have LOTS to learn
- you didn't get here alone - you have lots of people supporting you (they deserve some credit)
- being cocky is unattractive
- being full of yourself prevents you from being critical of your work

Embrace your mistakes - they keep you learning and keep you out of your box. When you make mistakes, it takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes your abilities one step further. When creating - playing around often leads to mistakes. These mistakes can be special surprises that open up whole worlds to you.

Harder to reject than you'd think. When you catch yourself with negative thoughts, hating on people, being jealous -- just let it go. I believe in the power of the mind. I think positive and I expel positive and positive is reflected back to me. The same is true with negative. You won't get anywhere releasing negative energy!

Time flies. If I don't set goals, the days roll by me and before I know it, I've gone a week without creating. That's just too long when you're trying to get your career going. I have so much to learn and doing nothing isn't going to get that stuff learnt. I need to get my 10000 hours in!

The treats are important because you need to reward yourself for hard work. Without the treats - the work starts to seem like a job. And there's no such thing as a creative zone if you never allow yourself to leave it and watch tv with a glass of wine (or whatever your vice may be).

8) PERFECTION IS LESS INTERESTING (Have had this one on my mind for a while but Ze Frank reminded me of it)
While in Italy, my drawing teacher always told me to let go of the need to have my drawings be perfect.  I learnt during that trip that when you aren't interested in perfection, you art reveals your soul and your true intentions. Perfection lives in a shiny box but it's boring and it's not me.

9) DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY (Thanks Caster Parham)
Leave your emotions at the door. This will allow you to remain above the drama (there is lots and it can eat at you). People are dealing with their own stresses. Making their stresses your own is silly and useless.

As I mentioned, positive attracts positive. So many people live in their own bubble... a lot of it technology based. Step outside your bubble and make a connection. People will remember you for it.

Always and all ways. This will keep you at the top of your game and keep you interested in what you're doing.


Michael Gillette

Ze Frank
Stefan Sagmeister - Click the pic to read his list of things he's learnt!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WHO IS EEBS? (and where are we going?)

Time for a follow-up, I believe! Things have been flying by so quickly that I have barely had anytime to keep up!! A wonderful, wonderful thing, that's for sure.


Jan - Major reality check from Mentor concerning a lack of vision and focus. I quickly realigned my goals and actively pushed towards them through research, reading, lots of drawing and digital creation.

Mid-Feb - Spent a weekend with En Masse and left totally inspired and certain that I needed a big change. I completely threw myself into my drawing and this is when I had a flash of insight. Must create as Eebs Berenstein* and must work freelance!

* I've been using the sudonym Eebs Berenstein since 2009 when I felt the need to forge my place and identity within the John Molson School of Business. I wanted to openly associate with my creative side and differentiate myself from the 'typical' business student. I started using it as an online persona but it quickly became about my exploration of creative and career opportunities.  

I realized this March (with the help of a close friend) that having a sudonym builds allure, allows for anonymity and represents a specific time in your life as a creator. I will not be Eebs forever. But she is a big part of me now.

If I were to design strictly as Erin Willett for the rest of my life, when delving into different creative fields, people may become confused about what I actually do... Is Erin Willett a designer? A director? A marketer? A spiritual being? Creating under 'Eebs' gives me a creative 'umbrella' under which I fall in all my rolls. Eebs represents possibilities and opportunities for creation! Eebs represents who I can become.

I've discovered also that representing Eebs through my work, instead of myself, allows me to be less inhibited. It's about creative freedom.*

Early March - Quit my job with only a couple small contracts lined up but with a ton of inspiration and drive for the next stimulating and creative work that would come my way. In the mean time, I started focusing my efforts on my personal development, visual identity and online persona! I felt light and unstoppable after having trusted my instincts.

Mid-March - Jobs started coming in! Many jobs in fact! Positive word of mouth is spreading :). I also focused my attention on spreading the online word about Eebs Berenstein and got my facebook artist page up.

End of March - My website came together (Thanks for my friend, Nick Perusse, who did the coding). With that done, I was able to market myself as Eebs. I applied for the Sid Lee Bootcamp. I applied for a Moment Factory open interview session called Expose Your Talents, which I was invited to attend!

Last weekend I took part in the Moment Factory interview. ... ... ... Just amazing. Incredible space, such warm and receptive employees, creative atmosphere, supportive execs, smiling interviewer. This is the place for me. I was informed that they are not necessarily looking to fill positions with these interviews but more so to prepare themselves for the expanding they'll be doing in the near future. Every extremity is crossed for an opportunity to work with MF.

Right around the time of the interview, I was given the opportunity to freelance at Sid Lee for a week! Of course, I jumped on it! And so, here I am. Writing this from my Sid Lee freelancer desk, waiting for the next job to come to me :).


Well - in a perfect world:
I get a freelancing or permanent job with Moment Factory and I get chosen as the graphic designer for the Sid Lee Bootcamp!!! I'm sending all my positive energy into the universe for these two things!

What's next for Eebs?
I've been doing alot of graphic novel reading and feeling really inspired by the style, colours, drama, story-telling. The thoughts aren't concrete just yet but I'm thinking I want to explore the comic side of myself and Eebs Berenstein. I'm developing a character that represents who Eebs was before she got so bad-ass. Perhaps an awkward, lanky, teen-version of Eebs - Ms. Eebie... Stay tuned.

I will also continue to depict Eebs as the confident, strong, independant woman you've seen in my recent pieces. My vision for the next piece: Eebs is going COMMANDO! Get ready, people! She's going to beat you down and you're going to love it!

I also want to explore my infatuation with typography. I'm planning the release of an Eebs font in the coming weeks. Followed shortly after by a Berenstein font...

Stayed tuned also for a feature on EEBS BERENSTEIN on MTL BLOG's FEATURE FRIDAY in the next few weeks!

Maybe you've seen this one already but I'm really loving, loving, loving this piece! So much attitude in Eebs' face. She's fearless and that really comes across.

This piece also sprung much inspiration for my coming pieces. Think: army, 60's, 70's, women in power.

This also got me thinking of visuals that would have been considered common place in 60's and 70's advertising. All around sexist visuals with men depicted in power rolls. I want to play with those notions of power, femininity, control and SELLING.

@eebsberenstein on twitter

Love always,
Eebs Berenstein

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Birth of DEAD Shakespeare

My most recent piece was inspired by a list of things. It's been coming together for a several weeks, I guess. Started as a simple sketch for fun, developed into a final piece I'm very excited about. I feel this piece will lead to many more similar ones.

Several Saturdays ago, I lazily sketched out a skull without much thought. I added some wig-like hair. All of a sudden, the sketch became a dead Shakespeare.

One sunny Sunday afternoon, a couple weeks later, I ventured to Chapters with a friend who's asked me to illustrate some children's book she's writing. We went to the graphic novel/comic section looking for ideas. I came across a comic that caught my eye - bright, youthful colours, beautiful type work, unusual layouts - The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes. Published by Mtl's own Drawn and Quarterly and soon to be made into a movie. Clowes also wrote Ghost World! And man, do I love the colours. These jpg's don't do them justice but these are the colours that inspired DEAD Shakespeare.

Last week I was looking through pictures from En Masse and Station 16's recent visit to the Fountain Art Fair in NYC. I came across a photo of the back of a van that they were all painting on. Some beautiful typo work. I found out yesterday, from my buddy EARTH CRUSHER, that the work was done by an Mtl artist named What is Adam.

Here's a pic of that awesome typo!

Check out this great vid by Fred Caron, showcasing En Masse and Station 16 at the Fountain Art Fair:

I let the thoughts wander a few days and voila - they just melded together to form the base for this new piece.

Love how unexpected the creative process is.

Here's the final result:

Monday, March 12, 2012

The new-age CAT LADY.

Oh, you haven't heard? It's cool to be a cat lady again, in fact, it's chic. Been sketching a lot about the modern, Montreal woman, in her many facets. Well, the sketches are more representations of myself, I guess. But they're coming out interesting and beautiful and full of narrative (which is something I've had difficulty with in the past when sketching). I will be doing a series of these I believe... I'll keep you posted.

I've been drawing a large/intricate/detailed sketch a day. It's been keeping me centered and allows me to focus my thoughts and keep my vision aligned towards creativity. It's also helped me realize the positivity in letting go while creating and just trusting myself for the next step. This becomes easier and easier the more I draw and more I allow myself creative freedom and guiltless lines (ie. drawing before planning, just doing it, not worrying).

This notion of letting-go really comes through as I bring the drawings I've made into photoshop. It's all about playing around and seeing what works. 

Le Catnap - C'est Rich

This is a great example of a few elements of design that are essential for me when creating: Texture (created using a few scans of really nice paper that I recently purchased), Contrast (lines in hair, title, central point of focus), Colour coordination (love me some turquoise but especially love it when it's next to a sanguine), Strong lines (see for yourself). Oh, and as an added bonus, my new favorite element: Typo.

Hope you enjoy it - I LOVED making this piece. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Modern Montreal Woman.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Shine A Light *** Looking back...

My loving mother has been a great supporter of my design endeavours from the very beginning.

Three years ago, she hired me to create a promo poster for a gala fundraising dinner organized by the Bishop's University School of Education.

Looking at these three pieces, you can see really how far I've come as a designer. Wonder what it'll look like next year!?

Here's my most recent Shine A Light poster for the March 31st, 2012 event:

Same event, under a different name: Teachers For Hope, March 26, 2011. Followed by the First promotional poster I ever designed I think... for the February 13, 2010, Shine A Light event.

Insane how far one can come in 2 years... Really makes me thankful for the decisions I made - moving from marketing to design was tops at that point in my life. Also really makes me thankful to have such a supporting family and group of people around me who encourage me to create! Not to get all mushy about it but, here's to following your instincts and passions!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I am Eebs Berenstein - hear me roar!

Beginning sketch. (After a few practice attempts at the 'Eebs Berenstein' portion). Came to me as I was walking home... Was thinking about the stitching on baseball caps as inspiration for the Eebs.

Final product. Round 1. Tweeked the sketch after I scanned it and worked with some fantastic paper and a picture of myself to create texture and depth. 

Makes me think of a circus/burlesque show!