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Archive for December, 2008

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LIC-based graphic artist Ciara Elend works in a variety of mediums – drawing, painting, collage-making – but block printing is her speciality. Her American-made line of designer tshirts combines modern graphics with this “old-school”method of printing, in which designs are hand-carved in blocks of wood or linoleum. Her “Queensbound” line of Queens-inspired apparel for men and women, including the popular “I Heart Queens” t-shirts, in her words, “reflects the spirit, culture, and tonality of Queens.”

Ciara,who lives in Sunnyside, really does love the borough, and says that Long Island City’s thriving artistic culture makes it the perfect place for her growing business. She appreciates its history, its “tight-knit community,” and its “concrete, industrial aesthetic,”which she says is her inspiration – along with the neighborhood’s residents themselves. “All the residents I meet, newcomers and veterans, care about their community and take pride in their neighborhood. That motivates me to go to work every day.”

While many of her neighbors and fellow artists are dismayed by Long Island City’s new high rises and influx of Manhattanites, Ciara is pragmatic in her view of the changing neighborhood. Although she does wish the government would try harder to “protect the history of the neighborhood,” she acknowledges that “New York City, and the whole country for that matter, is filled with neighborhoods that were made hip, trendy, and desirable by a community of artists who moved in because of the cheap rents,” and LIC is no exception.

“When people start to catch on to the cool revitalization, they want in,” she explains. “The people moving into LIC right now are my customers, so I’m glad they’re here. I want LIC to thrive. I want to thrive with it. But if one day, it thrives so much that I can’t afford the rent anymore, then so be it. I’ll find the next community of Queens artists to join!”

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