Reading is Sexy: On Tender Hooks

Way, way back in the day, Dave spent a summer at the Parsons The New School for Design. While immersed in all things artistic, he became friends with an amazing illustrator, designer, and human named Marcos Sorensen. Fast forward a decade or so… Dave and I were coupled up, and Marcos had found Isabel Samaras, an equally-talented artist and human.

For me, meeting Marcos and Isabel was like when The Wizard of Oz switches from black-and-white to color: dazzling, inspiring, and all-together way more fun than anything that came before. They and their friends were creative and dyed their hair funny colors and had tattoos and made art and wore vintage clothes. Their wedding in Las Vegas — with an Elvis impersonator performing the ceremony — was a turning point for Dave and I. Something magical happened for us during that ceremony, too. It wasn’t long before we stopped being scared and started taking fun chances.

I don’t think they know it, but Marcos and Isabel opened us up to all kinds of fun things: low-brow art, experimenting with fashion, making our home a playhouse… the memory of their wedding is a reminder that if you’re true to who you are, you can’t go wrong. Whenever we’ve wanted to make a change that other people might think was wacky — quitting a job that didn’t fit anymore, relocating to Austin, dying my hair pink, having our own non-traditional wedding — we reflect on their wedding and the perfect romance of that day.

Isabel’s art is an amalgamation of all the things I admire about her and Marcos and their wee one Nico and the life they all have together. It blends excellent technique with a deep affection for pop culture, then gives it a spit-shine of sly wit. Her work is smart, but not pretentious… expertly-done, but not stuffy… it’s playful and surprising and sexy makes me laugh first, think for a second, then laugh again… and some of her works are really just so beautiful.

Dave has one of her devil babe’s permanently inked on his right shoulder, and we have this print hanging in our living room:

A collection of her paintings was recently published by Chronicle Books (my dream publisher!), and it’s called On Tender Hooks. You can get it from Amazon (for just $23) or directly from the publisher — be sure to check out this video of Isabel. She’s adorable!

You can see some of the paintings from the book in this The New York Times slideshow.

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