Category: Misc

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:

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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

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

Another year…

It’s been a while since I wrote on here… usually it’s more of a quick post, an inspiration find. But. I’m about to get reflective, people. Brace yourself.

Yesterday was my birthday which included a relaxing morning and then an unfortunate all-night work affair. Then h brought me home cheesecake after his class. So that was not bad.

I did some early a.m. thinking, though… not necessarily because it was my birthday, but because (at least the morning) was a very welcome break in the past couple weeks of non-stop work. I’m feeling super fortunate these days to have a steady flow of projects coming in. As expected in moving to a new place where you have zero contacts—starting off as a freelancer was pretty darn slow. Slow enough where I had to get a super lame part-time job so I could fund my eating and drinking and breathing habit. Luckily, that gig was fairly short-lived and it’s been pretty steady ever since. A year and a half in, and I’m feeling settled. Initially, the draw to freelancing was due in large part to my frustration from my last full-time job, where I wasn’t crazy about the type of work I was doing and who I was doing it for. And you know what you can’t really say when a project lands on your desk?

“I don’t want to do that for them.”

So you do it. And you grimace and daydream about greener pastures. And forget what a treat it is to get a decent paycheck consistently every 2 weeks, but that doesn’t really matter anymore, because dammit, you’ve seen the dark side of yourself and now you’re bitter all the time. sigh…

Then when I started getting work here on my own, I still couldn’t really say no because I never knew if that was going to be the last time someone was going to ask me for work… ever. So I said yes to everything. (Really, a brilliant form of time/schedule management.) And now? I’m officially able to turn things down. It’s pretty amazing. I love deciding what my workday will look like. I’m the healthiest I’ve been since… I’m not sure. We cook better than we ever have—meaning we eat better than we have. And to boot I’ve been consistently working out since we moved. (It’s ridiculously easier to do this when you decide you want to work out at 9. Or noon. Or 3.) I’m starting to get more projects that I’m super excited about… including a couple book projects on the horizon which is the best news.

However. With that glowing review of my freelance life out of the way… I really miss working with people! I have a handful of great clients that I really enjoy visiting and working with… but I miss my fellow designers. I miss the great collaboration that comes with fellow designers. Years ago in school, I had a perfect partnership with my friend Clint while working on Ninth Letter. After school, we moved to Chicago, competed for a single job opening, and ended up at different agencies. One day he was biking home from work and was doored by a car—a battle he so very, very, unfortunately lost. This post isn’t about that heartbreak (and tragedy, and bike safety, and driver safety, and…) though. It’s about relationships that have magic. Clint and I, we always said we’d start our own studio one day down the road, and I can’t help but keep thinking about that. I really loved the designers I worked 9-5 with, but Clint and I felt in sync. Something clicked. And I guess that’s rather rare. Here in Iowa City, not only are there fewer designers than back in the city, but I don’t feel like I align with those I’ve met or seen—design-wise or otherwise.

I’ve had grad school in the back of my mind the past couple years, and that desire has grown as of late. After h finishes his MFA, we’re outta here, and I’m ready and hungry to find a new design community. One that’s excited to push and pull and struggle and ask questions of Design that people aren’t asking in the workplace. I can see myself doing the small business thing for years… but not so sure if I’m interested in doing it solo for the rest of my years. Er… I’m not interested in doing it solo for the rest of my years.

In summary? Good past year. Great past year, actually. Proud of myself for surviving and doing work that I’m happier with than the old days. But not as doe-eyed and in love with the idea of a solo freelance gig as I was a year ago. I can anticipate the changes ahead in a couple years and am already excited.

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A Reflection

It’s been a year since we’ve arrived at Iowa City’s doorstep. Sometimes it’s hard to believe. I lied and told a stranger I’ve only been here for six months the other day, and didn’t realize that wasn’t the truth until hours later. It feels at once a rather quick period of time and also established + comfortable. As we’re snowed in today (from driving, that is—legs and snow boots are alive and well), it feels like great timing for a reflection on the past 12 months.

The biggest change, beyond geography, was leaving a comfortable job in Chicago which reliably paid me every two weeks in exchange for at least 80 hours of work. How strange. I was told where to be and what work to do Monday through Friday for the majority of my waking hours. Also strange, I was guaranteed money. Coming to IC meant it was up to me to gather work, what decisions I made while working, and convince people to pay me for doing said work. While it’s a lot easier to sit on my butt and have the work brought to me, it’s not so much easier when you’re daydreaming about what else you could be doing. Also… 40 hours a week? It’s America’s standard after all. But the perspective of just how demanding that is shifted when I left that scene. You know how it’s always harder to go back to work when you return from vacation? Typically (as a 9-5er) you don’t even think about making a choice when your alarm goes off—beyond whether or not you want to snooze and be late… again—you just get up and go. Leaving town, or even a staycation, helps to literally distance you from the routine. You start to think about all the other ways you can fill your time. All the other things you wanted to do… to read… to think about… to drink over, that your job is either logistically keeping you from time-wise or consuming so much of your energy or mental capacity that you have little to give during your off-time. And then you return from that vacation, and usually you feel more bummed out than rested. Well the same goes for living the life of a freelancer. It’s hard to imagine giving up all of that self-fulfillment (or at least a more purposeful drive/search/responsibility for self-fulfillment) in exchange for something as “measly” as security—though I can’t say there aren’t days where I look back just a wee bit wistfully on the ol’ reliable paychecks… (and of course the ol’ reliable officemates!)

On a less-than-100%-satisfied note, I’ve also learned that even (or do I mean especially?) some of the fun and do-good projects have a boatload of politics involved. This year has helped me to further solidify the notion that working with good people who do good things doesn’t always mean a good work process or a good group dynamic. It’s kind of the idealistic student dream (mine) to land these jobs/projects that are entirely for honorable causes. Well a) what exactly is an honorable cause? and b) these projects are often still riddled with disfunction on some, or many, levels.

::sigh:: So with that said… yes, I am officially still pleased to not have a full-time job. When I hit a couple slow (ok, realistically, they were dead) months over the summer, I was worried about rent. And even then, I turned down an offer for a full-time position and instead took on a part-time job to make ends meet. Maybe one day… especially one day where I have much more responsibility in my life… will I return to the stability of that former lifestyle. Until then, flexibility and harder, more rewarding work for me, please.

Now that’s a love story.

This remarkable couple personifies the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of every day people if we take the time to listen.

From StoryCorps comes this beautiful story from Danny and Annie Perasa. I’m not sold on the animation style… I feel as though it cheeses it up a bit when the recording itself is so sincere. But who cares, it’s all lovely anyway.

If you don’t know StoryCorps, I’ll let their website do the introducing:

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

The heart of StoryCorps is the conversation between two people who are important to each other: a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary. By helping people to connect, and to talk about the questions that matter, the StoryCorps experience is powerful and sometimes even life-changing.

Carissa Potter

I came across the website of Carissa Potter from my friend Dan’s facebook post.

Is that weird?

Regardless. Check it out. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll make you feel warm and fuzzy, and perhaps even sad.

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Love + Work

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workspace of Sean Auyeung and Anna Corpron, the husband-wife duo known as Sub-Studio from NYC.

I’ve looked through The Strange Attractor’s Creative Couple series a little while back, but just came across Design Love at the blog of idsgn recently. TSA’s series started in November of ’09 and their last post was in July. They conducted interviews with “creative couples” (designers, artists, illustrators, musicians, etc.) to chat about their work, space, challenges and benefits of working with someone they love. Head over to each interview to read them in their entirety and see accompanying photos, but here’s a couple snippets from the interviews:

From Caleb Beyers and Hanahlie Beise: What are the benefits of living/working together?
C: We’re never really “off the clock” there are no arguments that start with “you’ve just been working too much.” We do go through periods that make us realize how important it is to take breaks, and to make time for each other.

H: The disadvantage would be that we are functioning as a couple and as business partners. It’s hard to be critical of your partner (couple) and take criticism. We have to break down the emotional barriers and comfort zones that most couples face.

And from Melissa & JW Buchanan from The Little Friends of Printmaking:
We’re a team. And I feel like our relationship is stronger for having worked together so much. Sometimes I think about the hours I have to work and the sacrifices I have to make to complete our projects, and I can’t imagine how I would explain or justify that to someone who wasn’t as invested in the process as Melissa.

From Anna Wolf and Mike Perry: What’s it like working with your better half?
A: Amazing. We work really well together. We do travel a lot so that we have our space… and when we’re in the studio together, we go for hours without talking. We just get into our thing and don’t come out of it until the day is over.

M: We both trust each other and believe in each other’s work. But its great because at the same time Anna loves telling me that something of mine sucks. We keep it open and honest. That said we don’t do that many projects together.

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The Design Love series asks similar questions, but limits it strictly to designers who both live and work together. In July, idsgn interviewed the husband-wife duo David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler from the Brooklyn studio, Triboro. (A few months back, I posted some photos of the Triboro Leftovers, remember their beauty?)

What are the best and worst parts of living and working together?
We are very fortunate that we work so well together and that we are able to spend so much time together each day. In some ways the traditional business/life structure seems backwards—spending 8-10 hours a day with people you may or may not get along with, while spending the margins of your life with loved ones.

We like that design is a forgiving profession when it comes to combining work/life balance. We know plenty of people who have maintained a design practice while raising kids at home. Technology has made this more possible, but there is something too about the nature of the work that allows for this flexibility. With our schedule we have the luxury to cook our meals, run errands easily or fit in exercise.

(…) A downside to our situation is that the exchange with people at an office can also be very inspiring—all the different personalities and experiences in one place converging. We find now that we get a lot of this inspiration from our client relationships. Another downside is that weekends and evenings are no longer sacred. We find ourselves working a lot.

And a couple others…

From Jake and Pum Lefebure of Design Army: Anyone who’s looking for balancing work and life is probably not truly enjoying what they do. I ‘integrate’ work to life and make it fun.

From husband-and-wife couple Creighton Mershon and Jessi Arrington of WORKSHOP: Could you be married to a bad designer, or a designer that didn’t challenge you?

C: I don’t think so.

J: No. Next question. [Laughs]

WORDS

Words. What do words do for us? Are they necessary? Can you live without them? Can you think without them? Can you dream without them?

From a recent Radiolab show is an hour about words. It’s worth a listen. And to accompany the show, a lovely video was created by Daniel Mercadante & Will Hoffman from Everynone with an original score by Keith Kenniff.

Black and WTF

I have a habit of keeping a million tabs open at a time in my browser that I want to look at and assume I’ll go back to when I have more time. This page, Black and WTF, has been hanging out for a few days (which sadly means I forget where I found it). It’s a tumblr page that just posts old, often ridiculous, photos sent in by folks everywhere. Here’s some favorites from the first few pages:

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