Starting at noon today we will be featured on Daily Grommet! For those of you asking, ‘what the hell is daily grommet?’ (as I did when I got the invite), its a website devoted to featuring unique and innovative products via videos, blogging, and community discussion. Think on-demand home shopping TV with a social networking twist. Anyhow we’ll be featured for 24 hours, so feel free to stop by their site and add your input.
This past weekend my wife Dawn and I opened up the storefront of our apartment (it’s a former barbershop) for the monthly second Saturday Art events on Saint Claude Ave. We had such a great time with the crowd that came to see our cardboard recreation of a wreck we witnessed when we first moved to town. Thanks to everyone who came out and ate some cake! For more info visit Dawn’s website here: shakesugaree.com.
It’s been an insane few months juggling jobs, art, and wallets, and thus the reason for my month long silence. Yesterday was the first day I felt relaxed. We had just arrived back in Nola after a week in Charleston, for a wedding, funeral, and project at Redux Contemporary Art Center. After the 16 hour drive ( which only cost us 2 bucks in fuel because we ran the majority of the journey on waste veggie oil ) we collapsed for a few hours, woke up to take our son to school, and then collapsed again until mid afternoon. It felt great, considering the lack of sleep leading up to and during last week. Burning the candle at both ends had started to take its toll. Now we’re refreshed and ready to start on some new projects (wallets included!). First I thought I would share some images of our project at Redux. It’s a fictional city built out of paint that will be on the side of the art center’s building for the next six months. It was formed based on ideas of the perfect city submitted by Redux artists, and also started to take on a life of its own as we painted and developed a narrative of infrastructure, fundamentalist hippies, a former missile silo, and a cold war that the quiet city was in the midst of. It marked a new collaboration with Seth Gadsden, a good friend I’ve worked closely with in starting Redux and with building Transit Antenna, and this project developed into the beginnings of a group we’re calling The Planning Committee. There will certainly be more to come, but for now enjoy the colorful city of Stoughton (pronounced stuff-ton).
I have to first give a big thanks to everyone that took advantage of our rent sale last month. With a mix of those wallet sales, generous contributions from close friends, hammering on concrete, and odd job work- we made rent! The concrete job I spoke of last time didn’t really pan out. Not only was it some of the most grueling work I’ve ever done (think air hammer or angle grinding for 8 hours a day), but it was also very dependent on the weather. So I would get a call at 5am that there was no work for that day, or would get a call at 8pm that I could come in and work for a couple hours that night. I spent a week dealing with that but after getting several no work calls because of rain, I posted an ad on craigslist for a handyman service called “Ivy League Remodeling,” putting my very expensive and still yet-to-be-paid-for masters degree to work. And from that ad, I’ve gotten several jobs. I’ve fixed a dinner table, did emergency drywall (who knew there was such a thing?) for a local Law Firm, and just today put in a bid for drywall and insulation in a completely gutted house (I’m assuming a Katrina victim) in the upper middle class neighborhood of Lakeview. The part-time gig at Loyola University started last week, with us still moving into our house (all my clothes have turned into a huge pile that the dog favors over his bed) and me trying to do my own artwork, and of course wallet orders to boot- I’ve been busy to say the least. This is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and take a breath, but It’s actually been really awesome because I just don’t have time to be stressed about it all.
When we lived on the bus with Transit Antenna, winging it was a norm but we didn’t have rent to pay and often it was cheaper for us to be moving than to stay put. So despite two years of odd jobbing it on the road, now that I’m doing it while on the hook for rent and everything else that comes with a stationary life style, it feels about as close as I will ever get to having a religious faith. It’s not all that different from growing up with my single waitress mom, hustling endless hours for a meager salary. I, like her, am putting faith in the fact that everything will be OK. And really every major venture I’ve ever been a part of – Redux, Transit Antenna, Is Not Broke, Shake Sugaree – has been the same; that we will be able to do whatever the hell we want with little money and in the end it will all work out.
It’s been a little more than a week since we moved into our NOLA abode and I still have a nervousness that has kept my stomach unsettled. I think the main reason is because the jobs that seemed so promising and a sure thing only a few weeks ago, vanished at the same time we unloaded our boxes into 3600 Saint Claude Ave. We spent nearly everything we had (and even got a generous donation from my wife’s grandmother) to make it here with the expectation that work would begin pronto. But I really shouldn’t be surprised since most of the job prospects were gotten on craigslist. Craig can provide so much, but more often than not, he serves up sheer disappointment. The first call back I got on my craigslist applications was from Orient Expressed a store which produces embroidered clothing and from the name seems to be proud that most of their garments are manufactured overseas. They wanted someone to run a computerized embroidery machine in Nola, which seemed not all that dissimilar to Silkscreening garments in a weird way, so I applied. Soon after I spoke to the owner, Bee Fitzpatrick and she seemed enthusiastic about me working with her all woman crew. We made plans to interview during the week of our arrival. Last Wednesday I gave her a call, and her tone had changed. They had filled the position. I was so angry and frustrated. Mainly because I had put off replying to another job offer with the Green Project (a very cool place that I now regret not working for) to interview with her. As soon as she blew me off, I made a desperate call to the Green Project, but it was too late because as they told me a week prior, they were filling the position on the day we arrived.
Since then, I’ve applied to everything under the sun, from Barback at the Republic to Framer/salesman at the Fleur de Lis Gift and Frame Shop which had every imaginable personal item formed in the shape of this city’s beloved symbol. Today I did temp work for a concrete company. Last night the guy from the temp agency was giving me a pep talk about how to be a hard worker. “You know, while you’re working if someone asks you something personal, just say ‘we can talk about that during break, right now I gotta work’. This is a really great opportunity for you. You’ll start out as a helper and then we’ll get you a TWIC card (now you will have to be with the company for ninety days or you’ll have to pay for that.) And then, AND THEN you can be a concrete finisher. Concrete is an excellent field to be in right now!” I know the contrary, because of the woes of the construction industry via family in Charleston. But I certainly didn’t chime in. I need the job. So I crawled out of bed at 5am, made my way to work by 6 and got to grinding concrete for only four hours. Then they let us off early. “Excellent field to be in right now!” Yeah right….. Whether I go back tomorrow is still up in the air. I’m waiting for a phone call.
I will get a bit of mental relief when my part time job at Loyola University starts next month. But there’s still rent for THIS month!
The whole point of all this is to show how totally stressed out I am, and to celebrate I’m slashing prices for one week only! I’m calling it the Nola Rent Sale, and for this week only you can get any of our designs for only $20! Help us make our second month’s rent by buying wallets! If you buy two or more, I will also send you a very special secret drawing surprise! This sale will only last until 8/29, so act now!
Also this week (on Monday August 23 to be exact) our much delayed crouching tiger, knitting dragon wallet will be released… on sale too!
With all our moving insanity, I was still able to squeeze in some printing on a new design for our Upturn line. ‘Crouching Tiger, Knitting Dragon’ is based on the life of Bethany Quiles. During the scorching New Mexican summers, she splits her time between knitting and rolling dice in games of D&D. More of her story coming next week when this wallet is released. Also note that because of our upcoming move, all wallets ordered this week will not ship until August 12th. However if you do place an order this week and can live with the delay, we will include a free ‘Knitting Dragon’ wallet for the hassle. Next time I will be writing from the ‘Keep it Real’ Barbershop. Woo-hoo!
The last few weeks have been an insane whirlwind. New Orleans has been calling and so I spent the first week of July shopping for a new place to live and a job. I found both, and while the work (multiple part-time jobs) will not be as glorious as it should be, the apartment seemed to fit with a “Keep It Real” sign hanging above the door. My wife, Dawn, is planning on opening up a bakery (you can see that start to take shape at Shakesugaree.com ) and this place seems like the perfect fit to both fulfill her dreams and have a place to sleep with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, bath, livingroom, and storefront. It’s on the super busy St. Claude Ave in the middle of the Bywater neighborhood chock-full of new business, galleries, and young people.
So we’re packing up next week for a permanent move to the Crescent City, and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make a video for a travel competition put on by Sears. We didn’t win, but I think the video does a good job of wrapping up the last three years of our lives in 3 minutes. A recession proof wallet even makes a cameo!
We have many new wallet designs in the works, so I thought I’d give a little teaser today from the Upturn series, which pulls from stories submitted right here. The first of this ongoing series is based on the life of Kenneth Gourley, a muscle car mechanic that has spent twenty years helping his son fight Cystic Fibrosis. With waning business and bankruptcy around the corner, Kenneth remains the cornerstone of his family. More of his story, when we release the wallet later this week.
I’m pleased to announce that our good friend Alex Boeckl at Fat American will be setting up camp at the US Social Forum in Detroit June 22-26 and selling his fat wares as well as Is Not Broke wallets. If you spend your days in the motor city, it’s time to get a wallet so you can always have money. Also, above is our new business card design that was just sent to press moments ago. It’s official and there’s no going back.
I have to admit, I am a sucker for good package design so I spent this weekend pimping out our customer experience. First we have the retail hanger cards which are printed on used cereal box and shipping package cardboard. Then I created a unique experience for those who order direct from our website – a hand printed wrap on recycled brown paper which states “soon you will always have money.” It’s true you know, you just have to order today.
Before this weekend, I spent some time researching how to get a unique upc bar code. To jump through the official hoops you have to apply through GS1 which is the standard that every retailer uses. The problem is they want around $700 to register plus a yearly fee based on your sales for one bar code! Insane right? Doing a search on google or ebay quickly yielded other companies that own thousands of unique barcodes that they are selling for around ten bucks each. It seemed sort of shady, but it was a price I could afford so I purchased one. Well technically I’m leasing it forever. The original company still owns it, but promises to never lease it to someone else. Their user agreement states that if the bar code company is ever sold, then all bets are off – shady right? To make it seem less so, you get a certificate of authenticity for your barcode.
It feels really weird doing all of this work because I haven’t sold a single wallet yet. I’m just bellied up to the craps table hoping that the dice read seven or eleven when they stop rolling.