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Updated: 59 min 11 sec ago

Finding harmony in unexpected places with @alfredorondon For a...

Sat, 07/11/2015 - 14:01

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Finding harmony in unexpected places with @alfredorondon

For a Venezuelan lens on Valencia, Spain, plus architecture and nature, follow @alfredorondon on Instagram.

(This interview was conducted in Spanish.)

Alfredo Rondón (@alfredorondon) seems to be attracted to opposite ends. His hometown is Caracas, Venezuela, but his new home is Valencia, Spain, where he is studying for a master’s degree. “Caracas is an excellent city, but unfortunately is going through a difficult time,” he says before adding, “Valencia is a smaller city but gives you the feeling that you don’t need anything else.”

His pictures show a divided love between architecture and nature. “I am always trying to find spaces with harmony, pleasant to the eye. And so many times I’ve captured places with objects that are usually unpleasant, but I put them in harmony within the composition,” Alfredo says.

Alfredo is a triathlete and takes his phone with him whenever he has a training session, hunting for the unexpected. “I always create new routes so I can discover all the corners Valencia has in store for me.”

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPscreentest Weekend Hashtag Project...

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 20:05

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Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPscreentest

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

In the film industry, actors and actresses will often audition for roles with a screen test, a short recording where they can show off their ability to get into character. The goal this weekend is to capture creative moving portraits that convey a sense of personality. Some tips to get you started:

  • Traditional screen tests often involve a script, but in 15 seconds, less is more. Try to capture the essence of a personality, and don’t be afraid to capture unscripted moments as well.
  • Clothes and setting also help convey a sense of personality. Keep that in mind when seeking out real-life characters to capture or when creating a character of your own.
  • Don’t forget the importance of body language. Small movements and gestures can speak volumes about a personality, so keep the camera rolling and see what you pick up.

PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPscreentest hashtag only to videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own videos to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured Monday morning.

Giving “X-Men” Fans a Glimpse into Movie-Making, with...

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 14:23

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Giving “X-Men” Fans a Glimpse into Movie-Making, with @bryanjaysinger

For more personal mutant moments on and off set, follow @bryanjaysinger on Instagram.

Actors were flying through the air, and director Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) wanted “X-Men” fans to see it. “This moment is but a tiny fraction of an elaborate sequence which involves pretty much every single aspect of both physical and visual effects one can imagine,” he says. “I just thought it looked so surreal I had to post it.”

His goal is to give the fans “a slice of the experience” of being on set, and everything he shares is personal. That’s because Bryan, who has worked on “X-Men” films for the past 15 years, understands what it means to love these characters. “There’s something deep-seeded in the mythology of ‘X-Men.’ In the idea of identity. The feeling of being an outsider. It strikes at the core of every growing person.”

Bryan’s admiration for the new and old characters in “X-Men: Apocalypse” is showcased throughout his feed – from Sophie Turner (young Jean Grey) to James McAvoy (Professor X). But the character Bryan is most excited about in the upcoming installment is the villain, Apocalypse.

“To me, he transcends traditional ‘X-Men’ characters. As I’ve said before, he views himself as the God of the Old Testament. And for the first time in the ‘X-Men’ universe, he challenges the entire world, mutants and humans alike,” he says. “Because there have been many books and issues dedicated to this character, I think the fans also have a great investment in his origin and evolution.”

Capturing the Social Side of Food with @samishome To see more...

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 19:05

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Capturing the Social Side of Food with @samishome

To see more of Samantha’s food photography, follow @samishome on Instagram.

“My job is to tell stories of people through objects,” says Chicago-born prop stylist Samantha Wong (@samishome), who currently lives in Hong Kong. Her job, along with her passion for traveling, connecting with people and living a creative lifestyle, are the things that inspire her photography — and food often plays a big role in those moments. “I’m totally a social eater, as I tend to ‘splurge’ more when it’s a shared experience,” says Samantha, who started to include stylistic elements into her meals with friends and share those occasions through her photos.

“Food is very much a platform for social engagement and interaction: My photos capture that community as much as they tell about the ‘deliciousness’ of the food itself,” explains Samantha. Her biggest trick to creating a sense of interaction on the table is to incorporate people’s hands into the image. “Their anonymity allows a viewer to imagine themselves at the table, engaging in the spreads themselves,” she says. When Samantha encounters the right lighting, interiors and composition during her snacks and meals with her peers, there’s a good chance she’ll take out her smartphone for a photo shoot. “I always ask friends to have their nails painted, wear small pieces of jewelry or dress in clothes with interesting texture to add a stylistic angle and reflect the attitude of our destination,” she reveals. “My friends have become expert hand models as a result of this!”

Norwegian Pop Singer @auroramusic Just Wants to Fly To see more...

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 16:58

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Norwegian Pop Singer @auroramusic Just Wants to Fly

To see more of Aurora’s pictures, check out @auroramusic on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

A few months back, rising pop star Aurora (@auroramusic) woke to find Katy Perry singing her praises. “Finally. New music that makes my [heart] flutter,” the pop singer wrote on Twitter. She proclaimed Aurora to be an angel, and linked to her haunting pop hymn, “Runaway,” which opens the Norwegian singer-songwriter’s debut EP, Running With The Wolves.

“It was all quite strange but very nice,” recalls Aurora (surname Aksnes, but she trades on a mononym) from her home in Bergen. “I woke up one morning and looked at my phone, and there were a lot of new fans and messages and notifications.”

Aurora, whose celestial songs fuse ghostly electronica, folk melodies and gorgeous pop, has been composing songs for half her life. “Runaway” was penned when she was just 11. “I started writing when I was nine, so that was quite a long time ago,” she says, now a veteran at the age of 19.

As with all of her shadowy-pop chorales, “Runaway” is a work of natural wonder: Its language is universal, concerned with the stars, skies, seas, lives and loves that pass in-between. From glorious electro-dirge “Under Stars,” to celestial R&B aria “Running With The Wolves,” to sublime piano lament “Little Boy In The Grass,” her fiercely personal yet resonant songs are defined by the elements.

“I’m very connected to nature,” says Aurora. “I think it’s the most beautiful thing we have on this earth. And if I’m trying to explain a big situation or emotion, sometimes it’s easier to talk about the ocean and the waves, the wind and storms and thunder. Nature is so expressive and powerful.”

Norway’s landscape, mythology and culture also inspires the picturesque backdrop of her music. “I live in between trees and mountains and oceans, and I think that plays a part too,” she says. She cites Norwegian folk art and traditional music as influences. You can sense the same Scandinavian echoes in her monochromatic photographs of trees, moths and artist portraits, along with the images of birds in-flight, in trees and protected by hands. Do they symbolize liberation? Or — in the case of one recent image, depicting a bird’s wings, bloodied and fallen — the loss of it? “Well, I think it’s kind of an escape, to be able to fly, isn’t it?” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing. I think birds are the luckiest animals in the world, because they can fly.”

That sense of longing for escape resonates with titles like “Runaway” and the rapturous, “Running With The Wolves,” and that’s no coincidence. “I think that, as humans, the closest we can come to flying is by running,” Aurora offers. “That’s why I write about running quite a lot, too. It’s a freedom as well, just to run very fast.”

But amid the giddy euphoria that courses through Aurora’s music, there’s a darkness too. It’s in the claustrophobia of exquisite lullaby “In Boxes.” It’s deep within the untold devastation of chamber-pop anthem “Awakening,” with its refrain, “behind the light / behind the light.” Her melodies are bright and beautiful, but often melancholic.

“Yeah, absolutely, I love that contrast,” she nods. “I think it’s just the way I have to make my music. I’m very drawn to write about something sad, to write a sad-sounding song — I guess that’s very Norwegian,” she says. “But I try to hide my stories in happiness. And that takes quite a bit of time.”

Katy Perry was right: Aurora looks (and sounds) very much like a bright star in ascent. “I become very happy every time anyone says something nice about my songs,” she says, laughing. She better get used to it.

– Nicola Meighan for Instagram @music

#whereartthou with @olafbreuning’s “Smoke Bombs” for...

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 14:01

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#whereartthou with @olafbreuning’s “Smoke Bombs” for Doug Aitken’s @stntostn

For more photos and videos of "Smoke Bombs” and Station to Station, explore the #stationtostation hashtag and follow @olafbreuning and @stntostn on Instagram. To view Doug Aitken and Station to Station’s 30-Day Film Project, explore the #30DayFilm hashtag and visit their website.

One work of art, a rainbow of photo possibilities. This week’s #whereartthou, a series highlighting exhibitions which inspire visitors to take pictures, is Olaf Breuning’s (@olafbreuning) "Smoke Bombs.” The piece, which is created using a large grid of colorful smoke bombs, was staged during the artist Doug Aitken’s Station to Station (@stntostn), a vibrant 30-day project that includes over a hundred artist-led events and runs at the Barbican in London until July 26. “All the bombs have to be lit at the same time, and there it goes. However the wind blows,” says Olaf, who lives in New York City and presented the piece last week.

The nature of the work – dynamic and colorful — makes it interesting for viewers to photograph, too. “The photos are often more spectacular than the performance itself,” Olaf says. “I love the idea that so many different people make photos from different perspectives. It’s beautiful.”

"Smoke Bombs” is included in a series of 30 videos Station to Station is creating for their Instagram feed. They are also available on the project’s website sequentially, seamlessly. “Station to Station is an event that crosses borders,” Olaf says. “It goes from one creative station to the next.”

Learning to Skate and Spreading the Love with @d33zle To see...

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 19:26

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Learning to Skate and Spreading the Love with @d33zle

To see more instructional and inspirational skateboarding from Jon, follow @d33zle and @intro2skate on Instagram.

“Learning a trick is a great feeling,” says Jon Depoian (@d33zle), a 26-year-old skateboard instructor in Southern California, “but teaching a trick, seeing the progression from nothing to landing something, and knowing you were a part of it is incredible.”

There weren’t many skaters in Jon’s hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. “We didn’t know what we where doing,” he says. “There was no YouTube, and no one to really show us, so we tried to copy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” But the connection was instant. “As soon as I discovered skateboarding, it was all I ever thought about and all I ever wanted to do.”

Jon spent three years touring the US in a motor home with the King of Kings Skateboard Ministry before eventually making his way west, where he co-founded @intro2skate. When starting out, Jon stresses the importance of patience and persistence. “The most common mistake is that some expect to be doing ollies in the first week,” he says. “Work on getting comfortable riding and using the nose and tail first.”

Shifting Spaces with DIY Music Photographer @wlodarczyk To see...

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 14:23

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Shifting Spaces with DIY Music Photographer @wlodarczyk

To see more of Walter’s photographs, follow @wlodarczyk on Instagram. For more music stories around the globe, follow @music on Instagram.

In jagged, flash-filled images, Walter Wlodarczyk (@wlodarczyk) captures the raw urgency of the DIY (do-it-yourself) music scene. Typically working with a wide-angle lens against compressed, makeshift stages, the Brooklyn, New York-based photographer documents live performers and venues in places that he knows may not exist for long. He explains his approach and the ethos of the do-it-yourself music and arts scene:

“To me, DIY is about creating — and fostering creation — outside of the larger, mainstream, established structures that exist for the arts. And there are countless ways to do this. Put on a show in your apartment or loft. Perform or show your work in the street. Create spaces and projects that teach children in the community about art, technology and more. Start a label and release music made by your friends and artists you love. Rent a space and open a gallery or venue. Maybe you do this with all of the proper licenses, permits and insurance. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you make it a full-fledged nonprofit entity. Maybe it’s for-profit. It’s about providing a space for work that you think is important, rather than waiting for someone else to, and without profit and monetary considerations being primary. And similarly, it’s about doing the work you think is important to do, without fixating on whether there’s an audience for it or whether people will pay for it (or how much). This doesn’t mean ignoring monetary considerations — thinking about sustainability is not incompatible with DIY in the least, nor is paying artists. It’s about the spirit of the endeavor, and the feeling of family that’s always part of it.

My technical approach is driven by the venues I photograph in, and the subjects I photograph. I use the mix of equipment that allows me to best capture the spirit and energy of whatever I’m photographing. DIY venues are generally small and dark, so this typically means wider lenses and flash, though not always. I like to use fast prime lenses as well. But more than equipment, the fundamental aspect of my approach is to make photos without distracting from the performance. A performance is about the performers, and the audience being able to experience the work. However I choose to document a performance, ensuring that my documentation of it does not detract from anyone’s experience of it is key.

And DIY spaces are by nature ephemeral, especially in a place like New York. Rents increase, buildings are sold, people move on to other projects or places. Spaces grow and evolve and change. No different than an artist’s work changing and evolving. Change is the only constant, so it’s important to document as much as possible.”

The Interstellar World of @k_koenning To see more cosmically...

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 19:34

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The Interstellar World of @k_koenning

To see more cosmically inspired photos and videos from Katrin, follow @k_koenning on Instagram.

If you were from space and landed on Earth for the first time, what would you photograph? Would airborne dust remind you of tiny galaxies? Could you capture planetary light in a portrait of a stranger? Welcome to the interstellar world of photographer Katrin Koenning (@k_koenning), a German-born photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. “I come from a story of movement, always on the periphery of multiple worlds,” says Katrin. “My thoughts are in the stars every day, and in a migrant existence, the idea of a shared sky is of great comfort. Physically I’ll never get to space, I know this. But I’ve come to understand that all it takes to travel to the stars is the mind. So I create my own universes, with whatever it is that’s around me.”

@miguel and @danielsannwald Break Down the Spacey, Neon Album...

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 16:31

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@miguel and @danielsannwald Break Down the Spacey, Neon Album Art of “Wildheart”

To see more of Miguel and Daniel Sannwald’s photos, check out @miguel and @danielsannwald on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

“In the Bible, it says we’re created in God’s image and we are gods ourselves. The empowerment of knowing and trusting yourself and your intuition, you do feel very powerful — not in an egotistical way but in a free way. For a wildheart, knowing what they want, knowing what they believe in, what they stand for, is a very empowering thing because when you do that, you free yourself from the opinions of others. You trust yourself more and your instincts are wilder.”

That’s how Miguel (@miguel) describes the message behind the cover for his excellent new album Wildheart, a striking image that features him shirtless, holding a nude woman, surrounded by stars and clouds.

The vibe — with all its blues, pinks, purples and blacks – captures the R&B singer’s ambitiously psychedelic and lustful third record, which he says is a culmination of realizing his potential as an artist and a person. “I’m aware that I have an audience and responsibility to give them something more than just music — belief in themselves, understanding that no one’s path is the same and accepting that and celebrating that,” says the 29-year-old California native.

While working on the follow-up to his 2012 breakout Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel moved back to his hometown of Los Angeles, finding inspiration in the familiar terrain as well as the sights and sounds of the city, especially as day turned to night. “Twilight was a huge inspiration,” he says. “It’s all of the beauty, all of the hope and all of the desperation, all at the same time. Once the sun is gone, it’s light enough for you to see the beauty and dark enough for trouble.”

That atmosphere blends into the Wildheart cover as well as the art for lead single “Coffee,” which features Miguel in suggestively ripped up denim, lounging on pitch-black, lava-looking rocks. That and the other album images — including shots of Miguel shirtless and submerged in water – were created with German photographer Daniel Sannwald (@danielsannwald), who just happened to be listening to Miguel’s “Adorn” on repeat the day before management contacted him for a meeting. Daniel later met Miguel at a London bar where the two talked for hours, feeling out each other’s energies as opposed to nailing down any specific concepts.

“He’s such a sweet and open-minded person, so it’s really easy to connect with him,” says Daniel. “They kind of divided the record into different drug experiences, like an LSD trip to an ecstasy trip to a cocaine trip, so I think they reached out to different people to start the vision of what would suit that kind of visual experience. I was LSD. I love anything psychedelic, I love colors, I love to create unexpected worlds.”

Daniel first heard some of the album, which he said sounded “very sexual,” and immediately pictured “skin, something sweaty” for the cover. The two discussed old album covers and magazines, with the singer and his team giving a specific instruction: “We [need] something very retro but take it into the future.” With that in mind, Daniel used flash, reflected lights and a bit of gloss to highlight Miguel’s complexion and toned physique at the one-day shoot in London. “We had a lot of highlights on his skin, something very moody, something that feels sexual — morning light, maybe, just like the day is starting to begin.” And in case you’re wondering how Miguel looks so good in the photos, Daniel has the inside scoop: “He had a trainer on set, which I was really impressed by. Between every shot they would work out a little bit to make sure everything looked as good as possible. And he didn’t eat the whole day — almost nothing.” They also had two fitness models, who they found on Instagram (@dearbambi and @katyaelisehenry), to sprawl out on the set’s black rocks and pose as the women in the clouds for the Wildheart cover.

Overall, the artwork taps back into the album’s vision and message: to reassure yourself and your purpose. “The aha moment was really ‘I have this to say and this is how I’m going to say it,’” says Miguel. “Wildheart is about knowing yourself and knowing your path and living it. That’s what’s important.”

– Dan Reilly for Instagram @music

The Surrealism of Everyday Life with @vinicius_eneas To see...

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 13:56

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The Surrealism of Everyday Life with @vinicius_eneas

To see more photos from Vinícius, follow @vinicius_eneas on Instagram. For more Brazil stories, check out @instagrambrasil.

(This interview was conducted in Portuguese.)

“It does not have to be a rhinoceros crossing the street,” says the 25-year-old advertising copywriter Vinícius Enéas (@vinicius_eneas) about capturing what he calls the “surrealism of everyday life” in his photographs. Vinícius is interested in documenting the unusual aspects of everyday life that are often overlooked. “These details catch my attention, whether they are beautiful, sad or eccentric,” he says. Vinícius, who has spent nearly a decade in the Brazilian city of Natal, famous for its postcard scenery of sand dunes and pristine beaches, challenges himself to show other sides of the city. “Most people see Natal as paradise, and for a tourist, it definitely is. But living here is different, so it’s good to be able to show other perspectives, which are just as real, perhaps even more so.”

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPnightlights Weekend Hashtag...

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 20:14

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Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPnightlights

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

This weekend’s prompt was #WHPnightlights, which asked participants to capture dynamic displays of light in the darkness. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.

Growing Food with Love and Integrity with @foxslane For more of...

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 14:37

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Growing Food with Love and Integrity with @foxslane

For more of Kate’s photos at Daylesford Organics, follow @foxslane on Instagram.

Before Kate Ulman (@foxslane) began farming, she spent her time rallying at protests. “At one point I realized that I was exhausted from all the fighting and wanted to create something positive instead,” Kate says. “And what could be more positive than growing food with love and integrity?” That was 15 years ago. She learned on the job and now runs her small farm Daylesford Organics outside Melbourne, Australia, with her partner Bren. “Farming is definitely hard work, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Kate lives on the farm with Bren; their three daughters Indigo, Jarrah and Pepper; and two dogs Jo-Jo and Banjo. With this small crew, they manage to grow vegetables, raise chickens and maintain eight beehives, thousands of fruit and nut trees and a forest – and they work together as much as possible. “I love that our girls are growing up knowing about the seasons and how to preserve the harvest by living with them,” she says. “They understand that we don’t eat tomatoes in winter and they each have their own bee suit and tools.”

In the future, she hopes to host events and workshops on the farm. “I want to pass on our passions and our knowledge,” she says. “And I like to think that we’ll live here forever.”

Growing Food with Love and Integrity with @foxslane For more of...

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 14:37

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Growing Food with Love and Integrity with @foxslane

For more of Kate’s photos at Daylesford Organics, follow @foxslane on Instagram.

Before Kate Ulman (@foxslane) began farming, she spent her time rallying at protests. “At one point I realized that I was exhausted from all the fighting and wanted to create something positive instead,” Kate says. “And what could be more positive than growing food with love and integrity?” That was 15 years ago. She learned on the job and now runs her small farm Daylesford Organics outside Melbourne, Australia, with her partner Bren. “Farming is definitely hard work, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Kate lives on the farm with Bren; their three daughters Indigo, Jarrah and Pepper; and two dogs Jo-Jo and Banjo. With this small crew, they manage to grow vegetables, raise chickens and maintain eight beehives, thousands of fruit and nut trees and a forest – and they work together as much as possible. “I love that our girls are growing up knowing about the seasons and how to preserve the harvest by living with them,” she says. “They understand that we don’t eat tomatoes in winter and they each have their own bee suit and tools.”

In the future, she hopes to host events and workshops on the farm. “I want to pass on our passions and our knowledge,” she says. “And I like to think that we’ll live here forever.”

Finding Passion Through Colors with @lourdes_villagomez For...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 19:09

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Finding Passion Through Colors with @lourdes_villagomez

For more colors, folklore and tradition, follow @lourdes_villagomez on Instagram.

(This interview was conducted in Spanish)

Color is a constant in the life of Lourdes Villagómez, (@lourdes_villagomez). The Mexican painter started off as a graphic designer, afraid of devoting herself to painting. But it was color that brought her back to her passion.

“I love color and the fact that it’s so Mexican. One of my main topics is Mexican culture and traditions, and in my country that goes hand in hand with color. I started painting with this theme while I was in Italy, missing my country, and automatically the color appeared,” says Lourdes, who abandoned design after winning a scholarship to study painting in Florence, Italy.

Back in Mexico City, Lourdes’ paintings mainly focus on her country, but she also does portraits. “Now I earn my living through my paintings, and that is because I believed in me. I said, I’m going to throw myself at it — I am going to do it.”

Finding Passion Through Colors with @lourdes_villagomez For...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 19:09

instagram.com/p/3eFZUVk7fK/#lourdes_villagomez


instagram.com/p/vER-ALE7UP/#lourdes_villagomez


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instagram.com/p/29yn7gE7QP/#lourdes_villagomez

Finding Passion Through Colors with @lourdes_villagomez

For more colors, folklore and tradition, follow @lourdes_villagomez on Instagram.

(This interview was conducted in Spanish)

Color is a constant in the life of Lourdes Villagómez, (@lourdes_villagomez). The Mexican painter started off as a graphic designer, afraid of devoting herself to painting. But it was color that brought her back to her passion.

“I love color and the fact that it’s so Mexican. One of my main topics is Mexican culture and traditions, and in my country that goes hand in hand with color. I started painting with this theme while I was in Italy, missing my country, and automatically the color appeared,” says Lourdes, who abandoned design after winning a scholarship to study painting in Florence, Italy.

Back in Mexico City, Lourdes’ paintings mainly focus on her country, but she also does portraits. “Now I earn my living through my paintings, and that is because I believed in me. I said, I’m going to throw myself at it — I am going to do it.”

Makeup and Gypsy Jazz with Cirque du Soleil Cello Player...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 16:31

instagram.com/p/whTr-bpH0B/#michaelcello


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Makeup and Gypsy Jazz with Cirque du Soleil Cello Player @michaelcello

To see more photos of Michael’s work with Cirque du Soleil, check out @michaelcello on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Michael Levin (@michaelcello) has backed Katy Perry, played in a Christmas show with Andy Dick and currently is in the band for Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, which is helmed by the director of Madonna’s MDNA tour. What’s garnered him the most attention, however, is a makeup tutorial.

Filmed in time lapse, his nightly stage makeup application is mesmerizing. He lines, powders and contours with the precision of Kim Kardashian West’s makeup artist, and then caps it off with a Kim K-worthy, kissy-face selfie.

“That’s probably the most plays on any video I’ve ever posted of anything. Go figure,” the 30-year-old cellist says over the phone from Denver. “To be perfectly honest, that was the part I was least excited about in the beginning. Now, I get why girls go so crazy over it and try to find the right products. I don’t know how many types of eyeliner I went through.”

Michael didn’t quite run off and join the circus, but his trajectory is pretty close. He grew up in Arizona, the son of two concert violinists. Within two years of studying at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, however, he realized there was no way he could follow in the footsteps of his mother, who is in her 40th season with the Phoenix Symphony.

“I wanted to be in a rock band! I wanted to utilize the cello in a modern way,” he says. He gave school one more shot at Arizona State, but chucked it before the semester was even over and moved to Los Angeles.

L.A. can be crazy-making for a creative person, but Michael thrived on the uncertainty. He posted on Craigslist, handed out his card at coffee shops and wandered around Guitar Center playing the pianos and chatting with customers. He met actress Shannon Woodward in his apartment complex, and she introduced him to her best friend, Katy Perry. (“I was playing with Katy Perry before Katy Perry was!” he says).

Meanwhile, he’d also auditioned for the Cirque du Soleil database in 2009. “In order to become an artist in one of Cirque’s shows, you first have to audition online and be accepted into their database. From there, they’ll pluck their talent. It’s the largest casting department in the world. It’s like Cirque NASA,” he quips. A talent scout called him right away, but Michael was “knee deep” in bands and told them it just wasn’t a good time for him.

A year and a half ago, though, his schedule freed up and he signed a two-year contract to play the “gypsy jazz, electro swing” music of Kurios. Set in 1900s Paris, Cirque’s 30th anniversary show has a steampunk aesthetic and takes place under a massive big top. It’s a city that has to be moved on the wheels of 65 semi-trucks.

Barring another circus beckoning him, soon he’ll have the option to re-sign.

“I imagine I’ll stay for a while. The show will go for 10 to 15 years,” he says. “I’ve always been a very nomadic person. It’s a great way to see the world.”

Besides, he continues, “I’m good at doing my makeup now.”

– Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music

Makeup and Gypsy Jazz with Cirque du Soleil Cello Player...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 16:31

instagram.com/p/whTr-bpH0B/#michaelcello


instagram.com/p/4p7GRbJHym/#michaelcello


instagram.com/p/oT8s-mpH2G/#michaelcello


instagram.com/p/wKlmgmpH-J/#michaelcello

Makeup and Gypsy Jazz with Cirque du Soleil Cello Player @michaelcello

To see more photos of Michael’s work with Cirque du Soleil, check out @michaelcello on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Michael Levin (@michaelcello) has backed Katy Perry, played in a Christmas show with Andy Dick and currently is in the band for Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, which is helmed by the director of Madonna’s MDNA tour. What’s garnered him the most attention, however, is a makeup tutorial.

Filmed in time lapse, his nightly stage makeup application is mesmerizing. He lines, powders and contours with the precision of Kim Kardashian West’s makeup artist, and then caps it off with a Kim K-worthy, kissy-face selfie.

“That’s probably the most plays on any video I’ve ever posted of anything. Go figure,” the 30-year-old cellist says over the phone from Denver. “To be perfectly honest, that was the part I was least excited about in the beginning. Now, I get why girls go so crazy over it and try to find the right products. I don’t know how many types of eyeliner I went through.”

Michael didn’t quite run off and join the circus, but his trajectory is pretty close. He grew up in Arizona, the son of two concert violinists. Within two years of studying at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, however, he realized there was no way he could follow in the footsteps of his mother, who is in her 40th season with the Phoenix Symphony.

“I wanted to be in a rock band! I wanted to utilize the cello in a modern way,” he says. He gave school one more shot at Arizona State, but chucked it before the semester was even over and moved to Los Angeles.

L.A. can be crazy-making for a creative person, but Michael thrived on the uncertainty. He posted on Craigslist, handed out his card at coffee shops and wandered around Guitar Center playing the pianos and chatting with customers. He met actress Shannon Woodward in his apartment complex, and she introduced him to her best friend, Katy Perry. (“I was playing with Katy Perry before Katy Perry was!” he says).

Meanwhile, he’d also auditioned for the Cirque du Soleil database in 2009. “In order to become an artist in one of Cirque’s shows, you first have to audition online and be accepted into their database. From there, they’ll pluck their talent. It’s the largest casting department in the world. It’s like Cirque NASA,” he quips. A talent scout called him right away, but Michael was “knee deep” in bands and told them it just wasn’t a good time for him.

A year and a half ago, though, his schedule freed up and he signed a two-year contract to play the “gypsy jazz, electro swing” music of Kurios. Set in 1900s Paris, Cirque’s 30th anniversary show has a steampunk aesthetic and takes place under a massive big top. It’s a city that has to be moved on the wheels of 65 semi-trucks.

Barring another circus beckoning him, soon he’ll have the option to re-sign.

“I imagine I’ll stay for a while. The show will go for 10 to 15 years,” he says. “I’ve always been a very nomadic person. It’s a great way to see the world.”

Besides, he continues, “I’m good at doing my makeup now.”

– Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music

The Week on Instagram | 190 News Today: 25-year-old stroke...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 14:04

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The Week on Instagram | 190

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Unveiling the Unexpected Beauty of an Empty Soccer Stadium For...

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 00:27

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Unveiling the Unexpected Beauty of an Empty Soccer Stadium

For more unique images of the Estadio Nacional in Chile explore the hashtag #emptycopaamerica on Instagram. For more action from the Copa America, explore the hashtag #copaamerica2015.

(These interviews were conducted in Spanish.)

Soccer stadiums are full of passion, roars and cheers, unless they are empty. That’s when magic happens.

A few hours before the long-awaited Copa America (@copaamericachile2015) final between Chile and Argentina, the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium) in Santiago, Chile showed a different face to a group of Instagrammers. “You see this place completely empty, in silence, as if it was dormant, but you know it’ll awake soon,” says Tomás Westenenk Orrengo (@t_w_o), a Chilean architect who took part in #emptycopaamerica, an opportunity to greet and meet the stadium’s history with no one around.

“Every corridor and aisle, it’s like a big labyrinth that can take you to unexpected places, so I was inventing memories in my head. In the end, I was able to stop seeing it as a stadium and was able to defragment all of its elements as artistic pieces that produce and communicate different feelings,” adds Alberto Siredey (@asiredey), a designer from the Chilean capital.

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