Designing the album artwork for Gemini's debut album, Appalachian Simulation, was a stellar process end to end. Designing a vinyl package was a very different experience than designing artwork that would only live on streaming services. I had to consider the world these records would live in and where consumers would interact with them.

Gemini Album Cover

Why?

Vinyl collectors place a high value on album artwork. These consumers will splurge on albums that they feel are unique, will stand out in their collection, and could be used as a display piece. It was important to create a design that would jump out against dozens of other records on the shelves or make a shopper stop flipping through records if they came across it while digging through a crate.

What?

The album, Appalachian Simulation, explores the nexus of 21st century technology and rural America, feminism, and coming of age in a rapidly changing time. Their sound is heavily influenced by psychedelic groups of the 70s but has a modern, lofi, freak folk quality to it.

How?

I wanted the design to be familiar and surreal at the same time. I incorporated some of my own photography along with the oversized, misplaced moons not only for their supernatural quality but also to reflect the group's name, Gemini, and their continued references to astrology and the cosmos. Gemini, the word itself Latin for "twins", is literally reflected in both the double moon and overall reflection of the image

Imagine a mobile, wood burning sauna designed to be affordable and accessible to the community. Sounds great, right? Mobile sauna's like this have popped up in a few states over the past couple of years and Szauna wants to bring one to the people of Philadelphia.

Sauna's have many health benefits and having one on wheels, sort of like a tiny house, could bring it's benefits to groups of individuals who would not have acceess to a sauna otherwise.

Szauna is in the prototype stages right now and I am working with them on branding and digital design. To get started, I created a system of icons to be used on their website and social media.

Graphic Design Icons for Social Media
Towel Icon
Thermometer Icon
Fire Icon

What happens when  you have a strong message to deliver to an audience but are having trouble getting the point across to the right people in the right spaces?

We worked to update the web presence of an unpaid wage and overtime attorney and our strategy was met with more engagement.

You can access the case study here.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

2018-Minimum-Wage-Increases-Infographic

String instruments are interesting, finicky objects.

String them up one way, you have an electric guitar. String them up another way and swap the body out and you get a cello, or a banjo. I grew up playing the violin and often felt it's persistent, deep, unique qualities resonate within myself.

I worked on this fun set of string instrument icons with a friend. Just like music, design is fun when you share the process with someone.

I had creative control over the cello and the Gibson Explorer.

There's something about every major music streaming app that I have an issue with.

On Spotify, it's the way the library is organized. Apple Music and Google Play just don't do it for me. SoundCloud has a great interface but doesn't have the catalogue to match.

You could say I am nitpicky, but in reality, I just know exactly what I like.

I decided to design my dream music streaming app, starting with some icons. Here are the first six. Leave a comment below and let me know what you'd have in your dream streaming app.

Music Icon Export Web

Let's Start Here. I Made a New Tumblr - But After Monday, Does Anyone Even Care Anymore?

 

I started writing this post a couple of days ago, before Tumblr was thrust to the front of the news cycle when they decided to ban all adult content from their platform.

 

This move will effectively erase a significant portion of the Tumblr community and sets a new precident for sexual censorship on the internet.

Tumblr Media Ban

The tone of this blog post looked a lot different then. I just wanted to share with all of you that I resurrected my account on the website, rekindled my love for microblogging, and have been working on a new blog to serve as a collection of aesthetic inspiration.

So, let's get this out of the way really quick first.

 

Sizzling Colors is a clearing house for my creative writing as well as a curated collection of images, words, colors, and music that inspire me. I'd love if you followed me over there.

Now onto the meaty, internet-censoring-sex-negative stuff that is pissing me off!

The Adult Content Ban on Tumblr Sets Sex Positivity on the Internet Back 10 Years

When Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio announced on the staff blog that in an effort to create a 'better, more positive' Tumblr, the website would be banning all adult content effective on December 17th, my initial reaction was disbelief and laughter. This was a logical fallacy, how could censoring adult content create a 'more positive' community when censoring is equavlient to shaming.

Anyone who uses Tumblr knows that approximately 2/3 of that website is adult content (I made this statistic up, but believe me, as a 7 year Tumblr user, I know my point stands).

 

This will surely cause Tumblr's last few users to leave the platform all together.

 

I took a look back through the list of blogs that I follow. Many of them, adult content or not, haven't been updated in one, two, three, six years.

 

So, quickly, my brief disbelief set into a deep disappointment. Tumblr, at it's core, was a subversive social media platform and it's been gutted by management who doesn't understand this.

The ban saddens me on several levels. A better, more positive Tumblr would be a free, sex-positive space, without censorship and open for expression.

 

It's also another blow to sex workers who are trying to navigate the digital era, it removes a safe space from the internet where people, especially young queer individuals, could explore their sexual identities, and it's another censorship on free art and expression.

Tumblr's once-liberal content policy allowed sex-positive blogs to blossom in it's community.

This is important to remember because up until fairly recently, most mainstream and easily accessible, free porn catered entirely to the male gaze. It's isolating and offputting to many.

Tumblr allowed women, queer individuals, anybody, to look at different kinds of porn and access different, more sex-positive view points of sex. The liberal content policy allowed users to publish niche adult content and find a welcoming community of viewers for it.

This is a healthy, safe, and empowering way to explore one's sexuality.

Over on Broadly, this piece from June hits on Tumblr and the "subversive sexual power found in erotic fandom forums".

In a Weird, Hyper-Millennial, Coming-of-Age Way, Tumblr Helped Me Find Myself

Tumblr was an integral part of my growth as an artist, a writer, and a feminist. It opened me up to new ideas and perspectives from my peers and allowed me to express myself in a collaborative digital space. Tumblr felt more anonymous than other networks, and I felt comfortable living in that anon space as opposed to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, where often felt (and still feel) hyper-aware of the reality that comes with posting on those networks. If I share anything, it ends up being an edited, pared down version of myself. Not on Tumblr.

On Tumblr, no one needed to know who I was. The websites's micoblogs were, and still are, an outlet for it's users to share deep/sad/weird/creative/pressing/confusing thoughts, late night writing, political activism, feminist takes, relatable experiences, mental health issues, photography, music, design, aesthetic inspiration, etc. it goes on and on.

 

Tumblr allowed me to quickly and freely express myself, to sort out my feelings, to connect with people going through similar things that I was.

There's also a ton of artsy, expressive, niche, graphic "adult content". It's part of what makes the website what it is.

I'm going to let the folks featured through the links below further elaborate on why a move like this is terrible for Tumblr and the future of internet expression.

Thoughts from Others

The internet erupted with think pieces and protest articles in response to Tumblr's announcement.

Generally, major news and tech outlets are not in support of the ban. I've rounded up some good reads and critical analysis here below.

Vox has a great explainer, as usual, that should be mandatory reading before entering any discussion about this from an uninformed standpoint: Tumblr is banning adult content. It’s about so much more than porn.

Ars Technica has an article up now about the porn ban and how Tumblr is already failing at it, relying on an automated AI to identify 'adult content'.

Slate goes straight in with the article Tumblr Should Not Ban Porn.

Wired has a piece that digs into another pillar of this issue, who controls the content that we see online and what are their motives?

The Verge has an article that went up this morning that details how we got here, from Tumblr being the internet's most porn friendly website to banning porn. A lot of people think this all goes back to FOSTA/SESTA.

Here's a great blog post from the perspective of a Tumblr photographer whose work straddles art, editorial, and adult content, as much of the content on Tumblr did.

This ban is going to mean the death of a unique online community and a safe space for many to freely express themselves.

RIP Tumblr, 2007-2018

Kelsey Cork wants to be the next Karen O. Or the next Kesha. The next mega-talented, revered rock babe  leading the world's biggest party. She probably will be one day.

She leads Kelsey Cork and the Swigs, a DIY rock and roll trio. Cork provides guitar and vocals and is backed by Jacinda Arellano on bass and Ramon Gadea on drums.

They released their first official single, Center City Blues, on November 6th. Released intentionally on Election Day and deep in Scorpio season, it was set to make an impact and they've already received some great coverage from The Key and Deli Magazine.

Cork, a Scorpio herself, is part of a long list of kick ass Scorpio musicians. Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell, Bjork, and our supreme pop idol Carly Rae Jepson all also have birthdays this season.

Photo: Alyssa Resh

"Center City Blues" is aptly named. The tune and chorus follow classic blues patterns and the lyrics dose out some anti-establishment punk feelings, as expected.

Cork covers themes of commodity, societal expectations, and existential happiness throughout the lyrics.  Questioning the people she sees in Center City every day, or 'suits',

You proud of where you lay your head when the day is done
Do you lay awake worrying about who you bought your pillow from

You can play pretend
But are you having fun

The chorus spells her message out for us,

Who's looking down, who's looking down on who
Who's looking up, who's looking up to you

"Center City Blues" is released on Good How Are You Records, engineered by Lauren Delucca of the local punk set up Coping Skills, mixed by Henry Wilson and mastered by Elaine Rasnake.

It's always great to see a woman engineer credited on a track, there aren't enough of them in the music industry.

I love huge, massive works of art that overwhelm you with their size. I especially love giant outdoor public art installations that incorporate the environment around them in a cool, interesting way.

So when I first read about Sea Monsters Here on Streets Department I got really jazzed.

I thought that the pictures I saw my friends posting on Instagram would give me a pretty good idea of the exhibit. I didn't think that I was in for any real surprises.

GroupX installation at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Building 611.

What surprised me were the feelings that rose up inside me from looking at the purple sea tentacles swaying in the crisp, fall breeze. It was awesome.

The way each tentacle curled in a slightly different way. The way that the purple, blue, and green looked against the pure blue sky. The way that planes landing at the airport roared overhead every few minutes, cutting lines in the sky directly over the sea monster.

This inflatable monster is the largest outdoor piece of art, or art installation of any kind really, that has popped up in Philadelphia and it has me excited. (When thinking of weird things that pop up over night, I can't help but be reminded of the time the world's largest pinata popped up in a parking lot next to my high school, pre-Instagram in 2008.)

The installation is a collaboration between the Navy Yard, the anonymous Philly-based artist and curator coalition Group X, and internationally renowned inflatable design artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas.

Photo Credit TW Vincent.

 The inflatable monster is the first of its kind that Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas have installed on the East Coast of the United States and the largest inflatable tentacle sculpture that they've created and installed in the entire world (!!!!).

The sculpture has 20 total tentacles, each 40' long, and will be up until November 16th, this coming Friday. In a press release sent out in early October, Group X said,

“The Navy Yard is the perfect place to create a large scale public installation for a number of reasons. We’re aiming to make artwork enjoyable for all. We want to break through the proverbial, and in this case physical, walls that can too often keep people from feeling invited into the arts world…and with this installation, we’re just getting started.”

The 'just getting started' bit at the end there has me very excited. I hope we see more big, interesting public art projects at the Navy Yard and all through out Philadelphia in the coming months.

A plane landing at Philadelphia International Airport as pictured over the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Photo credit TW Vincent.

The Navy Yard is an incredibly beautiful place and quite peaceful on the weekend. The boardwalk along the Delaware is kind of like a much less populated, smaller version of the Schukyill River Trail. There were a handful of men fishing and people out for a stroll.

The white noise from airplanes constantly coming in low over head felt like ear muffs. The overwhelming government presence, large navy ships looming in the distance, and the deserted, remote feeling that I got from knowing that I was at the very very end of Broad Street combined together in a way that let me fantasize we were at the site of some secret government alien experimentation science labs.

In reality, it's just some Navy office buildings, GlaxoSmithKline, and the Urban Outfitters corporate campus. So maybe my tin foil hat feelings aren't too far off after all...🤔

 

Navy Yard Sea Monster

My big smile is brought to you by big, weird public art, a beautiful day, and a small americano from La Colombe.

The latest issue of Jump Magazine is live. This time it’s a bit different.

If you’re familiar with Jump, you’ll notice that we have a new logo and some fresh branding to go along with it. Red Flag Media has taken over publishing operations and from now on Jump will be combined with another one of their publications, Grid, a magazine that is invested in reporting social, racial, economic and environmental justice issues in Philadelphia. Grid’s politics are similar to Jump’s, where, in addition to profiling local musicians, we’ve always put an emphasis on covering a diverse array of subjects, politics, and social justice issues through the lens of music.

This is the first issue where the publications are smashed into a mutant Philly-Centric-Cool-Innovative-Stuff type magazine. I’m kind of into it. With the rad local music news, you also get a ton of rad articles about local sustainability and environmental issues as well. Wider circulation, more readers, I’m excited to see where this goes.

jump Oct2018

My article is about Erin Fox. She is one of those musicians who you meet and know that they would not be happy doing anything else, it’s so deeply embedded into their person. She has tattoos of musical notations, she plays in five bands right now, she organizes a local music fest to raise money for cancer research, she’s got a lot of good going on.

Her latest album, Forbidden Youth, has a great 90s Indigo Girls vibe and I highly recommend checking it out over there on Bandcamp. A portion of the proceeds from album sales will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness as well.

You can read the full issue online from here or just skip straight to my article on Erin. See the rest of my Jump articles here.