Grain & Mortar has been an award-winning branding and web development studio in Omaha, Nebraska since 2011, but 2018 brought them into the business of selling pants as well. Kristin DeKay, Eric Downs, and Jesse Harding stop by The Reflex Blue Show to discuss a little bit of the Grain & Mortar backstory, and then jumping to right around a year ago in buying a 135 year old building.
The new office location, as well as a legit storefront, got them to start one of their other goals – a retail shop selling men’s goods at 1414 South 13th Street. We talk about some of the things involved in opening and running Vincent Outfitting Company, the safari swords that come through the door, and more.
By the way, the Vincent Outfitters Company store really does look great. Getting a tour of the entire building a month before we recorded really showed the amount of effort and care the folks at Grain & Mortar put into their new space. Be sure to visit them this holiday season if you are in the area.
As for The Reflex Blue Show, as we record around half of our episodes at Eleven19, it’s fun to actually record season 11, episode 19 (and fittingly release this episode on November 19). Between this podcast and the Be A Design Cast that proceeded it, this month marks my 13th year of podcasting, which sounds a bit crazy to even type out. I really do appreciate the people I’ve been able to meet either in-person or online because of it, and give huge thanks to all of our great listeners who make it worthwhile.
We’ll be back in 2019 with season twelve, but until then…
In an effort to find a different way to give back to the graphic design community (as well as giving back to the public relations and marketing communities as well), they created a free program for the college students in the area. Over the past five years, I have spoke at a FORGE panel, attended most (if not all) of the final class panels / portfolio reviews, and spoken with many of the students about their experience. It was only a matter of time before we had a podcast talking about this great program.
Lynn Schneider (who came up with the idea of FORGE), and Sarah Bergeron (a former FORGEr, and now on the other side of the FORGE) join us to talk all things FORGE, and where it’s headed next. Cody Fenske (a former FORGEr himself) joins me to co-host. Enjoy.
I’m not super cheery about this development. I have my reasons for rejoining, and the impending conference in Memphis and my presence upon its hallowed stage did play a factor in my decision. Also, I’m looking forward to not being treated like a leper at local AIGA events by a select (and reducing) group of Holier-Than-Thou’s. AIGA and I have a had a tumultuous, rocky, roller-coaster of a relationship during my career, where I one point I could, from a certain point of view, credit the organization for everything I had built for myself; and later, using a similar point of view, credit it for taking much of what I had back. However, were that not the case, we probably wouldn’t even be here today.
So I will be a member of AIGA for the next 12 months. For me to join again in September of 2010, here is a list of things that I would like to see happen.
- Break Even on Projects. By this I mean to say, like a Hollywood movie, that I expect exactly enough work to come to me directly relating to my membership in AIGA, or by result thereof, to both pay for my current membership and the next one. It has been put to me that paying a greater-than-$300 membership fee to AIGA is expected of me simply for existing in this profession, to which I reply “hogwash.” Earn it. Those discounts on Apple and Adobe products are great, but since the little I had saved to purchase those products just went to you, I expect results.
- A Strong, Action-Driven Stance to Destroy Design Contests and Crowdsourcing. Merely skitching behind the beat-up pickup truck that is NOSPEC! (will someone please overhaul that site?) isn’t going to cut it from AIGA anymore. Neither is talk. Action is required on behalf of all designers to protect our craft and business model from idiots, sycophants, and villains. As the number-one crisis we face down out here in the trenches, I expect an organization whose stated goal is the promotion of good design to be out front with sword and shield in hand.
- A Greater Percentage of My Membership Fee Going to the Local Chapter. Out of $320 annual membership fee, my local chapter, according to my receipt, gets less than $80. This puts my local touchpoint in a constant position of playing catch-up and raising funds, which retards their ability to think outside of the box and take risks on new an exciting events and initiatives. Really, they have no initiatives to speak of, because they’re always playing catch-up. I’ve seen the powerpoint on where my membership dues go, thank you, and what I’m saying is I care less about national and global initiatives than I do about what’s happening in my hometown and community.
- This dude gets a job. Come on New York. Step it up already.
- From the Top Down, Focus on Supporting Small to Midsize Design Firms and Independent Designers. There’s an awful lot of AIGA pointed directly to the biggest of the big, branding and design from a world-changing perspective. Budgets of millions. In New York and LA, this is common I gather. For the other 90% of us design, on a daily basis, happens on a smaller scale. Help us. We are hurting now. When an agency of more than 100 people loses five employees in a single month due to declining business, well, that sucks. When a shop of 10-15 loses that many, it may well impede that company’s ability to do business at all, forcing even more layoffs. I have seen it happen. Again, action in this area is preferable.
There’s more, I assure you, such as my desire for the professional events in my Chapter to move outside of the realm of only speakers, shows, and seminars, but there’s already movement in that area. Also, with the Memphis Conference next week, I expect many of these bullet-points to be touched-upon and in-progress (some of them are already happening, I believe) For now I’ll merely accept the I’m-not-a-leper treatment and we’ll work on the rest.
So yesterday this happened, followed swiftly by the general discovery of this having happened, followed moments later by College Humor taking credit en masse like insurgents from a cave. Officials deny the massive prank had anything to do with the outcome, but I’d wager the results would be quite different if they removed votes that came via the site. Not that we’d have better plates in two years or anything.
The plates, which vertically read “NEERASKA” (but don’t worry because it says “NEBRASKA” again right fucking next to it) was designed “professionally” by a dude or lady at the manufacturer of the materials that are used to make license plates. This is exactly the place I want my artistic representations of the state I call home because all of the most creatively talented and inspired artists work in the office of a metal shop.
The government response has been Political Sidestepping 101, with officials spouting platitudes such as “You can’t please everyone” and “nobody ever likes the license plate designs” coming from either the Gov’nor himself or the woman in charge of the situation, though I would posit the following:
I you gave everyone you know a present every year, but that present was always you kicking them in the nuts, you may come to believe “Well people just don’t like presents.”
While I don’t think the state would ever eliminate voting, they certainly could commission actual artists to deliver the selections the voters have to choose from, ensuring that any winning design would have actual artistic merit, and while no, it may not please everyone, it also won’t make us look like a bunch of idiots when we go on a road trip. I would be happy to spearhead a subcommittee to select these artists, Mr. Governor, and my door is always open to you.
Spec. It’s one of those topics that those outside of the design industry, people may not think twice about. The idea of having a competition for design services seams to make a lot of sense. You offer a prize, hundreds of designs come in, and you just select the best one.
I hear that it’s fairly common in Art. Maybe it’s not even frowned upon (chime in to let me know the official Art world stance if you know it). That would sort of makes sense as artists may already have work in their sketchbook that would look good for your mural. But your logo? No designer I know has one ready for you.
Nate wrote a post about the wrongs of spec last month, we even spoke for a half-hour about it on a podcast with Drew Davies, and AIGA has an official stance against it. But we have found a solution to all of the wrongs that doesn’t involve sabotage. So if anyone asks us – we’re in!