A Walk Around Downtown San Jose and the Importance of Public Spaces: Building a sense of community through urban street art

 

Public spaces are the heartbeat of urban environments. They enable conversation, bring communities together, and can even spur action. Though they’re planned, successful public spaces often take on lives of their own. Most importantly, they provide opportunities for people from all walks of life to congregate and develop relationships with their communities and cities.

I recently took a walk with Jason Su, manager at the San Jose Downtown Association’s Street Life Project, to learn about the city’s commitment to celebrating its communities through urban street art.

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Mural Corner by artist Marcos LaFarga

Mural Corner by artist Marcos LaFarga

Nothing beats a San Francisco sunset

Ben and I worked on our first art installation together--multiple layers of the San Francisco skyline lined with LEDs and set to the colors of the sky during that time of day. Inspired by San Francisco's incredible sunsets, this project is a reflection of our growing love for the city. The project is about 24x18in, made of 1/8in cherry wood and LEDs. I did most of the laser cutting and staining, and Ben programmed the lights based on the colors found in the skyline at every hour. Instructable to come!

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

I live up on the hills close to Twin Peaks, and I see the San Francisco skyline every morning as I walk to work. I really wanted to capture the various layers in the skyline, and since I've been working with a lot of wood recently, it was the perfect medium to try this out. This project started off as a prototype for an upcoming, larger project, but I liked it so much, I decided to make one for my mom for Mother's Day! Except...she wants the NYC skyline instead.

BLING MAKING

I decided I wanted to make my own jewelry! Girls Night was coming up, and I wanted to make presents for my friends. I designed the necklaces based on each friend's style, and took photos around San Francisco's beautifully colored backdrops. I had almost as much fun photographing the jewels around SF, as I did making them!

Hella Handcrafted

I have this friend who makes extremely delicious cocktails. They're so good in fact, that his apartment is listed as a bar on Foursquare, named Scotch & Balls. In order to officially brand the place, I made a logo for Scotch & Balls, complete with the bartender's signature hipster glasses.

Carpe Diem

Still perfecting the technique, but trying to replicate hand-carved Indian woodblock stamps with my own laser cut designs. The idea is that eventually I can hand print my own fabrics and sew clothes from them!

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Not all those who wander are lost.

Wanderlust. Made this as a birthday present for a friend who loves to travel. The world map is etched on the wood, and she can color in all the countries she's been.

Drawing is my happy place.

I'm practicing sketching hands holding devices so I can easily show interactions in my storyboards and UX flows.

Docs@Work Team T-Shirt

I designed a team t-shirt for our Docs@Work product. I went through a hipster logo phase, and eventually nixed it. It was important to me, to design a t-shirt that demonstrated the app's goal: to enable users to access, create, and manipulate all kinds of content. In the end, I feel the t-shirt is equal parts bad-ass and focused.