An Interview with Jen Adrion & Omar Noory of These Are Things

Jen and Omar tell us a few of their favorite things…

We are huge fans of designers, illustrators and fellow Ohioans Jen and Omar from These Are Things!  Recent podcast guests (coming soon!) and speakers for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2013, we just cannot get enough of their distinctive and oh-so-cool maps, as well as their enthusiasm and heart.  We asked them to answer some questions about their very favorite things, to tide us over until we are reunited again. Enjoy!

Modern World Map
Modern World Map available on

Go Media: What is your favorite piece you’ve done so far and why?
Omar Noory: That’s hard, because we’ve learned so much from every single one. I’d say probably the original Modern World Map, because it came from such a pure place of creation without any thought behind it. It was exactly what we wanted to make at that time with no compromises.
Jen Adrion: I’d agree. I’m also in love with our newest collection that we’re debuting at the National Stationery Show. We’re venturing outside of wall art and into the world of greeting cards, which has been really exciting. Stationery is totally different than wall art – it has to carry a relatable personal message on a pretty small canvas – so it’s been a fun change of pace for us.

Special Delivery

GM: What is your favorite piece of artwork (besides your own)? And why?
Jen: Pretty much anything by Sol LeWitt. I feel best about my own work when I have logical reasons for making certain artistic decisions, so LeWitt’s structured, rule-based wall drawings make me happy. It’s controlled spontaneity. They also have this fantastic meditative quality. We’ll have to get out to Boston to see his retrospective.
Omar: Of all time?! Wow. There’s no way I could pick one piece that I would consider my favorite. As far as things that have influenced me over the years, I’d have to say that comics and video games are what made me realize that art could be a career and a way of life. They’ve also helped me connect with other artistic people throughout my life.

Manhattan Neighborhoods

GM: Where is your favorite spot in NYC to seek artistic inspiration?
Omar: So far, the most inspiring space has been our own apartment, since that’s where we’ve spent most of the past couple of months. It’s a super minimal, clean white space with great light. We have an awesome view of Brooklyn with the the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It’s been the perfect space for us to shut everything else out and focus on our work.
Jen: Just being here has been such a source of inspiration. The change of scenery has been great for our work. I feel like we’ve barely even scratched the surface of seeing what New York has to offer, though! Hopefully we’ll have more time to get out and explore once we’re done with this big show.

Jen and Omar

GM: What do you love most artistically about the other? What do they bring to the table that you most appreciate?
Jen: I said earlier that I tend to be kind of rigid about my work – everything has to be a certain way for a reason – and Omar has really helped me let go of that somewhat. It’s great to be precise, but sometimes my need for perfection can be kind of stifling. His style tends to be a little looser, a little more textural. I think it’s really brought a lot of life to our collaborative work. He is amazing at coming up with ideas and quickly getting the overall concept of a piece down.
Omar: I always say this, but I like that she is never happy with “good enough.” I always get burnt out towards the last 10% of a project and want to say ah, just get it done. But she always pushes me to work the hardest at the end of a project to take it to the next level and make it better than I thought it could be.

GM: What is your favorite medium to work with?
Jen: Of course, I love working digitally. I can tweak things until they are totally perfect. Zooming in to 6400% is my favorite thing. As far as traditional media goes, for me, it’s gouache. Nothing can beat that ultra-matte chalky texture.
Omar: It’s a tie between pencil and computer, but now that I have a tablet… no, it’s not a tie at all. Computer, hands down. Everything is better about working on the computer. My hand is on apple-Z the entire time I’m drawing. Nothing is more frustrating to me than erasing on paper. I love layers. It’s like tracing paper you don’t have to keep buying! The only bad thing is that I can’t easily take a 27″ iMac with me. But I’m sure they’ll figure that out eventually.

Custom Maps

GM: You love maps! Where is your favorite place to go in the world?
Omar: It depends what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m in the mood to explore, my favorite place is anywhere we haven’t been yet. If I’m in a chill mood, I want to be in quiet, serene nature – on the beach, in a field, on a mountain. And I love anywhere with good food!
Jen: Of all the places I’ve been so far, I think Helsinki is my favorite. My favorite memory is sitting by the water, eating fresh-caught salmon and Finnish cinnamon rolls made with cardamon. Swimming in the Mediterranean off the coast of Croatia is a close second. The beach was deserted and I felt like the only person on earth. But I’m with Omar – no matter how much I love to revisit my favorite places, there’s nothing like exploring a new place for the first time.

Follow These Are Things wherever they go!
These Are Things on Facebook | These Are Things on Twitter
| Making It (Blog) | Jen’s Instagram | Omar’s Instagram

And don’t forget to buy tickets to this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2013 (August 16 – August 18) to hear These Are Things talk entitled: “Three Weird Old Tips For Unlimited Success & Happiness!”

WMC Fest