Moody, textural illustrations by Karolis Strautniekas

Karolis Strautniekas

Karolis Strautniekas

These days I find so many new artists and creatives via Instagram. For example, I came across the work of Karolis Strautniekas, a Lithuanian based illustrator via a comment on a recent photo I took. Diving down the rabbit hole I discovered his beautifully moody work. i love his use of color, particularly the rich blue tones he uses, as well as the texture that’s ever present, giving his work a tactility and grit. He’s also quite adept at light and shadow which gives each piece a unique depth. Also be sure to check out the video at the end of the post which brings his work to life.

Karolis Strautniekas

Joanna Newsom’s music video for “Sapokanikan”, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Joanna Newsom - "Divers" album art

After 5 years (how does the time pass so quickly?!) Joanna Newsom is back with a new album this fall, October 23, titled Divers. Kicking off the release is a new music video for the song “Sapokanikan”, directed by auteur director Paul Thomas Anderson. I did a bit of searching and Sapokanikan is a Native American word which relates to a “habitation site and cultivated area by the cove on the Hudson River at present day Gansevoort Street, Greenwich Village.” Not sure the meaning but Genius has a pretty good rundown of a lot of the references in the song.

The video isn’t particularly remarkable, it’s a montage of Newsom wandering around New York shot on a hand held camera, but the song itself is really beautiful. It’s nice that she continues to evolve musically (aka less harp) though, I didn’t care for Have One On Me as much as I enjoyed the weird, sprawling cacophony that was Ys. We’ll see where she ends up with this new album.

On a side note, does anyone else get a Fionna Apple vibe from Newsom? It’s funny considering PT’s past with Fiona. Maybe he has a type?

Want to experience Paris more fully? Ride the Velib

Arc de Triomphe

There are many ways to get around Paris, walking, the Metro, Uber, renting a car. During our trip, Kyle and I preferred the more adventurous option, the Velib. For those not familiar, the Velib (a combination of the words vélo and liberté) is Paris’ bike sharing network with over 1200 bike stations and 18,000 bikes, the second largest after China. I used to be a pretty avid rider, riding 8 miles a day to and from work, and Kyle currently rides 18 miles round trip to work on the west side. Naturally, this option fit us best.

Initially I was concerned with biking around Paris because of the traffic and my uncertainty about the streets, though my concerns slipped away quickly. Parisian motorists are quite respectful of bicyclists, most slowing or stopping for you, and were generally extremely careful. The most dangerous situations I ran into (not literally) were the tourists who would walk through the cross walks without looking.

If you derive any sort of joy from riding bikes I absolutely recommend this option. There’s a beauty and freedom to joyriding around a city that you don’t quite know, and cities don’t get much more beautiful than Paris.

(Sidenote: I took the photo above as I was riding my bike to the Palais De Tokyo. The roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe is a ton of cars and motorcycles going in every crazy direction and I was pretty proud of snapping this while I was moving!)

Wolfgang Puck cooks up a new brand identity

New Wolfgang Puck Branding

When I think of Wolfgang Puck, I think of… well nothing really comes to mind. To be honest, I imagine that horrible chef who yells at people and somehow has a TV show where he yells even more. Perhaps that’s the problem, I can’t off the top of my head think of who Mr. Puck is? I’m pretty sure I’ve had one of his sandwiches before but the memory is fuzzy.

Thanks to Pearlfisher, this might be changing. The London/NY based design agency has cooked up an elegant new identity for Wolfgang and his fleet of brands, which range from catering to the aforementioned sandwiches. This includes a new mark as well as a hairline logo which in my opinion looks quite sophisticated. The comments on Brand New disagree with my opinion though I think less is more with the overall identity which will help it stand out against their competitors. My only question: Where did the bar go in the A?

New Wolfgang Puck Branding

wolfgang_puck_business_cards

wolfgang_puck_summary_dining

Contrary to the stereotype, the French are quite nice

the French are quite nice

The French are mean. Ok, maybe “mean” is a bit harsh but sure, they’re not the most cuddly of cultures. Personally, I would define them as direct and to the point (but not as bad as the Germans). From my short experience in France thet simply don’t have time for your bullshit, which I absolutely respect. Do you want help? Put up your hand and “Pardon!” and “Excusé et moi!” someone until they come over. Be ready to order (in French, don’t be rude) and get to the point. I’m certain this is why many Americans are turned off by French culture.

Two stories:

Kyle and I were having drinks at Le Mary Celeste, our second time there, when a couple sat down next to us at the bar. I didn’t pay much attention to them but after about 20 minutes, noticed them again because the woman looked irked. Curious, I watched them for a bit, then realized they hadn’t ordered yet because no one had specifically came by to get their order. It was their faces though, that look of sheer annoyance at their seeming neglect, must drive French people crazy. Or perhaps they get a sick pleasure from it…

My favorite story is when we were on our way back from Deauville, a small city on the coast northwest of Paris. The train stopped, as it does many times along the way, so we sat there waiting for it to go again, when a young woman remarked, “The train has stopped, you’re going to Paris, yeah?” We nodded and she gestured and said, “Follow me.” It was obvious we were unaware of the situation yet she was kind enough to guide us to our next train, which was several tunnels and flights of stairs away. We would have realized this eventually, but I was quite thankful for her generosity.

My favorite museum in Paris: Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Museums in Paris were kind of a nightmare. This statement might be true of any major metropolitan museum but it was especially true of our recent experience. Kyle and I rode by Le Louvre one day and it looked like a madhouse with what looked like thousand of people milling about, Coachella in Paris. We couldn’t do it. Another day we attempted the Musée d’Orsay and again we were confronted with horrible lines. Time is valuable and I didn’t have the patience (the we did wait in crazy line at Versailles, which I would argue is worth it). The workaround for this line dilemma was visting the Palais de Tokyo, which generously open from noon till midnight every day but closed on Tuesdays.

Here’s my recommendation: Arrive for dinner at Tokyo Eat, their fantastic restaurant which is currently outside for the summer, around 9pm (try the Curry Rouge, très fantastique). After you enjoy some food and drinks, simply walk into the Palais, stress free. The current exhibits featuring Patrick Neu, Justin Just, and Tianzhuo Chen were beautiful representations of contemporary art, all quite immersive as well. Highly recommended.

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

8 books to round out your summer reading list

8 books to round out your summer reading list

Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories by Christina TosiBuy it here
I don’t have a sweet tooth but I’m a sucker for a good life story. That’s why you get with Christina Tosi’s newest book which highlights the inspirations for many of the incredible treats she serves at Momofuku Milk Bar along with plenty of other oddball meals and confections. You’ll find recipes for exotic items like Smoked-Cantaloupe Jam, Kitchen-Sink Quiche, Crock-Pot Cake, and a gem called XXXL Lady Salad. I personally bought the book primarily to read her anecdotal stories which I found charming, endearing and inspiring. One of my favorite parts is the simple acknowledgment which reads, “To the old folks who keep me longing to be a wise and weathered should and to the young’uns who remind me to never grow up.” Amen sister.

Munari’s Books: The Definitive Collection of Book Designs by Bruno Munari by Giorgio MaffeiBuy it here
When surveying the current landscape of graphic design you see the finger prints of Bruno Munari everywhere. He approached design with the eye of an artist and created works of art that were perfectly designed. Now author Giorgio Maffei has created a definitive collection of Munari’s covers which spans an astonishing 70 years. The documentation that goes along with each cover is as impressive as the work itself, delving into details like the printer, the format, print runs, and anecdotes from the books themselves. A must for design history buffs.

A Book of Things by Jasper MorrisonBuy it here
I’m quite an admirer of Jasper Morrison and his honest, straightforward approach to product design. How book Super Normal, which he co-wrote, continues to be one that inspires me, highlighting the beauty of normal objects, objects that we overlook because of their normalcy. Working together with Lars Müller, he’s gathered together a retrospective of sorts documenting many of the incredible pieces he’s made over the years.

What I loved about this book is his candor and critique of his own work. He’ll clearly state that a simple stool he designed “costs a lot of money” because it was made of solid aluminum, but he enjoys “the flashiness given to such a humble object.” Or the time he was asked to “design the finest analogue alarm clock – ever!” which he humbly states, “but in the end, though it might not be the finest ever, we made a nice alarm clock.” This for me is an interesting read because you can glean into the mind of a fellow creative, get a glimpse at the motivations.

Ana of California by Andi TeranBuy it here
Many of you will remember TFIB contributor Andi Teran, one of the most talented writers I know. She took a break from contributing to the site to work full time on her first novel, which is now out and titled Ana of California. The book is a modern adaptation of Ana of Green Gables, told from the point of view of young Ana Cortez, a fifteen-year-old orphan from East Los Angeles who’s looking for one last chance on a Northern California farm.

Andi’s writing is incredibly fluid and easy to digest. The words slip right off the page and directly into your mind where her world opens up to you. Ana is a fantastic character, certainly the contemporary that young women need, and you can’t help but root for her along her journey.

Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes – Buy it here
This was the book that inspired me write this round-up. You may have heard of Dominique Ansel, but only if you live in New York. What you are familiar with his delectable creation, The Cronut, which became the most duplicated (read: ripped off) pastry in the world. His work as a pastry chef is legendary in the food world and the treats he creates are akin to art.

In his book, The Secret Recipes, he dedicates the first half to telling stories, how he got to where he is, where he gathers his inspiration, and the challenges he faces when trying something new. The second half are the most gorgeous recipes you’ll ever find, and if you’re like me, couldn’t bake to save your life. Still, like the Milk Bar book above this book was about highlighting creativity, not so much about reading recipes. Inspiration comes from all creative fields!

Spoiled Brats by Simon RichBuy it here
My partner Kyle recently started Bük Kloob, a monthly book club that we share with some of our friends. The first book he assigned to the group was Simin Rich’s Spoiled Brats, a collection of short stories centered around, you guessed it, spoiled brats. Overall the book had some clever stories, the ones that were obviously not inspired by his own life being the best, plus it was a quick read. I don’t think this book lives up to the hype (or the Patton Oswald penned NY Times review) but if you like reading about millennial problems, this might be for you.

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineBuy it here
I’ve had many people tell me that I would enjoy Ready Player One, funny enough it also happened to be the Bük Kloob pick for this month, so I finished this while on my trip to Paris. The story is of Wade Wilson, a boy who escapes his not so great life through the OASIS, a virtual reality world with unlimited potential. When the creator of the OASIS passes away he leaves his fortunes to the person who can find The Egg, kicking off the most intense scavenger hunt ever.

The book was quite fun, though unfortunately it was trying to be a lot of things at once. I boiled it down to Harry Potter with about a million 80’s references, which the OASIS creator was obsessed with. Some of the challenges Wade faced had me on the edge of my seat, but the book fails a bit when it comes to dialogue, sounding like your dad trying to write cool kid lingo.

The Manual – Issue 4 – Buy it here
There are very few publications dedicated to the design of the web. Specifically stories about experiences that we in this profession can relate to, not canned tutorials about Photoshop or “16 Shocking Secrets You Never Knew About InDesign. No, The Manual aims to bring discourse and conversations to the field, something that’s sorely lacking.

My favorite piece is by David Cole titled Made to Measure, which speaks about the role of data in design. Focus to closely on the data and it could have adverse effects on say, your brand integrity, though avoiding the entirely means you’re living in a cave. I did have issue though with the first story by Craig Mod though which felt like and entitled bit of fluff. If only we all had the resources to “give ourselves permission” to walk through lush, moss-covered forest cemeteries and then take a trip to Africa. It’s also worth noting that there are some great illustrations in the book by some of my faves like Jen Mussari, Richard Perez, and Philipp Dornbierer.

When you eat Parisian, you hear American

Croissants at Loustic

This was a random detail I noticed as we ate and drank our way around Paris. I would estimate that nearly 95% of the places we stopped in were playing American oldies. There was Neil Young at Palais de Tokyo, Don McLean at Le Mary Celeste, or Stevie Wonder at Andy Wahloo. I (stereotypically) expected to hear French classics, like the Serge Gainsbourg or Jane Birkin, but it was *mostly* American hits from the the 60’s to the 80’s, maybe the 90’s. I suppose I didn’t realize the amount of influence American music had on French culture until visiting.