100 Days

I’ve been making things my whole life, and one thing I’ve learned over the past 34 years is that creativity is hard. When it’s good, it’s great, of course. But the smooth patches inevitably melt into something more trying, when the spark doesn’t burn as brightly and inspiration is harder to come by.

I’ve been in one of these creative lulls since around the new year, and decided recently that it was time to take action. The only way through these creative blocks is to take them head on, so I decided I needed to find a practice that would force me to work through this rough patch and find my inspiration again.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.37.42 PM

I decided to tackle the 100 Day Project, a creative challenge to do one thing every day for 100 days. Drawing is something I’ve done very little of over the past 10 years, but my 20s were spent with a sketchbook never out of arm’s reach. I sketched in every slow moment, filling notebook after notebook with words, drawings, collages, and more. Given the joy that practice brought into my life, I thought that forcing myself to draw again might be just the jolt that I need.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.38.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.37.51 PM

With the 100 Day Project you’re encouraged to create your own hashtag to allow people to follow your work. To that end, I’ll be completing #100DaysOfNightsAndWeekends (an homage to the time I get to spend making each week). I’m just a few days in, but so far I’m having fun experimenting with styles and mediums. I hope you’ll follow along on this crazy drawing journey! Here’s to 93 more days of drawing– I’m excited to see where I’m at on the other end.

Street View Stories

There’s the old idea that given long enough, even a monkey could eventually type Shakespeare. The Tumble collection 9-Eyes takes Google Earth images–arguably the most banal and random photography out there–and finds the Shakespeare within those millions of images. Where the most interesting of my Google maps searches is usualy just to look for my car in front of an old apartment, 9-Eyes’ images capture scenes that look like they could’ve been taken by the most accomplished nature or street photographers. People in haunting poses, seemingly pivotal moments of their lives. The Awl’s Everything Changes featured the images as story starters, inviting readers to create their own narrative out of these captured moments. Few photographs beg to be explained and explored quite like these.

via Everything Changes

The Future Looks Bright

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab isn’t exactly what I think of when I think of great illustration, but they’ve proved me wrong with a gorgeous recently-released poster series. “Visions of the Future” brought together scientists, engineers, designers, and illustrators to create a series of nine posters meant to conjure the wonder and possibility of space travel. They remind me a bit of the poster series from 826LA that I wrote about a few years back, along with the clear influence of Depression-era WPA posters, which are a perennial favorite of mine. The designs are available free to print, perfect for tacking up in the bedroom of your favorite future explorer of the cosmos.


March is Women’s History Month, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts has launched a campaign to bring attention to the many amazing women artists whose work tends to be overlooked. Asked to name five artists, way too many people will come up with a list of solely (dead, straight, white) dudes. This campaign aims to reframe the conversation– a move I am definitely down for.

Narrowing my favorite women artists down to just five wasn’t easy, but I decided to go with five that are most inspiring me lately. Check my blog archives for about a hundred other awesome art-makers, many of them ladies.

Vivian Maier

Margaret KilgallenMargaret KilgallenA post about Margaret’s work and my love of hand-lettered signage.

Kara Walker

Martha Rich

Frida Kahlo

Honorable Mention: Guerilla Girls

Trippy 70s Moon Maps

It’s tempting to think that science exists apart from the era it’s being conducted in. But like any other field, the times we live in are part of us, and sneak in to color even the most sterile and professional task. Case in point: these trippy moon maps created in the 60s and 70s. Look at this collection of images mapping the craters, highlands and plains of the lunar landscape, and tell me those wacky color combos aren’t reminiscent of a flower power muumuu.

Via Atlas Obscura.

Waiting for the Bus in Style

As a new everyday bus commuter, I’ve come to appreciate the humble bus shelter more and more. Chicago bus stops, if they have a shelter, are all pretty much identical. There are a few in the Loop that get transformed for special events, but overall a bus stop in Bronzeville will look the same as one in Logan Square.

While functional, the structures are pretty forgettable, which makes me really appreciate the quirky Soviet bus shelters captured by photographer Christopher Herwig. In his book, “Soviet Bus Stops,” Herwig chronicles the many idiosyncratic an avant-garde structures he passed while biking through Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Latvia, and other former Soviet states. From intricate mosaic and tile work, to brutalist concrete shapes, we could learn a thing to two about making waiting for the bus this much fun.

Via Atlas Obscura.

Doing it Yourself, and Letting Someone Else

I’ve always been a maker and a pretty die-hard DIY-er. As a kid, I even resented getting “make your own whatever” kits, preferring actual art and craft supplies that would allow me to really make something myself. As I get older, though, I’ve come to embrace the art of letting other people make things they’re really great at, and stick to DIY-ing the things that are in my wheelhouse.

In that spirit, these tea towel pillow kits from Sarah Young are genius in that they, first off, are the most gorgeous screenprinted designs, and also because they retain just enough of a DIY to make a person feel connected to the finished item. Let’s be honest– I’m never going to screenprint my own folk art-inspired animal design. So why not let an expert take care of it, and I’lll handle sewing a simple outline and stuffing. Now that’s a DIY I can handle.