The inspirational journal of rising NYC jewelry designer, entrepreneur, violinist, and pastry chef, Yumi Chen.

NYC Jewelry Designer, Violinist, Pastry Chef, Small Business Owner, Free-Spirit, Positive Thinker!

As seen in: New York Magazine, NBC's Sunday Today in NY, ABC's Eyewitness News, WB11 Morning News, STAR Magazine, Life & Style Magazine, NY Post Newspaper, amNY Newspaper, Boston Globe,,,,, and more!Read More

Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category

Making Art of Maps

Monday, April 13th, 2009


I love these maps. I first came across the Brooklyn version on another well-versed arts and culture blog,, and like a good sleuth, followed its trail back to the designer’s website. Her name is Jenny Beorkrem and her company is called Ork Posters (“ork” is taken from part of her name). Her story, like Raoul with his t-shirts, is another one of attempting to simply fill a void: Ms. Beorkrem was looking for a Chicago neighborhood poster that wouldn’t “cramp her style” and when nothing fit the bill, she decided to just make one of her own. Why not, right?

The posters are screen prints, which is made by pressing ink through a stencil over a very fine mesh screen. This has the effect of making the product look less exact, a little more DIY and renegade, which has, apparently, become a popular aesthetic. She uses recycled materials, not to mention, donates 2% of her profits to both a local and international not-for-profit each year.

Ms. Beorkrem, in her ripe mid-20s, lives in Chicago, but has designed maps of 13 cities in North America. Although the idea for the company came from a simple, personal desire, she has started to see a deeper impact and influence that the posters can have on society. As she explained in an interview with Speak Up (a division of “Where we live is a large part of our identity, but I think a lot of us limit our sense of community, who we’ll identify with, sympathize with, do business with, converse with, to our close surroundings, or our neighborhoods. Hopefully the posters serve as a visual reminder that there’s more out there. We’re part of something larger than what we see every day between work and home. And, now more than ever, we have to take that, even far beyond city limits, into consideration when we make choices in our lives.”

It already worked on me: I was surprised, in looking at the map of New York City, that Manhattan was rendered as just a tiny little sliver tucked in amongst the looming size of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. It always seems like Manhattan is the center of everything, the most important part of the puzzle, and yet in reality, it can’t hold a candle to the immensity of the other boroughs (except Staten Island, of course). A little perspective does us all good!

* photo credit: *

Conversations with a Stranger

Monday, March 30th, 2009


I met a man on the subway yesterday. I was reading Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and he was reading Lillian Hellman’s “An Unfinished Woman” and he struck up a conversation with me about the lives of successful women writers: did they all fall into depressions and/or insanity?

This man, several generations my senior, had dramatic, bony fingers and a long, narrow, slightly hollowed out face. His long silver hair was slicked back neatly and his navy sweater and corduroy jacket hung off him as if on a hanger. He talked about moving to the village from Midwood, Brooklyn in 1965 to attend NYU. He talked about old bookstores on 8th Street where the great writers of that generation would hang out. What a different place it was then!

For all of his references to classic literature and writers, you would assume he was a writer himself, or at least a professor. But he’s not; he’s an artist. He left NYU to attend the Art Students League of New York because he was always skilled at draftsmanship (he said he hesitates to use the word “great” to describe anything, and I imagine particularly anything relating to himself).

We must have talked for at least twenty minutes; well, it was mostly him talking, and me nodding agreement. He apologized several times for taking up my time, but the truth was that listening to his stories and theories was the highlight of my day. He confessed he was an extrovert (how true!), and found that most people were introverts, perhaps as a means of defense, and how unfortunate it is that people aren’t more open to each other. He wanted to give me his copy of “An Unfinished Woman”, because he was sure I would love it, except that he couldn’t because he had only just started it. When I laughed, more at the sheer logic behind that, he must have thought I didn’t take him seriously. No, I’ve done that before, he said, telling me about a time when he gave his copy of Laurence Olivier’s biography to Uma Thurman when he saw her on the street in the village because he just figured she would enjoy it.

I wanted so badly to take his picture, to arrange for another chance to talk to him and hear his stories, but I didn’t want to spoil the spontaneous conversation we were having. His name is Alan Lloyd. I can’t find him or his work anywhere online, although he said some of his art is at the Pace Wildenstein Gallery.

But I’m glad he spoke to me, and that I was willing to engage him, because it took me out of my own life and agendas. It gave me just enough fresh perspective to see why it is that I love life and I love this city so much.

And today I reserved a copy of “An Unfinished Woman”.

*photo credit:*

Profiles of Hope: Brian Dalthorp, Behind the Lens

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Brian Dalthorp kind of fell into photography. In high school, he signed up for a Drawing class, thinking it would just be an easy elective to fill his credits. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. Then, I started winning all these art awards and I really fell in love with it all. So then after graduation, I had to figure out where to go from there. But I couldn’t see myself doing the starving artist thing. Plus, I’m more of an instant gratification guy: like, with a camera, you just take the shot, and boom, there it is. Done.”

A few months ago, Brian and his fiance (a graphic designer) packed up and moved to New York City from Las Vegas, their hometown for the past seven years. “We sold all but ten percent of our belongings. New York is what we were always looking for: the culture, the city, the mass transportation. I love the feeling of people walking on the street and the different vibe as you walk from Chelsea to SoHo to Wall Street to the Village…I mean it’s a lot colder here, and you pay a lot more for a lot less, but still I wouldn’t trade it. I’ll sacrifice some things to have a hot dog vendor on the corner.”

Brian works mostly in commercial photography, although he admits that the idea of doing an artistic show has come up in the back of his mind since moving to New York. “I still get to express myself in an artistic way; it just depends on the client. Now that I’m here, I really want to play more with the fashion world and the advertising world. Working with people and different locations is a lot more fun than studio landscapes. I’m all about locations. I would love to travel for the rest of my life and just shoot, National Geographic style.”

In Vegas, Brian and his fiance ran their own design company, Pop Studios. They’ve started to re-establish their business here in NYC. “I’m just getting here, starting to build, networking. It’s about living in the present, not living in the future. There are goals I have in mind, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate where I’m at right now. I always say, why not set your goals as high as you can and keep working towards them? I’m not an employee. I’ll never be a number. I’d rather get my guitar out and go out on the subway and put my hat down like everyone else than ever become a number.”

* Special note: Brian is the photographer and creative visionary behind my new bridal gallery pictures on *

* Photo Credit: Brian Dalthorp – *