So This is Permanence

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Right around when my Valkyrie got shaded I decided to pull the trigger and make a new tattoo appointment for this beauty I’ve been wanting for a long time. Longer than any other tattoo I have. Why it took me so long to actually get this one, I don’t know. I think I needed to make sure I found the right artist who would do CP 1919 justice. It’s incredibly detail-heavy. Another reason might’ve also been the location I wanted. The inner bicep is a notoriously painful spot for a tattoo. I can tell you, from personal experience, that I found it to be agonizing. I had pretty bad bruising for about a week afterwards!

This piece of art — and it is art — is incredibly important to me. Probably the most influential THING for my whole design career and in general life as a music fan. I was 18 I think when I first saw The Shirt being worn by Guy Berryman of Coldplay! of all people (aka the hottest one). Because I was (and always will be) a big Coldplay fan. I thought that shirt was the coolest shirt ever. The graphic was huge and enigmatic and I’m sure I enjoyed its stark boldness — coupled with the ear-catching name “Joy Division.” I held that image in my mind for a few years until I finally heard Joy Division for the first time, which changed something in me. I liked Post-Punk after that. It was because of Joy Division I was interested in getting into bands like The Cure and The Smiths. Anything 80s, alt, and British.

The most arresting thing about it was still that image. I learned that the album sleeve was designed by Peter Saville, who has since become one of my great heroes. Much of my early work was in homage to him. His work is a part of me. Also, cooly, it’s actually a historical image as well, being the first recorded sound pulsar IN SPACE. HOW COOL IS THAT?

So I got this done on January 2nd. I’ve waited so long to show it to the world because I’d just finished up an extensive half-ish sleeve and I was concerned I’d get people going WOW TRY HARD MUCH? Yes. Incredibly. I am mega try hard. Plus, I like the gothy abstract scientific graph to go on top of a sword from a fantasy novel. Multitudes, am I right?

♫ It’s been awhile ♫

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January got kind of blog-light at the end there. What am I supposed to write about? How my diet and exercise goals have been falling a little short because I’m super busy with my job and literally there’s nothing new to report? Plus I spent the last week of the month totally zonked out with a bad cold that left me little energy to do anything other than to sit in the basement on my new gaming chair and play Halo 5 arena battles (it’s a ridiculous looking chair, but it’s also cute and comfortable).

The Twin Cities got pelted with a blizzard yesterday. It was a satisfying snowfall compared to what we’ve had to work with this season. It came fast and furious. 12 inches I believe. SNOW_FEB-2SNOW_FEB-3SNOW_FEB-4SNOW_FEB-5I got designs on some good blog #content coming up so do not fear about the radio silence.

For a shareable today, I became extremely basic this morning and lol’d at Chris Martin doing Car Karaoke with James Corden. Coldplay is powerfully uncool to like, so it’s pretty brave of me to still be a fan of them after all these years. Right?

Synth i

synth_mixA few years ago around this time I made a pretty decent “mix tape” of songs that emphasize the Synthesizer. I felt it was diverse-ish, in that it wasn’t all Kraftwerk, and had a mix of old and new artists. But, I listened to it recently for the first time in a couple years and it is long. There was probably enough material on it to warrant 2 or even 4 volumes. Challenge accepted. I present the 1st of 4 Synth volumes for this winter, Synth i. It’s similarly structured to that one I made those many years ago, but it’s also shorter and tighter, and not quite as ambient.

I highly recommend listening to this in sequence, either while driving aimlessly home at night or with heavy duty headphones sitting at your desk. Either way, do it in the winter. This is not a summer time mix. synth_mix

David Bowie

bowieI feel like I’ve known David Bowie in some capacity my whole life. I didn’t really know what to make of Labyrinth when I was a kid, but I watched it all the time, and was incredibly creeped out by Jareth. I wasn’t into that hair, and whatever was in his pants. I’m still vaguely creeped out by him. And that movie is still weird (and wonderful), and David Bowie is still David Bowie.

I got lucky. The first Bowie album I ever listened to all the way through was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (commonly known as Ziggy Stardust). To this day it remains the most crucial album in his canon (even when you consider Low and Heroes and yes, dammit even Let’s Dance).

Aside from his wide ranging and far reaching music catalogue, which is filled with so much strange brilliance from end-to-end, I hold so much respect for him as a person. For almost 50 years… He’s always busted conventions, and done whatever the fuck he wanted. Even at the very height of the Berlin period (when he released Low, Heroes & Lodger back-to-back-to-back), when he was releasing some of the most interesting and masterful stuff, his music videos were getting banned in the UK because he dressed as a woman.

And he doesn’t end, or stop, and he’ll never die, because he’s not human. He’ll just.. Fly away one day.

I was lucky enough to see David Bowie Is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London a few years back (not at the Tate, as some assumed). It was a really interesting exhibit which used zone-controlled listening devices, so you were constantly surrounded by the sounds of David Bowie’s voice and music, while looking at actual outfits he wore, or  room-size screens of him as Ziggy, prancing across a stage in platform boots. It made me realize how different he was, and how OK it was to be different, and how much I loved him.

David Bowie, the love I have for you is unreal. Happy Birthday.

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© Andrew Kent

Let’s Go to the Gym.

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Well, it’s January, which probably only means one thing for many people: “I want to start eating healthier and go back to the gym.” Has anyone ever gotten a gym membership in January that’s NEVER been to a gym before? I doubt it. Of course it’s a cliche to make declarations of self-improvement in the New Year. It’s so cathartic! And even though it’s totally hip nowadays to decry these resolutions as misguided and unproductive, I say Bah! Go ahead and try to better yourself. Healthy eating (Not a DIET) and exercise are good for you, and they make you feel good too. Not just physically, but mentally. And after you get past sore muscles, you feel limber and lighter. I hate carrying around a heavy body, but worse yet is my ankles and hips feeling achey. Taking daily walks always made it better.

Anyway. In the last year I went from one pair of leggings, a sport bra, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt to like, 10 pairs of leggings, 8 more hoodies, quality running shoes and a really nice sport bra. I LOVE workout clothes. I like working out, but I LOVE the clothes I get to wear. I probably lust after gym clothes more than anything else these days. They’re comfortable, they’re efficient, and brands go the extra mile now to make them ultra-stylish. Like, if I were going to be on a space ship (in the future, where I can walk around and stuff ala BSG) I’d be wearing workout clothes; they’re essentially built for the same purposes.

Anyway, AGAIN.

I honestly love going to the gym, too. I love my gym. It’s huge, and it’s always full of people. There’s energy and ambience. No harsh lights. Carpeting! A juice bar! TVs everywhere. Rows and rows of treadmills. I can really just disappear in that place. Plus a cozy locker room, sauna and pool is always nice. I like working out. What makes me happier to work out is rocking an insanely cool workout ensemble. It energizes me, makes me feel confident and motivated. When I look good, I feel good & I look good.gym&tonic

Pose Top – For Yoga. After a good yoga sesh — and they are really good when they’re good, you want to wrap yourself up in something soft and slinky. Yoga is kind of like a fitness nap. Mm, so cozy.

S’well Bottle – For HYDRATION. DUH. These are designed with eliminating plastic bottles forever in mind. Plus, they’re insulated; 12 hours for hot drinks, 24 hours for cold. And? Extremely good looking.

Dri-Fit T-shirt – Nike and Running are practically synonyms, and this is a hot t-shirt to go running in.

Racerback Tank – I’m obsessed with this brand. They’re like American Apparel for the gym – but without all the creepy porno ads. Very minimal, basic gym wear that could really just be worn anywhere.

Wireless Earbuds – Don’t be this guy.

GapFit Breathe Hoodie – Another one for post-yoga, or a brisk lake-side walk. It’s got thumb holes. It’s so cozy.

Cold Weather Leggings – I’ve pimped these a lot. They’re insane coziness, and great for running – both indoor and outdoor.

Trail Half-Zip  –  For anything. Look how flattering this *probably* is.

Wunder Under Pant – Patterned leggings always win.

Flyknit Metallic –  Nike owns running. And their shoes are mad comfy.

2015: A year of personal growth

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January 5, 2015

The above photo was taken on January 5 of this year, in the gym locker room of the now demolished Star Tribune building. It’s really remarkable how much has changed since I took it… The first thing that changed was my perception of how I used alcohol. It’s still a substance I would abuse with delight over the course of the year (and how!), but starting 2015 dry made me realize I could do it, and that it wasn’t actually that bad. My overall mood had improved, and I was productive in ways I wasn’t before.

Career-wise, in February I would start a part time job at General Mills, which was a dream. In March, we left the Star Tribune building for good and moved to Downtown proper. In May, Vita.mn shut down and I started working at City Pages. In October, I went full time at General Mills. It was around that time they knocked down the old ST building for good. Whereas in 2014 hardly anything changed, everything changed in 2015. I couldn’t have known when I took that photo up there all what was going to happen.

I got some tattoos (and found out I really like getting tattoos). I got a new camera (and a few lenses) and started being super serious about photography. I shot some shows and festivals. I started to let my hair grow out and took some trips by myself.

This probably sounds cheesy, but I learned about who I am this year. SELFPORTRAIT-10I got rid of a lot of clothes and rediscovered the cleansing power of such an act. After making a pledge in January, I lost ~20 pounds in the autumn months, and fulfilled a goal of running a 5k on Thanksgiving.

I even bought myself an Xbox One and like to game now. I did an impulse buy of a BB-8 remote control toy. I took some sword fighting classes. The year I was the most grown up I’ve been is also the year I acted most like a kid.

I also blogged a lot, which I love, but which I’m still figuring out.

I guess, what I learned about myself is that when you’re in control of your life is when you’re most successful. Clearly, alcohol controls me. It makes me sluggish and sad. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE drinking, and with friends? Why, that combination can’t be beat! And the dichotomy of my year is that I was having the most fun drinking with my friends — but I felt my best when I was abstaining and exercising a lot. You can feel a lot of things in life, and sometimes the things that make you happy are incompatible with each other, and that’s OK.

Being in control and making choices – not just about drinking, but about ALL things – is how I succeed.

For 2016, I want to take all the good things I did in 2015 and expand those. Maybe it’s a myth that the new year actually changes anything, but I’ve always seen it as a hard reset button on your hobbies or your habits. It’s what you want it to be. If January 1 is a good time to start making yourself better, then more power to you (but, please know that any day is a good day to start making yourself better). I think it has powers, and by the power of grayskull, I will harness it for good!!

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December 9, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Hendo-Royces

XMASWEEK-12I’ve been largely inconsistent with sending out Christmas cards since I moved out of my parents’ house. It’s been a mixture of buckling down and designing, printing and sending them out. Other years I’m like “whatever” and just put a thing on Facebook. My mom has had a long, long, long tradition of making a new card every year from scratch and since she’s from the old days, most times she did them all by hand, for like a million people. I tried doing a version of that, but found that to actually get in the way of doing cards at all. There’s enough to do during the holidays  already, ya know?

So, this year, since I have a great camera & a little more money than usual, I decided to let someone else do most the work for me. Luckily there’s just so many great companies these days who have excellent designs and print capabilities. I decided to go through Artifact Uprising. They have really cool minimal (almost anti-holiday) designs and the turnaround time was super quick. PLUS they send you envelopes too, which saved me a trip to Paper Source. Hooray! XMASWEEK-11I took the photo of us while we were at Lutsen two weekends ago. While it was pretty slushy up there, we did get lucky one morning when there was a dusting of snow. The snow was literally melting while we were taking our picture. I wanted to do devil horns, but we settled for black and white punk rock t-shirts (although mine is more like, a t-shirt about berserkers, to go with my tattoo.) BTW the t-shirt Alan has on in the softest t-shirt there ever was. He always has the softest t-shirts. LUTSEN2K15-1

Obviously it’s too late for this year, but next time you’re in the market to get some nice cards made, Artifact Uprising is a great choice if you like clean and minimal designs. Minted & Tiny Prints are some other options with a seemingly never-ending variety of designs.  Paperless Post  feature designs from real designers!

Merry Christmas, wherever you are, whoever you are.

Christmas Wrapping

WRAPPING-2I am the (or a) middle child in my family (of 4 siblings). My older sister, who is in the middle with me, is quite traditional in many ways. But I have made it my life’s mission to stand out as much as possible in my family. Not out of spite, probably, but just like, because I want everyone to think I’m weird.

This is especially true at Christmas. Long ago I stopped buying regular Christmas wrapping paper in favor for making my own (like one year I made a lino cut and stamped kraft paper). Other years I’ve done plain white, or black with white crosses. This year I have ALL these Stendig calendar pages. They’ve been sitting in my closet, some for a whole year, waiting to be used. What better way to leave my mark on this Christmas by crowding the tree with a display of black and white typography? WRAPPING-3I also hate wrapping presents, it should be noted. The least amount of effort I can put in is preferable. Of course a festive red bow would be very complementary but ehhhh, too lazy. WRAPPING-4My office scissors are from IKEA, of all places. WRAPPING-1The problem with these pages is that it’s much thicker than regular wrapping paper, and I don’t like using regular tape; I use washi duct tape. Anyway, the presents don’t like to stay super wrapped.

Alan isn’t anal about how his presents are wrapped, so, bless him, he has to buy his own paper at the store, which I think is really sweet and adorable (since he didn’t really grow up celebrating Christmas. He does this all for me. Awwwww).

BTW, if you’re looking for one of these calendars, they are way sold out. I tried to warn you. Better luck next year.

Christmas Shindig

XMASWEEK-1On Saturday we did a new thing: throw a grown up holiday party! We cooked food and made a display, and had a few special drinks. Of course it ended like a normal party at our house though, with a few stragglers falling asleep on the couch and/or guest bed. It’s just nice to have the house full of lights, smells and the sounds of friends you love dearly. The part was in the Swedish tradition of solstice, with a emphasis on Hygge. We even had glögg! While it didn’t snow, it was cold, which was good enough. We’d been having some sort of December monsoon (having it right now as a matter of fact). With a fire going in the back yard all night though, you couldn’t tell the difference. It was enough to make the season merry and bright. I took a few “before” photos. My friend Jen said it felt like Christmas Eve. #missionaccomplished.

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Suffice to say, I had an epic hangover the next day, and I swear I am not drinking ever again, for real. Glögg is good, though! XMASWEEK-6XMASWEEK-9XMASWEEK-7I had Christmas hymns from hundreds of years ago playing, and every candle in the house lit. It was truly my love letter to December and I had a lot of help putting it together. Even though the party and theme was my idea, Alan really dove in and brought some great ideas to the table (he took it upon himself to infuse some vodka we used for punch. It was *sick*) and he put up lights in the back yard! My bff Jen and her boyfriend Andy also came over to help prep. It was a real adult soiree! Until, you know, we all got super tips. Skål!