What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Friday Edition

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One Small Step for Notebooks

The Summer release from Field Notes is the "Three Missions" Edition, celebrating American space flight and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs. So of course we needed to have a mission of our own. NASA has Cape Canaveral. We have Manchester, Iowa.

A Six Tone Scale

True to the Blobbiness

We've long-admired the dynamism of a mural that is hangs on the north side of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, on Ashland Avenue. Once we renovated and moved into our new studio space, we decided to track down who was responsible, with the idea of doing something similar for our main work space. The artists, Gwendolyn Zabicki and Kent Smith, were up for the idea, and also for us filming them painting the 12' x 8', 3-panel artwork. Thanks a million to them.

Ten Years of Field Notes

Origin Stories

Ten years ago we started Field Notes. Here's some background. Aaron talking about where the original idea came from and the history of American agricultural design. Jim on the mechanics of moving from working for clients to inventing one. Whet Moser's recent piece for Chicago Magazine and how we got here.

An Adventure of a 2-Pack

Meet Haxley

During October, Chicago Illustrator and poster-maker Jay Ryan set himself a goal of creating one small ink illustration each day. These drawings revealed a story about a bear and his squirrel neighbors. We followed Jay's progress and found the drawings irresistible. We knew that they'd look great in a special Field Notes edition. We hope you agree.

The 14th Tournament of Books

A Literary
Cage Match

Once again, our Field Notes was the title sponsor of The Morning News Tournament of Books. If you're not familiar with the ToB, you'll want to read this Brief History of the Tournament of Books, by Angela Chen. "You can't kill the Rooster"

We've made a small batch of special manila-kraft Memo Books, with the ToB mascot on the cover and a checklist of the tournament books on the inside. Buy one of these for $3 and we'll add $3 of our own, and then donate $6 to 826 National, a seven-chapter network that provides under-resourced students, ages 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. This year, we raised over $10,000 for 826. You guys rock.

New From Field Notes


We're proud of the short film (spot?) we made for a product partnership with the unstoppable Bellroy from Australia. Check out the new Everyday Inspiration, custom, compact leather cover.

Thanks to Big Delicious Planet for inviting us into their Canteen for the location, and to Spencer Tweedy for letting us use his song "Temple State" on the track. It's in heavy rotation at HQ currently.

One From Way Way Back

How Do You Spell Courage?

A lot has changed around here since 2005: waistlines, hairlines, fashions, a big new studio, and new businesses to fill it with. Here's a Throwback for Thursday, in beautiful standard definition. The production values might leave a little to be desired, and the "new Canadian restaurant" in the neighborhood may have closed, but the film itself actually holds up. Sort of. Presenting Copy Goes Here.

You Can Count On Change

That’s a Wrap

After a long, successful run, we're shutting down our advertising network, The Deck. Jim posted about the decision and the details at the Deck site. John Gruber was one of the network's very first affiliates. John published a way-too-generous piece about The Deck at Daring Fireball. Thanks for that, and to all the affiliates, advertisers and readers who supported the network over the years.

Last year we moved into a new studio in Chicago, and in the back, near where we do screen-printing and other messy stuff, there's a shelf for projects we made, operated and eventually, shut down. We'll make some room for The Deck there, right next to Jewelboxing, The Seed Conference and The Show. We haven't stashed away Layer Tennis just yet, but who knows? Anyhow, as always, we're scheming about the future. And, of course, we're making these notebooks.

Choose to Go to the Moon

Over the Moon

It's not quite like faking the moon landing, but the film we made for the release of our Field Notes Quarterly Edition Lunacy, was made entirely using the same sort of practical, analog effects that you'd need to employ if you were going to stage that event, back in the day. So fun. So messy. BTW: The Lunacy Edition is now sold out.

Moco Fun at the new HQ

We Go Round in Circles

Steve bought a cool motion-control rig. We wanted to make some sort of recap the Field Notes Quarterly Editions from 2016. So we made this film. Added bonus, it provides a nice view of the new HQ.

JC at Creative Mornings

What Are You
Afraid Of?

Here's Jim's presentation from the inaugural edition of Chicago Creative Mornings. Thanks to Tina, Mig, Gravity Tank and everyone who showed up.

Guest Editors

Helpful and
Mostly Polite

A list of all the brilliant people who have helped us by guest editing Fresh Signals can be found here.

Other recent features are listed on Page Two.

Fresh Signals

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery. ms-yesterday

"I'd venture a guess that most Americans (like us, before we started this project) can't name more than one or two amendments to the Constitution, let alone remember that there are 27 of them. But these 27 "insertions" to our founding document outline our basic rights as Americans. Not only that, they show a country changing and evolving and re-imagining itself; striving (and not always succeeding) to be better. With that in mind, the team at More Perfect challenged ourselves to come up with a way to give these words the swagger they deserve. So we invited some of the best musicians in the world to create songs inspired by each of the 27 amendments; a kind of "Schoolhouse Rock!" for the 21st Century. 27: The Most Perfect Album | WNYC Studios. ms-yesterday

Werner's Nomenclature of Colours. ms-09.18

Local note. Admission 2018, an event next week here in Chicago, about organizing events, w/ a great line-up of speakers including some pals: Jessie Char, Hugh Forrest and Bryony Gomez-Palacio. jc-09.18

"I've seen the future of rock and roll and it's name is Nathan Destin." I dare you not to smile. jc-09.18

Seven endangered species that could (almost) fit in a single train carriage. dw-09.17

Preorder the Button Box, featuring 100 postcards from our friends at the Busy Beaver Button Museum. bb-09.17

"It can be difficult or impossible to know how much time has passed between scenes, or even between shots. With every cut, the world is reborn and seen anew." Let the Wind Speak. Kent Jones on Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Amen. jc-09.17

Support the trans-zombie indie horror-comedy Eat Rich, follow the production, and stop by their party next Wednesday. bb-09.14

Self- described "Vinyl collector who enjoys craft beer", hip_hops is a great follow. He pairs music and beer with similar themes and gives you a taste of the music. Sorry, can't taste beer through Instagram. ms-09.14

"Earlier this summer, Theo Jansen released an improved iteration of his strandbeests, wind-powered machines that walk along the beach." From Kottke. jc-09.14

Forget what "Rap Rock" eventually became, and dig deep into the pretty wonderful and largely forgotten story of the Judgment Night Soundtrack. bb-09.13

"My focus now is to explore deeper into the concept of sharing the same world but seeing it from different points of view." Cinta Vidal, painter. Interview. jc-09.13

Trailer for the Netflix six-part series from the Coen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. ms-09.13

"Easy Lettering," via Nerfect. bb-09.11

Gmunk presents the first drone screen performance. Woah. jc-09.11

The new book from FOTA and master of ridiculous books, Mike Sacks: Randy: The Full and Complete Unedited Biography and Memoir of the Amazing Life and Times of Randy S.!. Buy it for the cover alone. sd-09.11

Trailer for the film At Eternity's Gate. ms-09.10

Fifty Books and Fifty Covers. A great field, as usual. jc-09.10

Composer/Sound Designer Suzanne Ciani creates the audio for the 1980 "Xenon" pinball game. bb-09.10

Trailer for the film The Front Runner ms-09.07

Why did NASA send a penny to Mars? Tangentially related, Why did we send a Field Notes to space? jc-09.05

Always nerdy fun, September Questions and Answers from the Chicago Manual of Style. jc-09.04

A great new Jack White poster project from FOTA Matthew Jacobson. In promotion of White's Vegas shows, Matthew created a complete deck of cards, poster-sized, info on the front, card on the back. sd-09.04

The Web Design Museum exhibits over 900 carefully selected and sorted web sites that show web design trends between the years 1995 and 2005. dw-08.31

"The Changing Landscape of American Retail is an ongoing documentation of the shift from traditional brick-and-mortar locations where we once socialized and interacted with our community to the stark and generic structures that house shipping, fulfillment, call, and server centers, now essential for e-commerce." dw-08.31

"7,500 Light years away and a mind-crushing 300 light years — 3,000 trillion kilometers — across, it's the site of thousands of stars being born. The amount of gas available is something like a million times the mass of the Sun, so it has plenty of raw material to make stars for a long, long time." A massive photo of the Carina Nebula. dw-08.31

An '80s true-crime biology thriller ripped from the pages of Discover magazine: "When Snails Attack." bb-08.30

Current Instagram fave: _bands_fc. bb-08.29

Fun Spine Magazine behind-the-scenes feature on book designer Steve Leard and the cover for Snow on the Atlantic. jc-08.28

"Vermeer was eerie / Vermeer was strange / He had a more modern color range" Muses: Jonathan Richman on Vermeer, Monet, and Custom Chords for Matisse. jc-08.28

Exclamation Point Inflation!!! jc-08.28

"The man who publishes a book without an index ought to be damned 10 miles beyond hell, where the Devil himself cannot get for stinging nettles." Index: A Brief History, by John Boardley. Highly recommended. jc-08.28

Underground photography by Gregor Sailer. Via Isn't. jc-08.27

High hopes for this, trailer for Glass ms-08.24

"In the 1950s Eliot Noyes was developing the design identities for IBM and Westinghouse, the first holistic approach of its kind for corporations in the United States. At the request of an English design organization, Noyes gave this speech." --Steven Heller. jc-08.24

Asperitas Clouds Over New Zealand. ms-08.23

Shed of the year 2018 finalists announced! jc-08.23

Notorious Chicago. A collection of some popular and some unpopular stories that made up Chicago's notorious past. ms-08.22

Buttercream succulents decorate edible planters by Leslie Vigil. dw-08.21

Page Two contains the previous 40 Fresh Signals, recent features, a key to the icons and the categorical archives.

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