Mmmm… eggnog. Doh!
Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas, happy Chanukah and a wonderful new year filled with animated fun!
I hope you’ll continue to visit our blog (even as infrequent as it posts) and consider us for any creative or practical design or illustration need you may have.
Surprisingly, for the second time this month, Wendy’s food chain announced a re-design of the franchise logo. A total “about face” from their other branding strategies, Wendy’s has decided to target a growing yet untapped section of the market – zombies. After the real life Wendy, founder Dave Thomas‘s red haired daughter, died earlier this week and herself came back to life as a flesh eating zombie, the popular hamburger joint was struck with the idea of changing strategies, mostly because Wendy consumed most of the board of directors on Thursday morning. The fast food restaurant plans on implementing their new menu next week which will include items such as newborn baby back ribs, drunken liver sandwiches, and far-sited eyeball soup, served hot. Wendy’s market shares seem to already be experiencing a resurrection as speculation is good. With such a bold move, Wendy’s hopes to re-define the term “fast food”.
Need to pick up some Bigfoot hunting supplies? A part busted on your time travel machine? What if your robot is on the fritz? No worries, you can get everything you need in one of 826 National’s special stores. If you still have yet to stumble upon 826 National, then it’s time to check them out. They have approached teaching and tutoring kids from a whole different approach that engages them and their imaginations in a terrific way. In 8 different locations around the country they have established writing and tutoring centers. Not so special, right? Yes. Because each center has it’s own unique storefront to engage kids and raise money.
The care and creativity that went into designing these terrifically strange stations of commerce make me want to be eleven years old again so I could experience them from the perspective they were intended. It is refreshing and inspiring to see an organization such as this pouring everything they have into creating a world that no doubt pulls kids in like a spaceman’s gravity ray gun might. I encourage you to visit their site, read the descriptions of their wonderful stores, check out the photos, and learn more about 826. It’s an organization that deserves your attention, and will easily capture it.
I was lucky enough to stop at School 33 Art Center in Baltimore over the weekend to catch a truly different art installation that I had to see in person. The artist is Jonathan Latiano, a unique thinker and a good friend, and the piece is called “Points Of Contention”. Jon is a second year MFA grad student at Mount Royal School of Interdisciplinary Art at MICA. Fortunately, he had some spare time to meet up with us at the gallery and give us his personal insight into the piece.
I love when an artist is able to round out an idea from beginning to end and give me some real meat on bone. Jon’s piece does that. While walking through this surreal environment he so masterfully and painstakingly created, my mind races back and fourth from questions of what’s happening to how has this happened. I couldn’t help but ask Jon technical questions about the rolling and rippling wood floor under our feet (perfectly walkable by the way), but don’t let that take away from his well thought out and provocative narrative.
Jon has dramatically raised questions about the balance, conflict and sometimes collision of our natural and manufactured world. For me, he has reminded us that there are forces we cannot contain; that we exist among a living and breathing entity that will show no mercy to us and yet also present an unrelenting beauty and wonder that we love to be apart of. We often see devastating effects on television when the natural world stretches and yawns, but Jon has brought a slice of that into this room and it’s a powerful statement. How far can we demand this world perform as we decide and when should we allow nature to lead us in the way we shape our environment?
Jon’s piece is a provocative commentary on our modern state and the conflict we increasingly pursue as well as a beautifully formed sculpture. The level to which he brought the piece by rebuilding 800 sq. ft. of flooring and the juxtaposition of wood, plastic and natural crystalline is impressive. If you happen to be in the Baltimore area before October 29th, this is worth a stop over. If you’re not able to make it, you can read more about the show as well as a Q&A with Jon in Cara Ober’s review at Urbanite, a Baltimore based news magazine.
It’s no secret that Disney is known for great service. They even teach business leaders how to deliver exceptional service at The Disney Institute. But when I got to experience their hospitality firsthand this past week I couldn’t help but gush about it. The moment we arrived at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge we were greeted by quick moving bell boys and a lovely woman with a smile from ear to ear who couldn’t wait to say, “Welcome home”. Our new friend personally led us into the beautiful lobby and guided us up to the registration desk. She waited on line with us explaining details and tips about our stay at the lodge. Because we were actually checking in early they did not have our room key equipped with our 5 day admission ability yet, but they solved the problem swiftly by comping both of us with a free 6th admission day that we could use immediately.
The rest of our stay at the lodge as well as our experiences in all of the parks continued in this manner of incredible care and attention. When I bought a shirt at a gift shop in Hollywood Studios, the salesman promptly asked if I would like it sent to the gift shop in our lodge to pick up later, so I wouldn’t have to carry it around the park all day. The staff always presented a smile and funny or helpful comment. Cast members everywhere were going out of their way to congratulate or wish a happy birthday to people wearing special buttons on their clothing, advertising an engagement or birthday. Native African cast members were always positioned outside the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you could walk out and view the animals, just to inform you about the animals or talk about the native African environment, if you were interested to hear. The quirky English bartender, Carl, at the Rose And Crown pub in Epcot‘s England spent time with us doing impressive bar tricks and showed us pictures of himself from 20+ years earlier acting as Disney’s Crocodile Dundee character.
Walt Disney World managed to do what so many other companies claim to do but almost always fall far short. They made us feel welcome and special. Our vacation at Disney was not just a fun break from normal life, it was truly an inspiration for how we would like Ink Nest to service its own clients and indeed even how we would like our lives to be led: in service, happiness and a bit of magic.
Anyone you ask can tell you where they were that day, that hour, even that minute. Nearly ten years ago we all took a momentary snapshot and have had it tucked in our back pockets all this time. We can take it out whenever it may casually come up in conversation and share where we were, what we were doing, what was said and how we felt. I thought I might share my experience, just one more among many many others.
I was in the third week of my study abroad program for fine art students through the University of Georgia. My friends, classmates and I were living in a quiet Tuscan town called Cortona, Italy, made famous by the setting for the fictional film “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Close to 4:00 in the afternoon my friend and fellow Saxon and I had ended up sketching the architecture in Piazza Republica, a large open space at the center of town where people would often gather to socialize in the evenings. I was perched above the small grocery store on a patio suitable for enjoying a fresh sandwich on any lazy Italian afternoon. Gary was sitting on the dramatic steps at the opposite side of the piazza.
There was no one else there with us until an American I had not seen before in town, walked slowly in from a small side street. He had a small hand-held radio, the kind I hadn’t seen in years, up against his ear. He seemed concentrated and concerned. He must have heard Gary and I talking and recognized our common nationality. He looked at both of us and asked, “Have you guys heard? Some kind of plane flew into the World Trade Center.”
Amazed at the improbability of such an event I could only say, “What?”
His lack of details led us to believe it must have been a small commuter plane. A real freak occurrence, and surely nothing that could impact the tower more than superficially. After all, a small plane hit the Empire State Building decades ago and caused very little damage at all. After talking to the man, who then continued on his way down another small meandering street, Gary and I walked over to the Tabacchi shop only a few steps away. We knew they had a TV and maybe there was more we could learn, even if only through the images flashing on the screen. Our Italian was certainly not mature enough to understand anything a news anchor might be saying. It was there that we learned it was not a small private plane, it was a full sized passenger jet. It was there that we learned it was not one plane, it was two. It was there that we learned this was not a freak occurrence, an accident; this was an attack. Soon, one of our professors joined us huddled around the small outdated television. I’ll never forget the words he spoke, an older more experienced person than myself. The reality of what was happening came crashing into historical perspective for me at his one sentence. He said, “I haven’t felt this way since Kennedy was shot.” With that I knew everything had just changed forever.
I recently came across a fantastic site that is dedicated to supplying the world with free universal symbols. The Noun Project “collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world’s visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way”. (From their mission statement) For me, the most giddy part about their work is that they are providing it free of cost or license restriction. Amidst a busy online market of fee based sites like istockphoto, I find this a refreshing approach to distributing artwork. Their love for a simple language that transcends verbal and cultural barriers is evident in their effort. Bravo, The Noun Project, I look forward to seeing your contribution around the world and I hope you inspire other creative projects similar to yours.