Archive for March, 2011

DIY Spaces of the Tugboat 37

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_4448" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Basement Studio | 20th & C, Lincoln, NE"][/caption] When the Tugboat Gallery reopened in April of 2008, I enthusiastically said yes to the invitation of doing the monthly exhibition posters. One 12x18 screenprinted poster a month, editions of 60ish, for three years. Designed and hand-pulled in three different DIY studio locations over the years and put up on the streets of downtown Lincoln by the Tugboat crew. Tugboat Gallery is an alternative gallery located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. It's run by Peggy Gomez and Tugboat's new co-captain Nolan Tredway. Joey Lynch and Jake Gillespie, along with Peggy, made up the initial force behind its creation. Located above Gomez Art Supply in the Parrish Studios, it's part of a flourishing downtown art scene and a place to see some of the finest artwork in the Midwest. And the spaces where the posters were printed were equally as fine. [caption id="attachment_4492" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Print Here"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_4449" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Bemis Underground | Downtown, Omaha, NE"][/caption] The first studio, where screenprinting for me all began, was in the basement of a big old house on 20th and C in Lincoln's historic district. Amidst boxes and other junk stored by the various tenants—including one Jason Hardy—coating, exposing, blasting, pulling and hanging all went down in the evening hours after the graphic designer day job. I was way into posters at the time and Tugboat was the perfect project. The designing typically happened fast with the printing process taking up to 8-12 hours depending on number of colors and print complexity. There wasn't too much time to over think the design, and what happened was, for the most part, a satisfying result that kept my own design process moving forward and on its toes. While speaking to the art, the final design really just had to look badass. Once it did, it was time to print. I'd get the names of the artists (typically a group show), the name of the exhibition (occasionally Peggy or I would have to come up with one) and some images of the work being displayed, then I'd get to it. Design the poster, get approval from Peggy, and on to the screenprinting—transparencies, coating, exposing, blasting, printing, reclaiming. Repeat. It felt raw. Down and dirty. It smelled of ink and emulsion. It felt like wood and paper. And it looked delightful as the colors would layer over top of each other. Indeed, blue over yellow makes green. And magenta over turquoise looks fucking awesome. [caption id="attachment_4450" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Old Hardware Store | Vinton Street, Omaha, NE"][/caption] When my wife Katie and I moved to Omaha, Joey Lynch let me in on both of his spaces over the course of the next 2+ years. The first was in the Bemis Underground, the second in an old former hardware store in south Omaha. Generously shared spaces complete with power washer and drying rack. And lots more room to let the ink fly and the tape deck spin. The solid array of Jason's unrivaled mixtapes that accumulated over the years is quite impressive. What can I say, no one makes a mixtape like Jason Hardy. No one. All three spaces were as DIY as it gets—from the light tables, to the blast area, to the printing press. They were inspiring zones of "getting down to the making" and uncomplicated hideouts from the business side of graphic design. The first, since Jason and I both lived in apartments in the old house, was a place for collaboration, late night concepting and frequent beer drinking. The Omaha spots were home to the artwork and endeavors Joey was involved in. Inspiring to say the least, with huge artwork screens, print projects for Saddle Creek Records and the creation of the Daily Grub all happening around the printing of poster after poster. Looking back at the three-year collection of poster after poster, Three Way might be my favorite. Four colors, three arrows, two screens and one cow. Enough said. [caption id="attachment_4453" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Three Way | September 2008"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_4535" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Stacks of Tugboats"][/caption] I've now moved on from being the "Tugboat Poster Designer." With evolving interests and new work opportunities, I'm focusing the screenprinting aspect of my design practice on personal projects and collaborative efforts. But, of course, the Tugboat 37 will always have a special place in my heart. As will the spaces where the shit went down. VIEW ALL 37 POSTERS -- Justin Kemerling, Designer.

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 Teachers Ask. You Choose. Students Learn. Such a wonderful project. In the face of senseless education cuts, people can put their money where their mouth is. For the teachers, for the students, here we go.


Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Love this site. You should too.

Help Japan

Friday, March 18th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_4430" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Poster by Max Erdenberger"][/caption] From the W+K Studio online store:
  • Upon learning of the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 we felt a helplessness that compelled us to do something. We quickly designed this poster and offered it as a thanks for anyone donating at least $25 to the relief effort through our site. We'll be donating the net proceeds to the Red Cross.
For more efforts like this, visit GOOD.


Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
A documentary film by Josh Fox about deception, corruption, profiteering and pollution. A must watch. Note: Many f-bombs were dropped in the watching of this film.


Thursday, March 10th, 2011
INSIDE JOB received this year's Oscar for Best Documentary. It's quite a powerful and infuriating film about our financial system and how it crashed and burned. And why no one on Wall Street went to jail. (Note: the only reason Madoff went to jail was because his illegalities hurt other rich people, period.) Watch it, and if, for some reason, you still think the reason all the cards came crashing down was because some poor people bought houses they couldn't afford, well then I think it's time for a cage match.

Reset with Rediscovery

Monday, March 7th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_4361" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Talk to me about (Graphic) Design, Collaboration, Activism + Projects"][/caption] I'm just going to say it. This whole Work/Life balance thing, well I am struggling with it, straight up. I've focused a good bit of 2011 thus far thinking about the idea of Work. My work, the type of projects I do and how I want them to fit in to a larger community. And really take the time to consider what the answer to this question is: "and what do you do?" Well, how about: I frantically run around in circles for 16-18 hours a day until I get really dizzy and then fall into a deep trance-like state for 6-8 hours until I suddenly am jolted back into attention and then do the circle thing all over again. Or maybe just this for my title and tagline: Constant Worker Man, Doing or Thinking about Work, 24/7. That may sound somewhat interesting, but it can be really exhausting. Needless to say when I left my home office in Omaha to go on a weeklong travel excursion to California, I wasn't necessarily excited to be getting away, just more tired with the thought of traveling and working from the road. But, despite having so much mindblowing information smashed into my brain, I come back to the Work/Life challenges of a graphic designer with a very satisfying feeling of having been thoroughly reset. Thank you, TED. I was invited to TEDActive 2011 in the middle of last year and it's been this strange thing just hanging out in my mindspace since. Now that it's finally happened, there are two things I know for certain: 1) there is no conference like it 2) if everybody was able to go at some point in their lives, let's just say things would be different. The theme this year for TED was the Rediscovery of Wonder. From art to science to politics to culture to invention to leadership and on and on, that's exactly what it was. From the food truck party to the pool side party to the desert adventure, it was good times had by all, with conversation, discussion and some serious pondering. And I feel very lucky to have been in the company of wonderfully friendly and interesting people. The conference website has all the highlights from each day from all 12 sessions. I've already posted some of the very best, including JR's TED Wish for everyone in communities all across the world to participate in a global art project. And the extremely timely and very powerful talks on the democracy movements in the Middle East by Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, and Google executive Wael Ghonim. Yes, I enjoyed the talk by David Brooks, even though I think he's wrong a lot. Stanley McChrystal was insightful even though I think he has some serious questions to answer for about our conduct in the "War on Terror." And Indra Nooyi's talk about the Pepsi Refresh Project was inspiring to see such a corporate force doing so much good in the world, despite the fact Pepsi is in the business of unhealthy sugar water, which is questionable at best. But the point is to listen. And to think and readjust, as well as to rediscover. The architecture of Heatherwick Studio. The virtual choir of Eric Whitacre. The spoken word poetry of Sarah Kay. The curatorial shenanigans of Shea Hembrey. The pounding drums of the LA Samba School. The photography of Paul Nicklen. The film vision of Morgan Spurlock. The amazing education available from the Khan Academy. The way Anthony Atala gets a printer to create a kidney. And how Harvey Fineberg thinks we might choose how we evolve. The utter importance of being wrong with Kathryn Schulz. The World Peace Game with John Hunter. Visually amazing data visualizations from Deb Roy. Beautiful human music from Bobby McFerrin. Magic berry pills with Homaro Cantu. Jack Horner and the Jurassic qualities of chickens. And a life-size puppet horse (with human rider) from Handspring. It was so inspiring to get the progress on Jamie Oliver's 2010 TED Wish. (Yes, TED is not all talk. TED gets shit done, no doubt about it.) And having worked with Eli Pariser on the slides he used in his talk about information filtering on the web, I can definitely say the build-up, and the nerves, and the pressure leading up to a talk is quite monumental, and it wasn't even my talk and I wasn't even in Long Beach. The TEDYou feature of the TEDActive event, where attendees get to pitch their own mini-TED Talks, had some very good presentations. One by Sebastian Wernicke captured the entire idea of TED quite well, in six words; "What me worry, I'd rather wonder." When it's all said and done, TED is not only about wondering, it's about listening. It's about a worldview that is hopeful. Every single session is such a powerful force. An hour and 45 minutes of immense intensity, ups and downs, compelling information and astounding creativity, it's an emotional roller coaster that can leave your brain just a bit mushy. Laugh, cry, dream and have an optimistic view of the future, even if there's areas where it's a little cloudy. Coming back to the Work/Life challenge now, I feel much better equipped. Refreshed and hopeful. It's safe to say I feel I've rediscovered the wonder and am reset, ready to go. And what better way to close a conference about our hopeful future on this planet we call Earth, than with a little Tom Morello. With a fiery rendition of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," live in the desert, we all sang along, loudly: This land was made for you me. [caption id="attachment_4365" align="alignnone" width="540" caption=""This land is your land, this land is my land...""][/caption] Now it's day one back at Work. It's only a little brisk out. I think I'll take a walk. And I'm going to go slow. -- Justin Kemerling, Designer.

Inside the Egyptian Revolution

Saturday, March 5th, 2011
Another new video posted from TED2011. On revolution 2.0, with a vision of winning because "we don't understand politics," and the extreme importance of its aftermath summed up from an Egyptian taxi driver; "I am breathing freedom."
  • Wael Ghonim is the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt's democratic revolution ... with a Facebook page memorializing a victim of the regime's violence. Speaking at TEDxCairo, he tells the inside story of the past two months, when everyday Egyptians showed that "the power of the people is stronger than the people in power."

Ads Worth Spreading

Friday, March 4th, 2011
TED Initiatives » Ads Worth Spreading Interesting new initiative from TED; celebrating ads that do more than sell.
  • With this competition, we're seeking to reverse the trend of online ads being aggressively forced on users. We want to nurture ads so good you choose to watch. On, ads run after our talks, not before. This means they can run longer than the TV-standard 30 seconds. And that's the key! In 2-3 minutes, there's enough time to really tell a story, share an idea, make an authentic human connection, become unforgettable. Instead of ambush, they offer pleasurable, intelligent engagement.

JR’s TED Prize Wish

Friday, March 4th, 2011
The talk, so moving. The artist, so inspiring. It MUST spread to communities across the world. It is up to us. It is time to act, to do, to make change.
  • JR, a semi-anonymous French street artist, uses his camera to show the world its true face, by pasting photos of the human face across massive canvases. At TED2011, he makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out. Learn more about his work and learn how you can join in at