What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Friday Edition

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Coudal Partners

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.

The 14th Tournament of Books

A Literary
Cage Match

Once again, our Field Notes was the title sponsor of The Morning News Tournament of Books. If you're not familiar with the ToB, you'll want to read this Brief History of the Tournament of Books, by Angela Chen. "You can't kill the Rooster"

We've made a small batch of special manila-kraft Memo Books, with the ToB mascot on the cover and a checklist of the tournament books on the inside. Buy one of these for $3 and we'll add $3 of our own, and then donate $6 to 826 National, a seven-chapter network that provides under-resourced students, ages 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. This year, we raised over $10,000 for 826. You guys rock.

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.

Moco Fun at the new HQ

We Go Round in Circles

Steve bought a cool motion-control rig. We wanted to make some sort of recap the Field Notes Quarterly Editions from 2016. So we made this film. Added bonus, it provides a nice view of the new HQ.

JC at Creative Mornings

What Are You
Afraid Of?

Here's Jim's presentation from the inaugural edition of Chicago Creative Mornings. Thanks to Tina, Mig, Gravity Tank and everyone who showed up.

Because it's There

A Winter’s Tale

"One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen." —Rene Daumal. Why did we do it? Because it is there. Or was anyhow. Presenting Above the Sun, a true story.

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

From Photographer Barry Phipps, Iowa ms-today

A closer look at the many faces of Frida Kahlo through her life, art and legacy. Via Kottke. dw-today

Did you know it takes 5 years to make single bottle of Tabasco sauce? It does. ms-today

Trailer for The Little Stranger. dw-yesterday

So, little buddy, how's the weather? jc-yesterday

Here are the winners of The Nature Conservancy 2018 Photo Contest. ms-yesterday

"In lockstep, the incentive to be a proficient forger has soared; a single, expertly executed old master knockoff can finance a long, comfortable retirement. The technologies available to abet the aspiring forger have also improved. Naturally, then, the frauds are getting better, touching off a crisis of authentication for the institutions of the art world: the museums and galleries and auction houses and experts who are expected to know the real thing from its imitation." ms-yesterday

Fave thing this month, from Andrew Pekler, Phantom Islands — A Sonic Atlas. "Phantom Islands are artifacts of the age of maritime discovery and colonial expansion. During centuries of ocean exploration these islands were sighted, charted, described and even explored - but their existence has never been ultimately verified." jc-yesterday

The mission to build the ultimate burger bot. dw-yesterday

Favorite industrial design firm Teenage Engineering teases Raven. OMG. jc-06.20

So you know, why some music makes you cry. For me, it's Gabriel's Theme, Baba O'Riley, and Barber's Adagio for Strings. ms-06.20

Lapham's Quarterly, Water. jc-06.19

The Prevailing Winds. ms-06.19

See what our planet looked like, and how your location has migrated over the last 750 million years, at Ancient Earth. dw-06.18

Local Note: The Chicago Print Crawl features some friends and a bunch of other folks we should be friends with. It's on Sunday from 12-8pm, and free. bb-06.18

Repost via Phineas, a subject close to our hearts: The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. bb-06.18

Trailer for the film Bad Times at the El Royale. ms-06.15

Three Stripes. jc-06.15

So you know, the Thrillist list of the 31 Best Beer Bars in America. Shout out to my neighborhood winner Hopleaf, seriously great mussels and frites. Oh, and beer. ms-06.15

Beer Coasters by Country, lots and lots of beer coasters. Via the always observant P&C. jc-06.15

Don't fear the Reaper. On Rejection, by Jeffrey Zeldman. jc-06.15

The Movie Posters Collection, Harry Ransom Center Digital Collections. Great resource. jc-06.14

Local note, The Chicago Architecture Foundation's New Riverfront Center. Woot! jc-06.14

Adobe's Hidden Treasures. Cool type project. jc-06.14

Local note, neighborhood news site, Block Club Chicago is open for business today. jc-06.13

Medium.com 's first monthly digital magazine, Trust Issues, features Claire Zulkey's report on the state of journalism in 2018: "Yes, the Media Still Matters." bb-06.12

Trailer for First Man. ms-06.12

A Japanese mini truck garden contest. dw-06.11

Trailer for the new Showtime series from Michel Gondry, Kidding. ms-06.11

Cartoon National Geographic, by Jerome Zhang. Via Isn't. jc-06.11

I have linked to Anthony Bourdain many times in Fresh Signals over the years and always referred to him as The Man Who Makes Me Swoon. He was outspoken, witty, smart as hell, and principled. He will be sadly missed. Here is a link to his column in the New Yorker that kickstarted his career, Don't Eat Before Reading This. ms-06.08

In glorious standard-defintion, enjoy one of our first films, Copy Goes Here. Man, we were young back then. jc-06.08

From Lettering Guides to CNC Plotters: A Brief History of Technical Lettering Tools, by Florian Hardwigm and Thomas Maier at Typotheque. jc-06.08

A Sun Pillar over Norway ms-06.07

West Coast Firepits Death Star. ms-06.07

Trailer for Operation Finale. ms-06.06

David Bowie ukiyo-e woodblock prints. dw-06.06

What would U.S. money look like, given the proper attention of an industrial designer? Here's one idea. dw-06.06

Giant hats, portly pigs, and drive-thru donuts. jc-06.06

Trailer for Paul Dano's film Wildlife. ms-06.06

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

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