LaLaLand | Subculture: Body Painting

Last month I competed in a body-painting photo competition, deftly organized and executed by body painter Nicolette Spear. What tha–? How does that happen, you ask? Well, a few months ago I saw a flyer on the student board at Otis calling for photographers to compete in this body painting competition. So I submitted and was [obviously] selected. Ten finalists were selected, but I’m not sure how many photographers actually applied. Most of them were seasoned pros, not a semi-pro-former-indie-film-crew person like me, so I’m going to pat myself on the back for being even selected and not dwell on how in-over-my-head—OMG I’m never going to win so I should just give up and go home and watch TV because I’ll never accomplish anything ever— manically drowning in a crisis of confidence I was when I saw my shooting space and was told I only had 15 minutes with my models.

I was assigned painters Avi Ram, who is from Israel and painted an Israeli woman on one side of his model and a Palestinian woman on the other, surrounded by imagery of the wailing wall, mosaic graphics, and doves to represent his desire for peace between the two cultures. My other artist was Oscar Galvan, a fellow Texan, who painted a camouflage piece, blending his model into one of his own canvases.

Overall is was a pretty cool experience, however, I think next time I will attend as a guest, not as a competitor. We were only allowed to submit two photos for the competition, which are the first two in my album below. (See the winning photos are after the jump.)


What felt like a million hours of Photoshop later (but was probably only 8+), here is one of the two photos I submitted.

This was the other photo I submitted. I like how if you let your eyes relax—or in my case, let my lazy eye drift—the model's arm almost looks like it belongs to the Palestinian woman and she's dancing. It's almost an optical illusion. I also like the irony that the Muslim Palestinian woman who would normally be covered head-to-toe is painted on to a naked woman. But I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who sees that irony.

This was the "before" photo. Her face was quite distorted because of how the model was standing. One friend commented that she liked it that way because it was natural, but THIS IS LA. Natural imperfections are not permitted! So, I gave her some Photoshop-plastic-surgery for the final image. But, actually, this photo looks like the "after" in some plastic surgery cases.

I almost submitted this photo instead of the Palestinian back, but I decided the model was too pose-y. It's a bit distracting from the overall message of the art. The lighting is cool, though, right?

This girl's face feels more in-tune with the art. She is neutral. Just a canvas.

This is what the facilities looked like. Painters stations lining every wall of the building.

This artist, David Gilmore, is really cool. He won second place in the show. Check out his website:

This was the amount of space each photographer was given. That's my backpack, purse, and camera.

We all crammed our gear in the room, overlapping each other's space.

Fortunately, the shoots were staggered, so we weren't all shooting at once and could back up and spread out.

This was Oscar's painting.

And the winners were…

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LaLaLand | My Beach Bachelorette Pad: version 2.0

So, I’ve made some upgrades to the apartment, and entered myself into Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest, and after I hit submit I wished I had sent them different photos. Ah, such is the life of a hypercritical artist. So, anyway, decided to get my second chance on my blog. And add a few more to boot.


My ivy has finally started to grow into a room divider!

New-ish wall art. One of my own photos that I had printed on a 4-ft canvas.

I really wish I had submitted this photo instead of two kitchen pics. Gotta show off the credenza, right?

The Asia Pacific | Day 7-16 | Australia | Sydney


Wowza, I can’t believe it’s been two months since I stopped in the middle of this Asia-Pacific recap. It’s been a busy two months, which has made me zero-motivated to blog right now. And I have a million things to do this week, but I can’t sleep, so why not do something of low priority while avoiding the high-priority things. Incidentally, It’s 3:45 a.m. and I just got a work-email from the creative director. What is wrong with us night-owl artists???

So, anyway,  in efforts to finish one of my many unfinished projects, I’ll finish recapping Journeymoon #3. Just photos and captions. Get’erDUN.

Days 7-11: Sydney

Pauline, a Sydney native whom I met in Turkey during JM#1, and her mom, Vicki, graciously hosted me in their beautiful home in Rose Bay. The first day, I hit some obligatory Sydney sites. The next day, Vicki and I walked from Rose Bay through the Hermitage Foreshore Walk in the Sydney Harbour National Park up to Watson’s Bay and back down through Vaucluse. It was a pretty long walk, roughly 3.5-4 hours, but very beautiful. Vicki then fixed us and her mother lunch and then she drove me to Manly in the afternoon and dropped me off in downtown to meet Pauline and her friend for dinner. Vicki was an amazing host, tour guide, and shuttle service all-in-one. In other words: Mom. (Or “mum” as they say in Australia.)

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The Asia Pacific | Day 6 | Indonesia | Batam


I had breakfast at Telunas and took their morning boat back to Batam. Dave had arranged a personal tour with Yuli, who is an Indonesian language teacher in Batam. A driver took us around town, to fruit stands, to lunch, to a souvenir shop, to the mall, and then finally back to the ferry terminal. Late that afternoon I headed back to Singapore, killed some time in the fancy Singapore VivoCity Mall, then eventually got tired of dragging my heavy bag loaded with camera and lighting gear around, so I just went to the airport early, and waited for my 1am red-eye to Syndey.

I didn’t shoot many photos of Batam because frankly I was tired of shooting, but here are the few I did take:

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The Asia Pacific | Day 2-6 | Indonesia | Telunas [part 2]


Telunas Beach Resort and Private Island, Pulau Sugi, Indonesia

PART 2: The Photo Shoot

Nothing too eventful to report. Overall, the shoot went really well. My models Zee and Desiree were great, willing to do anything we needed. The Telunas staff was extremely helpful in setting up all the dinners and arranging the shooting schedule. So, the rest of my favorite images are after the jump.

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The Asia Pacific | Day 2-6 | Indonesia | Telunas [part 1]


Sorry for the delay. Work exploded. Then imploded. Then mushroom-bombed all over. Then I got hit in the head by a flying drone (no joke, more on that later). So, sh*t’s been a flyin’! But, anyway, here I am, two weeks later from the start of JM3 recaps, picking up with DAY 2…

Telunas Beach Resort and Private Island, Pulau Sugi, Indonesia

PART 1: Getting there

As I mentioned in the last post, Dave, a friend from NYC, recently moved to Indonesia to do marketing for Telunas Resorts which some of his friends from college started several years ago. It primarily started out as a retreat center, then international schools started coming and doing ethno tours on the island, where the students do team exercises, like building rafts, and spend nights sleeping in hammocks in the jungle exploring the wildlife and fauna, and visit small villages with a Telunas translator. Wish I could have gone to an Indonesian island jungle when I was in high school. But we can’t all go to a wealthy international school. I mean they don’t have Texas high school football, so maybe they’re the ones who should be jealous. But anyway, Telunas… as more and more rich kids kept coming for the ethno tours, Telunas expanded, and bought a private island across from the beach retreat, and turned that island into a resort with private villas.

And new marketing man, Dave, felt Telunas needed to beef up their photo inventory, so he called me. CUT TO:

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The Asia Pacific | Day 1 | Singapore


So, here we go! Journeymoon #3. Well, it’s not so much a journeymoon this time, just a couple weeks, but that’s more than a minimoon, so I’ll stop over-analyzing and compartmentalizing and just get on with it. These posts should be pretty short, mostly just photos. Nothing too eventful happened, but that’s perfectly fine by me, considering this trip was relatively soon after the very eventful Journeymoon #2 and the power-packed bullet-and-photo-shootin’ minimoon in Houston.

Which, speaking of… the reason for JM2 was because of Dave, the groom in the Houston minimoon and friend from my days in NYC. He now does marketing for a small resort in Indonesia and had me come out to shoot photos for them, which you’ll see in the next post.

I flew into Singapore and only really had about half a day to explore, but honestly I feel like you can hit all the main sites in a couple days. So there are a few things I would like to visit if I ever get back there, but as it was, I spent a nice evening in the Gardens by the Bay with a friend from high school, Matt, and his wife Sijie and their kids.

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Inspiration | Do it anyway

I assume most people often feel their efforts in their job or relationships are taken for granted, or even completely stomped all over and muddy gouges being the only form of residual gratitude. Freelancers especially feel this way because we often undersell ourselves in order to book a job. Likewise, based on the ridiculous and disturbing popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, many people must undersell their self-worth in efforts just to have somebody. But in a world of beheadings, genocides, gang rapes, and child slavery, we need to try our hardest to keep perspective and find as much to be thankful for as we can. And by “we” I mean “me.”

So here’s a little inspiration from one of the most generous and loving people of our lifetime and a very beautiful commercial about human kindness.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

[found on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta]

Inspiration | Fun and Funky Functional Art

Functional art is my favorite kind of art. Which is probably why I’m really digging building furniture with intricate inlay designs. I’ve been trying to keep this blog simpler than my retired Sunday School Beauty Queen blog, like avoid regurgitating information that already exists on the web and instead just focus on my travels and a few select hobbies. But I’ve recently come across some inspiring creations on the web that I feel are worth breaking the simplicity boundary and reposting for my readers… all three of them. And  so, keeping in-tune with my pretentious blog tagline (“exploration + experience = creative inspiration”), I’ve started a new category “inspiration.” ‘Cause, let’s face it, we all could use a little more inspiration in our daily humdrumity.

In this post, both inspiring designs are beautifully creative examples of functional art. The first are gorgeous chocolate truffles from an LA chocolatier Compartes. I don’t even like chocolate much, but wow, just wow!

The second is an Austin rooftop deck. The style, the colors, the design—love, love, love. BUT, this functional art slightly misses the mark. There are only a handful of days in Austin when the weather is actually pleasant enough to sit outside, but I imagine with this deck, you’d use it even in the less than pleasant days. And, those chairs… while I love the aesthetic, not sure I’d want striped divots all over my butt and thighs. Also, while the netted lounge is drool-worthy from a design perspective, I think there are some mosquitoes smart enough to fly in over the top opening of the net to feast on you while you’re lying unnaturally still trying not to turn over and roll out of the thin cot, knocking it over and on top of you. I mean, one aggressive smack to kill a mosquito and you’ll bring the whole beautifully-designed deck-tent down around you! But nonetheless, I am uber jealous and want it so very bad.

Exploration | Texas Puppy Cuteness

Official announcement: Journeymoon #3 posts are coming. I just got back a few days ago from the Asia Pacific. I was doing a photoshoot in Indonesia for a resort (more details to come). Then afterwards, I went to visit a friend in Sydney whom I met at the beginning of Journeymoon #1 on the Turkey trip. At the moment, I am editing those photos slowly, because mostly I’m milking jet-lag and tim-tams.

For now, meet my arch-nemesis, my parents’ new puppy, Hannah [Banana], who tormented me over Christmas break. Right before I shot this video she was growling and playing chase with me on the porch. But her pint-size growl stopped as soon as I turned on my camera.

Puppy Hannah Banana from Stacey Meineke on Vimeo.

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JM3: The Asia Pacific
JM1: Mediterranean
Life in LA