100 Creatives 2014: Lindsay Finnen, Photography Through a Fascinating Linds

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What She Does: For Lindsay Finnen of Fascinating Linds, photography has always been a part of her life. She's had a camera in her face since the day she was born, and was delighted when she discovered the process of double exposures at the age of eight. It was always in the background, but while attending Houston Community College she decided to take a 35mm camera on a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and was amazed at the emotion that she managed to capture through the lens.

Ever since that trip photography has been her main drive, though she also occasionally performs poetry at Avant Garden and started dabbling in painting two years ago. Photography remains her main focus, though. Her favorite photos so far come from a series she did with model Shina Rae called "Birth of a Tree-Nymph" which show the nude Rae emerging from the hollows of dead trees. Each one is a fascinating dance of human form and magical shadows. Her work is highly emotional, dictated primarily by whatever happens to touch her heart. You can almost feel it beating on the edge of her images.

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100 Creatives 2014: Kaitlyn Stanley, Tattoo Artist

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photos provided by Kaitlyn Stanley
What She Does: Kaitlyn Stanley wanted to do two things with her life. She wanted to draw, and she wanted to hurt people. Luckily, she stumbled into one of the very few professions in the world that will allow you to legally do both of those things simultaneously when she started working as a tattoo artist. She began her apprenticeship in 2009 and has been working hard to hone her craft ever since at SOS Tattoos in Pearland.

Her work tends towards the more realistic, specializing in portraits and anatomically correct representations more than fantastic elements. As she's still developing her own style as an artist, she currently feels more comfortable in the regular world artistically.

Why She Likes It: "I am in this industry to make people happy, to give someone a piece of art they can enjoy that means something to them. As far as the best piece I've ever done, I could never pick... I want every tattoo to be better than the last, I want to continue to grow and progress. But I'd have to say my favorite tattoo I've ever done was probably my first. I was so excited and anxious, and it turned out better than I had imagined. I had designed it all myself from start to finish and just seeing something on someone's skin that I had done was such a thrill. It wasn't perfect, because nothing ever is, but I was proud of it."

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100 Creatives 2014: Eleazar Galindo Navarro, Retro Video Game Maker

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: If you're in your 30's or 40's and your parents loved you then you probably owned a Super Nintendo because it was literally the result of fun assuming plastic form. The 16-bit era of gaming was a magical, whimsical time, and while I wouldn't trade The Last of Us and other cutting edge gaming achievements to go back to it there is a part of me that laments such games are no longer being made for the old girl.

At least not from Nintendo. Meet Eleazar Galindo Navarro, the head of Piko Interactive. Piko specializes in releasing games for defunct systems like the SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy Advance. I don't mean flash games, emulators, or 16-bit mobile phone titles; I'm talking about cartridges you can put in an actual console just like the old days.

Navarro is not himself a programmer, but he heads every other aspect of bringing titles to life. We first got to know him after the successful Kickstarter campaign he ran for his Super 4 in 1 Multicart, in which he teamed with three other programmers to release an anthology game that featured side-scrollers, puzzlers, and other games. Piko has also jumped on the Flappy Bird bandwagon, and published the minor internet fighting hit N-WARP Daisakusen. Currently the company is looking to start bringing their properties to the mobile market, but they remain committed to providing physical releases.


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100 Creatives 2014: Kate de Para, Textile and Clothing Designer

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by DO Photography
Kate de Para doesn't worry about making women look sexy when she designs her clothing line Evens; she worries about making them feel sexy. "I think of Asian cultures where clothing is designed with the textile in mind," she tells us. "In Western cultures clothing is designed with the body in mind. But really, there's nothing sexier than loose silk touching your skin. When I put one [of my designs] on, even though you can't see my figure, I feel like a million bucks and I think that's something you can see. Also, I feel confident about not having to show off my figure. That's sexy."

Evens is a small operation with just five outlets, including New York, San Francisco, Austin and Houston. Working with a seamstress/pattern maker, de Para creates all of the textiles and designs she uses. The name Evens comes from de Para's dedication to finding balance. "With my clothes I do lots of different techniques from hand dying and salting to digital dying and digital printing. If I was just doing one technique, like if I was hand dying everything then I would worry about how much water I'm consuming. If I was digitally printing everything, I'd worry about all the chemicals that I'm using. This way, I can make sure I have a broad balance in my work even when it comes to my clothing."

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100 Creatives 2014: Shawn Swanner, Video Game Painter

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: I suppose it's possible to need another reason to go visit the retro game store Game Over. You know, if the whole "it's like walking through every happy moment I had as a child at once" thing wasn't a good enough excuse. Well here's another incentive, the walls are to host the video game-inspired art of Shawn Swanner. His garish, pop art is eye-catching and fantastic, which is probably why Game Over wanted it in the first place.

Swanner has been an artist since before he can remember. His mother was also an artist, and fostered the habit in her son at every opportunity. He's almost entirely self-taught, but you can't argue with the results.

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100 Creatives 2014: Andy Gonzales, an Abstract Cubist on a Mission From God

Categories: 100 Creatives

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"'The Storm' is my favorite piece. It is a reminder of how life's issues can be solved by God's Grace and Mercy found in Jesus Christ." - Andy Gonzales
What He Does: There are many ways to spread the word of God, but Andy Gonzales has chosen art. Specifically, he has started a series called AGGA, which stands for Andy Gonzalez God's Artist. The art project is 242 abstract oil paintings divided into 21 parts all with biblical inspiration, and he hopes to soon follow it up with seven-foot metal sculptures in order to complement each painting. Gonzales, who has been a devout and committed Christian since he was very young, expects his project to take 20 years to accomplish.

After growing up in Pasadena, Gonzales left the United States to study art at the Parsons Paris School of Design in France. At first he focused on realism and the Renaissance artists, but after returning to the States he began to develop an interest in abstract cubism. It's this interest that has allowed Gonzales to show off the Biblical stories that are so well known in a brand new light that challenges the viewer.

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100 Creatives 2014: Chris Foreman, Comic Book Sketcher

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What He Does: If you've spent anytime around the Houston comic scene then you've seen the work of Chris Foreman. He's literally everywhere. For nearly five years he's been drawing sketch cards for the likes of Marvel Comics, DC Comics, The Walking Dead, Lucasfilm, and dozens more. He can bring your favorite superhero, villain, and anything in between to life in a matter of minutes, and he's a regular fixture on the convention circuit.

Foreman has been drawing since before he could walk. He's never formally studied the craft, but years and years of practice have honed his skill to the level of any classically educated artist. He's a pen for hire, and it's easy to see why the big companies use him. He has a light, easy style that instantly engages.

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100 Creatives 2014: Theresa DiMenno, Butterfly Photographer

Categories: 100 Creatives

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What She Does: If you've ever found yourself wandering the halls of Methodist Hospital then you might have been calmed by the beautiful nature photographs of Theresa DiMenno. Such soothing images are just a part of what makes her a well-respected and oft-seen photographic artist in Houston, but if you want to break down to the core of the beauty she brings to life in her work that's your best bet right there.

DiMenno fled dull office life here in town to run away to California for a while, intent on buying a camera and documenting the beauty of the Golden State. California brought her to her true gifts with composition and light, utterly transforming her and her mission in life. After returning to Houston she resumed office work, but continued to work teaching herself her crafts. After entering an image in the Houston Post Father's Day Photo Contest (she won second place), she began a career in photography, working for Houston Breakthrough, Public News, OutSmart and more. She's also on the cover of the current Texas Highways Magazine.

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100 Creatives 2014: Jessica E. Jones, Opera Singer

Categories: 100 Creatives

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All photos courtesy of Jessica E. Jones
Jessica E. Jones
Soprano Jessica E. Jones was just 15 years old when she landed her first opera role. It was less than a year after she had started voice lessons. Her teacher encouraged her to audition for a small role in The Marriage of Figaro at a local opera company. "So, I went and sang for them and they hired me," Jones tells us. The role was Barbarina, a peasant girl who gets caught in an amorous situation with a young man. "I got paid a little cash and it was the most unbelievable thing to me to get paid to sing! It was great.

"Not only that, I was amazed at what was happening on stage. I had done musical theater but I had never seen anyone really sing opera live. I remember being mesmerized by the soprano. I just couldn't believe how wonderful it was. I remember watching the adults interact and it was a really wonderful environment to be in. All of it was just unreal. I immediately thought, 'I really want to do this for a living.'"

First she had to continue her training and for that she came to Texas. Jones got both a bachelor's and master's degrees in performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Two years ago she was a finalist in the Northwest region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

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100 Creatives 2014: Atseko Factor, Actor

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo by Christine Weems
Qamara Black as Mama Nadi and Atseko Factor as Christian in Ruined at Obsidian Art Space
A 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, Lynn Nottage's Ruined is a difficult story - to watch and certainly to perform. The production, directed by Tom Stell, is in the last week of its run at Obsidian Art Space. The story takes place in a bar-and-brothel in the Congo. There's the no-nonsense madame, Mama Nadi, and the prostitutes she oversees, their customers and the soldiers and guerrillas fighting for control of the region. There's also smooth talking, happy trader Christian who stops in the bar as he makes supply runs ... and who happens to be in love with Mama Nadi. Actor Atseko Factor plays Christian.

Read our review of Ruined.

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Photo Courtesy of Atseko Factor
Christian is a complicated character. He appears happy-go-lucky, but he is well aware of the unstable situation of the region. He traffics in more than just dry goods; he also sells "ruined" women. (Rape survivors in the Congo are considered to be ruined and rejected by their family and friends. The outcasts often end up in brothels, such as the one seen in the play.) The play starts when Christian arrives at Mama Nadi's bar and sells her two traumatized women.

Factor, whose father is from the Congo, found Ruined echoed the stories he heard in his family. "Growing up, I heard my father talk about the Congo, about how he wished we could go back home but couldn't because it was so chaotic and dangerous." In building the character of Christian, Factor used his father as a starting point. "He's the epitome of a Congolese man to me."

Ruined has received positive reviews with both critics and audiences singling out Factor's performance, along with that of co-star Qamara Black who plays Mama Nadi, for its excellence.

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