What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Wednesday Edition

This is our studio site. Among lots of other things, we run Field Notes Brand,
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Coudal Partners

Decipher This

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The 41st design in our series of Field Notes Quarterly Editions has a sleek, mysterious look, fitting for an edition all about secret codes and ciphers. It features a three-part history of cryptography, and the 3-Packs themselves are puzzles, very difficult puzzles, to be solved. This is the Clandestine Edition.

FNHQ In Good Company


Our studio on North Racine Avenue in Chicago was selected as one of the "Coolest Offices" in the city. Thanks to Crain's for that. And thanks also to Sarah Crowley for taking the photos, our contractor and furniture-maker, Peter Moorman, and to Phillip Schmidt for his advice and architectural expertise. Come by and see it yourself. Bring money.

A Cautionary Tale

Heed This Well, Young, Costumed Beggars

Our annual warning to trick-or-treaters, in the style of Hilaire Belloc.

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.

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

Vivian. jc-today

"Ten years ago, under the direction of founder Ludovica Rambelli, eight members of the Italian company, Malatheatre, discovered first hand the insanely rigorous poses Caravaggio demanded of his models, creating 23 tableaux vivants inspired by the master's oeuvre." jc-today

Buying for the office, The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space. ms-yesterday

RIP Douglas Rain, Stratford Festival pioneer and voice of HAL. jc-11.12

Crane Pavilion By GBBN Architects. jc-11.09

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen streams "bullet chess." Yowza, via TMN jc-11.08

Check the results from the year-long project from Cards Against Humanity, Pulse of the Nation. ms-11.08

Second trailer for the new Coen Brothers film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. ms-11.08

I am a computer. jc-11.07

Recycled Packing Materials Sculpted Into Elaborate Renaissance Costumes by Suzanne Jongmans. ms-11.07

Miniature Calendar. jc-11.07

Vote, and when you're done send some pizza to the polls. jc-11.06

January 24, 1977: The day the S.F. Chronicle discovered burritos. bb-11.02

A craft beer risograph print by East End Press. dw-11.02

"In a moment of lucidity, I thought to myself, while a woman near me crumpled to her knees, This really isn't how this article was supposed to go." Rosecrans Baldwin's Life Cleanse. Great piece. jc-11.02

Halloween won. Forever. Don't even bother trying anymore. ms-11.02

So you know, why pencils are yellow. Via Kottke. jc-11.01

Orionids Meteors over Inner Mongolia. ms-11.01

"We get the big truck, start driving, see the people we know, and buy. We do that for about a week and usually run out of money." Local note. Architectural Artifacts is having a moving sale. jc-10.31

"Elevated: Art and Architecture of the Chicago Transit Authority, serves as a guide to the more than 70 works of art and 24 significant architectural elements showcased across the CTA system." dw-10.30

A Groovy Look at Mid-Sixties Interior Decor. jc-10.30

"I have two presses, maybe 400 fonts of nineteenth century wood type, and maybe twice that of mostly nineteenth century lead type. A lot of ornaments, borders, both wood and metal, cuts, dingbats, pen flourishes, all that kind of stuff. So, I can fairly quickly and easily put together a period prop that looks great. If you get a good look at it on screen, you can really see that the type pressed into the paper, and the texture, and all of that stuff." ms-10.29

So you know, Graveyards of The Contiguous USA. Via TMN. jc-10.29

Local note, Live Art: Design Your Visual Voice with Carlos Segura at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store on Thursday. Woot! jc-10.29

Twelve Blocks, excellent set of essays in the new Chicago Magazine. jc-10.29

"For our 50th Anniversary, we've taken our HWC Original 16 retools of these rare castings and constructed one awe-inspiring showroom-style display set." jc-10.29

Tiny Doors ATL. dw-10.26

You can now browse through over 44,000 images over at The Art Institute of Chicago's website. ms-10.26

Episode 1 of Studio B. SD served as Director of Photography on this series and man it looks good. Check the 3 minute-long single shot at the opening. jc-10.26

Trailer for VOX LUX ms-10.25

See the Glorious Winners of the 2018 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest. ms-10.25

Lots of places I'd like to go. The Calvert's list boutique bookshops across the New East. jc-10.25

Light Pillars over Whitefish Bay ms-10.24

"FRIEND: Did you see The Good Place last night? YOU: I did. But you know what the real "Good Place" is? Your local polling location with your voter registration card in hand, where you can apply everything you've learned about ethics to the waking-nightmare Bad Place that is your state's governance." ms-10.24

The Color Wheel Of Book And Movie Titles. jc-10.24

Trailer for the directorial debut from Jonah Hill, Mid90s ms-10.23

"List of shibboleth names by which the privileged judge their inferiors." Oh man, I have been judged inferior hundreds and hundreds of times. Great resource. jc-10.22

Found while looking for something else entirely, this great Sam's Myth post from 2015 on Polish artist and designer Romek Marber. jc-10.19

So you know, 5 Spooky Cocktail Recipes for Halloween. ms-10.19

"Each house drink is featured on a single page, which is accompanied with an incantation written by co-owner Ryan Ringer and an illustration by co-owner Becky Ip." The Grimoire of Grey Tiger. dw-10.19

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

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