There’s something amazing about putting the two terms ‘guerilla’ and ‘wayfinding’ together. Guerilla connotes a small group of revolutionary riffraff, usually running around under cover of darkness and/or bandanna, just generally fucking shit up. Wayfinding is a kinda the opposite of that, a service provided for order that reminds me of being in a museum and not knowing where the bathroom is. But Matt Tomasulo, a friend of mine in Raleigh and general civic-minded rabblerouser has found a great way to put the two together.
In early January, he and a few pals spent a dreary night engaging in some good ol’ guerrilla wayfinding. They printed up a series of simple signs letting the public know that it was just a short walk from where they were standing to a museum, green space, or point of interest not too far away. Brilliant in it’s simplicity, and meant to empower pedestrians to retake bipedal ownership of their city, people loved it. But unfortunately capital-R Raleigh didn’t – mostly because the signs were illegal. At that point though, word had spread like wildfire, and with a bit of hustling and a lot of signatures, Matt was able to convince the city to reinstate the project as a pilot program and the signs are (I believe) on their way back up.
Since I’ve known Matt, I’ve always had a ton of respect for the guy. He’s a civic-minded guy using his entreprenurial skills (go buy a shirt/tote from CityFabric) to back his civic-minded projects. His vision is having a two-pronged business; one side of it is selling merchandise that encourages conversations about place, but the other side is funded by the first, and consists of big thinking projects that use the city as the canvas for his design.
Building off the success of his Walk Raleigh campaign, Matt’s got a second Kickstarter project up right now to fund an open-source platform for creating your own guerilla wayfinding signs, similar to the ones he created for Raleigh. On the site, you’ll be able to put your starting point (where the sign gets posted) and destination, and print out a pdf with the signature “It’s a ___ minute walk from here to ___.”
Raleigh’s lucky to have someone as creative as Matt walking the streets and seeing it as an opportunity for better design. I’ve tried to poach him away to Durham, but for now, I’ll have to witness his work from up I-40.
Sometimes I take my local NPR station for granted. I don’t mean to do it. In fact I hate that I do. The programming has become such a routine part of my commuter/late twenty-something life that I can’t really imagine life without it. Unfortunately for NPR, the times that I’m listening usually tend to be while I’m busy doing something else. My attention is always divided, never fully devoted to a show. Occasionally, however, I’ll hear a segment that will make me stop what I’m doing and focus. Really focus. It’s captured my imagination in a way that watching TV or reading a blog (ahem) never do.
Recently, I experienced this while listening to The State of Things on WUNC. It’s an excellent show about life & living in North Carolina that features an eclectic mix of guests and features. Recently the show’s host, Frank Stasio, announced that The State of Things was rolling out a new weekly segment about a crime fighting superhero called The Jade City Pharaoh. The amazing thing about the show? It features the first African American superhero in the history of radio. Wham!
Here’s how the show is described on WUNC.org -
“Welcome to Jade City: Join hero Herald MF Jones as he protects the people of Jade City from a corrupt criminal called The Beef Cooker and his money-hungry henchmen on WUNC’s new super spectacular bad ass radio drama series, “Jade City Pharaoh.”
Super spectacular bad ass indeed. I love that in the middle of a workday, bookended by nonstop blabbering about America’s Next Top Republican, I can escape to Jade City. If only for ten minutes. Bravo, NPR.
Listen to the pilot episode here -
*The image above is my quick visual homage to the show.
(he swears he won’t outsource his posts to his daughter Jana)
Big news, people! Please help me in giving a warm welcome to our newest contributor Michael Lassiter from Durham, NC!
Michael is an outstanding freelance designer with a great eye for clean design & minimalist compositions. His critical eye will be a wonderful addition to our team, and we are happy to have him. You can start expecting Michael’s posts to drop every Thursday starting next week. In the meantime, take a peak at his blog & learn more about Michael on our team page.
You know Merge Records. The Durham (woo!) based label that represents the likes of Richard Buckner, Spoon, She & Him, and The Rosebuds. The label started by Mac & Laura of Superchunk. The label behind Arcade Fire’s grammy winning ‘best album of the year.’ You know, the label with the one woman art department… Say whaaaa!?
Yup, Maggie Fost runs the design show at Merge, and she does it all by herself.
I had the pleasure of working in the same building as Merge Records for a a couple of years, so I got to know Maggie during my time there. She’s one of those rare creatures that is both incredibly creative and yet is somehow incredibly organized at the same time. It’s a good thing too, because a one person art department at a successful record label is a very busy bee.
I’ve been thinking a lot about independent designers lately, as I recently quit my job to try my hand at freelancing. One of the things I know I’ll miss most, and something I always wonder if Maggie misses, is always having an outstanding creative team. It can certainly be difficult for designers to collaborate on projects, because it can result in disparate perspectives being forced to respect and work with one another. Which is especially tricky given that designers aren’t exactly sheepish with their opinions. BUT… when a team clicks, or when they can at least argue themselves into deferential understanding, the payoff can be enormous. Both in terms of calibre of work and the shared gratification that comes from successes. It just feels awesome to take a step back and look at something you’ve created, then turn to your compadres in triumph and say ‘Guys, we fucking ruled the farm on this one.’
A group of my colleagues partnered with the Coalition to Unchain Dogs recently to help them promote their annual benefit concert. We were excited to be working with such a great organization, especially when based out of durty Durham. Above is the poster concept I put together for the benefit. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but they opted for my colleagues concept instead. Das-ok though, great one for the folio!
I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Stefan Hoffmann over the last week or so at Duke University. Although I’m not a student anymore (alas), I’ve been sitting in on a printmaking class to learn how to silkscreen. Stefan is the visiting Duke to do an installation at the library (more below) and joined us in class to critique our work and help us along in the process.
Stefan’s own work is a truly unique style of screenprinting – that is, he does most of his printing on vertical surfaces: windows, walls, etc. His process is to visit a location, figure out a plan once he’s arrived, and begin printing and removing and printing and removing until the overall aesthetic works itself out. His source material is usually iconographic, historical or contextual to the location. He often films the process, so you can see the transformation slowly take shape.
For local Durham / Triangle peeps, tonight is the reception for his installation in Duke’s Perkins Library in the Gothic Reading Room on the second floor. More deets here. (Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it. Sadness.)
In any case, Stefan has been really great to work with – he helped me through a particularly challenging layer on a piece I’m working on – and does some really cool work. Check out tons more on his site and a video and a few more pics below.
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Check out this year’s Rock N’ Shop poster by local (Raleigh/Durham) talent Jamie Van Wart. Jamie is proving to be one of the brightest, most prolific young talents around. Rock N’ Shop is shaping up to be a good time – be sure to check it out.
Two design and planning graduates from NC State recently started a line of city inspired t-shirts called CityFabric. The screen-printed shirts feature figure-ground diagrams of cities ranging from Durham, NC to San Francisco. They currently have 17 cities to choose from. Go check out their website and support local business! Now I only need to decide whether I want the shirt for where I live or where I wish I lived…
Leigh is a friend of mine that I met in the art program at UNC. Since graduation we’ve haven’t kept in touch as much as we should, so I was so glad to hear from her regarding updates on her work. It’s been really interesting watching Leigh’s work progress over the years. I usually believe that an artist never really gets ‘better’ at their craft, because defining better in the realm of art is kind of a mind-fuck. I think artists just go through different phases & stages (ehem) and the thought of defining one period of work as better then another is just naive.
Well… I suppose I’m naive, because I think Leigh’s latest stuff really is better than her earlier work. Maybe it’s because I know the artist & the later pieces more accurately reflect the personality that I remember her by. Maybe it’s just because I like the newer pieces more aesthetically. Maybe it’s just because all art is subjective & you can’t put shitty rules around it (remind me how art school works again!?). OR… maybe you should just read the artist statement on her site if you want to actually learn something about the work.
Regardless – her latest piece (top) is badass. And it looks like something out of Darren Aronofsky’s new film Black Swan. Which will probably also rule.
This one is for all you local Durhamite OK Greatsters -
Two weekends ago was the third installment of what I hope continues to be a really amazing event in Durham – the Yum Yum Supper. Quote the Yum Yum website:
The Yum Yum Supper Club is a fresh bunch of humans interested in a cooperative exploration of food, timely celebrations, and the tilting of the planet in the North Carolina Piedmont.
Sounds awesome, right? It was. For the not insignificant price of $28 pp, I had high expectations for the night. It started off with some casual conversations and drinks at the Central Park Pavilion(where the farmers market is held) – sangria and wine – along with some bocce ball and croquet on the field. Wandering around I noticed a table with some peculiar objects:
Getting better, I thought. What better way to celebrate the true downtown heritage of Durham than finishing off a hopefully-delicious meal with a post-prandial cigarette and tie-on moustache (apologies for all crappy iphone pics)
So finally the dinner bell was rung and we sat down at a beautifully set table with a bottle of wine between nearly every other seat (big thumbs up). What followed was a truly delicious meal, filled with local ingredients (bacon or pork belly was featured in every course, including the chocolate chip and bacon cookies for dessert – amazing – and yes there was a veggie option), and great company. The chef, Chris Holloway of Southern Season, put out unbelievable food for over 100 YumYummers and then prior to the dessert course, (said cookies and jack and coke floats – I’m salivating now thinking about those) came out and gave one of the most impassioned “I Love Durham” + “I Love Food” speeches I’ve heard anywhere, and everyone got all warm and fuzzy (or maybe just drunk on wine).
Anyway, there’s more photos on the site (including a sort of horrible, sort of hilarious one of me and my lovely in moustaches) and more details about the club. Looks like the next one will be sometime in the fall, so all y’all locals makes sure you check it out.
Needless to say, my $28 expectations were wholeheartedly exceeded on all fronts.