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Familiarity with a Twist

More explorations on The Coffee Collage Series

Happy Sunday, dear readers! I’d like to start this post with a thank you to The Trifecta of Life for mentioning Sunday with Stella as one of its 5 top newsletters this past Thanksgiving. Anytime someone chooses SWS among the countless options to read and watch online, I am truly grateful.

The Trifecta Newsletter
Top 5 Friday: Substack Newsletters I’m Most Thankful For
Just like the chicken and the egg, it’s hard for many to decipher which came first - the love for reading or writing. Personally, I enjoy writing, but can’t live without reading. I am lucky to have found 5 incredible newsletters that I hope to read for years to come. Here they are in no particular order - the 5 newsletters I am most thankful for…
Read more

And, to

’s Holly Rabalais for purchasing a print after she saw the empty green coffee cup image on my previous post called Coffee Musings. Her newsletter is filled with personal stories about opening hearts and what it truly means to be giving to others. Have a look and consider subscribing!

Thank you to Angela for purchasing 3 prints from the Sundays with Stella Print Sale. I can’t wait to see them in the new apartment! If you are still thinking of holiday gifts for the art and coffee lover in your circle of friends and family, consider giving them a unique art print. Each purchase goes towards supporting this newsletter. Have a look!

Sundays with Stella Print Sale

It’s been four months since I started Sundays with Stella and your support is amazing. You inspire me to keep going! Thank you so much.

As you can tell from this post, I’m still on the coffee-themed collage train trying out ideas and exploring where it’ll go. Take for example the video above. The cafe setting was part of the inspiration for these artworks. It seemed fitting to capture the feeling of walking through a cafe as the smell of coffee wafts in the room. Culling video footage and sound effects was a fun endeavor. The swing track with the lovely horns, piano, and snare drum beat was a lucky find— the cadence of the tune and nostalgic feel were spot on.

This week, I read an article1 that mentioned the work of Raymond Loewy, an industrial designer, known for the MAYA principle (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable). “He believed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a curiosity about new things; and neophobia, a fear of anything too new. As a result, they gravitate to products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible.” In other words, there's a sweet spot between these two that appeals to the largest number of people. I'll call it, familiarity a twist.

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The article goes on to say, “A great industrial designer, it turns out, needs to be an anthropologist first and an artist second.” Hmm, I never thought of this before. What if I apply this principle to the coffee collage series? Coffee is already a familiar subject so I might as well give it a try.

Researching online led me down a rabbit hole. I dove into statistics and articles on coffee consumption. Men drank more cups but women spent more. Women drank coffee to relax while men do so for efficiency. 79% of Americans prepare them at home with a preference for drip coffee and taking it black. As for health benefits, mental alertness tops the list. On the con side, the addictive quality of caffeine is often discussed. It went on and on— I was fascinated!

Here are the collages I made this week. Are they even remotely related to what I’ve researched? Maybe, maybe not. However, it provided an entry point for me to think about the coffee cup differently. It was a seed of curiosity that led to inspiration. Regardless of the outcome, the process is what matters. This is the beauty of staying open to possibilities. You can start somewhere and end up in a different place.

Coffee Collage Series 2.0 by Stella Kalaw

My initial coffee collages were simple, using a midcentury color palette combining two to three elements with the coffee cup. On this current iteration, I’ve honed a few techniques/styles after several months of creating work for the

Weekly Challenge and applied them to this new batch.

Where do your ideas come from? Where do you get your inspiration? I would love to know. If you have any comments about the work, I am always happy to hear your feedback. One last thing, if anyone is interested in purchasing a print, let me know so I can put them up on my online shop. Thank you!

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Derek Thompson. The Four-Letter Code to Sell Just About Anything. (Washington DC: The Atlantic, 2022)

Sundays with Stella
Sundays with Stella
Stella Kalaw