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.

Simple Talk for Tough Times

Posted: May 9th, 2011 | Author: Todd | Filed under: events, illustration, local twin cities | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Congratulations to Marcia Carlson for being recognized by the Minnesota Hospital Association as the 2011 Caregiver of the Year for her creation of the book Simple Talk for Tough Times. This book, already in its second printing, is being distributed throughout the Allina Health System. Marcia’s background in social work and long experience with healing environments among other things helped guide her authorship of a simple book that helps adults diagnosed with cancer talk to the children in their lives about “the elephant in the room” in a way that kids can understand and learn to accept. Kudos to the rest of the team as well: Sandy Herrala, Connie Fiebiger, Melissa Berggren, Adrian Lewis and John Dailey. I am very pleased to have been included on the team as the illustrator.


Illustrator Casey Anderson

Posted: November 4th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, local twin cities | Tags: , | Comments Off

Recently graduated from Northwestern College local illustrator Casey Anderson is ready to unleash her work on the Twin Cities. Check out her website for more of her endearing and whimsical work. There is something optimistic and personal coursing through her portfolio that (particularly if you have been recently bombared with dark political negativity) will brighten your day. Expressions of simple joys. Now that’s something we could use more of. If you need a double dose check out Casey’s blog Imitation of Life for more. Better yet drop her a line via LinkedIn and hook her up with some work.


Sanna Annukka

Posted: July 7th, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: design, illustration | Tags: | Comments Off

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I stumbled upon Sanna Annukka’s wooden birds this past winter and I’m still groovin’ on her gorgeous style. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about her work that compels me to go to her website nearly every week to see if there is something new to find. She has mentioned Nordic folklore, and spending summers in Finland as inspiration for her work, and I think the gravitational pull has to do with seeing a story in every one of her prints. In this one below, my mind’s eye sees little girls running and dancing and exploring a vast land full of fjords and forests.

design_sanna annukka_02Certainly that’s what I did as a young girl in Hawaii.

And her fennofolk below…the detail is delicious. The middle one, I like pretending her name is Annika and she’s what I’d look like in two dimensional form.

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Check out her website or commercial portfolio for more. Perhaps you already have a few of of her designs she did for Marimekko or the band Keane. Some day her work will grace our studio walls but for now, I’ll just continue to visit her website for weekly fjord dreaming.

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Mouse and Elephant

Posted: January 22nd, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, local twin cities, output | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

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I recently had the opportunity to do some illustrations for Allina Hospitals (specifically Unity and Mercy in Anoka County) to support a book they are producing. The book provides guidance to adults who are newly diagnosed with cancer with strategies and understand to aid them in talking about their condition with the children in there lives. As such I hope you never get to see this book – I wish no one needed to. But I’m glad to have contributed a little to helping those in such a difficult situation.

In the illustrations the idea of the cancer present in a loved one is represented by the elephant while the child is represented by the mouse. The flower offered by the elephant is eventually accepted by the mouse as the series progresses and symbolizes an acceptance of the idea of the cancer which leads to an ability to begin to understand it. At first the mouse does not want to let the elephant into its life. Once it does it is confused by its nature. As the two attempt to come to terms they grapple with barriers to understanding but eventually persistence pays off and a relationship is possible. So, a happy ending at least.


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.


Happy Birthday Bro!

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

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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

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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.


Onward and Upward

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


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.

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