Guard Animal Signs

It doesn’t take much to entertain me, so frequently the people closest to me are rewarded with my extra, ahem, ideas. So this is how I ended up making silly Guard Animal signs and posting them on the internet…

One night at dinner, some friends and I focused our conversation on a small bronze snail figurine placed between the salt and pepper shakers and the butter jar. One friend picked it up, noting its heft and pointy feelers. Another friend commented on its hidden abilities to bring an intruder to their knees if used correctly. “We should have a guard snail sign, and we should name him after Emil!” exclaimed another table member, referring to the most amicable of us in the group. DONE and DONE.

You don’t have to tell me twice to make a Guard Snail sign. At the slightest urging I’ll scuttle off and make a whole series of the most terrifying and life-threatening guard creatures ever!

The most feared of all guard animals...
The most feared of all guard animals…

Post the Guard Squirrel on your front door and acorn thiefs will hightail it lickity split. Place the Guard Goldfish on your water closet door and no guest will ever dare leave the room smelling of other than dewdrops and roses. Put the Guard Kitten in your wallet amongst your family photos and pickpockets will walk your pilfered money sleeve to the nearest precinct. GUARANTEED.

All of these Guard Animals are available for download and personal printing in the following PDF files. Each PDF contains all Guard Animals, so find your selected weapon, print the appropriate page and cut out your sign. The signs are smallish, the the impact is large.

Download English “Guard Animal” signs
Download Dansk “Her Vogter Jeg” skilte

guard snail english danish
The classic English caution sign and the original “her vogter jeg” sign inspired by the small but lethal bronze table ornament “Emil the vagt snegl”.

The Same Wavelength

You know you’re in good company when the short-firings of your brain are not only totally acceptable, but met with enthusiasm and embellishment. The following conversation commenced during a springtime walk in Copenhagen with two of my lovely and equally creative compatriots.

L: Ahhh, it’s such a nice day!
M: Totally! I have taken one of my many scarves off to enjoy it.
P: Let’s cross the road here…
…enter path away from main street, see a curious sign…
M: Hey, look, this is where you can walk your croissant.
L: Yes, it’s a very French area, right around here.
P: That kid can barely keep up with the croissant!
M: Croissants must be fast.
L: Didn’t you ever wonder how French people stay so slender? It’s all the croissant walking.

I’m pretty sure that with two extra white panels, the croissant would turn into a basketball. But who am I to interpret public wayfinding in a land where the entire month of December is devoted to eating æbleskiver?

If you’d like to designate your very own croissant walking area, I’ve created a replica of this sign in various sizes. Download croissant crossing signs.

Be the most croissant conscientious pedestrian you know.
Be the most croissant conscientious pedestrian you know.

Royal Copenhagen Cat

Walking around Nørrebro in Copenhagen there are many Asian shops, all of which boast a brigade of little waving cat figurines – also known as Maneki-neko. They seem so omnipresent that I suspect they are part of a Secret Danish Surveillance System – one that makes sure you only cross the street on green and pay your taxes promptly.

These felines are the exact opposite of everything “Danish Design” is reported to be, and if I had to name a Danish counterpart to a Maneki-neko it would be Kay Bojesen’s teak monkey (nearly every Danish home has one).

I like unlikely pairings – or perhaps my subconscious does – because one day as I walked past yet another window full of friendly cats, I pictured them painted with the Royal Copenhagen pattern, the quintessential floral design used on the most famous of Danish porcelain. And my brain doesn’t stop once it has had such an idea, so I had to make it real.

You didn't think a plastic cat and a porcelain plate could mate, but I've proven otherwise.

Continue reading “Royal Copenhagen Cat”

Myopic Fields of Study

As a designer, et cetera, I usually follow the simple logic of…Do I find it interesting? Sign me up! I guess you could call me a generalist. That’s why I build derby cars, make 3D paper raindrops and go to postcard shows. A wide selection of topics, all of which itch the need of delving into the specificity of a subject. Even though I don’t make my living out of it, spending these short bursts of time on a super-focused theme is very rewarding to me.

Lisa Congdon enjoys collecting, arranging and displaying like items.

I find it fascinating that some people can find a niche so narrow and burrow down so deep, that their entire plane of reference is altered and a new little world is created to support the peculiarities of their interest. This hyper focus not only makes them brilliant (at times), but also creates their myopic perspective. Well, at least that is how I explain these research titles a friend sent me…

Effect of Adjuncts on the Color Stability of Bologna and Fresh Beef Sausages

Calculation, Qualculation, Calqulation: Shopping Cart Arithmetic, Equipped Cognition, and the Clustered Consumer

Making Time: Reciprocal Object Relations and the Self-legitimating Time of Wooden Boating

After reading these and making a few snarky comments, said friend and I spiraled into an email thread trying to best each other with fake inane research titles. Generally specific, or specifically general – you decide. Below I present you our first three topics.

Symbols of Virility and the Cultural Resurgence of Lederhosen

Forskning og Teori om Størrelse og Knuse-metode i Forhold til Klasse, med Hensyn til Smag og Behag

A study of Northern European migration patterns in relation to banal influences, with a special forword by B. Jean on cloud cover and pesky bugs.

Perhaps this should be part of a series called “I’m smarter than you” that is geared toward academia, executed as book slipcovers that hide the fact that you’re just reading the latest Malcolm Gladwell bestseller. Have any research titles up your sleeve that I should add to the collection?

In the process of researching these titles, I came across this photo. Which is just too good not to repost. What is going on? What ISN’T going on? Rocking out in lederhosen never looked more hardcore. In fact, I have danced with a man in lederhosen, and it was all you can imagine and more.

I want an invite to this party.

Eli, No! Lucy, Yeearrrchhh!

Earlier in the year I had the pleasure of meeting some new designer acquaintances who were on a travel adventure across the USA. When Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk of Eight Hour Day made a stop in Portland, we bonded over our chocolate labs on a rainy day spent walking the dogs at Thousand Acres on the Sandy River Delta.

Eli: no mischief here, no sir, not at all.

While the Northwest weather may have driven Nathan and Katie on to their next destination with haste, their pup Eli and my pup Lucy didn’t seem to mind the rain, mud and driving wind that makes Portland fall something special. Those labs seem to have an unwavering love for life that shines thru so clear that it makes it easy to put up with some of their eccentricities.

Lucy the chocolate lab with her squeaky newspaper toy.
Lucy: the face that could trick you into just about anything.

So when Katie wrote and illustrated the book Eli, No! about her faithful companion’s shenanigans, it all felt very familiar. If I had to write a book about my dog pal, it would be titled LUCY, YEEARRRCHHHH! because that is the pterodactyl noise that I make when she is doing something inappropriate. It’s not the most endearing sound to come from a human, which is why you probably won’t be seeing a sequel from my neck of the woods anytime soon. Instead, I’ll just use Katie’s book to relive Lucy’s less glorious moments.

Katie loves her dog, so she wrote a book about him.
Continue reading “Eli, No! Lucy, Yeearrrchhh!”

The Goodie Monster Is Here

Just in time for Halloween! Over the weekend my friend Mark and I put the finishing touches on the Goodie Monster: a vending machine filled with healthy, tasty snacks. Not only does it taste good, it looks good too. Check out the full project process and see more pictures of us sewing and painting nonstop to create a green fur-clad monster complete with a mountainous environment where pears fly south for the winter. Read more >>

On the Road with Moveable Type

Back in May I helped my letterpress friend Kyle Durrie with her project Moveable Type. She was getting ready to take her custom built van on the road and teach letterpress classes out of it, so I made her a logo and website. Now, I and many others are enjoying the fruits of her travels as she criss crosses this big country. Check out her blog for some great road trip pictures…one of my favorites being this pig statue.

NJ the Intern Scores Big

Today at Jelly Helm Studio we celebrated NJ, the summer intern. It was a party to behold for his last day: Jelly repeatedly yelled WOOT WOOT, I spilled pizza all over myself and the rug, and Mark packaged his going away gift in custom made wrapping paper. While I only got to know NJ briefly, his mellow demeanor and quirky nature made him instantly likable. To commemorate his time at the studio, Jelly, Mark & I gave him five (yes, FIVE) trophies.

Five trophies in one summer...must have been quite the intern.

In addition to snagging the “Intern of the Year” award, NJ also garnered rave reviews for his “Best Axe Wall of 2011”, “Best Bullshit Book Cover of 2011” and “Best Wiener Cutting Film of 2011”. To top it off, he even won the trophy for “Most trophies for an Intern in 2011”. What a guy! To see what all the fuss is about, check out some of his accomplishments.

NJ didn’t leave without returning the favor – he made a custom deck of cards listing lessons he had learned (or unlearned) during his stay. To my disappointment, during his summer here he did NOT interview his house-mate who rented a closet under the stairs (YES, you can rent a closet under somebody’s staircase).

No award ceremony isn’t complete without a photo of the winner gloating over their achievements, so here is NJ making his best monster impersonation. It was nice getting to know you NJ!

Hopefully he has a really big mantle for all those trophies.