It’s been a little over two weeks…two weeks since I was in the most remote, undeveloped, recovering, and beautiful place I have been to date. I traveled to South Sudan with Wonderkind Studios for Life In Abundance to see and experience our world’s newest country.
And I need to be really honest here before I go on—I was pretty nervous. My time in Ethiopia and Kenya were life-changing and very different. But this trip to South Sudan was even more unique, on so many levels. It still had some of the elements I had been witness to: a lack of material goods, generations of struggle, and beautiful brothers and sisters who are in desperate need of empowerment. Read the rest of the entry >
This week I will be heading back to Africa with friend, photographer, and filmmaker Brian MacDonald from Wonderkind Studios. We will be traveling to Nariobi, Kenya, and South Sudan to record, document, and interview the people being served by Life In Abundance.
Our main push for going is to get acquainted with the reality and culture of our world’s newest country, South Sudan. LIA is planning to focus on that region in the coming years, and there are many things we want to help them with – including our next documentary collaboration slated for sometime in 2013. Like with most creative projects, understanding the reality of the situation is key. Whether it’s watching a product demo, listening to a mock sales pitch, or trying a new product, “seeing” is key.
An additional part of our time there will be spent collecting stories from the South Sudanese so we can put together a fund-raising book that will help tell the story, raise awareness, and help finance even further work being done there. Please consider supporting our Kickstarter for that project, and please help spread the word.
While in Kenya, we will be visiting the micro-finance shoe project we helped start with LIA called Konjo. This project helps train locals in the variety of skills needed to make shoes that they can then sell. The shoe sales help finance the program, empower learning, and create a sustainable occupation for the Kenyans. These shoes, BTW, should be available for purchase in the US by mid- to late summer.
And finally, Rule29 has been collaborating with the graduate design program at Kent State University to create info graphics to be used in the slums of Kenya and South Sudan. The goal was to create better tools for communicating major health symptoms and medicine dosages. We will be taking the prototypes developed by the students with us so we can do some field-testing.
Everyone involved is excited for these opportunities. I’m hopeful about the results of the desired outcomes and grateful to be working on design for good. But what I’m most preparing for is the reality – the reality of a world so different than my own. More importantly, I want to spend my time learning and “seeing” so we can tell their story in a way that honors them. It’s their perspective, not ours. That’s what truly matters.\
*The book shown above is a prototype/concept only.
The first music video I ever saw was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was 1983 and I was eight. I was over at a friend’s house watching the hour-or-so long documentary that played prior to Thriller’s premiere. In fact, I remember more about the “behind-the-scenes” feature than the actual 13-minute long version of the now classic video.
Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with the music video craft – their style, history, evolution, and place amongst culture. And there is no doubt, the industry has completed shifted from the 80s MTV scene. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to even find a music video on one of the MTV networks. And honestly, this is a good thing. It has ushered a whole new era of video production, creativity, delivery, and collaboration amongst artists and film-makers.
So, needless to say, when the opportunity came to partner with my friend Ryan O’Neil of Sleeping at Laston a music video as part of his recent “Yearbook” project, we were all in. Here’s a little background on the video.
The first step in the process was actually song selection. We wanted to find a song that not only could be visually depicted in a creative fashion, but one that had a depth about it that can lead the visuals. It did not take long for me to volley for “Emphasis” – my favorite song in the collection.
It’s a long story (most of which you can read here), but we ended up building the remaining narrative around a little boy (who happens to be my son) and his exploration of a seemingly large and broken world. We chose to shoot the video almost entirely in a macro format – subtly suggesting that we are often limited by our small perspective and much too close for our own good to appreciate the world in all its beauty and mystery. As Ryan has stated, “This is a little song about big questions.”
We wanted to combine this technique (macro) with the use of small hints of natural light as a subtle nod to the lyrics.
I think at one point there were more than four concepts driving the video – much of which were abandoned after the first cut. In fact, in the end, the majority of the shots with the kid (Phin) in the video were shot within the last 20 minutes of sunlight we had on our last day of filming. Thanks to beautiful imagery captured by Wonderkind Studios, we were able to pull off the video in time for it’s Paste Magazine premiere, which we were excited to be a part of.
Just like any project we approach, we step back and look at the entire company to find its stand-out qualities that makes it unique, and highlight those particulars in the design. O’Neil Printing has been in business for over a century, and we’d like to think that any business that’s been at it that long has a few secrets up their sleeve. Although we could talk endlessly about O’Neil’s quality product, variety of services, sparkling equipment, or commitment to the environment, there are two things that really make O’Neil stand out: their people and their tradition of innovating the print business. O’Neil’s people are dedicated, service-oriented, and truly care about their clients. After all, O’Neil Printing is employee-owned, so they are invested in their work and their clients’ happiness. They’re also committed to approaching projects and business from a unique and effective perspective; a process of innovation that has kept the company young after all this time. Read the rest of the entry >