Art School(ed): A holiday gift list, brought to you by RISD alumni

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This Friday will mark the first day that it is socially acceptable to listen to holiday music. With Handel’s Messiah and Sevivon, sov, sov, sov come all of the trappings of the holiday season: inflated ornaments at the Providence Place Mall, tents lining the parking lots of Best Buy (no, not that Best Buy),  and family members requesting your own Christmahanakwanza wish list.

Art School(ed) is here to help you with the ever-daunting task of drafting up that Christmahanakwanza gift list, drawing only from the fruits of RISD alumni’s labor. After the jump, check out the products crafted and designed by graduates of Brown’s creative neighbor.

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Jason Aaron Segal, a fashion designer and former contestant on “Project Runway,” received his MFA in Textile Design from RISD in 2009. He now runs an experimental fashion brand called Pretty Snake, which is known for its eccentric and vibrant prints. If you’re not already sold on a pair of men’s Kitty swim briefs, the Puppy Garden dress, the seasonally appropriate Christmas Tree leggings or an ochre Handsome Kitty pillow, peruse the rest of Segal’s collection here.

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Martha Moore Porter, the woman behind Buried Diamond, makes your emoji conversations a 3D reality with her resin-coated charms. She sells these in spurts via her Etsy, and she announces each re-stocking of her shop via her Instagram. While you’re waiting around for her to drop the next series of charms, you can buy groovy clothes designed by Porter via Print All Over Me (although, fair warning, these prints are not for the faint of heart). After all of these years, she still can’t shake the RISD influence.

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On the topic of resin, Debbie Tuch concocts sugary jewels by coating real fruits and candies in glitter resin. She sells the pieces through Glitterlimes, the company she founded after graduating from RISD with a Jewelry + Metalsmithing degree. Art School(ed) last spotted Glitterlimes on campus selling crystallized Peep brooches at the Benefit Street RISD Alumni + Student Art Sale.

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Julia Sherman, a Photography graduate from RISD, visits other makers, makes a meal with them in their homes, photographs the event and then blogs about it. Sherman is the mind behind Salad For President, a blog which celebrates the salad as an art form. The site is a goldmine for you kids out there sans meal plan, and the shop offers to amuse your bouche more than it has ever been amused before: treat yo’self to custom Shiso Jalapeño Cocktail Syrup or Herb Salt from MoMA PS1’s Salad Garden. If you’re feeling avant-garde, invest in the performance piece that is the Sandwich in a Bottle. “Disclaimer: The materials in these works are perishable, and could potentially explode.” 

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Maybe your family can’t justify throwing down a Benjamin for a barely preserved and half-eaten sandwich. Perhaps they’d rather spend a Washington on a matchbox from a fictional caviar bar, designed by former RISD Illustration major Joana Avillez. (Yes, the same Joana Avillez who drew the illustrations for Lena Dunham’s memoir.) Avillez also sells off-set prints from her “Eloise Moves To Brooklyn” spread in New York Magazine, which features a post-Plaza Eloise who plays with Kidrobot stuffed animals and eats bibimbap with chopsticks.

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If all of this New York talk has your heart racing, consider adding Julia Rothman’s doting book Hello NY to your holiday gift list.

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Spice up your bookshelf with other RISD greats: a monograph of Walton Ford’s large-scale watercolors or black and white family photography books by Emmet Gowin and Henry Horenstein. Of course, there’s no better way to decompress from exams than reading David Macaulay’s book dedicated to the construction of the Cathedral. Other highlights from Macaulay’s oeuvre include Baaaa book about mankind’s extinction and a flock of sheep which subsequently achieve world domination, and The Way Things Work, a book with a self-explanatory title.

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For the more underground collegian, Art School(ed) bears the fruits of Fort Thunder, the former Olneyville home to the RISD art collective Forcefield. One of the faces of Forcefield, Brian Chippendale, created a graphic novel entitled Maggots, which loosely speaks to “living in a place called Fort Thunder, wandering and embarking on adventures somewhere between dirt punk and epic cosmic science fiction.” You can feel like a character from Chippendale’s comic books by wearing Jim Drain’s sweaters designed for Opening Ceremony:

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If you’re working with a budget for your holiday shopping, peep Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman’s project Quotes on Shit. The two designers repurpose dejected or meaningless objects by painting them a bold color and writing messages on their façades. Walsh and Goodman will regift the items to Instagram followers who comment on their pictures in hopes of acquiring a Quotes on Shit original:

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Walsh, RISD Graphic Design ’08, works as an art director at the design firm at Sagmeister & Walsh. The design studio reinvented the Jewish Museum’s graphic identity last spring, which means that any item you buy from the New York museum’s gift shop will be packaged in Sagmeister & Walsh swag:

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Might we recommend the Jewish Mother Gum packaged by legendary illustrator Maira Kalman, a Save the Date Bat Mitzvah Onesie, a Challah plate by ceramic artist Isabel Halley, an Oy Vey Flask, a tote for schlepping around College Hill, or a baseball for that special mensch in your life?

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If all of these creative minds have you feeling inspired, why not illustrate your own Christmahanakwanza list like Pauland Lauline? (These prints are available for purchase via and via.)

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