The Business Card Banned From Planes

I can’t think of a more boring blog subject than business cards. But when I started thinking about designing my own, I wanted to put my own signature on them. I had a few non-negotiables: I wanted them to be made in the United States, I wanted them to make an unforgettable impression without being cheesy, and I wanted them to say a little bit about BLCKSMTH just from looking at them.

The finished product…well, minus the “@” symbol

Enter St.Paul Stampworks, an engraving and stamping company based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since its inception in 1870 by its founder, Axel Mellgren, this company started out making “marking equipment” including seals, door numbers, and plates for church pews. Eventually Mr. Mellgren diversified into categories like medals, badges, and printed materials.

Over 130 years later, I found them online and contacted Joyce, a personable salesperson, who understood exactly what I was looking for when I described it. In fact, she didn’t bat an eye when I told her I was going to use their metal tags, traditionally used for identifying pipes and electrical fixtures, as business cards! Continue reading The Business Card Banned From Planes

4 Things That Set My Brain On Fire, September

Entrance to the Garden of Flowing Fragrance

I’ve decided to make “4 Things…” a regular series! I’ll publish it monthly, and eventually bi-monthly. Why? Well, no man is an island, and no one can be expected to create art in a vacuum: I need inspiration from other sources to keep me fresh, to keep my voice relevant. Here are a four things that stayed with me, long after I experienced them.

1) The Huntington Gardens are over 120 acres of carefully maintained collections of botanical curiosity, in San Marino, California. I’ve gone there a few times, and this time was ostensibly to see the recently restored and reopened Japanese Gardens, but I found the Chinese Garden, Liu Fang Yuan (“The Garden Of Flowing Fragrance”), really breathtaking. Check it out for both the botany and the architecture.

And then I found a giant baby. Continue reading 4 Things That Set My Brain On Fire, September

Apartment Therapy, Behind The Scenes

Gratuitous tattoo shot

I was thrilled to have my place on Apartment Therapy this past Monday, featuring the photography of the talented Shaela Cook. I’m not a easy subject to photograph, but Shaela managed to put me at ease and put in some long hours, and even managed to wrangle Ned into a few shots. Do me a solid, if you dug the photography, won’t you please “like” Shaela’s Facebook page?

Click through to see a gallery of the shots that didn’t make the original post on Apartment Therapy. As promised, I included a shot I took of the inside of my medicine cabinet. Continue reading Apartment Therapy, Behind The Scenes



I’ve been a little preoccupied with “world-building” lately, thinking of the toys and imaginary friends I played with during childhood, and thinking of the progression in sophistication they took from when I was very young, to right before when I stopped playing with toys. When I was young, it was just “good versus evil”, good guys versus bad. But as I got a little older, I started working other characters in, the story got a little more nuanced, and eventually a couple of franchises worked their way into the imaginary world I created. Lately I started thinking, what if I made a physical representation of the world that all of these characters inhabited? And what if I could help others do the same?

Continue reading NTRGLCTC by BLCKSMTH

I Finally Caved

Like a lemming to a cliff.

I swore I would never join Twitter, but I have to admit, it’s the character limit that got me: anything that forces me to distill and edit can’t be a bad thing! So follow me at @BLCKSMTHdesign, or you can subscribe on Facebook. I’ll be exploring the “lighter side” of design. I’ll also talk about carving a new path for yourself with nothing but your wits.


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Sculpture by Lee Bontecou, the inspiration for my set design for Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”, coming April 2013 to Sacred Fools Theater

Wow, what a busy month August has been! If it felt like a permanent vacation before, it sure doesn’t now. I’m in the “building my portfolio” stage at the moment, so I’m taking on a lot of projects, but I’m also saying “no” to a few things that I wish I didn’t have to.

I’m usually not a fan of listing projects like this, it doesn’t sound very…humble. “Humblebrag, anyone?” But seriously, people have been asking a lot about what I have coming up, so for those who are curious, here’s the rundown of what I said “yes” to:

I’m going to Assistant-Direct The Coarse Acting Show, written by Michael Green, directed by Paul Plunkett (who also wrote a segment for this production), at Sacred Fools Theater. The theater is my homebase, and Paul is going to be great to work with.

A couple of my paintings are being carried at The Juicy Leaf in Venice, on Abbot-Kinney! The store is a gallery/gift-shop concept, that’s eclectic and sophisticated at the same time. The team there is enthusiastic and smart, and I’m happy to have my work shown there. Continue reading 0 to 60…

4 Things That Set My Brain On Fire, August

Sometimes my brain needs a jump-start. Here are a few things I checked out this week, to fan the flames of my imagination.

1. Made In LA at The Hammer Museum

Meg Cranston’s California (2006), photo by Jeff Sturges

This was pretty great. Made In LA is what it sounds like: a show of artists living in Los Angeles. There was some cool stuff, including Liz Glynn’s Anonymous Needs and Desires, an installation of a huge cabinet of brightly colored drawers, with cast-lead everyday objects that patrons could place in, take out, and manipulate however you want. Another highlight was the app for the show, the Soundmap. You turn it on your phone, drive around, and it plays music curated by local collective DUBLAB. But then you hit a “hotspot”, and an artist briefly interrupts to tell you something specific to that area of town that inspired them, or just a random observation. So cool!

Continue reading 4 Things That Set My Brain On Fire, August

This ends badly.