Roadtrip Recharge

For the month of August, a series of guest posters will be filling in on DWL with daily posts. Today’s posts come to you from designer and illustrator Karen Kurycki of CMYKaren. For more from Karen, be sure to check out Absurd Overheard and follow her on Twitter. Enjoy!

When Courtney asked me if I’d like to guest blog on DesignWorkLife last month, I was actually on a 3-week-long road trip (CMYKation2013, as I referred to it) away from Jacksonville, FL, visiting friends (a majority of whom happen to be designers) in a handful of northeast cities in the US. I know you might be thinking why would I care about a stranger’s roadtrip? But I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the awesomely wonderful people and places I saw during my three weeks on the road. So here’s a brief recap of some of the people I crossed paths with—and I apologize if I leave anyone out, I ran into a lot of people during this trip but didn’t want to post the longest blog post in the history of blog posts.

The first city I stopped in was DC, home of Mr. Obama, a lot of awesome/free museums and a bunch of talented designers. I stayed with with my good friend, Liz Ott, who was the president of AIGA DC, during the same time that I was president of AIGA Jacksonville. Liz works at an agency called Threespot which specializes in non-profit clients and causes.

The first night I was there we attended a party at iStrategyLabs where I got to drink some keg beer and hang out with Liz, Dian Holton who is an art director for AARP Magazine, Erin Thom Krieger (my best friend from college) who works as an art director at Pappas Group, and Nathan Hill.

During my stay, I also got to visit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with friends. If you’re ever in DC, stop by—it’s a wonderful contemporary art museum! I really enjoyed seeing Barbara Kruger’s Belief+Doubt exhibition, as well as Peter Coffin’s Here and There exhibition.

On my last day in DC, I got to stop by my friend Nathan‘s studio to see where he works, and hang out with his adorable new puppy, Penny.

After DC, I headed to Pittsburgh to visit my friends John Degore, Andrew Twigg and Carolyn Colonna—whom I’ve also known for several years through AIGA. During my one night in Pittsburgh, I got to eat some delicious bbq at Union Pig & Chicken (which I have to say was pretty impressive for the north), drank some delicious beers at Franktuary and took part in the Creative Briefs podcast that John and Carl Huelsman run through the AIGA Pittsburgh website. They’ve interviewed some very talented designers on their podcast, including Ellen Lupton, Brad Frost and Allan Chochinov, to name a few. However, if you’re looking for a design-focused conversation I wouldn’t recommend listening to my interview…somehow our conversation wandered off onto 80s toys, breakfast sandwiches and karaoke. 

The next morning I woke up and drove seven hours to Chicago to meet up with my awesome buddies from college, The Bubble Process, which is the design and screen-printing collaboration of Sean Higgins and Nick Rezabek. They attend the Pitchfork Music Fest every year in Chicago, running a poster booth at Flatstock. If you’re not familiar, The Flatstock poster show series is presented by the American Poster Institute (API). It is an ongoing series of exhibitions featuring the work of many of the most popular concert poster artists working today.


Not only was I surrounded by their awesome work, but I got to check out and meet other poster designers at Flatstock 40. Sadly, I couldn’t meet everyone, but have included some of the poster designers I did get to meet.









But really, how great is this tote!? Totes cray, right?





The festival was 3 days of crazy, hot, fun—I saw some interesting acts, including Bjork, Belle and Sebastian, MIA and Robert Kelly (you may know him as R. Kelly) and hung out with my friend Joe who likes to dress as a dog named John Bark.


On the Monday after the fest, I decided to stay an extra day because the weather along the drive to Rochester NY was supposed to be pretty wet and stormy. I was actually stoked to stay an extra day because it gave me the chance to meet up with a few more friends. One of those included Dawn Hancock, the owner of Firebelly Design. Firebelly is an agency committed to cultivating connections between human beings and ideas, inspiring conscious thought and action—basically good people creating good ideas/design FOR good. I really can’t say enough good things about Firebelly, it was great to see Dawn and meet some of the designers in their studio space.

After Firebelly, I stopped by VSA Partners, where my friends Mike Joosse, Jen Levreault and Lee Zelenak all work, for a tour of their agency.

I closed out my time in Chicago with pizza at a place called Reno with Jen, Lee, Carli Dottore and Mark Nizinski. (Kent State represent) A big thank you to Jen, who was basically my personal tour guide of Chicago for a majority of the time I was there, and Lee and Mark who let me stay with them the whole time.

Overall, Chicago was a blast, and I got to hang out with so many talented and fun people.

The fourth leg of my trip was to Rochester, NY, where I was born and raised, and also where my parents live. This was my week of downtime, or at least supposed to be, but I ended up meeting some other creatives while on this leg as well (and also drinking a lot of Genesee Beer with my awesome parents.) :) As I was walking around the historic Neighborhood of the Arts district in Rochester with my dad, we stumbled upon Anderson Alley Complex—here, I met a co-op of artists, one of them being Rachael Hetzel who owns Pistachio Press, where she letterpresses fine stationery, social invitations and limited edition prints.


One of the artists who also works in their space, but wasn’t there during the time I visited, is painter Jim Delucia. I snuck into his studio to check out some of his works in progress, and they are beautiful.


We also had a chance to drive around Rochester to see some of the murals that are part of the Wall Therapy Project:

Overall, my trip ended up being such a wonderful experience for me—something I’ll remember forever, and allowed me to take a break from my everyday life in Jacksonville. During the time I was driving and going through all of these experiences with friends and family, it made me realize how important taking time off for yourself (when you can) really is important and a rejuvenating experience—even if it’s a 2-hour road trip, the things you can learn from yourself and others are priceless. Thank you to everyone who made it so special.

Karen Kurycki
Karen Kurycki
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