The Making of the Traveler

In May, as we began creating samples for the Mod and designing the first inserts, we hopped on Skype with one of our Adventure Project collaborators, Hanni (aka @justhanni). He had an upcoming trip to Iceland in the works and had been training his keen eye on our first, vague previews of the Mod on Instagram.

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Mike and our head designer Nisha spoke with Hanni, showing him the first working prototypes of the Mod and inserts that Nisha had made in our studio just a few days prior.

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In turn, Hanni walked us through the gear he was planning on taking on his upcoming trip. The roster included all his mobile shooting gear: OLO clip, Griptight Micro Stand, reserve Power Bank batteries and chargers galore.

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All of this was handy feedback for our Shooter insert, but what we ended up discovering was that most of all Hanni needed a solution to help him easily transport all his travel credentials from point A to point B. He showed us a nylon zip case he used that was designed with a single outer pocket long enough to place his boarding passes in for easy accessibility at the airport.

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With that in mind, Nisha got to work prototyping a Mod with an exterior pocket. She sewed this one up with a pocket large enough to fit a passport and boarding pass as well as accommodate pens or pencils on the sides.

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We shot the photo over to Hanni and while he liked that we had mimicked the exterior pocket of his other case, he told us he preferred the clean look of the exterior of our original Mod.  He sent over a sketch us an insert idea for the “world traveler” that he cooked up himself.

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Hanni’s design included a front-facing pocket able to hold up to 3 boarding passes with the idea that they would still be readily accessible by unzipping the top portion of the case. The front would also hold a pencil or pen to fill out the customs forms and small pockets to hold keys or foreign currency. The back included two pockets to hold passports and he suggested creating a large single pocket to hold a bunch of passports.

With Hanni’s sketch in hand and the exact dimensions for the insert in mind, Nisha whipped up our final Traveler insert, which holds multiple boarding passes, pen or pencils, and 3+ passports, notebooks or other misc. items on a tiered pocket system on the back. The ability to hold multiple passports makes it ideal for traveling in a group or with family.

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The Traveler Mod is the perfect carry-all for stress-free international travel– no rifling around in your bag for your boarding passes or passport.

Look forward to the Mod’s adventures in Iceland with Hanni next.

The Wild Outdoors with Chris Amat

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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Canadian photographer, Chris Amat has been captivating Instagram users with his photos of the diverse countryside of Calgary– from snowy mountaintops to incredibly lush landscapes that dwarf his subjects in the most surreal manner. He’s a part of the Great North Collective, a group of like-minded photographers dedicated to building community through the exploration of their surroundings. Their motto is: Explore. Create. Inspire. and Chris does just that; he’s a true adventurer at heart.

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Hi Chris, you do an amazing job of capturing the vastness and beauty of nature in your work. Did you spend a lot of time in nature as a kid?

I didn’t spend all that much time outside as a kid unless you consider riding a bike around the neighborhood and occasionally into the park as spending time in nature. Most of my time was spent hanging out with friends, watching movies and playing video games. It wasn’t up until recently that I got bored of the routine that I had in my life and started to get out and really taking advantage of my backyard.

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How far away are most of your shooting locations from your home?

Most of the places I shoot are anywhere from 45 minutes to three or four hours away. I am lucky to live in such a diverse place, from the prairies to the badlands to the rocky mountains I have quite the selection of places to pick from.

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Your portraits in the snow are particularly noteworthy. Is it a challenge to shoot in such frosty conditions?

It can be, but I have been fortunate enough to work with really awesome people who are always willing to brave the cold with me. And as far as gear goes my DSLR usually handles the cold pretty well, my iPhone so-so.

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Can you tell me a little bit about the Great North Collective?

Great North Collective is a social community made up photographers and artists committed to capturing our beautiful surroundings. We focus on creating iconic imagery on any format, whether it’s on your iPhone, DSLR or anything between. Our goal is to inspire, captivate and encourage everyone to get out there and explore their surroundings and share it with our community.

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What do you shoot with?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and my iPhone 5.

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What can’t you travel without?

My iPhone. Sometimes my DSLR can be a pain to lug around all day. I am almost always happy with the images I get out of my iPhone and it fits perfectly in my pocket… not to mention all those other neat things it can do, like make phone calls and stuff.

What are you listening to at the moment?

There isn’t anything in particular that I am constantly going back to. My wife and friends are the music connoisseurs around here so I just tap into their playlists when I am looking for something new.

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Follow @christopheramat on Instagram

Digital Getdown with Anna Russett

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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Hashtag selfie queen, Anna Russett considers her social following her medium and she uses them to create works that span her Youtube and Instagram feeds, delving into concepts of identity and ownership in the age of the internet. When we came across her on Instagram, we thought she was leading a seriously interesting life on display for the world wide web and wanted to see her take our products not only on her summer travels, but places that don’t exist on a physical map.

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Hi Anna, what does your morning routine consist of?
Hitting the snooze button at least once, putting on some coffee, and replying to emails… Eventually jumping into the day’s outfit and makeup after at least one cup of coffee is conquered.

How long have you been making internet art? Do you come from a fine arts background?
I was interested in fine art photography when I started college. This led me to transfer to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago last year where I started becoming obsessed with the internet as a fine art medium. I’ve been creating mostly internet art now and applying my photography background where it works in my art. My practice spans from YouTube videos to my Instagram feed to different pages on my website.

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Reparation from Anna Russett.

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Let’s keep in touch

Earliest internet memory?
I remember using Yahooligans (a Yahoo search engine for kids which no longer exists!) to find images to use in a monthly magazine I created and sold in sixth grade to my friends. It was called Annazine (creative name, lol).

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Lol by Christine Janokowicz

Most embarrassing screen name?
Omg, this is a wonderful question. I had a few really embarrassing ones. I think the worst was ratlover995, a screen name inspired by my fourth grade classroom that had a pet rat. LOLWHAT.

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Does travel inform your art at all?
Yes, definitely! I think travel develops your knowledge of the world and the diversity that exists in different places. The more you travel and learn about people, the more you become informed in your everyday life — and art in my case!

What’s your favorite destination (digital or irl)?
My favorite digital destination is http://www.zombo.com. I found this website when I was younger and still find it hilarious to leave up on my browser for a while.

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Can’t travel without?
Phone charger!!! It is basically another limb of mine.

Follow @annarussett for more #netart and travels around the US this summer.

Through the Lens of Pei Ketron

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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There’s a wonderful personal quality to the work of Pei Ketron. Viewing her photographs, you feel as though you’re traveling the globe along with her, riding around inside her iPhone, peering through the lens. On Instagram, her warm personality is apparent in her captions and use of perspective. Pei’s humanitarian influences are visible in her work as well and despite the fact that many of her photos are taken around the world, they serve as an inspiration for us to appreciate the everyday, routine aspects of our lives.

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Where are you and what can you hear out your window right this moment?
I’m currently in Taipei, Taiwan and can hear the sounds of the city outside my window: cars and motor scooters driving by, intermittent honking, and occasional chatter from passing pedestrians.

What drew you to photography?
I became drawn to photography because it changed the way I looked at the world around me. It made me slow down, notice, and appreciate moments in life that often get overlooked. To me, it’s a very introspective, personal process that suits my personality quite a bit.

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What was your first camera?
I didn’t get into photography until the end of college when I had a cheap point and shoot film camera, a Fujifilm Discovery 290s Zoom. I quickly upgraded to a 35mm film SLR, a Canon AL-1, that was loaned to me by some family friends. I made the jump to digital in 2003 with a Canon Powershot G3.

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Who are some of your favorite photographers?
I love the portraits of Steve McCurry, the travel and humanitarian work of Lisa Kristine, the minimalist work of Akos Major, and the street photography of Vivian Maier.

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ph: Steve McCurry
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ph: Akos Major
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ph: Vivian Maier

Can you tell me a little more about the humanitarian work you’ve done? What countries have you worked in and what was your experience like?
I haven’t done nearly as much humanitarian work as I’d like to do, but the humanitarian work I tend to gravitate towards is usually child-centric work in developing countries. I’ve spent time with preschoolers in Mozambique and with students with special needs in India. Both were eye-opening experiences that taught me to find joy in the life that I have and to think twice about what my priorities should be.

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What’s your next destination?
I have a short personal trip to Seoul, South Korea planned. It’s a country I’ve never spent any time in before and I’m excited to experience the culture and compare the city to other major cities I’ve been to.

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And your travel essentials?
Photography gear (film, digital, and mobile phone gear and accessories), ample back-up batteries, a good camera bag, an inflatable travel pillow (I can’t stay awake on an airplane for the life of me), snacks, Chapstick, and hand lotion.

Lastly, what’s your favorite book?
Does a play count? Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite stories and I read it long before I ever saw it on stage. I love the lighthearted, playful spirit of the story and how the multi-layered story mixes a little bit of fantasy with real life.

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Follow Pei on Instagram this summer at @pketron.

Quick Q&A with Benjamin Heath

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.
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We’d been following the work of Benjamin Heath on Instagram for a while, marveling at all the dreamy landscapes and being inspired by his intimate portraits when suddenly, up on our feed popped a photo of our Cordito Cord Wrap. It’s always an honor to have your products appreciated by those who inspire you and so when we were thinking of who to include in our Adventure Project, Ben was a no-brainer; He epitomizes our modern day adventurer. We asked him a few quick questions while he was on the road in Scotland and we look forward to seeing where he goes next!

 

Hi Ben, I feel like every time I check Instagram you’re somewhere new. Where are you today? And where are you off to next?

Hi! Today I am in Glencoe Scotland. Next I’m headed to Isle of Skye for a few days and then Barcelona.

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What can’t you travel without?

I can’t travel without a camera. Big, small, film, digital – I have to have something to photo with.

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We were excited to be included in your travel bag for Nairobi. Can you tell me a little about your time in Kenya and your work for Water.org?

Yes! That was an incredibly fulfilling experience. I was fortunate to be asked by Water to help with a project telling stories about the impact of fresh water systems in rural Kenya to help raise awareness for World Water Day. I’m proud to have been part of the project and the new perspectives it brought me and, hopefully, others.

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Who are your favorite photographers? 

Alex Webb and Bruce Davidson have been my favorites for awhile. I also love Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

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ph: Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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ph: Bruce Davidson

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ph: Alex Webb

Film or digital?

Both! Whatever I’m in the mood for. I’ve been using film for a lot of my personal work lately.

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Portraiture or landscape?

Portraits. I love taking photos of people.

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Follow @benjaminheath on Instagram

The Colorful World of Jeff Mindell

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select Collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.
 

Real estater by day, Jeff Mindell is a Los Angeles-based photographer whose colorful look at that SoCal life always has us inspired. He and his partner in crime, fiance Kelly Lanza of Studio DIY use Los Angeles as their personal playground for their adventurous life. We took a moment to ask him a few questions about the City of Angels, travel, and tacos.

 

Hey Jeff, how do you start your day?

My typical morning is me waking up, heading into the office, and grabbing the first caffeinated beverage I can find. After that, emails.

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We love the graphic use of color in your photos. What people/places/things inspire your photography?

Color is something that oftentimes reflects a mood I’m in or a place I’m visiting. Desert and beach environments are always thought-provoking for me and great examples of this. Some people that are super inspiring right now are guys like Gray Malin and Max Wanger.

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How does living and working in Los Angeles influence your work?

Living and working here in LA is insanely rewarding. Busting at the seams with creatives, I’m constantly on sensory overload out here and try to surround myself with others who are pushing themselves and me along the way. That, and there really is no shortage of beautiful backdrops and vignettes in this city to capture. Every time I go out, I’m looking to explore and find something new. Most times, I’m pleasantly surprised.

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What do you shoot with?

When it comes to Instagram, I’d say I’m 95% iPhone. I’ve gotten pretty good at editing on the go and people seem to really respond well to the images I put out there. My favorite apps are Camera+ and VSCOcam. As far as legit DSLR camera, I shoot with a Canon Rebel T2i. My goal is to upgrade to the 5D Mark III before my wedding in November as I’ve had the Rebel since college.

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Favorite travel destination?

I’d love to say somewhere far off and exotic to answer this question, but I always end up coming back to what’s comfortable for me, which is the California desert. I’ve lived all over this great country of ours and Europe in the past, but when I can jump in the car from LA and quite possibly be in the most tranquil environment in a matter of hours, there’s a reason I go so often.

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Favorite travel method?

I love a good road trip. When we made the move to the west coast three years ago from NJ, we drove cross-country. (I’ve done it twice now!) I love having the option to stop. To open my window. To stretch my legs. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to see the world without plane travel and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!

What can’t you travel without?

My camera. Also, my leather weekender bag. I got the thing about 7 years ago from Italy and it’s probably my favorite material item I own. It’s this great (now beat-up) dark brown-colored leather and has been with me on every trip and vacation I’ve taken ever since. When I first discovered This Is Ground, your line of ‘Whiskey’ products almost perfectly matched my bag’s leather. It was a match made in organizational heaven.

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Lastly, what’s your favorite taco joint in Los Angeles?

Hands down, fav taco joint in Los Angeles is Cactus Taqueria on Vine. Conveniently located around the corner from me, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I’m there about 3 times/week. It’s a problem, really. They are cash-only, which basically means I’m consistently screwed when I need to leave a tip or pay for valet at some point during the week. (After I finish typing this, you can probably take a wild guess as to where I’m walking for dinner.)

 

Follow @jeffmindell on his #thisisgroundsummer adventures on Instagram.