WLHQ: Wanderlust Visuals - Channeling Experience into Creativity
~ By Wanderlust Art Director, Abbey Ley
As Wanderlust Festival's Art Director, I have a great responsibility at my fingertips. It's my job to create unique imagery that intrigues and captures peoples' attention, inspiring them to learn more about our events, and hopefully, become a part of them. From poster art and print ads to our websites and digital banners, it's up to me to be sure we're getting our message and information across clearly and beautifully.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: My inaugural Wanderlust Festival was in Stratton Mountain, Vermont in 2011. It was my first trip to the gorgeous, lush, green state of Vermont. Though it rained way more than any of us had anticipated, I can truly say I had the experience of a lifetime. My job on-site at the festivals is to work with our team of our photographers, sending them here and there to make sure all of the action is captured, as well as to take my own photos. Collecting and organizing the photos we collect at the festivals is hugely important to our operation through the rest of the year: while our graphics attract attention and inform people about our events, the photos from each event show the true beauty, transformation and celebration that take place at Wanderlust. These photos say more about our events than we could ever put into words, so these photos play a crucial role in marketing our future events to share the true essence of Wanderlust. I also always come armed with body paint and have fun expressing the inspiration around me onto our festival-goers!
Nobody inspires like Mother Nature: Beautiful weather is most certainly something to celebrate. Mother Nature gave us lots (and lots and lots) of rain in Vermont that first year (2011), and while it was challenging, the show went on. During an indoor Saturday afternoon yoga class lead by Dana Flynn, I carefully moved about the room with my camera. Dana's classes are known to be full of laughter and animation, but that afternoon all of a sudden - she screamed and pointed out the window. After 2 day of heavy rains, the SUN HAD COME OUT!! She threw openthe door and several yogis continued their practice outside on the terrace. I had plenty of shots from the class so I seized the opportunity to get up on that mountain! I hopped into my first gondola, and headed on up. As I neared the top, the clouds broke and the view took my breath away. When I reached the top, I stepped out of the gondola and walked around in awe. I snapped away, took in the scenery, and got up close for macro shots of flowers covered in fresh droplets. Another girl, Sarah, was was doing the same, and she asked me to take her photo. She took one of me in return (right), and we ended up chatting a bunch and becoming friends!
My Wanderlust journey continued to California in Squaw Valley. Squaw is definitely a place to write home about. 2011 being the 3rd year, not only was it a much larger-scale event than Vermont, but it is around 3 times the size. In order to take in the vastness of Squaw, you take a big cable car with about 30 other people 8,200 feet up to High Camp, where you just might find a raging pool party with a DJ pumping out high energy tunes to acro yogis, hula hoopers, and festival-goers alike. There was much more ground to cover than in Vermont, but the exhaustion at the end of the way was beyond worth it. I'd say my highlight of Wanderlust California 2011 was getting to dance like crazy with Girl Talk on the main stage.
Turning experience into Art: These experiences inspired me more than I could ever have imagined. I finished my first Wanderlust Festival season with lots of new friends and creative inspiration, and the realization that I needed to work on my crow pose. In the fall of 2011, I was fully amped to create poster art for the festivals to follow in 2012. Not to my surprise, Wanderlust expanded again in 2012, to four festivals. We headed back to Vermont again, took on Copper Mountain in Colorado, then over to our home base in Squaw, and then crossed the border up to Whistler, B.C., Canada. I experienced my highest altitude yet at 13,900 feet on Copper, and went stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe, now one of my favorite activities! Seeing the fruits of my labor at each festival along the journey filled me with a beautiful sense of accomplishment and pride. A valuable life lesson learned: hard work and ambition, my friends, truly pays off.
2013 begins with a Wave of excitement: I entered this 2013 season with an incredible amount of creative inspiration. In February we would all be off to O'ahu, Hawai'i. When it came time to make the poster for Wanderlust O'ahu (Winter 2012), it was very, very cold in Brooklyn, home of WLHQ. I channeled warm vibes and inspiration from a Hawaii trip I took 7 years ago. I recalled the incredible waves, glorious vegetation, overall excellent vibes, and also of course took yoga and the wonderful Wanderlust experiences I've had in the mountains into account. I've always been drawn to sea creatures and the cool colors of the sea. All of this culminated into an illustrated North Shore wave with layers of watercolored paint texture and Hawaiian iconography. The "wanderboards" in the distance came from a photograph of Schuyler Grant and crew on the beach years ago, in which they painted with sand on their boards, "WANDERLUST OR BUST!" The O'ahu art is my personal favorite piece I've ever created for Wanderlust. Ahh, Hawaii... the icing on the cake? You could say that - especially because we arrived on the island early to celebrate the marriage of Wanderlust co-founder Sean Hoess and Karina Mackenzie, the wonderful woman behind Wanderlust's inspiring Speakeasy lecture series. I was honored when the couple asked me to translate some of my Hawaii inspired art to their wedding invitations!
Onward and Upward: I'm psyched to continue to grow and make art with Wanderlust along the way. My workload has of course increased with the addition of so many events, and I now have an amazing assistant, Maria, who happens to have been raised on O'ahu. It's been most wonderful to have her help, and without her I never would have known to hike Maunawili Falls! With all of this growth, it made sense to evolve the Wanderlust brand to evoke a broader scale. So working directly with the founders, Jeff and Sean, we developed our new compass icon and global world map website. We've also brought a hot air balloon into the picture: if only we could get ourselves one to travel in from fest to fest. Can't hurt to dream! I am so grateful to be living life in such a way, and to be able to contribute my skills to these magnificent events.