Category Archives: Design

Laura and Jeff – Game Over: You Win!

A few months ago I was coerced got the opportunity to photograph my friends Laura and Jeff’s wedding. They knew that wedding photography was typically not my thing and in fact something I usually detest but Laura was persistent.

“We don’t want a wedding photographer. We want a photographer we like.”

She played to my ego and thinking and it worked. When I finally agreed, Laura told me they sent this photo to their parents with the caption: “We picked a wedding photographer!” The wedding went well and I’ve published a few of the shots publicly so far: here, here, & here.

Laura is a member of the über-cool NESrock band I Fight Dragons (LP forthcoming on Photo Finish Records) and has an affinity for all things 8-bit and I had a free moment today so I made this in her honor.

Jeff and Laura Win!

Still A Designer…

Very often I feel silly handing out my business cards when I meet people, while I’m mostly known as a photographer, my card still says “Graphic Design for Web and Print.”

These days I tell people I’m not a designer but the truth is really something else. It doesn’t happen much but with the right amount of coaxing I can be convinced to do a poster or logo design.

Since I don’t share this stuff too often, I though I’d do so today:

The Bam Theory Movie Logo

The Bam Theory – Logo for upcoming MMA movie project by Bear Frazer, Kickstarter page soon!

Chicago Ladies In Comedy

CLIC – Chicago Ladies In Comedy

Faye Garfinkle - Personal Branding
Faye Garfinkle – Engineer, Personal Branding

"F#¢k Thomas Edison. Seriously." OR Death, Humor and Subism

Lightbulb on Flickr

This got me thinking last night, especially when contrasted with this. Tesla’s letterhead is striking, artistic and thought provoking. Edison however goes for a more distinguished look that I think is boring, unoriginal and uncreative even for the time.

Those who know me will tell you, in additon to being a design nerd, that I’ve got a quirky sense of humor. This is often misinterpreted and rubs people the wrong way because I tend to appear like an opinionated jerk. In reality, I like to challenge people’s ways of thinking, I enjoy arguing strange or absurd points and do so with a passion. I don’t always agree with the point I’m making but I enjoy provoking someone sure of their beliefs out of their comfort zone.

I’ve been known to joke about the concept of death and I am fascinated by people’s seriousness around the topic. Whether you’re religious or not, (I’m not) death to me has always seemed like just another phase of life. I’ve lost people I love and in some pretty tragic ways, and I don’t make light of that. However, when I talk of my own death I want people to chuckle, I don’t want to be mourned, I’d much rather there be a big party in my honor than a grieving. I want my sense of humor to be reflected, normal is boring.

I’m very fortunate to have made some amazing friends who, thankfully, appreciate my antagonistic behavior and sense of humor. In the event of my death I’ve made two of them, Dan and Christine, responsible for certain things.  Dan, I’ve asked to eulogize me but only if he leads off with the following:

“John was not a great man, he wasn’t even a good man, but he did have a really sweet setup for his Sega Dreamcast

Thing is, I’m not kidding, he thinks I am but I’m not. I’ve made him promise to say that under penalty of haunting. IE: If he doesn’t say it, and there is a way for me to do it, I will haunt him from the afterlife. And believe me, I will, he knows it too, and assuming he outlives me, Dan has reluctantly agreed.

The other ritual in the event if my death is my headstone inscription, for which Christine is responsible. To explain that, you need to understand something else.

I hate Thomas Edison.

Yeah, I know, pretty random. That statement has a tendency to piss off or confuse people. Especially coming from someone who works in technology, claims to be a Buddhist (it’s called “practicing” for a reason) and really tries not to use the word “hate” anymore.

But seriously, fuck Thomas Edison.

I’m not discounting his impact on the world at large, I just think the man was an asshole. We grow up being taught a lot of things in elementary school that we accept as truths that later in life we often learn the horrible reality about. Need an example? Christopher Columbus was a brutal murder who discovered nothing, Gandhi beat his wife and Sylvester Stallone is not that tall in person.

People tend not to know the truth about Edison. The more I learn about him, the more respect I have for him as a businessman and the less respect I have for him as an actual human being. It doesn’t take much research to learn that Edison is a thief who ripped off the bulk of the work he is credited for and employed thugs to do his dirty work.

However, when I tell this to people (especially those from New Jersey) they often don’t believe me, “How could you seriously speak ill of ‘The father of invention?!'”

Then I show them this:

They usually get it then.

Yes, Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant in an effort to show the superiority of his direct current vs. Nikola Tesla’s alternating current. Edison’s rivalry with Tesla is extremely well documented and the man went to outlandish lengths to prove himself right, to discredit Tesla and to destroy his life.

In the end, Edison was wrong but he managed to nearly erase Tesla from the popular vernacular. To this day most in our society while most have no clue who Tesla was and think of Edison when they think of electricity.

Learning of this made me rethink much of what I thought I knew. I love occurances like that, stuff that subvert and disrupt the status quo and evoke thought. That, to me, is what subism is about.

It’s because of my beliefs as a subist and these enlightening truths that I want my death to not be taken seriously, I’d rather make someone laugh at society or think than cry for me. This is why I’ve also made Christine responsible inscription on my headstone, which will read exactly as follows:

“Fuck Thomas Edison. Seriously.”

If that offends you, good. If it makes you smile, even better.

Getting up to speed…

Whitney Hess rocking it at An Event Apart Chicago

I’ve been extremely busy for the last month and this blog has gotten the short end of the stick. I greatly enjoyed updating every day while I was in Berlin and then I dropped off. I still have yet to write about Paris or upload my photos. (It’s coming… I swear!) I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things very soon.

Unfortunately today I woke up unable to speak and given that my day job is nothing but speaking, I was unable to do said job. Well there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough so the time I would otherwise be spending in bed will be spent working on neglected projects and doing everything in my power not to get sicker.

So to get up to speed with what I’ve been doing lately…

You may have noticed a redesign of the site is under way, this is because I greatly be expanding it in the near future to encompass much more of my work and who I am. By no act of coincidence I have filed to be, and officially become a limited liability corporation. I’ve sort of followed in the footsteps of my good friend Leah Jones and Subism.com is now the home of Subism Studios LLC. (though I’ve yet to quit my job like Leah did.. she has more guts than I.) This legal status will aid me in my photographic / artistic pursuits but also gets me well setup for my next few big ventures the first of which, has been no big secret but hasn’t been formally announced until today.

Early next year I will be working with Chicago sketch comedy group Long Pork to produce their next original production. The project is still untitled but I’ve been involved in several planning meetings and the boys have come up with some really good stuff that I think people will love. I worked with the group a bit in May to help promote their show ‘Soda’ at the Apollo Theatre Studio and had a blast. Since then I’ve joined the team in a non acting role as their head of marketing which started off by redesigned their website. Taking on the producer role is to both parties a natural extension of our relationship and I’m really excited to work with them.

There are other projects I’m working on but I’ll talk about them when the time comes.

I’ve also had a few other jobs I had the pleasure of working on. The first was for Gals’ Guide where I designed the logo for the first ever Gals’ Guide Summit and acted as the official event photographer. For those unfamiliar, Gals’ Guide is a great website for career orientated women in their 20’s who live in major cities and want to start a network and connect. The Summit was their first ever gathering with lectures and information galore. All of this of course is put together by the wonderful Blagica Bottigliero who in addition to being a master organizer / promoter is about to have a baby any day now.  Her energy and drive absolutely astounds me in that regard. The event went extremely well and although I am a guy and not at all their target market I learned a lot. You can find my pictures of the event here.

The next job I had was only a few days ago and it’s one I was personally very excited about. The past two years I have attended An Event Apart Chicago. For the unintroduced An Event Apart is a conference for people who make websites. Put together by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer, An Event Apart features the leading names in the field and offers rich content and astounding insight into where things are going. It’s been a blast every time I’ve gone, I always learn a ton and have wound up making some great contacts and friends from it. This year I got the opportunity to work the event as it’s official photographer and spent my time working on the images throughout the event and uploading them live through the show. This is something I had experimented with at the Gals’ Guide event but it had a much more profound effect at AEA, not only did my Flickr traffic go through the roof, but I had people stopping me in the conference halls to complement me on my work. This was a service I was glad to provide for the guests of An Event Apart and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.  You can find my photos here and Jeffrey Zeldman’s post conference wrap up here.

Lastly, next Saturday I start taking Level 1 Improv classes at iO Chicago. I’m not quite sure what my intention of doing so is but I’m really nervous and really excited at the same time.

With the exception of a few other topics that warrant their own entries (like Paris) this pretty much brings you up to speed on all things John. Look for a lot of changes to this site gradually over the next few weeks.