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Indie Craft, Made with Love | Renegade Craft Fair NYC

Renegade Craft Fair is your one-stop aesthetic shop if you're looking for one place with all of the most beautiful, handcrafted, made with love items ranging from jewelry to candles to leather jackets, ceramics, and more.

This year, Renegade Craft makes a stop once again in Manhattan from November 17-18, 2018 at the Metropolitan Pavillion filled with some alumni and many more brands. Because items are made with lots of care and love, there's often incredible details, stories, and the perfect intersection between form and function. Artists and makers, themselves, run their booths so you'll be able to get firsthand insight on their inspiration and process—making their craft accessible to everyone.

Renegade Craft started in 2003 and currently runs events across the U.S.  and U.K. each year attracting over 300K attendees. Their mission is to "create a vibrant and lively happening that reflects and illuminates the work of today's modern makers." Visit Renegade Craft for more info.

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Polaris Jewelry
Kaliska Sweetwater, creator of Polaris Jewelry, and her creations (@polarisjewelry)
Polaris Jewelry
Gorgeous, handmade delicate jewelry | See more @polarisjewelry


Knockout Jewelry
Knockout Jewelry by Kate Davis | Beautifully designed rings that double as self-defense jewelry |
PF Candles
Good smells from P.F. Candle Co (@pfcandleco)


Hu Is Hungry
Drool-worthy stationary from by Ding Ding Hu of @huishungry




Renegade craft hosts the Manhattan fair each year at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. For 2018, this fair runs from November 17-18, 2018. To visit in your area, visit Renegade's website.


west & ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

Negotiate Your Raise: Designers in Tech

So you’ve been in your role for a while. You’re doing great work and delivering amazing results. Your manager and your teammates praise you for your incredible work. However, praise only gets so far when making money plays a huge factor in why we work.

Negotiating for a raise can be one of the most painful but worthwhile experiences. However, it’s not merely about money but about solidifying your relationship team, manager, and your growth with the company.

No matter how familiar you are, here are three essential steps to get you ready for your conversation.

Originally posted on May 2018

Numbers & Data: What is Everyone Else Getting Paid?

Depending on your role, industry, and location, there may be many variations to how much you and your peers may be getting paid. However, there are many ways to do research and proxy general ranges of base compensation.


1. Ask for compensation bands.

It's much easier to have a conversation if you and your manager are on the same page on how the company determines your compensation package. Even if your company won’t divulge into the details, having an open conversation to understand how money is defined is a great place to start.

In my own experience, this allowed me to understand better where I stood according to my company and manager. I was able to ask directly for compensation band ranges by starting ongoing conversations with my manager that I was interested in learning more about how our company determined base salary and where I fell within those bands. Having this information allowed me to ask for a number that was reasonable.


2. Do your research on self-reported data.

There’s much information available in your role and field that may be available. This research is not meant to reveal the exact numbers everyone is getting paid but providing a proxy to ranges that fit your role the best. Again, this varies across many different factors.

Start with your title, location, company size, and industry. From there, there are opportunities to look at companies similar to yours and beyond. You can develop a stronger picture of compensation for your role.


Know Your Worth Glassdoor Salary Calculator
Know Your Worth Glassdoor Salary Calculator

There are many resources to help you get started. Daniel Burka has an excellent example of how he approached researching data. There are several places that have salary aggregators such as Glassdoor’s Salary Tool, Indeed Salary Search, AngeList for Startup Salary & Equity, Paysa, LinkedIn Salary, and more.


Focus on the Whole Package

Seize the opportunity to utilize your negotiation beyond just asking for money. Similar to accepting an offer, there are many factors that you may be able to consider as part of the whole package.

To start, figure out what’s most important to you. Is it growth? How about building long-term financial independence? What about work-life balance? This exercise will help you focus on finding a balance in your negotiation if your company and manager cannot meet your expected raise request. Below are some parts of the package aside from salary that are possibilities depending on your priorities:


1. Equity

Equity plays into the long-term investment with the company. If this is available, figure out how much each team member typically receives. One tactic to consider is asking for more equity over your salary or vice versa depending on what is most important to you.


2. Growth

For me, growth is incredibly important as I progress in my career. I often look at the projects and skills I am refining in my day-to-day and proxying that with both the company and my expectations to where I want to be and the type of work I want to do. Are there classes or workshops that your company can pay to grow your skills? Think beyond what your base salary is and find creative ways that can be more impactful with your manager's support.


Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

3. Work Flexibility

As companies grow and evolve, so can the way we work. Whether that’s asking for time to recharge with more paid time off or working remotely once a week, figuring out what helps you be most productive with your team is another possibility to consider. Find out what works for how you and your team work, and make a plan for how it’ll work.


And so much more.

There’s a variety of ways that good companies can approach helping their star employees feel fulfilled even is salary alone is not something the company can meet. Think about 401K matching, family leave, volunteering, accelerated review schedules and more.



Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Get Pitch Ready

Getting ready is incredibly important and so is preparing for the actual conversation. There’s nothing more terrifying than being unprepared and that feeling is probably what your manager feels if you spring the discussion on them. The following are a few tips I practiced to prepare for the actual conversation.


1. Get Aligned

In an ideal case, you should already be having one on ones with your manager to consistently discuss your progress, provide and receive feedback, and creating and executing on action plans.

Whether or not this is true, having a preliminary conversation one on one with your manager is crucial to begin the discussion. Talk to your manager and let them know that you’d like to start a conversation about your compensation and growth within the company. Then, ask if and when the both of you’ll be ready to have the conversation.


Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

2. Set a Date

After you and your manager have established that you'd like to have a conversation; be sure to set a date for the discussion itself. Having a specific time helps both you and your manager prepare. Most likely, your manager probably has to think about how to pitch you to their manager and why you deserve the bump.  More importantly, this date helps you set a deadline for yourself to prepare. With this step complete, both parties will not be surprised.


3. Pitch and Materials Ready

Depending on what you're comfortable with, how and what you pitch with is entirely up to you. No matter how you decide to prepare, be sure to include the following:

  1. What your accomplishments have been for X period.
  2. What you aim to achieve for the next Y period and how you and your manager can decide to track this.
  3. And, for you to be able to accomplish what you proposed, the negotiation package that you want.
  4. Most importantly, it’s crucial to continue the conversation with your manager to figure out how to achieve your goals, together.


This puppy believes in you! Photo by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash


Most importantly, you can do this! The hardest part is starting, but you’ve already done this by starting your research and reading this article.

Of course, there are a ton of experts in the space sharing their insights on how to approach negotiating salaries as well. Jim Hopkinson from Salary Tutor shares 5 case studies with various tactics on increasing pay. Pasya recently shared a video on How to Ask Your Boss for More Money. And of course, many resources that provide industry-specific year-end reviews that with holistic insights that occasionally include salary information such as First Round’s State of Startups, Invision’s Product Design Industry Report, and The PayScale Index Trends in Compensation.


More Resources


Thanks to Christina Brant, Ronnie Ting, and Gary Chou for your advice and guidance.

west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

NYC High Line

Moving to New York City: A Winter Guide

Moving to a new city can be daunting. Moving to New York City? Well, that's a whole beast on its own. Luckily, you don't have to go it alone. From getting started, where to look, and the most helpful resources are all here. The following are some tips to help you get a head start.



Chelsea - Winter 2016

Why winter is unique

Inventory is much lower since most people don't want to move during freezing weather. This means there's a little less competition for finding a place. You're also more likely to see No Fee apartments—though still quite rare.

A general tip from various brokers including beginning your search at the beginning or the middle of the month. Most leases start on the 1st or 15th so that’s when apartments would open up as well. It's generally not recommended to look more than a month ahead though still very possible.


Renting in New York City is a bit different

The fees:

  • Broker's Fee: A fee typically around 15% that you're paying the broker for the apartment.
    • Exclusive Listing: The rental is represented by a brokerage (~15%)
    • Open Listing: When a rental is not specifically represented by an agent or broker (typically ~10%)
  • No Fee: The landlord is taking on the fee instead of the renter. This is often a rare find.

Here are a few more helpful resources:

  • TripleMint: They are a brokerage that I've worked with in the past.
    • TripleMint helped me successfully find my current apartment in LES. It took over a month or so but my agent, Ethan Vickery, was very diligent, transparent, and honest throughout the process.
  • An interactive, comprehensive guide for first-time renters in NYC. I wish I had this when I was looking the first time around.
  • Jetty Blog: Jetty focuses on providing rental insurance, and their blog offers some excellent guides on what to think about surrounding rental life.


Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park

When is it a good time to look?

Most leases start on the 1st or the 15th. Hence, it's best to start looking at the beginning of the month or right in the middle.

Also, inventory moves fast. You can't expect to take an apartment six months in advance. The earliest you can look is around a month out.


Know what you want and what you’re willing to give up

It’ll be easier to figure out what you want or where to hunt for once you know what you value the most.

Location? Access to restaurants? Subway less than 5 minutes away? This list will help you narrow it down.

Throw together a list. You'll, of course, modify this during your search when you can better understand what you can get your budget.




In my time in NYC, I've lived in Chelsea and LES/Chinatown. Both are great in their little ways. I'm biased based on location, access to public transportation, food, and accessibility to the arts and neighborhoods around me. For in-depth guides, get started with these:

  • Airbnb Neighborhood Guides: A great way to get a feel of the neighborhood when you're not there in person. While these guides are geared toward visitors, this is still helpful as you explore a new location.
  • Make NYC Yours: If your life and decisions revolve around food, this is a great guide to learn more about the neighborhoods. Let your stomach desires guide you.
  • Compass Neighborhood Guides: Compass is a real estate company/brokerage that also offers guides to help you better understand where to find your dream home.
  • Wikitravel: While not directly related to moving, Wikitravel often has great crowdsourced information about visiting places. There can be some helpful information available in these guides as well.


Where to look for places

A few resources to scope out places to rent (in no particular order):

  • StreetEasy: Filter to your heart's content. There's also an app that allows you to search on the go.
    • Save your favorite places and save your favorite listings.
    • Any saved listings or searches can be followed up in emails so you can be notified of any changes to a listing.
  • Naked Apartments: It's just interesting to see when the buildings were built, how much everyone else is paying in the building (crucial to ensure you're paying a fair price). Think Zillow but for renting.
  • listings project: This is a great resource great if you're moving by yourself and you want to find something affordable. There are no brokers here so only the direct owner or someone who wants a sublease.
  • NYBits: Great to do an aggregate browse of what's available. The listings are super accurate/updated, but you can get all the information on the broker, management company, and more.
  •  Facebook Groups:
    • Broke List: Great for looking for affordable finds. People buy and sell things for cheap here. However, there are often postings for room shares or single rooms here as well.
    • New York City Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets: There’s a lot of bad listings but also some great ones. Beware of the annoying realtors or brokers who spam you.



Get prepared

As with any apartment application, you should always be prepared with a few copies of handy documents that all landlords and management companies will need. Fair warning: be wary of who you share your information with. Be sure to protect yourself and vet the people you're sharing your knowledge with as well. It is highly recommended that you black out any sensitive information such as your SSN and bank account numbers.

At minimum:

  • Copy of your photo ID
  • First 2 pages of your most recent Tax Return
  • Last two months of your bank statements
  • Credit report - get a free copy with Credit Karma. It's also good to keep an eye on your personal credit score if you haven't started already.



So how did I do it?

I posted I was looking for a place a week before on NYC Housing Facebook group. Now, this isn't my favorite Facebook group, but I caught the eye of someone who saved me in the nick of time. By chance, she had a spot, and I took it. However, I spent quite a bit of time digging through the internet trying to find a place, but in all honesty, everything will be okay.

Above all, trust your gut.

Best of luck to you if you're in the search or are thinking about it. Share any tips you have in the comments or your experience!


west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

Sounds of: October 2018

Welcome to Sounds of: October 2018. Like all of 2018, this month has come and gone just like that. Not to worry, tons of new (and old) music, a few docs/behind the scenes, and dreamy vibes for your enjoyment.


Since October | dvsn

Short Docu-series on dvsn, R&B duo from ovo

dvsn has been on the rise since the duo debut in September 2016. These shorts capture those moments of their growth and never before seen moments for the duo. If you don't know already, dvsn is comprised of singer Daniel Daley, whose voice can wreck you with emotions, and producer Nineteen85 who has already been filling your sound waves with Drake hits like "One Time", "Hotline Bling", and "Hold On, We're Going Home" and most recently, "GTFO" for Mariah Carey's latest album.

The first two of the Since October series is on Youtube.


One More | Yaeji

End of summer feels

Hailing from Queens, Yaeji delivers One More following her EP2. Both English and Korean is mixed fluidly in this song in a very loose and ethereal style and a bit of autotune. Without any understanding of Korean, you’d think this some was merely something to groove to with its melody. According to Yaeji via Pitchfork, this “is about enduring and coming to terms with pain until you have the strength to forgive and move on.”

For more on the song, check out Pitchfork’s take.


Coupe | Kris Wu ft Rich the Kid

Smooth rap & hip-hop from international Kris Wu

With much anticipation for Antares, Kris Wu’s debut US English album, Wu has released Coupe with Rich The Kid reminding us that he’s worked harder than us.

While the album is out now (since November 2, 2018), Kris Wu has released Freedom ft. Jhene Aiko, Like That, and Deserve ft Travis Scott and now Coupe for a buildup to his debut. For those who don't know already, Kris Wu was once an international pop star part of the Korean Boy Band, Exo. Since leaving, he's been cultivating his music focused on the US Hip Hop market. An interesting pivot, though not unheard of for multi-talented artists like Kris Wu.


Big Jet Plane | Jan Blomqvst Animal Trainer Remix

Taking you in a ride via "slow rave"

If you dig a little deeper, this song was sung first by Lady of the Sunshine who was Angus Stone's pseudonym. However, when Angus and Julia Stone came out with their album, this song came out as well is best known via this duo. This version, Jan Blomqvst and Animal Trainer's who signature "slow rave" sound brings this song into a new life.

The original track is a little slower and full of emotion. There's that and then some more in this remix.


The Distance | Mariah Carey ft Ty Dolla $ign

R&B ballad with a bit of funky beat

After four long years since Mariah’s last album, we’ve been consistently treated with more and more singles as they come out lately. The Distance starts with a chant from a cheer squad and jumps right into Mariah professing her love proudly. Recently, she released With You produced by DJ Mustard, GTFO produced by Nineteen85, and this latest collaboration produced by Skillex and Poo Bear.

Listen to the whole track here and her latest album, Caution is set to release on November 16, 2018.


Divide | ODESZA ft Kelsey Bulkin

electro-indie pop with ethereal vocals

If you’ve ever seen Odesza live, you’re taken away by the production. Kelsey Belkin (previously one half of Made In Heights) leads this song. Odesza explains the album, A Moment Apart, focuses on recreating moments and memories through each song. One can only imagine what was behind Divide.

Read more on the duo’s explanation behind their 2017 album.


Waste | Rhye RY X Remix

Rhye's ethereal sound mixed with what's definitely not Zhu's sound

Rhye, which is Mike Milosh's musical project, has captured all of us with his sound. You can hear the lyrics oozing out of your speakers in true Rhye fashion.  However, RY X takes it up a notch that almost, but not entirely, but could be mistaken for Zhu's sound. You're definitely in for an audio treat with this track.


DEW ♥ - Lo Fi Version | PYNKIE

indie pop lo fi dreaminess

Dreamy, chill and transports you into visions of riding down the open highway or fresh mountain air coming into your lungs. PYNKIE is Lindsey Rae Radice, and this song is part of her debut album, neoteny.


Pram - Omar Apollo

dreamy acoustics blend of soulful vocals

Pram is one of those tracks that just kind of stops you because of its pure simplicity. Omar Apollo's voice and his guitar blending to bring you such a beautiful sound.

As a bonus, this is an incredible short doc on Omar Apollo "figuring out" his path into music as a musician with immigrant parents via Remezcla.



Monthly Spotify Playlist

As usual, you can find all the songs mentioned above plus more from monthly Spotify playlist below. Get early access to this playlist by supporting west & ease on Patreon.



Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for your to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear. 


Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden | Chrysanthemum Festival Celebration

A symbol of the imperial family, chrysanthemums are grown in Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden through careful cultivation and patience. From November 1 - 15, 2018, the garden has opened up to the public two spectacular viewings for the Chrysanthemum Festival Celebration.

This particular showing is for the Meiji Celebration wherein 2018 marks 150 years since the Meiji Restoration leading Japan adapt into the modern world.

Route Exhibits

The first route takes you throughout a short walk to each station to view specific types of chrysanthemums and styles of cultivation from Kengai Beds to Ozukuri beds, visitors have a chance to see these beautiful creations up close.

Hexagon Style Flower Bed
Hexagon Style Flower Bed
Chrysanthemum Dome Flowers
Ozukuri Bed | 1 Year for 1 Root Division to produce hundreds of flowers in this dome shape
Ise, Choji, and Saga-giku Bed of Flowers
Ise, Choji, and Saga-giku Style

Tazuna-ue style
Tazuna-ue (horse bridle) style
Tending to the flowers
Chrysanthemums must be watered morning and night each day
Clap and the fish will swim to you for food
Higo-Giku bed
Higo-giku bed
Ogiku bed
Ogiku bed

Cultivation Fields

The second route which is usually never open to the public is the actual chrysanthemum cultivation fields. Here, visitors can walk up to the flowers and the perimeters to view the growth and learn more about decisions on how to grow such flowers. There is also a dedicated park guide there to help and explain for Japanese speakers.

For more information on the 150th anniversary, thediplomat has a great synopsis around the history.

Chrysanthemum Field Net
Nets set up to deter crows from picking at the flowers

Chrysanthemum Fields Up Close

Chrysanthemum sheds

Chrysanthemum fields


Getting there:

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden can be reached by subway and walking from the Shinjuku Station (10-minute walk) or from Yoyogi Station (20-minute walk) for both the JR Yamanote Lines.

Good to know:

There are three gates to enter into the garden. Two in the north and one in the south. All gates require a 200 yen ticket which can be purchased from a machine or staff. Once you receive your ticket, you can enter through the gates via the QR code provided on your ticket.

Coin lockers for 300 and 500 yen are available besides the gates if needed.

Additionally, there are plenty of restrooms (Western and Eastern style) available along with food, beverages, and gifts for sale.

There's plenty to see in the park as well depending on the season. Check back often to see what's on view.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Gate
Garden Gates
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Map
Garden Map


west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

Spring Bouquet

Bouquet Your Way

Creating a bouquet can be simple or complex, depending on how you look at it. For those of us who have always wondered what are some basics we need to know to get started, Jeannie Huang of Botanica Neue hosts occasional classes structured as hands-on workshops to get you comfortable and confident in playing with flowers.

I had the opportunity to attend her Spring Bouquet Workshop which allowed me to understand the how and why of every step a florist takes to put care into arranging flowers for myself and others. While I don't intend on becoming an expert florist, the skills I've learned have been put to great use (arranging bouquets and centerpieces of a wedding).

The following are a few tips I learned plus photos from the workshop that's changed my perspective on bouquet creation.

Originally published in May 2017.

Prep is Key

Pre-prepped Flowers

Maintaining Your Bouquet

One of my biggest gripes about flowers or bouquets has always been the longevity of the flowers. Let's be real, flower's are not cheap. The labor that goes into growing, pruning, selection, assembly, shipping, and then delivery to you costs a lot. So how do you maintain your flowers from the moment you receive them?

Given that there's a ton of bacteria at the stems of your flowers, maintaining the health of that portion is key. Once you receive your flowers, putting your stems into fresh water is a must. I like to think of maintaining your flowers like the way we should treat our faces. For me, my face is always oily and acne-prone. The less I touch my face (and preventing oils and bacteria from my hands to my face) and washing at least once a day is a must. Your flowers are the same. Changing the water out of your vase gently once a day helps deter the bacterial growth.

Also, your flowers are delicate. The more you touch, the faster it'll deteriorate. Lastly, like your face, prolonged direct sun exposure probably isn't the best. Your flowers are best kept away from the window and direct sunlight.

Pre-Prepped Flowers in Buckets

Okay, let's build—start with prep

So now that you're assembling the bouquets, how you prepare matters for the longevity of the flowers as well.

For the humans who have ever gotten your nails done at a salon, Jeannie made the comparison to the prep that manicurists complete prior to putting polish onto your nails. Your manicurists spend most of the time removing polish, filing, buffing, removing dead skin, and shaping your nails first. That amount of effort allows for your manicure to last longer. This goes for maintaining the longevity of your bouquets and flowers as well.

In the previous photos, you can see that the flowers had the majority of their leaves and were much longer. We trimmed them down and removed the leaves. It may be a personal preference for keeping some leaves so do what you want to do.

Pre-prepped flowers in buckets


Layers & Dimensionality

As you can see in the previous photos, we had a wide variety of plants to work with. My favorite? The blueberry branches which were practically in full bush form. The green and berries created and interesting element that helps balance and provides contrast to soft delicate petals from the flowers. Also, the mint added this wonderful and unexpected fragrance.

Jeannie explains that to build your bouquet, generally building with variety matters. We had smaller filler flowers that are more sturdy like the wax flowers and carnations. Mint and the blueberry branches added contrast. We had peonies as our main flowers along with tulips and ranunculus to complement.


Putting it all together

Bouquet in progress

The secret to the hand-tied bouquet? This is the most "designer" response but...iteration! Starting off with one stem, you add on your stems in a circular, layered fashion and you eventually end up with something you love. And if you don't, you can always adjust. The entire time, I had no clue what I was doing. However, that's the most beautiful part about it—you can try, start over, and create whatever you think is best.


Go with your gut

Biggest takeaway? Do what you think is best. Just like art, you're going forward with creating something beautiful for you. Especially if you're making this for yourself or your loved ones, there's no right or wrong way to make something beautiful. Go forth and do your thing.


Ta-da, my bouquet!

Here's what I ended up with. I have no clue if others think it's beautiful or what you'll traditionally see. All in all, it only matters what I think. Make something beautiful for you! P.S. These are day 2 photos.

Bouquet Day 2

Bouquet Day 2

Bouquet Day 2


Thank you to Jeannie for hosting and sharing your knowledge with us. Highly recommend taking her workshop whenever she hosts one next if you're in NYC. You'll get to meet some awesome people, snuggle with the most adorable cat(s) and dog (potato), and get a portrait with your bouquet.

You can find Jeannie on insta:


west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

29 Rooms: Refinery29's Creativity Funhouse

Refinery 29 is back again this year with their 29Rooms concept; 29 Rooms with (mostly) interactive installations sponsored by various artists and companies intertwined with messages ranging from art innovation to empowerment bathrooms. From painting directly on paper lanterns where the visitor can contribute their own piece of art to listening to your own dreams get turned into beautifully improvised songs, there's something for everyone at 29 Rooms.

According to the site, this year's theme is "Turn It Into Art" to celebrate the "transformative power of creativity". Personally, I love the ability to experience what people deem as art. The arts have always been an exclusive experience where art sits behind invisible lines and implicit "Do Not Touch" signs. However, more and more companies/organizations are coming out with installations that invite the audience in to express and create.

I've also found that I find the most joy in interaction rather than observation. 29 Rooms had a variety of installations that invited interaction at varying levels...some through a photo, some that require your participation. All in all, a fun concept for almost anyone to enjoy depending on your level of comfort.

I got to experience this my friends this weekend for our 3-hour reservation. Below are a few of my favorite shots and a little about the corresponding rooms.

Originally published in September 2017.


1&2 | Become The Masterpiece

Friends being silly and playing with the props.

When you enter the experience, you're first greeted with Alexa Meade's Become the Masterpiece where you get to play with props and put on apparel and props that blend you into the art. In the description, this experience allows the audience to be the "artist in charge of their composition."

Alexa Meade's work is very much blending and blurring lines between the human being and art. Very trippy shots and her other work can be found on her insta.


3 | Erotica In Bloom

Erotica In Bloom Flowers

This fun room invites you in through fake flowers draped from the ceiling. In the center are 3 large upside down orchid pods that you step into with a screen that has erotic visuals. Additionally, there is a sensory experience that each flower envelopes you in.

In collaboration with Maisie Cousins, this room features flowers which have sexual symbolism. The experience is supposed to "take your senses on an erotic thrill ride". My favorite part? The fact that it's nearly impossible to take photos without someone getting into the frame because everyone loves flowers.

P.S., here's a cool quick interview with Maisie Cousins on another solo exhibition she's done. She's really into multi-sensory experiences.


4 | The Art of Innovation

Art of Innovation

This was initially one of my least favorite pieces as I saw a line queue up for what seemed to be only meant as a "see but don't touch" installation. It indeed became so where you couldn't touch but I noticed something really fascinating with this piece. The light shines at various points which really made this piece shine. Visitors were invited for a photo op of this piece.

This piece was in collaboration with Jason Wu and Cadillac which you can learn more about here.


5 | The Womb

Lights when lying down.

In a large red tent-like structure people had the opportunity to put on headphones that played meditation poetry. The words on loop were:

Every single person deserves to take up space, to be bold, to love, and be loved in return. So, let your light be big, don't shrink from it. Take this light and shine it in life's dark places. Generate joy. channel it, and share it. Root for each other, grow with each other, and see each other. Leave this safe space, an agent of love.

As you listen to the words, there's also this heavy throbbing heartbeat that plays. A heavily audio sensory experience that also has you in a very vulnerable, relaxed state of being on your back.

Learn more about Cleo Wade here on her website.


6 | The Beauty Carousel

Lined with shimmery pink and red-hued ribbons from the ceiling, Ulta Beauty created a carousel that you can ride on. Reminiscent of the nostalgic carnivals or even carousels by the park (for me, that would be the carousel near Yerba Buena Park in San Francisco), it's a total showstopper and meant for a great photo op.


7 | Bright Future

Bright Future Neon Lights

First, I have a huge fascination with neon lights. There's something super gorgeous and slightly ephemeral about neon lights... perhaps it's my understanding that it doesn't last forever. Or that it's part of a dying industry.

Anyways, I'm not sure of the material but the lights and the way it's created this huge installation here drew me in. I LOVED the large visuals of the IUD, birth control pills, condom, and phrases. People can have such varying reactions to these displays. I, for one, am all about treating your body well and that means having access to protecting yourself and others. While I didn't get to fully interact with the whole structure, videos and such...I had a really fun time seeing people's reactions to this.


8 | Chambers of Beauty

Chambers of Beauty

Also, everyone, have you met Andy? He's a vision of beauty. Anyways, he's a software engineer by day, my photography model by whenever we hang out because I need to practice photography and you're here. I digress...

Clarins created this Chambers of Beauty room that allowed visitors to try out their new ageless serum and take fun photos in front of a wall of foliage... I mean...who doesn't want to have a cool insta in front of a bunch of leaves?


9 | Art Heals

Art Heals

This was an awesome experience where visitors were invited to paint and draw on these large paper lanterns. In collaboration with Art Of Elysium, the premise of this experience is that "art can change your outlook, your mindset, and ultimate your life." As a designer and someone in the creative field though lacking the artistic hand...I really appreciated the freedom and invitation to participate in this installation.

You can learn more about the cool things Art of Elysium is doing here.


13 | Show Face

Show Face

I absolutely loved this exhibit. Yes, that is my face. A lot of the rooms were very crowded in this area but we ended up in the Show Face room because of the lack of people. Everything was dark and visitors could stick their face through oval shaped holes to allow projects onto our a way, we become the art in itself.

Created in collaboration with Short Cuts, this experience allows you to be who you are by ..."mixing technology with beauty...and watch as you become art."


14 | Shred It

Shred It

In collaboration with Jake Gyllenhaal, this room invited visitors to write down whatever is weighing us down and manually shred it. The act of doing something like this helps us express ourselves and relinquishes what holds us back. I peeked over a few shoulders and saw a lot of silly things written down.


19 | Harmony

This beautiful piece took me by surprise. It actually spins ever-so-slowly so that when you catch a glimpse at the right angle, you see these two beautifully intertwined faces staring back at you.

In collaboration with Chloe x Halle and Benjamin Shine, this piece is about the bond "forged" between sisters.


21 | Light It Up

Symmetry Labs created this awesome piece that invited visitors to dance in front of a piece of equipment that translated the body's dance movements to light. You could hear music blasting through this part of the warehouse and people having a great time seeing the lights shine and change throughout the night.

Did you know? Symmetry labs also had another installation recently at Burning Man.


24 | Hear Our Voice

The first time I saw an exhibit that invited visitors to write postcards was Ai Wei Wei's @Large on Alcatraz. He had created postcards that asked visitors to write messages to political prisons in various parts of the world. This room had a similar concept but with messages for senators.

I love the idea of finding ways for people to be proactive in politics even at art shows. There's always a way to weave creativity with action.


29 | Dreamer's Den

Of all the rooms I experienced, this one probably struck the deepest chord with me. Kat Cunning did live interpretations via song of people's dreams. Those who know me know that I have pretty vivid dreams and occasionally sleep paralysis. I didn't dare write a dream down for her to interpret out into the world but watching her mind improvise some pretty screwed up dreams other people had was fascinating.

Her voice was incredible as well and sense of humor is so much aligned with mine. This, by far, was one of my most favorite experiences of all.


west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and "creative" work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.

Sounds of: September 2018

Welcome to Sounds of: September. As the seasons change, music and audio shifts between the lines. The following sounds tread between emotions, nostalgia, and genres.


Courtside | Triathalon

End of summer feels

This is probably one of the cutest music videos you'll find. Triathalon kills it vocals and beat wise and with even what seems like an explosion that just gets subtly tucked in the song. There's also awesome visuals of New York including Williamsburg, Williamsburg Bridge, and the Subway.

This genre bending group makes you question a little as to where they fit but that's what's pretty great about their sound. Honestly, they don't really fit and it's pretty awesome.


Drowning | Zhu

House, Electronic, with a touch of R&B reminiscent of The Weeknd

Zhu is back on tour and out with his latest EP, Ringos Desert. Drowning caught my attention immediately with Zhu's falsettos and style very reminiscent of The Weekend. As of late, Zhu has been touring for Ringos Desert and each track takes you through a deep, mysterious experience that stemmed from a dark place where his guitarist was going through a traumatic divorce. This record was a way to channel those feelings and make it a positive experience.

This particular track floats between Zhu's EDM heavy experience and his falsettos pull us into the depths of emotion. It's not a track to miss.


Sierra Burgess is a Loser Soundtrack

Netflix Teen Coming of Age vibes

Much like To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Sierra Burgess is a Loser's Soundtrack is a cohesive set that weaves in each song throughout each scene distinctly to emphasize emotions and character play. Each song blends well and carries you through the awkward, light-hearted, funny, sweet, and a dab of devious experience from the movie.


Failing | Kartell ft. Tom Bailey

House, R&B, Future Beat

Sexy and crossing over deeper into R&B, Failing pulls Kartell further away from his more recent tracks. While this is an older track from 2015, it's a great mix for those of us who crave a little more vocal anchor in our songs.

Also, super appropriate, Kartell appreciates sharing songs that he's spent ages to find rather than what everyone likes.


What About Me | Lil Wayne ft Sosamann

R&B, Hip-hop

Lil Wayne is back for what seems like an eternity. Much anticipated, Lil Tenuchi recently released Tha Carter V.

This track is a little on the softer side with an autotuned Lil Wayne cooning through about being forgotten despite his dedication to this girl. Interestingly, most rappers often feature an R&B singer but this is a bit of a role reversal where we hear Sosamann featured instead of Wayne rapping.

There's a ton more to this album but this song while subtle stood out the most based on a bit of a nostalgic Wayne (think How to Love from Tha Carter IV).


Angela | William Fitzsimmons


Heartbreak. William Fitzsimmons voice and lyrics are just full of heartbreak. A beautiful song from his latest album, Mission Bell, Angela reflects on some uncomfortable truths. Which is what you can also see through the visuals reflecting on events of a relationship where you love someone who loves someone else. What does it mean to move on from heartbreak? Those are the questions we ask.

This album chronicles Fitzsimmons experience with a recent separation from his wife and he brings you on a journey through it all.


Til you Say | glue70

Hip-hop and funky makes you want to throw your shades on and groove

Think funky, upbeat beats mixed with vocals that come in an out that'll get you in the mood to groove. glue70 does some fun vocal play morphing it from muffled to clear blending well into the beat.

Very little can be found on glue70 but there's a ton of work on SoundCloud worth checking out.


Feels Right | Alina Baraz

R&B sensual

Hello late 90s, early 2000s vibes—Alina Baraz is back with her latest track, Feels Right.

Most of us know Alina Baraz through her Urban Flora collection with Galamatias. Alina on her own is a little more sensual and leans more mainstream but her voice still stands out incredibly. In fact, its a sort of her signature where her voice carries so beautifully, softly.

Read more about her latest album, The Color of You and her 3-year journey to releasing her first album (via Harper's Bazaar).


Monthly Spotify Playlist

As usual, you can find all the songs mentioned above plus more from monthly Spotify playlist below. Get early access to this playlist by supporting west&ease on Patreon.



Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for your to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear.