Strike: Like a Match

Every once in a while there are striking moments of inspiration. Has this happened to you? Why does it happen when you least expect it? Has it happened during a moment in time that seemed to be inconvenient? That is exactly what I was feeling at 6:53 pm on Saturday evening. For whatever reason it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Spark, a fire was lit in my mind. It wasn’t lit by looking at all the pretty things on instagram. It happened as a direct result of the previous 18 hours. First was attending Raw Pop Up, the second was walking around the Miami Design District with my favorite person, and third was taking the day to recharge. 

    Before I dive into the concept of inspiration I have to express the experiences that have lead to the bolt. The first four months of 2018 I gladly gave away certain parts of myself, my time, and my love of who I am. I had a solo exhibition, discovered way points, grieved my friend I always believed would be present at my wedding, lost a part-time job, got involved in a “start-up” company. I had the honor of being a maid of honor, collaboratively threw a Miami Music Week party, shut down, cleaned up, moved things, organized furniture. I forgot what I was doing, constructed a financial business plan for a company I didn’t want, I remembered who I am, remembered what to do, I met people, I watched every episode of How to Get Away With Murder on Netflix. I reconstructed the Alchemist business plan. I offered a co-founder partnership and was denied. I brunched with a design idol I lurk on instagram. I pivoted. I learned. I celebrated. I got inspired.

    Now let’s talk about how inspiration happens and what to do when it lights the fire in the mind. When it strikes like a match and there is only a moment before it burns out or burns your fingertips. First was the excitement to experience the multi sensory art exhibition by former Young Artists Initiative now Raw Pop Up. I had missed the first installment during Art Week in December. Jared got us tickets as part of my birthday weekend events. I am so glad we went to dinner before standing in the line to enter the Moore Building. After 20 or more minutes we made our way to the front door and passed through the white and tulle fabric suspended from the ceiling. The music was obnoxiously loud. The building was full of trendy 20 and 30 somethings all with their phones out. As I made my way to the first installation I wasn’t sure if I was looking at art as several girls held flash lights hanging from the ceiling and posed for photos. It was difficult to get around the crowd and make our way to the stairs to get to the next floor. Up against the handrail there were bar tables that obstructed the traffic flow on each floor. It was a great experience even if I felt pushed out the door. I was able to see something that truly inspired me. I saw several art installations showcasing a low standard of craft and concept. This just pushed my spirits higher, this reminded me that I’m doing exactly what I am supposed to, and to keep doing it. 

    We left Raw Pop Up and wondered the Design District streets browsing the real life instagram moments of luxury brands. The glowing facades. The trimmed trees. Being sandwiched between a furniture showroom and luxury fashion storefront. That is my everything. It excites me. Inspires me. The clean lines, and perfectly placed merchandise. The felt, the silk, the metal, the wood. I was like a little kid in an ice cream shop and I want a scoop of every flavor. I love this neighborhood at night. It has all the Miami vibes without the overwhelming tourists. The shops were closed which made the surroundings palatable, quiet, and special. I was able to lovingly peek into the storefront windows. To experience these moments uninterrupted. 

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of sleeping in. I stayed in my pajamas for most of the day. I fell asleep in my makeup the night before which I wiped from my face around 11am. I sat at my third desk, the couch. I updated spreadsheets, doodled, and cuddled with my poodle. I was in recharge mode. I was taking some time to breathe. Making assessments, timelines, goal setting, and watching Scandal. Nothing about this was pretty. The real moments aren’t. The typical day to day for the average person isn’t an instagram moment that you post to your story to look cool, and inspire the followers. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s a topic that comes up in my mind from time to time. About curating, and executing, and showing off, and shameless self-promotion. I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it, as long as you are willing to show both sides of the coin. The head and the tail. This is what inspires me. As a result of the spark I have moved furniture around, wrote, and purged things that I don’t need. Tonight it was about writing. Creative expression at the core. It has been releasing all the things whirling wildly in my brain. 

    I woke up this morning, a year older, with a need to complete commitments to myself. A year ago I made a deal with myself, that I would succeed, no matter the sacrifice. I would take the opportunities laid at my feet and pick them up. I would honor my voice. It’s time to make moves. It’s time to care less, and do more. It’s time to release.


My life as an full time entrepreneur has been built on a 30-60-90 day business plan. We have just past the official 60 day mark since leaving my corporate job. With that being said, it’s also time to pivot, just slightly. I have a few small things slated that will be announced in the next 30 days. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that I am being given here in Miami. It is so different, in a good way. I felt confident with the decision to move here, and work on Alchemist. Now I’m really understanding the ideology of autonomy and collaboration in my daily life.

Autonomy means “independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.” The condition of being autonomous allows a rational individual to make an informed and un-coerced decision. Work culture contains different eco-systems. Each company works differently to explore innovation, creativity, and final product. These categories function to encourage and cultivate talent, collaboration and autonomy working together to achieve that harmony. At Alchemist I use these ideas to develop projects, balance my schedule, and explore opportunities.

The first 30 days I did analytic studies, strategy research, and business plan development. I focused with the mantra “Make and Market”, which served me well. The magic was in the plan and execution of ideas, making phone calls, writing emails, and reaching out through social media. I also moved across the state which delayed certain things I wanted to do. I lost my business planner, with the concise outline of what needed to be done. It was a very interesting month. But I made things happened, I showed up and rolled with the punches.

Over the last 30 days my focus has been on relationships, community collaboration opportunities, making small objects, and designing large scale installations. I have worked with Alex of Luma Visual to explore the beauty of technology projected onto the handmade. I have met with Prism Creative Group to explore community opportunities and developing relationships with the greater Miami market. I have been listed on the Support Local FL directory. I submitted a few small art pieces to exhibitions pending acceptation. Through these decisions on how to spend my time, I’ve been making progress towards goals for Alchemist Productions and my personal art practice. That’s probably the biggest challenge, the integration of designing a company with value and purpose while maintaining my personal practice as an artist. 

Progress is important, and so are results. Progress can be invaluable to a business plan, and heed results of goals. My business plan has been mostly outreach to the community, and the progress has been amazing. Although I want larger projects, understanding the cultural insights and desires will influence and inform my next move. Assimilating with my new community is key to creating brand statements and strategy that will deeply connect to the culture. I am looking forward to the next 30 days, the pivot, and restructure of my brands business plan to deliver an everlasting experience for my clients, and the community.

Undivided Attention

It has been 30 whole days since I left my 6a-3p to give undivided attention to my personal art practice and Alchemist Productions. Over the last month I have been busy, making progress and truly living my why. Here are a few real entrepreneur moments and art thoughts for you. You know I love coffee and I figured I could have it whenever I wanted because the accountability of showing up somewhere is completely and solely on me. Well, that resulted in me staying up until 2 am like I did in my 20s and then not being able to get up in the morning until 9 o’clock, which is late for me. Understanding my personal boundaries has been eye opening. 

Every part of my daily routine has changed, except where I make art everyday. At some point I’ll dedicate a post to the idea of rituals. But for this one I want to talk about where and how I’ve been spending my time. My lifestyle has shifted towards what I need to do to directly support my personal objectives, not the objectives of someone or something else. That might sound a little selfish. I believe the best way for me to grow as an entrepreneur and artist is to clear away things that I can no longer serve and no longer serve me. I started making, taking from older sketches of things I've been wanting to construct, and just doing it. 

This is the beginning of creating content to contribute to others and develop content based on my personal practice. I’ve been having meaningful and constructive conversations with other creatives that believe and support the same core values and ethics as me. Its a beautiful thing when you start to find your truth and your tribe. Jared and I finalized the details on our move to Miami. This is both exciting and terrifying. I am excited because I know the arts community is vibrant and welcoming. I am excited to build relationships with people who have the same values of art and life. I am excited to contribute through the work I do with Alchemist. I’m scared because its something new, and different. The culture is one that will take some time for me to get to know. The best part is that I know I’m more than ready to take on the magic city. I just hope it's ready for this Magic Maker. 

In our culture, imitation-based experience dominates reality-based experience. I find this an awful thing. But there are artists who know from the bottom of their souls that art is about the experience of reality. The reason we have art is because you can’t get a real experience from the world.
— Richard Tuttle

I may sound a bit like a pollyanna but I do believe that you get back what you put out into the world. I will continue to put out the positive ideas and attract the people who relate with those ethics. I am an optimistic artist and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Being optimistic has served me both mentally and spiritually. Without it I don't make the best work I know I can and I don't give myself the opportunity to overcome fear. These next 3 weeks are very full. My undivided attention is going to shift again as I tie loose ends with the current pieces I am making, moving, and continuing to develop relationships where I can serve communities I believe in. This adventure is about experience. Its about making the art that challenges how we perceive the world around us. Its my experience that I want to continue to show the world and thats what makes it art. 

The next blog post will be getting to know other people who contribute to their communities. Keep your eyes and ears open! Its getting real.

My Top 5 Influential Female Artists

Yesterday I was sitting on my porch sipping coffee and scrolling through instagram, typical Saturday morning. As I was planning my day, I stumbled across the Perez Art Museum Miami's post, stating "Free second Saturday and lecture with Polly Apfelbaum..." My heart sank to my stomach, and I knew what I was doing for the day. I texted my friend, Malika, threw on some make-up, changed my outfit 3 times, and then finally got in the car. We were going to PAMM!

My enthusiasm radiated as I listened to Brenmar's Grey Zone DJ Mix Vol. 5 (my fav), drove across the state, and arrived in Miami just in time. Once I arrived I realized what an amazing day, I get to to listen to Polly talk about her work first hand. In college I was instructed to look at certain artists that my professors and mentor believed my work related to. Polly Apfelbaum was one of them. At the time, I could only identify one similar characteristic, hand making of smalls to create mass installation. After yesterday's lecture, revelations of identification became more apparent. Here is a brief look at my top 5 influential female artists. This overview discusses color, material, concept, line, and process.

Color: Polly Apfelbaum's work showcases color to the extreme. Her work is highly influenced by pop culture, kitsch, and craft. Each piece is hand dyed, hand cut, and arranged on the floor with no adherence. The intimate process renders the work a singular experience either situationally, or site specifically. 

Polly Apfelbaum

Polly Apfelbaum

Material: Eva Hesse is a material transformer with her work. With Eva's sculptural installations you discover elements simplicity and complexity as she diversely manipulated latex, fiberglass, resin and cheesecloth by hand. The irregularity is what creates intriguing intimacy for the viewers. The true impact of her work is about material, and the absurdity of life.

Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse

Concept: Ann Hamilton adds a layer of performance, viewer engagement, and found object as material with a focus on environment. Ann conceptually illustrates the importance of removing ourselves from the media world, and socially projecting tactile, sensory experiences through site responsive installations. 

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton

Line: Agnes Martin has a level of intricacy and focus with each of her paintings, and drawings. The content of her work expresses emotion, while her method is repetitive, geometric, and soft. Favoring minimalist form, she celebrated unmistakable small flaws, and the delicate nature of artists hand. 

Anges Martin

Anges Martin

Process: Tara Donovan process is tedious as each form is produced by layering everyday materials to create biomorphic sculptural installation. The underlying theme is how things grow, organically. She chooses the materials first, and then processes the form creating massive installations. 

Tara Donovan

Tara Donovan

How I identify: Handmaking repetitive forms, I've been attached to that for the last 12 years. Utilizing a method of obsession in material that dictates the final outcome. The use of the artists hand whether paper, fabric, wood, or found object. Spatially fitting the installations into space so that feel apart of, not detached from. The feminine attributes of soft material verses hard composition. Conceptually relying upon experience with the final sculptural installation as it relates to culture.

The Magic Hands Behind the Brand

Welcome to Alchemist Productions! I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. I am Ariana Franco, lead creative and the magic hands behind the brand. 

I am currently the Display Coordinator for Anthropologie in Naples, FL. I landed here in 2014 via Sarasota, FL where I obtained my BFA in Sculpture from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2008. In Sarasota, I gained valuable knowledge and experiences with the visual arts community, events, and retail market. Over the last 2+ years, my creative and life partner, Jared aka DB Cooper, continues to support me spiritually, and emotionally. He also pushes me creatively with my personal legend, and that means sharing the love from my magic hands. This is how alchemy works in my daily life. 

Alchemist Productions was conceived in September 2016, due to a general vacancy of what my life was like, where it is now, and where I want it to go. This happened because I was able to have an engaging conversation with a trustworthy creative, Stephen McFadden. The idea grew through more conversation and support from other creatives. It takes a skilled and creative village. I am choosing my own adventure, shouldn't you?

Optimism is key with the Alchemist brand, and discovering what we can bring to life from fanciful ideas. Authenticity, morality, and experience are the foundation of who I am, who I surround myself with, and what I will provide for our clients and collaborators. The fabric of my personality is woven into an eclectic lifestyle of music, travel, and intimately connecting with people. A sense of ease, wonderment, and a hint of urgency, are what guide my dreams, and hopefully yours too. I welcome all questions and feedback!

This is just the beginning, so I ask you to join me as we build all day, and dance all night. 

Let's make magic together!