The past year has been one of words. After moving from Portland, Oregon to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2012 I was surrounded by NEW. How do you describe what is happening? What do you say to people when they ask you inanely expected or intensely personal questions? How do you document the experiment of experiencing so many new things, you can barely keep up? Which ideas survive translation, which fail? Words can be wonderfully specific or frustratingly vague, and vice versa.
The past year was spent doing quite a bit of correspondence writing. On Facebook, in emails and postcards home (yes, the kind you send in the mail), with newfound pen pals…even sending letters in a bottle. And, writing single words accompanied by a feather.
The past year resulted in twelve illustrations of quill pens, the old fashioned way of writing your thoughts. Ink and time define what you can lay on a page, extraneous thoughts are omitted in favor of measured words, exactly the ones you want to use.
Four times a year Restaurant Day occurs around the world, where anybody can create a pop-up restaurant for a day. In Copenhagen usually 30 or so teams participate, resulting in a plethora of interesting food options for the day which you can find via a handy app.
In March of 2013, my Australian design friend Carli, her husband Wouter and I toured the booths of Restaurant Day Copenhagen. We drank koldskål on Queen Louises Bridge, tried champagne sorbet in a Nørrebro courtyard, and had a 3-course meal on the street near St. Hans Square accompanied by a Cuban band.
We had a fantastic time and vowed to participate with our own booth at the next Restaurant Day. Our contribution would be…A LEMONADE STAND.
The Lemon Rocket Video
Like any over-eager adult purveyors of handcrafted lemonade, we made a short video promoting our Lemonade Stand. If you’ve ever wondered how lemonade was made, this video reveals all. Thanks to the team at Jip Jip for animation and Matthew Matthew for the music clip.
Carli and I perfected our homemade lemonade syrups to taste just so. We even employed the help of a small team of taste testers from Holland (Wouter & Family) to give us feedback on our initial recipes.
Each flavor was sold for 20kr (about $3.50) with an special upgrade to a “Grandpa’s Lemonade” (hint: add gin) for 40kr. We also shared the recipes with visitors so they could make their own homemade lemonade.
Lemon & Lavender
– in a saucepan: 1 part sugar + 1 part water + 1 tablespoon lavender
– simmer 5 mins and then cool
– juice 2 lemons
– drain lavender bits out, add lemon to make syrup
– mix syrup (approx a shot glass, or to taste) with a cup of bubbly water, lemon slice and ice
Cucumber & Mint
– two cucumbers: peel + chop + blend
– drain juice
– in a saucepan: 1 part sugar + 1 part water + bunch of mint
– simmer 5 min. remove mint. cool. add cucumber juice to make syrup.
– mix syrup (approx a shot glass, or to taste) with a cup of bubbly water, lemon slice and ice (garnish with mint)
Strawberry & Basil
– in a saucepan: 1 part sugar + 1 part water + bunch of basil
– simmer 5 mins and then cool
– blend 100 grams strawberries with some fresh basil
– mix liquid with strawberries to make syrup
– mix syrup (approx a shot glass, or to taste) with a cup of bubbly water, lemon slice and ice (garnish with basic and strawberry slice)
Spreading the Word
Of course we made a Facebook event to attract customers and posted vigorously about our preparations and product offerings. At one point, an attendee commented “I get the point, I’m COMING to your Lemonade Stand!”. YAY!
We were as excited as two kids on the first day of school, and the day of reckoning was drawing nearer.
Our Lemonade Stand
Carli and I spent hours hand painting directional lemon signage and making Pantone perfect bunting to decorate our tent. We had everything planned to a T…except the weather. Be warned future lemonade stand entrepreneurs! If there is anything that will foil your plans on a successful business model it will be BAD WEATHER.
On the day of the big event it was windy and rainy and not at all conducive to selling lemonade. A follow up project to this one could be writing the guide “How to Sell Lemonade in Inclement Weather” with the following chapter outline:
1. Don’t 2. Weather to Attendance Ratios 3. Upping Sales with Alcohol Add-Ons 4. Wind Resistant Tent Solutions 5. Frostbite Avoidance & Ice Cube Handling 6. What to do when Drunk People Request Freebies, and When Denied, Pee in the Bushes Nearby 7. If You Survive
But, our main goal was to have fun, which we accomplished in spades. We surprised customers with our unorthodox lemonade flavors, we visited with the local Jehovah Witnesses who took shelter from the rain under our stand, and we had enough leftovers to give private lemonade tastings to friends, family and co-workers.
Next up: Restaurant Day Fall 2013 (if I can convince Carli to repeat the madness…)
The Goodie Monster is here! After a good idea, some sweat equity, and a few technical hurdles my friend Mark and I have brought into this world a new kind of vending machine. It looks a little different, and tastes different too.
Mark came to me with the idea of the Goodie Monster in the summer of 2011 and asked if I would help make it real. The goal: to put good food within people’s reach. The location: the Goldsmith Building where we both work. The details: make it the most awesome vending machine ever. I am a voracious snacker and quite interested in food (as evidenced here, here, here, here and here), so I took about 30 seconds to think about it before committing to one of the bigger side projects I’ve done.
After a failed attempt at getting onto Kickstarter, Mark took the plunge and bought a vending machine out-of-pocket. Yes, you can do that. He also researched what kind of snacks to put inside and put together an informational site that has details about each snack in the vending machine. Did you know that Luna Bars were created for women but can be equally enjoyed by self-confident men?
My end of the deal involved giving the machine a personality, which included buying various materials at Fabric Depot, the largest fabric store in the nation. They must see a lot of strange things come and go, but even the ladies at Fabric Depot raised their eyebrows at my purchases. One check-out person saw my 5 pound box of polyfill and commented “Looks like quite the project you have going there”. You have no idea lady, that’s just for the tail of it!
Once we got started, the Goodie Monster took shape pretty quickly. He didn’t really have a lot to say, but he was very excited about snacking. In fact, all he could utter was NOM NOM NOM and point towards his mouth. Very demanding.
This project was challenging in numerous ways. Mark had never owned or operated a vending machine. I had never sewn 12 yards of fake fur. My sewing machine was from the 1970’s and didn’t like working overtime. Fabric Depot was located in deep Southeast Portland next to some strip clubs. Things could have gone wrong in so many places, but we made it through fairly unscathed. Here are a few pictures showing the process from start to finish, including having our first customers arrive 30 seconds after the Goodie Monster was unveiled. The door wasn’t even closed and they were already clamoring for their Justin’s Nut Butters and Larabars.
To announce the Goodie Monster’s arrival, Mark gave each tenant of the Goldsmith Building a small Kind bar with a booklet introducing their new neighbor. Other businesses in the area got a note in the mail that came in a very hungry envelope.
Many people helped us with the Goodie Monster: Darin Richardson who painted and painted and painted, Jen Stevenson who gave us the idea for a GORP recipe card, Jelly who repeatedly yelled WOOHOO and gave constructive feedback, David who owns the Goldsmith and encouraged us to make it happen, and Greg who helped when the Goodie Monster went haywire and started spewing coins and Clif Bars unprompted. To all of you – THANKS!
And since there is nothing more satisfying than a before and after photo…
Update 11.15.2011: The Goodie Monster gets a four course review by local food writer Jen Stevenson of Under the Table with Jen. With almost 40 courses to choose from it was a tough job, but less filling than your regular Thanksgiving dinner. Read more about our snack sampling.
Update 11.23.2011: The Goodie Monster is now on Facebook! Where else is a vending machine clad in green fur supposed to find friends? We hope you like him.
Update 11.29.2011: Portland Pulp wrote a nice blurb about our friend called “The Goodie Monster: The Future of Health Food”. Check it out here.
Update 01.01.2011: Portland’s Chinatown newspaper featured the Goodie Monster as their “employee of the month”. Pretty amazing seeing as the Goodie Monster just sits there and sells snacks with a smile.
Update 01.02.2012: The Goodie Monster gets a mention in Mix Magazine alongside another vending machine makeover case, the Soda Pagoda.
Update 01.27.2012: Making more Goodie Monsters has been accepted as a project for Kickstarter. Plans must now be formulated – stay tuned!
Update 03.31.2012:Portland Monthly Magazine wrote a short article on the Goodie Monster, saying is a vending machine “with more personality than most, or maybe any.” Why yes, it probably is.
Update 04.29.2012: The Goodie Monster Kickstarter campaign has officially started. Help us raise money to make four more Goodie Monsters, which will be the start of creating and sustaining continued growth for the Goodie Monster family. Check our our video and rewards on Kickstarter.
Late last year I signed up for The Sketchbook Project so that I would have a fun extra-curricular activity to fill my spare hours with. The project is organized by Art House Co-Op, and the basic premise is as follows:
• you buy a blank sketchbook (anybody can participate)
• fill up your sketchbook according to the theme you chose when purchasing
• send the sketchbook back to Art House Co-Op
• all the sketchbooks that are sent in are taken on a national tour, after which…
• sketchbooks are placed in the Brooklyn Art Library where they can be checked out
As these things usually go, my spare hours dwindled and I was soon left with a looming deadline to fill an entire sketchbook in 2 weeks. From the 20 or so pre-set themes, I had chosen “adhere to me”. So I titled my sketchbook “Things That Stick” and got to work.
After working so ardently on my sketchbook I was a little sad to see it go, but it was also a bit of a relief. I showed it to a few people who I thought would enjoy it before putting it in the mail, never to be seen again. It was a good exercise in doing something for the experience rather than the results.
Behind The Scenes & Making Of
Since I had procrastinated, the first order of business was to halve the number of pages in my Moleskin from 80 to 40 by doing a fake french-fold by double stick taping every other page together. After getting some basic pagination down, I had figured out that each left facing page would be found images from catalogs, stockbooks, etc., and the right facing pages would be accompanying text.
Since I only had one sketchbook and therefore zero room for error, I sketched out most things before drawing or tracing it directly into the sketchbook. Some of the pages I like best (Grandma’s Gun, Boys & Girls, Dreams, A Good Book) were created on the fly with maybe just an outline of something that I then filled in without a plan. The sticky shadow page was inspired by a stint I spent filing at a previous job. After about 3 weeks, I felt like my own head had turned into the very same label maker I was using so diligently to organize an entire room’s worth of documents. I started drawing this poster in memory of what I called File-a-palooza, but never finished it. Here are few more in-progress sketches: Most of the stock books I had were from Veer or House Industries circa 2003. I used my Whale of a Punch to punch out circles from various pages. The cover circles are from a hand holding a diamond ring, and the back side of the sheet gave me the little pink house on the Dreams page.
If you’re interested in checking out the sketchbook project, the tour dates are listed on their website.
To me, most everything has a story behind it. Perhaps following in the footsteps of my father, the unofficial one-man census bureau for Madras, Oregon, I feel the need to trace the history of objects, however inane or trivial they might be. Seriously, you should see my button collection!
Frequently, people will comment on my outfits…common, everyday observations like “Hey, I like your jacket” or “Cute skirt!”, which are probably just acknowledgements rather than conversation starters. I respond with mores breaking tales of where I got the jacket, how much it cost, why I think it’s the best deal ever, which other piece of clothing it goes with in my closet, and how I had to fix this one button which was probably the reason it was on sale in the first place.
Here I will tell those stories visually rather than verbally. Maybe I’ll stop scaring people with my outfit outbursts, maybe I won’t. But I’m curious what tales my outfits will tell in this new format…
Some ideas take a while to surface, time to percolate, breath and take the shape of what they are meant to be. A few years ago I hosted a Julefrokost and made some fun invites – a knitted nordic advent-calendar-inspired card with little flaps that open to show party details like 1) how much pickled herring would be consumed, 2) what time to show up promptly by, and 3) a partial menu printed in both English and Danish.
Some time passed, and I added a title to the idea when I was inspired by someone and sent them a book of words and pictures. More time went by, and the moose wouldn’t leave me alone. I thought: they need to be Bigger! Grander! Fuzzier!
So I started working on the most complicated illustrator file I’ve ever made and nearly succumbed to carpal tunnel syndrome. My hours of toil wouldn’t be for naught as I planned to share the story of smitten moose, fuzzy creatures and a house in the woods. Stories are for sharing, right? Friends, people I admired or who inspired me, clients, agencies, people I’d like to work with – the list was all encompassing. I even sent one to Conan O’Brien. I hope he got it.
A large part of this project was finding a vendor to produce the poster. Flocking seems to be a very niche market, and my goal of producing it in the U.S. was a long shot. After Googling for weeks, following endless phone leads from local screen printers, and being told that China was the place to go for this kind of thing, I found the American Flocking Association. Flocking has many purposes: lettering on t-shirts, lining telescopes, glove boxes and jewelry cases, and looking like fake snow on fake Christmas trees. All of the companies who flock these items were mighty confused when I called and asked if they could just flock a piece of paper.
Finally, I found Great Lakes Flocking, who was not only in the US of A, but also had a very nice employee WITH MY SAME LAST NAME that helped me on each step of my flocking adventure. After a few weeks of production, a giant pallet arrived at my studio. “Like a Glove: A Love Story” had finally arrived!
I think the third time was the charm on this idea, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. If you ask very nicely, I will send you a copy.
If I’ve learned anything from watching Bones, it’s that the best anthropologists go under cover when studying their subjects. Well, that might be the only thing I’ve learned from watching Bones, but I’ll take what I can get. So when my friend Michael put together a “Keep Portland Beard” art show at the Tribute Gallery, my curious side got the better of me and I decided to investigate.
All the beardiest folk in Portland would be at the show, so I concocted the perfect get-up to blend in. I field tested this accoutrement at the show, which was a slice of Michael’s online journal of beard-related ephemera and reviews.
Once I got there, however, I learned that sporting facial hair is less about actually growing the follicles and more about the attitude (and math can prove it). I had no attitude, and my inflated feeling of hipness quickly wore off until I fled the scene to re-watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Musical” in an effort to rebalance the scales of normality. Nothing puts a bearded hipster in perspective like a group of singing and dancing vampire killers.
Aside from Michael’s exuberant acceptance of my masquerade, my faux ‘stache was met with hip indifference and a few furrowed brows. Maybe Portland isn’t the place to make a statement with a mustache-on-a-finger-on-a-stick, but I have a feeling this thing will really take off in Idaho.
Update: After a request from Australia to use the mustache-on-a-hand-on-a-stick at a hipster party, I made a template which you can download here.
Like most kids I collected various things throughout my childhood, including stuffed animals, horse figurines, knives with antler handles, stamps, and a button collection. Most of my collections were given away or sold at garage sales over the years as they lost meaning or garnered scorn for their age inappropriateness (although I still keep my prize horses boxed up in the basement). Somehow, my button collection escaped the purging episodes of my mother, myself, and the multiple moves I went through.
So when my buttons resurfaced recently, I wondered…would they reveal anything about my childhood that I had forgotten? Would they say anything about my current state, 20 years later? Given the current button craze, how would my buttons stack up? Was it time to finally purge my button collection, two decades too late?