Alice is an art director, designer, and creative producer living in Brooklyn, NY. I've known Alice Tang since we shared a class at UCDavis, and then we stayed in touch through Denmark, New York, and meet up every now and again. If you wanted Alice to design, program, fund, film, execute, and then throw the reception for your product / idea / movement ... she could pull it off. I need to remind her to sleep occasionally. The best part is she's one of those quietly convincing, unassuming, encouraging type of people. The type that continue to fuel their artsy friends, and somehow make a living doing adventurous things.
Ben and I met up with Alice and her husband Gregg to share pizza and walk to the new Adam Yauch park (Ben is a Beastie Boys fan, I think he might have shed some tears when we finally reached it). Gregg is another amazing specimen, I'll profile him soon.
There's not many more magical places than DUMBO at twilight. I asked Alice some questions about her life, profession, travel, art, etc. And Ben shot some pretty things. That's what we do.
OH, and Alice is preggers with a little baby boy, due late summer! So very exciting for all of us.
Ally: SO! You've been busy, I think your latest photos were from Austin, TX promoting your latest film. Can you summarize your involvement in Crystal The Film?
Alice: Crystal (crystalthefilm.com) is a short film written and directed by our very dear, talented friend Chell Stephen (chellstephen.tumblr.com). Gregg was Cinematographer and I was Production Designer. We (along with Chell and two other friends who played major roles in making the film) have a collective together called Think/Feel (thinkfeel.tv). We do work that runs the gamut between commercial, independent and passion projects, so banding together to help Chell make Crystal was a no-brainer! Crystal just finished screening at its third film festival - premiered at SXSW, then went to Atlanta FF and Nashville FF.
Ally: Your handle is Alice Soup. Tang means soup, right?
Alice: Yea! So, tang translates to soup in Chinese. It can also translate to sugar or a handful of other things depending on which tang it is, but my tang happens to be soup :) 'alicesoup' has been the perfect handle forever because it is always available!!
Ally: What's the one item you'll probably splurge on for your baby?
Alice: Any item that involves transporting the baby must be a splurge, right? Well, the one thing I have my eye on for pure aesthetics (and hopefully will also prove to be practical) is a Moses Basket. With organic linens, those things don't come cheap, and considering they'll grow out of it super quick... but I haven't been super crazy about anything else so I think coveting this one thing is OK.
Gregg has absolutely no opinion whatsoever about baby equipment, but he's very excited to scour Craigslist for good deals so I will just send him off with a list.
Ally edit -- I keep seeing Moses baskets at flea markets, I need to buy you one if you haven't bought one! Also, Ben had no opinion about baby stuff too. :)
Ally: What do you want to finish before baby comes along? I felt like it was a sprint to finish projects before the birth.
Alice: Not feeling too stressed about getting things done... but ask me again in July! I think my main tasks are just saving money and getting educated/prepared but not being obsessive about it. Educated more in a spiritual way, I guess, so I can focus energy inward and channel my inner Ina May Gaskin! On the home front - we have to do some consolidation of our workspaces in order to make room for a "nursery." This involves merging our two very large desks into one, which will be an emotional process because our setups are very different and we don't necessarily get along when working side by side.
Do I need a wipe warmer? There's so many suburban mom luxuries that we don't know if we need or can fit in our apartment
Ally: Actually, we got one of those and it helped with the middle-of-the-night changes! But yeah, you don't need much in the first few months. I'll send you a list.
Ally: How long have you and Gregg worked together? How long have you been dating? Do you find it easy to work on projects? Do you have a certain style of roles you take that you've found works best?
Alice: Gregg and I don't make the best creative partners so we actually don't work together that often. Sounds sad but it's true! Our skills and interests may compliment one another, but our working styles clash a lot. I am very into details, execution and follow-through while Gregg tends to be more excitable about big ideas and does things in broader strokes. But we support and respect each other SO MUCH in our respective endeavors. And since we both live freewheelin' freelance lives and work in industries that often require the other's skill set from time to time, we'll work on the same projects every now and then. The best way for us to coexist in a working environment is to agree on what parts we'll each be responsible for, then leave each other alone. I remember when we first started dating (in 2004) I used to take a lot of photos on film but would never print them because I found the process too daunting. Gregg was a ninja in the darkroom, so he would print my negatives beautifully without any effort at all. And then we'd give the photos away as gifts. That's a good example of our working style up to the present day. If we overlap any more than that, we get too much like brother/sister and then there is fighting and tears!
Ally: That should really be framed on my wall. It's really refreshing to hear that other creative couples have a hard time working together. And you're so mature about it.
Ally: You do a wide range of projects - from web - to graphics - to film. How do you stay inspired to be creative? Is it living in New York? Or do you find inspiration online? Books? Give me your secrets.
Alice: New York's culture and energy, its rhythm and pacing, for sure. It's like a drug and I'm totally addicted. But also taking the time to experience new perspectives when the city gets stifling or draining. Leaving for long periods of time seems to do the trick for me and then I fall in love all over again. I also love looking at beautiful things that are rich with many layers, such as flowers and textiles, learning about artists/designers who explore ideas of balance and symbiosis, and experiencing places/people that offer simple luxuries and respect local culture & community. And I do find a lot of inspiration online too by stalking ladies who fit the same characteristics or have the same interests as the above.
Ally: Do you work late nights to get all your stuff done? Or do you stick to a schedule?
Alice: Late night for creative work. Early morning for admin work. This doesn't mesh well with a consistent schedule at all, so there are usually bouts of sleep deprivation and unproductivity in between. If I'm doing contract work onsite at an agency, then I'm pretty much on a 9-6 schedule and all work-at-home structure/discipline goes out the window.
Ally: Do you have a tribe of creative friends in New York?
Alice: Think/Feel and the fellow creatives we have in our network! I feel we're all in the same boat in terms of trying to surf that delicate balance of having free, creative lives mixed in with adult realities, and we're constantly learning, evolving and growing, in a way where there really is no "end goal." It's so nice to have these people in my support system, and of course getting to work with them on projects from time to time.
Ally: What's the best thing you've ever done for yourself?
Alice: Working for myself. Certainly no walk in the park and I'm still very clumsy at it, but the freedom of having been able to create my own schedule all these years has meant EVERYTHING. Even if I end up going back to full-time at some point in the future, I know having had freelanced is not something I'll ever regret.
Ally: Your wedding was really beautiful, would you ever do event design?
Alice: Thanks! Yes! As long as the people I'm designing for come armed with rad inspiration and ideas.
Ally: You studied Design in college and then got your Masters in Interactive Design, kinda? - did you think your career would be different? Do you think your career will change as you have kids/ get older?
Alice: I got my Masters from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU. I sometimes just say Interactive Design 'cause it's easier to understand, but you could really do anything you wanted in this program that had to do with technology. At a very high level, the ethos of the program is to encourage you to be fearless and value collaboration. I don't know if I ever had a vision for my career. I've always tended do or want things in a somewhat unorthodox fashion, so my grad program was a good accompaniment to my career trial and errors, and just trusting that everything would always turn out OK. Now that I'm older and about to have a baby, the world has become so much smaller, but in quite a comforting way, actually. Similar to how I want to "focus inward" for my baby's birth, that's the thinking I find fitting to my life in general, moving forward.... practicing more mindfulness and putting focus and energy into what's immediately in front of me, as opposed to running around trying to project out all the time. And definitely doing less of that existential thinking, which can be overwhelming and sometimes even paralyzing. I think this will definitely have an effect on guiding my career in the next few years, just not sure what yet!
Ally: So much love for that. Parenthood doesn't have to be a shock if you look at it as part of your life, your fabric.
Some photos from her gorgeous wedding, shot by Katie Ogood:
Her new work! Click through for more.
Ally: You're something of a world traveler - do you feel completely comfortable in other countries, or is it the excitement of the unknown that makes you stretch yourself to travel more?
Alice: Don't think I ever feel completely comfortable in other countries, and that used to be what made me want to travel more. But now I'm not so much of a gypsy. Home comforts mean so much more to me now, whereas all I had in my 20s was a suitcase and my dreams. The wish-list of where I want to travel is very pared down now. I'm less about where and more about the camaraderie that is to be had at the destination, whether it be a wedding or visiting family & friends (even if those destinations are not that exotic). Or returning to places where I can continue building upon the experience of the last visit (such as Tulum or Palawan).
Gregg doesn't feel this way though. He still loves the feeling of being a fish out of water, so I'm sure we'll keep doing a combination of traveling that's both random and deliberate.
Ally: What type of projects do you hope to work on in the future?
Alice: Very open. Anything that would charm/delight the audience or end user. Anything where I get to work with clients or partners who are able to bring a lot of inspiration and ideas to the table. I'm easily satisfied as long as it involves good company and visual candy.
Ally: Do you think you'll stay in Brooklyn forever?
Alice: At the moment we're pretty happy being in Brooklyn and excited about raising a baby here for at least a couple years. Then again, we were just away for 3 months so I'm back on good terms with this city again, which as many fellow NY transplants know, this sentiment can deteriorate pretty quickly due to bad weather, tiny apartments or getting burnt out at work. Our priorities are definitely evolving though, and since we're very much open to new opportunities, anything could happen! Los Angeles (where we just spent the winter) is the ONLY contender as a future landing pad right now; we'd be pretty happy building a nest out there.
Ally: Make it LA!
More to come from this beautiful family...definitely check my Instagram for photos of baby love soon to come. Gosh, I really get emotional thinking about their journey, their excitement for art, New York spring and summer, Alice's shoe collection, etc. ... I just miss them a lot. Hope you enjoyed the interview!
(Photos by Ben Squirrell, unless they're blurry iphone photos, then they're mine.)