WMC Fest Storytime: Meet Scotty Russell

Meet Scotty Russell of Perspective Collective

It’s time for another video! This video is another in a line of shorts introducing you to the speakers who will be presenting at our design, art and music conference, Weapons of Mass Creation Festival. Today’s video introduces you to Cedar Falls, Iowa native, Scotty Russell.

Weapons of Mass Creation

My love letter to Weapons of Mass Creation

[Notes from the road: As I begin my journey back to Scranton – heading east on route 80 with a long road ahead – I have plenty of time to process all the amazing memories dancing around my brain from a very inspiring three-day weekend. And even though my head’s still spinning, I wanted to get down as many thoughts as possible while they were still fresh.]

The Quick Pitch

Not only am I beyond thrilled with my experience at Weapons of Mass Creation, I’m making it a personal goal to tell as many people as possible about this gem. Whether you’re just out of design school, working full-time but doing a side hustle, or a few years in to running your own shop, you need to attend this conference. A 3-day all access pass to the fest only costs 120 bucks (It’s a very budget-friendly conference) and on top of that, they’re always running deals (if you’re into that sort of thing). I got 50% off for being an Arsenal member! The workshops are extra but are also very affordable (ranging from $30-$60) and all talks are included in the price of admission. Bottom line, in a world full of email communications, Skype meetings and Slack hangouts, this is a chance to spend some quality time with a ton of amazing like-minded creatives.

My Personal Journey

This was my first trip out to Weapons of Mass Creation, and for those who don’t know, WMC is a Cleveland based 3-day conference that celebrates design, entrepreneurship, and creativity. The festival is presented by Go Media and is the result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears by an amazing group of folks including Heather Sakai (@sakaipower), Bryan Garvin (@bryangarvin) and countless other hard-working volunteers. For the past few years, I’ve heard wonderful things about WMC Fest, mostly through my dealings with Go Media and their design resource site Arsenal, but for one reason or another, I never made the trek out. This year was different.

Weapons of Mass Creation
The Ohio & State Theatre. Home to Weapons of Mass Creation 7.

When my family and I relocated to Scranton in 2015, I left a ton of great creative friends back in Philly, and while I’m still in the process of carving out a network in my new home, I knew that this was one thing WMC was known for. On top of that, after a topsy-turvy first year of running Variant, I was feeling over-worked, creatively exhausted and burnt out. So not only was I hoping to connect with members of the community, I was also jonesing for some inspiration, advice, and positive energy to recharge with. So after a nudge from my lovely wife, I decided this was the year to make it happen.

While I wasn’t able to go to attend every workshop and talk, I tried my damnedest to cover a ton of ground and what follows is a spin through my experience. Let’s dive in.

Weapons of Mass Creation
A look inside the lobby of the spectacular Ohio theatre


Between Friday and Saturday, the fest offered a diverse collection of workshops including – to name a few – Meetings with an Impact, Creating a Killer Portfolio, and Going Big with Lettering. (See the full list)


 – Mark Cuban

I decided to spend the bulk of my Friday attending the workshop “How to Start and Build a Profitable Design Business” run by Partner, and Chief Experience Officer of Nine Labs, Brad Weaver.

Brad is the man. Extremely passionate and knowledgable, he offers a direct and sometimes sobering playbook on what it takes to become a successful and sane creative owner. That sane part is crucial! He breaks it down into some key steps, and while he peppers in basics of getting up and running – like registering for a corporation, tax IDs, etc. – the real meat of his talk focuses on becoming profitable. This includes tips for building out your network, calculating shop costs, price bracketing, contracts, all things I found truly helpful. And while I walked out feeling encouraged that I’m doing a fair amount the right way, I did feel there are some things I could be doing to sharpen up my operations. My key takeaways were not only reassessing my value, but making sure I’m locked in on my shop costs, so I can work towards increasing profits. I got a ton out of this workshop and encourage anyone thinking of starting a creative shop to check it out. If you can’t get out to see one of his talks live, don’t worry, the dude wrote a book on it!

To learn more about Brad, you can check out ninelabs.com, follow him on Instragram (@bradweaver) or other social sites (@sbradweaver)

Weapons of Mass Creation
A few of my favorite speakers from this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation. (Left to Right) Jay Wallace, Isabel Urbina Peña, Stefan Sagmeister, Jillian Adel


One thing that sets WMC apart from some of the bigger conferences is the speaker schedule. Instead of trying to jam as many talks as possible into the weekend they left a bit of breathing room, which meant I could pretty much see everything I wanted throughout Saturday and Sunday. Nice!


– Sean Starr

Bright and early Saturday morning I decided to check out “Coffee With a Sign Painter,a Q&A with legendary sign painter Sean Starr (@starrstudiostx). I went honestly just because I was curious and turns out he’s not only crazy talented but a really awesome down-to-earth guy who’s been doing this forever. He’s a craftsman who’s spent years perfecting his trade, and takes it really seriously. I loved hearing his story, his process. It was just refreshing to hear a creative craftsman talk so passionately about his trade. Bonus: I added a new documentary to my queue, “Sign Painters: The Film” which Sean is a part of.


– Jillian Adel

Next up was art director and letterer, Jillian Adel (@jillianbadel). I’ve been a fan of Jillian’s work since we connected back in 2015, right around the time she relocated from NY to LA. Her story, entitled The Upside of Frustration, centered around getting sick and tired with her daily grind and “boys club” surroundings in New York and deciding to reboot, invest in herself, and move to California. It’s a very brave, very inspiring story. She talked a lot about getting started, putting a ton of energy into marketing herself, and figuring out who she was and what kind of creative work she wanted to do. Great talk! She’s awesome person and a wildly talented creative. You can find more about Jillian Adel over at her site.


– Jeral Tidwell

Jeral Tidwell (@artboytidwell) was the next speaker of the day and is a well-known illustrator who gained a ton of notoriety in the 80s and 90s from his work in the skateboard scene (Or as he likes to say, making money drawing a skull, eating a skull, eating another skull). I walked in a few minutes late, but got the sense he was just going to wing it. The title of his talk was Copyright, Analog Art, and Thinking Like a Bad Ass but you could tell almost immediately he wasn’t going to stick to that. To hear him tell it, he decided to speak more candidly after walking around Ink Wars the night before, and hearing folks saying things like, “I would never be able to do that,” “I’m too scared,” and “Wow! They’re so talented, I can’t do that.” All those moments of insecurity bouncing around the crowd made him stop and think, so he decided to shift things a bit and use his platform to address it. He admits his “I’m too stupid to know any better” approach to work/life has done right by him, and spent the majority of his talk using that philosophy to encourage everyone to not let fear get in the way. “Stop saying can’t, forget about what everybody else thinks, and just go off and be a bad-ass!”

The back half of his talk focused on his current journey after another wild idea. After years of being a successful illustrator, he and his wife are now building a free art school in an under-served area in Louisville, KY. They sold their house, moved into this vacant 15,000 Sq. ft. warehouse, and are working their asses off to create this public space. Here’s a guy that just decided he wanted to do something good in the world and instead of overthinking it to death and talking himself out of it, he just said “Fuck it” and is now working to make it happen. How inspiring is that?!

Amazing talk. Raw and extremely empowering. Despite the fact that he was spinning through this stuff as it came to him – or at least that’s the way he framed it – it was really well put together.  You can follow Jeral on Instagram and check out his work site Humantree.com. Hopefully he’ll add some progress updates in the near future as the school project develops.


– Mark Brickey

Mark Brickey (@Markbrickey) hosts a podcast called Adventures in Design and his “Staying Free as a Freelancer” talk focused on finding a profit in your passion. After years of working as a successful freelancer, he took a step back and realized how frustrated and overworked he had become, basically feeling like he traded in one boss for twenty. So he set a new goal of becoming client-free and walked us through the three C’s that helped him – calculator, calendar and checklist. Now Mark makes a living hosting the AID podcast as he travels the world talking to successful independent creatives who have carved out their own paths.


– Jay Wallace

The Stake Is High” was my first talk of the day on Sunday and featured Jay Wallace (@JayGWallace), an Ohio-based designer, illustrator currently working for the MLS Soccer team, Columbus Crew SC. Jay shared his short, sweet, and sharp personal success story about transitioning from side work to doing what he loves full-time. What really resonated with me about Jay’s story was his mantra about never settling and staying hungry. Even if you’re at a job you like and have settled into, reminding yourself that “This is not my end-game, this is not the end of the line for me.” There is nothing wrong with constantly challenging yourself to do the next thing and Jay definitely walks that walk. Do yourself a favor and check out his work, I have a feeling he’s destined to do great things.


– Stefan Sagmeister

I’m going to out myself and confess that up until this year I had no idea who Stefan Sagmeister (@stefansagmeister) was. Having a background in film, I sometimes find myself in a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to the design world. Turns out this guy is a design rock-star. He’s been doing it a really long time (including a long run in design for the music industry) and has become extremely influential. I first heard of Stefan and his firm Sagmeister & Walsh through his documentary “The Happy Film” which premiered at 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. I loved the mission of the film and was very much hoping his talk would cover some similar ground. He did not disappoint, and was by far my favorite speaker of the conference. His talk was on Why Beauty Matters and focused on the importance of not only looking for beauty but how is makes us feel. Not just in terms of our quality of life (Eg. searching for things that are beautiful, finding meaning in beauty) but also in how we translate that into our own creative work. Honestly, there’s too much to try and cover here, so I’m planning on a separate post. He also has an ongoing photo series where he celebrates the beauty of album art and posts daily shots of four covers from his personal collection to his Instagram account. Definitely worth the follow.


– LL Bean

Wilson Revehl’s (@wilsonrevehl) talk about Go Media’s Best/Worst Year used the story of Moby Dick to illustrate the trials and tribulations his design shop went through pursuing a high-profile international client. Stocked with both professional and personal life-lessons, Wilson did an excellent job despite the heavy subject matter. I’m sure all small business owners can relate to his story as we’ve all that “What if we land this huge client? moment. “Should we take it on? Can we quickly scale or should we stick with our slow and steady approach?” And while it was definitely sobering at times, he offered up some wonderful advice, shared some empowering moments and left me with a ton of great takeaways. You can find more out about Wilson and Go Media over at their site. 


– Isabel Urbina Peña

Artist and type designer Isabel Urbina Peña (@Bellera) closed out WMC 7 with a beautiful talk entitled “Everyone Else was Already Taken,” which included highlights from her journey from Venezuela to New York, finding her design style and eventually discovering a unique way to present her work to the world. It was very refreshing to hear that while most of us spend our time creating for ourselves and clients, it’s almost as important to focus on presenting that work in a way that enhances the personality of the project. You can find out more about Isabel over at her beautiful site.

The Dropbox Vendor Village, located in the lobby of the State Theatre.
The Dropbox Vendor Village, located in the lobby of the State Theatre.

Vendor Village

The Dropbox Vendor Village was an overwhelming gathering of inspiring creatives, all of which were super cool. Great conversations with a ton of killer creative folks doing amazing work. Highlights for me included:

Snakes + Aceys –  On top of being awesome people, Hannah and Anthony of Snakes + Aceys also create incredible apparel and posters.  I grabbed their “Land of the Free” tee as well as their Weapon of Choice poster series created for WMC.

The National Poster Retrospecticus – Based out of Austin and featuring more than 400 hand-printed posters by over 125 of the most prominent poster designers in the USA, the NPR tour was alone worth the price of admission. Not to mention, JP and Andy are hilarious. I picked up two prints from Daniel Danger, a Primus 2015 tour poster and the Retrospecticus Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tour poster from 2014.

Charlie Wagers  – Another super talented artist who creates gig posters and enamel pins through his co-venture, Lost Lust Supply Co.  I picked up his gorgeous Ray Lamontagne tour poster, and a couple of his enamel pins.

Eleven by Seventeen – Keith is a poster designer who’s recently branched out into the world of alternate move posters, very much like myself. So obviously we became best friends. Super great guy.

Also this…

Letterpressing prints with Cranky PressmanTons of awesome swag from Jakprints including some delicious creative juice • Hands on screenprinting of a WMC shirt courtesy of Real Thread • Jeff Finley and his Starseed Supply Co. • Flying destroyer disk by OK Pants • The super ladies representing Cleveland’s economic development program.

When planning your trip to WMC 8, definitely be sure to bring a little extra spending money, because I guarantee you’re going to find something at the Vendor Village that’s a must have.

Weapons of Mass Creation
Ink Wars 2016 Champ Katia Oloy (@ekoloy) in the midst of creating her masterpiece.

Parties, Podcasts and other highlights

  • Crashed the VIP party on Friday night in order to be a guest on Bryan’s live recording of We Are Weapons. Listen to it! 
  • Watched in awe as a group of talented illustrators competed in Ink Wars. The theme? A mashup between Superman and the awkward teenage years. In the end, Katia Oloy (@ekoloy) was awarded the prize belt.
  • Attended the live recording of Adventures in Design with Mark Brickey.  The evening’s guests were Jeral Tidwell, Jamal Collins, and the Fest’s Emcee Aaron, better know as Ok Pants. (Side note: Aaron did a terrific job. He’s a Cleveland-based designer and you can check out his stuff here.) The highlight of the night was learning about Jamal Collin’s work with the Boys and Girls club in Cleveland teaching them to things like Photoshop and exposing them to the possibilities of being creative professional. Amazing work. Follow @Jayworking if you want to keep up with the wonderful work Jay’s up to.
  • Teaming up with some other South Jersey natives to take on our dreaded foes up in North at the Jak Prints official after party.

    Weapons of Mass Creation
    Fourth St, Cleveland. Home to a ton of great restaurants including Mabel’s BBQ and Greenhouse Tavern.

    Cleveland Rocks!

    Cleveland is a great town and reminds me of Philly in a lot of ways. Great sports town, awesome food, cool people. Plus Cleveland’s riding high thanks to the Cav’s big win this year, and getting some national love courtesy of hosting the RNC. A few random tidbits:

    Eating a hotdog topped in Mac n Cheese, bacon and fruit loops thanks to Happy Dog • Catching an Indians game at Progressive Field (They played Wild Thing!!) • Walking around the spectacular venues at Playhouse Square • Heading over to 4th street and grabbing some wings @ Greenhouse Tavern (No, I didn’t try the pig’s head)

    Wrap it up Gary

    Bottom line, I would encourage anyone that’s a creative looking to learn, be inspired and hang out with tons of like-minded folks to check out Weapons of Mass Creation next year. Somehow – surprisingly –  they’re struggling a bit to stay alive and I think it’s because of their grassroots approach. They’ve done a great job of keeping the conference small and intimate without help from huge corporate sponsors, and while that makes the festival extremely special, it also puts some financial strain. So please do whatever you can to support them. It’s a very worthwhile design conference put on by an amazing group of people and I could not recommend it more.

    To learn more, donate, sign up for email updates or see if there’s a way to get involved, head over to wmcfest.com.


Thanks to Gary from Variant for this incredible write-up! Please visit Gary over at his official site, or get social with him over at his Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. – the WMC Fest team

Why Wilson Revehl is a Weapon of Mass Creation

Podcast: Why Wilson Revehl is a Weapon of Mass Creation

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Podcast

In this new audio series by Go Media, we sit down and talk with the contributors, sponsors, and attendees of our design conference, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, to find out more about them and why they are Weapons of Mass Creation.

Podcast: Why Mamie Kanfer Stewart is a Weapon of Mass Creation

Podcast: Why Mamie Kanfer Stewart is a Weapon of Mass Creation

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Podcast

Podcast: Why Jason Frostholm is a Weapon of Mass Creation

In this new audio series by Go Media, we sit down and talk with the contributors, sponsors, and attendees of our design conference, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, to find out more about them and why they are Weapons of Mass Creation.

This week, we sit down with Jason Frostholm from Creative South Podcast.

Join Real Thread and the rest of the crew at this year’s event, August 5 – 7th at Playhouse Square here in Cleveland.

Purchase your tickets and get all the information you’ll need at the WMC Fest site here:

WMC Fest Official Site

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Podcast

We Are Weapons 004 – Jason Frostholm from Creative South Podcast

Subscribe: iTunesRSSStitcherSoundcloud

Want to talk to us about why you’re a Weapon of Mass Creation?

Podcast: Why Real Thread is a Weapon of Mass Creation

WMC 6: Meet Jay and Nathan from Cotton Bureau

Jay & Nathan from Cotton Bureau


We are thrilled to introduce our friends Jay Fanelli and Nathan Peretic, co-founders of Cotton Bureau.

They are sponsors of our WMC Fest Vendor Village, as well as speakers at the Fest.

Sunday Tickets to See Jay and Nate

We sat down with Jay and Nate to take a peek into their world and discuss what we should expect to see out of them at this year’s WMC.

Jay: I’m Jay Fanelli, and the other guy here is Nathan Peretic. We are the co-founders of Cotton Bureau which is a community for designers and illustrators to sell t-shirts and other kinds of apparel to everybody around the world.

Bryan (of WMC Fest): So obviously you guys are involved in the overall design community, what brought you to it? How did you start your general design careers?

Jay: I’d say both of our careers are a result of many accidents that have accumulated over a lot of years. Personally for me, I started as an account manager at a web design shop back in 2002, late 2001. And over the course of the next 7-8 years, I became a sort of designer, I guess. I’ve kind of always been a designer in my spare time but never professionally.

Nate and I worked together at another Web Design shop here in Pittsburgh, and became pretty fast friends and learned that we thought we could make a better web design agency than currently existed in Pittsburgh. So we bailed on that place and started our own web design shop in 2009.

United Pixel Workers, Jay and Nathan’s previous t-shirt store/web design community

Nathan: I think my story goes back to high school. Like a lot of people, building websites for myself, for friends and family. Even through college, trying a lot of other things and ultimately coming back to the web design industry as a profession after college, despite not having any professional training. When I got my first job I told them that I loved design, and I thought design meant industrial design, Jony Ive style, you know, functional, how can we make this object more useful. I had no experience as a visual designer, so the rest of my career people wisely pushed me away from visual design and into the more practical aspects of building out the designs. So, my background and my current position is not really on the visual design side at all.

Bryan: As far as what you guys are doing, it’s obviously a little bit different. The t-shirt market overall is really saturated. There’s a lot of different t-shirt press companies, you guys are taking a little bit of a different approach to it. Why did you go the route you did?

Jay: Making t-shirts is a big pain in the ass. We learned that, kind of the hard way when we started United Pixel Workers back in 2010. It was just kind of an idea that we had on the side of our web design business for something we wanted to try for a variety of reasons. Over the course of the ensuing 4-4.5 years, we learned the best way to sell t-shirts online, the best way to print t-shirts, the best way to ship t-shirts, the best way to deal with customer service.

And we were constantly being asked while we were doing United Pixel Worker t-shirts, ‘Hey, can you guys do my t-shirts?” And the answers were almost always no. Enough of those things accumulated and we decided that Cotton Bureau might be a worthwhile business to try to chase down. That’s sort of the functional side of things. We knew how to make t-shirts, and other people didn’t, or they did, and they knew how tough it was. And we thought that by both creating a community that curated great t shirt design but also provided the functional part of things, you know, the shipping, the printing, the fulfillment, the customer service, all that stuff. You know, we thought it would be a sustainable business. And now 2 years later, I think that we now know that it is.

The official Cotton Bureau website

Nathan: Our background is of a web design services company. When we left our previous company, it was to build websites for people. And I think naively at the time, I expected by leaving a company where I had a lot of responsibilities that were not making websites and starting our company together, I thought I’d have a lot more time to work on websites. And as everyone else may have already guessed, that’s not what happens when you start a business. There’s a lot of administrative stuff, there’s a lot of just tedious paperwork and things like that, and chasing down potential clients.

So that experience gave us some perspective as we went through our t-shirt sales phase, and we saw how half of the job at least is repetitive, not particularly glamorous work. And some people may really enjoy that hands in the ink, romantic, do it yourself model, but a lot of people who have the ability to design great things don’t necessarily have the time to put those things into bags and deal with what happens if they get lost in the mail. So we thought it made a lot of sense for us to try and take that part of the problem out of the equation.

Bryan: So your overall participation at WMC fest obviously shows that you value being able to contribute to the design community the way that you are. Why is it important for you to be involved in WMC fest or another event like this, and contribute in this way?

Jay: T-shirts are obviously a big part of what we do. And when we look out on the sort of general marketplace of t-shirts, there’s a lot of beautiful stuff out there, and there’s a lot of crap. And we’ve sort of made it Cotton Bureau’s mission to only contribute to whatever degree we are able to putting beautiful work out in the world. To create an experience we can be proud of, to create a product we can be proud of. And we need the design communities help with that. That’s sort of the selfish part of it.

The other side of it is that without this design community, I don’t know that our company would exist, Cotton Bureau certainly wouldn’t exist, Pixels Pusher, the parent of Cotton Bureau wouldn’t have existed. We might still be working for some crappy agency here in Pittsburgh. I know I can speak for Nate when I say that we’ve met countless friends that have helped us personally, have helped us professionally, and the ability to kind of give back and support a conference like WMC, especially one an hour and half to two hours away from us up the road in Cleveland, it’s the least we can do.

Cotton Bureau’s Wall of Fame t-shirt portfolio

Bryan: So you guys are speaking Sunday at 11:15 AM, what can we expect from you guys?

Jay: This is subject to change, as all of our conference talks usually are, but we are probably going to be talking about what it’s like to sort of be in an accidental business. You know, 6 years ago Nate and I started a web design shop, and here we sit six years later exclusively making t-shirts for a living. And that wasn’t the plan, we can assure you. And who knows what’s going to happen in the future, but I think Nate and I learned a valuable lesson a couple years in with Full Stop, our web design shop, that we started a web design agency because we knew web design and we had a unified idea for what a better web design agency could look like. And a couple years in, we learned that we liked being in business more than we liked being in a web design business. And I think our companies since then, and probably continuing in the future, will continue evolving into the right kind of business for our company. Whether it’s me and Nate and our other partner Matt, or whoever gets added to the organization’s future. We are kind of in a constant state of trying to find the right business for us, and we like where we are at but like I said, it certainly wasn’t part of the plan. So I think that’s primarily what we are going to be talking about at WMC.


Thanks a million to Cotton Bureau for sponsoring this year’s WMC Fest! Check out our full list of sponsors at wmcfest.com and buy tickets for Cleveland Design Conference Weapons of Mass Creation Festival now!

Sunday Tickets to See Jay and Nate

Watch our WMC Fest 6 Hype Video >> “The Road to WMC – Our Host’s Journey”

Behold the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Hype Video

…a little video inspiration to hold you over ’til we meet in 17 days…

Watch Now >>

Then purchase one of the last remaining tickets to one of the best design conferences in the world, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. Yes, we are almost completely sold out.





WMC 6: Meet Moonshot Lab from Barkley

Moonshot Lab from Barkley

We are thrilled to introduce our friends from Barkley, a fiercely independent advertising agency in Kansas City, Missouri.

They are sponsors of this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and an integral part of WMC Fest’s schedule.

The team will be hosting a workshop on Sunday called Prototype as Pitch and will be taking part in Saturday’s portfolio review – definitely not to be missed.

We sat down with some of their team to discuss their involvement in the fest. You can catch our chat over on our design podcast feed or the transcript below. And be sure to meet the whole team live at your favorite design conference, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, August 7 – 9th at the Allen Theatre!

Tickets to WMC

Mark: Hi, I’m Mark and we are Moonshot, the innovation lab at Barkley Advertising Agency in Kansas City. And we help clients explore the future and design new experiences and products using sort of a combination of human centered design practices, emerging technologies, and just the right amount of weirdness.

Joe: I’m Joe, I’m the programmer kind of guy in the lab. My background is in software development and I do electronics and stuff like that.

Ricky: My name’s Ricky. I am the industrial designer and maker of the lab.

Katy: I’m Katy, I lead our experience design practice. I have an interaction graphic design background, and I also worked in education.

Moonshot Lab staff in a meeting

Bryan: Alright, so it sounds like a wide range of different things that you guys do. Can you tell the WMC community just a little bit about Barkley, the Moonshot lab and the role that design plays there.

Mark: Yeah, for sure. So we started Moonshot about 4 years ago, really with the intent of exploring emerging technologies and accelerating their adoption both within the agency as a whole and throughout our clients work as well. Very quickly we became not only a lab doing experiments with emerging technology, but we became sort of a cultural catalyst as well. We learned it was really important not only to have cool toys and do interesting experiments with them but to really propagate ideas, share awareness of possibilities, both inside the agency and with our clients as well. Pretty early on we started doing things like classes, workshops and other experiential learning events, and that became a real pillar of what we do. So we’re grounded in human centered design and innovation, we tackle problems from an end user perspective, and try to cultivate empathy and the feeling of what the end user is feeling when they encounter a problem, or what we want them to feel when they experience whatever we are designing for them. A design really plays a lot of different roles here at Barkley, not only experience design which is sort of our practice, but of course, graphic design, motion design, there’s really design throughout the entire agency.

Katy: We are excited to get up to Cleveland and check it out, but Kansas City is one of those interesting medium sized American cities that’s really beginning to understand design and innovation as a change agent even at the city leadership level which is really exciting to see. Barkley is situated in the downtown crossroads Arts district, and we are two blocks from Kansas City Center for Architecture and Design. It’s just a real thriving hub, and there are certainly times of the month and times of the year where that energy is really palpable inside this building and inside the city that surrounds us.

Advertising Agency, Barkley, located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Bryan: You talk a lot about the energy that your company has about design as well as these workshops you guys are doing. So overall, this seems to really fit in line with WMC Fest as far as sharing that knowledge you guys have and sharing passion you guys have. Why do you guys value contributing to the design community as you have been so far, as well as joining us here at WMC Fest?

Katy: I think that we are just interested in contributing to the ways design is practiced in Kansas City. It is just increasingly diverse, kind of the traditional modes of practice but all of those disciplines are interesting moments of flux. So there are traditional print broadcast, motion work being done by graphic designers. There’s great industrial design and architectural talent; we are a block from an annual fashion design show that happens every year that’s really fantastic. And we love to occupy a space thats a little more fringe, a little more experimental. We are really interested in the intersection of digital and physical and it’s a bit of a green scape, an unexplored territory here, at least regionally, so we are excited to push those boundaries and lead that charge and introduce those kinds of perspectives to the community at large.

Mark: I’ll add a little bit to that. Katy mentioned the notion of boundaries, I think one of the things we like to do in the industry is break the boundaries of what the agency typically concedes its job to be. So when we introduce the practice of experience design, and the idea of going beyond story telling and creating both tangible products and experiences that people can use to really feel the brands that we work for. That changed the way the agency sees itself and see what it’s capable of doing. And in a similar fashion, we like to break beyond the boundaries of our everyday experience and sort of go out and encounter new communities and bring back new ideas. So for us, participating in Weapons of Mass Creation is an opportunity to break the boundaries as well. Sort of import ideas that we might not normally get here, even when we are a part of a really vibrant community.

Bryan: So you guys are going to be doing a workshop, can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect there?

Ricky: The workshop’s name is called Prototype as Pitch and through the workshop we are going to try and show you the power of making your ideas instead of just talking about your ideas, because we believe making your ideas gets you the most excitement and the biggest possible buy-in.

Learn More about Prototype as Pitch

Moonshot lab prototyping

Joe: Yeah, we came up with this idea for the workshop because we’ve had a lot of luck, or not a lot of luck, we’ve practiced this process of making prototypes and then getting budgets for it. A lot of times people say, “I know it when I see it“, or “I don’t know what you’re making until I see it“, or “I know what I like when I see it“, so what we do is we let them see it. And when they do, they’re like “Yes that’s it! Or they’re like “No… that’s not it.” So yeah the idea for the workshop just came out of our everyday workflow.

Mark: And I would say that for us, this philosophy of prototyping to pitch is different from doing spec work because it’s not our intent to deliver something that might look like the final piece. We are not invested in dazzling potential clients with a logo or design per say, we are trying to give them a feel for what the solution might be and get them excited and inspired. That’s an important distinction to make, between prototype and spec work.

Bryan: So Barkley, overall as a company, you guys were voted one of the best places to work by Ad Age, you’ll also be recruiting at the event, you’ll be apart of our portfolio review on Saturday, so why do you guys love working at Barkley? What’s the best part of your job there?

Mark: For me, I think the best part of my job is that I literally invented it. Four years ago Moonshot didn’t exist, and I went to the senior executives and pitched them the idea of building a lab and to my great surprise they said yes, and said go out there and do this. And I think that kind of speaks to the kind of freedom and flexibility that we enjoy here, which is not common in agencies. And that probably stems, at least in part, from the fact that we are employee owned. So there’s just a different underlying vibe to the culture. I think in terms of the best things about Barkley, for sure, is the people. I love my team and the people I get to work with everyday, and I know other people apart of the agency probably feel similarly, but clearly, not as strong as we do because this is the best team. But as Katy mentioned, we live in this really vibrant cultural hub in Kansas City, the crossroads to Art district. It is the center of Kansas City’s creative community and it’s just a cool place to be. You can walk down the street and get inspiration and encounter people from other creative fields that kind of fuel your thinking and work.

Moonshot Lab Rotation Week

Ricky: Yeah, Barkley as a company really does put a lot of effort into developing great culture. And that goes all that way to obvious things like happy hours to really communicating to us visions of adding good to everything you do and practical things like employing diversity of people and encouraging us to explore outside of what we do and who we are and typical agency life and that’s really great.

Joe: I really enjoy the fact that our team is so diverse, I come from a background where things are more siloed and in your groups are people who think like you, and we have a team where we all think radically different and I think that kind of carries over to the entire agency. So any person you approach, they are going to think a lot differently than you are which is really cool.

Katy: Yeah I want to just echo what Joe said. Silos are not as predominant here, but there is still expertise in the building in a lot of different and necessary categories. There is always somebody to go to and kick around an idea with but the idea really is keen here, so it’s kind of open door policy. If you have a really great idea and some ambition and some passion to run with it, you’ll typically find a yes here at Barkley and a pretty long road to run with it, which is just really refreshing and really energizing as this point in my career personally.

Mark: I’ll throw in one more thing. I’ve been at Barkley for 10 years and I can say that categorically this is a really good time to be a Barkley. There’s just a ton of momentum right now. We’ve had some nice new business wins, picked up a lot of new clients, we are starting to get a lot of national buzz, you mentioned the Ad Age recognition as one of the best places to work. There’s just a sense of energy and momentum right now that makes it a great place to be and a great time to be here.

Buy Tickets to WMC Fest

Cleveland Design Conference WMC Fest is sponsored by our friends at Barkley

Thanks a million to Moonshot Lab and Barkley for sponsoring this year’s WMC Fest! Check out our full list of sponsors at wmcfest.com and buy tickets for Cleveland Design Conference Weapons of Mass Creation Festival now!

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WMC 6: Meet Ian Zeigler from Photonic Studio

Ian Zeigler from Photonic Studio


IZ: My name is Ian Zeigler with Photonic Studio. I went to CIA, and actually all the guys here went to CIA, but I run Photonic Studio with Matt and Tony. We have a little studio in Bratenahl, where we do art and make creative shit. Can I say shit? Stuff, creative stuff. We make animations, interactive content, and renderings and anything people pay us to make, websites, or whatever.

Selected projects from Photonic Studio’s portfolio.

HS: We are going on a little Cleveland design tour, and we’re actually not making it up to your space in Bratenahl this year, but I was able to visit your space maybe a month or two ago and you guys have a really unique space out there. You told me a little about how you actually ended up there and about your space in general, but can you share with our listeners a little bit about your cute little unique spot you have there.

IZ: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. We are in the middle of the woods in a converted greenhouse and it’s just very peaceful, there’s a lot of natural light and it’s a big change from working in a typical cubical with no windows, which I did for many years before we started Photonic. But yeah, it’s on an old estate, an actual old Holden property, just some old greenhouse. We were just lucky, because I was from Cleveland Heights originally, found a rental place kind of by the lake, and it happened to be this old Holden property and it had a greenhouse and we were always peeking in the windows at it, and we thought it be so cool if we could run a design space out of there. You know, we were all working for different companies and we all talked about running a studio together and it just actually all worked out. Eventually, I had to move out of living in Bratenahl but you know, still renting the space, it’s been awesome. We have turkeys, foxes and deer and lots of animals and lots of nature. You forget you’re in Cleveland.

Inside Photonic Studio

BG: So this is going to be your debut at WMC Fest, as well as the debut of what we are trying to do with the maker space and that second level. Can you give us a little taste of what we can expect out of you this year?

IZ: We are always experimenting with technology and visualization, usually for architecture and products and industry type stuff. But from experimenting with all this stuff, we kind of stumbled upon, wow, you can do a video booth or a photo booth with all this augmented reality stuff were doing to visualize architecture and products. So we kind of started experimenting with just making props, masks, beards and just all kinds of funky stuff and just realized we could make a video booth and it could probably be a perfect opportunity for Weapons because we always wanted to be a part of it, so then that’s why we reached out to you guys.

It was just kind of funny that we happened to run into Jordan at the AIGA thing and just tried to network with other creatives and we hit it off with him and just started talking about designing the video booth a little bit. Then we had a meeting and he started sketching ideas, and we started sketching ideas and it was just cool that Matt came up with the idea that Weapons of Mass Creation should be props of giant weapons and have it be a theme kind of thing.

And that’s when Jordan started designing some ideas based off of that, and we started 3D modeling them and integrating that and it’s been a cool workflow, sneaking these little side projects into our normal work flow. It kind of helps change up the pace of the monotonous day to day stuff. So once we realized we could do this augmented reality, we also thought, man this would be cool to do videos to share on instagram and twitter, so we might as well just record little 15 second clips of people wearing these custom props designed for WMC fest this year, and they are all animated props and kind of branded with some creative stuff. We might have some secret stuff sneaked in too, so we will see.

Photonic Studio’s augmented reality presentation book.

HS: Yep. Don’t want to give all of the secrets away. But it’s going to be pretty amazing.

IZ: So if you visit our video booth upstairs at the festival, you can jump in, get a short video of you and your friends with funny hats, oversized art supplies and custom props created specifically for WMC Fest. And we might have nerf guns up there too.

HS: Perfect!

BG: That’ll come in handy. So what’s on the horizon for Photonic?

IZ: For us, we’ve just been moving more and more into the creating interactive communication stuff, so utilizing unity, game engine, our modeling skills, our design skills, some animation stuff to make these 3D apps to help people communicate whatever they need, if it’s architecture, exteriors, interiors, trade show product stuff, I don’t know. We are excited. We just reached out recently to EventWorks 4D in Cleveland and we got caught up with them networking and we might be doing some holographic stuff with them so we are pretty excited about that.

Want to check out Photonic Studio for yourself? You won’t regret it.

Thanks a million to Photonic Studio for sponsoring this year’s WMC Fest! Check out our full list of sponsors at wmcfest.com and buy tickets for Cleveland Design Conference Weapons of Mass Creation Festival now!


WMC 6: Meet Jordan Schiller from Real Thread

Jordan Schiller from Real Thread

From Graphic Design Podcast – Go Media Podcast 011
Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6: Maker Space and “State of the Merch” panel participant Jordan Schiller


Let’s meet our Platinum Sponsor, Jordan Schiller of Real Thread!

Jordan is returning to sponsor your favorite graphic design conference in the world, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. We sat down to talk to Jordan a few weeks back to catch up and talk about what we might see out of the Real Thread gang at this year’s fest. You can read on to find out, or listen in over at our Go Media Graphic Design Podcast archives on Soundcloud.

JS – My name is Jordan Schiller and I’m a part of the team over at Real Thread. What Real Thread does is we print water-based and discharged t-shirts. So, we take your design and we’ll print it out onto any sort of t-shirt, hoodie, tank top, whatever it is, with water-based and discharged paint right in the fabric of the shirt, rather than it sitting on top of it. So, it’s a super soft, comfortable shirt that people love to wear. It usually ends up becoming people’s favorite shirt because it is so soft. And, it just represents people’s stories so well, because people actually want to wear the t-shirt. If you’re trying to represent your company, or your clothing line, or whatever it is, this is usually a good way. So, that’s really who Real Thread is. We print t-shirts. We love design. We love creatives and designers, and we strive to create the most delightful t-shirt experience in the world. We’re not perfect at it, but that’s what we strive for.

Heather – You do print very delightful t-shirts. I can attest to that. I have your shirt from last year that I screenprinted myself.

JS – Nice.

HS – Actually, I just saw a shirt that you printed for Jeff [Finley]. His “Wake Up, Show Up” shirt. I didn’t make contact with the shirt myself, but it looked super soft.

JS – Well, you’ll have to pick one up. His book release is pretty sweet. I hope it’s going well for him. But, you mentioned the shirts we printed at WMC last year. We were at a conference called Creative South which is in Georgia, and there’s just random people walking around that conference wearing those WMC Fest shirts. So, it’s cool that people loved printing them themselves and loved the shirt so much that they’re wearing them a whole year after. That’s awesome.


HS – Yeah. The Go Media staff are often twinning all the time, wearing our Real Thread shirts from last year. Like we were saying. Last year, our attendees were swarming around the Real Thread vendor village booth that you had. What can we expect to see from you this year?

JS – Oh, man. It’ll definitely be a place to get your hands dirty, have a lot of fun, and just chill and hang out. We’re definitely all about printing and those experiences. So yeah, more of the printing. It’ll probably be a limited quantity, so make your way up to the Maker Space as soon as you can!

Want to check out Real Thread for yourself? You won’t regret it.

Thanks a million to Real Thread for sponsoring this year’s WMC Fest! Check out our full list of sponsors at wmcfest.com and buy tickets for Cleveland Design Conference Weapons of Mass Creation Festival Now!

Real Thread Logo

WMC 6 Design Conference Podcast: Ticket Sales, Spec Work, Touring Cleveland, and Ink Wars

Design Conference Podcast

Bryan and Heather sat down for a bit of an informal episode of our design conference podcast. With less than 40 days left, there were a number of updates that needed to be said including where tickets stand for the fest (less than 100 3-day passes left), the workshops (WMC Workshop Tickets Now On Sale!), and the Cleveland Studio Tour (Cleveland Design Studio Tour Sold Out?). Plus, an important lesson was learned about Spec Work and T-Shirt contests.

Adventures in Design Podcast – Ep 204: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Speakers – Mark Brickey and Antonio Garcia

Adventures in Design Podcast

What? Another two-for-one special over at Adventures in Design Podcast, WMC Fest Fans!

Following in AID Episode 203’s footsteps, we’re being treated to yet another podcast featuring two of this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2015 speakers. I don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty elated over here. We get Mark Brickey and Antonio Garcia all wrapped into one – and what’s better than that?

Episode 204 Talking points, courtesy of the Adventures in Design Podcast site:

Antonio Garcia is doing the day job thing right by making sure everything else he does professionally is very different. Antonio loves to act as a consultant to fellow creatives tying to get big ideas off the ground.

Talking Points you’ll hear on Episode 204
– Antonio’s simple two step rule to tell if your job is right for you.
– Letting go of your ego and being able to help others find their time in the spotlight.
– How chasing a passion can yield a profits but a chasing a profit rarely yields a passion.
– Having a future that is fueled by past goodwill.
– Antonio lets us in on his speech for WMC Fest this August and how he’s created a simple list of 15 lessons that anyone can apply right away to their career.
– Teaching others to professionally respect you by laying down ground rules and showing you respect yourself.
– How giving so much to others in only making Mr Garcia a better student of life.

The Circle of Trust (paid content)
– Antonio and Mark break down common friend trends and showcase the traits that make people successful as well as the traits that seem to hold people back from trying.
– Things that fathers do for their sons.
– Allowing yourself to dream big, but also making dreams that are realistic to your path

Have you heard the Weapons of Mass Creation crew on Adventures in Design elsewhere?

See Antonio and Mark live and in the flesh at the best design conference in the entire world, Cleveland graphic design company Go Media‘s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, August 7 – 9 at the Allen Theatre. Tickets at wmcfest.com

WMC 6 Go Media Podcast Interviews: Michael Rivette, Christina Sharp, JP Boneyard, and Jordan Schiller of Real Thread

Go Media Podcast Time!

In this episode, Bryan and Heather sit down with speakers Michael Rivette, Christina Sharp, and JP Boneyard, as well as sponsor and panelist, Jordan Schiller from Real Thread to talk about what they’re most looking forward to at this year’s WMC Fest 6.

WMC Fest 6 Poster Design Process: An Inside Look (Part II)


Hello, again! In Thoughts Behind the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 Poster, I went over my process of researching, note taking, and inspiration hunting for the creation of this year’s event poster. Welcome to part II, in which I will go through my steps of making the poster, from sketches to the final design.

Before I start drawing, I need to be aware of what I’m visually aiming for. This year’s Cleveland design fest is slightly more upscale than the previous ones, yet it will still carry that grassroots, inspiration-driven, draw-lots-of-cool-shit feel. I must ensure this is visually represented. Therefore, the illustration should be ornate, but not so decorative that the fest is mistaken as uninvitingly sophisticated and elitist. It is a premier event, but an warm, inviting one that emphasizes inspiration and community. Okay, I’ve figured out the personality of the poster, now onto picturing the subject matter. An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha is not an something I admittedly imagine everyday (and maybe I should). So it is difficult to envision what something like this would look like all at once (especially since the subject is mechanized). In figuring this all out bit by bit, I chose to start with the head.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - 2

Buddhist imagery shows this deity with a divine crown, prayer beads, and multiple faces, so I decided to utilize those elements. At first, I was thinking of having its face look like something from Transformers or Gundam, but then settled on a monitor-esque head. This works better in my aim to reference technology and the computer. You’ll notice that I only drew half of the face. Drawing perfect symmetry can an absolute pain, so to speed up the process (and not lose my mind obsessing over perfection), I sketched the one half, flipped, and merged it with the other in Photoshop. Once you have drawn the one side, you also have the other completed, resulting in complete and symmetrical form. (Two birds, one stone.)

WMC Fest 6 Poster - Sketch 3

With the head and torso drawn, I then illustrated the arm(s) and lower portion of the figure. I also added this adorning, flowing fabric to help imply the Buddha’s divinity and presence as a cosmic entity.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - Sketch 4

Depicting the rest of the leg and hand was next. Take note that I am drawing, scanning, and then drawing more of the figure. Again, I do this to maintain symmetry while it also it allows me to hone in on specific parts, yet make steady progress. When tasks are broken down into smaller, unintimidating steps, a lot can be accomplished.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - Sketch 5

Bam! The sketch of the main body is now done.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - Sketch 6

Because I’m depicting a robot subject, I want the line work to be clean and uniform. Therefore, the figure is then re-illustrated in Adobe Illustrator. Hello, pen tool (my best friend).

WMC Fest 6 Poster - IMG 7

The line work made in Illustrator is printed out so I can draw on half of the first set of arms. I’m not sure yet what specific art tools I want to include in the hands, so I only draw the handles. Things can always be edited – added in or taken out.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - IMG 8

On the right (faintly shown), is the copied, flipped, and aligned half of the first set of arms, completing the left and right side of the first set of arms. Art tools are drawn in on both sides. The left side shows the beginning of the SECOND set of arms.

WMC Fest Poster - IMG 9

The last set of arms is finished off with the art tools drawn into the hands. Our tiny, yet powerful artist is also depicted.

WMC Fest 6 Poster - IMG 10

Back in Illustrator, the omnipotent force of creativity is completed. Floating outside of the artboard are some extra paths and shapes, un-outlined and editable (just incase). The cosmic robot Buddha is the star of the show, therefore most of the work is now done. The artboard is changed to the size of the poster, a green background is placed in, the color of our small heroic artist is changed to make him or her stand out, and the deity of artistic brilliance is set to a celestial gold (same gold of the “6” in this year’s WMC logo).

WMC Fest 6 Poster - IMG 11

Add a little ornamentation, the type, and it’s done!

There you have it, a step-by-step on how the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6 poster was created. So buy your tickets and get ready to talk about art stuff and designy things, all while high-fiving and being inspired! Can’t wait to see you all at this year’s WMC Fest!

WMC Fest 6 Poster Design Process: An Inside Look


I had the honor of designing the poster for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. For those who do not know, I am a recent addition to the Cleveland Graphic firm, Go Media and WMC Team, and when I started in February, I thought I would be working alongside the other designers in creating the promotional material for WMC. Nope. Instead: “It’s all you. We’re excited to see what you come up with.” Entrusting me with such important work had me both fired up and terrified. With the event poster being one of the first things needed done, I hit the ground running. One thought continuously played in my head: This poster needs to kick some serious ass.

Like with any design problem, starting with research is a good idea. I dug up the past WMC Fest promotional material, taking notes on aesthetic similarities and differences with each year. I also needed to understand the overall “feel” of the event, so I decided to chat with Chris, Aaron and Carly to receive some insight. The three of them wonderfully shared their past experiences at WMC, what it meant to them, as well as their opinions on this year’s event and the new changes it’s undergoing.



(Please excuse random doodles.)

With Jeff Finley stepping down, Heather Sakai stepping up, and a new venue ready to go, this year’s fest is bound to be a little different. With this in mind, I wanted to create a design that heralded the debut of Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Six. Yes, we are stepping up our game with a more sophisticated location. And yes, we are aiming to make WMC Fest more dynamic and inclusive by featuring creatives who are not necessarily just designers or illustrators. But above all, it is our every intention to preserve the tradition of being that grassroots-originated, premier art and design conference, focusing on community, encouraging others and defying the hand that is dealt.

I now had a more defined problem: What can I create that announces this year’s exciting changes, yet stays true to the WMC’s punk rock beginnings and foundational principles of inspiring and enabling the creative mind?

Because WMC Fest has a strong history of featuring illustration, I wanted the poster to pay tribute to that tradition by having it be detailed and illustrative, a piece that the viewer could spend time with. After perusing the internet, searching for inspiration from gig posters (which illustration has a heavy presence in) and anything related to design conferences, I arrived to the idea of using the image of Buddha.



More specifically the Thousand-Armed Buddha. According to Buddhist texts, this deity embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, having a crazy amount of arms to reach out to all sentient beings whom are in need of aid. From this I liked the imagery of multiple hands holding art tools, representing immense creative power. Also, the themes of compassion and helping others are parallel with WMC Fest’s philosophies of being a force of inspiration, support and encouragement.

Alright, cool, now I have a concept to work from. However, I did not want to lazily replicate (and bastardize) such a sacred figure by just depicting Buddha holding some paint brushes and pencils. I instead wanted to  take that idea and expand upon it, resulting in a poster that is original and true to the WMC spirit. So I began to think about the term “Weapon of Mass Creation” and what it meant to me. For many of you who don’t know me or have not seen my work, galvanizing encouragement and invincible optimism have been major themes of my art. I am in love with the archetype of the “small” conquering the overwhelmingly “big.” (This concept was translated into large paintings I created in 2013 – The Power of Smallness.) I believe that being a Weapon of Mass Creation, specifically the concept of defying the hand that is dealt, very much relates to the universal experience of feeling inadequate, yet growing, pushing through, and achieving all that is enormous. Great! Another piece was added to the puzzle: the depiction of the seemingly small artist releasing the magnificently colossal creative drive that is within. So what would that look like?

An astral-projected, cosmic, robot Buddha (boy, that’s a mouthful). Of course.


(Robot reference photos)

Yes, a cosmic robot Buddha. But why the portrayal as a robot? There are several reasons, however the most honest one is that I freakin’ love robots. They’re super rad. But a more justifiable reason is that I wanted it to reference the computer and technology, which have had revolutionizing roles in art and design. The robot subject also works quite well for an illustrative poster – lots of lines detailing its mechanized form. Lastly, the notion of robots has strong ties with childhood (especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s) and the youthful imagination. They are the tools in taking on huge challenges – “I’ll just get into my super powerful, giant robot to fight the bad guy.” Perhaps we lose some of that wide-eyed, wonder-filled, childlike drive when we get older. But that does not mean it is completely gone.

So get ready to revive that drive and celebrate imagination at this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest!

Continue reading “Creating the WMC Fest 6 Poster tomorrow to see the steps of how this year’s event poster was created.