Archive for the ‘good people:’ Category
I should just write. I should. Stop over-thinking it. Just….do….it. Okay, go. Now. I’m going. I’m starting, picking up the thread not knowing where exactly I left off or how to start or fill you in. Life doesn’t follow such a tidy narrative though, so I guess it’s okay if blogs don’t either. In an email from my friend Kate Singleton of Buy Some Damn Art / Art Hound said, any blog posts are good. Even if they are sputtering and sporadic.
I came down with shingles in August, with my recovery lasting well into September. The only explanation for why, in my case, was months of prolonged stress. While the virus wasn’t terribly painful – I was lucky in that respect, but it did cause 4 days of temporary blindness in my right eye, many doctors visits (thank goodness I have insurance), medicines, and strict orders to take it easy. Very easy. Okay message received, universe: clearly it’s time to make some changes. What changes exactly, I’m still thinking about, but I’m happy to report that I’m physically back-to-normal. After taking a significant break from maintaining any kind of personal work – ie this blog or anything else, I’m finding my way back to it. I get some flickers of inspiration here and there, lukewarm at best, so I know I’m not totally broken. But I knew travel would speed things up, and it just so happened that Chad & I had booked crazy discounted tickets to San Francisco way back in the spring so the timing was perfect.
The biggest reason for the trip was Tony & Kat’s wedding, but there were also self-assigned work: museums, galleries, literature, hiking, a golden visit to the Pacific ocean, a tour of artist Lisa Congdon’s studio, and coffee with Makeshift Society owner, the masterful Rena Tom. Our adventures took us all over the Bay area, on Bart, MUNI, ferry, car, bicycle, streetcar, taxi, and of course on foot. We saw more organic produce at the Berkeley Bowl than I’ve ever seen in one place before (Whole Foods included), drove legendary Highway 1 at sunset, noshed on a late night In-N-Out burger – animal style, dove into rich gourmet bowls of mac ‘n cheese at Homeroom, desserted at Tartine, and marveled at the highly technical event that is parallel parking on SF’s steep hills. And so much art – art, and people doing interesting things it was a feast for my brains too.
Thank you, California friends, new and old. The way you brought us so generously into your lives was all of the soul fuel I could’ve asked for. I’m looking for all the reasons I can to make my return and see some more of you soon.
1. Muir Beach Lookout. 2. Awesome logo on a Bay Ferry boat. 3. San Francisco’s literary festival, LitQuake plays hosts to comedian/novelists, David Handler and Andrew Sean Greer. Recap of the event here by my friend Margaret Edith Maggie who also kindly lodged us for a few nights. 4. I got chills seeing this couple unknowingly mimicking a massive Margaret Kilgallen painting at SFMOMA. 5. Woodland elf? Nope, it’s photographer Ben Speckmann in Muir Woods! 6. Lisa Congdon fans my already major lust for Scandianvia with tales her three week solo trip to Iceland, Sweden, and Copenhagen, and how it’s inspired her work. 7 & 8. Lettering inspiration dialed up to 11 at highly traditional custom sign-painting shop Golden West Sign Arts in Berkeley. 9. The ocean was so cold my toenails turned blue! Ah!!! Okay, not really. Just seeing if you were still paying attention.
All photos by me or Chad on iPhones or the Canon S100.
Giveaways aren’t something I’m really all that excited about most of the time, but occasionally it’s just too good to pass up. Someone out there needs to have this gorgeous 18″ x 24″ screenprinted poster, with seven glorious layers of texture and color. By Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi, aka prodigy poster duo Sonnenzimmer. No one does gig poster design quite like Sonnenzimmer, not even close, which is impressive alone, but of course they don’t really stop there. What’s so brilliant about their work is the process doesn’t change much in any of the media they use. Whether it’s a print, a painting, installation, or even music, the project is structured around a system or concept, and then the ensuing visuals or sounds for the most part get to happen accidentally. That’s a decision that I have heaps of respect for, because it takes major guts to just go with whatever comes out of you, as it happens. And the outcome manages to be technically well-founded, elegant, and some how effortless all at once. Plus, Nick & Nadine are so gracious to be around, the types who just show up and get to work, sans bullshit. They’ve been a solid foundation of support in Chicago’s creative faction for years it’s only fair I should give them their due.
Further if you’re into jazz you can buy Free Jazz Bitmaps Vol. 1 and get a free copy of the poster with purchase. This album is a brand-new collaboration, a perfect little capsule of Chicago’s jazz scene right now. Have a listen here.
You can enter up to two times! The giveaway will be open until April the 25th at 12am and I will announce the randomly drawn winner on Thursday of next week.
Oh, my dears. I’ve missed you. Thank you for being patient with me during my extended quietness here. I’ve been experimenting with my schedule & my billable hours, trying to find a better structure & schedule so I can bring home both the bacon and the blog. It’s been a tough process. And I’m slowly working out a re-design. This site’s been the same for almost four years now and I think that is a major part of my reluctance to write. The internet is different now than when I first created this site and doing some restructuring around here will do a lot in terms of re-investing my time. Never fear, I’m never going to pull the plug entirely, having a growing internet presence is too important to me personally & too important in terms of growing my business for that.
It’s funny, this process is so specific and personal. It’s like a ritual of sorts. I’ve been thinking a lot about the rituals of making things ever since my friend Vaughn Fender asked me to participate in the ninth issue of his online magazine, Peculiar Bliss. The theme of which is creative rituals. I didn’t even really think about what mine were until this topic came up, but now I can’t stop, and in some ways that’s kept me from producing here. Navel-gazing has diminishing returns after while…So here I am, consider this me getting over it. Jumping back in again, with a bang.
Vaughn’s done a lengthy interview with me on my process, background, and yes my rituals. The article also includes a whole bunch of my work that’s never been published anywhere, and my friend Julia Stotz was kind enough to take all the pictures of me. Ellen Hunter of Word Couture Consulting made sure I did my commas and grammar right. I owe major thanks to them for their hard work, you’re only as good as your fellow collaborators and these kids really threw down. Thank you friends, from the bottom of my heart.
Flip through the digital pages on ISSUU, Cargo Collective, or PDF. My piece starts on page 17, and there is plenty of other gorgeous illustration and photography on either side of the article as well. If you can take a few minutes to kick back and take this in, inspiration is sure to follow.
Have an excellent Friday! Next week is going to be a doozy over here. We’re talking WMC Fest, stories from our trip to Detroit, and a giveaway – which I never do, but this one is a unique one so I don’t think you’ll mind. :-)
It’s good to be back.
I apologize to the non-locals for this post, but Chicago, you are going to this right? Yes, the Show ‘N Tell Show is the world’s only design-improv-talk-n-rock show. With plenty of variety and even the occasional Muppet, it’s guaranteed fun, promises. Come designers, photographers, musicians, comic book heads, style mavens, font lovers, code monkeys, and poster boys. Thursday’s guests will wow you, they’re some of my personal faves: The INDO Projects, Letterform, Paul Octavious, Paul Koob, and a top secret mystery vistor!
Feb 23rd @ Lincoln Hall, $5
And, okay, so if you can’t come you should watch this bonus video instead. If you’ve ever been to a design conference, you should also watch this video. If you look closely, you can catch yours truly briefly at 1:45. (Gah, video is so awkward…like hearing yourself on an 80′s answering machine!)
Guess what, guess what?! I’m writing a biweekly column for Studio Sweet Studio and it’s launched TODAY! Margot’s Design Dispatch is a digest of all things (you guessed it) design-related. It takes a similar format as my Friday Links posts, but with a little extra snazz (that’s the, uh, highly technical term) for even more fun times. Meg & Tuesday have put a lot of thought into growing their content by putting together an excellent batch of contributors, each with our own specific topic area. Breanna of Moxee writes about self-employment with Be Free, Lance, Elana Schlenker covers all manner of print and publication issues with Pressing Matters, and Mike Smith spotlights bright young talent in the industry with Honor Roll.
You’re just going to have to go, go, go to there!
So how was Alt you ask? Not only did I get a fresh perspective on the web, new ideas on how to build my business, I also made a whole slew of exceptionally inspiring and talented new friends. In a word: rad. But I’m not capable of just leaving it at that, so here’s many more words on the experience.
Meh. During our stay at the Royal Garden we jokingly started referring to it as the Bates Motel. I’m not sure how many rooms the conference is able to block out at the uber-posh Grand America, but it’s far fewer than demand. Which sucks because if you don’t book a room IMMEDIATELY upon Alt’s registration announcement you’ll end up paying the same amount of money for the most basic and impersonal of accommodations. If this happens to you, save yourself the cash instead and book a private room at the $20/night hostel that’s half a mile away.
Loved the rainbow Alt-branded pencils and the neon orange toothbrush. Should’ve brought more business cards. SF Girl by Bay wins best handout by far with her temporary tattoos.
+ Most informative: Growing a Readership by Oh Happy Day, Design Crush, Making it Lovely, and Mighty Girl
+ Most authentic/relatable: Kickstarting Your Next Project by the City Sage, Lisa Congdon, Rena Tom, and Say Yes to Hoboken
+ Best slides: From Blog to Book by Grace Bonney, Julia Rothman, Chronicle Books, and Artisan Books
However, I talked to several ladies who didn’t connect well to all of the panels I tend to agree. Some of that is bound to happen of course, no conference can be all things to all people, but shooting for the middle often means that the content gets watered down as well. Specifically, everyone I talked to who went to the Dooce/HGTV/BurdaStyle/Blogstar panel felt these mega-bloggers only talked about themselves without spending anytime scaling down their experiences and offering concrete advice and suggestions small blogs could adopt more readily. A missed opportunity for sure.
Image ganked from Ghostly Ferns’ instagram
Bitbloggers: the Whys & Hows of Small Blogs
Oh, this was so much fun. Me and Kate Singleton of Art Hound have been thinking of how to tackle hosting this roundtable ever since we pitched the idea to Gabrielle Blair last summer. Basically we wanted to create a more accessible setting where folks could feel more comfortable talking through their blogging hang-ups. It turned into a fantastically productive venting and brainstorming session. My only regret is that we ran short on time and weren’t able to give everyone new ideas on where to take their blogs. Luckily Kate & I have created a special Bitbloggers site where all of this content will be funneled. We’ll continue posting on this topic sporadically over there. I’m really excited to start growing this content because I don’t think this is a need that will be going away anytime soon.
Otherwise, I wished for another session of roundtable discussions so attendees could’ve had two of them. There were soooo many choices and most of them seemed highly tailored and very specific, which is good, but having to pick only one was tough. Small groups are always the best way to immediately get into the meat of an issue, ask questions, and get instant feedback so I wish for more of them next year.
Will I attend next year?
I’m not sure yet. As much fun as it was, it’s an expensive trip and I struggled with the intense girlyness of the event. All I kept thinking is that we’ve been rightfully criticizing other technology & new media conferences (like CES and to a degree, SxSW) for being exclusive to women, but Alt skews so far in reverse that precious few guys want to attend as well. It’s equally as harmful in the opposite direction. I’m all for girl-power and giving women a place to act out their blogs in real life, but I’m not into segregating it away from other forms of culture. There were a small handful of guys at the conference, sure, but they stuck to the fringes and weren’t as actively engaged with the content. Most of them looked a bit shell-shocked and I heard more than one quip about them having to “tough it out”. Which is sexist and definitely doesn’t help the issue.
This is further concerning in the bigger picture because eventually this will evolve into a pink ghetto stereotype that blogging is the only way for women to contribute meaningfully to the web. I’m not into that perception, despite the fact that females dominate the design/lifestyle blogging scene and I count myself as one of these bloggers too. But why should design and lifestyle blogging be a girl thing at all? Making one’s life better through design seems like a pursuit that all of humanity can benefit from. I’d love for us to continue to foster that, but let’s also simultaneously focus on spreading awareness of this dichotomy and promote more discussion around it.
For next year the biggest thing the Alt organizers could do to help remedy this would be to host a broader range of speakers. I know the most popular bloggers sell the most seats, but more up-and-comers and more presenters who aren’t necessarily design or lifestyle bloggers would lend a greater variety in perspectives. And more dudes please, just like there should be more ladies presenting at all the rest of the conferences in the world too.
Regardless of my opinions I still consider myself immensely lucky to have experienced Alt. I hold all of the presenters and conference organizers in the highest esteem, I can’t even begin to imagine how much work it is putting such an affair together. I’m really proud I made it happen for myself too because I would’ve always wondered what it was like if I hadn’t gone. Plus, I’ve got a bunch of ideas in motion that will help keep my head in the blogging game and that’s pretty much priceless.
Now, to catch up on sleep and the veritable mountain of client work I’m facing this week. Woof!
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