Mission Creek – it’s time!

Next week kicks off the Mission Creek Festival here in Iowa City. Tickets are still available from Midwestix–for passes and also individual shows. Music, lit, food: come check it out. I’ve been cranking out event posters like there’s no tomorrow the past couple months, which means I’ve also been discovering lots of new music I hadn’t heard before as I cruise through the lineup.

Here’s just a taste of what you have to look forward to over the next seven days:











The Society of the Spectacle

This past weekend my partner Heath wrapped up the Situationist Film Fest as a part of his MFA thesis show. On Friday night, to a packed (!) room at Public Space One here in Iowa City, he debuted his remake of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle from 1973 (a film Debord based on his own book from 1967).

Because he’s great (and perhaps despite my bias), you should head over and read what he has to say about this project. Here’s an excerpt:

In SoS Debord writes of détournement that it is the “flexible language of anti-ideology,” meaning that détournement is necessary and meant to be used to transform meaning with time. It is the only way in which one can resist falling into the trenches of dogmatism. It is a mode of “communication which includes a critique of itself.” Thus in re-stating SoS in 2013, it must be revised and simultaneously plagiarized, and it is in this vain in which I re-introduce this project. As Debord himself says (détourning Lautréamont) “Ideas improve. The meaning of words plays a role in that improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress depends on it. It sticks close to an author’s phrasing, exploits his expressions, deletes a false idea, replaces it with the right one.”

Détournement need not only be a mode of subversion, but can also be a self-critical and open-ended way of thinking and making — one that might also be used by others. I like to think of my project as a piece of research by way of re-making or re-stating; a research project which makes use of Debord’s work not as a quotation but as an appropriation of a collective inheritance in the cultural commons. This is how Debord worked, both with his own work as well as his use of the work from others. For Debord, and I’m inclined to agree, it is the “first step toward a literary communism.”

If you’ve got the time, watch this 2013 version in just under 75 min. I promise it’s way more watchable than the original—and a lot more relevant to contemporary society. Proud, proud, proud.

Title design by yours truly.

Mission Creek Festival

It’s happening again. This year’s Mission Creek Festival will be the first week of April here in Iowa City. Music, literature, comedy, art, food–all at venues within blocks from each other: what more could you ask for? The lineup is still building, but so far includes Grizzly Bear, Deerhoof, Iris DeMent, Tig Notaro, Killer Mike, White Lung, Amber Tamblyn, and many more. Stay up to date with them through their FB page and purchase your all-access tickets here. (Oh, and ps, this girl’s in charge of design again.)

Mission Creek Festival

Iowa City Song Project

Happy New Year! I have been completely preoccupied the last few weeks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t full of fun traveling and a slew of gifts and food and drinks, but with a surprise surgery to save our little cat buddy’s life. And under our watchful peepers: so far, so good! I can only imagine the next few months will be less stressful… so bring it on 2013. Let’s just have more work and less kitty scares, k?

With that, I have a recent project to share. I designed the CD and LP album art for the Iowa City Song Project available now at Maximum Ames Records. From their site:

Over the past year, The Englert Theatre, a 100-year-old performing arts venue in downtown Iowa City, commissioned 31 musicians and bands to write and record songs inspired by experiences or impressions of Iowa City. The songs — the bulk of them recorded locally — were collected into a compilation album called the Iowa City Song Project. The album features a diverse collection of artists tapping into sounds that range from roots-rock traditions to the experimental and avant-garde. It all makes sense: Iowa City is the home to folk-rock legends Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey, and it is also home to Night-People Records, the LP and cassette label that has released music from Dirty Beaches, Peaking Lights, and its flagship band Wet Hair. Iowa City has always been a welcome stage for Americana of all types — the folk sounds heard at The Englert Theatre and the 50-year old Mill, the rock ‘n roll at Gabe’s, and the new sounds heard at basement and house shows. This collection of songs, which could never claim to be the final word on a continually growing music community, is nonetheless a colorful snapshot of the scene that has been inspired by this small but vibrant town.





above–top to bottom: 1. compilation view; 2. CD insert; 3. back of LP; 4. LP insert sleeve

Centennial Celebration – part two

The Englert Theatre has wrapped up their official Centennial Celebration events. I created the identity which spanned across posters for each show, invitations, web graphics, promotional booklets and more. Here’s a look at the 24-page 5.5″ x 8″ mailer that was sent out back in September.

The Englert Theatre - Centennial Celebration

The Englert Theatre - Centennial booklet

The Englert Theatre - Centennial booklet

The Englert Theatre - Centennial booklet

The Englert Theatre - Centennial booklet

Was the Word

Working Group Theatre holds Was the Word—featuring spoken word, storytelling and music—at the Englert each month in downtown Iowa City. The proceeds from this pay-what-you-can event are donated to a different community non-profit after each show. With their upcoming season (starting tonight!), they wanted to stop reinventing the wheel and help gain some more visual consistency and recognition around town… meaning: new poster series! Here’s the first of eight that I’ll be designing through April.

And from their youtube page, here is Idris Goodwin performing in 2011:

Around Crab Orchard

I recently designed the packaging along with a poster for Sarah Kanouse’s new film, Around Crab Orchard.

And Sarah’s trailer:


Crab Orchard calls itself “a unique place to experience nature.” As the only wildlife refuge in the United States whose mission includes industry and agriculture alongside conservation and recreation, Crab Orchard claims a harmonious balance between past and present, nature and culture. Assembled from documents, found footage, and conversations with activists, writers, and local residents, “Around Crab Orchard” questions the ideal of natural harmony while meditating on the persistence of history, the creation of knowledge, the limits of representation, and the commonplace of environmental hazard. “Around Crab Orchard” ultimately argues for forms of storytelling, image-making, and action that respond to the full complexity of the social and ecological landscape.


Signal is an idea in formation. It is a response to the myopia of contemporary political culture in the United States, our blindness to most things beyond our national boundaries, and our lack of historical memory. There is no question that art, design, graphics, and culture all play an influential role in the maintenance of the way things are. They have also been important tools for every social movement that has attempted to challenge the status quo. The production of art and culture does not happen in a vacuum, it is not a neutral process. We don’t ask the question of whether culture should be instrumentalized towards political goals, the economic and social conditions we exist under marshall all material culture towards the maintenance of the way things are. The question we need to ask is whether our cultural production is used to uphold the massive levels of inequality that exist across the globe, or to challenge capitalism, statecraft, patriarchy, and all the systems used to produce and reproduce that disparity.

Shut it down.

Perfect. I was going through my Google Reader that I’ve neglected for about a week, and thinking I needed to start compiling all of these logos based around the X. I know the Hipster Branding tumblr certainly hit on these quite a bit in their collection as they hipster-fied existing brands, but this site–Your Logo Is Not Hardcore–is a superb collection of these logos in action in the real world. They all look nice and lovely… but damn. I don’t care if it’s hardcore or not–can all designers just agree to retire this tactic?

Here are just a handful from a huge pool:

Minus one for nostalgia.

We rewatched Wonder Years this summer. All of it.

How I remembered it:

Turns out:

screenshots compliments of kevinarnoldisadick.tumblr.com