Say “Fuck no” For The Holidays

December 5th, 2014 Posted by Todd Hansen in Identity, Illustration, Resources


Just in time for the holidays and months in the making we are thrilled to announce the launch of!

It is the brain child of our well groomed leader Michael Nieling and based on a talk he gave at this year’s SXSW Interactive Festival. He’ll be returning to SXSW in 2015 with a follow-up session so stay tuned for more details on that.

Here’s how to handle this hot news:

1. Swing by the new site, take it in, read through it…breathe deep.

2. Go listen to Michael’s session from SXSW and be moved.

3. Return to the site and grab a “Fuck no” t-shirt. They’re on sale and include a FREE “Fuck no” merch pack!

Wear it and share it. Now get to it and tell someone “Fuck no” for the holidays!


Hit the Books!

August 21st, 2014 Posted by Chris Walker in Design, Illustration, Lettering

For some back to school is one of the most exciting seasons of the year. For others…ehh, not so much. Regardless of your outlook, one thing remains the same: change. It’s time for new books, new supplies, new instructors (well, for the most part) and new ideas. SO! In honor of hitting the books — and my mild neurotic obsession with letter forms — I’m doing a short series of posts covering the art and craft of lettering. Broken down into three posts including: books, supplies, and craftsmen.

Over the past few years, I’ve been building my library of references on lettering whenever possible. Below are 5 books (in no particular order) from this collection that I have found to play an invaluable role in my continued education on this detail oriented trade. Most are available on Amazon, but a couple are out of print and may require some deeper digging. Whether you’re new to lettering or already have an understanding of the fundamentals, do yourself a favor and check these out!

Mastering Layout: On the Art of Eye Appeal
Mike Stevens / © 1986 / 10″ x 7.875″ / 127 pgs.
“You’ll notice the marked absence of tricks, special effects, and fad styles in this book. That absence is deliberate. Tricks of the trade should be left to those whose education is yet to begin. Learning sound layout principles is best accomplished in the light of simplicity…unencumbered by embellishment that hides the real meat of the matter.”
– Foreword by Rick Straub

Mastering Layout

Fonts & Logos
Doyald Young / 
© 1999 / 9.25″ x 12.25″ / 385 pgs.
“I have spent my career drawing letters, studying type, and teaching. Demonstration is one of the most effective ways to teach. So is explanation, and so is the act of directing the viewer’s gaze to see that which is not readily apparent. Fonts & Logos is about these things, how to get started, and the declaration of the joy of drawing.”
– Doyald Young

Fonts & Logos

Lettering for Advertising
Mortimer Leach / © 1956 / 9″ x 11.75″ / 227 pgs.
“After many years of teaching at Art Center School, Los Angeles, I have accumulated records of the most common mistakes and misinterpretations made by the average beginner. This experience has been extremely helpful to me in presenting an analysis of letter forms; it is my hope that it will be equally valuable to the reader in helping him to avoid these mistakes from the beginning.”
– Mortimer Leach

Lettering For Advertising

1000 Practical Show Card Layouts & Color Sketches
H.C. Martin / © 1928 / 8″ x 10.5″ / 240 pgs.
“The object of this book is to make show card writing more lucid, to give a better scope of the work entailed, and, at the same time, giving a solid fundamental knowledge of the underlying principles. The result is this bench manual which covers ground never before attempted in any other book offered to the trade.”
– H.C. Martin

1000 Practical Show Card Layouts

Custom Lettering of the 40’s & 50’s
Rian Hughes / © 2010 / 9″ x 9.125″ / 574 pgs.
“Looking back at this period, some may find it a surprise that many lettering artists were also consummate illustrators — and that many a high-profile illustrator could also render their own lettering. It seems that a broad range of skills was the norm rather than the exception for the successful commercial artist, and the cohesive harmony of many of the examples featured here that incorporate both type and image pay tribute to these artistic all-rounders.”
– Rian Hughes

Custom Lettering of the 40's and 50's

How to Grow an Avocado Plant

August 11th, 2014 Posted by Abby Lindstrom in DIY, Infographics, Sustainable America

A little over a year ago, I helped create an infographic called “How to Grow an Avocado Plant” for Sustainable America. The process involved a lot of research and tutorial-watching, which motivated me to try to grow my own avocado plant at home. Here’s how it went:

Back in April 2013, I started by setting six seeds in cups of water propped up by toothpicks. After a month, I hadn’t seen any of the changes I was promised from my research, and I started to feel discouraged. But not too long after the one-month marker, one of the seeds started to crack and soon revealed a small root descending down into the water. Two of the six seeds started growing roots, and I abandoned the other four. Soon, my two seeds cracked further, and small shoots started to push their way through the tops of the seeds.


Over the last year they have developed into the plants shown below, 3-foot high trees and growing! Apparently, it can take anywhere from three to 15 years for an avocado plant to fruit, and cold Milwaukee winters might hinder the plant from growing full speed. But even if I don’t see an avocado on my trees in the next few years, I am still very proud of what I have grown. I grew two avocado trees!


August 4th, 2014 Posted by Nick Krusick in Design, Web, Work


Internet Privacy. It’s sort of a generic term that get’s loosely thrown around. If anyone has been following the news in the last eighteen months the name Snowden has been tossed around quite a bit. And it’s not just the U.S. government following you around the web. Say you search Amazon for a new garage door opener. Soon, your Facebook feed is littered with an obnoxious amount of related products or you start getting mailers from “categorically synergistic” brands. There is clearly a lot going on behind the scenes, and it’s pretty safe to say that your info isn’t staying in one place. The collection and sale of personal browsing data is a multi-billion dollar a year business.

Enter our friends at Founded by former Google engineers and privacy attorneys, they have been tackling topics of security and privacy through a variety of efforts since 2011. Their belief is “you should be free to move about the Internet without anyone looking over your shoulder and without fear that your online activity might be analyzed, your searches scrutinized, and your security compromised.” We couldn’t be more on board with that. We’re excited about what this team is doing and you should be too. It’s time to take a bit of our privacy back.

The primary products they develop are privacy browser plugins and software. Each is designed to give the user  protection from prying eyes on both the browser side and network side. The “Disconnect Plugin” allows you to visualize and block invisible websites that track you and “Secure Wireless” stops wireless eavesdropping over WiFi, 3G and 4G. Additionally, they partner with brands who build digital and physical products so you can mind your business, and others can mind theirs.

Some supported products are:

  • OFF Pocket by Undisclosed – Signal Blocking mobile device case
  • Silent Circle Encrypted Phone service
  • Plus they offer a Privacy Picks page for other products and services that also achieve the mission.

**Note: is fully transparent about their referral fees for these products. Another breath of fresh air!

Aside from being fans and supporters of their product, we also collaborated with them on the design and build of their Privacy Picks page within their existing site. It’s purpose is to provide support and recommendations to privacy-related products, organizations and media. A welcome resource for anyone trying to ditch the ever-present tailing of  big data behemoths. So please check out and support A few simple clicks will go a long way to keep your embarrassing Beanie Baby Amazon searches on the DL.

SXSW 2014 Recap Video

July 1st, 2014 Posted by Todd Hansen in SXSW 2014

Once a year we take to the skies and drop in on Austin for the yearly gathering that is SXSW Interactive Festival. This year our beloved leader Michael Nieling dropped knowledge on 900+ folks at his 9AM session (we’ll post more on that later). A feat in itself since it seems SXSW’s sole mission is to make you walk, see, experience and (maybe drink) more in 5 days than you think possible.  It’s a marathon. It’s a sprint. It’s overwhelming and at times sublime. By day three you can’t imagine continuing on and by day five you can’t imagine leaving. Here’s a recap of our tribe’s trek to a tech fest mecca.

Better Your Letters

June 23rd, 2014 Posted by Chris Walker in Design, Lettering

At the end of May, I had the opportunity to host a small, informal lettering workshop at the Ocupop studio. About a month prior, my friend and fellow designer, Manuja Waldia — in the midst of working on her senior thesis project — contacted me about putting something together for some students from MIAD who were interested in lettering.

The workshop focused on basic lettering styles that can be achieved with a dual-ended brush/chisel tip marker. Ocupop provided everyone with a marker, as well as tracing paper to work on. To begin, we walked through a couple Ocupop projects that had an emphasis on lettering and were created by using the same type of marker. Then, went through the basic strokes that comprise an elementary block style alphabet. Everyone practiced these fundamentals, and the remainder of our time together was spent exploring the capabilities of the marker with whatever words were fresh in our minds.

A big thanks to Manuja for helping to make this happen, Nick for taking photos all afternoon, and to everyone who attended!

Designers Talking: Adam J. Kurtz

June 13th, 2014 Posted by Grace Blevins in Design, Lettering, Typography, Work

Since the bulk of our design team is located in Milwaukee, we try to keep up with design events that the city offers. Recently, we’ve become involved in a dialogue series: Designers Talking. Once a month, a designer is invited to exhibit new work, which is followed by a public dialogue the next day.

In April, a dialogue was hosted by me where I had the opportunity to interview designer Adam J. Kurtz @adamjk on his exhibit, This Is Literally Just Paper. Based in Brooklyn, Adam’s clever writing style and charming aesthetic takes a critical look at internet culture. Adam’s work explores the cultural addiction to instant gratification as well as his fascination with tangible objects.

'Sorry I'm Such An Asshole' balloon by Adam J. Kurtz

‘Sorry I’m Such An Asshole’ balloons by Adam J. Kurtz

This Is Literally Just Paper, featured a collection of paper scraps that Adam has collected, every week, for over two and a half years in a project called ‘Week In Scraps'(#weekinscraps). The scraps include everything from bubble gum wrappers, Michelle Branch concert ticket stubs to doodles on post-its. The project takes a look at the daily ephemera we generate and how paper goods and designed objects are valued. Kurtz sold merchandise (Check out his super adorable gift shop!) during the Designers Talking opening reception and any  money received was stamped and pinned up alongside the rest of the printed matter, becoming part of the exhibit.

Stills from 'This Is Literally Just Paper'

Stills from ‘This Is Literally Just Paper’

The following day, the public was invited to join in a conversation with Adam to discuss the themes in his work and the exhibit. Watch highlights from the discussion here. Designers talking with Adam J. Kurtz from Designers talking on Vimeo.

An added bonus was that Chris and I  had the opportunity to contribute poster designs for the Designers Talking series that are available for sale. Our only restrictions for the poster were the title of the series and a couple of Pantone swatches. In the end, our posters ended up looking pretty different from each other. Chris found inspiration in check-lists, along with the simplistic beauty of hand-painted signage. My design considered the relationship between creative thinkers, joining together in a conversation.

Designers Talking Poster Design - Chris

Designers Talking Poster Design – Chris

Designers Talking Poster Design - Grace

Designers Talking Poster Design – Grace

Designers Talking is organized by Milwaukee designer, Nate Pyper and is hosted at The Pitch Project, a gallery and studio space located in Milwaukee’s Historic Walker’s Point. Designers Talking will begin it’s second cycle of visiting designers this fall. I can’t wait!

The Great Unbundling

May 22nd, 2014 Posted by Todd Hansen in Web


Break it down. Break it apart. Make an app for everything. Create a user experience tailored for only three specific actions that end up with one fantastic result. Take the damn web apart so we can measure every type of interaction and sell that data to anyone who’s buying. It’s no longer an app that can do everything. It’s an app that does one thing, and kills it. We are watching the web being broken down into bite sized bits. Laptops may never die but your phone is your best friend and it’s warm glow your window into all that is you.

The conversation started earlier this year when Facebook, Google, Foursquare and other “giants” started pulling their services apart to make condensed/specific mobile experiences. Some good, some great  and some so-so. The argument is that when things become distilled and all goes as planned that hooch is potent, tasty and gives you a good buzz. So ten years spent building massive laptop/desktop experiences are giving way to less a buffet of options and more a single serving of exactly what you want to eat. The buffet is being is being broken down and The Royal Fork is going out of business.

While I’m a fan of progress and an early adopter of sorts I do like to question the reasons for massive movements in thinking by large tech companies. Granted, competition is the greatest motivator and so is cultural hyperbole fed by media machines that project a public demand that may not exist. In the end I feel it’s about measurement. More precise data around specific actions. The tighter the definitions the greater the interpretation of the whole. So if I know why you do three specific behaviors in a row within a specific silo (read: unbundled app) I can better predict behavior across a larger user-base.

Yes, yes it’s all in the name of providing a better experience for the customer. And I agree that responding to usage data and adjusting/pivoting/tweaking a product makes immense sense. But I can’t help but wonder what happens when things become so unbundled and there are so many options and so many services have been broken down to only their ingredients are we giving away too much about the measurable granularity of our lives? We probably are and when my shirt talks to the internet my doctor will know I’ve been smoking again.


May 9th, 2014 Posted by Jeff Hamlett in Identity, Logos, Web, Work


Last summer we were very excited to help with the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference. In the past we  had worked with the organizer Ben Moskowitz on a few different projects for one of his other gigs, so we couldn’t say no. Chris and Nick developed the ID along with the print and merchandise. Then collaborated with our web team and DARC’s team to get the conference site up and running. Both sides were really please with the way all the elements turned out on top of having a great time working together!

DARC Badges. Ocupop designed. Ocupop worn.

In an awesome move, the crew at DARC extended an invite to come attend the show so Michael and I jumped at the opportunity to hang out in NYC for a few days seeing some friends, walking the city, and learning about flying robots.

Part one of the conference focused on public policy and the use of drones for commercial versus recreational purposes. The panels and talks were fascinating featuring speakers from around the world. Topics ranged from the use of quad and octocopters in film news and sporting events to privacy issues concerning recorded flyover of private property. It was extremely educational couple of days.

Hackathoners getting down in their final hour.

The second and final part of the conference was a Hackathon at NYU’s ITP Lab. Teams were given the afternoon to come up with various hacks for the Parrot AR Drones 2.0. We didn’t participate in the Hackathon (skateboard lessons in Central Park for a friend couldn’t be turned down), but we did swing by for the last couples hours of hacking and final presentations. There were some fantastic ideas. The teams had programmed the quadcopters to climb invisible stairs, paint graffiti, and (my favorite) deliver a beer across the room with the route being crowd sourced via Twitter. Both the ITP facilities and the teams were incredibly impressive.

Huge thanks to Ben, Dean, and Chris for inviting us out. We hope this becomes a regular event for them.

Check out the webcast archive of the entire conference.

Bonus Features

Michael and I pretty much have to rent an extra room for footwear when we travel together.

We helped @susyjacks pick out her first setup and then went to cruise around Central Park for a few hours.

Livin’ Lanona

May 2nd, 2014 Posted by Laura Waldman in Identity, Logos, Typography, Work


Lanona has been an ever-evolving and compelling project for us. Founders of Lanona, Ben Ransom and Michael Nieling (Ocupop Creative Director) are childhood friends, which has made for an untraditional (and extremely beneficial) relationship allowing for team-oriented, close collaboration. The project first began during the winter of 2012, but was put on hold while Ben continued to build a relationship with the shoemaker and dig deeper into the market research. Fast forward to December of 2013, Lanona was back in motion and we hit the ground running.

Hand embossed stamp for paper collateral, and leather stamp for the insoles.

Hand embossed stamp for paper collateral and leather stamped insoles.

Having the opportunity to begin with a raw idea and craft it into a finished product has played a crucial role in building the brand. Throughout the month of January we revised the original identity, re-drew the tread pattern, created artwork for leather stamps and hand embosser, developed the un-boxing experience, shot initial product photos, laid out the website and developed additional artwork for the first collection, The Travelogue Series.

Three-fourths of The Travelogue series. The Driver (left), Women's Moc (top), and The Boat (bottom).

Three-fourths of The Travelogue series. The Driver (left), Women’s Moc (top), and The Boat (bottom).

Many times, the work we do as designers is only visible as pixels within the confines of various device screens. With Lanona, we got the best of both worlds — creating exciting content for the web, while also seeing our work come to life in the form of tangible objects. Being able to try on the shoes, wear them around allowed us to not only visualize but also feel the quality of the product we were designing for reinforcing our thoughts on the brand.

The patent-pending Cube Tread looking SO smooth!

The patent-pending Cube Tread looking SO smooth.

Passion, authenticity and quality. That’s what Lanona is all about, and hey, we can get behind that. Check out Lanona Shoe Co. for more info on the company and snag a pair of these incredible shoes.