Jun 102010

Seen this poster pasted around DC recently? The image has cropped up all over the city in the past few weeks, with the quote:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocked fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed”

— President Dwight Eisenhower

Refugee + Eisenhower Quote

The poster brings us back to the real meaning of “innocent bystanders” in Heineken’s coy ad pitch – and illustrates yet again the influence of art in media. That influence, of art and counterculture in mainstream marketing, is what sparked our new Ad/Remix series for eSocialMediaShop.

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Dec 282009

Graffiti draws a remarkable counterpart to marketing and advertising. Memorable street campaigns take the same creativity, consistency, branding and visibility needed to make marketing work.

DC Graffiti

Street artists are marketers gone rogue (also a popular theme of the year) – developing and executing creative concepts, many with a specific and often populist tone. Like it or not, the closer you look, the more of a message there is to see in the details of graffiti.

Four Mile Run Bridge 2

Practice Wall 4

Four Mile Run Bridge

Practice Wall 2

Practice Wall 3

DC represented big in 2009, and themes in our graffiti and street art reflected important, meaningful local issues: problems of homelessness, DC’s non-state status, and few (but expanding) outlets for public art. Check out a full photo set of the year in DC graffiti on Flickr.

These are the freshest names and stand out styles in DC graffiti:

Names Up Everywhere:




CHE1 CHE2 CHE+JAKE+Chinatown










Click here to see a Flickr photo set of the year in DC graffiti.

Top Creative in DC Graffiti:


Fill: REZIST. (Next: JAKE). REZIST’s fill-ins are always crazy colorful – and legible. Same with JAKE, who tones down the new school funk and maintains a wild style.



Bomb: CHE. (Next: MOE). A close call but easy to pick. MOE may have more tags up, but CHE is mighty close – with bigger fill-ins and better, riskier, more visible spots. MOE tagged Adams Morgan’s mural on DC’s non-state status – an ironic, shady move to deface a message the rest of DC’s graffiti seems to be all about. Watching CHE and MOE get up this year was like watching the good guy vs. the bad guy – and here, the good guy wins.



Spot: JAKE. (Next: CHE). JAKE is up in the undisputedly best spot in DC – in the middle of the Patomac River on Georgetown’s Key Bridge. To hit the spot, JAKE had to either get a boat, or haul gallons of paint and loads of supplies under the bridge span across its huge arcs, starting at several chainlink fences directly next to the US Park Police office. JAKE’s piece is one of the most visible in the District, in a place that’s the antithesis of graffiti – squeaky clean, picture perfect Georgetown. A huge hassle, if not nearly impossible to remove. It epitomizes graffiti in a clean, simple, colorful piece that carries impressive implications in logistics and location.




Stencil: RVLTN. (Next: 51). Stencil images hit the streets of DC to illuminate two big issues in DC: homelessness and political representation. Amidst the toughest economic time in decades, DC slashed funding to social services that help the homeless. Next, the 51 stencil hit corners and street boxes with a simple, clear, concise message: make DC the 51st state – no matter how our vote tips the political scales.


PEEPSPoster: DECOY (Next: DIABETIK). DECOY covered more DC walls than any other poster artist this year with a distinct style that’s easy to spot. DECOY was part of an awesome cartoon poster campaign in early December at 14th/T (already removed!) along with the next pick: Peeps. All year, poster Peeps popped up all over the place in DC.


Sticker: Crook. This sticker is iconic of everything about graffiti and Washington DC: free speech, politics, corruption and dissent. The sticker’s amazing wit calls attention to the fundamental issues in both graffiti and politics – and common to us all: open access, free speech, expression, opportunity, and equality.


A full photo set of the year in DC’s graffiti is posted on Flickr.

Something missing? Leave a comment and links to pics of your favorite DC graffiti!

Jun 122009

Artomatic opening night, the mixed media crew filmed visitors sharing stories and secrets with PostSecret creator Frank Warren. Simple and salacious, our secrets weave a sexy story of scandal, spirit, and surprising everyday experiences.

PostSecret was created for Artomatic in 2004 and has become an international sensation, attracting nearly 500,000 secrets from around the world.

Frank Warren signs your copy of A Lifetime of Secrets Saturday, June 13th, 7-9pm at the 7th floor Artomatic store. Come see never-before-seen post cards and grab a limited edition ‘PostSecrets from Artomatic’ post card to send your secret!

PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death & God hits shelves October 6th.

Video by:

Eric Shutt, Richard Murby + Mila Adamova.

Special thanks to Frank Warren + PostSecret!

May 042009
Rice ponders merits of Motown v. R+B.

Rice ponders merits of Motown v. R+B.

At her first public appearance in DC since leaving office, former foreign-policy mogul Condie Rice fielded a venerable dream-list of questions yesterday by a group of students at Washington’s Jewish Primary Day School.

Courageously championing both democracy + education to the group of 3d – 5th graders, Rice recalled childhood fantasies of being a competitive figure skater, famous concert pianist, or maybe a track star before one student’s question went classic: rock.

“What’s your favorite music, including your favorite Led Zeppelin song?” the nine-year-old pressed Rice, finally offering DC the Condie moment that until now has all but tortured America by the wait.

“My favorite Led Zeppelin song is actually a song called ‘Black Dog’ which is uhh … kind of a 1968 anthem.” Rice laughed, continuing “I like all kinds of music. I like Led Zeppelin, I like Cream, I like really hard rock.”


Condie admitted “…so I like all kinds of music except for Country & Western which, I don’t get it, but some people like it.”

Unlike most Americans, however, Rice also admitted earlier in the program to remaining “close friends” with George W. Bush in the line dance surrounding his post-presidency.

The former President was unavailable for comment regarding the state of his friendship with Condi in light of their divergent music preferences at press time.


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Apr 072009

The United States of America was in crisis as 1934 approached. Art seemed irrelevant as the national economy fell into a profound depression after the stock market crash of October 1929. Thousands of banks failed…businesses struggled or collapsed.

Paul Kelpe, 1934.

A quarter of the workforce was unemployed, while an equal number worked reduced hours. More and more people were homeless and hungry. Nearly 10,000 unemployed artists faced destitution.

The nation looked expectantly to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was inaugurated in March 1933. The new administration swiftly initiated a wide-ranging series of economic recovery programs called…

Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan easily alludes to FDR’s New Deal. The exhibit description adapted above of Smithsonian American Art Museum’s current curation, “1934: A New Deal For Artists,” reads as if written for today.

The economy was in crisis as 2009 approached. Wall Street failed, businesses collapsed. Art seemed irrelevant as the national economy fell into a profound recession. The nation looked expectantly to Barack Obama, who swiftly initiated a wide-ranging series of economic recovery programs.

During the Great Depression unemployment hit 25%. Today it’s at eight America is freaking out. Especially if you watch the news. Fox News reports are particularly alarming. Conservative pundits warn that the New Deal actually prolonged the depression and predictably echo Regan’s inaugural assertion that “[i]n this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Colbert Great Depression

Whatever we do, we certainly have a situation on our hands. And we’re the ones who’ll decide what to do about it. Government funding can offer structure and direction, but how we choose to use it determines our future.

America generally seems to agree that creating a solution to our financial woes involves an aim to maintain or regain our pre-recession lifestyle. The assumption is that everything must return to normal.


Wrong. Things can’t go back to the way they were – and we don’t want them to. What got us into a national financial scramble are bad habits that created an unsustainable economy. Rather, we can look to our current recession as an opportunity to evaluate and reevaluate our surroundings – and produce a new American lifestyle of sustainable prosperity.

Our creative economy can lift us from today’s financial recession.

FDR created the Public Works of Art Program as the first federally funded arts project in American history. Today’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $50 million in grant funding for the arts. $50 million of $787 billion – or .0000635% – isn’t much to work with, and some are bothered by it anyway. By comparison, “$165 million…is less than one-tenth of one percent of the total amount of bailout money given to AIG in one form or another.”

Obama’s economic plan throws limited funds to the arts, so if art can recess the recession, it’ll be all about public-private partnerships. Luckily, years of overselling real-estate has left us with plenty of empty space  – and free time from the highest unemployment rate in 25 years – to find creative ways to use it.


So how can DC turn our part of $50 million into over $5 billion? By being DC.

A report soon to be released by the DC Office of Planning and DC Economic Partnership has found DC’s creative economy is overlooked and under-hyped. Creative jobs are 10% of the city’s workforce – and bagged over $5 billion in wages alone during 2007 – sans financial stimulus.

DC is among America’s largest media hubs, and the city’s creative economy is growing faster than the financial progress in other industries and geographic areas.

Bringing art into empty building space is a great way to build community and generate economic development. Condo buildings and retail spaces that sit vacant as property shifts hands and faces are prime real-estate for pop-up arts events.


Pinkline Project and Artomatic are both examples of people using empty space in creative ways. Artomatic 2009 expects over 1000 artists to draw more than 50,000 visitors to the Capitol Riverfront from May 29-July 5. Working with private developers and independent businesses to secure space and event logistics, Artomatic is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The recession offers an opportunity to redefine our own everyday creativity. We can look to the interchange between arts and lifestyle to produce solutions for our economic recession. The same is true now as was during the Great Depression. And luckily, a bit less extreme. The deal still needs to be new – and the arts are still a relevant solution.

Today, we’re all the artists.

Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration created the Public Works of Art Program—the first federal government program to support the arts nationally. Federal officials in the 1930s understood how essential art was to sustaining America’s spirit. Artists from across the United States who participated in the program, which lasted only six months from mid-December 1933 to June 1934, were encouraged to depict “the American Scene.”

The President realized that Americans needed not only employment but also the inspiration art could provide. On December 8, 1933, the Advisory Committee to the Treasury on Fine Arts organized the Public Works of Art Project. Within days sixteen regional committees were recruiting artists who eagerly set to work in all parts of America.

Between December 1933 and June 1934, the PWAP hired 3,749 artists who created 15,663 paintings, murals, sculptures, prints drawings, and craft works. The PWAP suggested “The American Scene” as appropriate subject matter, but allowed artists to interpret this idea freely… The PWAP art displayed in schools, libraries, post offices, museums, and government buildings and lifted the spirits of Americans all over the country…

Dedrick Brandes Stuber: Passing Clouds, 1934
Mar 232009

Mixed Media District is a blog about art + culture inspired in Washington, DC. Really, it’s about you – the crew creating a scene that puts DC on the map with New York, LA + San Fransisco as the nation’s creative capitals.

Murals by Shepard Fairey, Ron English + DECOY in a vacant lot at 14th + U St. NW, DC. March 2009.

Murals by Shepard Fairey, Ron English + DECOY in a vacant lot at 14th + U St. NW, DC


Video installation “Electronic Superhighway” at Smithsoanian American Art Museum

I hope you like what you read + want to know what you think. Comment. Send your ideas, events, links + content to cross-post. We make DC the place to be + impact our culture with pop + politics. Let’s make it nice.

Thanks for reading,