Last weekend, Atlas Obscura hosted a Lock Picking Party at the amazingly beautiful General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in Manhattan. It was one of our biggest parties yet, and dare I say, one of our best.
Guests were greeted with their own personal take-home lock picking kits, and over the course of the night, were promptly boozed up, taught how to pick locks, and sent back out into the world tipsy, and with their new scandalous skills.
I was tasked with the job of creating all of the print materials for the party - instructions for how to pick locks, descriptions of the new tools, cocktail menus, informative cards, and yes, I did hand stamp 300 bags all by myself. I may have mentioned this before, but any chance I have to get away from the computer and perform some repetitive task, I take. I love the zen-like state it puts me in.
This was probably one of the most fun things I've gotten to design for Atlas Obscura, and, bonus, when I was done, I knew how to pick locks!
I have been waiting a very long time to talk about Arthropoda, the educational insect show for kids that I'm directing with my pal Jessica Oreck. The series will live on the Children's Documentary Network, an online, interactive site comprised of global, non-fiction content for kids. While the site will launch sometime later this year, the first three episodes of Arthropoda are showing for the next few weeks at the IFC Center as part of their Short Attention Span Cinema series.
The first three episodes feature a Rosehair Tarantula, an Annam Stick Insect, and a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. The above is a still from the Tarantula episode, in which we use a picnic blanket to illustrate how tarantulas use their webs.
Here is a little behind the scenes shot; I am gently coaxing a stick insect onto a bed of kale. I can't wait for CDN to go live so that this show, which I am so incredibly proud of, can be seen by all - but in the meantime, head over to the IFC Center March 21-April 10, an Arthropoda is playing before each of their regular features.
I spent much of the last year working on an animated Baba Yaga fairytale for the documentary The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga. It was a blast to work on, and how could it not be? It has everything you could ask for: a hut on chicken legs, dark and grasping forests, a helpful cat with glowing eyes, a magic comb, a looming witch who travels by giant mortar and pestle, a moonlight abduction, windmills, and even a ghost! EVERYTHING I SAY!
The film was made by my good friend Jessica Oreck and is part live action shot in Eastern Europe and part animation. The fairytale scenes were illustrated by the talented Devin Debrowski, and then I brought them into a paper-theater-esque 3-Dish space, and added lighting, shadow, and effects. Below are a few stills from the animation. At last I will have a chance to watch the film in its entirety, and if you are located in NYC, so can you! The Vanquishing is screening this Saturday and Monday as a part of New Directors, New Films. I'll be at the Saturday screening, maybe I'll see you there! The film has been getting fantastic reviews, and it's sure to be a cinematic experience unlike any you've seen before.
I hemmed and hawed about what kind of graphic I should make for Magic Week over at Atlas Obscura this month, and in the end, I just couldn't say no to unicorns. It's pink, white and purple, just like my childhood bedroom, which, incidentally, had unicorns and stars stenciled around the ceiling. 9 year old me would be so freaking excited if she could see us today.
My favorite fact, as is referenced in the title of this post, is the stabbing nature of the Japanese unicorn.
A new graphic went up at Atlas Obscura today - my guide to Arctic Firsts! So many modes of transport! I've been forcing myself to use Illustrator lately, instead of the much more comfortable Photoshop, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. I love that I can make this print, like, the size of a truck. Illustrator, we might just have a future together.
Jessica Oreck's otherworldly documentary on Lappish reindeer herders, Aatsinki, is coming to theaters! It opens here in NYC at IFC on January 24, and plays through the 30th. I'm very proud to have lent a helping hand to the design of the film's poster. I spent some time in Lapland with Jessica and the Aatsinkis back in 2012, and the landscape, wildlife and hospitality of that trip I will not soon forget. Jessica's film does a beautiful job capturing the natural beauty and the day to day of a wild reindeer herder; full of quiet contemplation, punctuated by moments of fierce and sudden activity. Take it from someone who has: it's best viewed again and again.
I'm a little late in sharing this, as Christmas is well past us, but I'm hoping that any time of year is a good time to talk about the Gävle Goat. This giant straw yule goat, set up yearly for the holiday season in Gävle, Sweden, has catpured my heart, especially when he is aflame. You see, since his first appearance in 1966, the Gävle Goat has been burned or in other ways destroyed at an alarming rate. He has perished so many times, in fact, that I decided to create a helpful timeline! (Below is a small version, go to Atlas Obscura for the full, scrollable, legible timeline!)
When I made it, the Gävle Goat of 2013 was standing strong, but sadly (and delightfully) he was burned like so many others on December 20th. It happened during the Atlas Obscura office Christmas party, and though we had been checking the goat's live webcam all day, we sadly missed the moment of flame, catching him just after, a naked frame, surrounded by smoke and firefighters.
The aftermath of poor Gävle Goat 2013.
So deep does my love for the ill-fated goat run, he also showed up in a Curious Fact!
Here's one of the map on the office floor! So versatile!
The maps drying at Fleaheart, the screen printing shop that did all the hard work while I lazed around musing over color choices.
Me on the way to the post office with my first orders! THRILLS!