Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspiration Wall at the L.L. Bean Signature Event

A few weeks ago, I made the trek down from Maine to New York City for the L.L. Bean Signature event. For the last two months, I had been looking through books, magazines, image collections and catalogs for a wide variety of images that captured the complexity of the L.L. Bean brand. For my research I focused on images from spring outdoor activities like fishing, camping and sailing that fit within Bean's sensibility. The end product was 22 feet by 9 feet high

Here are some select images from my search which appeared on the inspiration wall.

This is one of the most amazing images I have seen.

Hands down my favorite L.L. Bean Cover.

Bean has a long heritage of selling outdoor gear like fishing and hunting equipment and I tried to have some product-focused shots in the mix.

I prefer getting out and searching through books and image collections because the end product is far more unique than images you would find online.

I snuck two of my own photos into the collage...whooops :)

I like doing image research because it challenges you to get in the minds of people whose world you are trying to recreate and tell their story through a handful of 2D images. For example, to find camping/hiking images from the 60's of young men and women I looked through hundreds of New England Colleges' outdoor club sections in yearbooks from the late 50's to early 60's. Image research is akin to hunting; in order to find the best stuff, you have to go farther and dig deeper than other hunters.

Thanks Marc Desrosiers of the L.L. Bean Signature team for coming up with the layout and to Alex Carleton for getting me into the project, editing the images and the creative direction.

Here are some more links,
Inspiration Wall at the LL Bean Signature Event (Picasa),
L.L. Bean Signature,
L.L. Bean PR (Twitter).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dan Freeman's Leatherworks

Dan Freeman learned to make shoes over thirty years ago in New Orleans. Now he practices his art in a small shop off of Route 7 in Middlebury, Vermont.

Dan custom makes all types of shoes including dress, sneakers and boat shoes but is best known for his equestrian and hiking boots. For every shoe, Dan creates a custom form modeled after the foot of a customer. Dan keeps all of these customers' forms in the back for future use.

Dan requires customers to make multiple sizing visits to his workspace in Middlebury, and ohh yahh, they cost $1,800.

Day Hikers. Dan uses Vibram soles for all of his rubber soled shoes.

Forms for Equestrian boots and a pair of his early work.

A view of Dan's shop and his apprentice.

Dan makes these labels himself.

I loved these sandals. Very simple, high quality and 1/10 the price of the Day Hikers.

I love the simplicity of the design. These will last forever.

If I ever have the money to purchase a pair of $2,000 custom made shoes, I will certainly support a shoemaker like Dan Freeman. His trade represents the last of a long tradition craftsman who learn by apprenticeship, not a $50,000 a year college or an online course. Dan doesn't have a website and does all of his business out of his workspace. Customers fly to Vermont from all over the US to have Dan make their shoes. After spending twenty minutes in his store I can see why.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nova Scotia in October

After spending eight hours driving down Route 1, we finally crossed over a small inlet in the Bay of Fundy into the land of "aboots," hockey obsessions and Tim Horton's. For three hours we trekked through gloomy suburbs and seemingly endless slabs of farmland until we made it to Canada's Atlantic Playground: Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia feels like Maine without the discount Burberry and Timberland outlets. It's rugged, has extreme weather, and is unpopulated.

A small camping ground and surf shop outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Sunrise on Lawrencetown Beach.

We woke before sunrise, packed up our tent and got in the water just as the sun was coming up.

Surf's up...

Surfing when the water is warmer than the air is an interesting proposition. The air was in the mid 30's and the water was in the high 40's. After 45 minutes the swell started to die down and the wind picked up. With the haste that only a surfer in freezing conditions knows, I jumped out of my wetsuit and into wool socks and my Mackinaw jacket.

Yours truly freezing my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off after playing in the water.

After a wild 24 hours, I headed down to Yarmouth, hopped on the CAT and five and half hours later I was back in the U - S of A.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Down East to Nova Scotia in My Danners

These boots are made for walkin'.

And thats just what they do.

I love my Danners. They are made in my home town of Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Down East in October

Last week I set sail with two of my roommates on Coastal Route 1 for the eastern-most part of the United States: Down East Maine. We packed up Dan's car with our surfboards, sleeping bags and an old Eureka Camping tent from my College's outing club and headed due east.

Ranging from Belfast to Quoddy Head, the Down East region is the most unexplored coastline in the East because it's simply a pain the ass to get to. It is three hours from Portland, six hours from Boston and ten hours from New York.

For two days, we cruised up Route 1, following the coastline and making trips down gravel roads in search of views.

A wind turbine nestled in a corn field.

By night we squatted on empty plots of land such as this subdivision. Early morning fog near Winter Harbor.

An outhouse in Quoddy Head State Park.

One of our squatting campsites in a housing development near Bar Harbor.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Tucker overlooking the Atlantic.

At night my -20° F rated sleeping bag made the temperatures in the low 30's feel cozy and inviting and my wool socks and jacket kept me warm in the early morning coastal haze. After 400 miles of driving on and around Route 1, we finally crossed the border over a small cove in the Bay of Fundy and began the second leg of our trip.

Here are some more links,
Down East in October (Picasa).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Changing Seasons: Fall

Last October, I started blogging in an act of bored desperation. I had recently purchased a Canon XSI on a whim and had started taking photos of things around me and writing about things that captured my imagination. While sitting on a bench overlooking the Colby Quad, I took off my shoe and decided to toss it up in the air and take a photo. Funny how such a seemingly frivolous activity can have unforeseen positive consequences on your life.

My LL Bean Bucks overlooking the Colby Quad on chilly fall afternoon in mid October, more than a year ago. The integrated footpad disintegrated in August and I brought them by the Freeport store. Ten minutes later, I walked out with a gift card for the full retail price and immediately invested in my Butcher Mocs.

My Paul Smith Canvas Sneakers overlooking two feet of packed snow on the Colby Quad in mid January. I haven't worn these since last fall and probably won't until spring.

My Common Projects overlooking the Colby Quad in late April. Retired for the year.

My Vans Eras flying over the Colby Quad on a hot a humid day in mid August. After a summer of sockless use they smelled like the Ebola Virus and I permanently retired them a few weeks back.

My Ralph Lauren Wingtips looking glossy on October 16th after three months of blood and tears to break them sock-less. I plan on having these for years.

Since that October day last fall, I return to that bench once a season with different shoes and sit down for half an hour listening to music and throwing my shoe in the air. Confused freshmen and groups of prospective students touring the campus walk by and stare for a second or two in disbelief.

Here are some more links,
Changing Seasons (Picasa),
Changing Seasons: Summer (Picasa).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Picking Apples In October

A high of 58° with a 90% chance of rain limits most outdoor activities. On Saturday, my roommate Dan and I decided to make hard apple cider and went in search of free apples. We eventually found some overgrown trees on the side of the road near Colby. For two hours we climbed trees, shook branches and dodged falling apples.


Soaking wet.

All told, Dan and I picked over three hundred apples destined for our vat of brewing hard apple cider. The consummate fall activity.