Early in the month, I was asked to design a couple posters for Ben Gibbard's solo shows out in the Midwest. The first shows a little flower shop on the ground floor of an apartment and some lucky person that scored an armful of plants.
The next was a drive-in movie inspired by movie titles of the 50s and 60s, as well as children's author M. Sasek.
I wanted to update the Porchlight gift cards in time for the holidays, so I came up with a new design on a thick, textured card stock.
Another poster from the month was Yoke Lore at Neumos. The venue and I had decided to keep the design to two colors and they were printed by the talented Broken Press, here in Seattle.
At Porchlight, we have a small display of greeting cards at the counter, all of which I've designed at various times. I was feeling antsy for a couple new designs which include the celebratory long dog with balloons and the for-no-particular-occasion seal balancing coffee dishes.
To finish off the post, my favorite photos from the month:
Summer in Seattle is very, very dead now so it'll be a little easier to stay inside and work on design projects. First from September is a two-color 18" x 24" print for the sold out Cigarettes After Sex show at The Neptune. Most of the band's imagery is black and white, so I wanted to keep it simple with a two color, minimal approach. The band name itself is pretty obvious and sexual, so the design didn't need to get too literal, beyond the cigarette pack imagery.
Next up, another poster—this one was for Elder Island playing at the Fillmore in San Francisco. The band has used a lot of 70s/80s audio/electronic-looking imagery in some photography lately, so I wanted to play into that for this design.
The third poster of the month is for AJJ in December. The show is being put on by The Vera Project, but at the larger Neumos on Capitol Hill. Back when I played music, my band played with AJJ here in Seattle at a couple DIY spaces, and down in their hometown Phoenix. In the earlier years of Porchlight, they played an all-ages in-store as well, so I was happy to do this poster when the Vera Project asked. My illustration style isn't perfectly aligned with the bands on the bill, but I think everyone wound up happy with my weird laundromat illustration.
The nice boys of Cataldo have a really great new record out called "Literally Main Street". This year I have done a handful of designs for them and this Cat-aldo shirt is one of my favorites. The idea was the band's, so I can't take full credit.
The nice folks down at Pacific Science Center let me go in and take a ton of photos of the Minoru Yamasaki-designed courtyard (possibly my favorite spot in the entire city). To read more and see all the photos head right here.
Over a decade of Porchlight, I've designed around 6 or 7 different diner mugs that are available to purchase in the shop. This time I went a very, very serious route...
September also brought a new round of Clif Bar pins—a few thousand of 'em. The folks at Clif Bar are really great to work with and always make the process super smooth.
Lastly, my favorite snaps of the month. A few are from an Ebbets Field Flannels photoshoot I helped out with (if you're curious about those sporty NFL photos).
The folks behind the long-running Sasquatch! started a brand new festival called Thing. It featured Kurt Vile, Jeff Tweedy, De La Soul, Violent Femmes and more at Port Townsend's Fort Worden. The sold out festival was a big ol' success and I was lucky enough to design a tiny piece of merch for it. A focal point of Port Townsend is the iconic Point Wilson lighthouse. The folks at Thing asked me to create an enamel pin that represented the city more than the festival itself, so I decided to use the lighthouse. As a fun addition, the backing card was made to reveal a flying bird once the pin is removed.
The main reason anyone follows my Instagram, is just for photos of my fluffy orange cat Junior. For a new slipmat design, I decided to give the people what they want--a two-color screen printed slipmat featuring a curled up orange cat. It's available via Porchlight Design Co.
Musician Jeremy Elliot is transitioning his music and giving it a bigger sound, so he and his management asked me to come up with a logo. Along with some desert imagery and branding influences, they showed me some of the new music and this is what I came up with.
Earlier in the year, I released Visitors, a collection of maps and brochures of Washington from decades ago. The cover features a confused traveller and I created some stickers of his image to throw in with online orders.
And for the monthly photo recap, my favorite photos from August:
First up is a reprisal of the "Coffee & Records" design I had originally made for crew neck sweatshirts. This month, I brought them back to Porchlight on super comfy tri-blend t-shirts for Summer. This was also the first time I decided to go with custom printed tags on the tees. Since I'm in the process of consolidating Porchlight merch over with Porchlight Design Co. it seemed like a good time to make the tags applicable to both. These are available at Porchlight and online at porchlightdesignco.com!
Next, a logo and business cards for my pal Rachel Demy. She is a wonderful photographer and specializes in tour photography, giving insight into green rooms, tour buses and side stage. She's taken great shots of Death Cab, Chance The Rapper, Jenny Lewis, The Shins and more.
Rachel's initials are R.A.D. and without being too obvious, I wanted to incorporate the initials into her name, so you can see that it obviously spells her name, the logo goes from "r" to "a" with a connection down the "d".
Another logo I created was for Part-Time PR, a small firm focusing on punk, indie and DIY bands. The branding is very different from the one I designed for Rachel and shows a little more playful, gritty imagery.
To continue celebrating 10 years of Porchlight, I spent two days giving away enamel pins of Dandy Man, the coffee-and-record-toting happy guy. The miniature man was pinned to a celebratory birthday candle card.
As always, my favorite photos from the month:
A big June highlight is the release of Mid Seattle Volume Three. For each issue, I include an enamel pin and postcard in the orange/red/white color scheme of the Mid Seattle logo. I made a quick promo video to show the pin and interior pages of the new volume, and recorded a super brief instrumental soundtrack to go with it.
In June, Cone & Steiner asked if I would have a little Porchlight Design Co. pop up at their Pioneer Square location. I designed the poster and organized a Happy Hour and Mariner game outing to go with it as well.
Whenever I get to make stuff for Cataldo, it's a good time. Eric asked me to help with their lyric video for "They Don't Know About Us". The lyrics and illustrations were meant to look like a high schooler's sketches, done in scratchy ballpoint. I also lettered the video's titles and credits. KEXP premiered the video right here.
As an exclusive for the Porchlight Design Co. pop up at Cone & Steiner, I designed a Dave Niehaus/Mariners-inspired "My Oh My" enamel pin. The shop is in super close proximity to the ballpark, and a lot of attendees stop in C&S before games, so it seemed like a good fit.
I also designed new labels for the candles I make for Porchlight Design Co. Over the years I've had a couple different label designs for these, and this brand new one is sure to stick as my favorite.
The final June design was for the Spanish Ballroom in Tacoma. The poster will be used for a monthly DJ night featuring Sub Pop founder, Bruce Pavitt. Umbrellas are probably overused in Northwest-based designs, but when it's raining records, I think it's okay.
Last, but not least, my favorite photos from the month:
One of my favorite people/musicians to design for is Sera Cahoone. Whenever I'm designing for a client, I'll ask if they have any imagery in mind for their poster and luckily Sera and I are always on the same page. She mentioned the flicker, a bird in the woodpecker family, and I snuck it into the signage of a mid-century building. The show is coming up June 21 with some great openers as well.
RIght before Dave Hause was leaving for a European tour, I was asked to come up with a shirt design to take on the road. Dave and co. had an idea for fireflies in a jar, loosely based on one of his songs and this two-color print is what I came up with based on the idea.
Next up, some more fun stuff for Cataldo. I designed these two-color shirts based on the red Volvo wagon I put in their show poster in March.
To go along with their new album and shirts, we stuck with the teenage, post-high school theme and came up with an 18" x 24" art print filled with pieces of younger years such as an old iPod, rolling papers, a lighter and pocket knife.
And here are some of my favorite photos from the month:
Last fall, I sent a copy of the first Mid Seattle along with a letter to now-retired architect Audrey Van Horne asking if she'd let me take photos of her home for the next issue. The house that she and her husband John designed in 1953 is one of my favorite residential buildings in the city. It has huge windows, but still feels private. It's classy and elegant while still feeling genuinely lived-in and Mr. and Mrs. Van Horne added little touches of playfulness that make the entire home so well-rounded.
I was beyond excited to get a call from Audrey Van Horne and quickly found out how warm and welcoming she is. Her home is only a couple miles from Capitol Hill in the Portage Bay neighborhood, so it was a quick trip down the street. We chatted for hours in her living room. She told me about her old office, we talked about Architecture West (the now-defunct magazine where my grandfather worked) and the geometric structure in their yard that her grandchildren played on.
The one request she asked of me was that I show her the photos before I publish them. A few weeks later I brought her a one-off volume that showed all of the edited photos I took, with 5 or so in consideration to be published. We looked through it together, she pointed out some of her favorites, and smiled a bunch. Since only four photos were ever published, I wanted to share the rest.
The highlight of April was designing a poster for comedian Tom Segura and his five-show stint at the Moore Theater. Playing on a few of his jokes from his Netflix specials and affinity for sports, I designed a three-color screen print of trophies featuring the man himself.
Every April, record stores around the world celebrate Record Store Day and at Porchlight we do the same. To promote the holiday, I had to create some marketing material for the shop.
For Urban Artworks' annual gala, we reprised their paintbrush logo pins in new colors. Urban Artworks is a wonderful non-profit benefiting teens and the arts.
And a handful of my favorite photos from April:
This Spring has brought a cool string of collaborative work with Cataldo. The new Cataldo album comes out in a few months and it's spectacular. Eric Anderson is the man behind the band, writing heartfelt songs and consistently cranking out wonderful music. The new record is heavily steeped in Eric's (and our collective) early 20s, so most of what we've come up with represents that. Look for t-shirts, posters and videos in the next couple months.
Another great human in Seattle is out on tour supporting a new record--Telekinesis aka Michael Lerner. Michael and I share the same affinity for mid-century design so I wanted to come up with one pin design that represented that. The color scheme of the hyphen sign pin was inspired by some 1960s Disneyland advertising. The glasses are little replicas of the ones he wears himself.
Hey I made it onto TV! This month I was featured on Seattle Refined, weekday show on channel 4 KOMO. The show highlighted Porchlight as well as all the enamel pins that I've designed for businesses, bands and other organizations. The show also had me design and deliver pins specifically for the show. You can still see the whole episode and read about it here.
To celebrate the fact that Porchlight has been up and running for a decade, I've been designing material to remind folks all year long: window decals, posters, quotes from customers etc. Here are a few examples so far.
Lastly, here are some of my favorite photos from the month.
"How did you open a coffee shop in Seattle?" That question comes up more regularly in my life than "What's the wi-fi password?" The simple answer is that since day one I've been responsible for and hands-on with every single aspect of the business. I work the shop, unclog drains, run social media, deliver cold brew to wholesale accounts, design every window decal and punch card, run payroll, curate art shows, file taxes and do every single chore that I ask of my employees.
While putting the 10 Year decal on the window this afternoon, the irony wasn't lost on me that ten years later I'm still doing all the same chores I took care of in 2009. I think a lot of folks have a vague idea that a successful business is one that multiplies over time while the owner or owners distance themselves from the day-to-day tasks until they wind up behind a desk. There are plusses and minuses, but staying small and staying hands-on is actually a positive when it comes to understanding your business while still making a decent living.
Spending my teens to early twenties heavily involved in DIY punk isn't necessarily helpful or applicable to business (more anti-business than anything) but it also created a desire to make space and goods more accessible to more folks. Capitol Hill is an expensive neighborhood, and for better or worse, Porchlight is always one of the last shops to raise prices despite our own cost increases. In an effort to keep things more accessible and attempt to keep costs down while staying profitable, I am a manager, barista, delivery driver, graphic designer and window washer--and that's a-okay!
A lot of coffee shops these days start up with well over $100,000. They follow traditional business plans, have investors and usually enough funding to last them through months or years of poor sales. When I opened Porchlight, I didn't have any of that. My opening costs were the financial equivalent of a used car, then I worked 70+ hours a week until I could afford to work 60 hours a week--then 50 and so on. Slowly, I upgraded from used makeshift countertops to custom ones, then a better espresso machine and grinders. I actually ran the shop for two years without an ice machine until I could afford to buy one. The 6AM trips carrying 7-11 ice bags were not fun.
That being said, I didn't learn all of these things by myself. I asked a lot of questions of friends, family, Herkimer Coffee (who are the most knowledgable friends/family in the coffee world) and learned when to bow out (see plumbing and electrical work). Another aspect of all this that I frequently bring up to folks is that you should never try to swoop in and capitalize on a neighborhood just cause it's booming. I love Seattle, went to school and worked on Capitol Hill, played music with friends that also lived in the neighborhood and the neighborhood was good to me. When you open a business in the place you call home, the neighborhood wants to support you. I felt that in 2009 when I was getting the hang of it all and I still appreciate it to this day. When a well-financed business comes to cash in on a bustling part of town, neighbors notice. Stick to what you know.
If you scrolled to the bottom to find out the answer to the question, it is as simple as "Do all the work you can, stay hands-on, ask questions and buy some merch from the touring bands." A successful business doesn't have to have multiple locations, silent partners or $100,000 in startup money.