The Creators of Chicago: Artist Luke Pelletier
Graphic designer Lucy Hewett was 27 when she quit her job at a marketing agency and taught herself to take photos, experimenting on friends to hone her portraiture skills. Going freelance was a struggle (stylized portraits don’t pay quite like ad campaigns for McDonald’s) but Hewett credits her success, in part, to the support of her local creative network. This would have been the first in a series of ten profiles, but life had other plans. Enjoy this first and last installment anyway, and thanks for reading with us.
Welcome to the Museum of Copulatory Organs
It all started with a flea circus. This is the story of Maria Fernanda Cardoso, whose biology-based artwork progressed from her very own circus of live fleas to detailed models of nature’s most intricate and unlikely reproductive systems. Industrial design, electron microscopy, and 3D printing were all brought to bear, and the results are fascinating.
This story, created in partnership with Symbolia and Popular Science, was illustrated and animated by Andy Warner. “My father is a marine biologist who specialized in fish sex change,” says Warner, “and I grew up learning about weird and wonderful animal behavior and morphology at the dinner table.”
‘The Blue Umbrella’: Inside a Pixar Love Story
The process began on one of those unusually rainy but otherwise ordinary California days. Pixar camera and staging artist Saschka Unseldwas walking through downtown San Francisco. Something caught his eye. He looked down, studying more closely an object stuck in the gutter in front of him.
Cooking with Harry’s Pizzeria: Short Rib Casserole
“People would show up early. In Miami, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
It takes a lot to surprise Miami chef and restaurateur Michael Schwartz these days. With four restaurants in his portfolio, and a fifth — a more formal room with an old Florida atmosphere called The Cypress Room — just open, he’s a pretty unflappable guy. But Harry’s Pizzeria, the affable, overachieving middle child in his family of restaurants, has the ability to confound expectations — even those of its owner.
The Paddling Machine: Berlin-Style Ping Pong
A couple years back, Allan Hough went to Berlin and came back to San Francisco a changed man. He had a snappier wrist. A lager-filled belly. And he was inspired. Why don’t we play ping pong the way they do in Berlin? he pondered. It sounded silly — but this is a man who takes ping pong seriously.
On a recent afternoon, Hough is leaning against a pool table, arms crossed, staring into the corner of his cluttered, Christmas light-laden garage in San Francisco’s Mission district. In a chaos of surfboards and bike wheels and beer cozies and wooden chairs, two emerald slabs — the gigantic halves of a brand new ping pong table — are neatly propped up against the far wall. “I think we’ll use the new one tonight,” he says matter-of-factly.
Finding Fulfillment in ‘Bending Steel’
Of the thousands and thousands of micro-cultures extant today, the pursuit of bending things is a particularly niche obsession. This is the world of Bending Steel, which follows the personal journey of Chris Schoeck as he tries to find path forward to improving his body, mind, and spirit. He locates this path via the traditions of the vaudeville strongmen of Coney Island, who were known to bend nails, horseshoes, and steel bars with their hands, legs, necks, or even their hair and teeth. As Schoeck trains and challenges himself to bend, he finds a family of sorts among other would-be strongmen — the kind of kinship and validation that had eluded him for his entire life. The story culminates in a strongman show on Coney Island where Schoeck attempts to bend a steel bar that has always defeated him before, in front of his friends and a crowd of strangers who represent all his fears and doubts. We spoke to director Dave Carroll and producer/cinematographer Ryan Scafuro about how Bending Steel became a film and what its narrative means for Schoeck and for themselves.