Introductory words according to Thomas, Co-Founder, Jack of all Trades, and Creative Director of Raven Vanguard
So after a week of dealing with Tumblr’s discordant, and unenlightened ban on adult content, I have concluded that #FemalePresentingNipples, although undoubtedly and intrinsically evil by their very nature, are not the primary transgressors in Verizon’s attempts to uproot and eradicate all examples of the essence of eros in art. There are other evil forces at play here — that being, Verizon’s ill-fated exercise of its corporate-thinking moral majority. More to the point, Tumblr is now dead to us as an artistic platform. Here’s why – even after appeal, Tumblr banned the following photograph taken by #JohnnyDiamond from continued public display on our feed:
Your call; is this image truly worthy of being banned from public viewing? We think not, or we would not have appealed their initial decision. What I see on display is slow burn eroticism, not illegal pornography. Next question, is this image sacrilege or art? If you’ve been following Raven Vanguard, you already know our answer.
One final observation before moving on, and a completely gratuitous one on my part at that; the Nuns of my youth did not look anything like this when I attended Catholic grammar school. So here we have this saintly woman all scantily adorned in Benedictine black who has recaptured the fertile imagination of my childhood. You see, way back when I was in seminary school; WTF if only this were true. Perhaps if they had presented this way, I would have paid much closer attention to every syllable they uttered, and you can be goddammed assured I would have precisely done whatever it was they told me to do, albeit with a measure of feigned resistance on my part to encourage, rather than discourage, appropriate countermeasures of chastisement on their part.
But seriously, I refuse to apologize for wherever my head happens to be at on any given day. So here I am again in somewhat familiar territory; whether you wish to call it religion, iconography, balancing the subversive with the reverent, or utter foolishness, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time speculating on the reemergence of the feminine divine, or God Herself. For far too long, the idea that Christ or God may actually have been a woman has been anathema to every misogynist who espouses patriarchal power as the absolute truth underlying all existence. Who’s fooling who, I wonder?
And for those of you wondering how I envision or imagine the concept of the Christian devil, and whether I am similarly open to the idea that the devil himself could also be a woman; my short answer, I am confident the devil is a man. After studying the downward trajectory of humankind over the past four thousand plus years under the patriarchal aristocracy of mankind, the only fair conclusion I can come to is that Satan has a dick and a small one at that.
On this positively good last Friday before Christmas Eve, like manna from heaven, we have the serendipitous blessing of another unsanctioned Weekly Once-over from one more suspicious contributing eyewitness to the insanity of mankind (my choice of gender-biased language here is the intention and not one of oversight). Today’s watcher in the woods comes to us from the grand “world city” of Manchester in the United Kingdom; may I introduce to you, Beth Travers, also known as @studiobobo1325 on Twitter, @bobo1325 on Instagram, and #Bobo1325 https://www.bobo1325.com.
Gladly having walked away from the tiresome practice of law in the private sector, thanks to Brooke and Dakota, I now have the immense pleasure of working in an industry that is genuinely brimming with oh so many gifted, artistic, and insanely creative people. Enter Beth, and her magic dragon named Unsworth.
Beth, also known as “B” in certain shadowy corners of the UK underworld according to a recent report issued by The Home Office, and who too is rightly praised as a deity by a small clan of loincloth-wearing, ayahuasca-imbibing inhabitants located deep within the recesses of the Peruvian jungle, B happens to be one of those uncommonly remarkable creatives who make this world a better place by virtue of the passion she has for life, living, and madcap adventure. Unfortunately, however, Beth also happens to be an enigma and bewilderment to much of the design community here in the States. With today’s Once-over, we hope to remedy this grave injustice.
And Beth, like those other visionary observers who previously left their Once-over mark upon this spinning orb of ours, willingly, but skeptically, accepted Raven Vanguard’s invitation to speak her mind, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels (a tip of the cap to Guy Ritchie). Also, the same as those explorers who fearlessly spoke their unmitigated truths before her’s, Beth’s words, thoughts, criticisms, and diatribes, are hers alone, without any form of expurgation or censorship by us.
Raven Vanguard had the privilege of working alongside Beth in 2018 to create a collage work of art for her new blog which she plans to unleash upon the universe in 2019 under the auspices of “Telegraphic Transmissions from Beyond.” The collage we dreamed up for Beth conceptualizes a strange and mystifying type of divine or extraterrestrial beacon coming from some distant netherworld; a mostly unidentifiable telegraphic transmission of sorts with Beth ingeniously serving as its cosmic clairvoyant or necromantic translator.
We have also been hard at work helping Beth to create a new pictorial icon for Bobo1325 which, with a bit of luck, will likewise see the light of day in January 2019. Beth’s is a gloriously unfolding story of hard work, mayhem, sorcery, desire, edgy femininity, home-brewed pharmacology, a mischievous sense of creativity and ingenuity, an ass-kicking social conscience, as well as an enlightening darkness that all comes tightly packaged in a tumultuous ball of artistic energy, imagination, and hellfire.
So, who is this Beth, Bobo, B, anyway? Well, according to Raven Vanguard’s counter-intelligence sources within the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Beth’s story revolves around a Mephistophelian episode of Walkabout freakishness in the Outback involving Beth, Doc Martin-styled badassery, and boot-wearing faeries. Don’t ask! I’m sorry I ever did. I now understand why this incident is considered a matter of Aussie national security. However, even when setting her Austrailian misadventures aside, the plainspoken answer to this question would be biblical in its breadth, so we’ll stick to the abridged version, and let Beth reveal all of her fantastical secrets and misdeeds in her newly minted blog.
In a nutshell, Beth is the Founder and sole owner and creator of this one-of-a-kind surface design company called Bobo1325. I don’t recall precisely who reached out to who first; whether we did, or she did, or even if it came about by mere happenstance or divine intervention, but that part doesn’t matter anymore, because we’re just glad to have made this priceless connection. Beth is a club music renegade, a barrier-breaker and boundary-pusher who cares little for labels, contrivances, status quo, and bullshit. Her work is transformative, and her manner is transforming.
So, as her star continues to ascend high in the western skies, without the need of any further valediction on my part, I cede this Once-over to Beth’s very capable, but idiosyncratic musings, as she ferociously dives headfirst into the deconstructed thought processes of her mercurial and meandering mind.
Words according to @studiobobo1325, also known as B by those among us who are still pure of heart, converted tequila junkie now turned mezcal aficionado, aboriginal dreamtime philosopher and Uluru cave painting enthusiast, and no lawful connection whatsoever to Raven Vanguard
“I had to get a close-hand view of the misery and unhappiness of a man made world, before I reached the point where I could successfully revolt against it.” - Emmeline Pankhurst
My working title to this literary conceit is - Why revolution and ‘standing out’ is the new fitting in…all roads lead to Emmeline.
You’re probably sat reading this wondering where on earth I’m going with this post, and truthfully - it will be nowhere, so just cross one leg over the other, and sigh and sip your coffee because I’m about to lay some rants, bants, festive cheer and next year on you all at once.
This week the city of Manchester unveiled its first female statue since 1901 (yes it really has been 117 years since a woman was deemed important enough…said with no sarcasm whatsoever); it happened, and I was there. Imagine, pre-Christmas party, beer pong, and whacking my face off of the pavement like a real Northern bird, Emmeline Pankhurst made her bronze statue debut at St. Peter’s square.
This is monumentally exciting because I FUCKING LOVE her. I’ve always had that little rebellious streak; you know the kind - “don’t touch that it's hot.” Well, that’s more like a challenge to someone like me, of course, I’m going to touch that and scream the house down while losing several layers of skin. “Keep off the grass” mate; I’m going to be all up in that grasses grill. My personal favorite, however, was always “don’t press the button” followed by oops and a stern telling off with a finger wag in my face for extra emphasis.
On a completely irrelevant note – (get used to these): a little while ago I bought a Pankhurst print from an artist here called Mancsy - yes you know where I’m going with that it’s the Northern version of Banksy no one knows who he is - a delivery guy delivers his prints (unshredded). The first thing my mum did when she saw it was announce once again ‘I’m so glad you weren’t around for the suffragettes – you’d have created hell’ True dat!
But there’s just something incredibly inspiring and empowering about strong women Am I right? Cue ‘Helen Reddy I am woman’ on the playlist. I don’t know if it’s because a single parent raised me and therefore, grew up alongside strong women in my mum and gran, that I endeavor so much to be one. Just the sheer mention of Pankhurst instills courage, in fact, any woman standing up and saying “fuck this!” about injustice or something they believe in, I am all for.
Anyway, back to St. Peter’s square, which was filled, it's important to know, with both men and women. It’s surprisingly the young woman who I was stood next to that really caught my attention; she turned to me with Starbucks venti latte in hand after the ta-da moment and said: “who the fuck is this, I’m only here because I saw the crowd?” I legit stood there in complete bitch resting faced shocked silence as she still switched her camera to front facing, held her Samsung up to the perfect angle to get both her ‘on fleek eyebrows’ and Emmeline in the shot. Like, You OK hun? It’s completely unfathomable to me that today's society is mostly a vapid selfie culture where women are pitted against each other, who’s fat, who’s thin, who’s dating who, or is that even Kylies latest lip kit? (just for the record everyone knows the only lipstick you’ll ever need is Mac cosmetics ‘lady danger’ ).
We are at significant risk of forgetting about our modern heroines. The young women, who like Emmeline, are fighting for their rights. The right to an education, or deciding who they will marry, or for our planet. So in a world where young women are being force fed the Selfie Culture, let’s teach them instead that they matter, that their opinions matter, and that there is nothing more powerful or beautiful than standing up and being counted rather than bumbling along with the herd.
Encourage them to ask ‘who am I?’ and to find something that they believe in, that they’re passionate about, empowering them to become as courageous as Malala Yousafzai who was shot for revolting against a system trying to deny her an education, or just this week a Greta Thunberg, like Emmeline, she’s viewed the misery and unhappiness of the man-made world and is holding world leaders to account for their failings in climate change. It’s amongst these women that I want to stand up and be counted no matter how minuscule my efforts and reach may be (Theresa May take note – stop Maybotting and running through fields of wheat - inject some steel into that spine, babe. Good old Claude Drunker is pissing on your kitten heels.)
It’s this desire to be courageous that I reflect upon most at the close of 2018. Driving me to look back and see just how far I have come in the two and a bit years ago that I established BOBO1325. Like these women, I was never made to conform, and just go meekly by, it’s not in me. Not even a little. I knew - even in the very beginning when I walked out of that disastrous job interview thinking ‘If the doors aren’t going to open, I’m going to build my own damn door’ that the only way I could succeed is if I stuck to who I am and my beliefs. So here begins my revolution, my Pankhurst moment and that no matter how many say to me ‘Why don’t you just design like this? Keep it pretty, keep it safe’ there is always one person behind me saying ‘yes, thanks, go for this.’ So here it is…in a nutshell.
Fuck the trends, why do I want to design the same things as everyone else? (although in 2019, I am caving just a bit and bringing you botanicals…but it will be botanicals my way. Hint: Boa-tanicals, and no that’s not a typo)
Pantone's colour of the year? Coral – that can fuck off too, it’s grim. I want to create about things that matter, I need to create about things that matter — events, moments, and injustices that cannot speak for themselves but desperately need to be made a talking point like the ‘Before they pass away’ collection highlighting global warming and extinction. It might look pretty, but the subject matter is very, very ugly. The ‘Brujaria’ collection highlighting mental health and banishing the stigma attached to it and the new collection launching in January ‘To be the Sea’ highlighting plastic consumption, a throwaway attitude and pollution in the Ocean there will be:
To Be the Sea
The subject matters are hideous, disgusting even. The Visual outcomes are beautiful and therein lies the talking point, everyone loves a story, solet's give these happy endings, find the solutions to these very real and very worrying issues that we are imminently facing. This is not just my brand ethos but also my personal one, I live it, and I breathe it.
When I started, I had no idea that anyone would get ‘it’ or get ‘me’ or what it is that I am trying to say, here I am a 5’2 tiny ball of pickle eating chaos walking into the design world like I’m Jack Nicholson in the Shining saying ‘heeeeeeere’s Bobo’ and oddly for the first time probably ever, I belong by merely standing out.
If four years ago someone told me that I would close 2018 by being a finalist for a Mixology North award, I’d have laughed and instantly hated you for chatting shit. But it’s true, me: this one, lone woman. Bruja was shortlisted for Product of the year: surfaces category amongst some pretty big names like Ceaserstone and Formica. Unfuckingbelievable. While I didn’t walk away with the award, I found myself being awarded the Special recognition Mix Merit. Standing up in a room of almost 2000 people from the UK design industry and being applauded was the most surreal moment for me, to just be included amongst the incredible talent that was on display, I just don’t really have the words for how that felt…of course, I finished this up by shooting tequila, hitting the waltzer and dodgems, and showing everyone how I earned the 6 points on my license, then promptly being sick on myself — a regular theme.
(This is the festive cheer portion…Santa’s watching) It is a joy to get up every day to continue with my ownmini-revolt.2019 will see plastic and sexual slavery, and March will also see the release of ‘Britannia’ a design inspired by British icons and moments in our history that have shaped who we are. This has so far been illustrated solely in bic biro pen – if you’ve ever had to draw Margaret Thatchers face 10 times because your meaty hand smudges it, you can understand just how much I regret this little life choice…I’m from the North East of England, think Billy Elliot - we’re not her biggest fans. But alas is also the British way, I’ll carry on cutting my nose off to spite my face, will all become a talking point. I am beyond grateful for every opportunity, to every person that lets me carry on telling my stories. From the clients I have worked with, all the people I have met, and just every single person that has played some role in making BOBO1325 what it is. Put simply, without you there would be no me. So for every single person that gets ‘it’ and gets ‘me,’ I fuckin’ salute you. There, that’s quite enough of that. I’m British we’re all about the stiff upper lip.
All roads for me lead to Emmeline and her suffragettes. The women who made it possible for me to vote and for me to be heard; so if you take anything at all from the nonsense gobbledygook above, take this; In 2019 let's find the revolutions of our souls. I talked about women and young heroines, but honestly, I don’t care if you’re male, female, gay, straight, bi, trans, pan, black, white or sky blue pink. You matter, you can make a difference, and your voice should be heard. Now more than ever we need love, unity, and courage. It’s not about building a wall or fake news. It’s not about Brexit (fuck I loathe that word) or a second referendum. It’s about you, and it’s about me, and it’s about humanity.
All that is really left to say is Have a Merry Christmas you filthy animals, Be brave. Be bold. Be wild. Be free. Be inspired.
I look forward to seeing you all on the other side. (On the other side of what, Tom wonders aloud?)