Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010


"As always: we are tiny little things in a tiny little place." Thanks Ted Topolewski for sharing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Perspective shift

Take a break and look at the Earth through an astronaut's eyes. That's India above and the Sahara below.

Below, the most remote inhabited place on the planet. Tristan da Cunha. Sorry, I've blawged this before. But it blows. My. Mind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Post Wes Jackson ?s

Twitter can be vapid

But there's meaningful shared-thinking happening. It's not the whole show, but it energizes my work and my thinking around it and my real-life conversations.

Sometimes it feels like a time-waste and compulsion. Sometimes it feels like isolation masquerading as connection. Sometimes it feels like energizing. Today, at this moment, it feels energizing.

Later, I'll share - or, [gag reflex] tweet - some 140 character nuggets from Wes Jackson's mind-blower of a lecture last night. I can't wait. Most people will miss them or ignore them, but those shared thoughts may shape/inform/enrich the thinking of so many cool people doing amazing work out there. We're participating in a huge conversation. That's still exciting to me.

Monday, March 15, 2010


My wife sent me this nice little interview with writer and teacher Tom Spanbauer, on the occasion of a writer's benefit for Haiti tomorrow night.

"I was raised German Catholic so I’m stubborn. I also have redemption in my DNA. That combo: stubbornness and hope are hard to beat."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sr. Mary Fabian

Had an awesome coffee with Margaret Richardson, a self-identified journalist-turned-design-journalist, proudly 70-years-old, and all human. We had never met before, but I had to give her a big hug when we parted.

"Where do we start?" she asked, when we sat down. "Only the interesting stuff!" I demanded, so she told me the story about her seven and a half years living as a nun in a convent, teaching at a Chicago Catholic girl's school in the late '50s and early '60s, faculty editor of the school newspaper. Her students were the daughters of cops and mafia, and the few black girls had to contend with an atmosphere that was racially years away from the Civil Rights movement happening elsewhere in the country.

In fact, it was an incident around race inside the school that caused Sr. Mary Fabian, as she was known, to - gasp - leave the convent before taking her final vows. The church arranged an interview for her at a magazine called Catholic News, and two weeks later, she was living in New York City. Thus Margaret Richardson began her wonderful career, eventually becoming Editor of U&lc. What a story.

Margaret asked me to participate in a design class she teaches in the summer for Portland State University, "a research class in real time with real professionals." Her students visit 16 different studios around Portland and talk to the principals about their work, their process, their space. I'd like to take that class!

After we settled on a date, I wrote down my email address on her calendar. "Don't you like how that pen writes?" she asked. Yes, it's nice. "Keep it! I get five of them a week." She had already given me a pocket pack of kleenex and two books.

I really enjoyed Margaret ... exuberant, authentic, so stylish. I pointed out that her outfit - which I bet she designed herself - reminded me of a post-modern nun's habit, something that she'd clearly heard before. "As my husband says: Once a nun, always a nun."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bottom drawer, file cabinet

In the category of unintentional media placement / juxtaposition comedy, I like how this Maker's Mark billboard undermines the Insurance salesman's message directly above it.

"Drama? Suspense? Not on my watch. I keep Lifewise health plans boringly good."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yeah, tree. Do it.

Chinatown can be a tough spot for people, and trees. Loyal readers may recall this gutsy tree near my studio. She ended up putting out some branches last summer, only to have them torn off again, by someone enraged or suffering, probably. It was a frayed [afraid?] stump all winter.

But look at her now. Nature just keeps doing its thing, doesn't it? If we allow it, at least.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Free Wes Jackson ticket contest

Why is Wes Jackson so awesome/significant for the emerging culture?

Best 140-characters-or-less response, received by Wednesday, March 10 at noon P.S.T. (either in the comment section here or at @jellyhelm) wins a patron ticket to Wes Jackson's Illahee lecture on Monday, March 15 in Portland.

3/10 Update. Hank Hosfield wrote:

I'm unsure what sustainability means. Or even what I need. Un-driven by culture, what would I find organically essential and fulfilling?

Good questions, Hank. I hope you get to pose them to Wes Jackson. A ticket to his lecture is on its way, courtesy the U.S. Postal Service.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gene Federico's necktie, by Art Chantry

The conversations I am allowed to participate in and think about in 2010 are so much more rich and interesting than anything I had access to during design school in the mid '80s or studying art direction in the late '80s. Easier to tap into direct source, and therefore, deep passion, and stories rich with direct experience.

Here's a great little story and dialogue about artifacts, design heroes, ego, craft and Andy Warhol, narrated by Art Chantry, with commentary by Shawn Wolfe, both important figures in design, themselves.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Premise: Video of baby laffing. People laffing watching video of baby laffing. People laffing watching people laffing watching video of baby laffing. Etc.