Categories
Chicago Design

‘Be a Light’ Video and Screen Prints

A few months ago, I was in the shower listening to the news, and I heard something about the Biden campaign talking about being “a light in the darkness.”

I was immediately reminded of the song ‘Be a Light’ by my good friend Jess Godwin.

This song has always stuck out to me as one of Jess’s most powerful songs, and it was the one that wound up being licensed and featured on the TV show ‘Dance Moms,’ which garnered Jess a lot of attention and a new audience. I threw it on and listened to it right then.

The lyrics struck me hard. Themes of conflict and division, hate, and frustration. It was originally released in 2012, but it felt like it was speaking about today. I could instantly see a montage of protests in the streets fitting perfectly to the song. So I gave Jess a call and—just weeks before her wedding—pitched her on the idea of revisiting the track as part of a ‘Get out the vote’ effort and letting me do a screen print and video to accompany it.

Knowing her time was limited, she was reluctant but got excited about the idea. We talked about changing the track somehow and making it exclusively available on Bandcamp as a ‘Name your price’ with all the money going to ‘My Block, My Hood, My City’ a Chicago based charity that seeks to provide underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. She was on board and reached out to her friend, the amazing JC Brooks to join her.

And well, here we are. Jess worked with Yuri Lysoivanov to rework the track, and it turned out incredible. With less than a week to the election, the video came a little later than I would have liked, but I’m immensely proud of it, and it was a delight to work with Jess and JC to create something so personal to each of us.

I sincerely hope you’ll take a look. It is an emotional rollercoaster ride but a true labor of love. I don’t fancy myself to be a director/editor. Still, I do enjoy getting to express myself in video from time to time, and the feedback among those who have watched it has been overwhelmingly positive.

Purchase the song

Purchase the screenprint

Watch the video

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 General Technology

Congratulations to ActiveCampaign on 100K Customers

Today ActiveCampaign announced they had surpassed 100,000 customers and over $100 million in annual recurring revenue.

When I joined the company in 2013, we were a team of 10 in a tiny office downtown. At that point, we were still transitioning from a downloadable software to a software-as-a-service model and had not yet launched the company’s flagship automation builder that would go on to spike our insane growth path.

Something that has set ActiveCampaign apart from its competitors is its dedication to customer care. Although the company has changed dramatically, and not EVERY practice has scaled (at one point, I would designate a half-hour at the end of every day to handwrite a personal thank you card to every customer who purchased an enterprise account) the team’s commitment to being customer-centric has never wavered. I believe if they can keep that as their guiding light, they will continue to find success.

I’m incredibly proud of the product I built at AC, but I’m even more proud of the fantastic customers and colleagues I helped in the process.

The company released this video this morning, which inspired me to write something. The video not only features a photo with me in it but a few that I shot while working there. It made me smile, and I’m proud to share it. Congrats to the whole ActiveCampaign team. Here’s to 100,000 more!

Cheers!

Categories
Chicago General Photography

Returning to the Impossible

An Polaroid-style instant photograph depicting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.
Lincoln Square, Chicago – 1 April 2020

From January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014 I took a single instant photograph a day every day with a vintage Polaroid camera and ‘Impossible Project’ instant film. And then I stopped.

With all of this corona virus stuff going on, and us all trapped at home, and many of us unemployed, I figured it was time to start creating again.

To maintain my physical and mental health I’ve been cycling daily throughout Chicago (don’t worry, I’ve been wearing a mask and gloves, and keeping proper social distance from everyone else) so I decided to pull out some of my instant cameras and start sharing what I see with the world.

So, ‘The Impossible Year’ is back… for now. We’ll see how long I keep it up.

This content will be posted primarily to Tumblr via the original blog: https://theimpossibleyear.com but I’ll also be cross sharing it to Twitter and Facebook as well. I hope you’ll join me.

Cheers,

John

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