Archive for the ‘meet the maker’ Category

GE grain-edit-dave

If you are a P+M regular, you will know that I’m a huge fan of the work of this week’s ‘Meet the Maker’ subject, Dave Cuzner.  As the man behind the wheel of graphic wonderland grain edit, Dave finds and shares some of the kickin’est visuals going – and gone.  In their words they focus on, “classic design work from the 1950s-1970s and contemporary designers that draw inspiration from that time period.” and in some other words, my favorite things.  So it is my great pleasure to offer up a tiny peek behind Dave’s curtain.

GE 1960's Japanese book cover designs1960’s Japanese book cover designs

GE cristina-couceiro-2GE cristina-couceiro-4Lisbon based designer Cristiana Couceiro’s modern collage work

1.  What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?

Hmmm good question. I think that honor would goto Jean Luc Godard’s  1963 classic “le Memphris” (Contempt).  Godard + Bardot + Panavison + Raoul Coutard (Director of Photography) + the Casa Malaparte built by Adalberto Libera  = one amazing film.  

Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jaques Demy might make the list as well. I love the opening shot of the film. As the camera looks down from above, people holding umbrellas walk beneath in various patterns.

2. What is your favorite music genre/band to work to right now?

I listen to a great deal of Jazz, Psych rock, MPB, and Bossa. Some of the names getting heavy rotation in my office are Bunalim, Baris Manco, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Franko Xavier and Nathan Davis.

GE-music-1Listen to Bunalim here, Baris Manco here, & Chrissy Zebby Tembo here.

Listen to Franko Xavier here & Nathan Davis here.

3. It’s clear from all the hard work going into grain edit, that you love what you do.  What were the influences throughout your life that led you to create your current position,  Advocate of Graphic Goodness?  

I used to go on cross country road trips to hunt for rare records. Eventually I began to pick up items that were design related as well. I created grain edit as a way to share those finds and connect with others who shared that same passion for modern design.


Thanks so much for sharing with my readers Dave!  

There are some juicy tidbits in there my friends.  I highly recommend spending the time to watch and listen to his movie/music suggestions.  With extra attention paid to all the Baris Manco videos on YouTube.  Brilliant!   Also be sure to keep up with grain edit‘s shenanigans by subscribing to their RSS feed.  All the cool kids are doin’ it.

All images except the Band album covers from question #2 are via grain edit – both the blog & their flickr archives


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L&d themselves[images via: design sponge]

It was just over a year ago that I became acquainted with this very sweet dynamic duo, husband & wife team Lauren Smith & Derek Fagerstrom.  Individually they bring oodles of talent to their collective plate;  Lauren worked for Todd Oldham in NYC, and Derek has been a magazine editor for Esquire & Interview in NYC and now, for Readymade magazine in San Francisco.  

Together they have created a DIY dynasty that includes weekly craft posts for superblog Design Sponge, two amazing books: ‘Show Me How‘ an illustrated encyclopedia of 500 things you should know, and most recently, ‘Wallpaper Projects:  More than 50 Craft & Design Ideas for Your Home’.  And just in case that wasn’t enough to convince you of their consummate coolness, they also own & operate an excellent store in San Francisco called The Curiosity Shoppe where they busy themselves with championing other peoples’ ‘making’ dreams. Amazing! (some of my pieces are among the proud-to-be-there product offerings)  

Oh, and I almost forgot, they manage to have time somewhere in there to maintain a great blog called ‘Smarts & Crafts‘ where they keep us up to date on their lives/store goings on and also offer, my personal favorite, a weekly photo assignment that is open to any and all budding photogs.  ( They are directly responsible for my recent interest in taking pictures. Thanks Guys!)  

* How do they do it all? To check out one of Lauren’s time management secrets, visit 43 Folders.  [via: geek sugar]  

l&d craft

[image via: design sponge]


l&d curiosity-shoppel&d-shop-chalk[above three images from The Curiosity Shoppe  website & their flickr site]

I probably don’t need to tell you, now that I’ve gushed thoroughly on about them, how excited I am to introduce them to you as the next installment of my ‘Meet the Maker(s)’  interview series… but… I’m so excited.  And here we go…

1.  What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?

Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love is an all time favorite, and of course, any movie by Wes Anderson. Sometimes we pop these movies in and watch them with the sound off while we’re doing chores around the house. We also own the 6-Volume Films of Charles and Ray Eames, which never, ever ceases to amaze and inspire us. 


2. What is your favorite music genre/band to work to right now?

Lauren has been listening to the Blind Lemon Jefferson Pandora station nonstop, and Derek’s favorite album for the past couple months has been the Born Ruffian’s Red, Yellow & Blue.


3. (for Lauren) Has being a purveyor of things changed in any way your approach/strategy to being a maker of things? 

There is a big difference between making things for yourself and making things to sell. Putting a price on your wares and figuring out how to produce items on a larger scale can be confusing, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m working with designers and crafters who make all their own goods by hand. I value items that are handcrafted and wish we could sell only items that are handmade, but of course they take longer to produce and sometimes cost a bit more than mass-produced items, so we try to keep a balanced selection of both in the shoppe. I admire artists who can make hundreds and hundreds of a single item and maintain the level of detail and enthusiasm that they put into their very first one- I personally don’t have the attention span to do that! -Lauren

4. (for Derek) A while back I learned from your excellent blog ‘Smarts & Crafts’ that you’re a bit of a bee boy.  Has spending time with bees and their hive minds had any impact on how you see our world?

Really, you shouldn’t get me started on the bees….any beekeeper can (and will) go on forever about how magical and special they are. The interconnectedness of it all will blow your mind! Bees pollinate our flowers and food, they create pollen and propolis which both have amazing health benefits, and let’s not forget the mystical royal jelly! Oh, and the honey….the golden, perfect, delicious, nutritious HONEY! So amazing. As far as hive organization and efficiency…it is FASCINATING…the relationship between the Queen, Worker bees and Drones provides a thousand insights into our own behavior as humans…But mostly I just like wearing the funny outfit and puffing on the smoker. I highly encourage anyone who is at all curious about bees to find the beekeeping club in their area and check out a meeting. Beekeepers are the most generous, friendly people around. And bees could certainly use our help and advocacy right now.

l&d bees

Oohh, I can’t wait to check out the great A/V tips.  And I’ve always thought that those bee hoods would go really well with my eyes… so it just might be time to find out!  Thanks so much Lauren and Derek for taking the time to share with my readers!   I (along with some new devotees I’m sure) look forward to keeping up with your future shenanigans.  

For links to all Lauren & Derek loveliness, see ( and smartly click) below.

DIY craft posts on Design Sponge:  click here and hit the DIY button once you get there. (LOVE their knot project that went up yesterday!)

View and purchase their two awesome books: click here        

Peruse their cheeky wares at The Curiosity Shoppe:  click here

Keep up with all things L&D at their blog Smarts & Crafts: click here                                                         




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xenia tiles

I am very excited to introduce to you, this week’s makers for our Meet the Maker interview series; Xenia Taler & Steven Koblinsky of Canada’s own, Xenia Taler.  Their work is extraordinary.  Very technical on the back end and fresh folk fancy on the front.  I’ve admired their work for years now ( it was VERY difficult to pick just a few things to show you) and am overjoyed that they agreed to answer my questions.  Warning! Don’t try to eat your screen, even though the yummy tiles make that seem like the right thing to do…


xenia tile stacks
1.  What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?

I can’t just pick one! How can I show off my film knowledge with just one? Before you think my choice is unbearably pretentious I was a film production major in University(so was Steven) – I was /forced/ to watch these films.  “Solaris” by Andrei Tarkovsky , – the tunnel scene, the long hippie dresses, the sci-fi-ness, the long take with the Bruegel painting…..Don’t ask me what the film’s about, I have no idea, once in a while I try to watch it again to understand it but I always fall asleep.Also anything by Goddard.  For Steven it’s: Elaine May’s “Mikey and Nicky” with Peter Falk and John Cassavettes. We both also love Miyazaki.

2. What is your favorite music genre/band to work to right now?

Right now I’m listening to Ronnie Lane. I generally like more melodic folky music like Fairport Convention, Richard and Linda Thompson,  also any blues, Kevin Coyne, Allman Brothers, etc. But my favourite song of all time is ‘Rock n’ Roll’ by Motorhead. Steven is definitely the studio music source and  I wouldn’t even know all this music without him.  He also likes all of the above but tends toward more high energy pop/punk – Television, Wire, Stooges etc. We also like new music! Fleetfoxes! Hot Chip! Go-Team! Alps! I keep trying to come up with better playlists than Steven’s but he really knows music better.

(* Xenia I LOVE that you love Motorhead!  I sang for an 80;s hair metal band called Bone Cobra when I lived in Vermont and really got into the genre.  It’s my favorite music to work to at night when I’m at my studio.)


3. (for Xenia) Your designs are so playful and for me, have a strong sense of folklore-ness.  Are you inspired by any particular culture, or are there many sources you draw upon when creating your beautiful designs? (for Steven) What you do, creating the glazes and driving the super flat tiles, requires a level of technical mastery that I marvel at.  (I’m a lazy commercial glaze user)  Does this tech prowess spill out into other areas of your life, like executing difficult recipes in the kitchen or figuring out how to optimize kilometers per litre?

I have endless admiration for Japanese visual culture. But  I think my designs look more like European folk art. I don’t really do this on purpose. I  aim for that simple Japanese refinement and sophistication but my designs always end up looking more European. I am actually born in Romania so I guess it’s genetic.                                                                                    

Steven is so happy someone noticed his flat tiles. The “technical”  is seriously the hardest part of what we do. He definitely has a gift for things most people would be exasperated by. He reads 30 page boardgame manuals for fun.

Thanks you two for sharing your thoughts with my readers.  If you listen very closely you’ll be able to hear me singing you some gratitude filled Rock ‘n Roll from this other side…

*images from the Xenia Taler website.  To go there and check out more loveliness, click here!

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John & Conn on their lanai

It’s time for our weekly ‘meet the maker’ interview and I’m so pleased to introduce to you designers Conn Brattain & John Giordani.   These two are a constant source of inspiration for me.  (Conn was the one who introduced me to Shelter-Kit !)

After years of working as graphic designers in NYC  for companies such as Todd Oldham (Conn) and Details Magazine (John) they packed it in and moved on out to two acres of heaven on the island of Maui, Hawaii.  There they have cultivated a modern style babylon of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, & off the grid sustainable living.  They are a true testament to the attainability of dreams.  With passion, a smart savings plan, and creative follow through, anything is possible.  They are my proof.   And in addition to being conscientious land owners, successful gardeners, & delightful cooks (I haven’t tasted but have drooled plenty over Conn’s kitchen creations) they are just good fellas.  They rescued & raised an orphaned baby pheasant (no bird has ever had it so good. Check out the tale of Kekoa on their lovely blog Cuckoo for Coconuts) and were busy last week helping to plant trees at an animal sanctuary.   On top of this they still maintain their careers, now as freelancers, and continue to produce beautiful design.   So I tip my hat and raise my high five hand to them for being all kinds of cool.  Thanks Guys!



1. What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?

Conn:    Oh Yikes. Just one? Well I would say off the top of my head it would be What a Way to Go!  This is one of those rarely known movies that when I mention it, people look at me as though I have 3 heads. Especially for the scene when Louisa May Foster (Shirley MacLaine) is in the psychiatrists office and there is a large 4 row file cabinet behind them that is perfection. Each row is a different color: Orange, White, Brown and Yellow. It is all topped off with creamy neutrals and a blue chair and floor. The vision of that color combo has stuck with me since I first saw the movie many years ago. It was a popular combo back when this movie was made, but seeing it in WAWTG left an impression on me. So much so I jotted it down in a sketchbook and recently used the colors as the inspiration for my logo and website. This movie is non-stop inspiration and entertainment from start to finish. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 for Set/Art Direction as well as Costume Designs by Edith Head and Moss Mabry.                                                       http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058743/                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


John:   Awesome question! Well for pure visual design amazing-ness, i’ll have to go with my first gut reaction, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964. It’s beyond camp, almost to the point where it’s a bit insufferable to watch (a french musical about a tragic love story?!), but it is, no doubt, a pop feast for the eyes.

2. What is your favorite music genre/band to work to right now?

Conn:   Right now I am listening to the new Depeche Mode – Sounds of the Universe and Pet Shop Boys – YES, (both are extremely infectious) but it varies on the day and the project. I will say I usually prefer to work without music. I just enjoy the sound of nothing to be honest. Well not really nothing because I do love hearing the birds, breeze and ocean all whirring together out the window. When I am am on the lawnmower for 3 hours, I love loud upbeat tunes that tell great stories from Helio Sequence, Depeche Mode, Hercules and Love Affair, Wilco, The Smiths, k.d.lang, Longwave, Adele, The Magnetic Fields, Madonna… and so many more. I am drawn to songs with witty, clever lines.  It’s a real mixed bag.

John:  If i’m in production mode, I listen to electronica, lately the new Depeche Mode has me taping my toes whilst pushing pixels. For more creative work , the new Red Hot compilation, Dark Was The Night. Or 80’s new wave will always inspire me because it dials my brain back to when I coveted album cover designs by the likes of Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett.

3. (for Conn)  I find working from home is both a blessing and a curse.  More often than not, a blessing, but still, driving your own work day takes pretty serious discipline.  Some days I have it and some days I just plain don’t.  Are there any little tricks you’ve developed for yourself to help you navigate around this, and past the ever present fridge, to get to work?

Conn:  I’m right there with you Paige. Some days I have it and some days I just plain don’t. John is the more disciplined of the two. I constantly find myself wanting to be outside snapping pics of the plants. I find them to be wildly inspiring because of their color combinations and patterns.img_0073

3. (for John)  Has moving from fast paced, hard edged NYC to your quiet garden oasis in Hawaii affected the style of your work at all?  Like having new compulsions to soften all lines & secretly work flowers into every layout?

John: That’s an amazingly insightful question Paige! And one would think that would be the case. But it’s still very difficult for me to squeeze flowers into my work. Lines have softened a bit but I think NYC will always be somewhere in my subconscious. I have very recently had vignetted visions of me sitting in the garden sketching a flowering Dill. Has that happened yet? No. But the intention is there. I think i’ve become more sensitive to color. Nuances like the rubine red of a radish and the soft orange of a young carrot are inspiring to me. Or the rich purple of a fresh, shiny eggplant. Those colors are more important to me now that I know i’ve had a hand in nurturing them.img_6751So that was just a little peek into the world to two very fine folk.  To check out more of Conn’s color-cool work go to: www.connbrattain.com. To peruse John’s projects, including his lovely illustrations go to: www.johngdesign.com.  And to keep up to date on all their island adventures & delightful garden inspired recipes become a follower of: www.cuckooforcoconuts.blogspot.com.  All the cool kids are doin’ it…                                                                                    

images of movie scene, plant, & radishes supplied by Conn & John.  Thanks Guys!    other images from: design*sponge (click for more pics of their exquisite house) & Cuckoo for Coconuts

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This week’s interviewee is photographer Julia Staples.  I met Julia 8 years ago while she was a photography student at Parsons School of Design in NYC and I was busy one building over working on my product design degree.  And I’ll just flat out say it… I adore her.  Even though we don’t see each other very often since we both moved away from NYC, she will forever be tucked away in my ‘good egg’ file.  

In 2003 she received a Fulbright scholarship to study for a year in Iceland, returned to her native Philadelphia for a few years, then decided to make the move back to Iceland and give permanent island living a go.  She is now busy there creating some seriously stunning work and kindly agreed to join the ranks of our other maker Wayne Pate  (our first & only up until this very moment…), officially making it ‘makers’ plural for our ‘meet the maker’ series.  Thanks Julia!



Julia Staples, photographer:

1.  What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?

Probably all movies by Wes Anderson, especially The Royal Tenenbaums


2. What is your favorite Icelandic/or other  band to work to?

Reykjavik! are especially great to photograph, they are really fun and
great live to shoot. Really original music and the most fun
performances you have ever seen.


(I’ll be compiling both a watchlist and playlist on my blog very soon)

3. What’s your favorite thing about photographing Iceland?

there are no trees, it never is too hot, you can photograph for 24
hours in the sunlight in June, the name “Little America” really is
true and as an American, I find that quite interesting.



To see more of her beautiful photographs, please visit her website at www.juliastaples.com.

All photos from www.juliastaples.com , with the exception of The Royal Tenenbaums poster care of photobucket.

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I’m very excited to introduce the first maker for my ‘meet the maker’ interview series, Wayne Pate, designer & illustrator extraordinaire!  I have been a fan of Wayne’s work for ages and am so full of big joy to welcome him to my fledgling pages.  My interviews will all be short, just ‘quickies’, with the first two questions always being the same, favorite’ visual feast’ movie & workplace music choices (I am always on the lookout for A/V inspiration), and the last will change according to my whims & fancy.  

One of the things I like best about Wayne’s work is it’s commitment to clean & colorful boldness.  Because I’m a color-phobe in my own work, I think that makes me even more attracted to work that embraces it.  “It’s so brave, all that color” – that’s what I say to myself…    Another best thing about it is that it’s completely affordable!  $35 dollars will buy you a little piece of lovely and maybe even an heirloom, when Wayne goes on and gets super famous (even more famous than he is already that is).  I highly recommend doing this at his online shop!


Wayne Pate and his Good (Shape) Design:
1.  What is your favorite movie for visual/design amazing-ness?
Probably the one movie that does it for me would be Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator To The Gallows) 1958. Soundtrack by Miles Davis. My favorite era is the end of the 50’s  and early 60’s in regards to design, music and fashion and this movie embodies  all of that for me.  (A man after my own mid-century heart!)
2. What is your favorite music genre/band to work to?
50’s & 60’s jazz and a handful of modern day contemporaries. The Five Corners Quintet, Nicola Conte, Mark Murphy, Michael Naura Quintet, Chet Baker Quartet, Sahib Shihab, Frank Cunimondo Trio just to name a few 
3. Over the past year I’ve been learning to navigate being my own boss.  What’s been the most helpful component of your entrepreneurial machine to get you past/through the challenges?  A mentor?  Delegation?  Learning to get by on 2 hours of sleep?
The one key factor is experience and that’s across the board. It helps you make good decisions, staying true and having confidence in what you do best as a designer/illustrator and not waste time wishing you designed more like somebody else, don’t rush creativity because the best stuff never response to those demands.
Thanks Wayne!  I can’t wait to check out the movie/music suggestions.  I will report back my findings here in the coming weeks.  And I love the final question wisdoms.  Being a designer, it IS a struggle to have faith in your ideas and not get all doe eyed about what others are up to.  If we can just all follow those wise words and maybe throw in a bit of “stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold” for good measure, we can’t help but get out there and rock our uniqueness.  
images from:  waynepate.comwikipedia, , & la musique     

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