I’ve been posting on Instagram to roll out some of the artwork we’re featuring for The Custom 20 backpacks. Below is a long form explanation for Baron Dreamcatcher, the 4th of 6 new bags that we’ll be debuting at EAST Austin Studio Tour, Nov 11-12 and Nov 18-19. Longer than usual post here to fill in some backstory for a bag that could probably best be rolled out by saying:
Baron Dreamcatcher features artwork by Matt Hill. It’s a beautiful bag, featuring beautiful artwork. 🙂
Details: I met Matt in January 2016, while participating in Seth Godin’s altMBA, we were both working to refine our ruckus making skills. Matt told me that he would love to help Badass Backpacks in any way that he possibly could. The Baron Dreamcatcher backpack that is part of The Custom 20 is the result of a first collaboration with Matt. I’m already looking forward to the next time we will have a chance to work together.
Matt Hill is an artist, photographer, and a generous human being. He teaches night photography with National Parks at Night, taking his skills to various national parks where he uses his camera to capture stunning images – and more importantly, teaching the art of pushing your camera to do more than you might dream that it can do. You can see some of his photography work on his website. Matt also creates cut paper artwork. When we spoke about his inspiration for the cut paper works he creates, he narrated a scene of putting on the music and letting the paper take shape, not always knowing what he might make, but simply working to create something beautiful, without judgement while it takes form. He doesn’t always have a predetermined direction. And that “letting the art self-guide itself into being” was reflective of the path for how this backpack featuring Matt’s artwork was created. He generously gave us access to a large archive of cut paper artwork. When we opened up the folders of images he shared, we began stumbling with joy through different things we thought we might create. And then the work stalled.
For a long time, Matt’s amazing cut paper archive was sitting at my finger tips, along with an echo in my head of his encouraging words: “Adam, just look at these pieces, and use them as you need.” At that time, I had no idea how valuable Matt’s generosity was going to be. Out at the edges, I was working on a number of graphics projects that required me to level up my Adobe Illustrator game… and I needed to start working with vector graphics. As it turns out, cut paper art happens to be an amazing, fruitful, and inspiring starting point for creating vector graphics. As I started pouring over Illustrator tutorials in YouTube, I had a secret weapon — folder after folder, photographs of Matt’s cut paper artwork. Matt, you should know that during the last 6 months, my Adobe Illustrator skills have been seriously leveled up (like 10x). And your artwork was a huge part of that journey for me. Gratitudes to the max for your generous sharing. During that leveling up of my vector graphics skills and Adobe Illustrator skills, I began collaborating on a project that was supposed to be part of The Custom 20. Unfortunately, that particular project fell apart. It does not matter why. What’s important is, it totally fell apart. We were on the eve of sending off our graphics to get fabric printed for The Custom 20 backpacks, and there I was, sitting at Flightpath Coffeehouse, with my head in my hands. I was devastated, knowing that all of this work we’d done was not going to be printed.
[Side note to this story: The Custom 20 was not originally supposed to be 6 bags — there were more bag designs, and several of the bags we were working to create, did not come to fruition. That’s a story for a different time.]
So what to do? What to do in this situation where we had a chance to print fabric, but couldn’t use what we had previously created? I thought about Matt’s encouragement to just dive in, and I leapt. I put on my headphones, cranked the music, and in an inspired 3 hour session, I worked several of Matt’s pieces into our bag pattern. The result is a backpack called Baron Dreamcatcher, named after the piece that is featured on the front of the backpack.
The inside of the zipper pocket has the phrase “Rule Number 6”. This is an ode to one of the altMBA values, that Matt and I embrace: Rule No 6 is “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!” [*Borrowed from a book called “The Art of Possibility” by Zander and Zander.] The work by Matt for that interior piece of the bag is untitled.
Matt’s piece at the end with orange color is titled, The Fire Beneath.
Badass Backpacks works under several guiding principles, one of which is “to be intentional”. Don’t fake the funk. But sometimes, the best grooves are unexpected and improvised. Looking for advice from two altMBA alumni on how you can catch your dreams? Let go of your expectations. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Leap. Inspired by walking that journey, Baron Dreamcatcher is beautiful backpack. First chance to see it will be at East Austin Studio Tour — Matt, thank you again for your support, for your nudging, for your courage, for your encouragement, for your generosity… you are an inspiration.
Big smile for how this one came together.