Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Origins of Bohemian Culture

West Bohemia, Czech Republic.
      Lovely, isn't it? It's the real Bohemia. I say "real" because Bohemia nowadays could also be any place where an artist or any creative person work and live cheaply and enjoy being their radical selves.

    But what's the link between Bohemia, part of today's Czech Republic, and the people practicing Bohemianism? Is there actually a link? Well Bohemia is not really the world's capital for art and literature. You probably made that guess hehe. But you may find it interesting that Bohemia was once a kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire. So it was a country with a history that began in the 11th Century.

       Bohemianism actually emerged in Paris during the late 19th Century when artists began to concentrate in low rent neighborhoods during the Belle Epoque (Beautiful Era) - a period in Europe where peace and prosperity allowed the arts to flourish. Many notable artists worked and lived in Paris in this period that started in 1871 and ended at the start of World War 1 in 1914.

The Eiffel Tower was built during the Belle Epoque 
to serve as the grand entrance to the 1889 World's Fair.

Vincent Van Gogh was among many artist 
who lived in Paris for a time, particularly in
Montmartre where rents quite affordable.

      So these economizing artists started to live in low rent neighborhoods in Paris that are also occupied by gypsies. The gypsies were at that time called "Bohemien" because they were thought to have arrived from Bohemia. Gypsies actually refer to the Romani people - a nomadic ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas. Their linguistics and genetics suggest that they originated in Northwest India and migrated as a group in medieval times.

An all-male gypsy band in the 1800's.
The Bohemian, William Bougueerau, 1890.
       The Romani people themselves are gifted in the performing arts. They are known for their music and dances. Their music has influenced many European classical composers. The distinct sound of their music has in fact influenced bolero, flamenco and jazz in Europe.

Bal do moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
depicts a typical Sunday afternoon dance in the 
district of Montmartre in Paris.

       Now imagine a suburban neighborhood in 19th Century Paris that is home to people who are "different". You have the dark skinned, black haired music loving gypsies; and the free-thinking French artists who broke the norms that led to the rise of modern art. These people probably got along quite well. The artists may have been drawn to the gypsies' non Western aesthetic culture, and the gypsies in turn favored their artist neighbors for being  non-discriminating and even appreciative.

Renoir was among a handful of 19th Century artists
who rented space at 12 rue de Cortot which today
is known as the Montmartre Museum.
       Now I'm not certain if the artists who lived in such villages started to adopt the multi-cultural fashion and the laid-back lifestyle of the Parisian gypsies and began to call themselves "Bohemiens" also, or people might have given them that as a moniker. Whatever it was, this new term for such breed of artists has survived a millennium after the Belle Epoque and its use has crossed the borders of Paris and into the shores of many cultures.

US clothing brand Artisan de Luxe came up
with a seemingly "street bohemian" style 
collection for Fall 2013.
     Yet today not everybody is aware of what a bohemian is because not everybody has an interest in the arts. Not everybody is an artist and in fact not every artist is bohemian. Others may think that bohemian is simply a style in fashion. Try typing "bohemian fashion", "gypsy fashion" or even "hippie fashion" on Google and you'll pretty much see the same thing.

     Of course to be a bohemian, or to practice bohemianism, is to make art an integral part of ones life to the point of unconventionality. They are painters, sculptors, writers, journalists, singers, musicians and actors who gave up their material well-being, wandering like a vagabond  in search of their own Bohemia, waiting for the Belle Epoque of their creative endeavors.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Portrait for Mr. Attorney

      It has been a long while since I last made a digital portrait painting. Mainly because I haven't done anything to market this service. Until now I still haven't created a new website for it since the demise of Multiply. I used to maintain an ad on Sulit and I haven't made a new one since they changed to OLX. I really need to make time for this but lately, time is used mostly on BuhayBohemio T-Shirts.

         Well after over 5 months someone commissioned me to do this portrait. My new client is a sister of a previous client who's actually one of my best clients. (Yeah, referrals is the way to go.) This artwork is for her special someone who I'll call Mr. Attorney. I'm actually acquainted to the man. He has this awesome ancestral house from 1930's in Batangas, in which this painting will be displayed. (Click on the image to see a closer look at the artwork.)

      This is actually the first time someone orders a framed print and I'm quite happy with the finished product. The print came out okay and the frame looks really classy. I must say that it's amazing how a frame seems to level up the beauty of an artwork. It even contributes to the illusion of the painting effect on this printed canvas.

       I got a bit inspired, really. I plan to meet my new found framer again and come up with standard frames for my digital portraiture services. Now I really hope I can make time to work on the website and ads.

        Aside from being inspired I'm also a bit envious. I want a framed self-portrait this big! Or even bigger! o_O

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Of OLX, Online Customer Behavior,
and the Need for Printed Stocks

        I've recently posted ads for BuhayBohemio Shirts on about two weeks ago and I figured that newly posted ads are seen first on searches because I got a lot of text inquiries on the first 4 or 5 days. Replying to those questions made me reload more prepaid credits to my mobile phone than usual. (Yup, prepaid - works for me.)

I tried adding FAQs on the ads but the new OLX only allow 1000 letters on the description box. Plus you can't add HTML there or even put your website's URL . Well I'd understand the omitting of HTML . The ads there look cleaner and concise now. But not allowing your website's URL doesn't make sense to me. So I instead put my URL on the product pics. Obviously they have a bot to check the photos. Sometimes your photo will be rejected because "there are too many distracting elements" but they always add their logo and URL on them, making it even more cluttered than they say it is.

I  also observed different behaviors of customers when it comes to buying shirts online. Some would search the web then prefer to see the actual item before buying. So they would usually ask if I have a shop somewhere. Others would change their mind about buying upon knowing that they would have to pay first before I print their shirt and send it to them. Quite understandable. While on the other hand, there are those who have no reluctance at all, like some of my previous customers (apart from people I know). They see what they want, send a payment to a complete stranger, and there - a shirt is made and shipped to their address.

           Of all those who inquired after I posted on OLX, so far, there is only ONE who end up ordering. And that is after a long series of question-and-answer messages on text. She's from central Cavite and she thought of reselling my shirts in her area through pre-order which I agreed to. Then her customers started asking questions which she threw at me. Like if the quality of the shirts and the print are good; if the shirts are warm on the body; if the shirts are individually packed... They even asked the brand of the shirts that I'm using and I have to admit that it almost drove me nuts. I suggested that she buy a shirt or two as samples so she could answer the questions herself. But she eventually ordered 25 pieces instead  (shirts and tank tops) and it's amazing that she sold more of my shirts than I could in 3 days! Thanks Miss Cha!

With recent bulk orders of varied  BuhayBohemio Shirts, I really felt the disadvantage of not having printed stocks. It's quite tiresome! Well I have been meaning to make stocks (and you've been hearing me say this since last year). But I now already have 30 designs and if I make each in 4 sizes, times the available colors for men's and ladies' shirts, plus the tank tops, then I will be  printing nearly 500 items. O_o

How and when do I start? Maybe I should outsource them instead? But where do I store them? Is it about time to open a shop? Should I set up a store in the garage? Am I pondering on this too much? Why am I asking  too many questions? OMG the "-ber" months are coming!  O_o

Monday, August 4, 2014

BuhayBohemio Shirt:
The Hypnoskull T-Shirt

     This shirt is a like a bonus design because the stencil that makes my Omnia T-shirt also produces this shirt that I call my Hypnoskull T-Shirt. No two shirts will be exactly the same because, like my CMYK Buddha T-shirt, each color is placed with loose stencil technique.

       This shirt is available only on a white t-shirt for men and ladies, also on white tank tops. Check out my online catalog. ^_^

BuhayBohemio Shirts:
The Chi-Rho T-Shirt

       BuhayBohemio has a Ganesh  and a Buddha t-shirt. It's high time that I design a shirt dedicated to The King of Kings and The Lord or Lords. The symbol Chi-Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram. It bears the Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P), the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ. In this shirt I also included Alpha and Omega as Christ said He is "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last."

      Constantine I (306-337 AD) used this symbol as part of his military standard. It is said that, before his battle against Maxentius' army, while he was marching with his soldiers in midday they saw a symbol arising from the light of the sun with the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces, or "with this sign, you will conquer". The following night Christ appeared to him in a dream with the same heavenly sign and instructed him to make a standard, the labarum, for his army in that form. Constantine defeated Maxentius in 312 AD and later defeated Licinius in 324 AD. Constantine eventually became the first Christian emperor of Rome. Cool story, huh?

          I'm gonna make this design available in all colors that I have in stock. I got 12 shirt colors for men and 6 colors for ladies. Tank tops are available in only 2 colors for now. See the online catalog for my suggested color combinations. ^_^