Design Roundup – Summer 2012: Three Rivers Arts Festival Edition

I made it down for a couple of days of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. If you didn’t get a chance to go, here’s the stuff that caught my eye.

Jason Woolslare was in the first booth that I saw, which was a treat, because I had seen his work at Most Wanted but didn’t think to take down his name. I couldn’t link to either of my favorites here, but check out the car race on this page, and the woman and the plane on this one. He has a lot of great multi-layered compositions like the one above. I like that the overall subject is readable, but the details really pull you in and make you want to look closely.

There were a couple of people who had robots, but the ones by Toby Atticus stuck out. Some have moving parts and lights, all have the classic cool aesthetic like the one above. What could be more awesome than your own robot? A place to repair it when it tries to attack you! This guy has a storefront on 6th St downtown showcasing his robot repair shop. You really ought to check out the link and read the testimonials, and keep an eye out the next time you walk down 6th St after a Pirate game.

If you’re a puzzle or games person, you can kill an hour at this booth easy. I have a soft spot for Kadon Enterprises’ games because it’s one of my earliest memories of going to the Arts Festival. My mom got a game just like the one above (which you can play online here). For a long time afterwards we would try and find new combinations of solutions, and record them on graph paper. Here’s some advice, which I remember hearing from the eccentric man who sold us the game: “If you put the big pieces in first, the little pieces will thank you”.

Greg Stone’s booth was badass. In addition to this sweet book (10 freaking dollars for a signed picture book about zombies? Hell yes), his prints were all really unique and funny as well. My favorites included Goodbye, Squirrel, and Flashing the UFO.

Box Elder design is the work of Eric Zawrotny. He does branding and web design, but he had a lot of his illustrations with him at the booth, which is what caught my eye. I liked the deftly proportioned animal drawings that have a little bit of a cartoon quality which are richly colored and subtly textured.

The stuff that Attic Dwellers brought to the festival featured primarily upcycled bottle caps and bicycle inner tubes. The inner tubes are used as the straps on the handbag above, but there were also floral hair clips and neckties (that I would have worn to a Dropkick Murphy’s concert in high school, had such things existed then. The neckties, not the hair clips). The handbags were super cool, made from old comic books, usually the cover on one side, and an especially appealing page from the book on the other.

And if all that awesome artwork wasn’t enough, there was a whole week of free concerts. I saw Kathleen Edwards and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Kathleen Edwards was a lot of fun, I knew way more of her stuff than I though I did. To me, she’s an original alt-country star, and she walked the line between country sentimentality and rock smarts beautifully. I love her voice and her songwriting is unfailingly clever. She and her band stretched out a few songs, which was really great to hear, since most of her studio stuff is pretty tight.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops were drop dead incredible. They are a folk band from North Carolina (shockingly enough), and their show was an amazing living history of all kinds of folk music. There was a healthy dose of American folk, some from the Caribbean, and they also did a number from Scotland. The Gaelic singing was really spellbinding; the entire crowd was completely transfixed by this language that nobody spoke, but everybody could understand. I can’t imagine that translating to a studio recording, so if you’re looking for an introduction to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, I defy to you listen to “Cornbread and Butterbeans” and not be charmed. They also cover Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ’em Up Style”, which is worth a listen if you’ve heard the original.

That’s all I got. If you were at the festival and want to fill me in on something I overlooked, feel free to leave it down below.

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