Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hero Hillman Curtis Brings The Inspiration

We all seem to find mentors for our creativity at different points in our lives, people that enter at just the right moment and point you in a new direction or give you a boost when you need it. When I was younger and first learning about design, I found Hillman Curtis' book MTIV. This book proved vital to me, emboldening me to feel like I could do this work, this work that seemed so impossible to achieve. It made me believe I could be a part of this great legacy or thought. It was the right influence at just the right time.

Curtis is fearless as a creative. And this spirit has definitely face my own artistic fears through the years. Recently Curtis sat down with the 99% to discuss the need for reinvention in good work. It is great stuff, and will give you a lift.

Read it here. Buy MTIV here. Superb.

Hammarhead Industries' Triumph Film Takes Me Back

Pier 18 from Hammarhead Industries on Vimeo.

When I was a boy, I had an elderly neighbor lady across the street who I became quite good friends with. Her name was Mrs. Fredericks, and her house was like another world. The rooms were dark and mysterious, filled with old world curiosities like Napoleonic-era antiquities, heavy patterns, and a terrifying/transfixing Medusa painting. The attic and basement were full of old, strange, and wonderful paintings left behind by the previous homeowner, who apparently was an artist and schizophrenic who spent years shut in, painting away. The entire house smelled of unknown, European spices. It was a wonderland for the imagination of an 8 year old boy like me.

Mrs. Fredericks' son John was in his 40's and worked for the US government as a tank factory inspector. He was divorced and didn't have a house anymore, so he would stay with his mother whenever he was in the US, which was maybe twice a year. Being a tank factory inspector is an unspeakably cool job to an 8 year old, and I loved hearing all about the profession. Everytime John would come home he would bring me something that sent my young mind reeling: books about tanks with lots of photos, a t-shirt from the pyramids (which I still wear), or just amazing stories about places I'd never heard of, like Sri Lanka - where he intended to retire. It was a connection to the larger world outside the city, somewhere I began dreaming of.

But the best present he ever gave me was an early edition (1887) of the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. It was small, had a leather cover, and the pages were wafer thin and gold on the edges. I devoured it whole that summer, the summer I turned 9. I stayed up late every night, enthralled with the Gothic environments and macabre twists. I remember being crazy about a certain story - Buried Alive - that gave me nightmares and fueled a serious phobia to this day. The strange atmosphere I found in Mrs. Fredericks' house seemed to be described perfectly in Poe's gloomy prose. Formative experiences to be sure.

Another major formative gift from John was that in the garage there was a 1972 Triumph motorcycle. I had seen and sat on my Uncle Carl's Honda, but this was different. John would take me through the whole history of British motorcycles, explaining their distinctions and significances from their American and Japanese counterparts. When he wasn't around I would sit on that beautiful piece of steel, imagining that I was barreling down country roads, jumping over hills like the Duke brothers. It set a hook in me very deep for British motorcycles.

Over at Jivan Dave's essential blog, I spotted this gorgeous little video from the awesome Hammarhead Industries that features my all time favorite bike, an old school Triumph. Watching it, I was taken back to those long days in the garage, dreaming. Another great remembrance on a Tuesday morning.

From Hammarhead Industries:

Hammarhead Industries creates motorcycles that are simple yet modern, inspired by the iconic bikes of the 1950s. Each design is executed with an eye towards repurposing, recycling and efficiency.

Check out Hammarhead here. Check out Jivan here. Thanks Jivan for the heads up and flood of memories.