lily spindle

SHAPERS /// DRAWINGS OF DOGS

In an interview with Stephen Colbert last year, writer George Saunders was discussing his book "Lincoln in the Bardo" (which is exceptional, by the way) and in that conversation, he happened to so succinctly and beautifully state, "Empathy is a superpower." Those words have since been jotted down on a post-it and stuck on our desk since - a reminder that we all can be super heroes if we remember and attune ourselves to compassion and kindness. 

On this EXTREMELY salient topic of empathy and tenderness, we're thrilled to share the latest installment of SHAPERS with U.K. illustrator "Drawings of Dogs" (aka Henry James Garrett). We first spotted Henry's incredibly witty, clever, super smart, "politically punchy while somehow managing to remain playful" illustrations on Instagram and are beyond happy he took some time out of his work to answer our Q's with his A's. (By the way, Henry, major gratitude from us to you and your U.K. compatriots for your recent 250.000-strong march of resistance!)

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LILY SPINDLE: The writer Sue Monk Kidd once said "Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it's accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity..." Do you feel this is true? Is empathy accessible to all of us? And, if not, is its inaccessibility, denial, or nonexistence what's plaguing and poisoning the world at the moment?

So, I’m actually writing a book about empathy and kindness at the moment (there will, of course, be lots of drawings to accompany the text). This is a great question.

Empathy is accessible to all of us. In fact, because empathy evolved quite a while back, it’s not just humans that can empathise; some of our cousins in the animal kingdom can too. Rats feel other rats’ fear for example. We all have the capacity for empathy – the capacity to share in one another’s pains – but the problem is that we can accidentally turn our empathy off. 

The big problem right now (if I can grossly oversimplify for a moment) is that people are switching off their empathy toward certain groups because they have false beliefs about those groups, or they don’t know enough about those groups.

I’m not saying it’s an accident. It’s not. Lying about some group – like migrants – and stoking or redirecting hate toward them is a good distraction technique. And that’s what’s going on at the moment. But every time in human history we’ve turned our empathy off towards a specific group, atrocities have inevitably followed.

But there’s a really easy solution. You’ve got to listen to people and listen to them directly. Let people tell their own stories (don’t get Scarlett Johansen to play them in a movie). When we hear peoples’ stories directly, we will always empathise with their suffering.

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LILY SPINDLE: While you draw all sorts of animals, lending personalities and voices to them (all of which seem completely apt, by the way!), you began your illustration venture by drawing dogs (hence your moniker and ongoing project). And your pup, Billie, is your constant companion, yes? What is it about dogs that you so distinctly and intimately connect with? As dog lovers ourselves, we can think of a zillion reasons, but of course always love hearing everyone's own perspectives as to why dogs are SO AMAZING. 

I met Billie when I was 15. I was unwell and off school for a year and so my parents finally let me get a dog. They hoped she’d keep me company and keep me engaged in the world and she did. I love Billie so much and loving someone unconditionally and feeling completely at peace in their company is one of the best, most healthy, feelings in the world I think.

Dogs are fascinating to me from an artistic perspective because they reflect our humanity in really interesting ways. Here’s an animal that we bred, more than any other, specifically to function as an extra companion. So, dogs show what we want in a friend. And guess what: they’re super needy but super loyal.

                              Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

                              Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

LILY SPINDLE: If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? What would you order?

Hmmm, well I’ve made a super close friend through Instagram who I’ve yet to meet, so I’d use the dream lunch to do that. She’s my first proper internet friend and she also happens to be famous. So, I’d pick Alexandra Billings. I can’t remember how we first internet-met but she’s an incredible activist and actress, and Kitty (my partner) and I would be soooooooo happy if we could have lunch with her and her wife (we’re currently separated by the Atlantic ocean).

I would order so much vegan pizza, and burgers, and chips, and it would be delicious and wonderful.

Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

LILY SPINDLE: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m a morning person. I go to bed at 11 every night and get cross/anxious if I can’t for some reason. Sleep is super important for my health – but then it’s also something that it’s easy to turn into a worry.

I wake up sleepy but if I’m going to get anything good done workwise it will be in the morning.

I also love coffee, and love breakfast. If Kitty and I can have avocado toast outside on a sunny but cold morning, I will be incredibly happy all day.

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LILY SPINDLE: What's currently on your bedside table?

We sleep on a mattress on the floor haha.

I always have a Harry Potter book to hand. I read it to Kitty if she can’t sleep.I also keep a book nearby so that if I have an idea in the night, I can write it down and go back to sleep.


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LILY SPINDLE: As a thoughtful, evolved, kind-hearted, caring artist, what's your key piece of advice to the nurturers, empaths, and do-gooders of the world?

Haha, if I answer this it sounds like I accept that beautiful compliment as true. I’m ok, but I’ve got a lot of room to be better.

But if I could give one piece advice to a group of people who are trying to be better, it would be this: there is no such thing as too much empathy, there is no one who can feel pain whose pain you shouldn’t empathise with. If you want to make sure that you do empathise with everyone, you need to be humble, reflective and willing to learn by listening. Your empathy can be exercised, and strengthened, like a muscle; you just have to find people who have lives very different from your own and listen to their stories (but don’t angrily demand that they tell their stories, or listen to someone else who claims to be able to speak for them).


PS - You can find and purchase Henry James Garrett's work by going to THIS LINK

It's that time of year again, y'all. It's Punchlines for Paws!

Here's some mid-March musings for you lovely creatures! 

First of all, we're pumped the sun has come out again here in Los Angeles and, secondly, we are SUPER PUMPED for Punchlines for Paws next month! Who can resist gut-splitting laughs and adorable rescue dogs? Pretty much NO ONE. Whitney Cummings and Andy Richter will be gracing the stage, among many other funny, animal-loving folks (famous and otherwise). Crazy good silent auction items, to boot. We're talking crazy good - art, trips, jewelry, clothing, services...it's all excellent. Pssst....we'll be donating a free 2-hour in-home design consultation with, you know, US, so there's at least one thing you know you wanna bid on! All ticket and silent auction proceeds go to Home Dog LA and A Purposeful Rescue, as these two amazing (and entirely female-run) organizations have joined forces for this particular event. Buy your tickets ASAP! 

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What's the psychology and pragmatism and creative discussion that results in color creation of the Pantone sort? This fascinating read on color forecasting in NY Times Magazine blew our minds. How did Pantone create 1999's Cerulean Blue? What particular pink was 2014's color of the year (you product junkies will know this, no doubt)? In what ways does color subtly communicate? Yep. Minds officially BLOWN!

Get yourself to The Broad . . . "One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work." Jasper John's epic exhibition at The Broad, featuring more than 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints, is on view until May 13th. It's been described as blissful. We can all use a bit of bliss, no? Get your tickets here.
 

SHAPERS / / MEG CRANSTON

Strolling through the massive Art Los Angeles Contemporary show earlier this year, we spotted (and Instagrammed) one of Meg Cranston's incredible dog portraits and we immediately knew we had to feature her in SHAPERS. Currently the chair of the Fine Arts Department at Otis College of Art and Design, her sculpture, paintings, and video/performance work have earned her international accolades and she's exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, The Getty Museum of Art, The Hammer Museum, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, The Carnegie Museum, K21 Museum, Dusseldorf, and the ICA, London, to name just a few.

Also, she has a super cute pooch named Jenkins and began a shelter dog photography project back in the mid-2000s, which ultimately helped to increase the number of dog adoptions, and we are always and forever 100% fans of that kind of altruism and creativity! 

Many,  many thanks to Meg for so intelligently and thoughtfully tackling this SHAPERS q+a! Enjoy!  

Can you tell us about your project photographing shelter dogs back in 2008? What was the experience like, what inspired the project, what was the endgame artistically or otherwise and how did it affect you/your work?

I was looking to get a dog and spending some time on the shelter websites. I decided to try to photograph all the dogs in LA shelters over a one month period. I tried to photograph them myself but quickly realized it isn't that easy to photograph a dog. So I partnered with the various shelters to get their photographs. That was a bit tricky because it involved working with the Chief of animal control. He was suspicious at first because he had to make sure I wasn't creating an expose on the shelters but then was happy to help. The most interesting thing was the quality of the photographs from different shelters varied a lot. At one shelter, the worker taking the photographs was careful to "art direct" the images. He posed the dogs in green settings even with some fake flowers arranged. He had the dogs standing in action poses so they looked lively and happy.

Compared to other shelters ,were the dogs were photographed in cages or on leashes, those animals looked highly adoptable. That shelter in fact did have higher rates of adoptions.

Because people primarily look at shelter dogs on websites, being photogenic is a life or death issue. 

The paintings I did of the shelter dogs takes that a bit further. Historically there are many dogs in paintings though typically they are high status dogs - hunting dogs or pets of wealthy people. The paintings of George Stubbs would be an example. I decided to do rather monumental portraits of ordinary dogs - shelter dogs who would not typically be painted.

Meg Cranston, "Corgi," 2014. 

Meg Cranston, "Corgi," 2014. 


Meg + Jenkins. 

Meg + Jenkins. 

What's your favorite thing about living in California?
I like the attitude of people in California. Theyhave a relaxed confidence that's easy to be around. The artists in Los Angeles aren't freighted with a lot of rules. They do whatever they want. Europeans especially admire that. 

 

How does teaching art influence your own artwork?
Besides paying the bills? I love teaching because in my courses, I have to write lectures about new topics all the time. If I didn't teach I doubt I would read as much or stay as current. Also there is a part of me that's a performer. Giving lectures is a kind of performance. It's fun. Of course the students are all fantastic. I have said many times, I have never had a bad student.

Art students are the best and most interesting students one can teach.

Meg Cranston, "Poodle Mix," Installation view, Michael Janssen, Berlin, 2014

Meg Cranston, "Poodle Mix," Installation view, Michael Janssen, Berlin, 2014


Which decade resonates most poignantly with you - 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s? I admire art of the 1960's for its clarity and optimism, art of the 1970's for its intellectual rigor, art of the 1980's for its focus on recasting artistic values as political. 
 


Meg Cranston's "California" and "Fireplace 12" at the Hammer Museum for  Made in L.A. , 2012.

Meg Cranston's "California" and "Fireplace 12" at the Hammer Museum for Made in L.A., 2012.



The scariest thing you've ever done?
I do stand up comedy. That's pretty scary especially for the audience.


Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a night owl who has to get up at 6am. It's a dilemma.


Name three of your favorite sculptors/3-dimensional artists and use a single word to describe each.

Alberto Giacometti  -  armature
Brancusi  -   base
Franz West  -  scale


What books are currently on your bedside table?
Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School

 

*Lily Spindle’s SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity in what they do. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.

OUR HOLIDAY POP-UP SHOP IN VENICE, CALIFORNIA

First of all, Thank you SO MUCH for your support this holiday season and always! You likely already know that, from the inception of our burgeoning business, Deb and I have endeavored to support the work of independent makers and creators, brilliant, forward-thinkers who use both their heads and their hearts to navigate throughout the world. We hold community, generosity, and kindness in great regard and reverence.

Now, more than ever, we're certain that bolstering the intrepid doers, dreamers, trailblazers, designers, painters, sculptors, and brethren of small business owners is vital. We're having a holiday pop-up shop on Sunday, December 11th (324 C Sunset, next to Gjusta Bakery and 10 AM - 4 PM) and are offering a motley of one-of-a-kind creations from people all over the country and beyond. We're stoked to be able to bring together this collection of artisan-made gifts - from soaps to jewelry to linen napkins, dog beds to wood coasters to candles and much more - and offer it to our fellow lovers of original design and vision, those of you/us who prefer to shop small and think big, as it were.

Lily Spindle will be making donations to some of our favorite animal rescues this holiday season, as we do throughout the year, but we'll also be including causes and groups that we feel honor our inherent human rights, the inherent rights of our earth, and the equality we've strived for and need to preserve and build upon.

 We can't wait to see you on the 11th! And if you see something on our Facebook or Instagram pages you absolutely MUST have but it is a limited edition item for the pop-up, give us a shout and we'll create a custom listing for you. Easy breezy peasy.  

with love, 
Rebecca + Deb

Mid-Mod JT Getaway

When you've got more dogs than humans in your house, it's a massive undertaking to take them with you on a road trip. And my man and I LOVE a good road trip. A few years back, when we were 50% less dog, we traveled for days with Lucie and Fred in tow, stopping off to visit friends (and drink amazing, smoky, dangerously delicious mezcal made by Ron Cooper) in Taos and Sante Fe, taking our time on long, aimless walks with the dogs, watching them frolic in their first (and only) snowfall, running into Paul Ruscha serendipitously and having an incredible brunch with him the next morning. 

Since we've doubled our in-house rescue dog population, it's been a challenge to take our knuckleheads with us on trips in the 4-Runner. We're also fairly picky in where we'd like to stay (I cannot abide wall-to-wall carpeting, bedskirt ruffles, or pink carnation wallpaper -- and, yes, these things continue to exist in the 21st century) and we don't want to put the dogs through an epic trip wherein most of the time is spent in the truck, en route. And so, we head to JOSHUA TREE! A mere two-hour drive to arrive at the quiet, calm, and transcendent beauty of the desert. There's nothing quite like it and I've been mad for the desert since my first introduction to it eight years ago. 

In serious need of this getaway weekend, we managed to, by nothing short of a miracle, find an incredible, mid-century modern ranch house on AirBnb that accepted dogs (!!) and had fenced in acreage (!!) and could fit our three-day stay into their booking schedule (!!). We were psyched, and even more psyched upon arrival. Not only were our hosts, Colleena and Nathan, two of the nicest humans I've ever met, but they were super cool, to boot. The ranch's record collection included Love and Rockets, REM, the Rolling Stones, Donovan, the Killers, Chrissie Hynde, David Bowie, and more. We played records while making lunch, eating dinner, and pretty much every moment we weren't just sitting outside on the patio, breathing deeply, reading the paper, and watching our pups romp gleefully and safely within the sandy confines of the fenced yard.

Donut, taking a load off after many, many hours worth of sun and sand-filled fun. 

Donut, taking a load off after many, many hours worth of sun and sand-filled fun. 

The wonderfully designed, super comfortable and dog-friendly house is just a few minutes from Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum (now returned to the desert since its LACMA exhibition earlier this year) and a hop, skip, and a jump from Yucca Valley's hip shops and restaurants. We were in seventh heaven. As were the dogs, who managed to have so much damn fun that they were falling asleep sitting up (photo evidence included in this post. see below.). 

Frederick: TOO....MUCH...FUN....zzzzzzzz

Frederick: TOO....MUCH...FUN....zzzzzzzz

Heads up, all my design-loving and dog-adoring friends! Check out this magnificent spot in the magical, restorative high desert. Go. Relax. Romp. Nap. Eat. Stroll. Boogie. Breathe. Get outta the city and into the ineffable quiet of endless sands and yucca trees. It'll do your soul some good. And at the very least, you'll finish that book you've been reading. 

xx, 
Rebecca

Exploring Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum for the second time in several years. Incredible sculptures from a restless and imaginative mind...

Exploring Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum for the second time in several years. Incredible sculptures from a restless and imaginative mind...

Colleena's creating this mosaic masterpiece on the exterior wall of the recording studio, which looks onto the backside of the main house. 

Colleena's creating this mosaic masterpiece on the exterior wall of the recording studio, which looks onto the backside of the main house. 

Flea Market Shopping: 5 TIPS TO DOING IT RIGHT

There are plenty of awesome flea markets all over the U.S. - Brimfield, Round Top, and First Monday Trade Days are just a few of them. In Southern California, where our weather pattern is 70-degrees with blazing sunshine pretty much 98% of the year, flea markets reign. But if you're new to the game (or even if you're not), the process of flea market "picking," as it's deemed, can be downright overwhelming. I'm the first to admit I'm not a morning person, so driving to Pasadena in the (extreme) early morning darkness isn't my idea of a fun time, and I rarely arrive there any earlier than 8 AM. That said, we've done our fair share of flea market shopping here in Los Angeles and elsewhere (but that's another story entirely), so we're sharing a handful of our Lily Spindle tips to doing a flea right and finding what you want.

1) Some of the very best flea market pieces can be found in the booths that look like they've got zilch. In the most intensely "curated" booths, everything will be of the same general design, aesthetic, and period, say, boomerang coffee tables beside teak nesting tables holding atomic lamps (and the heavily curated collection will have heavily marked-up price tags to match). The ultimate flea market discoveries often exist within the booths you'd never even glance at twice. We once found a set of three split blade Ivar Alenius Bjork brass candle holders in amazing vintage condition at a Rose Bowl booth offering little else but rusty car parts, antiquated tools, and heaps of picks, shovels, and hoes. Keep your eyes open, always be scanning the flea market landscape for provocative colors, patterns, and shapes. Love can be found in the strangest of places.

image source: Long Beach Antique Market

image source: Long Beach Antique Market

image source: Apartment Therapy

image source: Apartment Therapy

2) It always takes longer than you expect it will (I mean, for heaven's sake, the Rose Bowl has over 2,500 vendors!) and I don't recommend making heavy social plans for later in the day. Maybe it's just me, but the sensory overload of a mid-size to huge flea market both energizes and enervates me and I'm totally incapable of throwing on some heels, slapping on some Urban Decay gloss, and chatting at a dinner party that same evening.

3) Cash, cash, and cash. Carry it on you beforehand (we usually get ours the night before). The lines for the ATMs are bananas and who wants to waste time standing in line when you could be shopping?

4) Wear a hat. Wear sunscreen. Wear your sunglasses like a good Angeleno always should. And wear layers, because as the day progresses, you'll get warmer. Oh, and bring water! Staying hydrated is muy importante.

image source: Apartment Therapy

image source: Apartment Therapy

5) Bring a truck to the flea market, if possible. And have a rope or two handy, to lash some purchases in/on your car or truck. I can't tell you how many times my husband's surf strap has safely secured furniture and lamps for their freeway journeys. I always travel with wrapping blankets, of course, because that's what us Lily Spindle ladies do, but that stash of cloth shopping bags you keep in your car can be useful, as well! I often stuff them in between pieces, use them to soften the sharp corners on sofa legs, art frames, and doubly wrap ceramics and other fragile pieces to ensure their protection as we roll home after a successful shopping expedition.

Do you have any flea market favorites you've scored over the years? Or any tips you want to share? Give us a holler at info@lilyspindle.com and we'll share them with our readers!

SHAPERS / / / LISA CHESTER SCHROEDER

A couple times a year, I'm lucky enough to be invited to dine in the magical Culver City backyard of Lisa Chester Schroeder and her husband, Denny. A lovely, warm, and gregarious couple, they never cease to amaze me and my man with the multiple courses of deliciousness (some of which has been purchased during one of their many international jaunts), accompanied by more than a few bottles of wine and hours upon hours of conversation. Ubiquitous at these dinners are artists, writers, designers, inventors, and, like any skilled hostess, Lisa assigns the seating, so you can't simply cozy up next to your partner and casually kvetch about the traffic on the 10 or your annoying new co-worker - your curiosity and amity concerning the unknown are mandatory elements of the consummate experience.

As Southern California mainstays for a long while, Lisa and Denny are close friends with many contemporary artists, so they've an enviable art collection, and having worked with Herman Miller in several capacities for nearly two decades, Lisa is a fount of knowledge about the company and its inner workings. Naturally we couldn't wait to chat with Lisa about the ultimate deities of design, Lisa's own rescue cats, and what she cannot go without during her travels in our SHAPERS Q+A*! Enjoy! ~Rebecca


Could you tell me a little bit about your job as a global account manager with Herman Miller? How long have you worked with the company?

I am fortunate to be entering into my 18th year at Herman Miller.  While working here, I have had many different roles.  Over the past 4 years, I have been leading the Western US as the Director of Sales for our Healthcare team.  Many people don't realize that Herman Miller has been providing solutions to the Healthcare industry for 50 years.  It all began with Robert Propst.  Providing solutions that can enhance the experience of the caregiver, the patient and the family members is incredibly rewarding. 

I imagine you have at least a handful of interesting anecdotes, having worked with Herman Miller for so many years. Would you be able + willing to share one of these unforgettable stories with Lily Spindle?

Yes, I do and yes, some of these I can not share.  But some I can.  What is interesting about your question is the way you asked it: "unforgettable stories".  After an employee has been with Herman Miller for 20 years, we become known as a Water Carrier.  In Native American societies, the water carrier plays an essential function that helps a tribe survive. Former CEO, Max DePree, introduced the concept of water carriers to Herman Miller in 1987, and described them this way in his book, Leadership Jazz: “The tribal water carrier in this corporation is a symbol of the essential nature of all jobs, our interdependence, the identity of ownership…” Part of the role of the Water Carrier at Herman Miller is to pass along stories to the newer employees within our organization.  One of the reasons we use stories is that this is a way we as humans can more easily learn.

Here's a story for you that you may not know:

In 1954, Charles and Ray Eames designed a home for Max DePree and his family in Zeeland, MI.  After residing there for approximately 20 years, he was contemplating selling the home.  Word got around town that he was considering the sale.  At the Herman Miller company picnic, one of our employees asked if he could purchase the home.  However, Max had not decided yet, if he would sell, but if he would, he would give the first option to buy to him.  The DePree family sold the home and the Herman Miller employee, Rynbrandt,  purchased it in 1975. Herman Miller purchased the home back in 2010 with plans to restore and preserve it.. The side story goes that Max began looking through old photos of the home to assist Herman Miller in the restoration.  As he spotted pieces of furniture that had been in the home, but had since been passed along to his family, he began calling his children to give it back in an effort to place back to its original "home". 

Charles and Ray Eames, posing with their chair bases. Photograph: Eames Office

Charles and Ray Eames, posing with their chair bases. Photograph: Eames Office

Collage of a room display for An Exhibition for Modern Living, 1949. Photograph: Eames Office

Collage of a room display for An Exhibition for Modern Living, 1949. Photograph: Eames Office

 

You are, as far as I'm concerned, a gastronome of significant proportion. Your dinners last for hours upon hours, replete with multiple courses, many bottles of wine, and a buzzing table of artists, writers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Did you ever consider making beautiful, delicious food your full-time passion?

Rebecca, yes, I have pondered this in the past.  However, at my age now, I enjoy simply providing my gift of cooking for friends and families.  I began cooking at 4.  When I was 6, my father told me that I should be a "food taster" in a restaurant. Back then, food critics and chefs were really not on the radar of my family in my small town. 

I have a dear friend that is a chef and caters beautiful meals, upon my retirement, I would love to work for her.


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning. I get up most days between 4-5 am.


You and your husband, Denny, have quite a few rescue cats. What are their names and where are there most beloved sleeping spots in the house?

Nambe-on top of the cat tower
Sir Stirling-on top of Nambe
Julia Alexander-In the Eames aluminum chair
LBC (little black cat)-under the Eames sofa
Mija-on an orange pillow on the Eames sofa


Name your favorite Herman Miller design and describe it using three words.

Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair
-Comfortable
-Classic
-Sleek

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.42.13 AM.png

 

It seems like you travel a lot (like A LOT a lot) for your job. What are the things you never travel without?

-My coffee press and Peet's Coffee (two things, but they go together)


If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? And where would you dine?

Julia Child in my backyard.


*Lily Spindle's SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity in what they do. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.

SHAPERS / / / GRAY MALIN

Top of Aspen Mountain.

Top of Aspen Mountain.

Few of us have the opportunity to get an extended, windowless aerial perspective on the world, to hover above its cacophony and bustle and, released from that ceaseless din, perceive the patterns and beauty the singular perspective of being aloft can offer. Los Angeles photographer Gray Malin, however, succeeds in both perceiving and capturing these uncommon, charming, and colorful perspectives on park loungers, beach lovers, ski disciples, city dwellers, and single swimmers. He does all this from the cockpit of a roving helicopter, no less. (sidenote: there are loads and loads of fun shots of his feet dangling from the door of a moving helicopter.)

Gray's high-contrast, vibrant photographs reflecting the unique beauty of New York, Australia, Bolivia, Italy, Greece, Namibia, Cape Town, Antarctica and then some, adorn the walls of countless designers and photography bon vivants (and his best-selling images are emblazoned on beach towels and umbrellas, bikinis, aprons, and Iphone cases, lest you prefer Gray Malin photos-to-go). 

We first stumbled upon his photography several months ago while attending an animal rescue gala here in Los Angeles, where one of Gray's photos was up for auction. We quickly joined his awe-inspiring Instagram following of 149,000 fans and are beyond thrilled he was willing to be featured in our Lily Spindle SHAPERS series!

xx - Rebecca + Deb


Your photography vibrates with color, joy, and life, whether it’s capturing the populous of Aspen mountain skiers or the understated humor in a pair of llamas adorned with balloons. Is your attitude relatively joyful when you’re capturing these images? And when you look at them later, framed and hung in new and different environs, what emotions do they conjure for you?

I definitely aspire to create artwork that evokes joy, so it’s accurate to say that my attitude while shooting is positive. I love seeing the work in it’s intended home, the walls of one’s home, so it’s always a happy moment to see it truly come to life in client’s homes.

Gray Malin + Stella, his beloved rescue dog.

Gray Malin + Stella, his beloved rescue dog.

You and your husband have a dog (of course). Can you tell us a bit about how she came to you - how old, name, et cetera? Is she a fabulous model for your photos?

We adopted Stella about 5 years ago, and she has been brought nothing but happiness to our home. And, yes! She’s a great little model. We’ve worked together a few times..haha!

Central Park Lawn. 

Central Park Lawn. 

Maroubra Bay Swimmers.

Maroubra Bay Swimmers.

Who are your three favorite photographers and could you describe each of their bodies of work using two adjectives for each?

1) Slim Aarons - Classic & Luxury

2) Cristo and Jeanne-Claude - Forward thinking and structural

3) David LaChapelle - Editorial Fine Art


If you could have breakfast with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? And what would you order?

I’d love to meet Martha Stewart.  We’d share something delicious inspired by one of her recipes, perhaps a quiche and talk decor and entrepreneurship.

Carry-on Cocktail Sprinkle Kit? Get one  here .

Carry-on Cocktail Sprinkle Kit? Get one here.

Velvet or Mohair? Stripes or Polka Dots?
Velvet. Stripes.


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Is there such a thing as a late morning person? I’d have to say I’m a bit more of a morning person, as I love to get in exercise before hitting the ground running for the work day.

What's currently on your bedside table?

A yummy smelling candle I got from Collette in Paris, while I was there for an event last spring.


What would we be surprised to know about your design proclivities?

Not sure if it’s much of a surprise, but I love fresh flowers. Whenever possible, I like to incorporate into decorating as they just add that extra pop of color and softness to a room.

Hamptons Lone Swimmer.

Hamptons Lone Swimmer.

La Dolce Vita; Positano.

La Dolce Vita; Positano.


Lily Spindle’s SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity in what they do. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series. Enjoy!