Bud or Bud Light: Designing a Brand

plazm_bud_bud_light.030I will be doing a presentation at the Cannabis Creative Conference this Wednesday. It is an interesting time for this industry in Oregon with the maturation of medical and the birth of recreational categories. There are many challenges and opportunities ahead. I will discuss design, brand building, marketing, and communications best practices; what’s working and what isn’t in the Oregon cannabis category.

Wednesday, July 29
2:15 – 3:00
Portland Expo Center

Registration

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Survival

I did a PechaKucha presentation in Portland recently. The seven minute piece is now online, so I am sharing it here. 

The theme for the night was Survival.

I talk about surviving a bike accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury and about how a magazine that has never made any money can survive for more than 20 years. 

If you are not familiar with the format—it’s 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide.

Enjoy.

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Why Rand matters: A conversation

RandDWRset_Page_1On April 8th I will be participating in a public discussion with Michael Carabetta, creative director at Chronicle Books and Kate Bingaman-Burt (illustrator, PSU design professor, cultural force) about design legend Paul Rand.

Chronicle recently reproduced Rand’s seminal book—Thoughts on Design—for the first time since 1970. The book is a manifesto to exceptional design. Chronicle is putting together a series of conversations with design professionals around the country on Paul Rand and why he matters today. I was happy to get a call from Michael inviting me to participate in the one here in Portland. Details are below.

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Event details
April 8th
6–8 pm
DWR Portland Studio
1200 NW Everett
Portland, OR 97209
RSVP: sday@dwr.com

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The event has given me an excuse to immerse myself in Rand’s life story and immense body of work. He had a monumental impact on many things we take for granted today. To advertising, books, magazines, corporate identity, design, and education Rand brought a modernist approach. He married the verbal and the visual. And he had a monumental impact on the quality level of design—not to mention the humanizing of communication in an era of commodification.

So, where does that leave us today?

That’s what I am thinking about. Join us on the 8th to discuss.

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A beer story

FG_last plazm canning
This past week saw Fort George Brewery canning the last batch of Plazm Farmhouse Ale. It’s been awesome to collaborate with one of our favorite clients and with The Commons on this project. Thanks to our friends at Fort George for suggesting we make a Plazm beer. Get it while you can! It’s available where fine beer is sold in the Pacific Northwest.

Apparently that includes Trader Joe’s. Niko saw a stack there recently and took a photo of some sweet handmade type on this sale sign.

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When we were first brainstorming ideas for this project a, we suggested to Fort George that we put a copy of each issue of Plazm magazine into the brew. We figured it’s printed with soy-based inks and what better way to get “a little bit of Plazm in every can.”

To their credit, the brewers at Fort George would have none of it. Anything that does not make the beer taste better, does not go into the beer. Fair enough. We stuck to what we do best—in this case, designing the outside of the can—and they stuck to what they do best—filling the inside of the can with delicious beer.

Another of our brilliant ideas was to pour a bottle of the original Plazm ale into the brew (also, thankfully, shot down by the quality control mavens at Fort George as a gimmick).

plazm_og_beer.020I’d saved a couple of bottles of the original beer since 1994, and figured they were probably aged to perfection by now. The first Plazm ale (above) was a home brew by Niko Courtelis. He designed the label also and bottled a few cases of the beer for the issue 4 release party at Galleri 8.

A unique thing about this beer was that each bottle contained a plastic doll arm in response to the art by Panacea Theriac that we featured on the cover of the issue (below). Niko assures me that “the doll parts were all properly sterilized” before going into the beer. I don’t doubt that, but I do remember them as being a very real choking hazard.

plazm4I dug up a few other ephemeral items related to the issue since I was taking this trip down memory lane. I collaborated on the cover design with my friend Jerome Schiller. He came up with the “Enjoy Plazm” concept and his wife Juliet Ching hand lettered the typography.  Her original drawings are below as are his early conceptual sketches. 

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It’s always nice to walk down memory lane. It’s even fun to see some of the lines of copy we didn’t select for the cover. For example, “regular or decap” is pretty funny. On the other hand, “piss in a cup” is pretty bad.

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But let’s not live in the past. Experience the here-and-now by going out and getting yourself some of the delicious Fort George Plazm Farmhouse Ale. I can assure you, there is nothing but beer in the beer. And it is delicious. While supplies last.

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TC Smith: A celebration & benefit

TC-OptionA-Hero-960x540As many of you know, I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) a few years ago and have experienced an exceptional recovery. I was lucky. I gave a talk about my journey at the Curiosity Club a few weeks ago. It’s online now if you want to hear my story.

But that’s not what I am writing about today. I am writing about someone who was not so lucky. TC Smith of Portland’s ShowDrape was a longtime friend and supporter of the arts. He suffered a TBI at work and passed away December 30th, 2014.

If you’ve been to a public performance in Portland in the last several decades, chances are TC and his company were probably behind the scenes helping bring it to life.

PICA and many friends of TC have pulled together an event March 30th to honor TC’s life and his many acts of generosity, kindness, and everyday heroics. The event is also an opportunity to help offset the vast medical expenses incurred by TC’s family.

TC Smith Benefit Celebration

Performances and media by:
Linda Austin
The Boris & Natasha Dancers:  Brian Jennings, Bill Boese, Chris Rousseau, Jeff Forbes, Dora Gaskill, Summer Turpin, Dug Martell, and maybe more!
Jessica Kelley
Vanessa Renwick
Do Jump!
Pixie Dust Productions
Open mic for toasts and tributes, and more to come! Reception to follow.

Details from PICA

March 30, 2015
7 – 10 pm
Lincoln Performance Hall
Portland State University
1620 SW Park
Portland, OR 97201

I’d like to also say thank you to PICA for putting this event together. This is of course a great opportunity to celebrate TC’s life and his contributions to our community. But it is also an opportunity to simply celebrate the fabric of the community we are all part of.

If you find yourself standing in Lincoln Hall on March 30th, take a moment to stop and look around. Breathe in and marvel at how people and organizations can come together to support and care for one another. I could feel that very energy and love at an event that PICA put together to help me and my family during my recovery. It was a truly inspiring thing, one this I know I will never forget.

If you can’t make it to the event and want to help TC’s family directly, please visit their YouCaring page.

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More Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Students Now That I’m Not Taking Their Money

 

Bitter MFA Dude chastises the whiny MFA memoirist

Bitter MFA Dude chastises the whiny MFA memoirist


by E. T. Moreno

I recently left a teaching position in a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program. I had a handful of students whose work sounded like something I myself might write. The vast majority, unfortunately, were literally not me. (And yes, I did just use the word “literally” in 2015, outside the context of a marketing meeting—even though I’m a Great Writer.) Here are some things I learned from these experiences.

Writers are born with talent.
I know this because I was there, in the delivery room, when each of my students was born. I easily recognized the ones who were destined to write memoirs that would make me cry, because they popped out within the first two hours of labor, holding first edition hardcovers of Pynchon novels, using umbilical cords for bookmarks.

If you didn’t decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you’re probably not going to make it.
Talent is baked in, hardwired, God-given—if the Fates didn’t see fit to bless you with lyrical skillz like mine while you were in the womb, chances are you did something really bad in a previous lifetime. The gods may also see fit to curse you with being nonwhite or female. Continue reading

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Through the universe and into the moment

I did a talk earlier this week at the Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club. If you weren’t able to make it, I am sharing the video here. It contains my presentation as well as the Q & A.

There are a few books that I reference in my talk. Links to those resources are here, below the video.

The title of this post is something my friend Jeff Faulker said when he shared this video on Facebook today. I like that idea a lot, thanks Jeff.

 

References:
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson

 

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Doing Better: How I Broke My Brain and Changed My Mind

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When I set out on my bike for my normal ride to work toward the Steel Bridge on May 18, 2012, my to-do list was packed with stuff—call designers for Plazm, the magazine I art direct; manage global retail campaign for the launch of Windows 8; prepare my work for an art installation; take my family to my cousin’s birthday party. A couple weeks later, my task list said, “Wake up more,” written on a whiteboard in my hospital room. I had no memory of the accident itself. Apparently I flew over the handlebars and smashed the left side of my head into the pavement, resulting in a severe Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.

My bike accident put a process into motion: coma, returning to consciousness, inhabiting a pre-verbal state, and being unable to walk or control my body. My view of the earth, human life, and our role as individuals has changed. I am still recovering and exploring new territory. As I have added things back into my life, I have taken the approach of evaluation. How much time do these activities take? How engaging are they to me? Do they fit my values? There are many things clamoring for our attention in today’s world. These can cloud our judgment and distract us from what truly matters. How do we filter out the noise and find what is meaningful to us? This is an opportunity to do better.

Join me at the Curiosity Club for my talk next Tuesday, February 24th, 6:00 pm—Details here

 

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Plazm Farmhouse Ale release party featuring Asss, Regular Music, Mary Lattimore, and DJ Jason Urick

plazm_farmhouse_UHI’ve been working on the Fort George brand since day one. I remember when Chris and Jack first sat down with me in my office. They brought a big collection of beer labels from around the world and we talked about doing something unique. They didn’t want to look like just another beer label. They wanted something that represented both the rich, industrious heritage of Astoria and the organic, hand-crafted artisanship that they were dedicated to.

A few years later they put in a canning line and Plazm started creating a packaging system. We also developed an approach to their seasonals that celebrated artists and artisans throughout the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes Fort Geroge collaborates with other breweries. Sometimes they collaborate with a coffee roaster. Other times they team up with a record label. About six months ago they said they wanted to do a collaborative beer celebrating Plazm—the magazine I helped found in 1991 and continue to publish periodically to this day.

What a nice thing. I’m very happy about this collaboration and what it has become. The can design was a collaboration too—with my Plazm partner Niko Courtelis.

You will be able to find the beer starting last week of January where Fort George is typically sold. They distribute exclusively in the Pacific Northwest.

We are having some release parties too! Details are below. I hope you can join us at one of these events and raise a glass or can to collaboration and creativity.

The February 1 free show at Holocene was booked by Eric Mast (aka E*Rock). Thanks Eric! We will be raffling off a Plazm collector’s edition box as well as some other fun things. And there will be free limited edition commemorative stamps made by Niko Courtelis for the first 50 people through the door.

Sunday – February 1st
Free show featuring Asss, Regular Music, and Mary Lattimore
Holocene
1001 SE Morrison Street
Portland, Oregon
8pm – 11pm

Facebook event page.

Here’s a photo of the press proofs of the new 16 oz. can.

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If you want the beer without the free show, here are some other Plazm Farmhouse Ale events throughout the Northwest.

Thursday – January 29th
The Bier Stein 1591 Willamette Street
Eugene, Oregon
6pm – 9pm

Friday – January 30th
Belmont Station
4500 SE Stark Street
Portland, Oregon
5pm – 8pm

Saturday – February 7th
Beer Junction
Seattle, Washington
4511 California Ave SW
4pm – 7pm

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Stamps ate my brain

102114_Image01_5980383b-6c28-4119-9b52-6c8b05c5e3c8 (1)Join Plazm’s Niko Courtelis for a talk at the Hand Eye Supply Curiosity Club. First Curiosity Club in the new location!

Stamps are tiny pieces of eye candy with great stories. Niko’s is a cautionary tale of a casual pursuit that’s become a passionate obsession. The discussion will range from his childhood stamp collecting and graphic excellence, to correspondence and mail art, and the absurdity of collecting turn-of-the-last-century perforating machines. He’ll be sharing some very unusual, artful, and rare stamps. There’s a lot more to these little things than you might think!

6–7 PM
Tuesday 10/21/14
Hand Eye Supply

 

Here’s the talk if you missed it:

 

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