Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

San Francisco has a super special new thing going on this summer. Levi’s Workshop/Print (a two-month pop-up community letterpress/silkscreen printshop) has opened in the Mission. I went to the opening night and stopped in again on Saturday, talked a bit with a few of the staff, and can’t stop thinking about how great it’s going to be.

The Workshops are places for creation, inspiration, and collaboration. We’re excited to bring the first of these experiences to life right in our own backyard. Located in San Francisco’s iconic Mission District (home to one of the first Levi’s® factories), we’ve opened up a community print shop. During July and August we’ll be hard at work teaching classes on classic letterpress machinery, screenprinting designs, setting type, and getting our hands dirty.

The facade: I love that they whitewashed and reclaimed the existing Biltmore Laundry sign with its classic Americana shape (see a great slideshow here) and mostly am a fan of the exhaustive list of types of workers (including blogger) on the facade, paid off with the Holzer Truisms-esque neon sign “Everyone’s Work is Equally Important.” But I am disappointed that they put it up in a handwriting font and not either traditionally handlettered or, if it has to be type, at least use the much more well-done Pettibon/McFetteridge-esque handlettering type used all over the site’s css.

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My analysis: So normally I’d have a fair amount of skepticism for such a display of big-company-throwing-money-at-coolness, but there’s many ways that this is distinct from your average marketing exercise from the likes of Nike.

  1. Levi’s is a San Francisco company; their original plant was operating at 14th and Valencia until 2002. Plus of course, jeans were worker’s attire before becoming the greatest American sartorial export, making both the location/community and the “work” theme are not just genuine but resonant.
  2. Their choices of collaborators are not just buzz names (like Sagmeister, Fairey, Aaron Rose) but community-local (The Women’s Building, SoEx, Mother Jones, Mission Grafica) and public-pedagogical innovators (Alice Waters, Craig Newmark, 826) if not some combination of the three. It’s a group that is both nigh-unimpeachable and impressively progressive.
  3. The overall feel is much more public, conversational, accessible, educational and positive than it is branded-marketing-pushy. Which I hope is a sign of changing attitudes towards marketing in general.
  4. In an era of “new media” being everyone’s buzzword, it’s heartening to see this embrace of old media, of “getting one’s hands dirty.” Though no doubt twitter, facebook, blogs (not to mention jumbotrons) will amplify the message, the media in question isn’t apps and Mafia Wars but real ink, screens and presses — newspapers, broadsheets, posters, books, public propaganda. Both letterpress and arts education are under constant threat of disappearance and this public celebration is welcome. It’s easy to see how this will translate into other workshops: photography and music have both gone digital as surely as printing, and a space for darkrooms with, say Jonathan Kozol or for 8-track masters with Jack White is a beautiful idea.

I have no reservations saying that this workshop is a fantastic thing, and I’m hoping that it becomes the textbook example of corporate social responsibility, (cultural edition). I am excited about the next two months and only sad that it won’t become a permanent fixture of the Valencia corridor. After August, they’ll close back down, some version of the Slanted Door will move back in, and a new Levi’s workshop centered around photography will open in New York for two months.

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Some of the programs I’m particularly interested in after the jump.

Continue reading Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

Etsy-Schmetsy: This is only a test

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Mmmm, overprintalicious. Credits and comments after the jump.

Continue reading Etsy-Schmetsy: This is only a test

Home Sweet Home

While we’re on the subject of lovely prints with scroll-y lettering, Seb Lester has just released this limited edition print, Home Sweet Home. It is printed in white on Mirri paper that shifts color depending on the angle it is viewed at. It seems really rad. Check out the video below to see the color change in action.

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His show at Electrik Sheep Gallery opens this Thursday, so if you happen to be in Newcastle, you should check it out; I bet it will be awesome.

Etsy Schmetsy: Loads of Totes

Whether you are carrying around a sketchbook and tools or you’re headed off to the flea market or grocery store, a tote is totally the accessory you need. It has become a vehicle for self-expression, more fashionable and functional than a tee shirt.

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Row 1: LAYERxlayer; raeburn ink; Moop
Row 2: Bao Studio; The Small Object; Happy Cat
Row 3: Loyalty & Blood; Rainbow Swirlz; Sveika
Row 4: golcar house; Pat&Cake; Happy Family
Row 5: Ginnip; Lotay10; mycutehandbags

TypograFriday: Microcosm

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Every once in a while, a sample set presents itself which offers a fascinating glimpse into the trends and influences of the day. This flickr set of 35 posters for the Flight of the Concords 2009 North American tour is one such example.

The disparate designers of these posters had no unified design spec, though of course they had the same band/tv show/season of year to reference. And yet looked at as a whole, a shocking number come back to the same overall colorschemes (midtone blues, greens and tans, very few dark colors). And in terms of type trends, the set reflects a terrific microcosm of what’s going on in the world of “indie”-flavored typography right now: filled-counter letters are inexplicably still super-hot across many subcultures, lifting from the 70s is perfectly OK, and innocently irregular hand lettering conveys a sense of rakish charm second only to Bret and Jermaine themselves.

Credits for type collage (for each artist, the first link goes to an image of the full poster on flickr, and the second goes to their own site)
Row 1: Diana Sudyka (website), Eyenoise (website)
Row 2: Doublenaut (website), The Silent Giants (website)
Row 3: Nate Duval (website), Mike Davis of Burlesque Design (website)
Row 4: El Jefe Design (website), DKNG (website)
Row 5: Tyler Stout (website), Delicious Design League (website)

show posters

Three of the four experts are going to see the Decemberists play tonight at the newly-restored and reopened, historic Fox Theater in Oakland. Since I’m a big fan of silkscreen, gig posters and the Decemberists, here is a collection of some of their beautiful show posters.

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Even more posters, and all the poster credits, after the jump.

Continue reading show posters

creative mapping

I love seeing the ways in which different artists approach the same theme. The four artists below use the boundaries of maps to create beautiful pieces of art all in distinct styles and media.

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I’ve been admiring these State Maps from Frank Chimero for a while — I first saw them at his shop at 1000 Markets where you can get prints of the individual states (in addition to selling at 1000 Markets, he also works as the interaction designer for the site). You can see see more of his work on his site and if you’d like to learn more about his work and process, there is an extensive interview over on Grain Edit.

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Great typographic City Neighborhood posters by Ork Posters; available both as posters and screenprints in a variety of colorways.

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The World

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Detail from Manhattan, 2007

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Middle East, 2007

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Paris
, 2007
I would love to see these amazing typographic map paintings by Paula Scher in person. I have a feeling that the images online don’t really do them justice — the level of detail looks unbelievable. View more maps at Paula Scher’s site and at the Maya Stendhal Gallery.

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I’ve become quite a fan of cut paper recently. Check out this beautiful map of Paris by Famille Summerbelle.
via black eiffel

Behind every clever girl…

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For me, this card by egg-a-go-go, falls into a similar category as the magnets for married people, but I think it is just hysterical.

In addition to the cards, this design is available as a print and, according to her shop announcement, there will be t-shirts soon too.

Print Liberation

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I ordered the book Print Liberation for Owen for Christmas, but it sold out everywhere before it arrived. The book finally got here today, and I am super excited. I’ve been wanting us to get back into traditional screenprinting (instead of just gocco) for a while now and I think this book might give us the push we need.