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.

Gotta Go Number 5

Posted: March 20th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, design, illustration, local twin cities, opinion, posters | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

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The list of participants in Poster Offensive 5 has just been released. The official manifesto says “The Poster Offensive is an independent, non-partisan poster show, which utilizes the politically potent medium of the poster to showcase contemporary interpretations and critiques of political and social issues.” But don’t let the warm and fuzzy language fool ya. There has been no shortage of sharply pointed and passionate posters in years past.

The Frank Stone Gallery in Minneapolis will host the show from October 28 through November 7, 2010 with an opening reception on Friday, October 29th.

Here’s the list of 71 artists and and as many links as I could turn up without hurting myself. Certainly enough talent to keep you busy for awhile: Kent Aldrich of Nomadic Press, Brian Beatty, Cranky Pressman, Landland, James Boyd-Brent, Chelsea Brink, Thomas Brodahl, Ross Bruggink, Bill Burns, Anchalee Chambundabongse, Candy Chang, Mike Davis, Jamey Erickson of Sevnthsin, Bill Ferenc, TOOTH, Zara Gonzalez, Austin Gullixson, Chad Hagen, Jessica Hall Burns, J. Namdev Hardisty of The MVA, Robb Harskamp, LovelyMpls, Amy Jo, Ben Hribar, Greg Hubacek, Aesthetic Apparatus, Steve Jockisch, Jeff Johnson, Craig Johnson, Josh Journey-Heinz, Daniel Kent of ikhoor, Joe Kral, Selina Larsen, Ben Levitz, Steve Marth, Justin Martinez, Patrick Maun, Aaron Melander, Samantha Michaels, Lukas Mills, Bill Moran, Kelly Munson, Sarah Osborn, Vahalla Studios, Ben Pagel, Jamie Patrick Paul of Lost & Found Dept., Eric Plumb, Aaron Pollock, Andy Powell, Aaron Purmort, Adam Ramerth, John Reichel, Lucas Richards of MouseSaw, Jesse Ross, Chip Schilling, David Schwen, Scott Shore of Lure Design, Johnny Slocum, Mickey Smith, John Solimine of Spike Press, Krista Stout from Papered Together, Mate Steinforth, Colin Strandberg of The Work Steady, Jason Teegarden-Downs of Delicious Design League, Emma Trithart, Adam Turman, Tony Venne, Burlesque of North America, Dustin Yerks, Nick ZdonTodd Zerger of BrainstormOverload and Peet Fetsch (who is also organizing the Poster Offensive effort! Thanks Peet.).


Pat Fallon on Midmorning

Posted: March 18th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: advertising, events, input, local twin cities, opinion | Tags: , , | Comments Off

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Local advertising maven Pat Fallon will be featured on MPR’s Midmorning today at 10:00 a.m. (91.1 fm in the Twin Cities or listen online by clicking the blue button in the narrow center column)  He’ll be speaking about the future of advertising. If you miss it the podcast should wind up here.


Disruptive Effects

Posted: March 8th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: events, input, local twin cities, opinion | Tags: | Comments Off

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The University of Minnesota provides quite a few great resources that are both excellent and free. Promotion however is often not excellent so events are easy to miss and are not as well attended as they should be. The Upcoming Disruptive Effects symposium is breaking that mold. The bad news is that it isn’t free – though it is still a bargain relative to the cost of many creative industry events. The good news is that Larsen is a sponsor so there are posters and a website and I know about it far enough in advance to blog about it. This symposium is worth considering since it looks like it will break another mold as well. Namely those stale presentations of the presenter’s past work in favor of a multi-disciplinary dialogue about what could be. Take a look, take a chance and take the opportunity to challenge the participants. This may be one time they’ll appreciate the disruption.


Olympic Host Logos

Posted: February 20th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, opinion | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

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Speaking of the Olympics I was just going to put together a collection of Olympic logos when I discovered that Web Designer Depot has already assembled 39 of them. Browsing through I was thinking that a fair amount of progress has been made. At least until I got down to the bottom where the logo created by Wolff Olins for the 2012 games in London presented itself. Hmm. It looks like the dynamic design by Italian studio Benincasa-Husmann for the 2006 Winter games in Torino will remain my favorite for at least another two years.


Frontline On Our Digital Nation

Posted: February 1st, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: input, Interactive, opinion, video | Tags: , | Comments Off

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PBS (which is arguably the only reason to own a television) hosts a plethora of quality programing including a fantastic, in depth, news program called Frontline. On Tuesday, February 2nd at 9:00 p.m. (In the Twin Cities) Frontline is airing “Digital Nation”. If you are reading this blog there is a good chance you work in a digital design field. But, whatever you do you are deeply immersed in the changes interactive media is having on our culture. Changes with far reaching consequences for everything from socialization to attention span, entertainment to warfare. Spending an hour pondering these consequences will likely be tremendously informing (and empowering if it is your job to create whatever comes next). You can see a preview on the pbs.org website.

Frontline has also been running a digital nation website about these issues where you can learn more, share your own story and take a quiz – while you email, txt, instant message and listen to music….

In a related vein NPR recently ran an interesting story about research that suggests many who think they are great at multitasking… aren’t.


Windows of Opportunity

Posted: January 3rd, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, opinion | Tags: | Comments Off

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Whatever you believe about global warming 2009 demonstrated that the governments of the world aren’t prepared to do much about it. Yet I suspect most of us appreciate that treading lightly and nurturing our planet are good ideas. The truth of this fact is all around us and the tools to contribute to reducing your personal impact are nearer at hand than ever before. There are many small things you can do that are improvements on multiple levels. For instance, you can replace your battery hungry flashlight with one that you crank by hand. Not only will you save money and prevent all those heavy metals from entering the landfill (and eventually your drinking water) every time you pick up your flashlight it will actually work!

There are also some big things you can do like changing the car you drive and the home you live in. Buildings account for a massive portion of the energy we use and as with the flashlight bringing your home up-to-date has many advantages like energy savings and the opportunity to mold your home around the way you live rather than the other way around. Why wait for the G-men to get their act together when you can get going right now? For a little inspiration check out the terrific collection of 62 innovative green homes on jetsongreen.com. They’ll pique your appetite for improvements large and small.

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Freedom of Expression

Posted: December 11th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: competitions, opinion, posters | Tags: | Comments Off

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Two things I’m very fond of are posters and human rights. Living in the United States means I am fortunate enough to be able to take my human rights more or less for granted and spend my time enjoying and designing beautiful things. Time others must spend simply enduring a repressive environment. I’m not going to suggest that a collection of posters is going to change conditions in your average, totalitarian, military or religious dictatorship directly. I do believe, however, that we are all connected somehow and that the energy and direction of large numbers of people has a subtle influence on events.

If this is true then the time you spend and empathy you feel while viewing the collection of 100 posters assembled by Posters 4 Tomorrow is time well spent and energy well directed. Share the link or do a design of your own for next year with the goal that as the belief in and expectation of freedom of expression spreads so too will the reality of it. Imagine all the amazing creativity that could be unleashed when every person is free to speak, draw, photograph and sing to their heart’s content.


3 Z's… as in Zebra

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

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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.


I’ve Been Thinking…

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

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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 »

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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.