A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

Local Talent / Candice Leick

Posted: July 28th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, input, local twin cities | Tags: | Comments Off

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Great design is at home in the Twin Cities. Top notch design and advertising agencies litter the warehouse districts like snow in January and being in the marketing business they are just as visible. However, each of those agencies is a success in no small part because of the talented and passionate labor of their designers. I think those designers deserve a little more visibility. So, for everyone’s enlightenment I’m going to feature some of them here. I hope you will take a moment to learn more about them, spread the word and even reach out – they probably like coffee and conversation as much as you do.

Educated at MCAD and having worked at Duffy & Partners, Candice Leick is an example of a great local talent who is striking out on her own. Having recently hung my own shingle (though I’m already considering redesigning it) I know first hand how challenging this can be. Paving her way is the  lovely work Candice has done for Thymes and Myndology. Check out her website to see more of her portfolio (or better yet to hire her for your project). If you are up for even more you can gain some insight into what inspires Candice by checking out what she’s ffffound!


Tron Legacy

Posted: July 24th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: video | Tags: | Comments Off

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The movie Tron was an early pioneer of computer animation and a memorable moment in my youth. Now, just in time for my son’s youth Disney is releasing a follow-up – Tron Legacy. I’m kinda geekin’ out about that. Check out the trailer on flynnlives.com.


Have You Obscene This?

Posted: July 24th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: opinion, packaging | Tags: | 2 Comments »

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I don’t normally rant since it is typically pointless but I’ve got to tell you the recent decision to pull Cycles Gladiator wine from shelves in Alabama because its lovely wine label (shown above) has been deemed pornographic (despite the fact that they approved it way back in 2006. And despite the fact that it is actually a famous piece of advertising art from 1895 for a French bicycle company) mystifies me. No so much because the illustration features a rather classical nude in profile – you’re free to object to nudity if you want- but because of what I perceive as a radical imbalance in our cultural perception of what is obscene (defined as: offensive to moral principals).

How is it that this wine label which celebrates the female form as a work of art is an offensive thing to have in liquor stores where minors have no business (granted wine is sold in one isle of grocery stores in many states) yet the lower shelves at my local Blockbuster video rental store, where minors are a core customer, are choked with DVD covers like the one pictured below for The Saw that celebrate incredibly graphic and dehumanizing violence?

I don’t want to start banning things because I have no interest in returning to any of the deeply flawed puritanical or medieval cultures of the past but if we go that route I would pose this question. Which one of these two pieces of professional illustration/design is at odds with our culture’s moral principals?

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The League of Moveable Type

Posted: July 22nd, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: resources, type | Tags: | Comments Off

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I have nothing against the traditional type foundries (I’ll feature some of them soon so everyone gets equal time) but The League of Moveable Type has jumped on the open source movement in an exciting fashion. They have a nice manifesto worth taking a moment to read. Unquestioningly good type can be quite expensive and questionable type can often be had for free so it is exciting to see someone fill a niche in the middle. It’s a smart move because most design project budgets live in that same middle niche – that’s why microstock like istockphoto has found success. For many smaller clients the cost of higher quality resources like photography and type are often out of reach and as a result end up not being addressed or worse used illegally. The idea is that with access to lower cost yet good quality resources clients and designers alike get hooked, build respect for the tools and move up as soon as they can afford to do so.

I do a lot of work in that middle niche. Well meaning clients who want good design that helps their business succeed. What is exciting about The League of Moveable Type is that they are interested in expanding our ability to spec type online instead of being limited to Arial, Times or whatever else the visitor’s computer has. Instead the designer could host the type which would be transmitted with the design (sort of like pdf files do) so I’m interested to see the landscape change in this regard without over-abusing the talented people behind professional, rights managed resources – but change can be tricky.

The desktop publishing revolution that many of us lived through did not kill off high quality design. On the contrary it became more valuable and recognizable in a market place awash in the cheep software generated lost dog flyers of the early days. But look at the situation now. The web is full of really great creativity – generated cottage industry style by talented creatives with something to share who may not have the kind of fancy agency gig that was once required to access the tools needed. Similarly I don’t believe microstock or open source type will kill off the high quality type foundries. Helvetica isn’t going the way of the dinosaurs. Probably quite the contrary but like all revolutions things will change.


I Married a Monster (fan)

Posted: July 22nd, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, illustration, output | Tags: | Comments Off

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Sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to get off the computer and simply make something by hand. My wedding (a very informal and fun celebration with home made beer and games rather than champagne and fancy tableware) gave me just such an excuse and here is the result. Four bean bags adorned with slightly sheepish looking monsters – who despite all the teeth are really quite friendly. They are eagerly awaiting August 1st when they will be flung through the air at the corn toss boards I made to go with them. I was originally going to illustrate an alien abduction scene in four panels but my fiancée steered me in a different direction and as usual she was right.

The only question is, what to make next?


Putting the "I" in iTunes

Posted: July 17th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, output, packaging | Tags: | Comments Off

V CD on iTunes

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Hey I’ve got an album cover on iTunes! Of course Victor Johnson aka “V” deserves the credit for making the music but it’s still fun to see my illustration/design in such a high profile virtual location. The story on the cover of a new born bird learning to fly while the gaping jaws of a wolf eagerly await the bird’s failure plays out further on the liner notes inside. Check out CD Baby if you want a hard copy of the CD so you can find out how that goes.

Victor is back in the recording studio and a new EP should be out around the end of the year which means I’m back in the design studio to create a new cover – which will be on iTunes – which I’ll blog about… it’s an endless cycle.


Wild New Site Launched

Posted: July 15th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, Interactive, local twin cities | Tags: | 1 Comment »


BrainstormOverload helped Creed Interactive client the Minnesota Wild hockey team design a new website that launched today to support the internal sponsorship sales team (Minnesota Sports Marketing). As Creative Director on the project I was able to help frame and drive the concept, design, write headlines and copy and contribute a few photographs along side the excellent shots by the official Wild photographer Bruce Kluckhohn. The venerable Andy Rakotz handled all the flash development and created the pre-loader. Watch out for Jonathan Anderstrom’s Creed Interactive. He’s landing some exciting clients and his start up interactive agency is doing great work and gearing up to make some waves in the Twin Cities. We’re already hard at work on the next project for the Wild to support season ticket sales.


Portfolio Site Redesign

Posted: July 15th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, Interactive | Comments Off

Designers are perpetually redesigning their personal websites and it seems we are no exception. The first bsol site launched in 1994 and we hope to have this, the seventh version, launched yet this year (2009).


You Gotta Love The Ride

Posted: July 14th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: bikes, design, photography | Tags: , , | Comments Off

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I love the first few issues of a new magazine when the emphasis is heavy on design and a faithfulness to the mission. Those early issues are wonderful even though their success often attracts enough advertising that the original magazine winds up so buried in a sea of pharmaceutical and automotive ads that I can no longer even find the table of contents. Let’s hope that is not the fate of this sweet new cycling rag out of Britain (am I the only one who misses calling it Great Britain btw?) called The Ride. It’s got a great low-fi feel that fits my experience of cycling’s semi-underground. The kids out inventing new tricks or pounding out mileage in the middle of nowhere (as apposed to all the expensive spandex you can see any evening on Summit Ave.)

But I digress. Importing one of the first two issues is pretty spendy at roughly 23 bucks but these guys are still hungry remember. So they’ve generously offered to let you download a pdf of the premier issue for nothing more than the time it takes the electrons to jump across the pond. Then again if you can spare the 23 bones I’m sure they’d appreciate it and you’ll have a collector’s item from before it contained seven pages of SUV ads.

Go Ride.


Mast Brothers Chocolate

Posted: July 13th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, packaging | Comments Off

Check out the delicious packaging on these chocolates by Mast Brothers Chocolate courtesy of Lovely Package. If you’ve been searching for a worthy place to spend your allowance this is it boys and girls.