The Fox is Black

  • As part of the look book Bode released for their Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear collection, savvy fashion folks noticed an as yet unannounced collaboration. A number of the models were wearing a pair of black and white Nike sneakers known as the Astro Grabber.

    Bode Hints at Nike Collaboration with An Updated Astro Grabber Sneaker

    The shoe was designed by Nike Co-Founder Bill Bowerman and is known to be one of the earliest models released back in the ’70s, and has yet to be re-released. This definitely fits the bill for what Emily Bode does, and the places she finds inspiration. It also ties neatly into Nike’s continued strategy of collaborating with smaller fashion brands, similar to what they did with Jacquemus last June. So far, nothing has been announced, but I will be buying these whenever they drop.

    Bode Hints at Nike Collaboration with An Updated Astro Grabber Sneaker
    Bode Hints at Nike Collaboration with An Updated Astro Grabber Sneaker
  • In the last few years I feel like my pace of designing has slowed down. This is mostly due to the fact that I have spent the last decade or so managing teams of very talented people. I have definitely designed things that have been critical to campaigns, been more hands-on when necessary, and ultimately, gotten my hands dirty when a project comes down to the wire. But designing for me? Much less so. Because that energy has been focused toward my day job, and we all only have so much to give.

    So, I hopped back into things with a book cover. My tried and true medium for playing and experimenting, I’ll walk you through my design process. I have been doing a lot of Flickr digging lately, finding old photos, textures, type, handwriting, etc to add to my resources folder. I love having a digital archive of things to pull from, my own little toolbox of assets that may one day come in handy. I started out with the photo below, an intense photo of what I believe are a herd of Ankole, a type of long-horned cattle.


    Initially I thought, “maybe this works for a western book, something like Cormac McCarthy´s There Will Be Blood?” Yes, I quickly realized McCarthy did not write There Will Be Blood, Upton Sinclair wrote Oil! which P.T. Anderson based the film on. This rabbit hole lead me to Blood Meridian instead, which I have never read, though I immediately became deeply fascinated with the book. The creative process is a circuitous journey.

    If you’re unfamiliar with Blood Meridian, like I was, it’s set in the mid-19th century, following the journey of a nameless protagonist referred to as “the Kid” as he travels through the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. It explores themes of violence, the human condition, and the nature of evil, and has been praised for its literary merit but has also been criticized for its explicit and disturbing content. This short description really doesn’t do it justice, but it helps give some context for what I created.

    Blood Meridian — Type Assets — AGILITY

    First off, my mind heads toward typography. I love old type, scanned in typefaces or letters, and old handwriting on photos from long ago. There’s a charm that to it all that I never get tired of. Back into my archive I went. I wanted to find three unique styles of type or lettering: one for the title, one for the secondary title, and one for the author’s name. The primary titled needed to have the most visual weight, the secondary title needed to be legible but a tertiary element, while the author’s name should have a fair amount but lay somewhere between primary and secondary in the visual hierarchy of things. I’m going to show you how it all came together, and then describe why I made those choices, as well as some variations.

    Blood Meridian - Cover - Cormac McCarthy - AGILITY

    When I start to lay out the elements, I’ll start with the background. I knew there would be a wonderful tension between the horns of the cattle and the type, and I wanted to emphasize that. The book has a lot of themes of evil, the character of Judge Holden perhaps personifying the devil, and the overall setting maybe being an allegory for hell. So having the cattle sitting toward the bottom, their faces partially obscured with their eyes staring menacingly, the set a perfect tone. The image fills the frame just right, the horns framed perfectly within the bounds of the cover. Again, the idea was to build tension.

    Furthering the idea of tension, I went through a lot of variations with the type for the primary title and ended up with the type bleeding off the edges. It’s not the most original layout, I will confess, yet ultimately it felt the most appropriate to create an overwhelming feeling. I kerned and leaded everything rather tightly so that all the letters and the two words felt like one, cohesive element. Below that I sat the secondary title, space nicely under the end of the M and the end of the A, and positioned neatly between the bottom of MERIDIAN and the top of the cattle horns. When I design I’m often looking for that Goldilocks spot, a place for the type to sit where it feels just right, an emotional understanding devoid of logic.

    Blood Meridian - Cover Close-Up - Cormac McCarthy - AGILITY

    Finally, the author’s name, which in my opinion, is a hugely important element. A lot of people buy a book because of their familiarity with an author. In this case, many people know Cormac McCarthy’s name because of his books (and respective films) The Road and No Country for Old Men. You can see above I pulled the type from an old photo, names written in of each member. I pulled the letters one by one to give a feeling that someone from another time had written McCarthy’s name. I really love the personality and think this turned out quite well. I think the position of his name works really nicely too, sitting nicely in the negative space of the L and resting well on the two O’s.

    I enjoy the monochromatic feeling of this version of the cover of a lot. It reminds me of the stark brutality of the book, of life and death, the harshness of the land “the Kid” faces. But I had to try a red version. “Blood” and “Red” appear in both titles, the color red is present in nearly ever cover that’s been made, it felt wrong not to. This also presented a unique challenge for legibility, and I love a good challenge.

    Blood Meridian - Cover - Cormac McCarthy - AGILITY

    I had to spend a good amount of time finding the right red tone. I didn’t want the red to feel too cartoon-y or vibrant. It had to be more yellow than magenta, as red can easily start to look too pink-y. And overall, the red really decreased the legibility of the cattle, washing out a lot of the details that make it easy to see what at the bottom of the image. Color is a funny thing. For the type, I felt like this dusty gold color sat nicely with the red, and felt tonally appropriate to the book as there’s a lot of mention of coins. It could be hot to have it as a lightly gold metallic sheen. That all said, I do feel like this version feels rather safe and a bit expected, so I created another version that to me, was a bit more contemporary in tone.

    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, design by AGILITY

    I love a magenta and red combination. It’s one of my unabashed go-to’s in design, and I will never get tired of it. In thinking this version through, I’m of two minds. Does this feel tonally correct for the book and the story it tells? Yes, but no. I think the book feels very disorienting and surreal in place and this color combo kind of underlines that. But the two previous versions feel like they hit that mark better. Do I think this would grab attention on a book shelf? Absolutely. At the end of the day, grabbing eyes is a huge part of marketing a book and I think this achieves that. Ultimately, I like all three versions I created, though for very different reasons.

    What do you think? Any one stand out as your particular favorite? I hope seeing behind my process is interesting. I don’t usually externalize all my interior motives, but I had fun going through some of the choices I ended up making. If you have any questions or are looking for guidance on a project, feel free to reach out!

  • Highland Fine Cheese claims their Minger is the stinkiest in the world

    I read a piece last month about Highland Fine Cheese’s “Minger,” a cheese they claim is the stinkiest in the world, and I keep thinking about it. It’s a funny piece that hits a couple areas I find interesting, food and marketing. This quote sums it up well:

    People either love or hate stinky cheese, it’s a polarizing food. But capitalizing on the stench, and naming it Minger, which is slang for someone who is ugly or smells bad, is a perfect combination for grabbing attention. A professor in the article compares it to the act of eating hot chili peppers. There’s a sense of risk and “danger” to the act. It’s a smart move that will hopefully bring more awareness to the small Scottish cheesemakers.

  • The Fox Is Black City Guide to Madrid

    Last week I visited Madrid, Spain’s capital, for the first time, extremely excited to see what wonders the city held. Over my week of visiting I was able to track down some really cool spots, great places to eat and shop in particular. Yet in all honesty, I wasn’t smitten with the city! It felt like it lacked a unique POV, it felt very generically “big European city” which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it was also the fact that I was visiting in winter? I have a feeling that if I visited in late spring or early summer my opinion of the city might be different.

    I also should say that I wasn’t a huge fan of either El Prado or Reina Sofia. Both places were incredibly packed, El Prado more-so, and the signage and flow of both museums were both confusing and frustrating. It was great to see Guernica, and I loved seeing all the Goya’s, but man, it felt like it was so much work to see anything!

    Still, there are lots of great places to explore in the city. I had a number of incredible meals and was able to find some really next level places to shop. Here are my recommendations of places to visit “El Corazón de España.” And as I always do, this is my Google Maps of locations I bookmarked before and during the trip, in case you’re interested!

    ARAIA, restaurant in Madrid

    ARAIA →

    The first place I ate the when I arrived in Madrid set the tone for a series of amazing meals over the trip. ARAIA is a conceptual restaurant with a menu finding inspiration from a mythical, Mediterranean island called Araia, and those people’s culture. Don’t let the fanciful story mislead you. The service was impeccable and very friendly, my partner and I (plus our two dogs!) felt welcome as soon as we walked through the door. The vibes were spot on, plenty of mood and texture, great lighting throughout, and a soundtrack for the night that started out with The Roots. And of course, the food, which I felt was one of the best meals I had during the trip. The star dish in my mind being their take on a cassoulet, which really hit the spot on a cold, winter evening.

    Mediterranean Restaurant

    Formaje, boutique cheese shop in Madrid

    Formaje →

    One of the most beautiful cheese shops in the world. Formaje represents a quesariá that combines old world pragmatism with timeless interior design. The selection of cheeses is overwhelming though the friendly staff makes it easy to find your perfect queso for snacking.

    Quesariá / Cheese

    Sportivo, the best clothes shopping in Madrid


    There is one place I visited during my trip that I really wish existed in Barcelona, and that is SPORTIVO. A pair of clothing stores in located in the Conde Duque area, they carry, in my opinion, the best brands out there. Think A Kind of Guise, Dries Van Noten, BEAMS PLUS, Lady White Co. and so much more, amazing items for everyone. I loved that the store was packed with clothing, and you felt like you could dig around to find uncovered gems. I snagged this beautiful BEAMS PLUS cardigan and I’m obsessed with it!

    Clothing Store —

    GOTA, a small and quaint wine bar in Madrid

    GOTA ->

    One of the very first spots on my list was GOTA, the quaint little wine bar which I wrote about last year. There’s so much to enjoy about the space, with it’s custom built bar area, a record player and mixer embedded within. The seating is limited but cozy, and the wine selection offered me a number of things I hadn’t heard of.

    Natural Wine

    WOW Concept Store Serrano - Maadrid, Spain

    WOW Concept →

    The other most amazing place to go shopping is WOW Concept. There are two stores in Madrid, though I was only able to visit the Serrano location, which you can se above. Think Dover Street Market kind of vibes, lots to choose from, floors and floors of interesting products to peruse. Funny enough, I didn’t have this on my map initially, I luckily walked past it. Be sure to take the time to experience every floor, well worth it.


    Llama Inn, Peruvian restaurant in Madrid, Spain

    Llama Inn ->

    So the other amazing meal I had was at Llama Inn, a contemporary Peruvian restaurant that is neighbors with GOTA. All the food was incredibly inventive, like a quinoa dish with banana, the cocktails were so tasty, and everything was incredibly fresh. I have to say the service here was also exquisite, so major props to Madrid on that.


    ACID Bakehouse, bakery and cafe in Madrid

    ACID Bakehouse ->

    I think the most eclectic and interesting spot I went for coffee had to be ACID, a chain of trendy (in a good way!) coffee shops. I stopped by their Bakehouse location which is, obviously, where they make all their baked goods. The coffees are extremely well prepared, and the aforementioned baked goods are top notch. I loved their grilled cheese sandwich with house-made kimchi. In fact, I liked it so much I brought a bottle home with me!

    Coffee Shop and

    Veja, the madrid shoe outpost designed by Plantea Estudio

    Veja →

    There were few stores that really wow’ed me but I have to hand it to Veja, who has created a flagship store unlike any other. Instead of adding onto the space, the space was stripped back to to show the age and craft that went into it. Again, this is another space by Plantea Estudio, who are basically the kings of fantastic interiors in Madrid.


  • “In a world that often glorifies punctuality and values every minute of our day, it may seem counterintuitive to emphasize the importance of being late. However, there are moments when tardiness can carry its own significance and lessons, reminding us that life’s pace isn’t always a sprint, but sometimes a leisurely stroll.” That is the thinking behind Brutto’s adorable new wall clock, aptly titled BE LATE. It features a mid-century inspired “face” that gives you one time, Twelve, and nothing else, embracing the vibes of being late. I really enjoy the color palette they’ve used here, it feels both fresh and timeless. I imagine I’m going to be seeing a lot of this clock pop up on TikTok.

    BE LATE Wall Clock from Brutto
    BE LATE Wall Clock from Brutto
    BE LATE Wall Clock from Brutto
  • One of my favorite albums of 2023 came from Purelink, made up of Chicago musicians Akeem Asani, Tommy Paslaski, and Ben Paulson. Their album Signs was an instant classic in the world of ambient music, featuring the most luscious looping patterns, an album meant to be heard on repeat. Most recently they released an hour and a half long mix for Resident Advisor, which RA describes as “intricately textured downtempo, dub techno and even UK garage, all cut through with a floaty, almost drowsy quality, with plenty of exclusives and unreleased cuts from the likes of Nick León, James K, Downstairs J and more. It highlights Purelink’s position as a bridger of worlds, sounds and tempos.”

    Purelink - Ambient Music
  • Through my random searches I came across the work of director and cinematographer Joshua Charrow, who was the DP on a New York Times piece on canapés. Like I said, random. In looking into his work, I found this unbelievable touching mini-documentary on Treb Heining, who for the last 30 years has been the man behind all the confetti in Times Square on New Years Eve. Treb has had such an interesting life, and the story itself is so charming, and of course, impeccably shot.

  • Bjørn Lie is a Norwegian artist creating what he calls “Flamboyant Flowers,” a series he started at the beginning of 2023. He describes the series as “a vehicle for me to play and experiment with mark making, to appropriate and reassemble patterns and shapes from as many different sources of inspiration as possible.” The results are similar to botanical illustrations except they’re filled with trippy patterns and textures, creating over-the-top, otherworldly flora.

    Bjørn Lie - Flamboyant Flowers
    Bjørn Lie - Flamboyant Flowers
    Bjørn Lie - Flamboyant Flowers

  • OÍR - January 2024 Mixtape - The Fox Is Black

    Download the Mixtape →

    Happy New Year! I’m so excited it’s 2024. As a part of the new year, I’m starting to do some new things with the site and the newsletter, including more new content, collaborations, interviews, TikTok content, there’s a lot to come. The first thing excited to roll out is a new monthly mixtape series called OÍR, simply the Spanish verb for “to hear” or “to listen to”. The series will highlight the music I’m currently listening to, themes I’ve been thinking about, or songs that express my mood.

    This month’s mix is an ethereal collection of songs to help ease into the new year. It’s a great time to figure out some new goals, new projects, or what changes you want to make in your life, so why not have a mix that helps? The tracks here are from some of my favorite ambient musicians with a Japanese influence to everything. I even managed to throw on an old Atlas Sound track. Hopefully when you listen to this you’ll get a sense of calm and peace. And as a reminder, you can find all my current mixtapes in this Drive folder. I plan on uploading old mixtapes this month, stay tuned.

    Imaginary Softwoods — Destination Stone
    Masahiro Sugaya — Future Green
    Mark Pritchard — Beautiful People w/ Thom Yorke
    Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV — Grigori in Jakarta
    The Kyoto Connection — Inoue
    David Edren & H.Takahashi — Ghost Count 木霊数え
    Masakatsu Takagi — Smell Up On The Moon
    Whatever The Weather — 10°C
    Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano — Atelier
    Young Marco — Sacred Space
    Nosaj Thing — Condition w/ Toro y Moi
    Zander Raymond — Gap in the Breakwater
    Atlas Sound — Quark Part 2

  • I bought a new wallet earlier this year (because sadly, my bag was stolen inside of a restaurant) but unfortunately, I find it to be too large. In an age of digital payments the number of cards I really need to carry day-to-day is rather insignificant. Not that I even carry my wallet anymore, opting for a cross body or tote bag usually. Still, I find my current wallet, however beautiful the natural leather may be, unnecessarily large.

    So what would I describe as the optimal wallet? Currently I feel like Postalco makes my favorite, their Mini Wallet in Deep Green. As the site states, “ID, credit cards, a bit of cash and a few coins all encased in a slim wallet. Carefully crafted to be as thin as possible and still feel great in hand.” It should be as simple as that.

    Postalco Mini Wallet, made in Japan
    Postalco Mini Wallet, made in Japan