May 30, 2008

Blogs, Bloggers, and Blogeurs

I’m not one of those bloggers that just links to stuff I like on other blogs, but after 2+ years of relying on exactly those kinds of sites for traffic, I figure it’s about time I return some love. So I’ve finally added a blogroll in the sidebar of the home page, listing some of my favorite blogs. I thought a blogroll would be a good opportunity to highlight some underrated bloggers, but then I realized that most of the sites I read are already pretty popular. So I tried to order them roughly from least-to-most likely that you’re already reading them.

So what are the most underrated blogs that you read? Who are the bloggers whose blogs most reflect their personal creative vision? I call those people blogeurs, after the auteur theory of film, which holds that a movie reflects the director’s personal vision as though he or she were the primary author. Make a recommendation in the comments, but keep it to one link only — any more and you risk triggering my comment spam filter.

Here are some lesser-known highlights from my new blogroll. They aren’t all necessarily everyday must reads, but I like them:

Animation Backgrounds:
Musician Rob Richards has a hobby. He digitally removes the animation cells from cartoons, revealing the background art beneath. The result is an often surreal empty house, forest, construction site, etc. He also stitches together frames from panned shots, showing the entire panoramic painted background in its entirety. Animation fans may also like Rob’s other blogs which focus just as much on the cels as the backgrounds.

The New York Public Library:
Yes, the library has a blog. It’s a group blog, actually, by several of the library’s curators, highlighting items from the library’s collection as they relate to contemporary topics. I think each blogger is meant to be covering a specific subject, but I find some overlap. There’s also an interesting blog at the NYPL Labs, which “provides a window into the overall digital experience of The New York Public Library.” It’s as easy to lose time browsing through the archives of these sites as it is browsing the library itself.

Ponoko Blog:
I first read about the Ponoko Store in Wired magazine. It’s a fabrication-on-demand service that will laser-cut your design in a variety of flat materials (wood, plastic, etc) and send you the pieces for assembly. I’ve been trying to come up with a good design for a product that could be made out of flat pieces, and I have something in mind that I may work on soon. In the meantime, I’ve been reading their blog for inspiration, which is all about laser-cutting, fabrication-on-demand, and anything that can be made out of flat pieces of material. It seems that a lot of people are making 3-D art from 2-D pieces.

The Everywhere Girl:
Several years ago, this girl who is not a professional model participated in a photo shoot. The photographer Douglas Menuez licensed the photos as “Royalty Free” stock, meaning that once a person pays to use it, they are allowed to use it as much as they want without paying further royalties (a business model I don’t recommend, incidentally). As a result, this girl’s face has been widely used wherever a “hip college girl” was needed. People noticed. Now she has a blog that’s partly an ongoing documentation of places people have spotted her face (most recently on the wall at a restaurant in Phoenix) and partly a look into her life.

David Horvitz:
I like the way David Horvitz thinks. He’s some combination of photographer, performance artist, conceptual artist, and something I can’t quite put my finger on. His series Things For Sale I Will Mail You is a good place to start in exploring his site. I think this is a guy to keep an eye on.

As long as I’m linking to things, here are a couple sites that aren’t blogs but deserve appreciation. They’re both apparel sites by people I know and I think they deserve a plug. It’s t-shirt season, so maybe you’ll find something you like:

Unhappy Animals:
If I were ten years younger and female, I would totally be wearing these shirts. Since I’m not, I simply admire their creativity. They feature unhappy animals like the lactose-intolerant mouse (“The heart wants what the heart wants, even if it’s going to leave you clutching your tummy curled in pain”) and the fish who swims in a bowl of its own tears, its sadness the only thing keeping it alive. Nice.

Ciara Elend:
Ciara block-prints by hand every one of her high-end t-shirts, using linoleum blocks that she hand-carves, and the results are fantastic. She also sells more moderately-priced shirts, but I think it’s her “couture” line that really shines (I don’t know where she gets the shirt material, but they seriously feel great). I especially like the “Bad Apples” design. A lot of work has gone into making sure these are high quality products.

And that’s it for the outbound links. Let me know what underrated blogeurs you like that I should be reading (reminder: one link per comment please). I’ll occasionally update the blogroll as my own list changes.

Comments

Thanks for adding scrubbles.net to your blogroll — you have excellent taste, sir!

I don’t know if it’s considered underrated, but I’ve been enjoying Cinebeats a lot lately.

http://cinebeats.blogsome.com/

Blog-love? I got it! And it goes out to Final Girl. I have no idea if this underrated either, but I sure love this site. I’d say it’s definitely a blogeur (nice term!) I simply love her writing, it’s always fresh and always fun!

http://finalgirl.blogspot.com/

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, too. I’m looking forward to clicking through all the other links in your list.

Checked out Ciara’s t-shirts, and then picked my jaw up off the floor. $68 for a t-shirt? Do people really pay that much for t-shirts? I mean, I know I’m unfashionable and out of the loop, but damn, that seems outrageous.

My suggested blog is A Little Pregnant. It’s written by Julie, some woman I’ve never met who struggled / struggles with infertility, but through heroic measures had one little boy and has another on the way. Her blog talks about all kinds of pregnancy and mothery stuff, but mainly she’s just a great writer, very witty, and she could be writing about just about anything and it would be fun to read.

Awwwww I missed the boat on this post! I’m not entirely sure you would have written about my Blog Experiment, but what I’m doing is a little unconventional.

Could I get on your blogroll? I’ll put you mine! Just let me know ok? thanks

Michael
www.blogexperiment.org

Julia Sweeney rocks hard. Good choice.

My favorite blog, by far, is Selma in the City

P.S. I came here via Textism another great site

I’m doing something slightly reminiscent of those David Horvitz projects (though only slightly reminiscent) with a couple of postcard-based projects. One of them is a comic I will serialize to you on postcards, one page at a time; the other is a series of postcards of odd things I’ve seen on my walks around New Haven. I thought you might be interested, anyway.

This is a blog run by a few of my friends up in VT. It covers mostly politics. The editorials are really smart, and all the content is pretty funny. Check out the “Beer & Present Danger” feature in the archives. Funny stuff.

Check out the plaid crew. (http://www.theplaidcrew.com)

This is a blog run by a few of my friends up in VT. It covers mostly politics. The editorials are really smart, and all the content is pretty funny. Check out the “Beer & Present Danger” feature in the archives. Funny stuff.