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.

Mod Madness

We know, we know.
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We’ve been teasing you with the Mod for about a month now, but the end is in sight! We’re still putting the finishing touches on the Mod, but we’ve loved seeing your enthusiasm and excitement surrounding our latest product and want to make sure it’s just right before we release them into your hands.
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We’ll have an update on the release date for the Mod sometime this month, so enter your e-mail on this sign up page to get the latest:

http://bit.ly/mod-signup

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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: 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 Mod, A Case for your Unique Life

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photo by @charlesriccardi

The Mod is a full design system – not a singular item. It’s a new space to stow and carry items that are in your life. The concept was inspired by those old vintage portfolios that allowed for tricking out the interior with phone books, pencils, notebooks and little things. The Mod takes that concept and updates it with respect to modern day gear and today’s adventurer. ‘Mod’ifiable means you’re covered for your day job, after hours, weekends, alter ego, and dreams.

The modern day adventurer is leading a seriously interesting life. They have a day job, they blog, they shoot photos from their mobile, they have a bunch of people waiting for their next Instagram and VSCO Grid shot, they draw, they invent, they take up less space, they’re trying to be more organized, they’re looking for that next destination or AirBnB to travel to to snap some great pics, they’re leading double and triple lives, they’re thrill seekers, they’re designers, they’re educators, they’re flying solo, they have kids and or pets, they make music, they make love, they drink a lot of cold brew, they get their news from Vice, they laugh their asses off, they have 5 jobs but outsource 3 of them, they’re homeless yet living in luxury, they’re artists, they’re connoisseurs, they’re lifestylers, they’re poets, they’re all of us and more.

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Mods from the 60′s were also interesting, but this isn’t all about them.

Our brainstorm & sketches led us to departing from the nostalgic yet not-so pretty three ring binder and instead we chose to include seamless magnets to hold different leather inserts based on the user’s needs. The vegetable tanned leather shell is designed to handle core universal items – phone, a tablet, cords, cards, stylus, and of course the Pencil by FiftyThree.

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Once Nisha started prototyping from sketches, we tested and tested which led to six iterations before we reached a final prototype.

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Our observations and refinements were about ergonomics, safety, gender, size, psychology, beauty, peace of mind and a whole bunch of other factors that we love to obsess and debate on. We reached a point where it was ready to share over social media to see the reaction and invite people to help us test it out. We were really excited when interest started to come through, not only from how many expressed interest but how interesting the people that were interested appeared to be.

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As far as my personal testing goes, I am excited to finally have a case that has all my stuff (big and small) that I can carry in one hand. While deliberately unisex, it is exciting that guys have another option in a world where their aren’t a lot of options for guys. That said, with a simple switch of how it’s carried, it becomes quite cute and feminine.

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jpeg-4jpeg-8 jpeg-7For me,  the most exciting part about the Mod (and the reason I called it a system earlier) is the modification the inserts possess. We’ll be launching with a bunch of inserts that are designed with specific people in mind. Kind of like Breakfast Club. There’s one for the musician, the artist, the writer, the prom queen, the photographer, the jock, the camper, and a few others.

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We’re still working out the pricing and a few other details but will be releasing the whole story soon.

For the latest on the Mod release date and availability, sign up here: http://bit.ly/mod-signup

And the challenge.. We have 4 Mods that we’re giving out to test. To enter, just make sure we have your email address which you should’ve entered on your way into this post (if not reload). Then simply publicly share this blog post (link: http://bitly.com/modstory) on your favorite social site (IG, Tumblr, Twitter, etc) and make sure you tag with #tigmod #thisisground. We will run until Sunday when we’ll pick our last batch of testers, announce it here on the blog post. Good luck!

@macadaan @thisisground

Groomsman Kit Collab

Eric and Sarah wanted a small, DIY wedding but as anyone who has gotten engaged knows, the planning process kind of takes off on its own. As the guest list grew they saw their personal, crafty wedding slipping away and cookie cutters looming in the horizon. To keep their vision on track they hired a wedding planner to help with the big picture and they turned their attention to the things that mattered the most: including their guests in the wedding experience. High on Eric’s list was finding a perfect gift for the men who would stand with him while he waited for his bride to walk down the aisle.

The list of groomsmen included his brother and friends from every part of his life and Eric wanted to show his appreciation for all seven of them. He felt like “just getting them stuff wasn’t going to be enough”, so several weeks before his wedding, Eric decided to come to This Is Ground for a solution. Piece by piece he worked with us to assemble a personalized kit that would serve the busy, traveling lifestyle that all his best guys had in common.

Eric chose to make all the pieces of his groomsman kit with our signature Bomber hide and together we identified the items that would organize and protect the essentials: passports, eye wear, headphones, cards, phones and notebooks.

Eric wanted to make sure each groomsmen felt his personal touch in their gift, so he had us engrave each one’s initials into the products he thought would age with them and be used for years to come. We took the kits to be monogrammed by a precision laser cutter at The Build Shop.

The final presentation was a well-rounded selection of minimal-form but highly functional objects.

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For each groomsman, we made an individually monogrammed Tomo pouch and Leatherback Writer 2, a McFeely wallet, a Cord Taco Supreme 5-pack and a custom Sunglasses Sleeve.

A week before his wedding, we sent the kits off to Florida with Eric along with 500 of our cord tacos and gave him our well wishes. The day of the wedding, as they prepared for Eric and Sarah’s big day, the groomsmen found a tie and pocket square for the ceremony, along with their This is Ground groomsmen kits, accompanied by flasks of scotch.

The groomsmen’s reaction was one of initial surprise at the level of Eric’s thoughtfulness. After a few moments of stunned silence they expressed their appreciation for such special gifts and Eric was glad to know his groomsmen felt his gratitude for their presence in his life.

After the ceremony, as the sunny afternoon transitioned into evening, the guests made their way to dinner, where the cord tacos we sent were used as place holders for seating and made individual gifts for each and every guest.

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Eric and Sarah had set out to deliver one message to each and every person attending their wedding, that this day was special and so was their role in it.

All they had left to do, was enjoy the moment.