What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Friday Edition

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Decipher This

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The 41st design in our series of Field Notes Quarterly Editions has a sleek, mysterious look, fitting for an edition all about secret codes and ciphers. It features a three-part history of cryptography, and the 3-Packs themselves are puzzles, very difficult puzzles, to be solved. This is the Clandestine Edition.

Einstein's Puzzle

Who Owns the Fish?

Since 2004, we have been doing our part to encourage acrimony and hard feelings at family gatherings. Face it, you'll probably fight about something at your holiday get-together, it might as well be something important, like whether or not you're in the two percent of the world's population that Albert Einstein purportedly claimed could solve this puzzle. So... Who Owns The Fish? It's also a lot easier than the puzzles in our new Field Notes Clandestine Edition.

FNHQ In Good Company


Our studio on North Racine Avenue in Chicago was selected as one of the "Coolest Offices" in the city. Thanks to Crain's for that. And thanks also to Sarah Crowley for taking the photos, our contractor and furniture-maker, Peter Moorman, and to Phillip Schmidt for his advice and architectural expertise. Come by and see it yourself. Bring money.

A Cautionary Tale

Heed This Well, Young, Costumed Beggars

Our annual warning to trick-or-treaters, in the style of Hilaire Belloc.

A Six Tone Scale

True to the Blobbiness

We've long-admired the dynamism of a mural that is hangs on the north side of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, on Ashland Avenue. Once we renovated and moved into our new studio space, we decided to track down who was responsible, with the idea of doing something similar for our main work space. The artists, Gwendolyn Zabicki and Kent Smith, were up for the idea, and also for us filming them painting the 12' x 8', 3-panel artwork. Thanks a million to them.

Ten Years of Field Notes

Origin Stories

Ten years ago we started Field Notes. Here's some background. Aaron talking about where the original idea came from and the history of American agricultural design. Jim on the mechanics of moving from working for clients to inventing one. Whet Moser's recent piece for Chicago Magazine and how we got here.

An Adventure of a 2-Pack

Meet Haxley

During October, Chicago Illustrator and poster-maker Jay Ryan set himself a goal of creating one small ink illustration each day. These drawings revealed a story about a bear and his squirrel neighbors. We followed Jay's progress and found the drawings irresistible. We knew that they'd look great in a special Field Notes edition. We hope you agree.

New From Field Notes


We're proud of the short film (spot?) we made for a product partnership with the unstoppable Bellroy from Australia. Check out the new Everyday Inspiration, custom, compact leather cover.

Thanks to Big Delicious Planet for inviting us into their Canteen for the location, and to Spencer Tweedy for letting us use his song "Temple State" on the track. It's in heavy rotation at HQ currently.

One From Way Way Back

How Do You Spell Courage?

A lot has changed around here since 2005: waistlines, hairlines, fashions, a big new studio, and new businesses to fill it with. Here's a Throwback for Thursday, in beautiful standard definition. The production values might leave a little to be desired, and the "new Canadian restaurant" in the neighborhood may have closed, but the film itself actually holds up. Sort of. Presenting Copy Goes Here.

You Can Count On Change

That’s a Wrap

After a long, successful run, we're shutting down our advertising network, The Deck. Jim posted about the decision and the details at the Deck site. John Gruber was one of the network's very first affiliates. John published a way-too-generous piece about The Deck at Daring Fireball. Thanks for that, and to all the affiliates, advertisers and readers who supported the network over the years.

Last year we moved into a new studio in Chicago, and in the back, near where we do screen-printing and other messy stuff, there's a shelf for projects we made, operated and eventually, shut down. We'll make some room for The Deck there, right next to Jewelboxing, The Seed Conference and The Show. We haven't stashed away Layer Tennis just yet, but who knows? Anyhow, as always, we're scheming about the future. And, of course, we're making these notebooks.

Choose to Go to the Moon

Over the Moon

It's not quite like faking the moon landing, but the film we made for the release of our Field Notes Quarterly Edition Lunacy, was made entirely using the same sort of practical, analog effects that you'd need to employ if you were going to stage that event, back in the day. So fun. So messy. BTW: The Lunacy Edition is now sold out.

Guest Editors

Helpful and
Mostly Polite

A list of all the brilliant people who have helped us by guest editing Fresh Signals can be found here.

Other recent features are listed on Page Two.

Fresh Signals

Edward Keating: Main Street, The Lost Dream of Route 66. Via Isn't. jc-12.12

32 years ago today; the the last Smiths concert at Brixton Academy, London. bb-12.12

Word nerd alert. "A half-century ago, the new American Heritage Dictionary distinguished itself by assembling a 'usage panel' of expert language users. Now that the panel has been shuttered." David Skinner recounts the dictionary's evolution. jc-12.12

Mandy: The Art Of Film Grain. jc-12.12

Instant purchase. Dave Addey's book, Typeset In The Future is now available. jc-12.12

You know what really kicks your commute up a notch? Just try listening to this while driving. Works for me. ms-12.11

So you know, what Mars sounds like. jc-12.11

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Crossing fingers this is good. ms-12.10

National 2 from the Klim Type Foundry is beautiful. The condensed, whoa. jc-12.07

Magic Hour paintings, by Chloe Wilson. Via TMN. jc-12.07

52 things Tom Whitwell learned in 2018. jc-12.07

Facades, Markus Brunetti. jc-12.07

Mozart's diary is online. Learn more from Open Culture. jc-12.05

A remembrance of my favorite man written by my favorite writer at GQ. You are still so very sorely missed. ms-12.04

Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders conversation. jc-12.03

The Soulful 11-Year-Old Princes of 'The Nutcracker'. ms-12.03

Local Note: The shining light of Chicago letterpress, Starshaped Press, is hosting their annual open house tomorrow, and incidentally entering their 20th year of innovative letterpress printing (and a yearlong residency at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum!) bb-11.30

"You have to be at peace with the fact that something might happen, and you might not make it through..." Brian Bolster's short documentary, Winter's Watch. Beautiful. jc-11.29

Conserve the Sound. I could click on these all day. Thanks Marshall. jc-11.29

Meet Jim Allison, the Carousing Texan Who Just Won a Nobel Prize for His Cancer Immunotherapy Breakthrough. ms-11.28

Shipwreck at Moonset. ms-11.28

It's going to take a team of skilled agents to solve this thing. jc-11.27

You can't tell a book by its cover but maybe you can by it's spine. Via Kottke. jc-11.27

This is how I die. She is standing in the driveway of a sand-colored house-- she doesn't know whose-- and the air is choked with smoke. The sky is a nuclear orange. Wind is hurling embers against her body and into her blond wavy hair. She has just seen an ambulance melt. Transformers are blowing up around her. Homes are caving in and trees are bowing. Fleeing cars have jammed the roads, and flames dance on both sides of the asphalt." Great read. ms-11.26

Pablo Ferro: A Career Retrospective, Part 1, excellent interview from Art of the Title. jc-11.20

Stan Carey always fails to disappoint. jc-11.20

The NYT interactive 100 Notable Books of 2018 is nicely done. For another list, close to our heart, check the The 2019 Tournament of Books Long List. jc-11.20

Gibbous Moon beyond Swedish Mountain ms-11.19

RIP Pablo Ferro. jc-11.19

Quartet. jc-11.18

"I found the best burger place in America. And then I killed it." Great read. ms-11.17

For the crew here at HQ, 24 homemade D&D maps. jc-11.16

The Manhoff Archives, 16mm color film and more from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. jc-11.16

Take a look at this year's John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad. ms-11.16

Remember when John Adams fought a giant snake? (Thanks Phineas! bb-11.16

Puzzling. jc-11.15

"Build a following. That's right, Esteem Needs have evolved into Following Needs in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 2.0. Can someone still live a reasonably happy and satisfied life with a measly 400-500 Instagram followers or without the coveted blue "verified"checkmark on Twitter? Possibly. But what's the point in being happy if no one knows just how happy you are?" ms-11.15

Finally, a lavish coffee-table book for The Designers Republic. bb-11.14

The 2019 Tournament of Books Long List. Woot! Was indeed a great year for fiction and a pretty good one for book cover design as well. Field Notes is once again the title sponsor and we couldn't be happier. jc-11.14

Vivian. jc-11.14

Page Two contains the previous 40 Fresh Signals, recent features, a key to the icons and the categorical archives.

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