Dudlik's ultimate vision for Dojo includes a graphic design museum that will serve as a community space for tutoring and design curriculum offered to young people interested in design.

"The museum will absolutely be a shelf," Dudlik says. "It will hopefully showcase the work of local designers, but it will also serve as a gathering place, which is exactly what the Phoenix community needs more of in order to survive." Claire Lawton


Seesaw Design
www.seesawdesigns.com
Three cute girls graduate from college and decide to open a graphic design firm. They rent space in a quirky building, buy a couple of ancient letterpress machines to complement the big-screen Macs lining one side of their cubbyhole of an office, and complete the look with an office dog — a Boston terrier named Feather, who greets clients and nestles on her owner's lap while considering colors and fonts for wedding invitations. They land a couple of big-name clients — K-Swiss is on the list — and pinch themselves, happy to have found success before 30.

Where's this firm based, you ask? San Francisco, Chicago, maybe D.C.? Must be Portland.

Nope. Try Scottsdale. Angela Hardison, Raquel Raney, and Lindsay Tingstrom say they don't care to live anywhere else. And come to think of it, thanks to these three, neither do we.

Seesaw Design is just what this town needs — women with extremely good taste. At 3,000 pounds each, the antique (circa late 1800s) letterpress machines they've taught themselves to use are so huge that they are housed off-site in a garage; but Seesaw's calendars are hanging all over town, and their very limited (so far) line of stationery is highly coveted. Truth be told, computer-generated graphic design — for clients including St. Francis, Chestnut Lane, and At One Yoga — takes up most of the workday.

In their free time, all three are big thrifters. We knew better than to ask for their favorite haunts (though we heard vague references to Sun City) but you can check out their very best finds on their etsy shop. Okay, except for a driftwood lamp taller than Tingstrom, who tops out over 6 feet; she kept the lamp. And they're kind enough to post evidence of their cool hunting (pictures and ideas, not just vintage dresses) on the Seesaw blog. (That and the etsy shop are linked from the company's Web site.)

The three met several years ago at ASU's College of Design and giggle nervously when asked whether they were BFF from the start. No, not really, they say, looking embarrassed and admitting that's probably what's made the working relationship go so smoothly.

At 28, Tingstrom is the self-described "old lady" (at first she says "old maid," then corrects herself — her letterpressed wedding invites are to die for, by the way), raised in the Valley and schooled in California and Italy before finishing up in Tempe. She's the concept person of the group, most interested in branding a client's product. Raney, 26, from Miami, is the "arty" one, and Mesa native Hardison, 25, has more of a "handmade" aesthetic and a real love of typography. (And a great house in Mesa — featured earlier this month on Design Sponge. Our favorite: the plate wall.) All three go for the minimalist look — hence, the etsy shop to get rid of too much thrifted clutter, though they do mourn the recent sale of a Native American yarn wall hanging on display until recently at Seesaw's office.

All three agree that Scottsdale's the place to be. Looking around their sleek, white office, with its chicken-wire covered inspiration wall hung with stamped papers, newspaper clippings, examples of Seesaw's letterpressings and a multi-colored kids' plastic heart, it's hard to disagree. Amy Silverman


FILM

Nathan Blackwell
www.squishystudios.com
When he's not looking through his video camera lens, Nathan Blackwell's in the stingray tank.

It's an odd day job for a film director, but being an exhibition tour guide and stingray educator at the Phoenix Zoo gave Blackwell plenty of background for his latest screenplay.

If the screenplay gains enough interest (i.e., financial backing), he'll be back behind his camera directing and filming a couple on a doomed first date, which begins with an alien abduction and relocation in an outer-space zoo exhibit.

The bizarre and extraordinary plot is a "Blackwell classic," as it joins a list of films he's produced, such as "The Hand You're Dealt," in which a guy walks into a tarot card reading and has to leave after his first three cards are death, car bomb, and alien rectal probe, or "The Constant Epiphanies of Billy the Blood Donor," in which poor Billy finds himself in the center of a blood donation clinic's soft drink conspiracy.

It's here where Blackwell succeeds: in the imaginative backstories, the intense character development, and in the concrete and often comedic, bloody visuals he uses under extreme time and resource limits (the tarot card short was written and shot in 48 hours).

His film career began as soon as the first kid on his block got an 8mm video camera for Christmas. The Central Phoenix neighborhood, just miles from where he still lives, made a perfect backdrop for low-tech renditions of Indiana Jones and Star Wars films.

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3 comments
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Terra
Terra

Ewww, the last comment did not like my punctuation. I am sorry if it is difficult to read. But I hope it still makes the point and can be taken in a constructive manner. Thank you!

Terra
Terra

I found the article about "Robert Kilman and Safwat Saleem" to be incredibly insulting. As an active member of the local film community, I had never heard of these two before the Big Brain nominations. I came to NewTimes expecting to learn something more about them, and their up-and-coming talents.

Instead, I read nothing but insults towards our city. I have traveled across the country, but in Phoenix found a WONDERFULLY talented and visionary community. So I have to ask, “Kilman, are you kidding me?” Have you been to a recent A3F screening? (If not, many of the films can be found online now.) Have you ever watched the Media Guys? SyntheticHuman Pictures? N'Raged? Junk Draw? They all make incredibly good films, not to mention the films by your fellow nominee from Squishy Studios. And if comedy isn’t your style? You'll find no lack of drama, horror, action or suspense here. "Leashed" is the name of one short I really enjoyed, but I don't recall who made it.

If you want to “improve the standard of creativity in… local filmmaking”, let me give you some sincere advice:

First, find out what that standard already is. Sure, there's dozens of amateur films for each one that is note-worthy. But every filmmaker has to start somewhere, and I believe in encouraging the students & beginners. I don’t use them to set the standard when organizing a competition, however.

Second, leave your over-inflated ego in LA, and start networking here. We are a young, but rapidly growing city. It has been said that Phoenix will be the "Next Hollywood" and for good reason. Let’s work together and make that happen (without the pollution and corporate crap please. Indie ftw!)

All filming aside, we have a vast and wide-spread variety of artistic attractions. Have you visited The Lost Leaf? Been to many First Friday events? I can't list everything going on in this city. It's literally an everyday, ongoing, kaleidoscope of creativity.

Congrats on your nomination! But as you continue improving your art and gaining recognition, please remember - before YOU question "whether or not Phoenix is attractive to creative types." You should realize we are already here.

Nicholas DiBiase
Nicholas DiBiase

With all due respect to Atherton and Keener, Dudlik takes this one by a mile. That little whippersnapper has reanimated th' mummy of Phoenix functional and aesthetic design culture. What one year ago seemed like a battlefield populated by a scattering of wounded ronin now feels like an unstoppable polycerebral juggernaut of radness. Kind of like "Oogy Boogy" from "Nightmare Before Christmas."

 
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