Big Brain Awards 2013

Page 5 of 13

For a while, she and Michael sold what they grew (and milked and made — Lylah's a whiz at jellies and apple and pumpkin butters and recently started making caramels) at local farmers markets, but they didn't like that, so they decided to open their own farm on Thursdays. Crowds have reached 500 a day.

The summer squash is coming in; life is good. And the Ledners' goal, Lylah says, is simple — like the farm: "To earn a living." — Amy Silverman



Jon Arvizu is a hired gun. That's how he describes his day-to-day work as a designer, illustrator, art director, and printmaker at Trapdoor Studio.

When he isn't working on freelance projects for a Swiss brewery, a local motorcycle club in need of a fresh logo, or Phoenix-based entertaining guru Cheryl Najafi's website, the 37-year-old indulges his hobbies of letterpress and mono-screen printing.

Arvizu does it all in the backyard studio of his Scottsdale home, where he lives with his wife and their two young sons. The space is a den full of his ideas, experiments, and projects — many of them look like they'd fit right into the Midcentury Modern world of Mad Men. The retro imagery is everywhere from Ralph Haver and Al Beadle homes to a record player, tikis, and pinup girls.

People ask Arvizu about Mad Men a lot, he says. Though he watched the first few seasons of the show, he walked away with more of an appreciation for its style and design than its plot.

That's how Arvizu has taken in artwork since he was a kid. He's drawn toward lines and colors more than anything.

"My earliest memories centered around art, advertising, and design," Arvizu says. "Saturday morning cartoons and comic books; toy packaging and trading cards; Cracker Jacks and Bazooka Joe gum; Crayola's art carousel; Powell Peralta's 'Bones Brigade' logo; Van Halen's 1984 album cover."

All that visual inspiration comes through in Arvizu's playful, graphic work. His one-man operation (trapdoorstudio.com) affords him total creative control, and almost all the new work he gets is due to word-of-mouth marketing. Arvizu's clients include the NFL, Oregano's, and Kraft Foods.

"It might sound corny, but I've always wanted to make compelling art. To create images as impactful to me as the work I loved from childhood."

When Arvizu first got his start in design, he worked at Fossil. "Designing and illustrating a series of tins from first sketch to finished printed product was a positive and motivating experience for me," he says. "It taught me about the entire life cycle of a project and what it took to get a quality finished product."

Now Arvizu applies his passion for process to his wide range of projects.

Continuing to push his artwork into fresh territory means saying "yes" to new experiences. Being open to newness is a topic he discussed in his October 2012 lecture for Creative Mornings Phoenix, a free series of talks by local creative types.

After he gave that talk, the team at monOrchid asked Arvizu whether he was interested in exhibiting his artwork. Of course, he said yes. Through the end of April 2013, his 60-piece art exhibition "Every Which Way" is on view in the downtown gallery.

Sometimes creative opportunities just arrive.

When one of his neighbors cut down a tree and asked Arvizu if he could use the wood, he said sure. Then he carved the pair of wooden tiki statues sitting in his backyard. He'd never attempted anything like that before, but had fun trying it out. "I get genuinely excited at the thought of making something new or learning a new skill," he says.

What's next? So much that it's tough to list everything. But Arvizu's ready.

"In school, they preached that you are only as good as your last project," he says. "My coolest work is my next project." — Becky Bartkowski


You get a pretty good feel for Justin Katz's design sensibilities before you even get all the way into his home. The living room is cohabited by an iconic Eames chair and a classic Pin*Bot pinball machine; Katz navigates the balance between professionalism and playfulness effortlessly.

The 30-year-old motion designer, creative director, and producer at Flock of Pixels has his degree in film and animation from the Rochester Institute of Technology but says he's been making visual stories since childhood. "I'm pretty sure I made a South Park version of Macbeth for my high school English class," he recalls, laughing. "I would do all different kinds of stop motion on Post-it notes."

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