John Hendrix

John Hendrix: Artist Profile (excerpt)
By Tiffany Meyers
, September/October 2009 Issue

It’s a good thing that, when John Hendrix said he’s “a passionate believer in Jesus,” it was over the phone. Otherwise, he’d have seen the rude double take happening on the other end. Hendrix is 33. He’s articulate, unreasonably talented and an SVA grad—all fairly strong indicators of someone with ironic sensibilities.

But now, it’s clear that the fire-and-brimstone drawings scattered about his blog are not ironic. Rendered “pew side” during church sermons, they’re Hendrix’s sincere attempts to make sense of, say, false idols, God’s glory and the Pentecost.

Hendrix, who describes himself as “very much a guy with a sketchbook,” feels most at home as an artist when drawing. It shows. The church sketches are freer and weirder (in the good way) than anything you’d expect from church. They’re also much funnier. Whatever serious stuff he’s working through in his head, he’s also clearly having fun with the surreal tropes of Biblical scripture. There are robots. Nearsighted rabbits. And dry bones, rising from the dead.

Later, in a St. Louis coffee shop named, hilariously, Meshuggah, Hendrix talks openly about being a young, evangelical Christian illustrator in a secular world.

My full profile of John Hendrix appears in Communication Arts’ September/October 2009 issue. It was also reprinted with permissions here.

Brian Cronin

Brian Cronin: Artist Profile (excerpt)
By Tiffany Meyers, March/April 2006

As the style of this New York illustrator evolves, one thing remains constant–his commitment to self- expression.

Whatever our professions, we are all linked to the tools of our trades. But illustrator Brian Cronin is inextricably, physically so. At a recent breakfast meeting at a lower east side café in New York, he describes his connection to his materials in corporeal terms. Cronin recently undertook the arduous process of shifting from the pen, which he’d used for years, to brushes and acrylic paint.

“It was like sawing off my leg,” he says, delivering the characteristically hyperbolic statement with the Irish brogue that skims every word.

The complete article, published in the March/April 2006 Issue, is a subscription-only feature. Please visit Communication Arts for more information.

Chicago’s Fulton Market District

The Globe & Mail Newspaper
Chicago’s Fulton Market District
By Tiffany Meyers, December 16

Author’s Note: Canada’s Globe & Mail asked me to write up my favorite spots in my favorite Chicago neighborhood. It was easy to choose. The meatpacking district in Chicago–along and around Fulton Market Street–is an enthralling clash between haute design and yet-to-be-fully-gentrified industry grit.

Chicago is often known as the Windy City, a designation born of its cold lakefront gusts (and windbag politicians). But to score points in the Fulton Market District, use Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago poet Carl Sandburg’s term for the city: “Hog Butcher for the World.” The Union Stockyards once dominated these streets and, yes, the world. Maharajas visited the unlikely tourist destination. So did Henry Ford.

After decades of decline, though, the Yards closed in 1971, leaving the area to seafood and meat wholesalers – and an underground warehouse party scene that raged on until the 1990s. That’s when a few restaurateurs parachuted in, opening upscale eateries (such as Vivo and Marché) on Randolph Street, then an industrial wasteland.

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Mixcraft

Chicago Tribune
Practicing Mixcraft
By Tiffany Meyers

Author’s Note: For the Chicago Tribune’s HOME section, I caught up with Tricia Guild of the UK’s Designers Guild. The mere thought of mixing patterns can make some design aspirants weak at the knees with fear. So I asked Guild, who’s staked her whole enterprise on that eclectic look, to break it down for us.

Tricia Guild, founder and creative director of London-based Designers Guild, says there’s no reason to be afraid of mixing fabrics in the home. Clearly, she wasn’t there the time our window treatment of paisley jacquard and checked sateen made those small children cry. Not to mention the adults. So it’s probably more accurate to say that there’s nothing to be afraid of if you’re Tricia Guild.

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The Art of Arranging

Chicago Tribune
The Art of Arranging
By Tiffany Meyers 

Author’s Note: Here’s why David Jimenez is cool. His  talent and career as a visual merchandiser is so out-sized that, if he wanted, he could get away with being a little too cool for school. Not him. He’s such a good guy—and more down-to-earth than the green grass underfoot. I met him (telephonically) while writing this article for the Chicago Tribune’s HOME section.

I asked him to draw from his years as a visual merchandiser to help the Trib’s readers create tablescapes that look artful, not haphazard. He delivered. Check out David’s site to learn more about him.

Some people can toss a piece of driftwood, two books and a lamp on a coffee table and end up with a camera-ready display. The rest of us rearrange the same objects (endlessly) and come up with the anarchy of Nana’s knickknacks.

Displaying accessories is one of the trickier points of styling any room. How much is too much? And too little? Which objects are meant for which table? For David Jimenez, a genius-level visual merchandiser and gifted decorator, tablescaping is the difference between a house and a home.

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Architects Rescue a Renovation Gone Awry

Chicago Tribune
To the rescue: A botched renovation opens the door to a new family home
By Tiffany Meyers, July 12, 2009

It’s a story that starts, as any page-turner  should, with a moment of high drama. Thanksgiving weekend 2004: Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson hear a knock on the door of their Wilmette home. It’s their neighbor.

He’s in over his head, he says. Way over. And he wants out. More specifically, he wants out of the renovation he has undertaken on his house across the street, a do-it-yourself gut job that has gone horribly wrong. The-whole-house-shakes-when-you-jump wrong. He wants to know: Can his architect neighbors think of anyone who might take it off his hands?

The founders of the award-winning, Evanston-based architecture and interior design firm Morgante Wilson Architecture, whose residential projects (there are eight on this block alone) range in style from Georgian to ultramodern, head across the street to survey the scene.

With the entire back wall removed, the home can’t be resuscitated. It’s nearly tipping over. But Morgante and Wilson know that a host of developers would be pleased to buy the land and throw up a new McEyesore in its place. And, from across the street, guess who would have the best view? The couple’s intervention seemed only natural.

What happens next, in this old house tale, has to do with reinvention and real life. Not to mention a love story.

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EnergyBBDO

EnergyBBDO: Agency Profile (excerpt)
By Tiffany Meyers, May/June 2010 Illustration Annual 51

EnergyBBDO in Communication ArtsDuring the early 2000’s, the advertising community thought it was hilarious to refer to Energy BBDO, the Chicago branch of Omnicom-owned BBDO Worldwide, as Wrigley’s in-house agency. It’s not that a massive account like Wrigley was anything to sneeze at. It’s that, had the agency been called to defend itself on a playground, it wouldn’t have had much else to brag about.

And what could the “in-house” thing have been if not a schoolyard taunt? So in 2004, the agency got its New York on. From Merkley Newman Harty, Marty Orzio took the helm as Energy BBDO’s Chief Creative Officer. And until his 2008 departure, he accumulated new business wins like Jim Beam, Dial, U.S. News & World Report and The White Sox.

“It’s not easy to shift perceptions,” says Tonise Paul, Chief Executive Officer. “But we didn’t put a lot of energy into that. We just kept our eye on the ball. And suddenly, we’re winning awards across categories.”

The full story of EnergyBBDO’s turnaround, which appears in Communication Arts’ May/June 2010 issue, is available to subscribers only. Please visit the magazine’s website for more information.

Wicker Park: Where History Meets Haute

Canada’s Globe and Mail
Wicker Park: Where history meets haute

By Tiffany Meyers, June 15, 2010 

Like so many of the best travel anecdotes, this one will start at The Crotch. At least that’s what some people are calling the six-corner intersection (Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues) of the Chicago neighbourhood Wicker Park. On a typical day, a throng of people who care about progressive fashion, music, food and books, plus originality and Pabst Blue Ribbon, spill forth from that intersection, which, in all seriousness, you should really just call The Corners.

Along those three main drags, you’ll find a caffeinated, high- and low-end mash-up of DIY creativity, $200 skinny jeans, $2 tacos, new and used books and respectable people watching.

In 1870, Charles and Joel Wicker (a pair of brothers-cum-developers) appropriated 80 acres of land and called it, after themselves, Wicker Park. The devastation following the great Chicago fire, one year later, inspired a real-state boom in their domain, as German and Scandinavian brewery tycoons built their mansions along Hoyne and Pierce Streets, a.k.a. “Beer Baron Row.” (For more architectural eye candy, add Caton Street to your walking tour.)

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Amex: Ad Age’s Marketing 50

Advertising Age
AmEx Members Project: Marketing 50
By Tiffany Meyers, November 2008

For American Express Co., it’s marketing that does good as it does well.

“Having the opportunity to do marketing and do good at the same time is a great feeling,” says Belinda Lang, VP-consumer marketing strategy, who oversees Members Project From American Express.

The online initiative solicits AmEx card members to submit and vote on ideas for humanitarian projects.

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NBA: Ad Age’s Marketing 50

Advertising Age
NBA Playoffs: A Marketing 50 Case Study
By Tiffany Meyers, November 2008

Nielsen ratings are one thing. But when Carol Albert saw a “Saturday Night Live” parody of the National Basketball Association’s 2008 playoffs campaign, “that’s when we knew ‘There Can Only Be One’ had made its way into popular culture,” says Ms. Albert, senior VP-marketing at the NBA.

To build excitement over the six-week NBA playoffs and into the finals, Ms. Albert, 45, laid out a strategy “to focus on the intensity of competition and players’ shared commitment to win.”

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