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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nike SNKRS Presents: Masters of Air, Vol. 1




Many classic sneakers resurface over and over again, year after year. Casual observers are familiar with those shoes and enthusiasts know them by heart. Their names conjure a certain mood and feeling. The Adidas Superstar. The Jack Purcell. Air Force One. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, The Reebok Classic. Adidas Samba. Jordan One. The list goes on. And one deserving to be on that short list and is one of my favorites, the Air Max.

I've heard industry stories that a particular shoe may perform well in a focus group but when publicly released the shoe bombs in sales. The are other shoes that perform poorly in focus groups, but when they enter the public eye the shoes suddenly develop an instant cult following.

I haven't heard if the Air Max was ever "focus-grouped", but it has achieved cult status among many people as evidenced in this movie short, Masters of Air, Vol. 1 from Nike SNKRS.

I haven't really reached the same level of fanaticism but I can admire the dedication. Growing up in a house with modest means it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to wear out a pair of inexpensive sneakers and not have them replaced for a very long time. We all know that kids go through shoes quickly because of the usual active-kid-thrashings and rapid, unexpected growth spurts. I personally didn't go through a lot of growth spurts but I did deliver a large amount of wear-and-tear to any object within my immediate vicinity (including what I was wearing).

I remember while participating in an overnight weekend school camping trip the idea of having shoes in good condition was made apparent. My schoolmates and I spent those spring days trekking through the rainy forests learning things you're supposed to learn on soggy trips like that. Except I wasn't learning. I was distracted by having one foot water-logged the whole time. I remember wearing a sneaker with a huge hole on the bottom of the sole where my big toe wore through. During the trip it wasn't enough to have muddy water creep up through the hole but to proceed to wear another hole in my dingy cotton sock because of the hiking. I must have felt every single sharp pebble while marching along the wooded trail.

I was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone at the time but I pulled to the side of the trail, bent down and feigned tying my shoe for a couple of minutes. I slipped my foot out of the shoe and quickly put couple of layers of leaves inside to plug the hole. Then I slipped on the beat up sneaker and resumed slogging through the forest. Within a few minutes the leaves had disintegrated and I was left with the same mushy situation.

Maybe that event helped crystalize my fascination of shoes. Especially sneakers. Later, when a schoolmate or friend would wear a stylish pair of shoes I would take a mental picture of the shoe and store it away in the depths of my brain. I would tell myself, "Once I earn enough money I gonna git those shoes." At the end of the day I may have not purchased that particular shoe when I got my own independent money but I would just heap mounds of design appreciation upon the memory.

For me shoes have become much more than fashion accessories or simple protection. They have become design totems. Some are innovative and some are important to street culture. Some are comfortable and beautiful. Many are neither of those attributes. Some are excessive, coveted status symbols and some are merely protection for the feet. At the end of the day they are just a vehicle for creative solutions (or to capture one's feet stink) and represent the wearer. The old saying of walking a mile in somebody else's shoes still apply. I still love the design of many and what they represent inwardly and outwardly.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Yesterday's Tomorrow - A Portland Journey


Take a look at this nice little video pulled from 2015 TEDx Portland. It made me think about all the interesting stories that have gone on in Portland, OR. I want to hear all the intriguing stories from all corners of this town.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Janitor



Gabe Sonnier hasn't forgotten where he's from. He was the janitor at Port Barre Elementary in Port Barre, Louisiana and rose to become the school's principal.

I have to confess I've always liked the top dog who has underdog roots. Perseverance and grit is something special.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Obama, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Nike and Local Design Business

I've been on a few projects at Nike in Beaverton.  Word came in a few days ago that President Barack Obama planned to stop by campus to tour a bit and to pontificate about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.



The President of the U.S. spoke about the TPP and its relationships to large and small American businesses. He briefly highlighted a local greeting card company, Egg Press and a few other Oregon businesses. I'm amazed that our world is getting smaller more and more each day.

I've always admired Egg Press's nicely designed work and glad that Tess Darrow got a little bit of shine. Also happy to learn about a few more Oregon prominent businesses in the audience.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

My version of the PTA.


It’s been a busy spring picking up projects here and there. Many creatives go through projects that help pay the bills and fill up extra bandwidth with personal projects (that don’t pay much or at all). I try to work on projects that have a significant personal connection to keep me engaged. It helps me do better work if I'm interested in.

The two projects that I recently worked on tie closely to local public schools. I am of the opinion that schools and students flourish with a large amount of volunteer help from parents and teachers. It’s an easy way to watch over the kids and to help mentor a lucky few who are open. One project was for a school art auction and the other was designing materials for an old high-school classmate to help tell his own personal story.




Project 1:
I was delighted to help and co-create an art lightbox and set of limited edition posters (pictured above) for the neighborhood school. Both items were auctioned off with 45 other class art pieces to raise capital funds for the local school. The art project leads and I teamed up with a 4th grade class to create our works of art. We used student's hands to created a heart shape. Then they were photographed in front of brightly colored construction paper and collaged together.

The resulting image was then placed in a donated black shadow box with a custom built back-lit LED light setup. It had been a while since I picked up a soldering gun but it was great practice to put together the LED lights.

I asked two talented friends to help collaborate. Aaron Lee Photography photographed the colorful images of the 4th graders. Walker Calhall hand silkscreened 50 beautiful, full-color posters.

Both elements turned out nice and showed the charm of each of their respective mediums. A big thank you goes out to all the students that participated and the parents who donated their time.




Project 2:
I reconnected with an old classmate from high school, Mitchell Jackson. We partnered up in designing and producing promotional materials for his novel, The Residue Years.

Mitchell grew up in Northeast Portland, went to Benson Tech for a few years (where we had met), then transferred to Jefferson High. Later he got a scholarship to go to Portland State University on scholarship. After his sophomore year at PSU, Mitch served over a year in prison for drug possession. He started to work on his first novel while doing his time in prison. Eventually, he ended up earning an MA in writing from PSU and an MFA from New York University where he now teaches creative writing.

I’ve been helping him work on various promotional projects and designed art for his Literary Arts presentation, held at the Schnitzer Concert Hall. I was happy to support him in his talk to engage readers and inspire new writers.

These two projects helped me get out of the usual routine and reconnect with the community. But more importantly they reminded me to pay it forward in my own small way. I do love these projects and would like to get more of them. These community oriented projects help creatively influence the paying projects.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

All-Things-80s & Arnold

Have you ever had a wild hair to curate and design an 80s themed pop-up art show with Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of the subject matter?

No? Well, I did.

It was called, “All-Things-80s & Arnold” and was hosted at the Calico Room. I folded the show into a birthday celebration for myself and Dominic, a buddy of mine.


At first we wanted to have a private screening of Predator at the Academy Theater with a large group of friends. But instead of a singular movie showing I decided to create an event where all our friends and family could interact a bit more. It was a milestone birthday for both of us so we just went for it.


I asked twenty-one local and international artists to help fill the modest event space with 80s wonder, beauty, and strange Schwarzenegger curiosities. It was a mad rush to get everything done in our short timeline. The initial four week work period was very short for these artists. Readers who have done their fair share of creative projects 4 weeks isn't much time to create high level work with a busy winter season. Many artists had their own holiday projects, full-time jobs and art shows to take care of but, in the end all were willing to give their precious time and unique perspective to "A.T.80s.A.A.".


Schedules were tight but the physical space in the Calico Room was even tighter. Another consideration was that we couldn't hang anything from the walls. Therefore, we came up with simple wood structures to display many art pieces. Framing systems, ladders and small platforms were built out of plywood. In addition to the simple structures an audio/visual system played an animated video loop. We also had to set up and tear down quickly because the Calico event space was booked before and after our event.


All in all it was overwhelming, absurd and fun. For those who weren't able to attend, here's a quick summary:

Artists

Erik Blad blasted a quick audio/visual T-800 assault to the eye and ear holes. Even after staring at it for hours I could always see something new. Erik is a designer and illustrator currently residing in New York.



Dancin' Terminator
Motion Design

Self-proclaimed fake artist Jim Riswold brought a few dictators to the party. I felt this one was an interesting connection because Arnold Schwarzenegger's father was loosely associated with the Nazi party.


3 Dictators in a Tub
18" x 12" Digital Archival Print

Illustrator Mike Weihs showed the Arnold love with showing three iconic character facets of one amazing Arnold with this RISO print. Mike is a designer/illustrator currently living in Portland, OR.



Arnold is Número Uno
11" x 17" Risograph Print

The multi-talented Curtis Pachunka and Karen Koch created an edible Kuato from Total Recall. It wasn't enough that they made the mythical resistance leader out of rice crispy treat with matching cupcakes, but they also helped build wooden structures.


Start the Reactor
18" x 24" Rice Crispy Treat

Business-artist-woman Amber Clark brought her hand-stitched needle point A-game and made our art house a home.


Warrior's Sampler
20" x 16" Embroidery

Ascetic digital artist Mark Shepherd made some weird terminator stuff and literally walked it to my house from his house. His motto, "No car? No problem." definitely applied in this case.


Terminate Me
22" x 28" Digital and Mixed Media

Writer Jed A. took the reigns of both writing and art. After finishing the masterpiece he hand delivered the final print hours before the show.


Combat Zone
Digital Print

Jet-setting artist P. Bjork jumped off a plane from a business trip with stacks of silkscreened posters and "Got to the Church on Time" (like the song said). A merciless West Coast flying machine he is.


What is Best in Life
18" x 24" Print

Sculpture artist Katie McHugh brought in a multitude of disturbing sculptures, which rocked little kids' minds. We're talking minutes before the art reception started. She spends her free time organizing and designing agency Christmas parties.



Scene 2: Twins
12" x 12" Sculpture


Plasma Rifle in the 40 Watt Range
18" x 12" Sculpture

Kate Bingaman-Burt, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University and illustrator took another 80s direction and drew upon her man-muse, Anthony Michael Hall.


I Can't Believe I Gave My Panties to a Geek
8" x 8" Mixed Media Print

Model builder and designer Angie M. secured museum quality pedestals. But more importantly, she put together a Secret-Compartment-Johnny-Cab-Sculpture while working on a huge simultaneous art show.


Johnny Cab with Hydrocodone
8" x 8" Sculpture

Conceptual artist and art director Chris Thurman hand painted these minimal canvases to have them arrive perfectly like clock work before the show. Chris lives in sunny California with his family.


Terminator
24" x 36" Painting

Twins
24" x 36" Painting

Predator
24" x 36" Painting

Artist Andy Prince designed this photo collage in the midst of looming work deadlines. This man can multi-task.


Stay Pumped
16" x 14"

Kevin Shaw, a master of many trades silkscreen/designed this shirt. Kevin was also overloaded with prior commitments but came through in the clutch.


Shirt
Mens Small

We couldn't get a hold of the real Arnold Schwarzenegger in time so photographer Aaron Lee brought the Govenator's likeness to the show.


Arnold Schwarzenegger
36" x 48" Digital Archival Print

Creative writer/illustrator Casey Hall pushed his art through China's Great Firewall and had it literally appear blocks from my house. Casey is currently working and traveling abroad in Asia.


Twinning
20" x 30" Digital Archival Print

Art Director and illustrator Graham Barey brought the power of the Conan, the Destroyer to the Calico room in this simple but effective silkscreen poster printed by another local artist, Walker.


Grant Me Revenge
17" x 11" Silkscreen Print

Digital Art Director Duane King went fully analog and put Schwarzenegger's soul and voice in a machine. Clearly a case of life imitating art and art imitating life.

video

Yeah!
8" x 8" Mixed Media

Painter Sam Tudyk poured out ink quickly ink and created this study before heading out on her art retreat.


Muscle Flex
10" x 8" Ink Painting

Typographer and illustrator Alex Barrett brought the goods after long radio silence while trapped in Asia.


GYATM
8" x 10" Digital Print

Last certainly not least, Josh and Jeff brought their muscle and minds to do final finish work for the show.

A video posted by peteryue (@peteryue) on



It was a true honor to design, curate, collaborate and engineer a pop-up art show with many incredibly talented people I call friends. Buffonery happened. Art was sold. Plus, I personally had a great time celebrating and fun time visiting. Hopefully we can do it again.


Open Your Mind to All-Things-80s & Arnold

Friday, June 20, 2014

The World is Made of Bits of Language. Google's Made with Code.



I'm always a big fan of inspirational and engaging bits of content. This is one of them. Google launched Made with Code, an initiative to inspire millions of teen girls to start coding. MIT Media Lab, Chelsea Clinton and the Girl Scouts of the USA partnered up to create this program. The campaign connects girls with coding resources and inspirational videos.

Below are only a few examples:




Thursday, May 15, 2014

Uncle Pete's Fantasy Blazer Basketball Team

To celebrate the Blazers advancing past the first round of the NBA playoffs in 14 years and now on the brink of elimination in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs I give you 'Uncle Pete's Fantasy Blazer Basketball Team' illustrated by yours truly. This ultimate Trailblazers team consists of players past and present.

My major criterion was to stay clear of putting together a team that would be in essence a retread of the early 80s and decade long 90s Blazers. Naturally I included a proper coaching staff because great coaches make great players and great players help make the coach.

I went with the maximum 15 man NBA roster. Twelve active players can only play but as a fantasy owner you have to think of injuries. I thought long and hard of how the team chemistry would happen (it would totally self-destruct, of course) but I would have the Zen-master, Phil Jackson on speed dial. And since they would be winning all the time it wouldn't matter. The salary cap isn't a problem because this is Blazer hyperbole. All fake but all awesome.



Without any further ado introducing your Portland Trailblazers...



Dražen Petrović
Reggie Miller called him one of the best shooters of the game ever. He also said that he smelled really bad. In fact a lot of other players said the same thing and opponents couldn't understand a word that he said when trash-talking. That was probably a tactic to give him a little of space to shoot the ball.
Iron Curtain Sabas
Arvydas Sabonis came into the league as a rookie close to the end of his basketball career after being behind the Iron-Curtain. Sabas was hampered by age and lack of mobility due to previous injuries. He still made an impact on the Blazers for being a great shooting and creative passing center. If cold war politics didn't keep the large Lithuanian away during his prime from the NBA there may have been 2 or 3 league championship banners hanging from the Memorial Coliseum rafters.
The original Trailblazer, Geoff Petrie
One of Portland's first draft picks. The guy scored 51 points a couple of times and generally averaged over 21 points per game. They say 'A good offense is a strong defense'. This guy is an example of, 'A good offense is a good offense'.
The Natural, Brandon Roy
I would want B-Roy, three-time NBA All-Star and Rookie-of-the-Year on my team. This guy likes to bring the 4th quarter heroics and single-handedly win playoff games. Not bad for a guy who was essentially a walking injury.


Clyde 'The Glide' Drexler
It's Clyde. Lots of points. Lots of triple-doubles. Lots of All-Star appearances. So it makes sense that he would be on the fantasy Blazer team. Close to the same level as the G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan. So that ain't all bad.
Bill Walton
Big Red doesn't like to hurt animals and he's a big fan of the Grateful Dead and Phish. Plus he's got a lot of trophy hardware for being hurt much of the time in his playing career. He had to overcome a lot to play on the court and it says something that he also overcame a stuttering problem to become a television color-commentary broadcaster.
The General, Brian Grant
One of the nicest guys to lock down Karl 'The Mailman' Malone. Rock solid defense paired up with mental toughness. And add a J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award to the mix and you got a place on 'Uncle Pete's Blazer Team'.
Jim Paxson
A prolific shooter from outside and inside he became the first guy to score 10,003 points for the Blazers franchise and then leave for the Celtics. Not a bad way to go out.
Sidney Wicks
This guy will score, rebound and pass better than you. And he will be on your back if you're not helping the team win. You need a competitor on the team and if MJ isn't available this guy will fit the bill.
Terry Porter
This consummate point guard likes handing out threes and assists like a silent assassin. You don't hear much of the guy until the end of the game where you realized he has a full stat sheet and made his team look good. Big clutch shots help you realize the daggers he is throwing.
Pip
The twilight of Scottie Pippen's career is better than most players' best. And the guy didn't even really want to be in Portland. But when he puts on the Blazer jersey he would do all the little things that would make you win your game. Defense, offense, deflections, steals and all those little things in-between.
Larry Steele
This guy doesn't give a hoot. Play him off his natural position? Why not? Have him coming off the bench? No problem. Start him? He can handle the pressure. He's like the kid at the park who just wants to play all-day everyday. And sometimes he's the kid who just plays the entire game just to fill up 'steals' on the stat sheet instead of 'points'.
L-Train
I didn't really like LaMarcus Aldridge at the beginning, but he just gets better and better. The guy can run and pull a nice little jumper. Back you down, spin around with a unblockable fading shot. Reminds me a little of Dirk Nowitzki's career. A little soft at the beginning of the career but grows into a lethal scoring machine.
Zach Randolph
When I look at this Z-Bos soft features I always think of his soft shooting touch. Rebounding and scoring in bunches. Good footwork, talented, and athletic. He didn't shrink from the opportunity to replace starters and put up some solid numbers. Solid for a baby-face.
'Sheed
Rasheed Wallace comes in 2 flavors. Volatile and good. He should have been a little more selfish when the game needed him. But giving big time 3-pointers and tide turning buckets. Blocking and rebounding are all overshadowed because he couldn't work with the refs. He knew his priorities so cut-the-check for the guy.

Coaching staff includes:

Dr. Jack Ramsay
The late Hall-of-Fame coach, Jack Ramsay. What can you say? He took the reigns of the Blazers in his first year and won the Big Kahuna. His no-nonsense way of training the championship team might have been derived from being a Navy underwater demolitions expert. You read that right. He was a Navy SEAL before they even existed.
Kiki Vandeweghe
First game as a Blazer Kiki put up 47 points. Not bad for a guy who would play with a lot of pain. He had one move (the jab step) and it would help him average 20 points a game. One move.
Maurice Lucas
Opponents beware of 'The Enforcer'. Jabs and uppercuts are part of this guy's repertoire. Tough and strong. But don't forget his game both inside and outside.  Because if you do it will be too late.
















At this moment the Blazers have current rising stars. Recently, Damian Lillard seems to have an uncanny ability to mimic B-Roy's legendary big shots. Makes for exciting basketball.

With regards to the ultimate team, I would easily place Buck Williams, Duckworth and Kersey in this fantasy team. They are worthy All-Stars but it would start resemble the Blazers of the early 90s. I wanted a little variety both in personalities and storied sport ability. Plus I wanted a variety of Trailblazers to illustrate.

Hope you guys enjoyed this tiny project and I leave you with this:



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Have a Time Machine Made Out of a Hat



You may see me wearing a worn out, dopey trucker hat covering up a bad hair day or to shade my eyes on a sunny day. It may not look like a high-tech piece of time traveling equipment but for me it’s a personal TARDIS.

Sometime in ’83 or ’84 my aunt and uncle took me to a minor league baseball game in Portland, Oregon. It was a day of firsts. It was the first professional sporting event I went to. It was the first time being in Civic Stadium. It was the first time I witnessed professional baseball. I didn’t know intricacies of the game during that time of my life and honestly I still don’t. But what I do remember was the perfect weather, cheering fans and seeing the bright green turf past the heads of older baseball fans sitting in front.

Somebody went and purchased a Beavers baseball cap for me. It was a black and white plastic mesh hat with a foam front. On the front was an upside-down, reversed Phillies logo made to work with the minor league Beavers identity. I was more fascinated by the opening and closing of the snap-back fasteners. Only later did I become engrossed in the visual look and heritage logo of Portland Beavers and its Major League affiliation.


A few days after the game it went lost as most young kids do with most things. I found weeks later sandwiched between one of my mom’s boxes of sewing fabric. She habitually used my bedroom closet as a makeshift fabric storage center filled with different textiles that never saw the light of day.

Terrified that I would lose the hat again I wrote my name on the back of the foam panel with a thick permanent marker. I remember dabbing ink dots on the yellow porous foam forming separate letters of my name. “P-E-T-E-R” and right below that was “E-N-G”. I had a different surname than my present one because my mom felt it was easier for me to take on her last name after her difficult divorce.

The hat languished in messy-kid-room purgatory during my growing years. Once a while it would come out to accompany me on times where I needed a hat.

In 6th grade I participated in an extracurricular school trip visiting the John Day Fossil Beds near Kimberly, Oregon. Over thirty school children from different schools bused out to the middle of the high desert to learn about fossilized micro plants and animals.

During the day we sweltered in the heat with the sun beating down on our heads, crawling around dry, dusty hills foraging for tiny million year old fossils. I remember making a deliberate choice to bring my Beavers hat because of all the preparatory notes that were given to parents to help their children prepare for the trip.

During the bus ride there I met a black kid with an awesome U.S. Coast Guard hat. Suddenly we became 'field-trip friends'. This phenomenon is similar to having a 'hallway-friend' in school. You don’t really know the person’s name but acknowledge their existence with a few friendly glances in each other’s direction. It would then graduate to saying, “Hi.” or giving a friendly wave. This would exist for the duration of the field trip (or school hours in the case of hallway-friends) but once the day ended the friendship would come to a close. For an introvert like me it was a big deal.

My field-trip friend and I noticed each other’s baseball caps and we decided to trade caps sometime during the fossil digging trip.

We sifted through rocks, ate our sack lunches, attended a few exhibits and piled back into the homeward bound bus. During the 4 hour trip home I watched him fold the bill of the hat right down the middle to fit the curvature of his round kid head. When we returned hats at the end of the day he left my cap with a little more character than before.

Throughout growing up the Beaver baseball trucker hat would to accompany me. I would bring it out to shade my eyes from the elements as I worked on 'repairing' old rental houses that my family owned. I would use the word 'repairing' loosely. We didn’t have a lot of money and would do our best to keep our dilapidated duplex and rentals going. I am extremely thankful during those grueling times because it made me learn how to work with what little I had. Paint smudges, nicks, dirt, and dust would start colonizing the hat. Multiple washings and sun would fade all the dark areas and the white fabric would yellow with age.


Our tenants were a world-weary lot. Some would be the elderly surviving on meager social security benefits. Some were burn-outs and others were young people who loved to party. Most were normal apartment dwellers. I saw a slice of humanity that you would only see at public gatherings such as state fairs, carnivals, courthouse jury selections or recovery wards in hospitals. It gave me an idea of how people worked, played and lived.

The same hat has travelled with me through school, different jobs and different countries. I do not consider it a lucky hat but more of a talisman to evoke memories and to travel back and forth in time. It carries good and bad memories. As I hold it physically in the present it creates an awareness of the my past. It gives me a sliver of insight about my future because it helps me remember past choices. As the older I get the more the hat gives me a sense of time, geography, and of folklore that I have come to better understand.

So, yes. I wear a time machine on my head.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin




The Wu is trying to use a secret double album to be "a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art". The hope is that it will conceptually help restore music to a place alongside great visual works. Not a bad idea but I'm guessing that they're also banking that somebody will value their work enough to purchase. It's a smart idea, but it's tough to place a value on subjective works tastes.

Making an extremely premium item may work. But I see one-of-a-kind items increase in value over an extended amount of time when a historical lens has been applied. I guess you could say there are many one-of-a-kind items on Etsy. It's going to be a tough challenge. Nonetheless, still an interesting spectacle to watch.


“The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years,” says RZA. “And yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free.”



Radiohead did the opposite in 2008 (it was more of "pay if you like it") and NIN followed up with a totally free album. Also, it'll be strange when somebody like Katy Perry or Justin Bieber pulls the same stunt.