Archive for the ‘Artist Interview’ Category

Tee Tuesday- Brooklyn In Pictures, by Lucille Fornasieri Gold

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

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Brooklyn native Lucille Fornasieri Gold started taking photographs with a 35 mm camera in 1969, capturing the striking juxtapositions of urban life in a city defined by ethnic, cultural and economic diversity. Her large and impressive body of work laid mostly hidden for decades, until they were recently archived by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Lucille’s photos will be featured in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society June 26, 2014 – February 4, 2015. Over the next year, Brooklyn Industries will be releasing five limited edition T-shirts, each featuring a different photographic print from Gold’s collection.

We recently visited Lucille before her big exhibition opening in her apartment in Kensington, Brooklyn which she shares with her longtime husband, Jack. On a dining room table the now 84 year old Lucille laid out stacks and stacks of prints, along with an impressive spread of biscotti, cakes, and coffee. Growing up, she had been surrounded by, and surrounded herself with the arts – her father was a professional sculpture and Lucille used to hang out around the Art Students League. “I picked up photography because, well, I just liked it,” she recalled. “In the 80s, these well known photographers like Ken Heyman used to take pupils on and I’d attend their classes. I also collected books by some of my favorites like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans… I just liked it. I shot all the time. I made a darkroom in my kitchen and processed my own pictures.” As we rifled through her old photographs of an endlessly diverse cast of characters from Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s, from Civil Rights protesters to dolled up old ladies to strip club dancers, there’s a real sense that what peered through the camera eye was objective – without bias and pure. “I never thought about commercial applications. I can’t even believe you’re putting them on shirts now. Do you think they’ll sell?”

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“That one,” she pointed to a picture noticing that I was staring at it intently. “That was on Flatbush. Girls used to push their carriages around with just dolls in them. I used to walk the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn, and go to different areas of the city. I like what the camera does. It has an unbiased eye. But you do need the instinct to sense the natural rhythm, and you empathize with it. I can’t say that I can judge because you don’t know what’s coming in a sense, nor can I judge other people who are using the idiom in a different way – I expect something new – and that’s where the creative individual appears and synthesizes the new idiom.”

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A photo of Lucille Gold in her younger years.

As the years passed, Lucille walked the streets less and less, and the photos started turning into stacks. Binders and binders of slides began to pile up in her house, until her family members brought them to the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Brooklyn Museum. From that point on with the help of her encouraging husband who would often get up at four in the morning and scan until twelve at night, it was a race to get as much of her work out there as possible. Jack is literally unable to stop singing the praises of Lucille. “She won’t tell you how great this work is,” Jack informs us. “Stop it!” Lucille interjects. “I don’t want to talk about it. Do you want a martini?” she asks. “I’m frugal. I like martinis.”

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Lucille Gold today

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Today only, take 20% off Muscle Beach and Cat Lady with code: TEETUESDAY. 10% of proceeds from the tees will be donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Live, Work Create, Instagram

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

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We found Aaron Weiss’ great photographic work the way most people find photos these days – by scrolling up with your finger on our Instagram. Aaron met up with us in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and we tagged along to snap some Instagram photos, and ask him a few questions:

You talk about Instagram and mobile technology playing a big part in reigniting your passion for photography. Tell us more about how it effects why and how you shoot?

For me, Instagram is a three way street of inspiration, self-expression, and community. The app has a lot of different niches, but mine is the photography niche for sure. There’s a constant flow of creativity from the people I follow, from all over the world. I love seeing the everyday life of people in Hong Kong, San Francisco, France, the list goes on and on. It’s not just a window to the world, but also a different perspective to my own city. Seeing New York through all these different eyes everyday, the same streets and buildings in an unending variety… my drive to create something new everyday and share my experience has been given an outlet with this simple app, and it’s given me a new reason to climb fences, chase good light and meet new people. A weekend doesn’t pass without an InstaMeet happening in the city (InstaMeets are Meetup groups for Instagrammers). We explore new spaces, exchange ideas and techniques, and it’s a great way to meet the photographers that inspire you.

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The processing on your photos are quite nice. Can you share with our readers tips and tricks, and what photo processing apps you use?

Sure… first I would recommend shooting in HDR mode with the native camera app in your phone. In HDR mode the camera takes three photographs, all varying in the amount of light recorded, and meshes them together to form a more accurately exposed image. From there my favorite filter app is VSCO, which has a ton of great options (allowing you to forget all about those silly Instagram filters) and the app is really simple to use. For more fine-tuning I use Snapseed. Brightness, contrast, saturation, and more can be processed here. For a more advanced editing app I use Filterstorm, the Photoshop of apps (curves, levels, exposure…) it’s a little complicated at first so watch the in-app tutorials and you’ll be good. Image Blender works great for blending two images together, my brother @ari.weiss uses it to add dramatic skies to images that need it. And finally TouchRetouch is a great app for covering up unwanted things in your image, like distracting pedestrians or trash on the street.

You also shoot for Good Eggs in Brooklyn, a company that delivers farm to market food to your door. What is shooting and styling food like?

Shooting food is a healthy challenge for me, and always a lot of fun. I get to be in the studio and listen to podcasts and music and explore different ways of styling the food. Most of the work is styling really; once I get a good scene going the shot happens pretty fast and I can move on. Turning a pastry or napkin in a different direction can really change the flow of an image, so attention to detail is key. We use all natural light, and sometimes I get to eat the food after it’s been shot and I can honestly say that I am always blown away. Good Eggs is a lot like Brooklyn Industries, supporting local business and artists, supporting community.

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From Saturday, May 4th – Monday May 26th, Aaron will be taking over our Instagram to share his work. Follow along here.

Visit Aaron’s website here, and follow his Instagram here.

Tee Tuesday: BK Food Pyramid by Jenny Mӧrtsell

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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We’re super excited to be releasing a second design by the illustrator of our wildly popularAll Cats tee, Jenny Mörtsell. The Brooklyn via Sweden artist designed BK Food Pyramid for us, a stomach-growling hierarchy of her Brooklyn food needs. The artist explains:

It is funny to think back at, but when I first moved to Brooklyn from Sweden, in 2008, a friend of mine had to explain kale to me. I had also never truly eaten oysters. Tacos were something that came in a stale, hard shell that Swedish middle-class families ate for “fredagsmys” (a cozy, family-at-home time on Fridays). Coconut water was something I figured you’d you put in a Thai curry. The first bottle of kombucha I bought I shook vigourously before opening. Ordering an alcoholic beverage with the first meal you had that day meant you were a raging alcoholic. Oh how much I have learned!

With my acquired knowledge of how Brooklynites eat, I thought a new food pyramid was in order. A chart catering to the I-make-my-own-hours-creative-class on wheels (bikes or skateboards) that everyone loves to pigeonhole – including me. We who are holding up the craft beer sales and food truck operations and grass fed cow farms on our plaid shoulders.

In the bottom are the basic carb-y fuels for all those bike rides over the bridges, carrying moving boxes on the reg, and dancing the night away at some epic loft party in Bushwick. Cheap enough that the crumbly 20s made at last night’s dive bar DJ gig or for selling our last pair of Rachel Comey boots at Beacon’s can cover them. That’s slices, tacos, deli sandwiches, burgers, mac & cheese, bahn mi’s, sweet potato and/or truffle fries.

To the right above sits the second most important food group: beverages. These, more often than not, end up substituting all kinds of solid food. They are: happy hour locally-brewed craft beers, beer-and-a-shot specials (which is always too good of a deal to pass on until you remember why you should’ve), single-region drip-coffee to get us back on our feet the next morning for that poorly paid gig that might lead to something bigger, and of course, mimosas and margaritas (because that one and a half hour wait for a table brunch was just cruel).

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Jenny Mörtsell visiting Brooklyn Industries HQ, about to take flight over the East River.

To the left above come the vegetables and leafy greens, leaning heavily on the bitter brassica family: kale and brussel sprouts. They keep trying, but really, there is nothing bad to say about kale. It’s like the Mother Theresa of foods, so just keep eating it. Pickles were never a hard sell either in a borough that constantly suffers from self-induced morning sickness.

Third up to the left is the trying-to-erase-all-of-our-sins section. Here you have: kombucha because fermented, pre-industrial revolution foods make us feel so immortal, coconut water to get our out of whack electrolytes in order, and finally, juice cleanses to rid our systems from all the toxic thoughts of maybe moving to another state.

To the right there we have the food group that only nail salons can compete with on rapid, storefront expansion. I’m talking boutique sweet treats. Artisanal sugar calories are a better source of vitamins and minerals than store bought, right? And, it really is important to eat a lot of doughnuts, cookies, and ice cream in honor of that old sugar factory and it’s destiny.

On top the crown jewel of the self-made freelancer’s diet is poised – the-one-dollar-oyster. Eat that, you nine to fiver for not being able to be first in line when Maison Premiere opens at 4pm! Who needs health insurance and a working phone when you can have half a dozen Cape May Salt for the cost of a dusty Luna bar and a Smart Water and a Vitamin Water (plus tip)?

We couldn’t agree with you more Jenny Mörtsell. Today only, take 20% off this tee with code: TEETUESDAY

All Grown Up – Brooklyn Industries Portland Celebrates Its 5th Birthday With Portland Artist Robbie Augspurger

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

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To celebrate our Portland store’s five year anniversary, we reached out to Portland artist Robbie Augspurger; he said yes, and we’ve all been cracking up at his work ever since. This year will see two limited edition graphic tee releases featuring his photography, the first -Glamour Paws (above), is launching this week. We recently caught up with the prolific artist to ask him about his eccentric work.

Your work is awash in 70’s and 80’s awkward vintage styles, colors, and characters. What was your upbringing like, and why does that era resonate with you?

I was born in 1977, and grew up in the midwest in the 1980s in Peoria, IL, so I suppose things were relatively normal. As a kid I was always interested in our old family snapshots, especially the faded ones I’d find lying around. I’m into the color degradation of aging photo paper that occurs over time. After college I worked as a tech at a photo lab, and learned a lot about the ways color is effected by aging paper and sun exposure.

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Il mio Capo è il tuo Capo: Scene 9A Take 1, from Faux Film Stills

Your Faux Film Stills series is quite imaginative – and looks like a hell of a lot of fun to make. What other projects do you and your friends do for fun?

One thing that my friend Eric Lee and I made a few years ago is “The Original Pizza Video”, which is one hour of spinning pizza montage. Video Pizza has really taken on a life of its own. It’s an ambient film like “Video Fireplace”, except that it’s pizza. Soon the sequel will be coming out: Video Hawaiian Pizza. We’re just waiting for the soundtrack to be finished.

Some friends and I also put on an event called B-Movie Bingo, which is an interactive movie-watching game we made up a few years ago, back in 2006. We were recently hosted by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and will be traveling to SIFF in Seattle in August, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art in November.

I also write songs and play music with my band Ozarks, and we’re currently working on our second album. Our eponymous debut came out in 2012.

Tell us about the two T-shirt designs you’re releasing with Brooklyn Industries - Glamour Paws and Bike Splits. 

Glamour Paws came about when I was hosting an evening of portrait sessions and my friend Melanie Brown (the girl in the photo) brought her mom’s dog Diggy with her. Diggy has a very winsome, albeit temperamental personality and I think it comes across in the image. This image has garnered the reputation as the “photo that keeps on giving”, as people keep discovering it.

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“Bike Splits” was made for one of the Portland Mercury’s bicycle issues a couple years ago. My task was to create absurd situations involving bicycles. Eric Dexter, the hairy man in the image, can do the splits, so we decided to take advantage of that.

Meet Robbie Augspurger and help Brooklyn Industries Portland celebrate its’ fifth anniversary with an artist exhibition and t-shirt launch, music by [DJ] Bill Portland, beer from Widmer Brothers Brew, and treats by Bunches and Bunches. Thursday, May 8th, 7pm-9pm in Portland at 735 NW 23rd Ave. RSVP at events@brooklynindustries.com

Today only, take 20% off Glamour Paws with code: TEETUESDAY

Live, Work, Creator Series: Storytelling With Multimedia Artist Andrew Ryan Shepherd

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
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Left: Andrew Shepherd in the Paddington Raincoat and the Striped Yoke Shirt

Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Ryan Shepherd weaves narratives through the creative use of photography, video, graphic design, sound, and even with model airplanes…

Andrew was born in the south just outside Hattiesburg, MS, and spent his childhood in Texas. After a short stint in Arkansas for university, Andrew moved to New York City for music, which somehow threw him into graphic design, and subsequently, photography, and then filmmaking.

When Andrew moved back to Texas in early 2008, the question of New York was not one tied up in an “if” as much as a “when”. On a trip late in 2010, Andrew met who would become his wife, which thankfully and unexpectedly sped up the process. After moving (this time to Brooklyn), he quickly proposed, and they were married a year later, living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn ever since.

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BKI: The visual language in your photography and videography is very rich in textures and your compositions are unconventional. What was your background before getting behind the camera?

ARS: I’ve always been drawing and building things (model airplanes) and had sort of a meticulous brain, for better or worse. I started learning to play a few musical instruments in high school, and spent most of my time learning to read, write, and perform music. It literally swallowed me — I couldn’t think about anything else.

After years of playing in bands in high school and college, I started to learn to design t-shirts, album covers, and so on, and I grabbed a copy of Photoshop and started pulling images from stock sites and trying to set type over them. I don’t have a formal education in that stuff, and that really shows in the earlier work.

Fast forward a few years, I started to realize I could probably do this for a living, and I was working with much better photography and textures to form my compositions. I’ve always been inclined to the collage style of work over the illustrative (though there is a place for both) — the organic, the destroyed, the natural, and the use of light in the work.

I bought a cheap DSLR and started walking around Upper Manhattan and photographing everything I saw — Subway mural details, the bricks in the wall surrounding Central Park, the sun coming through my fire escape over 97th Street. I was really terrible, but it stands today that it’s actually difficult for me to say anything more about my work than that I’m more interested in being a student than a teacher. That said, I started setting type/copy over these images and started to discover I actually liked creating those original backgrounds more than I liked buying them from stock sites.

I started to take photography pretty seriously and took pictures everywhere I traveled. I started to meet other photographers who challenged me deeply, not only technically, but in my approach to and interaction with subjects.

A few years after freelancing as a graphic designer, I decided to take the plunge and start freelancing in a wholly new direction — as a photographer. I started shooting editorial stories, portraits, and worked with bands on stage — these were the people I connected with, as a musician myself. I found it was not only a great way to grow in my craft, but to also be living and working within the environments I was naturally drawn to.

I made friends with a bunch of people in the Texas music scene, and as I started to gain more access to their lives, I realized my insecurities and need to give others access to myself. Photography for me was an unfolding, not only on the technical side, but in that it made me grow as a person, and helped me to understand and relate to people.

I’ve always been a writer as well, and photography was always a way to explore stories. One of my interests in starting photography is that it seemed much more narrative than the type of work I was doing as a graphic designer. Creating portraits and documenting scenes seemed to say so much more about the world.

When the 5D Mark II camera came out, like many other photographers, I started shooting video. At the big turn of the responsive and media-rich internet in the late 2000’s, brands were looking for more video content. I was interested in video not necessarily for that reason, but because it felt like the full circle back to why I started taking photos — telling stories — and it was also the culmination of all my different interests to that point. It involved photography, graphic design, my love for music, my dedication to writing, to people, to building things from scratch. It felt like the most natural progression I could make, and it consolidated my skills and desires into one form — filmmaking. And there, the skills serve the video; not any one is the featured. I liked that it brought everything together; I liked the possibilities, and I liked that I knew really nothing about it.

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BKI: Aside from your commercial work, it seems like you like to dabble in lots of different formal projects and exercises – anywhere from Super 8 videos to time lapse studies. What inspires you to produce in this wide range?

ARS: I get bored pretty easily. I maintain a pretty steady stream of a few different kinds of work in photography and film, but I have sort of this deep discontent when I’m not trying something new, or learning, or being challenged. I find that my lowest times are the times when I’m not experimenting or trying to grow.

BKI: The Brooklyn landscape, along with other travel destinations seem to play a large character in your work. What do you look for in locations when you shoot?

ARS: I grew up in Texas and travel back frequently. My family is there, I have a lot of friends there, and it’s been a great landscape to learn, grow and get better. Plus, it’s beautiful. In Texas you have such a wide variety of scenes, that if you drive a couple hours in any direction you’ll find something inspiring. My dad taught me at a young age to appreciate nature and to love silence and solitude. I find that when I’m traveling I’m interested in documenting not only a place, but a moment in history, at least my own history; and I hope I always get to do that with friends and family. That’s sort of what I’m thinking most — Where are we? How thankful am I?

Another aspect in my personal projects is bridging the water between a hectic New York life and a more slow, peaceful one that I’ve experienced elsewhere. I love both for different reasons. Agoraphobia is the kind of anxiety that usually results from a fear of crowded places, or a fear of open spaces. Even without the fear — mentally, historically — I have and think I’ll always have my feet in both countries, and I like talking about both experiences equally.

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See Andrew’s recent photography for This Built America’s profile on Brooklyn Industries here. Follow Andrew as he takes over our Instagram this week @BrooklynIndustries. Or check out more of Andrew’s work here. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter@andrewshepherd

Artist ‘From Roses’ Creates Skeletons From Her Namesake

Monday, April 14th, 2014

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With flowers blooming in full force, we’re excited to release a graphic tee based on some flower artwork we’ve been into lately by New York based illustrator, graphic designer, and artist Jenna DeRosa, aka ‘From Roses’. A frequent collaborator with BKI, Jenna has worked with a number of music and fashion labels, and most recently has created artwork for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

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“I work under the name ‘From Roses’ which is a loose translation of my last name. I started working on this flower art project in my free time recently – pressing, drying, then dying the flowers which help with color preservation over time. It’s actually pretty time consuming and requires a lot of patience, but for me, it’s a great reminder of nature, mortality, and the cycle of life.” For more of Jenna’s work visit her site or her shop.

Shop Pressed Flower Skull graphic tee.

Chromapost Messenger Bag – An Art Installation Becomes a Bag

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

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Make messenger bags using an art installation – that’s what the non-profit arts organization Artbridge implored us to do. So naturally, we said yes. Having made messenger bags out of billboards before – it was the first product Brooklyn Industries produced, we were really excited to use material from a colorful art installation by artist Aleksandar Maćašev that we had walked by many times down the street from our HQ in Dumbo. We carefully cut up Maćašev’s visual color diary into 40 limited edition messenger bags, with each bag coming with a digital print of the unique colors of that bag signed by the artist. During the Dumbo Arts Festival, the bags will be on display and for sale in our Dumbo store and online, and an opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 28th from 2pm-5pm at Brooklyn Industries Dumbo.

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Chromapost installation in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Photo by Collin Erickson

We asked Aleksandar a few questions about Chromapost and how the art installation evolved into a bag:

How did the idea of blogging your daily mood in colors start? 

I am very keen for diary-like art forms. Chromapost started as a basic blog where each entry was just a single color picked from your standard RGB color picker, and it represented my daily emotional experience in a compressed form. I was tired of all the influence on our color perception (color theory, harmonies, fashion trends, commerce, branding, culture, arts, visual communication…) and I wanted to establish a very personal and direct link between my own emotions and color.

I was also interested in the atomization and compression of information, to go beyond Twitter’s 140 characters micro-blogging. One way to achieve that was to abandon language and use purely visual information. So I like to call Chromapost a nano-blogging project.
After awhile, this colored emotional footprint got a proper web form and I started making art outgrowths out of the ever growing color archive.

How did Chromapost then become a giant, colorful installation in Dumbo, Brooklyn?

Chromapost outgrowths range from self-published posters, retrospective calendars to paintings and a social network where visitors can post their own colors and generate art based on them. The biggest physical outgrowth happened two years ago at Water Street in Dumbo. The Dumbo Arts Festival asked ArtBridge for an artist who could produce a 350 foot long art piece for the Empire Stores scaffolding. I had already submitted some outdoor art proposals to ArtBridge and they stumbled upon one of the Chromapost outgrowths in my book. It was a year long sequence of Chromapost colors and that type of format seemed to fit the bill perfectly. For the Dumbo installation, we used a two year sequence (730 colors, from April, 1 2009 to March 31, 2011). The final result had this pretty cinematic quality (a changing of colors without repeating as you walk by it) and it left a mark on the entire neighborhood during its year long life. There was a constant stream of Instagram photos and blog posts from visitors and passers-by.

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What do you think about your visual diary being re-purposed into messenger bags?

I love the idea of someone else carrying ten days of my life on their shoulder. The vinyl of the dismantled installation simply cried to be recycled into something else. The design of the bag utilized that idea of playing with private/public. On the outside, the bags have a small strip with a three to four color sequence, but the inside of the bag is covered completely in colored strips from the installation. A discrete chunk of my emotional life is offered to the outside world, while the owner of the bag can have the full view. Each bag is completely unique because repeating colors or color sequences in Chromapost is practically impossible. To compliment the uniqueness I created a separate digital print for each bag based on each bag’s color combination and the visual language used in Chromapost Social Network for generating art.

RSVP to the opening reception here at Brooklyn Industries Dumbo. Saturday, September 28th, 2pm-5pm.

Art on Wheels, Smoking Vinyl, and Graphic Tees – Brooklyn Industries Presents Braulio Amado

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

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Braulio Amado first caught our eye when we stumbled across the Brooklyn via Portugal transplant’s art in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Amado had been in the middle of a project for the year 2012: 12 exhibitions in 12 cities in 12 months, and had landed in Red Hook. We gave him a ring and initially asked if he would be interested in doing an artist T-shirt with us. But over the next 8 months, we offered him three other unique opportunities – painting our highly visible wall on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, creating a mobile art piece out of our delivery truck, and throwing an exhibition at our DUMBO store during the DUMBO Arts Festival in September. Amado recalled, “I’ve never done something as big as the Bedford mural. It was a little scary, but definitely it’s something I want to do more of.” Painting in such a heavily trafficked area, Amado added, “A lot of people asked me for my Instagram name.”

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Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The coolest job in the world just might be Bob Partington’s. From elaborate Rube Goldberg machines for Google to large scale typographic sculptures, Partington’s dynamic, whimsical, and always awe-inspiring pieces are what every kid dreams of making for a living when they grow up.

Panera Bread from 1stAveMachine on Vimeo.

Today only, meet the Williamsburg resident as he unveils his newest invention at Brooklyn Industries on 100 Smith Street at 6pm. The first 15 people to show up will receive a free t-shirt! 

Tee Tuesday – Mapas, by Nik Neves

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

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2012 Brooklyn Industries Tee Contest runner up, and prolific Brazilian artist and illustrator Nik Neves shares his deep love for New York – in particular, Brooklyn with Mapas, an ode to his inspirational muses – travel, comics, and hunger for adventure. And of course, Brooklyn.

We caught up with the artist the old fashion way (an online interview) recently:

You seem to be obsessed with illustrating maps. Why are you drawn to them (no pun intended)?

I can’t say exactly how this sort of obsession began, but it probably came with the many travel magazines I use to work for. I guess the fact that my life during the last ten years has been defined by my travels to different places, the maps also became a way to better understand and mark my own paths on the way.

As a native Brazilian, what stood out to you about Brooklyn that inspired you to illustrate it?

New York has always been a place that I love to discover – I’ve been many times, spending months during each stay. This last two times in NYC, Brooklyn was the place where I found more surprising and original places. You can blame Coney Island as well, I always feel I have something to learn from that particular place.

Besides places and people, what are your other favorite sources of inspiration?

Definitely comics have always been a source of inspiration and passion for me. Nowadays, there are an incredible number of great artists doing comics. It’s an inspiring environment for everyone that loves this medium.

See more of Nik Neves’ work at nikilustrador.com.

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Earwax, The Brooklyn Sketches, 2012