What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Saturday Edition

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One from
the Heart

Check this film for a one-day Field Notes special Valentine's Day promotion. The offer is over, but the sentiment endures.

Decipher This

The Whole Mysterious Story

The 41st design in our series of Field Notes Quarterly Editions has a sleek, mysterious look, fitting for an edition all about secret codes and ciphers. It features a three-part history of cryptography, and the 3-Packs themselves are puzzles, very difficult puzzles, to be solved. This is the Clandestine Edition.

FNHQ In Good Company


Our studio on North Racine Avenue in Chicago was selected as one of the "Coolest Offices" in the city. Thanks to Crain's for that. And thanks also to Sarah Crowley for taking the photos, our contractor and furniture-maker, Peter Moorman, and to Phillip Schmidt for his advice and architectural expertise. Come by and see it yourself. Bring money.

A Cautionary Tale

Heed This Well, Young, Costumed Beggars

Our annual warning to trick-or-treaters, in the style of Hilaire Belloc.

A Six Tone Scale

True to the Blobbiness

We've long-admired the dynamism of a mural that is hangs on the north side of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, on Ashland Avenue. Once we renovated and moved into our new studio space, we decided to track down who was responsible, with the idea of doing something similar for our main work space. The artists, Gwendolyn Zabicki and Kent Smith, were up for the idea, and also for us filming them painting the 12' x 8', 3-panel artwork. Thanks a million to them.

Ten Years of Field Notes

Origin Stories

Ten years ago we started Field Notes. Here's some background. Aaron talking about where the original idea came from and the history of American agricultural design. Jim on the mechanics of moving from working for clients to inventing one. Whet Moser's recent piece for Chicago Magazine and how we got here.

An Adventure of a 2-Pack

Meet Haxley

During October, Chicago Illustrator and poster-maker Jay Ryan set himself a goal of creating one small ink illustration each day. These drawings revealed a story about a bear and his squirrel neighbors. We followed Jay's progress and found the drawings irresistible. We knew that they'd look great in a special Field Notes edition. We hope you agree.

New From Field Notes


We're proud of the short film (spot?) we made for a product partnership with the unstoppable Bellroy from Australia. Check out the new Everyday Inspiration, custom, compact leather cover.

Thanks to Big Delicious Planet for inviting us into their Canteen for the location, and to Spencer Tweedy for letting us use his song "Temple State" on the track. It's in heavy rotation at HQ currently.

One From Way Way Back

How Do You Spell Courage?

A lot has changed around here since 2005: waistlines, hairlines, fashions, a big new studio, and new businesses to fill it with. Here's a Throwback for Thursday, in beautiful standard definition. The production values might leave a little to be desired, and the "new Canadian restaurant" in the neighborhood may have closed, but the film itself actually holds up. Sort of. Presenting Copy Goes Here.

You Can Count On Change

That’s a Wrap

After a long, successful run, we're shutting down our advertising network, The Deck. Jim posted about the decision and the details at the Deck site. John Gruber was one of the network's very first affiliates. John published a way-too-generous piece about The Deck at Daring Fireball. Thanks for that, and to all the affiliates, advertisers and readers who supported the network over the years.

Last year we moved into a new studio in Chicago, and in the back, near where we do screen-printing and other messy stuff, there's a shelf for projects we made, operated and eventually, shut down. We'll make some room for The Deck there, right next to Jewelboxing, The Seed Conference and The Show. We haven't stashed away Layer Tennis just yet, but who knows? Anyhow, as always, we're scheming about the future. And, of course, we're making these notebooks.

Choose to Go to the Moon

Over the Moon

It's not quite like faking the moon landing, but the film we made for the release of our Field Notes Quarterly Edition Lunacy, was made entirely using the same sort of practical, analog effects that you'd need to employ if you were going to stage that event, back in the day. So fun. So messy. BTW: The Lunacy Edition is now sold out.

Guest Editors

Helpful and
Mostly Polite

A list of all the brilliant people who have helped us by guest editing Fresh Signals can be found here.

Other recent features are listed on Page Two.

Fresh Signals

Plane Crossing a Crescent Moon. ms-yesterday

"I'll be one of the last ones to board and I'll look through all the closed overhead bins and attempt to shove my large suitcase into a crevice. Spoiler alert: I have no concept of time or space so I'll shake my head and curse until one of the ladies comes by and offers to check my bag for free." ms-yesterday

Trailer for the film Diane. ms-yesterday

i09 has a (mostly) great list of weird and/or geeky "romantic" movies to stream on Valentine's Day. mcj-02.14

So long little buddy. jc-02.13

Soviet radio logos. Via P&C. jc-02.13

Somewhat related to the last. ms-02.13

Photos From the 2019 Westminster Dog Show. ms-02.13

Rowan Mersh uses thousands of seashells to create mesmerizing contemporary sculptures. dw-02.12

For JC, kubrick.life. dw-02.12

"Congratulations. You are now an Assistant Designer at another firm. The salary cut leads you to move in with your boyfriend, an aspiring magician. You and another Assistant, Emilio, were hired on the same day, and yet, for some reason, only you were asked to help out with the phones. Cool. ms-02.11

Science is cool, y'all. ms-02.11

Long read of the day, The Heroes of the Thai Cave Rescue. ms-02.11

Beer before wine not fine. ms-02.08

Reporter Kashmir Hill spent six weeks blocking Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple from getting her money, data, and attention, using a custom-built VPN. Here's what happened. dw-02.08

Francesco Bongiorni illustrates the mysteries of Italy. dw-02.07

Trailer for the documentary A Tuba To Cuba. ms-02.07

Matterhorn, Moon, and Meteor. ms-02.07

Super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive. jc-02.06

The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets. Via Kottke. dw-02.06

Snøhetta unveils the S-1500 chair made from discarded fish nets. dw-02.06

Steven Heller: Letterhead. jc-02.06

Trailer for the documentary The Biggest Little Farm. ms-02.06

Local note. Big Delicious Planet and The Roof Crop are hosting an Indoor Urban Farm Dinner on Friday, March 1. Get your tix now and we'll see you there. jc-02.06

"Frida Kahlo's exhaustively documented crossover from artist to pop culture icon isn't happenstance. The painter meticulously crafted her own image on a par with Cleopatra. If she were alive today, she'd probably be teaching a branding class at Harvard." ms-02.06

Nice set of new Questions and Answers from The Chicago Manual of Style. jc-02.05

Clint Howard's "Eaglebauer" jacket in Rock and Roll High School sent me down a Watkins Sportswear rabbit hole. bb-02.05

So you know. What's with the "H" in "Jesus H. Christ?" jc-02.05

Five additions to the U.S. Postal Service's 2019 Stamp Program including Star Ribbon by our pal Aaron Draplin. dw-02.04

The nerdy charm of artisanal, hand-drawn infographics. dw-02.01

A primer on why every Chicago mayor since 1979 makes damn sure our streets are plowed asap after a snowstorm. ms-01.28

"Something in the new Oscar de la Renta boutique in Paris was not what it seemed." I love this so much. ms-01.28

UNESCO names Rio de Janeiro the first World Capital of Architecture. dw-01.28

"Once I saw a woman apologize profusely to a table she bumped into before laughing (almost maniacally) when she saw that it was, in fact, just a table. I no longer run outside with headphones because once you've been followed home it's hard to really let yourself get into the new Ariana Grande album." ms-01.28

Trailer for the film Dogman. ms-01.28

So you know, Mathematical and Puzzle Typefaces. jc-01.24

Bill Bailey tries out the Star Spangled Banner in a minor key. bb-01.24

If you are a local, this article on the Hideout and the dreaded Sterling Bay Lincoln Yards project is a great read. Save the Hideout! ms-01.24

FN TBT: June 13, 2013. "The Stars and Their Courses." jc-01.24

The point of the matter. Found while reading One Design's post on custom cursors. jc-01.24

Page Two contains the previous 40 Fresh Signals, recent features, a key to the icons and the categorical archives.

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