Articles by

Tiffany Charbonier

06/05/15 1:44pm
Deborah Brown, "Man with Red Turban," 2015, courtesy Storefront Ten Eyck

Deborah Brown, “Man with Red Turban,” 2015, courtesy Storefront Ten Eyck

When Bushwick artist Deborah Brown thinks back to the early meetings for Bushwick Open Studios, which celebrates its ninth anniversary this weekend, she marvels at the fact that just “a small group of committed idealists” helped created today’s immense, annual festival that brings together nearly 1,000 registered artists and 500 art spaces for the public to view.

Now, says Brown, “Bushwick Open Studios is one of the most visible manifestations of our collective energy and strength as an art community. The festival is a celebration of what we have created as artists working together.”

Since it’s overwhelming to consider visiting every studio and seeing every performance, exhibition, and special event this weekend–which includes everything from a live show with rapper Fat Joe at the Bushwick Collective Block Party to a showcase of indie video games like “Filthy Chicken”–start with these five shows and see where the weekend takes you. (more…)

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05/19/15 9:00am
Apotheke charcoal soap

Chrissy Fitchl, owner of Apotheke, a line of French-inspired, Brooklyn handmade bath and body products, started making bar soap with activated charcoal a few years ago. The bars, like the one above, quickly garnered attention for both their color and their detoxifying properties. Photo: Apotheke.

I’ve done everything from various facial masks and peels to abstaining from certain foods in the pursuit of spotless skin. I’m willing to try anything once. Most recently that’s meant having my face put into a machine invented by NASA that delved four layers deep into my dermis in order to show me how to best cater to my skincare needs. It told me I have clogged pores in my T-zone and, under my eyes, major dehydration. I’ve tried incorporating a great daily moisturizer and lots of H2O to help with that latter issue. However, for cleaning my face, I’ve decided to turn to something more commonly associated with a barbecue than a beauty routine—charcoal.

Here’s the gist: Activated charcoal (which is different from the kind used for barbecuing) binds to toxins like a magnet, drawing them out and trapping them. It’s made from either peat, coal, wood or coconut shell, and is similar to normal charcoal except it is specifically made for medicinal purposes. It is heated in the presence of a gas to create “pores” so that it can help absorb more impurities, its primary benefit for the skin and body. Basically charcoal has an intense ability to absorb toxins, septic bacteria and harmful substances from the skin’s layers, bringing them to the surface to be eliminated—which has made it a popular ingredient with bath and body product makers in recent years.

“There are a lot of natural ways to pull impurities out,” says Chrissy Fichtl, founder of Apotheke, a natural line of soaps, candles and body products handmade here in Brooklyn. She started using activated charcoal in her skincare products before it became the trendy ingredient it is today. “Charcoal is just our way of doing it quickly and well. When you use charcoal on the skin or hair (externally) there isn’t anything to worry about.” (more…)

02/19/15 12:00pm

GIRLBOSS#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso (Portfolio; published 5/6/14)

It takes a lot of balls to be a boss. Sophia Amoruso should know. As founder and former-CEO of Nasty Gal Vintage, she made an empire out of selling what she calls “anti-fashion,” first on eBay and then on her own e-commerce site.

How did she grow from an eBay seller into a $100 million company? Marketing savvy. She would actively seek out friends of friends that seemed like they might like her clothing, and then then she would produce good content–photos, blog posts and bulletins–on a regular basis for each auction she had on her eBay site.

Other keys to her success included being a thief once or twice, not finishing college and being rebellious. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m glad she shared the less-than-ideal parts of her story in her new book, #GIRLBOSS, because honestly, being an entrepreneur isn’t about being perfect or living life a certain way. It’s about being in control of your life and giving it 100 percent.

One of the greatest takeaways for me was how goal-focused Amoruso is, in all ways. She goes as far as setting her online passwords up to be a word or phrase that is a promise to herself or a financial goal for the company.

“Every time I go to log in anywhere, I’m subtly reminding myself of what I’m working for. This ensures that when I’m bogged down with day-to-day bureaucracy and details, I don’t lose sight of what I really want,” she writes.

This is the book you read if you want more than a typical nine-to-five work life. It’s full of catchy and inspiring business how-to nuggets.

02/17/15 9:00am
Practicing parkour with The Movement Creative. Photo: Omar Robles

Practicing parkour with The Movement Creative. Photo: Omar Robles

My fingers were so frozen from the cold the night I decided to try a parkour class that I feared they might break off when I opened the door to Cornerstone Community Center in the East Village. The interior, filled with a diverse group of children, doing all sorts of after-school activities, instantly warmed me up  though. Their energetic spirits were the perfect intro to what was going on in the back where, every Thursday evening, The Movement Creative meets to practice parkour, a workout based in play.

Parkour is a discipline of movement and self-improvement that teaches how to overcome any obstacle both efficiently and creatively–think getting from point A to point B, both physically and mentally. It started in France in the 1980s as part of military obstacle-course training and is composed of simple, natural, human movements that can be amplified and combined in order to create increasingly complex patterns. These skills include your basic playground moves: running, jumping, climbing, crawling, balancing, rolling, swinging, vaulting and catching.

One of the most surprising things to me was not only how casually fun, yet highly disciplined and focused, the environment was, but also how many women were there.  (more…)

02/03/15 9:58am
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The Annoyance Theatre teaches classes and hosts weekend shows. Photo: The Annoyance Theatre

When you think about improv classes the first thing that comes to mind might be nothing at all because the prospect of taking one fills you with such deep and abiding terror that your brain goes completely blank. Or, you might dismiss them out of hand as professional development for your pals who fancy themselves the next Tina and Amy or Abbi and Ilana, but off limits for the rest of us.

Not so.

“Improv is a tool,” says Philip Markle, New York executive director of The Annoyance Theatre in Williamsburg. “It’s not an end game. It’s not a wrong or a right. Our goal at The Annoyance is to make you the most powerful fearless version of yourself onstage.”  That power doesn’t exist for just comedians or actors. It’s for everyone in every business, in every industry, with every type of personality. Whether it’s a way to beat shyness, an alternative to another night at the bar, or even as a form of therapy, these classes evoke more than just laughs.

(more…)

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03/21/14 10:00am

The author, in front of the Mitchell-Lama building she grew up in.

The author, in front of Lindsay Park, the Mitchell-Lama building where she was raised and where she lives today.

I was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1987. The day my mom took me home from the hospital, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes was the #1 song on the Billboard charts and the Cosbys, who lived in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone, were America’s favorite family. My mom and I were headed back to her one-bedroom apartment in Lindsay Park, a Mitchell-Lama development in Williamsburg where I still live today.

Thanks to New York City’s Mitchell-Lama program, which protects moderate- and-middle income families, my mom’s housing costs have gone up minimally over the past two decades. I moved back home with her a little over a year ago, to a two-bedroom apartment in the same complex (she upgraded when my younger sister was born).

I am also on several waiting lists for my own Mitchell-Lama studio or one-bedroom, which I hope to move into before I’m 30. I personally don’t see another way to stay living in my borough as rents rise and gentrification changes local dynamics. I work as hard as the next person, but my industry, book publishing, isn’t so lucrative for the average employee. I’m a Brooklynite, just trying to live on my own in the neighborhood where I went to elementary and junior high school, rode my first bike, had my first kiss and threw my first snowball.
(more…)

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09/27/13 10:05am
A cityscape, from several angles, by Adam Suerte of Brooklyn Tattoo. Photo: Adam Suerte

A cityscape, from several angles, by Adam Suerte of Brooklyn Tattoo. Photo: Adam Suerte

We interviewed three tattoo artists to get the lowdown on getting the best ink. Here is their wisdom distilled. Read the full story here.

1. Choose your artist carefully. Word of mouth is essential in this industry. If you see a tattoo you like on the street, at work or wherever, ask who did it–people are always willing to brag about their tattooer, and refer them to you. Look at portfolios, don’t just trust an artist by the way they talk, there are plenty of artists who can speak confidently about tattooing, but following through with skill can be another story.
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09/27/13 3:25am


Unless you cover it up with more ink or pay to have it lasered off, a tattoo will outlast relationships, passing fancies, even life philosophies. That’s not to discourage anyone from going under the needle–in a borough full of creative types, there are plenty of amazing artists who use ink as a medium and skin as a canvas. We spoke to three tattoo artists to find out how to go about getting a tattoo that is timeless and right for you–like wearing an original piece of art.
Four tattoo tips, from the pros. 

Brad Stevens tattoos at  NY Adorned. He’s been drawing since he was very young and went to FIT for graphic design, but only found his true artistic direction when he got serious about tattoos.

I tell my students at SVA, that designing for paper and designing for the body are two different things and I do both, so you have to trust me. –Stephanie Tamez

Like most artists starting off, Stevens mimicked his early tattoo heroes, but as he surrounded himself with tattoos, he began to find his own way. “The more I followed the trends of the time, the more dated the tattoos ended up being,” he says. “That’s when I started to strip down my style and tried to give my tattoos a more timeless look.”

Lettering is one current tattoo trend that Stevens often warns against. “It fights the organic shape of the body, ages terribly, and loses its impact if you have to look at it every day,” he says. “When you take something like lettering and try to piece together a sleeve from it you start seeing how things don’t line up, which makes everything look wrong.” Even with those caveats, Stevens is happy to do lettering and other of-the-moment designs for customers who want them. “I do all the trendy tattoos all the time. I don’t even hate doing them–it’s part of my job and I like seeing people get what they want. ”
(more…)

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09/19/13 7:00am

Agriculture, as it turns out, is not the only enterprise a community can support–the popular CSA model that so many people use to stock their pantries can also fund other endeavors. Community Supported Art programs are catching on across the country. The New York Times reported on the trend last month in an article you may have missed in the last lazy days of summer, mentioning that Brooklyn would be getting its own art CSA this fall, CSA+D Brooklyn, which will distribute is first shares on Sept. 21.
(more…)

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09/17/13 7:00am

At Flipping Vintage, a new second-hand furniture gallery in Williamsburg, Joshua Felix updates mid-century and American Victorian furniture with modern fabrics that can stand the wear and tear of everyday life. Photo: Flipping Vintage

At Flipping Vintage, a new second-hand furniture gallery in Williamsburg, Joshua Felix updates mid-century and American Victorian furniture with modern fabrics that can stand the wear and tear of everyday life. Photo: Flipping Vintage

Despite pre-fab furniture emporiums like IKEA, which looms large both on Brooklyn’s waterfront in Red Hook and in most of our living rooms, the market for antique and vintage home accessories is alive and kicking in the borough. Two new vintage furniture stores have recently opened, both of which are focused on upcycling second-hand pieces.

“I think there is a growing market for refurbished furniture,” says Amanda Peppard, the co-founder of Suite Pieces, a second-hand store that specializes in creatively restored home furnishings with one location in Huntington Station, Long Island, and a second outpost now open in Greenpoint. Peppard and her  business partner Corina Gomez, who sells her own refurbished furniture through her company Millie & Corina at the Brooklyn Flea, update old accent pieces with brightly colored paint, wax techniques and metallic accents, and offer do-it-yourself classes on upcycling your own found objects at their new spot on Huron Street.

Peppard teaches five different classes on techniques like chalkboard painting, waxing, metallic foil application and pearl plastering, which range from $95 to $200 including supplies. In Weak to Chic ($180), one of their most popular classes, you bring in your own piece of furniture and walk out with it refurbished.
(more…)

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