Case Study 16: Setbuild Project

With our Jewelboxing Case Studies, we like to find a subject that either has an impressive body of work or are putting together something we find really interesting. We’ve been incredibly fortunate thus far to have found both, operating together, with all of our Case Study subjects. And with Alex Kent and the Setbuild Project, we continue that tradition in our sixteenth conversation about impressive and interesting things. Let’s get going.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Alex Kent. I’m 29 and the lead tutor for the 1st Year of the undergraduate course BA(hons) Contemporary Photographic Practice at the University for the Creative Arts in the southeast of England. Outside of this, I work with professional and fine-art photographers on-set and in post-production.

What is the Setbuild Project?

The Setbuild Project is a studio photography project that I run annually. It was first set up in 2002 by my predecessor, Jonathan Simms, and it has run every year since then (I took over three years ago). The premise of the project is this: Working in groups, students are tasked with choosing a scene from a publicly released feature film, then recreate that scene as a still photographic image in the studio. Practically, this means recreating the set, lighting, costumes, props, and every other element of the original. Conceptually, this requires the students to decipher which elements of the scene create the narrative and emotional tension. Their ability to define and reproduce these is key to making the photographic image hold the drama of the original.

Over the years, the project has evolved and improved, and each year the scale and ambition of the students’ builds take on bigger challenges. The Setbuild Project has elevated from good to amazing by the incredible support that we have. Each year we work with professional set designers and constructors, DRS Construction, who guide the students through the practical elements of designing and building the sets. We also have very generous support from Arri Lighting GB and CirroLite, who loan us industry leading lighting equipment, and Hasselblad, whose phenomenal H-series digital cameras we use.

Can you describe the process for us, what’s involved with each project?

The project begins each year in late February. Students form production teams of four or five members and start to choose a film. We’re always looking for scenes that will give the right balance of challenges and excitement, yet will still be possible for the students to produce.

Once the teams have settled on a scene, they have approximately ten weeks of pre-production time, in which they must plan every element of the shot. This involves making mockups of the set and lighting, finding all props and costumes, casting actors, testing special effects. Then in May, we build and shoot everything. Each team gets one week in a studio to build, light, shoot, and strike (break and tidy) the set.

Last year we had eleven teams total; four teams working at once, spread across three studios for three weeks! The production weeks are pretty intense; our studios aren’t enormous and having twenty people working eight ’til eight for their five production days can get pretty frantic.

The visual translation of the scenes, from moving a cinema-aspect image into a still camera-aspect, is a big challenge for the students. The final images should not simply be a facsimile of a freeze frame from the film, but should be the scene captured and portrayed in a single photographic image. When the project was first run, it was shot on 5″x4″ large format standard cameras, which as anyone who has used one knows, are pretty unforgiving. Film that size retains a huge amount of detail and enforces a level of rigour in the quality of the production. At the University, we have recently established a productive relationship with the Hasselblad camera company, with their support the last two years the students have been able to use the H-series medium format digital cameras for this project. We’re now able to take advantage of the instant-feedback and tethered shooting, remote control capabilities of digital cameras, without loosing any of the rigour that the large-format cameras enforced.

Are the students who enroll in the program interested in becoming filmmakers and photographers, or do they lean more toward the technical, wanting to become set designers or cinematographers?

It’s a spread. This is actually one of the biggest challenges that I and the other tutors face in planning and running the course. We have around 60 students in the each year and whilst the majority come from art foundation courses in the UK, around a quarter of the group are from elsewhere in Europe or the world. The switch to digital in photography has fragmented the process of learning how photography works. Some students will have worked almost entirely with traditional film processing and printing, whereas others may have never picked up a film camera, but will be fluent in Photoshop and digital manipulation. When recruiting, we are interested more in ideas and creative thinking than technical dexterity.

As graduates our students go on to many different professions, mostly in the worlds of professional photography and fine-art, but also in filmmaking and publishing.

Since each group is filled with several students, how is the scene/film they’ll be working on chosen? Seems like it would be difficult to reach a consensus.

This can be a problem! Hopefully students form teams around similar thematic and stylistic tastes, but this doesn’t always happen. The choice comes down to finding a balance between a shot which will work well as a ‘still’ and is challenging enough for everyone to get their teeth into. It’s very important to get the balance of elements right. Scenes that are prop or costume heavy are very hard to do, as finding all the exact props can take a phenomenal amount of work (more than anyone expects). Shots which rely too much on the face of a famous actor in the center of the frame are rather hard as well (we obviously don’t have the budget to call Keanu’s agent).

The students are primarily interested in photography rather than prop gathering or set decoration, so we tend to bias towards images where the atmosphere is created by the lighting and cinematography (Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner), rather than lavish set design (Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette).

Once the teams have come up with a short list of two or three scenes, we test build each of them in the studio to get a better idea of the scale and complexity of the build (at this point we also establish detailed floor plans and elevations, camera position, lens choice, approximate light positions).

The students are not given a budget for the sets, but we provide the technical resources they will need; camera, lighting, grip equipment, and we provide basic building materials; wooden ‘flats’, timber, tools (as much as possible these are reused, set to set). Anything and everything that is specific for the scene the students must source themselves. We encourage students to find creative solutions to problems rather than spending money. This is the focus of the ten week pre-production period, locating and negotiating the loan of props and costumes. Anything that cannot be found will end up being made by the students. Planning and sticking to a budget is part of the project, and most of the sets complete for under $200.

After a group has chosen a scene to recreate, do they ever reach a point where they think they’ve taken on a selection that’s perhaps a bit too complicated (or even too simple)? Or do you help them along the way, making sure it’s a good mix of approachable and challenging?

We have some very enthusiastic students. From the ’09 project, there were points in both the Pan’s Labyrinth and Sweeney Todd sets where I began to doubt that it was possible to make it all happen in time.

Pan’s Labyrinth was uncharted territory. We’d never attempted a naturalistic scene before. Instead of walls to build and props to find, there are roots and mud. It was also very hard to establish any scale or geometry for the set, as the original is a almost a static frame. The pre-production weeks went by and it was very hard to come up with even a plan of the space which everyone agreed with. Even once the set was underway in the studio, it was extremely hard to visualise how the elements came together, it wasn’t until the students started to light it that it began to take shape and come to life.

Sweeney Todd was also an incredible project. The room itself is quite large and tall, with a huge window looking out to a view over Dickensian London. The distance to the camera is quite far, so right at the planning stage there were doubts whether it could be built in our studios. We’ve never attempted painting backdrops before and suddenly we were taking on a shot where the backpainting is in the centre of the frame. To compound both of those, the scene itself is very bright, so there’s nowhere to hide! Every period prop had to be found, the detail of all the wooden mouldings reproduced, and the elaborate dress that Lucy is wearing had to be found. This project was incredibly ambitious in every aspect. The team really rose to the challenge. Their dedication and attention to detail was amazing and it all paid off in a spectacular final image.

We’ve been running this project for a few years now and we’ve completed a total of ninety sets. Each year the students want to up the ante, challenge the limits and do something that’s never done before. Last year, a new undergraduate course entitled Creative Arts for Theatre & Film began at the same campus as the photography school. Given the remit of that course, it seemed a natural fit that we’d work together on the Setbuild Project. The skills and focus of the two courses really complimented each other and opened a lot of new possibilities. One of these was bringing the skills for large scale painted backdrops. The Batmanset was a product of this, a relatively simple set in front of a stretched canvas backplate. As it turned out, I rather underestimated the scale of the backplate. Our original estimate of 3m x 3.5m became 4m by 4.5m. Then we eventually built a 4.5m x 5m wooden frame, stretched a canvas over it, and found it was the absolute minimum size we could possibly get away with.

Do the students themselves appear as the actors in the scenes? Or do they have to also hunt around for someone who looks similar to the original performer from the film they’re recreating? And along with that, who handles all of the wardrobe and prop design? It’s all remarkably accurate.

The teams’ members are not allowed to be in their own shots, as there is quite enough for them to do without trying do to the acting as well! The teams have to do their own casting. This is a really big challenge when choosing a shot in the first place. Many scenes are made iconic or emotionally powerful by the performances they contain.

Many of the actors in our shots are ‘street cast’; our students simply approach people they find and try to talk them into it. Other times, actors are found through online and offline stage and model communities. Casting can be incredibly tough and there are plenty of times when the planned models drop out at the last minute. As we can’t pay we’re always at the mercy of people’s availability from work and so on. A couple of times we have approached a few of the original actors, but sadly haven’t yet managed to convince any to come along (we made a concerted effort to get Simon Pegg for the Hot Fuzz shot last year, but unfortunately it didn’t suit his schedule, as I understand he was shooting the forthcoming Paul at the time). This remains a stretch goal of the project for me.

A few times students have actors cast from the outset and choose a scene around their actor. One of the early shots from The Crow was a case in point, the students knew someone who did an excellent Brandon Lee impersonation, they chose a shot which played to that, and the result is fantastic.

Wardrobe and props, we find or make! Finding accurate props takes a lot of work. eBay can be immensely useful, but as we’re trying not to spend money, it can be easier to negotiate a loan or trade if the item can be found in real life. If items can’t be found, or are unreasonably expensive, the students will build it. We have support each year from professional set and prop makers who work with the students showing them how to carve polystyrene, cast paster, vacuum form plastic, and create paint and surface effects. It’s all made slightly easier that anything we make only has to look good from one point of view!

Why did you require the teams to keep production diaries and offer live studio cameras of the sets as they’re being constructed?

Since the inception of the project we’ve required students to keep a ‘log’ of their progress, so tutors are able to get insight into the students understanding of their own progress.

Five years ago, we decided to make the project exist online as well as in the studio. We setup the website and it seemed like a natural progression to run online production blogs for each team. They serve several purposes, but primarily they become a communication tool between the teams’ internal workings and the outside world. As much of the project naturally takes place outside of the photography school, the blogs become an informal way that all the tutors and staff that are involved can contribute to each team’s development. Also, many students from the 2nd and 3rd years of the BA (and even graduates) are very excited about the project and want to be involved; the blog becomes an public communication channel with the teams.

We run the webcams in the studio because they make exciting viewing! The builds can look amazing and the students are all to eager to tell everyone they know “look what we’re doing!”

Do you get a sense, once the projects are all finished, at how the students feel about the process? Surprised at how much work goes into it or all the more energized to enter the industry?

I think (and hope) for most students that there’s a sense of elation. Eleven weeks might seem like a long time, but once it gets going, the project passes really fast, and the final production week is intense and exhausting for everyone. We make a big show out of the end of project reviews, cutting together clips of the original films, stop-frame animation from the studio webcams so everyone gets to see the story that the other teams have been working through. This is a celebration of the work that the students have put into the project, culminating in the unveiling of large scale photographic prints of the shots.

One of my favourite aspects of this project is that it shows students that they can make incredible images which look as good or better than the Hollywood original. And they’ve done it on no budget, with a crew of five. I think it’s a really empowering project.

Any trick of the trade that’s always surprising to the students? Something that makes everyone stop and say “I didn’t know that’s how that was done?”

Everyone is always amazed at the versatility of polystyrene. Last year we were donated a lorry load of pre-used polystyrene rocks, which were entirely convincing to until you realised you could lift them with one hand.

Any particular favorites from over the years? Projects that blew you away?

Both the shots we’ve done from Sin City have been outstanding and both for very different reasons.

The Sin City shot from 2008 season was a technical tour de force. They chose to make a shot which takes place in a cavernous warehouse space, yet create it in a single story photo studio. The entire top half of the frame, the roof of the warehouse, was made as a ‘foreground miniature’; a 2m wide cardboard model. To make the illusion work in the final shot, the aperture of the camera has to be set so that there is sufficient depth of field to get the roof in focus. Once this aperture is set, it then defines the level of lighting required in every other part of the frame. It was an incredible technical challenge which was realized amazingly well.

The 2006 Sin City also had some excellent creative problem solving. This project was shot on 5″x4″ large format sheet film cameras and students had to present the negative as it came out of the camera alongside the final retouched image (now they are required to submit the camera RAW file direct from the camera along with the retouched final). There is always a challenge of how perfect you can colour and tonality of the shot in the studio before you take it into Photoshop. For this particular shot, as is the style of Sin City, the contrast is extremely high. Even with all the lighting in the correct places it is very hard to create the correct contrast (notably the contrast is much lower on Bruce Willis’s face than the rest of the frame). In the end the students hit on a solution, they reversed the photographers adage of “painting with light” and simply painted with paint. Where they needed shadow on the cell bars, they painted the bars black, where they needed light, they painted white! It was a gloriously simple solution to a complex problem, and since the scene only needs to look perfect with one set of lights from one camera position, it worked flawlessly.

The ’07 In The Mood For Love is also a shot which I like very much; it’s one where the team struggled against huge problems during their production and whilst the final shot doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, it manages to capture a lot of the emotion of the original scene. The performances of the actors and the subtly of lighting make the shot excellent, when it could have very well not been completed at all.

After they’re done with this course, what are the students on to next and do they build upon what they’ve learned in Setbuild?

The Setbuild Project is the last tightly defined project we set the students, once they move into the second year of the course they’re much more free to choose the style and form of photographic work they want to pursue. Whilst not everyone wants to return to the studio to build sets straight away, the idea of constructing the photographic frame and paying attention to every element of final image follows through into whatever work they make.

In the third year of the course, the students produce their final project a number of people return to creating worlds in the studio.

We got to talking because you’d mentioned using Jewelboxing for this year’s Setbuild. What were you using the cases for?

The Setbuild Project is made possible by the generous support of a number of companies and as a small token of our appreciation to all of the individuals at each of these companies who work over and above to make the project happen, we produce a project review film and mail it out to all of the. To make this extra special, we distribute it in the excellent Jewelboxing King cases.

Any big plans for next year’s series of projects?

I’m hoping we’ll get to collaborate with the Film and Theatre course again next year. Right now it’s in discussion, as the total number of students involved in the project would be over a hundred.

Whilst I am always eager to push the project, there is a danger that it becomes so big, so all engulfing, that it prevents the students from working on their other projects. The student have two other projects running alongside the Setbuild.

In terms of films and scenes, it’s always hard to get away from the last 15 years of Hollywood, largely due to the demographic of the students, but that’s always something we try to push. Obviously the project suits certain type of films and certain types of scenes, but there appears to me theres a rich seem of science fiction movies which we’ve yet to take on. It’s become a bit of a running joke, each year I suggest people should do; 2001Star WarsAlienPlanet of the Apes, or Close Encounters, but so far no one’s taken me up on it.

Spirited Ridiculousness

With Halloween just around the corner, we were hoping to find a holiday-specific Jewelboxing project to mark what is arguably the best holiday of the year. Fortunately, our hopes were realized as we caught word of creepy goings-ons in the Orlando suburb of Kissimmee, Florida (which, of course, has been regularly renowned for its “Very Spooky” listing in most national rankings). The purveyor of said horrors is one T.C. Durham, who was kind enough to take a break from his telling of ghastly tales to share with us his most recent project, the long-awaited sequel in his Trick No Treat film series. Here’s a description of the film:

“Zack (Tyler Zwick) returns to his home town and discovers the worlds last remaining ghost. Zack soon realizes that he must enlist the help of the old gang (T.C. Durham, Mike Chandler, Jacob Wilder) and kill the ghost before the ghost kills them!”

And here’s from T.C. about the project:

“Trick No Treat 3 is probably the most ridiculous project I’ve ever done. It’s random, offensive and over the top. It’s basically Ghostbusters on crack.

Trick No Treat started out as a short video intended to entertain guests at a Halloween party. For the first movie we had nothing. We had no budget and a low-quality camcorder. Now working on TNT3, we’ve upgraded to a high-definition camcorder and Final Cut Studio.

“We were worried that we would make this great movie and have to distribute it on the crappy CD cases you get at the drug store. Then, I discovered Jewelboxing (intro hallelujah chorus). With Jewelboxing’s sweet King cases, we were able to preserve the quality of the movie from beginning to end.

“We’re not professionals, we’re not art kids. We just wanted to make people laugh! The whole movie is one ridiculous event after another. But what I’ve learned from the few people that have screened our movie is that people are impressed when you take being funny seriously.”

A big spine-chilling thanks to T.C. for sharing the project with us and here’s to hoping hairs are raised and blood is curdled this week in Mt. Pleasant, Santa Monica, Louisville, New York, Singapore, Colorado Springs, Tacoma, Atlanta, Bolingbrook, Idaho Springs, Stevenson Ranch, Hagerstown, Toronto, Lubbock, Springfield, Long Beach, Houston, San Luis Obispo, and Amherstview.

What Tom Has Learned in Sunny California

Here in Chicago, the weather tends not to slowly transition between seasons, but rather decide on a sudden whim that it’s done with summer and now it’s fall, all in the blink of an eye. So now that we’re already in the thick of another grey autumn, with winter sure to follow even quicker, it’s nice to imagine those warmer states far to the west of us. Fortunately, we have California-based photographer Tom Vo to paint a picture for us of these sunny days and memorable moments:

“It was a sunny day on a beach in Aptos, CA where I was first inspired by my wedding photographer. Today, I am a San Jose-based wedding photographer and I’m still inspired every day by the different people I meet at each and every wedding. These weddings take me to beautiful wineries in Napa and the most luxurious hotels in San Francisco to the sandy beaches of Santa Cruz. What’s amazing is how much I’ve learned about life throughout this amazing journey. I’ve learned that a groom has a special look in his eyes as he sees his bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle. I’ve learned that big tough dads usually still tear up when they make a toast to their daughters. And I’ve learned that kids are happiest when they are dancing. So who gets the honor of helping the bride and groom capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments? I do.”

And here’s a bit about how Tom became a Jewelboxing user, for which we’re plenty pleased:

“I was up in S.F. with photographers, Gene High and Jose Villa at a workshop last year. That’s where I first heard about this thing called Jewelboxing. Jose raved about them and how he was using them. After checking them out on the website, I was convinced it was worth a try. After making my first one, I was completely hooked on how cool the final product looked. The templates make it easy to customize each layout and the perforations make it a piece of cake to assemble. I have mostly young, hip clients so the style of Jewelboxing suits them perfectly. They truly give us little guys a big professional look.”

Thanks to Tom for writing in and here’s to hoping all the guys, little, medium, or large, are looking pro in Los Angeles, Greenville, Houston, Idaho Springs, Middletown, Richmond, Chattanooga, Noblesville, Olive Brance, Tulsa, Providence, Ballwin, Fredericktown, New York, Chandler, Dallas, Manistee, Venice, Topanga, Springfield, Toronto, Brooklyn, and Renton.


Overextended Extensions

In the interest of getting everyone in the office in the same room at the same time, every Thursday we have lunch brought over from Jim’s wife’s incredible catering company, Big Delicious Planet. The discussion topics usually come quick and flow from one tangent to the next, as any good conversation should. At yesterday’s lunch (after spending a few minutes talking about why video games don’t crash as much as they used to and guessing how the NY Times‘ bestseller list works), we got to talking about product line extensions.

Amy brought up that we should start making Jewelboxing cozies, knitted-wool wrap-arounds to keep the cases warm in the winter (“They’d be perfect for the holidays!”). Dawson decided we needed a Jewelboxing caddy, a specifically -designed place to store three cases wherever you need them most (like the shower or above the stove). From there, Bryan and Steve attempted to draw this new product line out to an unbearably stupid degree, which went something like this: a) Jewelboxing Case Cozy, b) Jewelboxing Case Cozy Caddy, c) Multi-Caddy Caddy for Jewelboxing Case Cozy Caddies, d) Polishing Kit for Multi-Caddy Caddy for Jewelboxing Case Cozy Caddies, e) and on and on. They kept doing this until just after everyone at the table had long-since stopped paying attention to their babble. Then we all started talking about the next logical topic: how to attach a road map to foamcore.

So while we like to think we’re a company that comes up with some interesting ideas from time to time, fortunately we also know when to let well enough alone and keep Jewelboxing pure and simple. Though that said, if you happen to have a friend in the business who can sew a few hundred wool case sweaters, we wouldn’t mind hearing about it (Amy was right, the holidays are just around the corner, after all).

Here’s to hoping only smart extensions are being extended in Royal Oak, Idaho Springs, Middletown, New York, Pasadena, Louisville, San Jose, Brookline, Quezon City, Franklin, Los Angeles, Portland, Rochester, Santa Monica, Ventura, Tampa, Waxhaw, Raleigh, Plainview, Brooklyn, Las Vegas, Sunnyvale, West Monroe, Malibu, Folsom, Idaho Spings, Turlock, Mequon, and St. Louis.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

How to Make Multi-Page Cover Booklets

On a fairly regular basis, we get a call or an e-mail asking if the Jewelboxing system can handle multi-page cover booklets. The answer has always been a solid yes, and we walk the person through the ways you can accomplish that. Although we love talking to Jewelboxing users directly, we thought we’d streamline the whole process a little and make a definitive set of instructions available here on the blog. So we got Bryan here at HQ to spill the beans on how to make your own multi-page booklets:

“Our kits include paper templates to print a 4-page cover insert for each case (one sheet printed front and back then folded to make a cover, back cover, and an inside spread). The paper itself is pretty thick, so we recommend an 8- or 12-page booklet maximum or things could get a little too tight and somewhat difficult to insert and remove. If your plan is to make these multi-page booklets using only our paper, it’s probably a wise idea to order extra sheets, so you’re not left with more cases than paper.”

“Alternately, if you do need more than 12 pages, our thick paper makes a nice ‘cover’ for lighter-paper pages of your own choosing (you can also trim those inside pages a little smaller to maximize that book cover effect). Since the cover insert designs for both our Kings and Standards are simple rectangles, you can use our software template to print on your own lighter paper to make these additional pages. Just be sure to include crop marks and fold marks so you know where to cut and fold.”

“Whatever you decide on making, remember that your book must be a multiple of 4 pages. Be sure to design (and number) your pages in ‘impositions’ to ensure they’re all in the right order when cut and folded.” [You’ll find a handy guide over to the right].

“Once all the pages are cut, folded, and collated, you can use a ‘saddle stapler’ to bind them. If you don’t have a saddle stapler or the budget to procure one, try a copy shop. You can also arrange the booklet fold on the corner of an old phone book (they’re good for something!). Just staple along the fold into the phone book, pull the booklet off of the phone book, and fold the staples together by hand. It’s a little extra effort doing it that way, but you should end up with good results.”

If you should happen to have any trouble along the way, don’t hesitate to drop us a line or give us a call. We’d be more than happy to try and get everything back on track.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

Cool Tools, Begging Bowls, and 3D Animation

It’s a little difficult to follow up from our last post, arguably the best Case Study feature we’ve done to date, talking to arctic explorer Ben Saunders (it’s required reading, so just scroll down a bit to check it out — then come back up here when you’re done). So instead of trying to hit you with another lengthy post, we thought we’d try a few miscellaneous links instead.

First up, it was an honor and a privilege to see that Jewelboxing had been picked up for some nice coverage over at Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools, the widely read and respected journal of all things nifty. Writer Elon Schoenholz had a lot of very nice things to say about our humble little cases, like “they go a long way toward making a small business or project appear bigger, undeniably professional.”

Next, a couple of very quick links. We randomly stumbled across San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Bill Foreman’s album Begging Bowl, which he’s been packaging using Jewelboxing Standard cases. Although the image on his site is just a scan of the cover, we imagine it probably looks like the comp we put together over there on the right. We also really dig Bill’s ongoing, simple, blocks-of-color layouts between his albums.

And last, we also stumbled across this post on a forum for the 3D animation program Kinemac, wherein a user was asking if anyone could assemble a model of our Standard cases within the program. So far, no follow up to the finished product, but we’re guessing it’s for something music-related, judging from some of the other links they’d included. We’d be happy to share with them the models we built in After Effects for our first Jewelboxing commercial, but those were something of a complicated jumble (more like 2.5D).

Thanks to all of those who have posted about Jewelboxing here and there, making it fun to stumble across random, interesting projects. Have your own Jewelboxing case you’d like to have us see and possible show off here on the blog? Send it in! In particularly, we’d like to see something from the attractive people in New York, Idaho Springs, Pasadena, Greensboro, Vestal, Venice, Boston, Los Angeles, Conroe, Saint George, Berwick, Langhorne, Bakersfield, Dallas, Brea, Santa Monica, Rancho Dominguez, Blackstone, Portland, and Denver.

Case Study 15: Ben Saunders

In all of the Case Studies we’ve put together over the years, we’ve talked to a whole slew of remarkable and interesting Jewelboxing users who have worked on some really stellar projects. But however fascinating those previous interview subjects might have been, we’re pretty sure that none to date have ever shared the kinds of experiences our current interviewee has had. Among countless notable achievements, Ben Saunders has explored the arctic, spoken as a guest at a TED Conference, chatted with Al Gore, and fought off a polar bear. In short, he’s a pretty interesting guy to talk to. Fortunately, Ben was very gracious to let us take a few minutes of his valuable time to do just that:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a polar explorer (for want of a better job description). I skied solo to the North Pole in 2004, an expedition Reinhold Messner called “ten times as dangerous as Everest”; I’m the third in history to reach the North Pole solo (no one’s done it since), the youngest by more than ten years, and I hold the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton. I’m 31 and based in London (I like extremes – big cities or complete wilderness!).

What was the draw for you to get out onto steep mountains and the otherworldly Arctic? Something to do with the variety of landscapes in Devon, where you grew up? Or just a desire to get out to where most other people wouldn’t dare?

I suspect it’s a combination of the above. I was lucky enough to spend my childhood in glorious countryside, with a degree of freedom that would seem alien to most kids today. But I think I’m a frustrated astronaut as well — I spent as much time watching Star Wars and geeking out in front of my Acorn Electron as I did climbing trees, riding my bike and hiking through fields.

As a follow-up, where did the idea come from to start skiing in areas like the Arctic? You just randomly picked it? That sort of terrain has always appealed to you? Or you saw that there had only been a very small group to ever attempt certain crossings and you wanted to try and get included on that list and beat some records in the process?

I was enthralled by stories of adventure — on the high seas, at high altitude and at high latitudes — when I grew up. I thought I’d end up being a mountaineer, but the polar regions seemed to hold an even more rarified challenge.

How did you make the move into becoming a professional explorer?

My first polar expedition was in 2001 with Pen Hadow. He was an incredible mentor, and despite not reaching the Pole that year, it was an immense and invaluable learning curve. I never imagined then that this would turn into a full-time career, but the reality of juggling training and fundraising, and organising highly-specialised logistics and gear meant that any sort of sensible job was out of the question from then on. I’ve been professional for eight years now, though for much of that time I was utterly broke.

Can you describe the training processes for your expeditions, climbs, marathons? Anything unique that you’ve come up with that feels like it gets your particularly ready for such extreme tests of endurance?

I do a significant amount of endurance training — mostly running, cycling (on and off-road), roller-skiing and hiking and XC skiing if I can escape London at weekends. There’s some weight training too, heavy Olympic-style stuff. Many outdoorsy types loathe the gym, but I’ve always enjoyed weight training. It’s helpful to have good mental reference points that you can fall back on in the major expeditions — times when you’ve suffered and had to dig deep — so I seek these out when I’m training.

It’s easy to get focused on the exciting parts of your expeditions, but what sort of work goes on behind the scenes in getting all the other million details taken care of, like funding and booking flights and locating equipment, etc.?

It’s like any other business — there’s a stack of mind-numbing admin that goes hand-in-hand with what I do. Despite the job title, much of my time is spent at a desk, in front of a screen and a keyboard, just like most people. I have a full-time assistant, Andy Ward, and he’s a master of juggling the strangest combinations of things — one minute it’s booking flights or hotels for speaking engagements, the next it’s a conference call to the owner of an icebreaker in Australia.

Speaking of equipment, I’m sure what you pack very carefully before hitting the Arctic. Anything interesting in your bag? Items combined to shave off a few pounds?

There’s nothing extraneous, really. I get obsessed by gram-shaving. I spent hours finding the world’s lightest titanium spoon (a titanium spork, actually, shipped over from the US) and I’ll trim labels from clothing and file down or drill out anything I can get my hands on. I did take a small teddy bear, Barnaby, on my solo North Pole speed record attempt last year. He was given to me by a school, he’s pretty lightweight, and he doesn’t complain much.

When you’re out there on the ice, skiing for nine hours per day, what do you think about? Is it complete focus or does the solitude and huge expanse of nothingness let your mind wander a bit?

On solo expeditions, part of you has to be focussed the whole time as there’s a lot to juggle — navigation, looking out for polar bears, judging ice and weather conditions, timing breaks for food and rehydration, etc. — but part of your mind is free to wander, particularly after the first week or so and you start to get into a routine. I found the quality of my memory improved dramatically in that kind of isolation. We’re all subject to constant stimulus and demands nowadays — email, phone calls, meetings, Twitter, RSS feeds, Facebook status updates, social events — and being removed from all that is remarkably liberating.

Since you’ve done a lot of solo expeditions around the Arctic, after looking at the great photos and the video you have on your site, a thought came to mind: who shot those? Some of them look like you were holding the camera but others look like maybe a photographer flew in to grab a couple of quick snapshots?

There’s certainly no one flying in! The best photos were mostly taken by a great friend, Martin Hartley. Usually we’ll spend a day or two taking hi-res sponsor and media shots somewhere in the high Arctic before I’m actually dropped to start my expedition, and he’s usually on the ski-plane or helicopter that takes me out to the start point. I’m obsessive about saving weight, so there’s no way I’d take a digital SLR on an unsupported expedition. But I do take a small digital compact and many of the photos on my site are my own.

You mention that your first time out in 2001, attempting to ski from Russia to the North Pole, you and your expedition partner survived a polar bear attack. Any advice on how one does that?

You have to stand your ground and convince the bear that you’re bigger and scarier than it is. We had a Russian shotgun, but it jammed five times before my teammate fired a shot into the air to scare it away.

Besides your harrowing adventures, you also spend some of your time as a motivational speaker, talking to schools and companies across the world. How do you apply what you’ve been through out there in the dangerous wild to students or people who spend most of their time in climate-controlled, polar bear-free offices?

I’m lucky enough to be doing professionally what I dreamt of doing when I was a kid, so I talk about the importance of dreaming big, of perseverance, dedication, dealing with failure, ignoring nay-sayers and doubters, and of making the most of the 650,000 hours that make up the average lifetime. I’m certainly not encouraging people to go out and buy skis and a sled and do anything daft like me, but I think that we all have our own North Poles — and if my story is about anything, it’s about pursuing what you’re passionate about to the best of your ability.

You’ve written pieces in books for Lonely Planet and Worldchanging and have listed on your site that your own book is due out this year. Anything you can tell us about that?

Not much, other than that it won’t be out until next year now (2010). Watch my site!

We were really happy to find that you’re using Jewelboxing to package your speaking showreel. It’s a collection of your talks? Or the promo video you have up?

We used Jewelboxing for a new speaking showreel (it’ll be up on the site soon). The problem is that it’s been far too popular! Everyone we’ve given a copy to has been blown away by the quality of the packaging and has asked us to send more. Andy (my assistant and expedition Operations Director) is becoming a dab hand at printing and folding.

When you’re back home and not right in the thick of a project, or you just need a few minutes to yourself, what do like to do to relax? Or does your relaxation involve just slightly-less-tiring training?

I have a problem with the whole work/life boundary thing, in that I don’t see what I do as a job, so I never really take time out. I can’t think of a single day in the last six or seven years when I haven’t done some form of work towards my future expedition goals. I’m not sure that’s entirely healthy, but I like to relax by reading, watching movies, and (believe it or not) tinkering with web design. My own site is homemade and I’ve built sites for a few friends over the years. I guess I have the idea of “job” and “hobby” the wrong way around, but when I’m not flat-out with polar expeditions, I get an odd sense of enjoyment from sitting in front of a text editor and working out CSS glitches, or playing with Javascript. It’s enormously satisfying, like mastering any other discipline, like bonsai, or building model boats out of matchsticks.

You’ve said that you have three major expeditions coming up over the next three years. Can you give us a sneak peek at what you have planned? Anything else coming up that you’re excited about?

Yes, three huge projects. Solo and unsupported speed record attempts on both Poles in December this year (South) and March next year (North). Only one person in history, the Norwegian Borge Ousland, has reached both Poles solo, so I could be the second. And then in 2011-12 will be arguably the most ambitious polar expedition in a century: the Scott Antarctic Expedition. It’s the first return journey to the South Pole on foot and, at 1,800 miles and four months, the longest unsupported polar journey in history.

Collecting Cronenberg

When there isn’t a collection available of all your favorite films by one of your favorite filmmakers, or rather, one not so blandly designed that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have up on your shelf, what do you do? If you’re Brooklyn-based designer Raymond Forbes, you design your own David Cronenberg box set, complete with everything from Videodrome to the more recent A History of Violence. It’s a beautifully designed package from both the clear plastic box that houses the whole collection to the five individual discs. And although Raymond created this project on his own during his time as a student at the esteemed Portfolio Center, we’re of the opinion that Mr. Cronenberg would be smart to pick up and start selling this collection right away. It’s certainly one of the best looking box sets we’ve seen and we’d certainly buy one in a heartbeat if it were available. Here’s from Raymond about the project:

“I’m a designer and art director, and I used your DVD-sized King cases for a packaging project that I included in my student portfolio. It is a DVD Collection for the work of Canadian director David Cronenberg. Cronenberg is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body-horror or venereal-horror genre. This style of filmmaking explores people’s fears of bodily transformation and infection.”

“The design on each DVD case features abstract, microscopic imagery of infections and bacteria, overlayed with stills from each film. In order to capture the invasive and methodical nature of Cronenberg’s work in the design, I needed the typography on each individual disc to be visible through the actual DVD jewel case, so I looked for the highest-quality, clear blank DVD cases I could find. The Jewelboxing cases I got from you guys worked really well.”

Great thanks to Raymond for sharing his work with us and here’s to hoping that the fear of bodily transformation and infection is staying up on the big screen for the benefit of our latest customers in Los Angeles, Irvine, Somerville, Frederick, San Jose, Austin, Jacksonville, Anacortes, Chesterfield, Syracuse, Bedford, East Lansing, Manor, Merriam, Houston, Brooklyn, Charleston, Chicago, Palatine, Providence, Juda, Alhambra, Riverview, San Diego, Ithaca, Monrovia, Orem, Boston, and Henderson.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Film

Smooth Moves

Is there any job cooler than that of a steadicam operator? If so, we haven’t heard of it. Add “cinematographer” as a co-title in there and you’ve got about the best job in the world, in our books at least. So while we’re always happy to hear from Jewelboxing users, we were particularly giddy when we got to talk to Ed Moore, who is both an extremely gifted cinematographer and a talented steadicam operator who travels all over the UK and across the world. We found that he was packaging both his latest reels using Jewelboxing so we dropped him a line and asked him why he decided to go with our cases:

“As a cinematographer and steadicam operator, I want my prospective clients to associate me with super smooth imagery and presentation right from the first thing that crosses their desk. With so many great cinematographers out there, I wanted to make sure my reel stood out enough to get straight to client’s DVD players. Jewelboxing’s superb templates and insanely-accurate paper parts make it almost embarrassingly easy (don’t tell my rivals!) to produce on-spec DVDs that look and feel like a million dollars.”

“Before finding Jewelboxing, I got a print house in the UK to price me up the trendy ‘digipak’ packaging. For the quantities I needed (under 100), they wanted anything from £4 to £8 per item. With Jewelboxing, I get the same quality for a fraction of the price, plus it’s simple to customize each one I print for the recipient, if I really want to add a personal touch. My only regret is that I’ve never thought of something appropriate and cool enough to put into the spine…”

Thanks very much to Ed for sharing with us and here’s to hoping there’s lots of people out there with professions we can live vicariously through in Chester, New York, Calgary, Oakland, Santa Monica, Cincinnati, Albany, Chicago, Elk Grove Village, Anaheim, Stillwater, Eyota, Davis, San Ramon, Newton, Sartell, Camberley, Lemon Grove, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Solana Beach, Cambridge Springs, and Providence.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

Case Study 14: EveryBaby

We get a little weak in the knees every time we run across someone using Jewelboxing for some form of entrepreneurial outlet. Maybe it’s because it reminds us a little of ourselves from way back when, launching a new company and hoping people would like what we were offering. So maybe it’s a little like that movie Pay It Forward but not nearly as schmaltzy and definitely without that kid from The Sixth Sense. Whatever the case, we were fortunate to get to talk to Jennifer Diaz, founder of the design firm Force Nine, about her recent foray into the great unknown that is a product launch, a sort of “build your own baby book” collection of forms for season scrapbookers and the uninitiated alike called EveryBaby. We were so enjoying talking to Jennifer and the uniqueness of her product that we thought “Hey, we should do a Case Study about this!” and thus, here we are.

1. Can you tell us a about yourself?

I went to design school in the early 1980s, when everything was still done by hand. I was always drawn to the history of art and design as well and my master’s thesis, in modern art history, was a comparison of several early twentieth-century graphic designers. I worked for a short time at the Getty Trust in Los Angeles, where I lived with an illuminated manuscripts scholar, grew to love artists’ books, learned basic bookbinding skills, and began writing for Print and other design magazines. All of this is relevant to the EveryBaby book project in one way or another.

2. What’s the EveryBaby Memory Book Pages project?

EveryBaby pages are PDF-formatted components for building customized memory books. What is unique about the EveryBaby system is that you print only the pages that you select, in the quantities that you need, on your choice of paper. You can then bind the pages in any number of ways, along with additional photographs, documents and other memorabilia.

3. What inspired you to create it? Making books for your own children? Some other product out there that you thought just wasn’t quite doing everything?

I started seriously thinking about creating a flexible baby book system when my sister adopted her then nearly 2-year old son. Around the same time, her gay neighbors adopted two children, a never-married sister had a child, and a friend became pregnant through a sperm bank. I was also doing pro-bono design work for a group dedicated to kids with cerebral palsy, who each had their own individualized lists of developmental milestones. Nearly all of the baby books available were hopelessly inadequate for all of these families, and it occurred to me that it was almost insulting to expect these parents to slice up traditional books.

I also had my own daughter eight years ago and settled on a baby book with little John Lennon animal drawings. The pages were so shiny that I had to use a Sharpie to fill in the data and there never seemed to be space for the type of information that I wanted to record, such as details of her many music classes, mysterious allergic reactions, and four years of preschool.

4. Did you design all of the 160 PDFs the package comes with? How long did that take you?

The entire process took about seven years, which has actually turned out to be a good thing. By shelving the project for months at a time, I was able to re-imagine it several times. Initially, I had planned to offset print and package the pages by chapter and sell them to retail shops via the big NY trade shows, with a start-up cost of about $16,000. It took some time (years, in fact) to realize that I would still not be addressing the fundamental issue, which is the ability to choose one page at a time while assembling a book. While I was endlessly contemplating all of this, the PDF file format became more mainstream and Etsy was launched, leading me to develop a much more comprehensive and economical product than I could have conceived of seven years earlier.

I chose many of the actual page design elements fairly early in the process, however, including Engraver�s Bold, Aldus, Bickham Script and Lo-Type for text, plus an assortment of dingbats and ornaments for borders. I probably ran 20 laser and inkjet-printer tests on the dashed lines alone.

5. Did you have some sort of system developed for how you thought each form should be organized? It’s a ton of information to keep track of, so it seems like you’d need to think out the flow of each page, to make it accessible.

During the first few years, I worked on the text in Word. This enabled me to really focus on grouping information into pages that could be opted out of as a unit. I didn’t even begin designing the chapters until I had locked in the precise contents of each page. The most difficult section was probably the “firsts,” which are usually just a long laundry list in conventional baby books. I separated them into logical, Montessori-ish classifications, such as Practical Life, Communication, Fine Motor Skills, etc., and left room for anecdotes and lists where appropriate. When I finally started laying out the pages in InDesign, it was fairly easy going, but I still continued to edit. During the final phase, I hired a professional copy-editor/proofreader to read through the entire collection of pages.

6. Speaking as someone who has absolutely no experience with this, once a person has the disc and they’ve been printing their pages and putting everything together, do you have any recommendations on how to assemble a great baby book?

The best, and least stressful, approach is to assemble several books. For example, the pregnancy, birth and adoption sections have a finite timeframe, so they can be printed, completed and bound first. The “All About You” section will take many years to compile and should therefore have a dedicated box for the storage of calendars, notes, and scraps of information. Alternately, a four-page birthday party section can be filled in during the party and added to a birthdays-only book. At an early age, kids can take over filling out their own pages for the school memory book — and in case of disaster, the pages can be reprinted. The family tree and parents� sections are probably the lowest priority for overwhelmed parents, but can be an easy weekend project at any point over the years, and are easily duplicated for each child�s individual book. Finally, as the overriding goal of any memory book is a long shelf life, I highly recommend the museum-quality storage boxes, sleeves and binders available from Light Impressions.

7. Although I’ve gotten better over the years after countless moves and getting tired of hauling boxes around, I come from a long line of hoarders of stuff that holds sentimental value. So for people like me, do you think having something more organized and guided like your printable sheets will help? Any advice on what’s good to keep and what’s best to just toss?

I think all artists and creative people are hoarders. The trick is to hoard in a semi-organized fashion and then allow the passage of time to dictate what can be tossed. One of my most memorable experiences at the Getty was getting a first look at boxes of Jan Tschichold’s personal papers, which had just been purchased but not yet catalogued. Despite all his rules about the organization of the page, Tschichold’s personal files were a fantastic mess of personal letters, sketches and printed ephemera from virtually every significant designer. He clearly saved everything, but items were fairly well sorted into folders and boxes. The Getty staff took his efforts one step further by slipping things into archival sleeves and entering critical dates and information into accessible databases. This is essentially what parents do when assembling memory books. It’s an organic process – and the EveryBaby pages give you a framework in which to document that process.

8. In an age where a lot of the memories you keep are now online, from photos to home movies, there’s something very comforting about printing things, filling them out with a pen, attaching photos, etc. What is it about getting to work with these bits and pieces of memory by hand?

Most early art, even on cave walls and papyrus, was associated with personal memories. Illuminated manuscripts were basically scrapbooks, with groups of unrelated pages bound together, family members painted into biblical scenes, and personal notes scribbled in the margins. There’s a tactile component to the process of assembling memorablilia that is an essential part of the human experience. Technology is not only at odds with this experience, but even worse, can pose a real threat to it. In fact, I’ll bet 10 Syquest cartridges that the technology on which your digital photos and videos are now stored will be obsolete within 20 years. With hand-compiled memory books, there is the potential to create something more enduring than a web gallery.

9. You’d mentioned earlier your choice to sell EveryBaby on Etsy. Why did you decide to go that specific route? Possible other options for the future?

Etsy is a great marketplace for anything made by hand. It’s an online craft fair – with some of the awfulness that craft fairs can inspire – but at the same time, it’s a high-end gallery of beautiful art objects. As a seller, I can’t imagine a marketplace that would better target the full range of alternative families, while also allowing me to shirk the responsibility of building my own web site. Like many artisans who launch on Etsy, I hope to evolve into selling on my own site or in retail shops, such as the Paper Source.

10. Why did you choose Jewelboxing as your packaging? And can you tell us a little about the your design for the case?

I chose Jewelboxing because I wanted a case that would be durable and elegant enough to be presented as a gift. The EveryBaby cases were designed to look like hand-bound books, with kraft paper covers, bookcloth spines, and endpapers patterned with Hoefler ornaments. The Jewelboxing inserts allow space for a huge amount of information on the back, and I used all sides of the booklet for instructions and an extensive table of contents. I will also add loose beads, baby bracelets and birthday candles to the spines as little surprise gifts for buyers.

11. What’s next for you? For the EveryBaby project?

As part of a self-imposed hiatus from client-directed projects, I’m going to spend the summer creating hand-bound binders, clipboards and folders to sell alongside the EveryBaby disks.

Connected Dots

It’s here where we usually provide a short paragraph or two of introductory writing before we get into some writing from a Jewelboxing user. But because Phillip Chee is clearly a man with a lot to say, we’ve decided to pass the floor over to him right away:

“The concept that everything you do in your life is connected or related organically to all your experiences applies to me. To an outsider, my experiences and education may seem disconnected. I’ve done real science, studied philosophy, published, edited, designed, and currently have a computer geek’s dream job. I’ve been employed by Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario for a decade, and I’m currently the Computer Science Technologist, supporting programs in applied computing, computer security forensics, and health information management.”

“One skill I’ve mastered is teaching cascading style sheets to neophyte web designers. During the past five years, I have been teaching continuing education (night school) courses in website design and web server technologies. I am a curious type and when something grabs my interest I immerse myself in it completely. In preparing for my classes, I read the web site A List Apartreligiously for a couple of years for research. That’s how I discovered Coudal Partners and the Jewelboxing system. I was impressed by the concept and the site design was rather cool, too. Unbelievably, I didn’t actually purchase a Jewelboxing kit until just before last Christmas. I decided to do mix CDs as Christmas presents and the Jewelboxing system was the first and only solution I had in mind. I had just bought my daughter an iPod for her birthday and while playing with iTunes noticed the new Genius feature. The genesis for a number of mix CDs based on Genius was born.”

“I’ve always had a creative urge and when I was a kid growing up I considered a career as an artist or graphic designer, as well as an astrophysicist. In the end I got a degree in biology at university. But now I use photography for my artistic urges. So I had a bunch of ready-made images to use with the templates and I chose the Photoshop templates since I regularly use the software. After a few minutes of studying the layers, I found it easy to work my design idea within it. Really, the hardest part was making sure the printer output would align properly, but I needn’t have worried because the templates were a helpful guide. I printed a couple of tests and then made adjustments to the layer positioning to get it just right.”

“Now that I have a foolproof system for creating a visually interesting package, it’s one less thing I have to worry about when I go to create a portfolio for my photography. I began taking pictures when I was nine years-old and inherited my uncle’s SLR when I was thirteen. It had a jammed shutter and he said it was mine to keep if I managed to get it fixed. Fortunately there was a camera repair shop a couple of blocks from my home. It was the best $22 I spent. The camera was not far from me wherever I moved during my university days and after graduation. While living in Montreal, I had my apartment broken into and lost the camera. It would take a dozen years for me to get back into photography when I bought a Nikon D70. In the last couple of years as I strove to improve my technique I trolled eBay for film cameras and have acquired a fine collection of classic Nikon F bodies and lenses. At the same time I rekindled my interest in astronomy and began making attempts at shooting astrophotography. Actually, I think my foray into astrophotography drove my search for the fastest, sharpest range of lenses for my collection. The more I did my research into old-school film astrophotography the more lenses I added to my growing collection.”

“I’m at the point where I feel I am ready to mount an exhibition of my photographs. I’m still deciding on some themes but it will probably be a mix of my land and sky photos with a few shots of the Milky Way galaxy thrown in.”

Thanks much to Phillip for sharing his story and here’s to hoping things are being connecting organically in Hollywood, Laredo, Vancouver, Unionville, Hendersonville, Oak Park, Monroe, Davis, Richmond Hill, Los Angeles, South Haven, Toronto, Vars, Montral, Phoenix, Madison, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Vancouver, Santa Maria, Venice, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Kirtland Hills.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Film

The Sweet Shine of Success

When you decide to throw caution to the wind and open up your own business, one of the questions that likely tugs at you in those first few months is “How am I going to stand out?” In creative fields, the first answer of course, should always be “talent.” But there are also all those other factors that help guide a business toward becoming successful, most notably, its appearance. It’s why we started Jewelboxing in the first place, because we wanted the work we were proud of at Coudal to stand out and figured a lot of people probably felt the same way as we did about the usual packaging options out there. Fortunately, we’ve found that plenty of people did, including wedding photographer Cheyenne Schultz, who wrote in to tell us why she chose to use Jewelboxing almost immediately:

“We started our business here in Charlotte, NC less than two years ago, having shot our first wedding in the fall of 2007. Since then, we have grown quite a bit and will be shooting 27 weddings this year. We do shoot the occasional family/baby session, but since weddings are what we love, we devote 95% of our time and energy to advancing that part of the business.”

“When we first started, we used a very nice, quality case to deliver the portrait session/wedding day files on disc to our clients. However, it was much too traditional for our tastes and a pretty generic product that didn’t fit our business brand. As a company with a clean, bright style and a modern approach to shooting, the basic black leather cases just weren’t cutting it and we knew it. We needed something that would reflect US. When I came across a Jewelboxing sample on another photographer’s blog, I knew I had found what we had been looking for and immediately placed an order.”

“For us, branding is everything. From the first Jewelboxing case we designed, we knew it fit in with our brand and would showcase our work in a way that made us proud. One of the core values of our business is to provide excellent quality in all aspects and that definitely includes the products we offer. In Jewelboxing, we found just that; a product that has helped to take our branding to the level and has contributed to the success of our business. We’re hooked and haven’t looked back.”

Thanks to Cheyene for sharing her work with us and here’s to hoping brands are thriving in Houston, Los Angeles, Daly City, Washington DC, Annapolis, Santa Monica, Schaumburg, Malmoe, Douglas, Purchase, Manchester, Venice, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, Zufikon, South Haven, Santa Maria, Anchorage, Quesnel, Palatine, Chesterfield, Calgary, Lapel, Brighton, and Reston.

Pressed Promotion

We have put a lot of effort into trying to make the Jewelboxing system a breeze to use, from our design templates to the pre-perforated paper., but we have to say that we love it when users go off on their own directions and make things more complicated. Such is the case with designer James Mabery, who, while creating his portfolio using our King cases, very well could have just laid out his logo in Illustrator or Photoshop and quickly sent it on its way through his printer — instead, he decided to hand print each case with a carved block. To that we say bravo. Here’s from James:

“I’m currently a student at Savannah College of Art and Design double majoring in Motion Graphics and Animation. At SCAD, I’m a sophomore and interning as a motion designer at Blue Sky Agency in downtown Atlanta, working on a vast assortment of great projects.”

“The work I have in my promotional package is a wide range including print, motion, and web design, and a lot of it is experimental or conceptual, which allowed me to flow freely and somewhat reckless.”

“The disc packaging that I designed and spent many hours on was assembled with the easy-to-use templates provided by Jewelboxing. The look of the overall design was hand-rendered type formed into an organic mass of lines and textures. I hand carved a block of my ‘Everyday’ identifier that was printed on the DVD case’s paper inserts. It was my first time to ever try the printed and carved technique, but it really worked with the overall style in the end. To help get my work seen, the Jewelboxing was a perfect fit for my budget. The quality of the case compliments my work and greatly enhances the image of myself as a professional designer at the same time.”

Thanks to James for sharing his great work with us, and here’s to hoping that the ink is landing in all the right spots in Sydney, Helensburgh, Ann Arbor, Ellenton, Celbridge, Manchester, Amsterdam, Tralee, Glasgow, Rozelle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Hollywood, Clinton, Mexico City, San Francisco, Bedford, Boca Raton, New York, Culver City, Santa Monica, London, and Greenville.

Case Study 13: John Caserta

A lot of times when we’re hunting around on the internet for Jewelboxing projects we can talk about, we stumble across a real gem. Other times, not only do we stumble, but we fall head over heels for. Such was the case with John Caserta’s packaging work for artist Tim Hyde. We loved it right off the bat, but as soon as we started looking at the rest of John’s work, we were bowled over and that voice kicked in: “This has to be a Case Study.” Fortunately, John, an information designer, teacher, and the founder of The Design Office in Providence, Rhode Island, was up for talking, which resulted in this great interview:

Can you tell us about yourself?

Might be best to refer you to my bio online. I don’t have (m)any memorable hobbies and interests like spelunking, sky diving or the like. I’m from North Carolina…and do love my pulled pork. I am a citizen of Italy, have lived there on occasion, and spent some time overseas in Cambodia. Married, dog, baby on the way. I was hooked into design and photography by my aunt. An odd lady who was an architectural photographer in the 40s and 50s and gave me a Pentax K1000 when I turned 15. She gave me her old Apple IIc in 1982 or so. I learned BASIC and had a lot of fun printing patterns on my Imagewriter. It took me until 1991 to buy my own Mac Classic. She willed me a bunch of her great old cameras when she died five years ago.

What’s The Design Office?

The Design Office was realized when I decided to move my practice outside a room in my home in 2007. Rent in Providence is relatively cheap and I found a gorgeous space downtown that I thought other designers would like. It’s a great place to be all day long. There are four spots and we do have four people working here. It’s part organization, part collective. Everyone pays dues to help the organization pay for itself and to give out mini-grants to designers who need a bit of help. I use The D.O. as the imprint for my larger (and collaborative) projects and products. We discuss, share, and create uncommissioned works under the name, too.

With the Rhode Island School of Design right there, are most of the people who use the space students, faculty, etc? Anyone from outside the school?

The other three folks are not affiliated with RISD. One went to Brown a few years back. The other came up from New York recently. The other is from Boston, but has lived here for years. I meet with students here, graduate students also work with/for me. Faculty do come by. It’s a block and a half from the department.

What led you to created the space? Was there a specific lack of resources in town? Or you wanted someplace to exist outside of the school?

It wasn’t so much that there was a lack of resources, but that I was accumulating equipment (and methods) that could easily serve others. The best example is when I bought a 24″ Epson 7800 printer for a project. I kept asking photographers to come use it…but it was at my house. Now, folks can come in for a few hours, or days, and complete a body of work.

Now I have an incentive to invest in additional resources: binding systems, rototrim, guillotine, books, digital equipment.

How do you make the Office function financially, with things like rent and keeping the lights turned on? Commissions, grants, donations, or through your store?

The Office is financially a break-even situation. I have resisted moving it to a non-profit, and resisted making it too revenue focused also. I have considered expansion to accommodate folks who want community and equipment more than a permanent workspace. This would bring in more money, but it’s more risk. I suppose I like as much of my time to go toward making work, so I’m skeptical of decisions that would take me away from that.

Since the mission is to support freelance designers, I’ve kept the dues very low. They’ll likely go up to allow for additional investments, project funds, and mini-grants. All utilities and toner and paper come out of the dues. Always plenty of money for those essentials.

We create products to fund the Office as well. Obama t-shirts, COFFEE/TEA mugs, etc. The products are also part of our work.

I also use the Office as a write-off for my design business (which I market under my own name).

I do apply for grants and they are a big part of how I see projects getting done.

I solicit galleries to sponsor projects. For instance, the parking lot painting project. It requires a site and it makes sense that a gallery would promote it like they might any installation. I’ve worked with three galleries, but we have not been able to get it produced, yet.

Any projects that have been created at The Design Office that you’re particularly proud of or enamored by?

Hobo 2010 is really resonating with a lot of people. It’s playful, funny, and revealing. It’s about design, observation, and community, among other things. It’s a call for photographs of the typeface Hobo in use.

There are quite a few conceptual projects on our group projects page. I am excited about all of them, and believe they will all get done in time. They require the right people, sites and/or funds.

Our most recent project: Letterboxes, is a nice combination of visual research (academic) and functional design. It has a mass appeal. It was a bear to produce (we had a custom box die made)…and we only made a couple hundred to start.

Back to you personally, you’ve been working in information design online since that early period in the mid-to-late 90s when the public at large was first really finding out about the internet. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen since then, within information design?

Information design feels very techy and cold to me now. Data-rich web visualizations are treated with too much authority. It’s easy to be seduced into thinking that there must be truth in the presentation of quantitative data.

Information comes from somewhere in the service of someone. The presentation of such should be more honest about that. The computer’s voice is more prominent than the author’s. What this means is that there is a certain faux-objectivity that the information carries.

Information design often relies on symbols — however it can just as easily rely on video, photographs, voice. This is when the honesty and humanity comes in.

For me, it was always about play. Allow the viewer to venture into the information and discover the complexity of a situation. There was certainly a great deal of naivete in the pre-Flash 5 visualization work.

I designed a touch screen kiosk displaying the information of all U.S. soldiers buried overseas. Four of these 15″ screen were installed next to each other at the Normandy American Visitor’s Center. Instead of listing the results in a chart (label: result), or using visualization techniques (when the soldier died relative to others), we created a sentence from the data. It effectively made a miniature obituary from the database. This felt appropriate given the delivery and subject matter of the project. Additionally, the only color that appeared on the screen was the background color. The background color shifted slightly with each touch of the screen. Noticeable only after about ten touches, the hues represented each soldier listed in the database. A simple tip of the hat for each of them. It also kept the information in black and white: often all that’s needed for information design.

When do you think that information design functions at its best?

Professor Lev Manovich wrote in The Language of New Media(end of Web 1.0 in 2001) that database and narrative are ‘natural enemies.’ The former categorizes information well, but does not offer an order, and the latter is order from seemingly unconnected information.

Information design can side with either of the above. And I believe best when narrative (subjectivity and authorship) is foregrounded. Because more and more information is held within a database or will be disseminated through a database, most projects take on the look of database. The data is displayed either spatially, or color-coded, or what have you. This often brings attention to the quantity of information, and not what it could tell us if edited or organized more carefully.

Take the example of a book of photographs that I assigned my students to edit. There are 8 students who each photographed 20 images over 3 months in 5 cities. There was no specific directive; it was an editing exercise.

What I saw was the database’s influence on the editing process. The students ordered the book by either location, student, color, time, f-stop, or other pre-existing categories. They perceived the photographs as data objects, with their meta data as content. When the meta-date is the order, the narrative becomes random, a bi-product of how and where the data was acquired. However the project lies not in the quantifiable information (where, when, who…), but the student’s ability to weave together the pieces into an unexpected story. These are the projects we remember and that is something a database cannot do.

A lot of your early background was working with big outlets, like the New York Times, the Tribune, and NBC. In your bio, you’ve said in you still have a stable of clients, but you’re also doing all of this work with The Design Office and your role at RISD, so are your normal days split up more toward these creative or academic pursuits or split fairly evenly? Any goals to make either/or your primary focus?

I see my life split into thirds: RISD (teaching, advising), The Design Office (art/design making), and client work. I’d like the first two to generate the last. “I like how you think” is a great thing to hear. And ideally after that, “I have a great project for you.”

Providence life really affords a more self-driven creative life. Less overhead than bigger cities and fewer dramatic clients. I primarily work with Brown University and with a three-person company that generates automated graphics for large media companies (that I am part-owner of).

We first landed on your site after seeing your work for artist Tim Hyde and the Max Protetch Gallery. Can you tell us about Tim and his work?

Tim is an old friend from San Francisco. He moved back to New York to attend the graduate program in art at Columbia. He produced a rich body of photography work there. Max Protetch pulled him in right away as one of their artists and he has gone on to produce video and installation works with them. I love how he sees and how he thinks. His work is sincere…very human. That is a really rare trait in the Chelsea art scene. He has a solo show coming up at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

The cases you put together for both his videos are just beautiful. Can you tell us anything about designing them?

I started the project by looking for a solid and authoritative DVD case. I felt it was important that the case itself was substantial when art dealers, collectors and museums buy Tim’s videos. It needed the weight of a $10,000 purchase (or however much they are). So when The Museum of Modern Art purchases one of Tim’s videos, they are handed this case. In fact, the buyer receives two disks (in one case). One is for exhibit, the other for archiving.

I used Trade Gothic condensed because it matched the proportions of the disk. His Bus Passengers piece really works well opened up because the video is a series of portraits where you often see one person in front of the other.

It’s always a pleasure to design work for something I believe in and love.

What’s next for you? Any big projects you have coming up or something with The Design Office?

We just finished a prototype for a kids toy. Cardboard boxes with geometric shapes that assemble into giant letterforms. And there is a typeface with it. We’re looking for someone to produce it.

I suppose I am working on other projects that are not on the website. Because my wife and I are expecting a baby in May, I have been thinking of graphic toys: puzzles, blocks, books, mobiles and the like. That is how the cardboard boxes came to life. It is not clear how many of these will simply be for the home, but hopefully the better ones we can document as prototypes.

There are several other products that we could start work on soon, but I’d like to see some of the group projects get completed. There’s quite a bit on our site that you see is ‘in progress.’ All of those projects need some pushing.

And finally, how is it having John Maeda as your new boss at RISD?

It hasn’t made a huge impact on our department quite yet. Unfortunately he has been bogged down in the financial crisis. His belief in conversation and innovation is beginning to take hold — initially through blogs and large flatpanel info screens.

There are many of us who are quite excited about how some of the Media Lab models might penetrate the culture here — particularly a more research oriented approach.

Return of the Red Rose

Back in 2007, we highlighted Dan LaMee’s “Red Roses Mix” project, a mix disc he put together using Jewelboxing Kings to give all his single girl friends “something special, more memorable, and more lasting than a cut flower.” It was a terrific Valentine’s Day gift and on taking a look at Dan’s Flickr page again recently, we discovered that he was back at it with his Red Roses Mix 2009. The new edition looks even better, but this time, according to the description, this case was made for Dan’s girlfriend. So did one of his previous mixes turn a friend into something more? We don’t know, but we’re going to blindly chalk this one up to Jewelboxing-fueled love anyway, just because we’d really like to believe it.

Thanks again to Dan for sharing with us back in 2007 and for posting his most recent work on Flickr for all the world to see. And here’s to hoping love was packaged just as nicely for those in Los Angeles, Venice, Toronto, New York, Crows Nest, Burlington, Vilnius, Baton Rouge, Ladue, Richmond, Dublin, Singapore, Brooklyn, Joondalup, Santa Monica, Foothill Ranch, Boston, Manchester, Vestal, Esher, Kuala Lumpur, and Nashville.


We love seeing a young designer who just gets it and Liam Vasey definitely fits into that category. Not only is his work clever and confident, not plagued with heavy handed tricks or overcompensation for having just recently graduated, but he also understands the importance of getting out there and immediately impressing anyone and everyone who receives his great self-promo portfolio kit. Entitled “Liam Vasey Creates Design + Motion Graphics Under the Alias halfPlane and There is Nothing You Can Do to Stop Him,” it’s a handsome, bound book that shows off Liam’s work in print while a disc, beautifully packaged in one of our King cases, highlights his motion and web work. It’s a fantastic package, we’re sure he’ll be swimming in work because of it, and we feel very fortunate that he chose us to be a part of it. Here’s from Liam: Continue reading

Individual Paper Packs Now Listed for Purchase

From time to time we’ll get calls or e-mails from people who are looking to purchase additional paper packs for their Jewelboxing kits. Maybe they used up all their original paper on a project from last year and didn’t wind up sending out all of their cases, which they now want to reuse with an updated design. Or they’re interested in creating their own larger, multi-page cover booklet. Whatever the reason, we decided to make the process much easier for anyone in need of extras, so we’ve just added a Jewelboxing Paper section on our ordering page. From there, you’ll be able to quickly choose what sort of paper pack you need, from a complete re-do of the whole set that came in your original Jewelboxing order to individual booklets, trayliners and disc labels for both our King and Standard cases. And if you order before 2:00pm (Central), we’ll have your paper shipped off to you that same day, allowing you to get back to printing right away.

High Marks and Good Ranking

Here’s something we ran across that was nice to find: Laura Randall’s “Top 25 Awesome Products and Services” on her blog, Videography Resources. We were very fortunate to be picked as selection number three, beating out such heavyweights as Costco and the iPhone (even though we’re pretty sure the list wasn’t really being ranked, we’re still going to brag about it). Laura’s choices were complete with write-ups about each product or service and her Jewelboxing entry had some very kind things to say about the system (and some well-deserved praise for our man-about-Jewelboxing, Dawson):

“… I honestly LOVE my Jewelboxing cases. I did have to play with the templates a bit when I first got them, but they were more than happy to send me replacement inserts on the ones I ruined. Dawson at Coudal (the parent company) has always provided me with fast, courteous customer service. At the wedding show brides kept picking up the cases saying how nice they were.”

Thanks to Laura for talking us up and including us in her collection of goodness. Here’s to hoping lots of lists are being compiled right now and we’ve found our way onto them (the positive ones, preferably) in Phoenix, Boulder, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Chicago, Chino, Lawrenceville, Anchorage, Regina, Culver City, Bethesda, Atlanta, Troy, New York, Mississauga, Chandler, Calgary, Rouen, London, and Venice.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

Case Study 12: Tony Hernandez and Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale

While all of our Case Study subjects have crafted some truly incredible pieces of work, from motion graphics to documentary films to new typefaces, nearly all of it was created in a stationary position and in front of computers. But that trend ends here, as we recently got the chance to talk to Tony Hernandez, lifelong circus performer and creator of Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale, a remarkable piece of theater that blends circus acts with a solid script — the Wall Street Journal said it was “explosive, dangerous and dazzling” and Variety said in its review “it’s a pretty rare show that feels successfully directed at both family crowds and hipsters.” Tony has also used Jewelboxing to help promote the show and we’re thrilled to be included in what’s sure to be a meteoric rise to the top.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in the theatrical circus world?

I was born and raised in the circus, literally. Actually my family was touring with the circus when my mother was pregnant with me and we were on our way to our home in Sarasota, FL when she couldn’t hold me in anymore, so I was born in Dubuque, Iowa. I then grew up with my family traveling the world and learning the family business, which meant becoming an acrobat and a juggler. By age 6, I was the little star in the family act. I was featured on Captain KangarooKids World, and other children’s programs (you can actually find the Capt. Kangaroo one on YouTube). After we finished a 5 year run with Ringling Bros., I was 17 and bored. I knew I wanted something else in my life, so I left the the road to go to a community college. After a year of that, I knew it wasn’t for me, so I moved to Chicago where my sister had a circus school. I taught for a while and fell in love with the city. The first day I was here in ’96, I went to a friend of my sister’s house where they were having a reading of a movie called Since You Been Gone. It was the whole ensemble of Lookingglass Theatre Company including a then VERY popular David Schwimmer of the TV show Friends. I got to know Lookingglass very well and they kind of took me in like family and eventually made me a member of the company. Since then I have done a dozen productions with them as an actor, director, writer, choreographer, and producer.

You’re from the Hernandez Troupe and your wife Lijana is from the world famous Wallenda family — hoping that it’s more interesting than “oh, just at a bar after work one night,” how did you two meet one another?

Lijana and I met when she was seven and I was nine. Our families worked together in a circus one year, but our parents knew each other before we were born…ew this sounds like a planned wedding — it was not, I assure you. Anyways, we started dating years later and her parents were, like, “Well, if you’re gonna date our daughter, you need to learn to walk the highwire.” So I did (they weren’t gonna scare me away that easily). We got married in our twenties and I stole her away and brought her to Chicago. We do still work with her family once in awhile. In 2001, we went to Japan with her family and broke a Guinness world record with an eight person pyramid on the highwire. Yeah, never a dull moment in that family!

I’d wager that most people don’t have any idea of how someone gets into the circus world other than how they’ve been informed by movies and books and the idea that you have to run away from home at ten years old and ride the rails with a traveling circus. Is it something someone who doesn’t have a family background in the circus can pick up?

Absolutely, anyone who has a desire and a good work ethic can train and run away to join the circus at any age. It’s called cleaning elephant poop. Just kidding. Actually, like I said, my sister has a circus school here in Chicago called The Actors Gymnasium. And anyone, at any age, can train there. Some people go to just train because it’s a great workout — it works muscles you don’t even know you have. Others take classes with the goals of joining a circus or Cirque Du Soleil. Still others are actors trying to learn how to act from the neck down.

Can you tell us about your latest show, Hephaestus?

Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale (its full title) is adapted from the myth of Hephaestus. It is the tale of the infant hurled from Mount Olympus by his mother, Hera, when he was a baby because she was embarrassed by his ugliness and his disfigurement (my wife Lijana plays Hera,and I play Hephaestus). He crashes to the earth, fully grown, but has his legs rendered useless on impact. Hephaestus survives and teaches himself the art of the blacksmith, crafting magnificent works of iron and metal. In time, his abilities allow him to bring his silver statues to life to aid him in his forge. When his skills are perfected, Hephaestus begins the journey to Mt. Olympus to claim his throne as the God of the Forge. Along the way he meets fantastic humans and gods, all portrayed by world-class circus artists and athletes, including members of the Wallenda family, Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, and others. At the end of the show, we do a Wallenda trademark pyramid on the highwire where Hephaestus and Ares (God of War) carry Hera, perched on her throne, across the highwire. Our story is narrated by a 10 year old girl who is reading herself to sleep and trying to drown out the sounds of her feuding parents. We see her imagination come to life.

Were you interested in mythology before writing the show or were you looking for something that you felt would fit well with mixing in your circus talents and this story seemed to help blend the two?

Well it’s actually a little bit of both. I did always like mythology — my mom would read Greek myths with me as a child. But I was actually looking for a story to mix with circus, partly because I was frustrated with Cirque Du Soleil’s vague story lines. And at Lookingglass we do rich story lines with little circus, so I wanted to pull everything closer to the middle. It was Lookingglass’s artistic director, David Catlin who brought the story of Hephaestus to my attention. I did a little research and found that it was as if it was written for me. It had everything I wanted to do, with the freedom of taking some liberties because it’s a myth. I wanted to use amazing circus artistry, elements of dance, live percussive drumming, but I didn’t want to use all those elements just for the sake of doing them; it had to fit the story. I was very cautious not to be like those other shows that leave you feeling like you missed the point.

When you come up with an idea like this, how do you go about assembling it and making plans for what will go on when and where? And how do you go about rehearsing?

Well luckily I am a member of an AMAZING collaborative theatre company at Lookingglass. I wrote the very first draft of the play and then I passed it to a few ensemble members, including Heidi Stillman who would end up being my co-director and co-writer. A handful of us picked at it for a while, including David Catlin, Kerry Catlin, John Musial, myself and Heidi. Catlin decided to put Hephaestus in Lookingglass’ Glassworks program, which gave us a little bit of money and allowed us to have workshops, readings, and get the story up on its feet.

The show features former members of Cirque Du Soleil and the Blue Man Group — how did you approach them to come join the show? And what’s a cast party or a casual summer barbecue like with that crowd?

Growing up in the circus, my “little black book of performers,” like Phil Smith of Lookingglass likes to call it, has grown quite a bit. I am fortunate to have met and performed with some amazing artists. And if I didn’t know them, I knew someone who did, it seemed. For instance, when I wrote the part about Aphrodite being a beautiful handbalancing/ contortionist I wrote it with this amazing women in mind named Olga Pikhienko (who had become a star at Cirque Du Soeil). It was kind of like writing a part in a movie with someone like Natalie Portman in mind, while you kind of know it’s not very realistic that she’ll do it. But I asked her and to my surprise she said yes. And on the Blue Man side, one of my best friends, Jonathan Taylor, who is a Blue Man, and helped me design the drumming side of things, and actually took a break from Blue Man to be in the first incarnation of Hephaestus. So luckily all my old friends and family were just eager to support my vision.

As far as cast parties go, I’m sorry to report that they are pretty mellow. Well there was this one time after a show that we all went to my friend Billy Dec’s club called Rockit Bar & Grill and we had our own roped off corner. Olga was doing handstands on the pool table and the whole club was cheering…ok, so we can get a little crazy.

Now that you’ve performed at the Village Theatre in Detroit and the famous Lookingglass Theatre here in Chicago, what’s the next step for the show? Long term goals for it?

We have been very fortunate with the success of the show and have had great reviews. Now we are trying to find a theatre space to have an open run somewhere, something like Blue Man where we run until audiences stop coming (which they never will because the show rocks!). We are also talking about a tour as well. Long term goal would have the show sitting somewhere running, while another version of the show is touring. We are currently shopping the show around to producers in New York City and other big cities, including Chicago, of course. You can look for the show to hopefully happen here later this year, or maybe early 2010.

You’re using Jewelboxing to package promotional materials for the show. Why Jewelboxing and any notes on your experience with using it?

Well, like our production, we feel like Jewelboxes are different than anything else out there, and they really make you stand out in a crowd. On the design end of things, at the moment I’m a little bit of a one man show, meaning I took all the photos you see on and in the case, designed the images, designed the box with a friend Mark Stevens (a designer who actually told me about you guys), and even designed and edited the DVD. So it’s been very helpful that the Jewelboxing templates make it easy and it’s great how simple it is to snap it all together. It really is a great design. Actually, they are printing as we speak!

As an aside, did you and your wife see the documentary about Philippe Petit, Man on Wire? If so, what did you think about it? Any of that rebellious streak in you?

We did! We saw it in NYC on opening night. It’s truly a great piece of art that moves you and isn’t that what great art is supposed to do? Lijana also bought the DVD for me for Christmas and I have already watched it like 5 more times. I just love how passionate he is about what he does. I do have a very rebellious streak, but whenever possible I enjoy getting paid for my daredevilry, not put in jail. I do love that about him and respect him very much.

Lastly, what’s next for you, or how would you like 2009 to pan out?

I am working on a project with Redmoon Theatre of Chicago and if all goes as planned, you will hear about it. I am also writing a few new things, one is a screenplay, and the other is a play that hopefully will make it’s way through the Glassworks and onto the Lookingglass stage. Also, Lijana and I are going to be performing in Tampa at the Superbowl on February 1st with my company Silverguy Entertainment (we specialize in special events), which should be fun. I also have some other big projects lining up for this year, but it’s probably a little too early to talk about them just yet…

A Wedding Favor Recap

A nice follow-up to something we posted back in September. Back then, the WeddingBee blogger Miss Pomegranate (or “Kate” as she’s known in real life) was preparing for her upcoming wedding and had decided to use Jewelboxing to package mix discs for each of her guests, tying in the case design with the rest of the big day’s motif. Now that a few months have passed and she’s officially hitched, Kate was very generous in giving Jewelboxing another shout out over at Southern Weddings magazine’s blog:

“Our favors were a great multi-tasking project — they doubled as both favors and seating cards for our guests. The CD contained a listing of tracks that brought us together in the early stages of our relationship, as well as selections from our ceremony music. The spine had a removable sticker that displayed the guests’ name and table where they would be seated. I really enjoyed working with Jewelboxing’s templates — they ended up looking really professional.”

Thanks to Kate for the post-wedding nod and here’s to hoping everyone is enjoying their own well-packaged mix discs in Savannah, Quebec, Salt Lake City, New York City, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Cedar Park, Santa Rosa, Toronto, Bloomington, San Diego, Bonita Springs, Louisville, Atlanta, and Baltimore.

The Sweet Smell of Success

Although used to some success in the theater world, 1960’s Scent of Mystery was the first (and what would turn out to be the only) film to use Hans Laube and Mike Todd’s Smell-O-Vision technique. It utilized a series of different containers attached to the movie house’s seats that were filled with a variety of odors which were released at certain points throughout the film. Since then, variations on the Smell-O-Vision have popped up here and there, from John Waters’ Polyester to a Japanese company’s system for, strangely, Terrance Malick’s The New World of all films. But there have been years of gaps in between and Smell-O-Vision is but a relic of the past. However, while odor-bearing films have never really taken off, the band A Social Path is clearly trying to be the first to bring the idea to music, as they’ve put to use the Jewelboxing spine to include chopped up incense sticks with each copy of their album, Test #241. Although the band admits that they “can’t smell it, but some people claim they can and that is all that matters,” we think they’re on to something. If anything, it’s a sure fire sell to Spinal Tap for a Smell the Glove reissue.

For more idea of what you can insert into the Jewelboxing spines with both the Standards and Kings, we recommend reading this post from a little while back.

Thanks to A Social Path for being so clever and here’s to hoping that everyone is smelling sweetly in Pleasanton, Colwick, Stirling, Warwick, Kensington, Madison, Poughkeepsie, Santa Rosa, Vancouver, Pearland, Pittsburgh, Bloomington, Norman, Yellowknife, Arlington, Seattle, Key West, Libertyville, Upland, New York City, Brookfield, and Penn Valley.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Band, Blog

Package Two and Call Us in the Morning

As we ship Jewelboxing all over the world, it’s not unusual to find links in our referral logs coming in from sites written in other languages. Despite our years of collective foreign language education experience throughout high school and college, we’re all pretty lousy at anything but English (and even that ain’t so hot at times). So we’ll often fall back on the easy solution by translating these sites using some service like Google or Bablefish. Their translating has gotten better over the years, for sure, but it still requires some time in trying to figure out exactly what’s being talked about. What’s more, you often find yourself reading something unintentionally funny, like this post we found on the site Criterion. It’s about a new DVD set of motion graphics they’d released called Spain in Motion(which looks terrific). Although they didn’t use Jewelboxing to package it in, they wrote that they wished that they had. Here’s that bit in translated form:

“Similarly, versions of the videos with a highresolution ultra edition had been the bomb. Perhaps a future blu.ray, who knows…I would have liked a “packaging” more beautiful, as Jewelboxing [in], but that would have urged the product with complete safety.”

While we’re sure that’s not at all what was originally written in Spanish, we’re certainly happy to accept that unexpected and previously unheard compliment, that Jewelboxing is a “product with complete safety.” And now that we can quote someone as having said it, we can start a new ad campaign with dubious medical claims. Any doctors out there who are willing to lend their name to the statement “Jewelboxing is good for your ‘T-Zone’?”

Thanks to Criterion for linking our way and allowing us to misinterpret their words. And here’s to hoping that the number under the “days without injury” sign is in the high three digits in San Francisco, Belmont, London, Winnipeg, Portland, Spingfield, St. Louis, Santa Cruz, Oxford, Chicago, Weimar, New York City, Zachary, Edison, Manchester, Seattle, and Woodside.

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog

Drawn to Jewelboxing

We’ve often seen our cases used as showpieces to help compliment the work kept inside, but rare is the day that Jewelboxing gets a modeling job of its very own. So it was as we found this sketch created by the very talented Laurent Baumann. Here’s a little info about how one of our Standards ended up in pencil and paper form and a scan of the image itself:

“The sketch was a preliminary icon design for the application “Coversutra,” an iTunes controller for OS X I had the original concept for. I did the icon for Sophiestication (a German, one-person company) since I contacted Sophia Teutschler (who leads this company) to code the application.”


It should be known that Jewelboxing is always available for any and modeling gigs, just as long as they’re tasteful and dignified (distasteful and undignified will cost extra). We figure the same goes for the handsome people in Middle Park, New York City, Atlanta, Pinole, Stockton, Milwaukee, Bozeman, Brookline, Savannah, Pittsburgh, Austin, Barrington, Mt. Prospect, Sacramento, Ridgefield, Gray, Princeton, London, Ballyclare, Syracuse, Santa Cruz, Stanford, Brandon, and Somerville.

Misty Water-Colored Memories

With winter coming soon and being outdoors no longer an option, it was recently decided around the home front that this was going to be the season of cleaning up the basement once and for all. With the snows coming, the plan to to finally start sorting through all those boxes of miscellaneous photos, letters, and those odd little mementos that don’t quite work so hot with the decor upstairs among the living. But in the end, even after weekends are spent reorganizing, you might wind up with a few less boxes, but all of that stuff will still be sitting down there, gathering dust.

It seemed somehow fortuitous that we ran across this post from 2005 over at Ask Metafilter about what people do with their collections of old memories. Bringing it full circle is that someone recommended taking the time to scan these important pieces of your life and sticking it all onto discs, then going that extra mile by nicely packaging it using Jewelboxing. We’d seen this general idea put to great use in previous posts like with Andrew Huff’s collection of his grandfather’s audio interviews, Sujay Thomas’ graduation discs, and Brendan Dawes’ birthday memories. But to do a personal collection of all your miscellaneous stuff, all searchable and safely tucked away in ones and zeros, that sounds fantastic. If just to provide inspiration so that we might do the same when it comes time to head downstairs to start the organizing, we’d love to see how it all turned out and hear your story, so if you’ve done such a thing, drop us a line and let us know.

Here’s to hoping memories are being made and preserved in Brooklyn, Longwood, New York, Anacortes, Pasadena, Las Vegas, Madison, Toms River, Brea, Palo Alto, Oxford, London, Savannah, Blacksburg, Washington DC, Wetumpka, Drouin, Newmarket, Knoxville, Logan, Chicago, Toronto, Metairie, and Merrifield.

The Grand Experience

Although we’ve posted things like our first Jewelboxing commercial, the famous “Bags of Air,” and a demonstration by Dawson’s hands, we’d gone years without truly embedding any video on the blog to suddenly being on our second in mere months (the first is here). Regardless of this budding, potential trend or otherwise, here’s a clip we found created by photographer Armin DeFiesta about the two methods he uses for client packaging. When he goes Jewelboxing, he explains it as such: “If you’re like me, I still like to take the time and effort to customize my products as part of the grand experience I deliver.” But enough talk out of us. Here’s Armin:

November 12, 2017 | Category: Blog