Last month, our friend and past-collaborator, label-owner Kenny Fresh of Fresh Selects told us that he wanted to make some music videos for a new artist on his roster, Mndsgn. In a moment of inspiration we said, "We'll do it." He said, "But it's due in three weeks," and I said, "We'll make it happen." Being that this was the first music video that we've done, the process was a bit crazy. We pitched a story about someone that was existing in a state of melancholy, until she finds a book that takes her to another place, inside herself. This transition enabled us to create a video that spans two songs, and uses graphic design as the crux of the concept. Also, I had just watched Donnie Darko and The Neverending Story, so the idea of a "magic book" was on my mind from the beginning. The shoot itself lasted two days, the first being a shoot at our friends' apartment shot at 60fps, and the second day we shot on a Sony FS-700 (thanks Robert!) to get the slow-motion for the dance scenes in a storage room next to our office. Also, we got to order a dozen huge plants and have them delivered to our office. Check out full credits and the video here!
Needless to say, we're incredibly excited for this week's DesignWeek Portland. There's an insane amount of stuff happening, from workshops, open houses, gallery shows, and partays galore. Check this DesignWeekPortland Events page to organize your calendar. Oh yes, and huge props to the whole DWP team and Scribbletone for the great site!
Here's some of the stuff we'll be up to:
Monday: Honestly, we'll be dang busy doing as much client work as possible amidst the DWP madness, but if I get a chance I'm popping over to the David Carson lecture and then the opening party. For those of you designers that don't know your basic design history, David Carson hosted the Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992. Just kidding.
Tuesday: Pretty dang excited to be a part of the Megabolt Workshop with Jolby and Friends and Invisible Creature at Portland State. Later in the day I'll be helping with a workshop with the Google+ team at Union/Pine, and then at 7pm at the Hollywood Theatre I'll have the pleasure of doing a lecture at the Getting to Know You(Tube) event, hosted by the indefatigable Jason Sturgill. And in the spare hours I'll be swinging through the A+D Projects open house at PSU.
Thursday: Speaking of Jason "Stirmaster" Sturgill, he's gotten a group of 20 artists together and paired them with 20 homebrewers to create branding and labels for their delicious brewskies at the Homebrewed by Design event, and there's a bottle by The Pressure up in there, as well. That'll be poppin' off at around 7pm at the One Grand Gallery on East Burnside. Beer. Mmm.
Friday: Boombox Construction Kit! On friday night there's an event thrown by Case of Bass and Hellion Gallery with some Portland maker's creating custom boomboxes, and I've reached out to my guy Chester at MC Laserlabs to collaborate on our piece for the event. Hopefully said boombox actually works, because I've got the electrical skills of a calf.
Saturday: At the WeMake Celebrates event, there's an auction / fundraiser that we're proud to have a poster in, as well as some custom coasters that we did with the good chaps at Tanner Goods! After that, we'll be passing out from exhaustion for 39 hours straight.
DESIGN WEEK PORTLAND. SEE YOU IN THE STREETS.
I am incredibly excited to announce that my colleague and close friend Anton Pearson is the newest member of The Pressure.
Anton and I first met back in 1996. He lived down the street from the small apartment that my mother and I shared, and we were at a mutual friend's place drawing graffiti letters and playing with our friend Eric's turntables. Anton went on to be a deejay in Minneapolis, and I a dancer, promoter, rapper, and after all of that - a designer. In 2003, I brought Anton on board as a resident deejay at a hip-hop night that I threw in Minneapolis and we had 50-some nights together at that venue. A few years later, we were both founding members of the deejay/design crew Wants Vs. Needs. At that time, Anton decided to go back to school, and enrolled at MCAD, where I had graduated from a few years earlier. During his tenure there, I watched him grow and create challenging and beautiful work, both strongly conceptual and aesthetically experimental. We collaborated a few times while he was in school, and continued to do so once he graduated and moved to NYC to work at an ad agency.
As for myself, after working with record labels, branding agencies, global footwear companies, in-house and independently, The Pressure began as an organic evolution from years of burning-the-midnight-oil freelance work outside of dayjobs into a sustainable independent business. It's been almost two years running The Pressure as an LLC with a wide range of clients, from numerous Fortune 100 companies to agencies, independent artists, magazines and fledgling local startups. The work is always exciting, and every collaborator I truly consider a friend. It's been quite a journey learning how run a business while balancing the constant creative load and never sacrificing quality or attention to detail. Of course, I could always do better.
That being said, things at The Pressure have been reaching a kind of critical mass over the last 6 months, and even with the help of Ryan Bush, my awesome intern, it's become too much for me to handle alone. With each project that I've had to turn away that I regret, it became a little more clear that it may be time to scale. After a week of him working in house with me this month and careful deliberation on both sides, I've decided to move Anton from New York to Portland and hire him full-time as the newest designer at our tiny studio.
Anton and I share the same enthusiasm for creation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and engagement as we did when we first met as teens, and we plan on synthesizing our energies to create new platforms through the filter of The Pressure in the coming year.
I'm incredibly proud to let Anton be a part of this ride. Let's all make something great.
Artwork above by Anton Pearson and Adam R Garcia
Some stuff on the shelves.
1. Multiple Signatures by Michael Rock / Rizzoli
As a huge fan of 2x4 and Michael Rock, I was incredibly excited to get my paws on this, and it exceeded my expectations. A solid mixture monograph, essays, dialogue, criticism and process.
2. Culture Identities / Gestalten
This tome is an overview of culture identities for museums, theaters and other cultural insititutions from all over the world.
3. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin / Penguin
This book is a kick in the butt to make and affect the world in the way that you want. It's another motivational handbook, with some great gems included, as I covered in a previous post. That Godin's a champion (AND SO ARE YOU, ETC.)
4. On The Road by Jack Kerouac / Penguin
Just cracked this baby open for the first time. I hear good things.
5. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and had heard comparisons to Gaiman's "American Gods" on this one, so I made sure to grab it. Although the subject matter was new, I found that some of the tropes and fantastic twists were pretty played, but hey. A good read, with an interesting bend on mixing the contemporary Middle Eastern political climate with the mythological.
6. Brand Spaces / Gestalten
Akin to the previous Gestalten book "Out of the Box," with more of a focus on pop-ups and other more temorary retail and consumer environments via some of the world's best brands. A great resource for anyone interested in environmental design or retail.
7. How Music Works by David Byrne / McSweeney's
I loved this book. A weaving of the history of music and sound, the technical innovations in music with autobiographical vignettes mixed throughout. I'm a huge David Byrne fan, and found this book inspirational as an ambitious project and incredibly interesting as a broad, poetic overview on music and art.
8. Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks / Three Rivers Press
Was never a big "zombie guy," but after reading World War Z (which I loved), I thought that Brooks' first book would be a good follow-up. The thing that I love about WWZ and this book are that they're not about zombies at all; they're about human beings, psychology, morality and survival at it's most basic. And I learned a ton.
9. Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs by Kern and Burn
A great book with a great story from the Kern and Burn folks. A lot of insightful interviews with a broad range of creatives that have pulled triggers and taken steps to do their own thing. A must-have for the contemporary designer.
10. 48 Laws of Power by Brian Greene / Viking Press
AKA the "Psychopaths Bible" and the "Bastard's Handbook." In a recent interview, Greene said that he's not the guy that he profiles as the power-abusing monster of 48 Laws, but that he just wanted to shed some light on how others use mind-games, interpersonal dynamics and psychology for manipulation and opportunity. I like it for the same reason I enjoyed reading Machiavelli; It's historical, it's interesting and it can help to defend against the same Laws that it's illuminating.
11. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky / Penguin Group
I revisit this every year, and after a year as a studio, I can understand this fella in ways I just couldn't when I first got it. I find that when confused about projects or stressed, sometimes going back through Making Ideas Happen helps to focus, parse and prioritize the tangled balls of project ideas that are always wrapped around the base of my skull.
Experimenting with shapes and composition.
SURPRISE YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
SURRENDER YOURSELF TO A PROCESS.
My friends Uli and Alec Cohen (who just moved to NYC, miss you guys) put me onto the book The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. In it, Seth describes the idea of what an "artist" is, in a very contemporary sense of the term, where "art" isn't a talent or a disposition, but an attitude and outlook on connecting with life and others. One of my favorite morsels are his thoughts on 6 things that an artist should do every day:
+ Sit alone; Sit quietly
+ Learn something everyday that has no apparent practical benefit
+ Encourage other artists
+ Ask individuals for bold feedback; Ignore the crowd
+ Teach with the intention of facilitating change
+ Ship something you create
Another thing he discusses are the ideas of "Pride and Disobedience." That being, the pride of creation and the disobedience of disrupting the status quo.
I was born and raised in Beaverton, Oregon, and I am still living there for better or worse. I grew up in a relatively "normal" setting, going through the motions that come along with suburbia - Wanting free time during school, suffering from boredom during summer. I think the main things I have taken away from this environment is an appreciation for city life, and rural life - but I'm at a point where the "in between" of suburbia doesn't work for me anymore. I think in turn, being raised around a lot of cookie cutter homes, strip malls and chain restaurants made me want to look for things that were unique, one-off, or just generally more interesting - in products, people, professions, activities...
I think what most people take away from design of any kind is a method for solving problems - this is the foundation of what design is, and always will be. Fortunately, this way of thinking can be applied to nearly anything, so it's relatively easy to use that methodology in different mediums, like photography and video. Personally, It's hard for me to draw a line and separate different mediums and disciplines within the creative industry because they are all very similar when broken down - I would say the main difference is learning the tools - software, hardware, vocabulary.
Specifically, I have taken the attention to detail required in design and applied that to my photography/ video. Because of this way of thinking, I can't watch a film now without breaking it down by paying attention to details: ambient sound, dialogue, music, composition, scene transitions, movement, color, lighting... it's endless. And conversely, my love for film/ photography has made me pay more attention to story telling - what message is being conveyed, and how can that message be more honest or simplified? So far, it's been nice to juggle the different mediums and see what can be done - but I still have a lot to learn, as it always will be.
I had a dream once that I was floating in what looked like an apocalyptic water world, and I was in charge of protecting a small flying squirrel. I had a deeply profound connection with that animal, and when I woke up, I thought it must be my spirit animal.
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing but without ropes - it generally stays below 20ft. Rope climbing vs. bouldering is like Long distance running vs. sprinting. Really forces you to trust your instincts - highly recommend you try it.
When it was time to go to college, I got into U of O, but turned it down at the last minute - I liked the idea of being in the city rather than two hours away from it. After I got roped into the design program (at PSU), I started to really see the community of creatives around here and realized that I wanted to surround myself with those people. Motivated, sincere, passionate people. Now I honestly can't imagine living anywhere else - I want to travel, but this place is home.
Filthy rich, (duh).
No, really - I want to be making a living doing what I love - storytelling, making, thinking. I want to be working with people I love and respect. I want to feel like I'm the dumbest guy in the room. I want to stay hungry.
Those were some swell answers, Ryan Bush. Time to make some stuff.
I love collaborative projects. I like generating a concept for one piece of work that can have multiple voices, then finding the right voices for the piece. I enjoy creating limitations and parameters for participants, which help to ensure consistency in the project, and hopefully help everyone focus on the work. The biggest thing for me, however, is realizing that in collaboration with others, everyones' work lives together. A project like Good Stuff, or Illustrated Etymology, Movement / Moment or Trust Me are exciting in that they allow me to work with strangers and friends alike, they make connections through collections, bring people together around a central idea, support the community through visibility as well as potentially provide opportunity where there was none before.
My background is in music and promotion, and I feel like putting together a great project is like booking a show, inviting the bands, picking the venue, generating the visual components to contextualize the material and having a theme. I realize it's all the same energy, and it all comes down to trust. The trust of a client, or gallery, in a designer to bring together the right people and tell a good story. And of course the trust of the participants in knowing that being a part of said project will be beneficial for all parties involved, and that the utmost respect and eye for quality will surround the project.
The downside is that in these kind of projects, you can never have all the bands play that you want to. Sometimes those in your creative community aren't invited to play and sometimes they take it personally. Sometimes they may then throw a concert and not invite YOU to play. That's too bad. Luckily, hopefully, in the future there will be more concerts, and we can all get down and make the music that we make together.
Last night I came across my friend Dessa's 2012 commencement speech from the University of Minnesota. The overall theme was "Failure," and it's a great 20-some minutes out of your day to get a little reflection. A few notable quotes: "A target that you hit every time is a target that you've stood too close." and Seneca's profound, "No one will bring back the years. No one will restore yourself to you," which is all about taking control of YOUR time on this rock, while it lasts. As someone that's recently quit a pretty damn great gig to go and take ahold of my own destiny, these are ideas that I think about constantly. Every thing that goes wrong is my fault. Every success is my own, as well. It's exhilirating and exhausting; a constant psychological negotiation. But it's so worth it.
My biggest takeaway: BE DELIBERATE.
"Deliberate" means something done consciously and intentionally. I awoke this morning with that word, deliberate, ringing in my head all day.
Playing around with some dimensional forms for the Rhymesayers Entertainment "Welcome to Minnesota" tour. The work will be up on the site soon enough.
Well, here it is. A new "The Pressure." Not a far cry from the last in format, but overall a little cleaner. Sparser. Bigger. Responsive-er. Part of my want for a new site was not only to "refresh" visually, but for adaptive capabilities that are paramount, as well as this: an integrated blog. After trying Wordpress, Blogger and Tumblr, I wanted something easy and inherent to this central site. Let's see if I can keep it up.
Check back soon. I'll try to make it worth your visits.