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.

3 Z's… as in Zebra

Posted: November 19th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, Interactive, local twin cities, opinion | Tags: | 1 Comment »


There’s something special about having a name that clings to the very last letter of the alphabet. Something daring about the idea that every other letter was somehow not quite a bold enough choice and that you caught hold of the “Z” just in the nick of time before you were forced to start your name with a number or a favorite piece of punctuation. Last in line. Always having to say “…as in Zebra” to the unimaginative drone working behind the counter with a name tag that reads “Anderson” as if proclaiming his compulsive surrender of vision at having jumped at the first letter available. Those of us who share the letter Z also share a sense of solidarity born of these experiences.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Zara Gonzalez. Three Z’s bolder than most, and fully aware that there is no “Z” in surrender. She has recently launched a bevy of websites in service of her varied creative exploits including interactive projects, illustrations, posters and and unending stream of mindless monsters on post-it notes. One of my favorite things is her recent post on her blog seven color days about how her efforts to share her work led her to greater insight about herself (something that is much harder than it sounds). Give it a read, check out all the fantastic work and links to inspirations and enjoy all the interesting stuff that happens at the end of the line.

Oh Hang Astronomy

Posted: November 19th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, events, illustration, posters | Tags: | 2 Comments »


Prints of the International Year of Astronomy posters designed by Simon Page are now available on inPRNT – in two sizes no less. Spruce up your crib by ordering two and shipping is free. Original post.

Happy Birthday Bro!

Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, output | Tags: , | 3 Comments »


I’ve only got one brother but he’s still the best. Enjoy the day Jeff.

I’ve Been Thinking…

Posted: November 12th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, opinion | Tags: | Comments Off


The difference between being humble and being humble (despite sounding the same) strikes me as a distinction of considerable substance.

Yet how can one be certain perception is in sync with reality? To illustrate – is this a plane that is humble who’s shadow none the less betrays its true qualities or is it simply a humble plane that wishes it were something more?

Illustrator James Jean Revealed

Posted: November 12th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, input, opinion | Tags: | 2 Comments »




Diego Rivera did some wonderful frescoes but I didn’t truly fall in love with his work until I had the opportunity to see a show of his amazing sketches at the San Francisco Art Institute (where he happens to have left one of his frescoes). There is something about a raw look at an artist’s creative process – before all the filtering for an audience happens – that is really marvelous to behold.

So it is with illustrator James Jean. Flipping through his online portfolio is like attending an extravagant concert listening to highly produced love songs. It’s breath taking work. Yet there is something about shuffling through his “SKETCH” section that is somehow more satisfying. Like sitting up close in a small acoustic setting where you can see the musician sweat and see that the heartache in the song is real.

Each of James’ sketch books is dated and described simply by its color or a letter. Immersion begins (as it should) with a handsome photo of the actual book showing the patina it acquired during its tenure. The experience proceeds with subject matter that is often less fanciful than his formal portfolio. Figure studies, people on the bus, writings… but I love the lose, gestural quality of the work and the thought. I imagine when he did these sketches he wasn’t thinking about me (in the abstract) at all. He was focused on the moment and how to represent it.

I am left to wonder why designers (so far as they differ from artists) are conditioned away from showing process in this way – favoring instead the polished end result. Limiting ourselves to a small number of samples even within that criteria. Shying away even from polished work that wasn’t actually produced. Not only do I have piles of sketch books but endless folders and files full of work that was never published, printed or launched. By keeping all this work hidden away we deny everyone the chance to be an archaeologist of our creative legacy. Even more troubling is the idea that perhaps we miss the opportunity to let others fall in love with our work.

Onward and Upward

Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, illustration, output | Tags: , | 2 Comments »
Click for enlargement

Click for enlargement

Thank you for your fun comment on the Re-bookmark-able post Ella. It sounds like you and Tim are having a great time drawing together. The bookmark collection sounds fantastic too. As a thank you and to celebrate Tim’s birthday I’ve sent you each this bookmark you inspired me to make. The sky is full of star signs and Tim can help you find them all. To get you started Cignus the swan is just above the turtle’s nose. Reading and drawing, two great life-long adventures. Keep it up.

I’ve Been Thinking…

Posted: October 7th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, opinion, output | 1 Comment »


Maybe those little white mice I occasionally see in the clutches of a magnificent hawk are just getting a ride.

Denver Obeys

Posted: September 9th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, design, illustration | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Walking past the convention center I noticed that Denver has chosen Shepard Fairey (of Obama poster and Obey fame) to represent the growing arts and theater district downtown. Two of his illustrations top pennants that are a good four stories tall.



Industrial Divinities

Posted: August 29th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration | Comments Off


Junji Okubo has shared some beautifully simple yet quite detailed technical illustrations of robots on the website Izmo Juki. There’s something about it being subtitled Industrial Divinities that I find surprisingly charming. It’s worth taking a look (use the tiny numbers at the bottom left of the last image on each page to get to subsequent pages). You’ll feel like your looking at the contents of one of those Jawa Transports from the first Star Wars movie – except these are all clean. After you take a look come back and comment on our tendancy to anthropomorphize.


Posted: August 24th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: downloads, illustration | Tags: | 3 Comments »


Check out these great, whimsical bookmarks and book plates by Tim and Ella Wong. The uncle-niece team collaborate in California’s Bay Area but have started to share some of their work on flickr. Two things make these illustrations remarkable beyond how fun they are. First, Ella is only eleven. And, second I can remember drawing with Tim in social studies class in junior high school when we weren’t much older than eleven ourselves! Before anymore time flies by print out some of these great bookmarks and stick them in your favorite book. Each time you sit down to read you’ll start out with a smile.