Penmanship show

I was asked to be a part of the Penmanship show at Vox Populi, something curated by the very talented Grayhood, Mikey Burton, & Elysse Ricci, which was subsequently a kick off to the Design Philadelphia week, which I also had the chance to do some posters for. Needless to say, I was excited to be a part of the excitement!

The theme for this show was “penmanship”, and one of the only things I had to work from was this quote:

“A man’s penmanship is an unfailing index of his character, moral and mental, and a criterion by which to judge his peculiarities of taste and sentiments.”
—Philip Dormer Stanhope, Man of Letters

Because of the freedom and looseness to the theme, it left me at a loss for quite a bit. I sketched and sketched which sadly only resulted in failing ideas. I finally revisited the quote and looked outside of the quotations for some inspiration. I imagined what it would be like if there was a club or society called “Men Of Letters.” This took me in a new direction and it brought me to where I ended up. I wanted it to be representative of the act of making lines to form the letters of the alphabet, but also then the idea of taking those letters to form words, and those words to compose letters that you send in the mail.

It was really beautiful to see all the posters hanging together, knowing everyone put some serious thought into how they would represent this idea. For having some many designers take part in this, there was an obvious variety to the work, but also and impressively, a synthesis to everything. The show will be up until the 23rd, and I strongly suggest trying to make it out. I’m also hearing rumors of a closing show??? I’ll let you know if that’s happening. Probably though twitter.

It was also awesome to finally meet some people who’s work I’ve been following and admiring for some time and find out that they are regular people. Okay, some are super humans. But they still occasionally participate in some normal human activities.

(Photo courtesy of  Jim Viola.)

River City Extension at The Stone Pony 2011 poster

I was fortunate enough to have another to opportunity to make a poster for one of my favorite bands, River City Extension. They’ve sort of made it annual thing to come home and play a show at The Stone pony once a year and it’s been falling on the eve of Thanksgiving, and it’s become something that a lot of people, myself included, look forward to. Joe had shared with me his vision of making this show something people would dress up really nicely for .”Something like a wedding invitation” he told me. Not that this is like a typical wedding invitation, but that was the jumping point.

I started by sketching out a few quick ideas, and when I found the one I wanted to run with, I went into illustrator and started making it happen. I don’t normally post the beginnings of things, but I’d like to start, and no better example than this one.

Definitely proof that knowing what you want to do before you start doing it ALWAYS helps. And it’s sort of funny that things really didn’t end up too far from the original sketch.

Hope to see some of you at the show, wearing something sharp, of course. Get your tickets early, these guys have a bad habit of selling out. Also, rumor has it there will be a few of these posters at the show if you’re looking to pick one up.

Live Free Or Die

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! I’ve been feeling very inspired by hand painted signage and all things Americana lately, and this weekend was a perfect time to try to incorporate both of those things into something. I’m definitely not the type of person who believes that just because we live in America we are inherently better than anyone else or worth anything more. I’ve come to look at the phrase “God Bless America” with disdain because there’s a whole rest of the world that needs a blessing as well. Sometimes this kind of patriotism just rubs me the wrong way.
However, I do recognize that America is a great country where you are (for the most part) free to be who you are and do what you like. The areas where I feel we are behind are constantly moving forward, and that stuff makes me proud. New Hampshire’s “Live Free Or Die” is my favorite state motto because of it’s simplicity, directness, and truth. Living free is the only way to live. Now go shoot off a few fire crackers before the weekend is done. But be safe, it’s live free OR die, not live free AND die.

Music Monday 5.2.11 Charles Bradley

I discovered Charles Bradley after Paste named him one of their favorite artists from SXSW, then I saw this video, and I was hooked. I don’t know how you can hear that song and not be intrigued to listen to more. There’s a very clear and obvious James Brown influence in the way he looks and a bit of a James Brown meets Otis Redding influence in the way he sounds, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Pretty exciting that something like this is happening now. It looks like his shows would be an absolute joy to be at. Check out his moves in this awesome cover of one of my favorite songs of all time, Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold.

I’m trying to talk a little less about what I’m listening to, because really it’s only reason to make something, and more about what it took to make the poster and the struggles I had and the things I’ve learned. For this poster I knew I wanted to have the silhouette of his head take up the majority of the space, and I knew I wanted it to have a rough, painted-looking edge around some parts, but I also intended to have another silhouette of him dancing cutting in from one of the edges. Well, this idea was just NOT working. I tried it in just about every size, from every side, in every angle, and nothing looked right. I was so stuck on this idea and it was really preventing me from getting it right. It wasn’t until I finally let it go and tried something else that I was able to get it right and solve the problem. It didn’t turn out completely the way I imagined it, but it turned out the right way. Never be too attached to an idea just because you thought it would work. If it’s not working, throw it away and try something else, more often than not, you’ll find the right thing to do.

Music Monday 4.4.11 Fleet Foxes

It comes as no surprise that Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues is another incredible album. If anyone had doubts, I think this really shows that Fleet Foxes are cut from a different cloth than other bands right now. Helplessness Blues is pretty much everything I had hoped for in this forthcoming album, and I honestly couldn’t be more pumped about it than I am. Well worth the 3 year wait since their last release, and that’s really not always the case. I doubt anyone doesn’t know who Fleet Foxes are at this point, so all I will say is that you’d be so silly to not be listening to this.

As far as the poster design goes, I locked down the color scheme first and went from there. Not something I usually do, but using different places as a starting point is sometimes a good way to fight a creative block.

127 Hours Poster

I finally got to see 127 Hours this weekend, and after I did, I thought it would be good to make something in regards to it. Not that this movie poster was in need of a redesign, the one it had was actually really great, but I just wanted to make one in my own style.

If you haven’t seen this movie, make a point to catch it at some point, James Franco is great in it. The movie’s pretty difficult to watch at some parts, and the fact that this is based on a true story makes it even more so.

There’s a very distinct color scheme in the movie which I hope to have captured with this.

Super Bowl XLV

I followed football closer this year than I have any year since 1999. This was in part of joining a fantasy league through my work. It was good to get introduced to a whole bunch of players I’d never heard of, and see which teams got awesome, and which ones became horrible. Oddly enough, I’ve been following the Packers all year because I drafted their QB Aaron Rodgers, and so I usually wound up watching their games every week. He’s one of the most exciting players to watch, and is a really stand out player with a long career ahead of him. On top of really liking Green Bay this year, I’ve never liked the Steelers and so, I’m going Green Bay all the way!

I made this poster mainly because I made one last year, but I figured this could be something I do every year. Even if you don’t like football, it’ always fun to pick a team and watch the Super Bowl with some friends. So go ahead and make that happen.

Music Monday 1.17.11 Fleet Foxes

Hadn’t listened to Fleet Foxes in quite some time, and it was nice to hop back to that album for a little bit. Apparently their new album is done and mastered  and will be out this year. God knows we’ve waited long enough.

The idea for this poster came to me right before I fell asleep last night, which you can’t ask for something nicer than that. And if I had to give one tip as a designer, it would be to never stop looking for and being open to inspiration, it’s everywhere and just waiting to reveal itself to you.

Music Monday 1.3.11 The Tallest Man On Earth

Still very obsessed with The Tallest Man On Earth and so I made a companion piece to the poster I made last week. It’s like a night and day thing. A land and sea thing. You can see that though, I mean, obviously. But yea, this guy is incredible, every song is incredible, and I’m just wrapped up in all of it.

Listened to Real Estate for the first time in a while this past week. That was a huge album for me in 2010, which I would have easily put on the best of the year list, but it actually came out in 2009. Still, a really fantastic album that is surprisingly appropriate for every season of the year.

I wonder if next week will be a 3rd poster for TTMON…. do people abbreviate it like that? Sorry, I’m tired.

Music Monday 12.27.10 The Tallest Man On Earth

I contemplated listening to The Tallest Man On Earth many times and never got around to it, and this week I finally put and end to that, simultaneously ending one of my worst, and making one of my best decisions. I guess I just pegged him as something different, a bit more average. But this is some of the most incredible songwriting I’ve heard in a long while. I’m really blown away by his latest abum The Wild Hunt, which features, like the rest of his recordings just guitar and voice. But for being so minimal, it’s really cavernous in the way it sounds. He throws in these melodies and little vocal reflections that you could never anticipate, and that keeps everything very exciting. The obvious comparison to Bob Dylan is truer than most Dylan comparisons, and if someone’s going to carry that cross, I’d be fine with it being Kristian.

If you’re wondering if you should listen to him, you absolutely should. So glad I squeezed this in before the year’s end. Happy listening.

Music Monday 12.13.10 Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi is infamous for scoring the music for the Peanuts movies and television specials, not the least of which being A Charlie Brown Christmas, which just so happens to have become synonymous with Christmas itself, putting Vince Guaraldi in that category as well. This album is perhaps the most perfect Christmas music ever made. It’s at heart a jazz album, though I don’t think it’s recognized as one. Mostly because it’s voice is so much louder than just that. If this can’t get you in the Christmas mood, you’re a hopeless grinch. This is one of the most classic albums of any genre, of any time, and the fact that it’s a Christmas album just gives us something to look forward to every year.

This is an absolute must own album. We’ve still got a few more weeks before Christmas, and you should be playing this throughout.

Sufjan Steven’s Songs For Christmas is the new classic, and between these two you should be set on appropriate Christmas music for life.

Anyway, the iconic Christmas-tree-in-need-of-love seemed to be the perfect subject for this poster.
I know these next few days can be very stressful, but try to relax and enjoy this very special time of year.

Music Monday 12.6.10 Sufjan Stevens

So here’s another embarrassingly late Music Monday post with none other than our boy Sufjan Stevens. I’d be lying if I said I don’t eagerly wait until Dec. 1st to appropriately break out his Songs For Christmas. Talk about a collection; this guy put out a BOX SET of Christmas music. Over the past few years it has become the soundtrack of my Decembers, and have the intention for it to be that way for years to come. Let’s face it, he’s a king, and this should come as no surprise to anyone. If you don’t have this, well, you’re on the internet, fix that problem.

Also got into The Hellacopters this week. It’s some good old rock music that sort of makes you feel like a cool guy listening to it. I mean, this is the most pathetic description ever. Just think MC5 or something like that.

Music Monday 11.21.10 Squeeze

So I know this is more than a little overdue, and I know it’s far from being a Monday, but hey, some weeks are just like that. So let’s get to it…

About two weeks ago I was lucky enough to pick up the vinyl of a favorite record of mine, Squeeze’s Singles 45′s and Under. It’s basically a collection of some hits from Squeeze, but unlike some singles compilations, this one was released by the band, which always seems to make it more legitimate. Regardless, this album is really filled with songs that honestly get better every time I listen to them. The back half of this record keeps getting better and better and it ends with Annie Get Your Gun which I could probably listen to on repeat for an hour.

It’s sort of funny because Squeeze just put out a new album (new recordings of old songs) on XOXO records, home to River City Extension. Glenn Tilbrook has taking a liking to the band, and actually sings on one of their songs. I’m hoping that sooner of later our paths cross, because you know, that would be awesome.

This poster was strongly influenced (okay, almost entirely) by their song Black Coffee In Bed, which if you aren’t familiar with, please check it out now.

Attack Of The Soundtrack

So I got to work with NJ funny man, personality, and all around nice dude, Taylor Allen, on this poster for his radio show, Attack Of The Soundtrack. He came to me with not much more than name of the show, the idea of a record with teeth, and the free range to do something cool. I love when clients are so kind.

If you’re into laughing, music, movies, or any combination of these things, check out the radio show. Taylor is a great guy and quite deserving of your attention.

Beauty And The Beast

This past Friday marked another show Nom Now got to be a part of, this time at the very awesome Studio: Christensen. The show was fairy tale themed, so we decided to do some interpretations of some famous fairy tales, and I chose Beauty And The Beast.

I don’t assume you’re heard to brush up on the story, but if you’d like to, do so. Knowing the story certainly makes sense of the poster.

The entire piece is encapsulated in one giant tear drop, which is of course the key to the beast becoming a handsome prince. 
So, big thanks to JT, the prince who runs the gallery, and to Christos who put the show on, and to everyone who came out, or wanted to, and to all our friends who braved parking in Rittenhouse on a Friday night to see the show and hang out. If anyone’s a huge Beauty And The Beast fan, I do have some posters left and I’d be glad to hook you up. The show will be up for a month or so, so if you want to see the rest of our stuff, and the other pieces from the other great artists, you have some time to catch it. But don’t wait too long, time seems to be flying by these days.

Music Monday 11.15.10 Kanye West

I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan, to the point now, where I’m not sure if I’m a fan at all. I liked his first album, and the next two each a little less than the one before, and didn’t even listen to his last album at all. So when I heard he had a new album coming out, I wondered what I had missed in the few years I spent away from him. This new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was greeted with some early praises, and I had been seeing a slew of people give it praises I could tell were hyperbolic before I even listened to it. There was no way this could be the best album of the decade. Unless you were starting a new decade from the day you heard it. Maybe then. I don’t want to knock Kanye too much, because I think he’s a decently skilled lyricist and his samples are usually interesting, and this album really isn’t bad, but I will say I think he’s way past his prime, and also a jackass.

Nonetheless, in thinking about him more than I have in a long time, I realized that everything about his persona, and his iconic personality, would make for a great poster. So this idea came to me and I went with it.

Also noteworthy is Good Old War’s self titled album. I’m actually happy that this album feels like a continuation of their last. They’re clearly good at what they do, and that’s what I want to hear them doing. Some bands need to realize this and accept it, Good Old War seems to have done both.

Music Monday 11.1.10 Sufjan Stevens

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Sufjan’s yet again at the top of my listening charts this week. The fact that he was a discography the size of the real Illinois certainly helps, but it’s mostly because by the time I’m done listening to to one album, I want to move onto another. This process can go on for sometime as he’s got quite the range of albums stylistically.

Anyway, some of you may know that the name “Sufjan” means “comes with a sword.” And that is the key to this poster. Sufjan’s sword is certainly not literal, but it is absolutely metaphorical.

I also finally got a chance to see Local Natives this past week. And boy oh boy, really glad that happened. They said the first time they played Philly it was for 2 people at The Khyber… all things considered, what an enormous way they’ve come. The Troc was packed to the brim, and it was shaking at times. I would certainly do your best to see them anytime you can.

When Did You Choose To Be Straight?

Two nights ago I got into a fight on Facebook. Not something I’d normally be proud of (necessarily ;)), but it was one of those instances where you are unable to hold back and you know you are signing  yourself off for a night of back and forth arguing. I’m sure you can tell the nature of the argument by looking at the poster, but if it’s unclear, a girl was claiming that people aren’t born gay, that it’s a choice you make, and on top of it all, it’s wrong.

The fact that people believe this is appalling to me, and so for better or worse I entered into what became a huge debate between me and some future members of the Westboro baptist church. I don’t know if it got anywhere (arguments online rarely do) but I felt glad that I stood up against something I believed was absolutely wrong. My final input to this 80 plus comment bomb, was a single line informing her that I was deleting her as a friend.

You’re not going to talk much sense into people like this, they’re too caught up in their own twisted belief, but one question that no one cared to answer was the one on the poster above. It seems simple enough to answer… or not. But in its unanswerable quality, you kind of see where I’m going with it.

So a few things… I hope you’ve all remembered to wear purple today, it’s a seemingly small action, but anything raising awareness is not only important, but integral. Secondly, be brave in confronting people, standing up for what you believe, and do not be afraid to take the leap and delete anyone on facebook who is holding onto these ideas of hate and homophobia. You’re better off without them.

I’m beyond looking for tolerance and am looking for complete equality and acceptance.

Music Monday 10.18.10 The Black Keys

I’m just loving everything about The Black Keys lately. It’s bluesy, riff heavy, and you actually feel cooler just listening to it. I have to put the windows down and turn the music up anytime I’m listening to them in the car. It’s funny how certain music has that command, and these guys are one of those bands. I have to admit, I was sort of late on this band, not really listening to them until this summer when I heard them on a hot ride into Philadelphia with Mike in Wechter’s old truck. That sort of seemed like the perfect setting for them. Their latest album Brothers is definitely one of the best releases this year.

Another band I’m late to the game on is Miniature Tigers. I finally wised up and checked them out this week and was so glad I did. River City Extension is playing with them tomorrow night in Brooklyn, and if you like either of those bands and can make it out, that’s a show not to miss.

Black Churches. One of my favorite bands, some of my favorite people, and another band where the windows go down and the volume goes up. These guys have been blessed with the strange ability to write a song better than the last one they wrote. Sort of unfair for the rest of us, but so long as they’re continuing writing music, I’ll be benefiting in some way.

Ba Babes just released their new EP called Hate The Beach which they have put online for free. If I were you, I’d download that right now. It’s classified in my iTunes as “garage wave” which is a pretty decent indicator of what you’re going to get. These guys are doing it the right way, and I expect big things from them. They have a split cassette with Dark Surfers coming out on Cassanova Cassettes very soon. Stay peeled for that one.

Music Monday 10.11.10 The Avett Brothers

It’s funny to me that in all these times of doing Music Mondays I’ve yet to make a poster for the band that I love more than any other; The Avett Brothers. These guys just released their third live album, Live, Vol. 3. and as far as their live albums go, this one is the one. For a band who’s become known for their live show, it does a really nice job of putting a bow on it. I’m going to refrain from saying something like “you can feel the energy” but let’s just if I had a cooler way to say it I would. And I pretty much already did. This band can really do no wrong, and this is just another example of how true that really is.