Ratatouille

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new; an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking, is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook”. But I realize — only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.” – Anton Ego, Food Critic

Those are the words from Anton Ego, Food Critic and amazing character in the Pixar film, Ratatouille, in his last review of Gusteau’s restaurant.  That entire paragraph is amazing, no? Yes! It is an elegant and well written letter.  It is so beautifully crafted that it rocks me to my core.

I recently watched (a day ago) the movie and had an “ah ha!” moment while cutting out matte for a frame project I was working on.  I think it was mostly because as an artist, I sat there and felt the powerful connection of  Monsieur Ego’s statement, ” But I realize — only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere, ” with my own life.   I sat there totally understanding that sometimes a person without “training” can learn and prove to be great and come from anywhere.

I am, and have been for some time now, in love with Pixar. Ever since Woody, Buzz Light Year and Co. stepped on the scene, I have been smitten with the stories and characters created by Pixar. As a matter of fact, I dragged my best friends in college to go see Toy Story 2 with me for my birthday the year it came out. That same year I asked for Christmas figurines of Toy Story characters. My Mom obliged with several, but my favorite was the dinosaur. They moved around with me until I moved from VA to NY almost five years ago.

In 1995, at the age of 15, I had no idea the impact Pixar would have on my life, or animation for that matter. Now, computer animation is main stream and Pixar has released several films, as has Dreamworks and yet, I always prefer Pixar. To be fair I do enjoy some Dreamworks films, such as Kung Fu Panda (That movie is amazing!), but Pixar has always left me amazed by its creativity and its deep communication with viewers young and old.

For example, in November of 2009, I went down to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile to celebrate my birthday. While on the way down, the airplane showed the film Up. I cried the entire film.  There I was watching a film about an older man seeking an adventure to South America after his wife’s passing and all of the opportunities that present themselves to him, while I was traveling to South America seeking my own adventure after my father’s death. I took the film as a sign and the moment as another notch that Pixar had won in my heart.

Of all the Pixar movies my favorite is Ratatouille. This was a difficult decision because Monsters, Inc is also up there as is Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Up, and Wall-E.  Oh, how I LOVE the message in Wall-E, but the fact remains that Ratatouille is my favorite.  I watch Ratatouille at least once a month. No lie.

One of the main reasons behind this love is my love of/for Paris.  I love the  Paris back drop mixed with the power of love, passion and food (all things very much associated with Paris). Paris is my second home. I’ve has the pleasure of visiting four times now and the last time I went, I felt more comfortable than ever before. I took the metro with ease, I walked around streets that I remembered and most importantly, I was welcomed by friends.  The city is one of my greatest inspirations.  I design French themed stationery thanks to my obsession with Paris, but also all of France.

However, that’s not the only reason. I love everything behind the movie – the characters (Remy is awesome!), the fact that a rat loves fine food,  the graphics, and the message that you can be true to yourself despite your background and against all odds. I love the second message that “anyone can cook.”

I also love how much they stress the power of dreaming.  I love how they show that with good comes bad, but as long as you stay true you will find your path and happiness.  I love the moment that Anton Ego eats ratatouille and smiles, sways, and digs into his food. Finally, I love Mr. Ego’s final review of Gusteau’s restaurant after eating Remy’s ratatouille (posted above).

While listening to the reading of the review, I sat in my seat, not working on the framing project, but instead with my arms wrapped around my legs and goosebumps all over my arms. I don’t presume that I am a great artist, but I do know that being an artist requires determination, creativity, faith and a dream-all things I have.  I am not creating stationery that is new to the world, but I am pursuing my designs with the fire in me and that is what counts.  Remy’s meal of Ratatouille was not something new, as Colete  says, “it’s a peasants dish,” but the way HE interpreted and served the dish, created a sense of new.

As I said earlier before rambling about Pixar and my favorite films, while watching the movie I had an “ah ha!” moment. My “ah ha” moment is this- much like Remy, I’ve taken what I love, which happens to be something I’m good at, and made it a reality. Critics come and go, but by putting my work out there, I’m making things happen, regardless of my lack of a design degree or experience in an Ad agency or a design company. Now, granted my background isn’t as humbling as a rat, but what I am getting at is this: I don’t have formal training, I just have a hunger to learn and a passion to create. To put it even more simply-if I can do that (take something that is not so new, but interpret, create and share to create a sense of new without the degrees and formal training)with S2 Stationery and Design, then I can and will succeed.

Mr. Ego also mentions friends to the new and he couldn’t be more correct. Over the past year, I’ve become more active and involved with my Etsy team, The {NewNew} (I’ve mentioned them before) and it/they have been the best thing that has happened to me.  I have gotten to know and work with some amazing and talented artists and entrepreneurs. This team is completely separate from the many amazing friends that I have in my life that are encouraging me constantly. These women are just an amazing source of knowledge and experience and I am fortunate to have them in my circle for what I hope is forever.

I have been advantageous enough to not have critics, that I am aware of, write or share scathing comments like Anton Ego in the beginning of the film, but with a little bit of charm, kindness, and  faith in yourself good things will and can happen. This isn’t just something that happens in movies either. Sometimes movies imitate real life. Pixar has shown with the case of Pixar (rat aside) that it is just tackling real life issues in a cute/fuzzy way (I have a whole theory on how Monsters, Inc. is a lesson for energy and gas companies) and I will continue to enjoy them. I will just be a rat or a fuzzy blue Sasquatch like monster or hopeful romantic robot.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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