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A promo video of sorts for the Idea Spark iOS app.

I’ve been thinking of doing a promo video showcasing the Idea Spark iOS app for a while, but I just couldn’t decide how I wanted to do it.  The current trend amongst startups is to release glossy marketing videos with upbeat music, but in all honesty I am personally very tired of this sort of communication between creators and their customers.  Seeing something generic like that has very little impact on my own saturated senses, and I figure I’m not the only one.

So I thought to myself: what is it that I consider the most important thing when I am looking at buying an app?  Well, usability is what immediately jumped to my mind; I want to know how an app works so that I can envision how it will fit in my life.  Grand promises on a marketing statement don’t mean much to me amidst the plethora of other grand promises that are made constantly, and too often these promises are oversold and lead to disappointment.  I would rather be shown that something works and embodies those promises, without the superficial layer of varnish.

With that in mind, I put together a promo video that simply shows the workflow of the Idea Spark iOS app.  Simply put, the app is a tool to help artists get out of creative ruts by suggesting new ideas, but beyond that I’ll let the app speak for itself.  I composed the music myself and edited it up to my standards as a visual storyteller, and have released it to the world in hopes that it is clear and communicative about my vision for the app in the pockets of fellow creatives.  It’s simple, effective, and beautiful just like I designed the app to be.

Check out the Idea Spark Workflow Demonstration on Youtube:

2015: A year of valleys and peaks.

2015: it has been a year of deep valleys and high peaks for me, both literally and figuratively.

It began in the hospital, at the bedside of someone I deeply care for.  Here, winter and spring blurred by slowly in a haze of emotion, my life taking on a holding pattern as I entered a full-time support role for those around me.  The next thing I knew, it was summer.  At this point, the health challenges still had not gone away, but they had changed and those of us intimately involved have since been able to adapt to a new normal.

So that was the deep valley of 2015.  I am stronger for the struggle endured, but also grateful to have emerged from it to a few high points that inevitably followed.  Post-hospital bedside, I realized that in fixedly supporting others through their hardships I had forgotten to take care of myself as well as I should.  This realization, combined with a dream that had been percolating in my mind for some time, prompted me to embark on my Pedal Powered to the West bike tour.  With a combination of being alone on the road, travelling with a close friend, and visiting friends along the way, I was able to find a sort of personal healing.  Returning home, I was happy to be fired up and inspired about life again, not to mention strong enough to continue being a support to those who needed me.

Everything is always changing; this is one of the beauties and also banes of living, but one that is always worth keeping in mind when riding between the low and high points in life.  When we’re struggling…this will change.  Take the long view and realize that this moment is not forever.  When we feel like we’re on top of the world, this will change as well, so don’t be disappointed when it inevitably does.  This is the rhythm of life and it’s better to dance with it than fight it.

Today, I’d like to take a moment and focus on a few of the high points of 2015.  Before I get to that a few thank yous are in order, but read on for some photos and stories in the captions.

First, I am thankful for health: both my own and for those around me.  We all have different struggles here, but if you’re reading this then you also have health to be grateful for (just as I do in writing this).  Focus on the positive, not the negative.  Every moment we have is a gift in a life of constant change, and we will miss them if we take them for granted.

Next, a nod to all the clients I’ve worked with this year.  My sincere thanks goes out to all of my returning clients with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with for yet another year.  This year I didn’t have much energy to spend seeking out new clients, and that makes me even more grateful for the established partnerships that we were able to forge even deeper.  That said, to the few new clients I did have the pleasure to work with this year I am very happy that we were able to connect.  Sometimes paths cross in ways that are natural and organic, and I can sincerely say that I feel that way about all of you.  As a freelancer, my time is limited and so I am careful about who I choose to work with.  One of the huge benefits of this is that I can honestly say that I believe in the work each of you do, and I’m glad we can work together in mutually beneficial ways where we are both happy in what we have to offer each other.

Finally, a big thanks to all my friends, family, and students.  Whether you realized the role you played in my life this year or not, thank you for lending me your support.

And with that, here are a few personal highlights from a year that is now in the history books.  These selected moments do not necessarily reflect the daily grind of work or even daily life.  Rather, they are the fruits of one of my mottos in life: keep dreaming, and keep working day-by-day to get a little closer to living those dreams.

Minimalist Lake Winnipeg Portrait

Regardless of the season, my soul requires nature to recharge; amidst the busyness of our urban jungles, this is one of the ways I find balance.  This little slice of frozen heaven is on Lake Winnipeg, near a cozy little cabin I retreated to amidst the snow drifts on shore.  As a friend once told me in Alaska, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing and bad attitudes.”

St. Patrick

The contrast of light and dark is beautifully observed when the elusive aurora borealis dances against the dark prairie sky.  In Manitoba, winter days are short and nights are long, but the darkness needn’t keep us from spending time outside.

Winnipeg Folk Festival 2015 - night life at Pope

Every year, the Winnipeg Folk Festival serves as a kickoff for my summer.  The festival is spectacular in its own right, but personally it has also become a meeting place where old friends come together despite the diverging paths we’ve each chosen over the years.  For five days every July, we erect a village together and live simply in each others’ presence.

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January 19, 2016 - 11:08 am

Daniel - Beautiful story. It’s really nice to hear about some of the lowlights too…makes me feel less alone in some of my own struggles. Looking forward to what the next year brings!

January 30, 2016 - 2:17 pm

Rebecca - What dynamic images! I followed you on your bike tour on Instagram, and can’t wait to see the rest of the images on here…this is a nice tease but I know you’ve got more. For now, I’ll just subscribe to your newsletter and keep an eye out. 🙂

Happy 2016!

Christmas is coming, and wintery greeting cards are flying out of the workshop.

It seems a lot of people still love sending print Christmas cards, and it makes me glad to know that I’m not the only one!  I am humbled by the amount orders and requests I’ve received regarding print products over the past weeks – thanks to each and every one of you who thought of me and value that which I create. Personally, I have been loving the opportunity to work with my hands and turn photos into tactile treasures for you.

A couple weeks ago, I had received an email from someone asking me to design a set of wintery cards to send out around the holidays.  Over the past month I had been mulling over the idea of having card sets for each season, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  With this request however, I bumped it up on the priority list and am happy to announce the availability of two new greeting card sets just in time for Christmas!  Presenting: Winterscapes, Winter Animals, and the older-but-also-holiday-appropriate Polar Bears greeting card collections.

Until Christmas itself, I’m extending a 10% discount on everything for sale to my loyal followers.  Simply enter the following promo code when checking out through my Etsy shop (linked to below) and it will knock 10% off your order:
HOLIDAYS

Check out all the collections at my Etsy print shop.

David Cutting Prints

This bearded elf has been busy stepping up production in the workshop to get ready for Christmas.

Stationery Workspace

The workshop floor, complete with espresso machine.

Winterscapes Card Spread

This is one of the new wintery card sets available: winterscapes.  This, the polar bear collection, or the varied set of winter animals in their element make for great canvases to share your messages with your loved ones this holiday season.

Red Fox Card

Each card comes with a handmade envelope.  A quick note on the back of the card tells you about the photo on the front. All cards are left blank inside for you to write a personalized message.  Each 3.5×3.5″ print is created in house by me with carefully chosen paper and ink.  In the effort of avoiding disposable art, I’ve also designed all my cards so that after your friend receives your thoughtful words they have the option to pop out the print to enjoy it for some time to come.  Pen and thoughtful words not included.

 

November 28, 2015 - 10:19 pm

Andrea - So beautiful! (the products AND the photos. That fox…!)

November 30, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Henk - I thought you were supposed to use Canada Post and not fly them yourself?

December 2, 2015 - 5:18 pm

David - Ha! It’s a team effort.

Autumn Meets Winter – a postcard from Waterton.

Autumn meets winter - Waterton postcard

Autumn meets winter as an early October snowfall dusts the trees at a higher elevation in Waterton Lakes National Park.

West to Waterton and beyond.”  This phrase has been written on my fridge in colorful magnetic letters ever since I first visited Waterton Lakes National Park three years ago, and I have returned every year since.

Every time I return to this special piece of land it is spectacular in a different way.  Being much more off the beaten path than Canada’s other mountain parks, it has a calmness and wilderness factor that makes for vastly different experiences every time.  Unpredictable weather, abundant (and still wild!) wildlife, and diverse terrain make it a place that is unique and constantly changing.

This year, I was present to bear witness to the elusive moment where autumn meets winter.  After a long day of scrambling and hiking mountain ridges high up above the clouds, my partner and I descended in the dark back to the road.  Not even an hour after we got back to the beaten path, a swirling wind abruptly came up carrying winter’s first storm.  We hunkered down in the shelter of our tent for the night, and this beautiful scene is what we woke up to the next morning.

At camp the temperature was hovering at a balmy 1 degree Celsius, so the snow melted and merely got us wet.  But at just a slightly higher elevation the temperature was cool enough for the snow to linger, so that when the clouds cleared there was a beautiful gradient of autumn to winter visible on the treeline.  It’s also a visceral reminder of the whole “for every 100 meters of elevation gained the temperature drops 0.5 degrees Celsius” rule of thumb.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians.  I look forward to spending my weekend being thankful for so many things in my life in a cozy little cabin with my family.  Whatever your Thanksgiving may look like, I hope that you find some peace and love too.

October 9, 2015 - 5:02 pm

Geoff - This is stunning!! I love when the snow dusts the trees!

October 9, 2015 - 7:06 pm

David - Totally Geoff! It’s such a fleeting and beautiful moment.

October 11, 2015 - 9:07 am

Lucas - Great moment!

Bike Tour Preparations.

A year ago, I toured the Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada, on four wheels.  Tomorrow, I will begin touring it on two wheels, and that’s just the start of the adventure I am planning.  I am hopping on a train with my bike in a few hours – the first stop is Jasper, but further regions I have in mind for this trip are also the Haida Gwaii, Kluane, and Vancouver Island.  Plans are liable to change (read: evolve) depending on the unpredictable nature of things (weather, people, how I’m feeling on the road), but follow along on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter to track the journey.  It was so great to share the highlights of last year’s road trip to Alaska, so I’m going to post updates to these places as I go along.  This year, I even went so far as to create the hashtag #pedalpoweredtothewest to organize posts relating to the tour!

If you’d like to meet up along the way, I would love to see your friendly face!  Please shoot me a message here where it’ll go straight to my inbox and we can try and make it work.   I will be checking e-mail intermittently, so it might take me some time to get back to you while on the road (or maybe not if the timing is perfect!).

What else…oh yeah!  Since I am not sure of the exact date I will be coming home, I’ve made a point to tie off any loose ends for outstanding work.  Pertaining to business at the print shop, all existing orders have been fulfilled and new orders will not be taken while I’m away.  For those of you with existing print subscriptions, there is no need to worry about missed deliveries as I have already created your prints and they will continue to be mailed out on schedule by an assistant.

It has been a long time coming, but I have been preparing for this bike tour since February and am eager to hit the road.  Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.

Building a custom bike with Natural Cycleworks

Step 1: Build a sturdy, dependable bike that is road worthy.  I started this process back in February and, with the help of the good folks at Natural Cycle, built up a custom touring bike around a Soma Saga frame.

Soma Saga without racks

It’s a bike!  After working with individual parts for so long, it was almost magical to see it finally all come together in completion.

Soma Saga with racks and loaded

Step 2: Find ways to carry water and gear on said bike.  I opted for dry-bag like panniers and what I could find lying around the apartment.

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July 27, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Mark Reimer - Love it!! Looks like you’re really enjoying the Saga. I love how you’ve built it up. Where is that photo taken on the sticky-mud double-track, as well as the pine forest? Looks like some excellent riding. Good luck on the tour, travelling by bicycle can’t be beat.

July 27, 2015 - 3:05 pm

David - Thanks Mark. Yeah, I’m loving the Soma build! With a bunch of miles on it now it feels really good and dialed in. I switched out the basket for a randonneur bag just on Thursday and am already stoked on the upgrade.

The muddy double track is up in the Gordon Lake Road area of northwest Ontario. A good place to park on this one is a little ways up the Gordon Lake Road north from the hwy #1 junction (a little ways past the ELA turnoff) or park for free in Blue Lake Provincial Park (north of Vermillion Bay) campground’s overflow lot and ride it the other way. The main road is gravel, half of which is almost single lane but not busy at all. But there’s tons of logging roads like this jutting off it to explore, pristine lakes to cool off in, and even a few abandoned buildings along the way. There’s also a lot of bugs. I spent five days around there back in June and got eaten alive. Might be best to try in a shoulder season.

The pine grove is a little closer to home, over at Bird’s Hill Park.

Cheers!