Categories
Design General

Belong to Universe

Making new friends during a pandemic is a bizarre experience.

For me, the few I have are people I have connected with during unusually raw evening Zoom calls between friends. These are usually scenarios where we all sit, and drink, and muse about the world from our respective desks or kitchens.

There is an honesty and a vulnerability to these calls. When we’re spending so much time in isolation alone with our thoughts, there seems to be a lot less BS when talking with friends, and much deeper topics can be discussed.

This is how I met Maud.

In the little bit I’ve gotten to know Maud, she is a smart, quick-witted, and clever person who loves professional soccer, German culture, and ska music. It’s surprising we didn’t know each other sooner.

The other thing I know is that Maud lost her father suddenly to COVID-19 back in April.

As a way to honor her father, she has worked with JL Murtaugh of NO GRAND to create a mask and soccer scarf combo to raise money for causes important to her.

In her own words:

And so, I started a project. A way to channel my memories of my father, and my father’s memories, and my love and concern for those around me. A way to celebrate what my father loved about me and what I loved about my father. A way to celebrate the people who have been so kind to me, so kind to my family, and so kind to my father.

When my father was taken from his home, on the block he moved to nearly fifty years before, he went to the hospital and came back thirteen days later in a lacquered wood box. In the time in between, I spent hours on the phone with countless medical workers with such depths of empathy in their communication. I am so thankful to them. I hold an immense debt of gratitude to the overwrought funeral director who spoke to me with such honesty and ease. I have encountered immense humanity, and I have been alone, in my own home, for over six weeks now.

I asked JL Murtaugh to help me turn all this sentiment into something tangible. I told him stories of my father’s appreciation for and association with Buckminster Fuller. I told him about my father’s early career as a photographer, developing his own photographs of the Mies van der Rohe buildings on the IIT campus to be published in the Chicago Tribune. I told him how my father would sketch blueprints on scratch paper at the kitchen table and had a concrete mixer in our garage for experiments in Brutalism. Liam had previously created designs based on Betrand Goldberg and Frank Lloyd Wright. I knew he understood how I learned to understand Chicago from my father.

I am truly honored and astounded by what NO GRAND has created.

I can personally attest that the scarves look tremendous and the masks are some of the best we own. You can see some photos below (including one of my dog Marla modeling the scarf) and place your order via this Google form.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to get to know Maud (from a distance.) The artists and inventors that her father appreciated are ones that inspire me as well. I am honored that I was one of the first people to receive a set and, if you’re anything like me I believe it is one that you may appreciate as well.

There are only a few left so don’t sleep on it.

Categories
Chicago Design

Biggles Seizes the Means: Now on Sale!

On New Years’ Eve, my friend Austin Harvey let me know that he and his colleagues were in the process of acquiring the bar they worked at, Beermiscuous, from its owner.

He also told me he had an idea for a beer he wanted to make to celebrate the bar’s upcoming 6th anniversary.

He told me he had recently tasted a remarkable strong ale from a brewery in Ohio and wanted to bring something to the Chicago market. And he already had a collaborator in mind: upstart nano-brewery Bold Dog Beer Company.

The beer would be called ‘Biggles Seizes the Means’ and fulfill his wife Annie’s long-held wish to see their beloved mutt, Biggles, on a beer can. But given the name and the theme, he envisioned it being done in the socialist realism art style.

Having recently completed an original screenprint of Gritty as a parody of an Alexander Rodchenko piece, I told Austin I had to be the person to design this label.

Months later, here we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the largest social upheaval this country has seen since the ’60s, and the beer is now available. I’m happy to report that it turned out to be astoundingly good, and this whole thing turned into a project that I am very, very proud of.

If you’re in the Chicagoland region, you can order it for pickup at either of the two Beermiscuous locations or through Bold Dog directly.

Categories
Chicago Design Pop Culture

‘Baseball’s Dad’ & Infrequent Somethings

Hey Friends,

After the success of the calendar and the poster I’ve started a mailing list for you to get updates about my creative projects. I sent out the first email a little earlier to everyone who signed up for the previous two items and I announced a third which is now on sale. You can read about it below.

If you’re interested in signing up to receive the email I’ve embedded a form to the bottom of this post. I promise only to message you when I’ve got something to say and I promise never to share your info with anyone without your explicit consent. Cheers!


So, yesterday was of course ‘Opening Day’ of the baseball season and it was also the launch day of an exciting project I worked on with my friends Erin Watson and NickD. Erin describes it here to her poetry mailing list:

It’s not exactly a poem, but I’m delighted to present a new zine I created with the design help of my loving partner, my friend John Morrison, and my very dumbassed private Twitter account. It is an extended meditation on the dad zeitgeist and baseball as storytelling through the persona of Baseball’s Dad, an ur-father-figure loosely based on Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.
The one poetic aspect of Baseball’s Dad as a project, aside from the repetition of the structure, was choosing exactly what detail would be the most dadlike for each scenario. What song would Baseball’s Dad play to accompany his snifter of good scotch when his handsome baseball sons clinched their spot in the World Series? “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, of course. What cereal would Baseball’s Dad eat straight out of the box in his underwear one late night? Certainly Golden Grahams. It could be no other.
And because I care more about people than baseball franchises, I’m donating half the proceeds from the zine to two Chicago-based organizations that are making the world a little safer for some of the people whose lives are most threatened in our current political hellhole. Check out the great work that 
Brave Space Alliance and CAIR Chicago are doing.
You can buy your copy of the Baseball’s Dad zine right here, or save on shipping and pick it up at Uncharted Books or Quimby’s if you’re local. Or you can wait six weeks and get it at the Left The Prairie table at one of our most wonderful annual events for people who care about independent literature and art, Chicago Zine Fest. (Say hi to me at the Chicago Books to Women in Prison table if you go.)
Happy opening day of baseball to Baseball’s Dad and to you. Enjoy the springtime; reply with any and everything that’s on your mind.

I designed the cover and hand screen printed each of them myself so each one is unique. If you’re interested you should pick one up through Erin’s store. I’m very proud of it and it supports some great causes.

A table covered in screen printed covers to 'Baseball's Dad.'

That’s all for now friend. Go forth and be awesome.
– John

Categories
Chicago Design Pop Culture

‘Be Alert For Fascist Regimes!’ limited edition poster

Be Alert For Fascist Regimes Wrigley Field Parody Poster

This morning I printed up a small number of proofing posters parodying the iconic Wrigley Field ‘Be Alert for Foul Balls!’ signs and will be giving some out for free to on a first come, first serve basis.

If you like the Cubs but you’re not a fan of divisive rhetoric and authoritarian politics I’d be happy to send you one.

Interested? Fill out the form at the link below and I’ll be in touch.

https://subism.activehosted.com/f/2

Cheers!

Categories
Chicago Design

I was bored on my flight to Vancouver…

…so I painted the beautiful weirdo who awkwardly cosplays as Pikachu outside of Wrigley Field.

You can see he is holding the blue cooler where he keeps the cash he charges people to pose with him.

Illustration created in Procreate using the Apple Pencil on my 2016 iPad Pro.