As part of the GOOD Cities Project, our ongoing look at how we make our cities and our cities make us, we teamed up with Ford to commission artists from around the country to create visual love letters to the cities they call home. For the month of November, this artwork has been shared on digital billboards throughout each artist’s city. By celebrating the cities that inspire them, these renowned and emerging artists have explored fundamental ways to lead meaningful urban lives.
A city has many possibilities—it’s a wide open landscape inspired by the heritage, folklore, and traditions of its inhabitants.
Though our backgrounds may define us, a city can just as easily define us, becoming a part of who we’ve been, who we are, and who we will become. For San Francisco-based artist Ala Ebtekar, the notion of culture’s impact on community is a major focal point not only in his practice as an artist but also in his personal life. As part of The GOOD Cities Project, we collaborated with Ebtekar to create a visual love letter to the city of San Francisco, and recently spoke with him about his artistic practice, his relationship with the Bay Area, and what he had planned for his love letter.
A city could do worse than be pigeonholed as a hub for craft breweries, local food, flannel-bedecked residents, and environmentally friendly mindsets, right? Beyond Portland’s ability to inspire pop culture parody, designer Will Bryant insists that the best thing about the city is truly its people. Even outside the close-knit design community he counts himself lucky to be a part of, Bryant is amazed at how passionate he’s found the greater Portland community to be as well.
There’s something bubbling in Atlanta. The music scene is on fire, it seems like more films are being made there than in Hollywood, and there’s a burgeoning arts scene tied into everything. The reason behind that, says artist Fabian Williams, is that Atlanta’s artist community is supportive and open. “Artists definitely cross-pollinate,” says Williams on a phone call from the studio in the basement of his home. “The graffiti muralists mess with the tattoo artists; the tattoo artists mess with the fine artists; the fine artists mess with the muralists; the photographers get down with everybody. There’re really no restrictions. I think that’s what you need for a healthy, robust art community.
Williams has seen the city grow up since he moved back from a brief period in Los Angeles, where he honed many of the skills he employs today as an artist. “I went out to Los Angeles because I got hired to be an illustrator, and then I just got lonely and came back to Atlanta,” he says with a laugh. “I live in Decatur. It’s a ‘gray neighborhood,’ which means it’s black and white. It’s convenient, because I’m 20 minutes from anywhere.”