The Brilliance!

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#INTERNET Ah, we're back! Like we said, we were just "chilling out" for like 3 years. Feels good to have the team back writing. Still us three: Chuck, Benjamin, and Virgil. Got new interviews coming up, and hopefully we'll be posting on a regular basis, who knows. We also interviewed each other, check: CHUCK, BENJAMIN, VIRGIL...

Just Bought: RAF SIMONS x Eastpak Backpack!!!

&designerMy new ongoing series of posts. I admit I am a consumer and I love design and pay attention to brands so this is gonna work out perfect. So I mentioned I was seriously anticipating these backpacks to come out since I saw the first images pop-up on the net. DHL came by yesterday and dropped one off just for me. Seriously, from the moment I opened up that packaging I go the impression that this is a “designers” backpack. Every single detail was thought about, perfected….colors, material, fabrication, the oversize-ness of the shape, the packaging….how the pocket enclosures work, the whole triangular theme. I was the kid with like 3-4 backpack a school year so I have seen my fair share. On the market, the backpack to beat is any Visvim models, which is like a Burton AK pack with super soft elk leather, the best Cordura nylon, no grain straps etc. The RAF pack is not on that level of material quality but makes up for it with the aesthetic. Like pushing arguably the best backpack of all time, the Louis Christopher with a military tint to a more modern utilitarian place. Raf Simons all together is an unknown designer, check out this perfectly timed article to see why he’s important and why I am doing all this typing about a backpack, ha.

My new fix: Resurgence of the Soul Sample blog!

Music…they don’t make it like they used to. So we sample it. Old soul, R&B, rock, funk, groove, lounge, etc…whatever. I’m starting to get obsessed with old classics. What happened to music with ‘essence’ like that?? Even with pretty poor recording quality it has more FEEL to it than half the stuff coming out today. I always liked a classic here and there, but ever since Virgil gave me that ‘Welcome to Kanye’s Soul Mix Show’ mixtape I’ve been hooked. Thing is, the music is actually pretty hard to find, almost impossible sometimes. For example, Common’s track ‘They Say’ samples Ahmad Jamal’s track ‘Ghetto Child’ off of his Jamaica album. Seriously took me 2 months to get a digital copy of it. Long gone are those days…enter Anwar’s fairly new blog called Resurgence of the Soul Sample. I could seriously waste hours on the site. All sorts of popular (and some rare) hip-hop tracks accompanied by the full, original, song sampled to create the beat….and often some insightful background on the original artist as well. His site is already getting quite popular. The link below is a pretty comprehensive Ahmad Jamal post he did, and a little shout to us. ***And since I’m a music buyer, I encourage users to pay for the music if there is place where it can be easily purchased, iTunes/AmazonMp3!

Kanye Splitting the Grammy stage in half & Lemur Pads!!!

Watching Kanye tear down the Grammy was too fresh. He is seriously putting on a show ahead of his time. Seeing Daft Punk give a glimpse of what they do was crazy too. Was anyone else amazed at those pads they were messing around with. I dunno about others but its kind of boring when you go out to a spot and the DJ just has their laptop & Serato that program that allows DJs to just play their iTunes library using turntables as the controller. But I always thought that was the tip of the iceberg, as it turns out these Lemur pads are the iceberg. I guess multi-touch technology really is the �Jetsons-esque� wave of the future. Word is you can customize the graphics and the pads are totally functional. The customizable drum pads trigger different sounds and actually make loops on the fly. This is way more exciting to watch then just clicking away at a laptop. Who ever starts programming/remixing music live like that will really go back to the future. It’s 2008 and we still don�t have Jetsons cars�least iPhones are out and these Lemur things are available for purchase. Now�.where can I find that LED light jacket�

Hedi Slimane’s photo diary!

I think Virgil posted a link to Hedi’s site a while back when he left Dior Homme…but I want to highlight the diary piece of his site, or photo diary, specifically. Hedi, for me, is one of those really amazing sources of inspiration for overall aesthetic…like ‘life aesthetic’ you know? The whole package. Yeah, when he was at Dior Homme he created some pretty much revolutionary concepts in both look as well as construction/cuts for mens fashion. That’s undisputed. But his art direction of the photo shoots, the architecture and interior design of the retail stores, the hang tags, the models, etc…and now the furniture and gallery projects he’s doing…that’s the whole package he creates. An entire image. All encompassing. And never, ever, using color…just black and white. Amazing stuff. His style is really 1 of 1…it doesn’t remind me of anything and its pretty unmistakable. So while we all wait to see what his own line will look like, waste some time on his amazing photo diary. It’s almost like its a direct view into what inspires him. People, textures, things, light, scenes, etc. Great stuff. And good ‘web design’ as well, hits that minimal mark perfectly without being annoying.

The Last Calligraphers!!!

I’m a news editor for DesignIsKinky, so between that site and this site, I see lots and lots of links. Not all of them catch my eye or attention, in fact, most of them don’t. I guess it’s just hard to make whatever news you’re submitting sound exciting in just a few words and a link. But every now and then, one will come through that I can’t ignore for some reason and I want to post it here, on DiK, and everywhere else that I can. ‘The Last Calligraphers’ is one of those. Sent in by Premjit Ramachandran (whose work I should mention is very nice…check the link), I was instantly intrigued - “An important (upcoming) film about the last handwritten newspaper in Asia and probably one of the few left in the world.” Handwritten newspaper?! Like, the whole thing!??! Ha…yes. The whole thing. Truly mind-numbing work it sounds like, but it’s fascinating to watch this trailer for the film which I’ll have to keep everyone posted on. I find this really just incredible but simultaneously humorous when I try to think about this being done here in the states, for example. To think there is anyone in the U.S. that would hand-write an entire newspaper is laughable if not ridiculous. It’s not that our alphabet can’t be beautiful - many typographers and artists have proven the opposite - but there is a mystic, wild quality to Urdu script. I am really pretty floored about it - these people are truly passionate about keeping a superrare artform alive, and for pennies a day. Check the link below…thanks Premjit for sharing.

Hot cup of Reggae and Dub!

So yeah, February here in the middle west. That time of year where you’re starting to get a little tired of the cold, the cabin fever is getting to you, and you’re constantly looking at Travelocity’s Last Minute deals to somewhere warm. It’s cold, its snowing all the time, it kind of sucks. So to all my middle west family, before you pack everything up and move, try a little reggae therapy as I do around this time of year. I don’t know if it was growing up to my Dad always listening to Bob Marley and having a profound respect for ‘just-relax-beach’ culture…but reggae music always helps me zone out the cold a bit, and think of warm beaches and a relaxed vibe. I swear, I feel just a few degrees warmer when I listen to Augustus Pablo while driving in a wicked snow storm. What a funny juxtaposition, right? Island music playing loud when its 18F outside. So I thought I’d put together a little playlist…something to help you warm up a bit. Some of my favorites. I think all of them are available on iTunes and AmazonMp3. I mean, this and some hot microwaveable chicken noodle soup, pretty much all you need.

Barrington Levy - Under Mi Sensi
Augustus Pablo - East of the River Nile
Augustus Pablo - King Tubby’s Meets Rockers Uptown (This track is amazing.)
Bob Marley - Trenchtown Rock (Live at the Roxy)
Bob Marley - Soul Captive
Mr. Vegas - Lean Wid It
Tenor Saw - Ring the Alarm

DKNY’s Bike Campaign!!!

Such an impressive ‘outside-the-box’ idea. I just got hip to DKNY’s latest ad campaign going on in NYC. Their latest angle is to promote bicycling in the city which is all together healthy and environmentally friendly. Who could possibly disagree with that sort of stance. On their site they have a bunch of important information if you live in NYC and want to make the switch to bikes rather than cabs & subway. What really make this ad campaign impressive to me is the painted orange bikes they chained up all over the city during fashion week. Word is the NYPD isn’t too happy. While on the topic of guerilla marketing, you see this story on that Murakami billboard? I would have kept that for myself too. Very cool.

Jake and Amir, who needs cable TV?!

I seriously haven’t had cable TV in 3 years, maybe 4? Who needs it when you have the internet. And it doesn’t get much more ‘internet’ than Jake and Amir. It’s actually a bit hard to define what they do…these like 1-2 minute shorts that are reality style, but not reality…they are hilariously bizarre and kind of addicting. So yeah, I won’t pretend to know the entire back story on these guys, but they work at Connect Ventures in the CollegeHumor.com ‘division’ if thats what they’d call it and apparently they started doing these little short films for fun. They became popular, and are now actually part of their ‘job’ at CollegeHumor.com by way of a reoccurring series called ‘Hardly Working’. I swear, the whole Connected Ventures lifestyle is crazy…new business at its finest. Ehh…I feel like explaining all this is making it less funny. It’s easier to just enjoy their perfect-subtle-witty-weird-humor for yourself and go from there. Here’s one of my favorites. Might not be ‘Safe for Work’.

Necessary Documentary: OFF BOWERY!!

So I’ve only seen a little bit of documentation on this whole A-Ron evolution. I am interested because he’s been BRILLIANCE family since this site started. Thanks to Heron for getting that video interview the other week to kind of resurface that rogue New York energy. I have always been a fan of this swagger and in 10 years when we look back at these times he’s gonna be the one of those people, people reference. Too many times in this modern age of “being cool” its all about knocking trends, telling people they are late and sitting on the sideline trying to keep something secret. Instead A-Ron looks at the ‘scene’ like a participation sport. You get what you put into it. I respect that and I respect the hustle it takes to get back in the game after what seems to be a rocky start with aNYthing, once “the only brand that mattered”. That no longer seems to be the case, the new kids are back on the block, again. His pop-up store/performance space will exist somewhere in Soho/LES for like 2 months and be torn down….the only thing left after it’s gone will be a Playboy documentary?!?! Only in NYC and only A-ron.

Chicago: NoPattern & ElectricHeat gallery openings this weekend!!

This Thursday, January 31st I will be on hand at Country Club Chicago along with Ben, Virgil, and a ton of other good people (did somebody say Nat Thomson!?!? ha, see you there Nat) for the one-night only gallery showing of some of my illustration work. Going to have some enormous canvas prints that hopefully everyone enjoys. This show is in collaboration with Mountain Dew’s Green Label Art artist bottle program. There will be a bunch of *really* cool giveaways - trust me - we’ve got some really awesome stuff you’ll get for free if you’re one of the first 100 people in the doors. So definitely come on out, say hi, and have fun. The show runs from 7-10PM. See more info on the flyer - here. But hey kids, the fun don’t stop there! Ha…The next night, Friday Feb. 1, my good friend Nigel Dennis of ElectricHeat will be hosting his gallery opening at the Threadless Store from 7-10. So come out for that too! Myself, Ben, and Virgil should all be there for that as well. So come say hi, have a fun filled art weekend in Chicago, and give Nigel a wet willy when you see him. I should also mention a big huge thank you on behalf of both myself and Nigel to Michael and Brad over at Elevate Printing for being an amazing printer and working so hard to get stuff done for our shows. If you need art prints - big or small - definitely go with these guys…amazing quality and great dudes.