I've noted before how much I love the opportunity to combine my passions for design and progressive politics. So it was a real pleasure to work with my friend Pat Lang - who is running for U.S. Congress to fight for Ohio's middle class families in the 15th District - on his campaign identity. Lang is a son of Appalachia who, like me, attended Ohio University. He was elected to Athens City Council as an undergraduate. After graduating law school, Lang served as an assistant county prosecutor before beating a 30-year incumbent to become Athens' Law Director. His opponent, should he get past the march Democratic primary, will be Rep. Steve Stivers, a career banking lobbyist. The contrast couldn't be more obvious.
"I’m running for congress because I grew up in a small Appalachian town - as a child, my parents could sometimes afford to heat just one room of the house in winter time," Lang says. "When the coal mines closed and neighbors got laid off, I saw things go from tough to tougher. That’s why it is so frustrating to watch Congress and see a whole lot of nothing. We can do better. We can start by ensuring a strong middle class, protecting Medicare for seniors and creating jobs. That’s why I’m running for Congress." And that's why I am so eager to work with Pat.
As I set out on the design, I knew I wanted a bold, optimistic look for Lang's name that matched his Midwestern populism and work ethic. Inspired by typefaces like the sturdy Borgstrand Pro, I created a thick, geometric face for his name, which from a design perspective is a good one because it's so short. My next move was taking the counter of the "A" in his name and turning it into a simplified outline of the state Lang hopes to represent.
When I shifted to the descriptor, I wanted the kind of contrast a serif typeface could provide. I didn't want anything too weak and, armed with the desire for something with a more contemporary flair, I chose the sturdy and attractive Archer. From there, it quickly became time to settle on a color scheme. Blue and red, of course, is nothing new in political design - or as shorthand for left and right. I did consider green, which I feel is synonymous in political design not with the Green Party but with one of my all-time heros, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who once said:
"The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
I decided to leave green with Sen. Wellstone, so in working within the traditional color scheme I settled upon a bold blue, a strong red, and, for accent, a lighter blue to complement both when used. To me, the blue of Lang's name speaks to his Democratic politics, while the red of the descriptor represents how his middle class advocacy speaks to both sides of the aisle. The end result is what you see above. There will be more to share as Lang's campaign rolls on (yard signs, bumper stickers, etc.), but I wanted to show you our first steps. In the meantime, go, Pat, go!
Full disclosure: I'm completely ashamed that I only came across Cleveland-based illustrator Julia Kuo's work just yesterday. Better late than never, I know, but come on. What talent! Kuo has worked with, among others, the New York Times, Capitol Records, and Little, Brown and Company, and is also part of The Nimbus Factory, a small paper goods concern. There's so much to discover in every one of her pieces. Kuo's attention to detail - especially what to include and exclude - is met by a remarkable use of color. To get a closer glimpse at the scope of Kuo's talent, look no further than her 100 Days in Cleveland project, truly a love letter written to her surroundings. And, while you're at it, dig deep into her portfolio. Here are some of my favorites:
I love working on logos. Each project presents another opportunity to distill a concept to its most essential core. But what happens when you take key parts of logos out of their context and, therefore, their intended meaning? I thought I'd give it a try. Below, abstracted from some recent work, is the result:
We're in love with our new Inspector Stamp, the latest product offering from the official letterpress printer of Northcoast Zeitgeist, Cranky Pressman. The stamps are small (the live area is a little less than .75"), portable, self-inking, and are available in three colors. And they're now for sale - for the nice price of $23. We've already been putting our stamp to good use. They're perfect for the return address area of an envelope, as seen above. They're also going to be helpful in editioning limited runs of artwork - much nicer than my terrible handwriting.
Keith and Jamie at Cranky Pressman were kind enough to let us get our hands on an Inspector Stamp a little early, and I already can't wait to order another for Casey, who's got a home library's worth of academic books to claim as her own. So run, don't walk, to Cranky Pressman and order your own Inspector Stamp. And remember, the medium itself poses a unique set of challenges, so be sure to read Cranky's handy fine print before you get started. Thanks again, Keith and Jamie, we love seeing our design come to life.
I got to know Jana Kinsman at WMC Fest last summer, as she was in Cleveland to speak in her role as one-fifth of Quite Strong. Well Jana's got an updated website and it's really worth your time. As you'll see, there's a lot there, a testament to her talent and Midwestern work ethic. Something else I appreciate about Jana's work is that there's a definite wit and style to it. If your own work has a style - meaning there's no mistaking who's behind it when you see it - it's a great day when people begin coming to you for that style and not just to shoehorn you into a preconceived look or, just as likely, a preconceived fee. Go check out Jana's site! Until then, here are some of my favorite projects of hers:
I'm completely mesmerized by this video, "time lapse sequences of photographs taken with a special low-light 4K-camera by the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011." Truly amazing. I think you'll agree.
One of the best retail events this area offers is Made in the 216, the brainchild of Room Service and Dredgers Union founder Danielle DeBoe. Specifically, Made in the 216 "is a shopping event designed to tout the design community of Cleveland and to support those that have chosen to stay and base their creative endeavors right here in 'the 216'. By showcasing the designers along with musicians and caterers in a setting merchandised and designed to look like a fun and engaging retail space, the guests are encouraged to explore and discover the products and shop and have fun!" Great news: This year's holiday event is right around the corner!
Opening soon is the 2011 Made in the 216 Holiday Shoppe, which will call Room Service home from November 25 through December 31. The shop-within-a-shop, located at 2078 West 25th Street in Cleveland (a stone's throw from the West Side Market), will feature more than 60+ area designers' wares. We fully support events like Made in the 216, so we're super excited to report that there's going to be a little 330 invasion of this year's winter event! That's right, when you shop at Made in the 216 this year, you'll have the chance to purchase sets of our Ohio mini-prints!
It's a real honor to have been asked to participate in such a worthwhile event! And I'm not kidding when I say Made in the 216 is an event. Because it's not just a pop-up shop. It's a pop-up shop with an amazing opening night. Here's the fine print:
2011 Made in the 216 Holiday Shoppe
This 5 Week long Shop within a shop featuring 60+ Cleveland-based designers' goods will once again be held INSIDE Room Service.
Kickoff Party on Black Friday
Store will be open from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Black Friday. DJ Pleasure Cruise will join us around 4 p.m. to take it up a notch as will KEGS O' BEER. Sponsored by Bar Cento, Bier Markt, Market Garden Brewery
9 p.m. - 2 a.m. *OFFICIAL* after-pary @ The Market Garden Brewery. They say "eat local, drink local" & we say SHOP LOCAL TOO!
There's truly so much to love about Kent. Friendly people. Charming festivals. A growing downtown. I could go on and on, trust me, but suffice it to say that Kent is a great place to call home. One gem is the Kent Stage, an old-style, non-profit-run downtown theater that has been around since 1927 and operating exclusively as a venue for folk/alt-country music since 2002. The Kent Stage is intimate despite its size and offers truly spectacular sound ...
... if you can stomach one of the more disrespectful audiences you'll ever encounter at a performance. Counting last night's Gillian Welch show, I've been to the Kent Stage at least five times. The other shows, just for context, were Kathleen Edwards, Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Vienna Teng. I'm sure I'm missing a show or two, but just understand that what I'm saying is coming from someone who has been there multiple times and who loves having such a venue so close to home.
So when I say "disrespectful," I'm talking about problems that I've observed consistently across multiple shows. The audiences have been, in a word, insufferable. Talking over songs. Shouting between songs. Not just loud requests - who hasn't heard these before - but mindless banter. Two examples from the Gillian Welch show: After the first song (one of Welch's oldest), someone yelled, "That's the first time I've heard that song, but it made me cry." Okay. Later, when Welch - wearing a summery dress - joked about packing for the tour when it was still warmer out, someone else shouted, "It's been pretty mild here for the last few days." Hmm.
This happened over and over, and has happened at every show I've seen there. Amidst countless shouts of "I love you, Gillian" or "I love you, David [Rawlings, who joined Welch]," there were repeated instances of out-loud commentary. The song requests got so frequent that Welch stopped to relay a story about how she did a requests-only show once and how it "sucked." That kept people quiet for a song or two. I've long grown accustomed to people openly breaking any and all "no flash photography" rules there to not only snap pictures, but also record lengthy videos. I've sat near "the talker" every time out. Or the off-key, lyric-confused singer. Or the cell-phone checker. Or the constant-getter-upper.
Do the last couple of paragraphs make me sound curmudgeonly? Sure they do. But here's the thing: Every one of these persistent issues - every one of them - has been perpetrated by people who "should know better." I'd guess that the average age of a Kent Stage concertgoer is somewhere in the mid-40s. Is that a scientific guess? No. But does at least 75 percent of every crowd when I go look like they're my parents' age (61)? You bet. Kent's a small community, one that has a long history of devotion to folk, alt-country, and related genres of music, so you tend to see the same people at every show. And the same problems.
I would argue that the difference in behavior is generational. Perhaps people my age and younger really didn't come of age in a time where shows were such a participatory thing. But respect is something that's supposed to transcend age. And it's clear that a portion of the Kent Stage's audience is beyond disrespectful in their entitled and boorish behavior. The performers at each of these shows have noticed. Is this the reputation the Kent Stage wants? That of a great place to play if you don't mind sharing the spotlight with an audience thinking they paid $30 for everyone to hear their rudeness? I doubt it, and I'm sure the friendly, devoted Western Reserve Folk Arts Association folks doubt it, too.
Not all hassles are created equal, and I know that none of this amounts to a real problem when placed side-by-side with the problems that so many face around the country and world. But something needs to be said. If only so other people who go to shows at the Kent Stage to hear good music (and just good music) know that they're not alone. The biggest deciding factor for me when it comes to buying tickets there is always the audience. Will I be ready for what I know will happen? Is it worth the price? That's a shame, because the Kent Stage has so much potential. It's only a few minor renovations and more diverse booking away from being a Beachland Ballroom-level venue. Like so much else in Kent, there's a real family feel to the Kent Stage. But it's time a lot of people there start acting like they're in public.