11 Question with Musician and Composer Kyle Cox in Orlando, Florida.

May 12th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

I’ll admit it. This blog has been featuring a lot of 11 Questions lately. I’ll try to post some more non-11 Questions stuff soon but in the mean time let me introduce you to Kyle Cox. Kyle is an excellent composer, singer songwriter, and musician. I’ve been fortunate to get to know Kyle over the last year or so. We’ve had beers, talked about basketball, and brainstormed on some forthcoming creative shenanigans. I was lucky enough to have him to score my upcoming short documentary and was pleased to hear some of the songs on his upcoming album. His songs are honest and touching, personal and laid back, much like the man behind the music. If you get a chance to meet Kyle, indulge yourself.

Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter, hear his music on Bandcamp, and see some of the videos he’s composed on his website!

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

This is probably the worst answer to start off an interview, but I really don’t care about animals. I’m not even sure I could tell you two species of animals that I like & would want to see their offspring. Penguins are cool. Pretty chill animals. I have no good reason for saying that. Just the first animal that popped in my mind. Maybe a groundhog too. I don’t know. Ha. I suck.

Who do you look up to?

There are so many people I look up to in so many areas of my life. Spiritually, relationally (marriage & friends), professionally, creatively, etc. Some of those people overlap in different areas, some not so much. I guess since this is a professional/creative blog, I’ll mention those. Professionally, I really look up to my producer, Mike Marsh. He’s a great example of someone working really hard to achieve his goals & dreams. He also has a great family, two daughters & a super supportive wife, so it’s been really great seeing that side of professional. How to make those relationships a priority while managing his profession. It’s a real cool perspective that I feel blessed to see. Creatively, there’s so many people I look up to. A lot of them are my friends. Seriously, Orlando’s songwriting & music community is outstanding. I’m not even sure Orlando realizes what it has going on. I spend quite a bit of time in Nashville, especially recently, and honestly this community can hold their own against some of Nashville’s best (not that it’s a competition). I bet there are some readers who are rolling their eyes at that statement, but I am serious. The only difference between Orlando & Nashville is the quantity, not the quality. Each one of my friends in Orlando would definitely hold their own, if not stand out in the Nashville scene. Heck, there’s a few Orlando transplant friends of mine who have moved to Nashville & are already making waves in the scene up there. I say all that to say, my friends & this creative community are a huge influence on me. I look up to so many people in this community, their talent, their character, their willingness to use those gifts & make a difference. It’s a cool thing & I hope that Orlando appreciates what’s happening in their own backyard.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I don’t really read much, which I know is terrible. Especially for a songwriter. Great writers are great readers, and I’m trying to fix that in my life. However, I have read some great books that have helped influence me quite a bit. Making Ideas Happen is an incredible book that any professional creative or a creative hoping to make it their profession must read. That book spends a lot of time communicating practical ways to actually get the crap done creatives hope to get done. Any creative, if being honest, will tell you that staying organized & committed to a singular project and seeing that project to completion is one of the most difficult things to do. This book addresses that & helps give practical steps toward that.

Quitter was another book I really enjoyed. I read it just months before I quit my job. It address the desires that most people feel about not working their dream job & how to maybe make that happen. I didn’t agree with everything in the book, but there is quite a bit of quality in there.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a killer book too. I read it in a time in my life where I was deciding what I should do next. Should I quit my job? Am I being foolish or selfish? Or is this really the right thing to do? Well, this book is all about living a story worth living. I’m all about great storytelling & wanting my life to be a story worth telling. It really helped me sort through those questions of risk & comfort that I was struggling with and what that means in the grander story of my life as a whole.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

I have a lot of places I love to eat in Orlando. I think Orlando has so many great restaurants, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. However, the first place I thought of was Gringos Locos Tacos. I love their pork Double D tacos WITH their chipotle sauce. That’s the kicker right there. You have to put the chipotle sauce on it.

What gives you inspiration?

I try to find inspiration in a lot of places. I think the things that I continually find inspiration in is seeing my peers creating quality art, whatever it is. Film, photography, music, graphics, etc. Anytime one of my peers creates something that’s of high quality, it gets me excited about what’s happening & my wheels turning on what I should create next.

I also think being so involved in sports my whole life, there’s a level of friendly competition that builds up in me anytime I see a peer create something great. It pushes me to keep creating & drives something inside of me to not want to be the only one who’s not doing something fresh, new, & of quality. But I need to be careful with that competitive drive. It can cause me sometimes to be unable to celebrate with my peers because I’ll get so caught up in the competition of it & not wanting to be the one left behind. That’s not a good way to live & I have to make a constant effort to not respond that way. It’s very important to be able to truly celebrate with those around you & make sure they feel genuinely supported. Then allow their successes to help drive your motivation, not out of spite, but in a loving, competitive community of support.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would love to live in Europe in the 20s or 30s. I’m not sure if I even have a reason for that. But I think that would be rad. I also think America in the late 1800s would be awesome. I’m pretty terrible with history, so those could be the worst times to live, but hey, whatever. Seems cool to me.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I’ve always wanted to do things out of the ordinary in my life. I never was that kid who grew up wanting to be a firefighter, teacher, or astronaut. That always seemed so boring. I’ve always loved creating. I think the most normal profession I considered while growing up was an architect, but other than that, I always wanted to be things like an actor, magician, play in the NBA, rock star, professional skateboarder, artist, etc. As I grew older, I found that I kept landing back at playing music. Thankfully, my parents were always supportive of the music/band thing. They bought most of my first guitars & amps, allowed my bands to rehearse at their house multiple hours a week, & always came out to my shows. As bands came & went, I think really the last 3-4 years is when I’ve really settled into songwriting & composing as a career, whatever that may look like. As long as I can put food on the table doing those things, I’m grateful.

To sum it all up, I think what has really driven me to choose this career is the lack of discouragement in any creative decision I’ve made growing up. I was not only given, but encouraged to make creative decisions, and mistakes, in my life. As I’ve grown up making those choices, they’ve all kind of boiled down into what I’m most passionate about, and that’s songwriting & composing.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

When I was working multiple jobs, that was very difficult, so you know what I did? I quit those jobs. This now has left me the opportunity to work on music much more than I ever have as well as give me more time for my wife & friends than I have had in long time. Thankfully I’ve been fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive wife with a great job as well as been able to make a little money myself with music. It’s been a incredible blessing. With all that being said, I still have to make a conscious effort to not let music consume everything I do. Honestly, music, songwriting, composing, my passions, etc. are really of such little importance in the grander picture of life. Not to diminish these gifts I’ve been trusted with, I do believe I need to be a good steward of them, however, the relationships I’ve been blessed & trusted with are more important and I need to be just as much a good steward of those as anything else.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

This is a really interesting time in my career to ask that question. I feel like the goals I’ve been shooting for the last couple years are just about reached. I’ve finished recording my first full length record with a killer producer & we are now just in the mixing/mastering stage of everything. I love how everything is sounding & I couldn’t be more proud of this record. That’s been a huge goal for me for a while. I also just finished writing & recording the score to my first full feature film. It’s an independent film out of Australia & am I really excited about how it turned out. Doing a full feature film has been a goal of mine for a long time now too.

I definitely have goals & aspirations that hinge off of those accomplishments. I would love to play some killer festivals or get put on some great tours with acts I really love. I’d also love to score many more full feature indie films. However, right now, it’s just the waiting game. I can’t really push the movie until it’s released. I can’t really push the record until it’s finished.

I think if I had my way in the future, I would tour, write records, play shows for about half the year & the other half of the year score independent films. We’ll see what happens!

What are your other interests?

That’s a funny question. I’ve been told by many friends that my hobby is hobbies. Basically, I have a ton of other interests that I love. I love sports, especially the NBA & college football. I love craft beer & scotch whiskey (and taking the time to try as many different kinds I can). I’ve gone through painting spurts, mostly graffiti style lettering (all legal, no vandalism). I love classic magic culture, Houdini era stuff. I love watching independent films & documentaries. I love building Legos. Pretty much name it & at some point I’ve spent way too much time messing with it.

What rejuvenates you?

Being an introvert, solo time is my main way of getting rejuvenated. Anytime I’m feeling wore out or drained, I know that if I just spend some time by myself, walking around the city, sitting on the front porch playing guitar, hanging out in a coffee shop alone. Anything like that generally will do the trick. Being married, often times a good conversation with my wife will rejuvenate me well. I love a good conversation.

Have any questions for Kyle? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll make sure he answers them.

11 Questions with Selenia Rios from Traveller Denim Co. in Austin, TX

March 12th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

We’re taking 11 Questions on the road this week. I was photographing in Austin and wanted to find someone to be on the blog. Knowing Austin is a mecca for all things weird and creative I knew it wouldn’t be hard. That’s where Selenia Rios comes in. Selenia is half the driving force behind Traveller Denim Co. Traveller makes jeans the way things should be made. By hand with care. They produce each pair in Austin with special consideration to quality. Every detail is thought about, from where materials are sourced to the little features that make their jeans stand out. It was great talking with Selenia and making a new friend. Stop by their shop next time you’re in Austin. They’d love to see you.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my business partner Erik Untersee for being the hardest working man I know…he is n charge of all of Travellers production and manufacturing and keeps the heart and soul of our company alive.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

Damn! Super hard question! I love books and music so much…my favorite book would have to be The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski. It’s a super dark and intense compilation of short stories. I’m generally a happy, positive person but this book is just a great way to escape and explore the mind of one of my favorite writers. An album that changed my life would have to be hands down Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest. These guys are just brilliant musicians and every time I’ve seen them play it brings me to tears. Also Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago..we had the opportunity to give Justin Vernon and his new band Volcano Choir jeans in exchange for a song and it was hands down the best experience of my life. Great guys.

Favorite place to eat in Austin?

My favorite place has got to be Taco Mex. It’s a tiny little taco stand on the eastside and I always get Migas breakfast tacos with their chipotle ranch sauce…so damn good…erryday!

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A cat and a dog….love them both but this super species would be the snuggliest dog/cat ever and totally independent like a cat. Also it would have a tiny cat head and a bulldog body.

What gives you inspiration?

All of the incredible makers and artists here in Austin. We have such a supportive community of small business and craftspeople. When times are hard and we feel like quitting…our fellow makers in town remind us that our community is different and special and we have to keep the local makers movement alive. These amazing, creative people inspire me everyday to keep the dream alive.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would choose being in my 30s in the late 60s early 70s….so I could’ve seen all the amazing bands.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I’ve always been an artist for passion. I never thought it would lead me to a career. Working for myself is probably the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t change it! Being able to control the quality of everything we put out and making those special relationships with our clients makes this career and all the long hours worth it.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Hahaha….currently this doesn’t happen. Check back in 5 years:) For right now drinks every Saturday at Yellow Jacket Social Club does the trick.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My future goal is to design a boutique hotel with a Traveller/Traveler aesthetic. American rustic, warm, and a home away from home. We travel a lot and its always been a dream to design a perfect stay cation spot in Austin.

What are your other interests?

Music…going to shows and collecting records is my favorite thing ever. I live and breathe my music collection.

What rejuvenates you?

See above:) Also walking on town lake on a gorgeous day and yoga if I can squeeze it in!

 

11 Questions with John Rife from East End Market in Orlando, FL

March 5th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

John Rife is an evangelist. Give him a soap box and he will shout his gospel to the masses (in a very kindhearted way though). His is a gospel about community, food, and consumer education. John recently launched East End Market, Orlando’s one stop shop for locally sourced food and goods. Through East End John hopes to change the way we consume food and build a dynamic local economy. Being a gardener myself, I love the urban garden out front the most. It’s bounty is given to tenants to use in their meals and dishes. Photographing and speaking with John was a true pleasure. He really believes in Orlando and has great plans for how to make it a vibrant, thriving city.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my Dad a ton.  He’s a fascinating guy and totally a self-made man.  He’s an adventurer and an entrepreneur at heart.  He grew up in the Florida Keys and the pioneering spirit of that place has served him well.  From hunting big game in Africa to developing huge real estate projects, he’s always cool headed and honorable no matter how high the stakes.

Do you have a favorite book?

My favorite book is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  I love allegorical fiction, like song lyrics, they have many interpretations.  I have read it many times and each time it scratches the itch in my soul that drew me to pick it up again.  Simple & wonderful book.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

My go to is the Grinderman sandwich at Stardust Cafe in Audubon Park.  It is a spicy chicken pesto sandwich with a side salad drizzled in balsamic.  Depending on where I sit, I can people watch, movie watch, fly under the radar or chat it up with the hipsters and neighbors of the district.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I’d interbreed an otter and Labrador retriever.  It would be an uber-retriever, record breaking tennis ball retrieval speeds on land and sea and family friendly to boot.

What gives you inspiration?

I find people discovering what their calling is and then having the courage to pursue it deeply inspiring.  Carving a new path is so much more challenging than following the status quo, yet it is the trailblazers that have given society ideas, products, and services that make life more vibrant and interesting.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I’d love to have lived in the first decade of the 1800’s.  This was the era of the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark expedition and during a lull of aggression following the Revolutionary War and before outbreak of the war of 1812.  It was roughly 25 years or so from the signing of the Declaration of Independence and many of our country’s forefathers were still shaping our destiny.  It was a laissez-faire business climate and I love the idea of testing my mettle in that rough and tumble time.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs.  My great, great, grandfather James Elliott was a famous riverboat captain, iron foundry owner and train car manufacturer.  There is an old picture of him where he is about my age and we look strikingly similar.  Looking in his face I can imagine the kind of trials and challenges he must have faced being an industrialist and an entrepreneur in his era.  The spirit of perseverance and dogged pursuit of progress that he must have exuded and that my grandfather and father both modeled give me the audacity to pioneer my own career.

What’s your favorite thing about Orlando?

My favorite thing about Orlando is the cultural renaissance we are going through right now.  Home grown businesses are really thriving.  Seeing consumers forego franchises in favor of the more unique mom-and-pop businesses springing up around town gives me great hope.  It is still a little like searching for salamanders under rocks but the search is worth the effort.

What rejuvenates you?

I need alone time.  My wife Kamrin  calls it my “cave time”.  So much of my day is in the public realm and spent interacting with people.  When the day is over, kids are in bed, I’ve spent time catching up with Kam and our dog Murphy has been walked, I want to unplug from engaging with people and just follow my bliss.  It could be a night following the rabbit down the hole that is Wikipedia, or watching documentary films, playing video games, whatever…..the common denominator is that it’s “my” time and what ever tickles my fancy is the order of the day.

What are your other interests?

Oh jeeze.  Almost too many interests to list, but one folks wouldn’t expect is I’m a closet nerd. I like Marvel comic books, fantasy fiction, video games, and other decidedly geeky stuff.  My current obsession is a digital card game called Hearthstone put out by Blizzard Entertainment.  I am so jazzed to be a part of the closed beta test of this game and I just can’t get enough.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My slogan is, “Don’t wait for your ship to come in, row out to meet it”.  I don’t plan to far out into the future.  I just keep my eyes on the horizon and a ship always seems to pull into port about the time I get comfortable with status quo. Then I start paddling like a mad man.  Thankfully there are no ships on the horizon at present so I’ve pulled my oars in and will focus on East End for a while.  That being said I am grateful for the variety of ships that have pulled into my port over the years offering interesting opportunities and adventures and will always be watchful for the next.

 

11 Questions with Sarah Collins from Lure Design in Orlando, FL Pt. 2

February 24th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

Nestled in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, Lure Design is an award winning design firm run by Jeff Matz, Paul Mastriani, and Sarah Collins. Lure has churned out some beautiful looking goods. You name it and they’ve done it. Advertising, books, brochures, identity, packaging, interactive, and my personal favorite, their posters. I remember going to shows at The Sapphire and seeing their hand pulled silk screened posters hanging from the exposed brick walls. I lusted after every one. Jeff and Sarah were always in the back, drinking a beer and selling these limited edition prints. They’ve done posters for Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Kinds of Leon, John Vanderslice, and many more. Be sure to check out their goods at the L2 Design Collective store and buy yourself something special.

Last week I featured Jeff Matz, which you can see here. This week Sarah Collins is in the hot seat.

Who do you look up to?

I tend to turn to classic masters such as Alvin Lustwig\Saul Bass, just because they are awesome and Ray Eames, because I believe she never got the credit she deserved. There is so much good and smart work out there these days, I tend to lookup to anyone I see doing the hustle.

Do you have a favorite book?

Dune, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, Leaves of Grass and Edgar Allen Poe are books I’ve always returned to and probably shaped me in some way. As an adult I read mostly non-fiction about working smarter or being a better person, which shapes me but nearly not as much I’m sure.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Can I combine several restaurants to make that meal? Artichokes + trout from Hillstone, truffle fries from Ravenous Pig, hush puppies from Winter Park Fish Co.  Always in a great hunt for good Mexican food. My husband and I recently traveled to Dunedin, FL and found a great restaurant, Casa Tina, if you’re ever over that way.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A wolf and a bear. That would be intense.

What gives you inspiration?

Do-gooders, art, nature, travel, and bookstores.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I had this thought lately as I recently was looking through vintage photos. The time we live in is amazing with technology, and in our world, social media, but it’s so much – at times I wish I was sitting on a back porch in 1954 drinking lemonade, living a simpler life. But then I say “What the hell!” and work on making things simpler in the time we live in now.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I consider myself an eager learner and being a creative lends itself to that. This week I’ve learned about kid’s hockey and Hollywood’s famous drinkers. I also love a good spirit/humorous attitude, and turning that into a witty approach to design, which is super fun when working on our card company, L2 Design Collective.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Professionally as long as I’m able to work with great people, create daily, and live a balanced life in and out of the studio, I feel successful. Some days I fail miserably. Creatives never stop. Finding balance can often be frustrating and is an ongoing battle. This year I’ve juggled working full time with a new baby, setting some priorities and making time for what is important is a must.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Being more versatile, but isn’t that what people always say?  I would also like to productize more of our work, seriously designing a set of sheets would get me excited. Secretly I just want to do something that blows people’s minds. Or at least have the confidence that I could.  My husband bought me an electric guitar for Christmas that I still haven’t found the time to learn. Maybe I’ll blow people’s ears one day instead!

What are your other interests?

Music and screen printing both make my heart explode. And lest not forget great Mexican food.

What rejuvenates you?

Awesome family and friends who make me look forward to tomorrow, iced coffee, travel, and admittedly a good sushi and sake have made me cry happy tears.

 

11 Questions with Jeff Matz from Lure Design in Orlando, FL Pt. 1

February 20th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

Nestled in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, Lure Design is an award winning design firm run by Jeff Matz, Paul Mastriani, and Sarah Collins. Lure has churned out some beautiful looking goods. You name it and they’ve done it. Advertising, books, brochures, identity, packaging, interactive, and my personal favorite, their posters. I remember going to shows at The Sapphire and seeing their hand pulled silk screened posters hanging from the exposed brick walls. I lusted after every one. Jeff and Sarah were always in the back, drinking a beer and selling these limited edition prints. They’ve done posters for Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Kinds of Leon, John Vanderslice, and many more. Be sure to check out their goods at the L2 Design Collective store and buy yourself something special.

This week I’m featuring Jeff Matz. You can see Sarah Collins’ post here.

Who do you look up to?

My Dad. Jimmy Page. And there are plenty of designers out there to admire for reasons beyond the great work they do: Art Chantry for his the honest, unapologetic attitude in his work. Charles Spencer Anderson for his wit and taste level. Stephan Sagmeister for his ability to always bring a fresh perspective. There are many others. But I’ve always found more inspiration in the people I’ve worked with over the years: Paul Mastriani, Sarah Collins, Thomas Scott, Billy Davis, Ron McQuein, and Mitch Boyd. Collaborating with these people and seeing them work through their processes has been more inspiring than just seeing finished work in a book.

Do you have a favorite book?

I should disqualify myself on this one. I always hate to admit it, but I really don’t read. I don’t usually have the patience for it–although I did make it through The Stand.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Right now it’s a bit of a toss up between The Ravenous Pig and Prato. I had a sweetbreads dish at Prato recently that was pretty amazing.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I really have no idea how to answer this. Are you testing my creative skills and I’m failing? A cat and a snake? A snat? A cake?

What gives you inspiration?

Mostly sharing ideas with my co-workers because that interaction is the most direct way to get inspired. Even though I’ve been in the business for nearly 30 years, I still find AIGA guest speaker events inspiring. You get beyond just seeing their work online or in a book–you get to hear about their process and what inspires them. Fine art quite often gives you points of view you may not get by looking at other design sources. And, music, of course.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I’m actually pretty content in this one.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

My inability to do anything else, probably. In high school I thought I might want to go into architecture but I suck at math. I guess I realized that the design part of architecture is what I found interesting. I had always been into drawing–not that I was really any good at it. In my senior year someone spoke to our art class about Fort Lauderdale School of Art and Design. It was in that moment that I realized that I might be able to make a living doing what I loved: making stuff.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

It can be a challenge, especially when you own your own business. One thing I do is make a point of leaving the studio by 6pm every day. If I have to work late, I do it from home.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Put out a record (see #10). Not that anyone would buy it. But the process of doing the whole thing would be a blast. From writing, playing, recording and mixing to designing the packaging.

What are your other interests?

I’m a hack, but I like to play guitar. I like to write and record instrumental pieces of my own. I’ve also done some tracking for my friend, Stewart Grace, who’s a very talented musician/songwriter living in Virginia. We were in some bands together when he lived in Orlando.

What rejuvenates you?

Travel, but I really don’t do enough of it.

 

11 Question with Gregg Pollack from Envy Labs & Code School in Orlando, FL

February 12th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

orlando-editorial-corporate-photographer-gregg-pollack

© Brian Carlson

Gregg Pollack has done big things. He has started two companies, Envy Labs and Code School. Envy Labs is a web development shop that makes some great products. I’ve always admired their desire to be transparent with their customers and the culture they foster for their employees. Code School is pretty revolutionary. Noticing code isn’t learned from books, Gregg and his team created courses to help others learn code. These courses combine gamification, videos, and in browser coding to make the process fun. Gregg and his companies have had a huge impact on the tech scene in Orlando. Thankfully, I don’t think he’s done doing big things.

 

Who do you look up to?

I look up to teachers, because explaining complex things successfully is not easy, nor is working with a classroom of children.

Do you have a favorite album or band?

My favorite band is Underworld.  Love electronic music mixed with poetic verses.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

My favorite place would be The Dandelion Communitea Cafe, and my favorite dish is Eve’s Revenge.

What gives you inspiration?

Working with intelligent people gives me inspiration, building products at the intersection of many disciplines.

orlando-editorial-corporate-photographer-gregg-pollack

© Brian Carlson

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I wish I would have graduated college 10 years earlier, because I missed the tech bubble.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

My father, who was a computer engineer at Intel for 25 years, and we always had computers around the house.

What is your favorite thing about Orlando?

My favorite thing about Orlando is it’s location.  Close to the theme parks, in the middle of the state, easy to fly to.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I would mate a pterodactyl and elephant together to get a real life dumbo.

 

orlando-editorial-corporate-photographer-gregg-pollack

© Brian Carlson

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I want to go skydiving. Why? For the rush.

What rejuvenates you?

I love theater and the performing arts. I try to go out and see shows whenever I can, and I love the Orlando Fringe Festival. I also love spending lots of time with my kids.

What are your other interests?

Spending time alone, usually watching a show on TV.  Shutting of my brain.

 

 

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 3

February 3rd, 2014 by Brian Carlson

Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of this series if you haven’t done so already.

The last week of our trip our friends took us to Negash Lodge near Wenchi Crater. We took this time to relax and process the whole experience of being in Ethiopia for 2 months. It was a great time to recharge and prepare for reentry into America. If you ever visit Ethiopia make sure Wenchi Crater is on your list of things to see. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid eyes on. The horse back ride around the crater is awesome, though you’ll want to get off and walk from time to time. They make their saddles out of wood. I could have spent a week shooting here but we only had a few hours. I think my photos give you a small slice of its beauty. If you’d like to see them bigger, which I suggest you do, visit here.

 

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Some beautiful looking pizza…that tasted awful.
© Brian Carlson

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Our group.
© Brian Carlson

 

 

 

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 2

January 29th, 2014 by Brian Carlson

If you haven’t read part 1 you can check it out here.

Several weeks into our stay I had the opportunity to go to Gode with the people hosting us. The situation in Gode is pretty tense and has been for a while. It is regularly on the US Embassies travel alert list, has suffered from several recent famines, and has an illiteracy rate above 70%. Our host was doing some pretty innovative economic development there and wanted some photos to raise additional funds. If you’d like to see the photos bigger you can visit here.

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© Brian Carlson

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© Brian Carlson

 

woman standing with camels gode ethiopia desert

© Brian Carlson

camels donkey cart gode ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

The people in Gode are traditionally nomadic. They essentially move to feed their camels. From what I understand things are changing though. The people are beginning to settle down and farm for a living. It’s always eye opening and inspiring to see how other people live, particularly in such an inhospitable environment. We had the opportunity to bring some 4×6 prints from the last time our hosts visited. It was a blast seeing how everyone reacted to their picture. They were all overjoyed, laughing and smiling with abandon.

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© Brian Carlson

boy studying school gode ethiopia desert

© Brian Carlson

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© Brian Carlson

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© Brian Carlson

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

 

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 1

January 23rd, 2014 by Brian Carlson

This last summer my wife and I figured, what the heck, let’s go to Ethiopia! Ok, it wasn’t that simple but I’d rather not bore you with mundane details. I split my days between helping at an English school a friend set up in the heart of Addis Ababa and wondering around the city taking photos. It was a blast. I met some great people, got to see some of the most breath taking sights I’ve ever laid eyes on, and duked it out in some epic games of Settlers of Catan with some great people in the evenings. If you’d like to see the photos bigger you can visit here.

Meat cutters in Ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

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© Brian Carlson

 

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© Brian Carlson

The Sheraton Addis Ababa Ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

 

Most of our time was spent in the capital city, Addis Ababa. It’s a massive place that’s spread out like the largest suburbia you can imagine. There isn’t a downtown or a city square. Transportation is tricky if you don’t have a car. If you do have a car driving can either be thrilling or terrifying, depending on your personality. I found it thrilling, my wife not so much. Getting the opportunity to walk around and photograph at will can be freeing and intimidating, especially in Addis. I had originally brought some lighting equipment (7ft. stand, Q-Flash, & Photek Softlighter II) with the hopes of breaking it out for some street portraits. Unfortunately, due to the security situation in Addis and the suspicion I would have drawn from the authorities the gear sat in a closet the entire trip. While using my lighting would have been great we were there during rainy season and I can’t complain about the light coming from the overcast sky.

Man in labcoat addis ababa ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

Hanging laundry addis ababa ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

 

Stray Dog Addis Ababa Ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

Man smiling in pool addis ababa ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

 

When I know I’m going to be in a city for an extended amount of time I like to walk around without my camera to get a feel for the place. Often times I’ll make visual notes about who is where, what locations would make for a great spot to take a portrait, and people I might want to photograph later (specifically if they are a shop owner or resident, where I know they’ll be in the same place every day). We were in a part of town frequented by Somalis and Ethiopians. After a lot of travel I’ve learned it’s best to write down some key questions and phrases in the local language. People appreciate this, it’s the polite thing to do, and when they laugh at you for butchering their language it creates an opportunity to connect. This trip made it interesting because I had to learn those phrases in both Somali and Amharic (the Ethiopian dialect). Then I had to figure out if the person I was talking to was Somali or Ethiopian. Some people were cool with me not knowing their nationality, others not so much. That’s when you learn I’m very sorry in both dialects.

Boy smiling behind blue gate addis ababa ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

three men sitting addis ababa ethiopia

© Brian Carlson

 

Stay tuned for more posts in this series.

 

My Gift To You, Free Phone Wallpapers!

December 29th, 2013 by Brian Carlson

Many days you can find me taking pictures of interesting textures and patterns for the wallpaper on my phone. As an end of year gift to you, my loyal reader, I’ve selected my best wallpapers and am offering them to you for free! I’m assuming the easiest way to get them on your phone is to visit this website from your mobile browser, click the image to get the full size version, and save them to your phone. If you know of an easier way be sure to share it in the comments. Enjoy!

 

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