#FlashbackFriday: Let It Bleed

The SF Bay Guardian's Music + Food issue was the first SFBG cover shoot I had fully conceptualized, planned, directed and styled after the transition period with former art director Mirissa Neff had ended, and I'm still really proud of it.

The shoot itself was chaotic yet creative, with photographer Matthew Reamer and myself troubleshooting late at night, in real time at his Mission studio to make sure we had the right setup with the right props to best reflect a modern, San Francisco-focused version of the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed album cover... 

It was definitely my first time running and directing a shoot, and I had a lot to learn. Looking back now, I would have kicked myself for not having sketched out how I wanted everything to look —even if we in the moment decided to stray from the plan, as some of the best work often does. 

But the creative energy and on-the-spot design and construction was so inspiring, and made me realize exactly how much I was going to love this new job.

Walking home after the shoot, after having selected the final photos that would be on the cover and also printed inside with the article, slice of late-night pizza in hand, is still the moment that epitomizes satisfaction for me.

(But yes, the pizza was a leftover prop from the shoot... and yes, I guess that's at least a little bit gross.)


Who you gonna call?

My Gap Inc. team has changed a lot in the past year. And with that change came the departure of a few amazing people, who I'm still really proud to call my friends.

Each time someone has left our the team, we've put together personalized gifts reflecting each person's quirks and team jokes. I Photoshopped the team — formerly known as The DMC (Digital Marketing & Communications) — as Ghostbusters to reflect our fun, weird, experimental, ass-kicking nature, and also celebrate the wonderful Tighe P. Flatley, our favorite Kevin.

It was a quick Photoshop job, but I still love it.

My Photoshopped version.

My Photoshopped version.

The original

The original

Women's March

Marching tomorrow for equality and for hope. Marching to keep moving forward, not backwards. Marching to lend a louder voice to protect fundamental human rights, and to encourage girls to reach for what isn't yet possible. 



Fit + Fabric: Why everyone should be obsessed with Athleta

I'm obsessed with Athleta and the brand's headquarters. Aside from the brand's stylish yet comfortable approach to workwear, onsite athletic classes, the office's North Bay location alongside a heavily used running trail through Shollenberger Park, and the abundance of dogs in the office — the team is also creating innovative new fabrics and fits with the goal of empowering women and girls to be their best selves. 

The latest iteration of Gap Inc.'s Craft Heroes series, published this past week, showcases the Athleta team behind Sculptek — the brand's innovative new fiber technology that gives 360-stretch and revolutionizes zone compression support for women athletes of all shapes and sizes — and how they're inspired to innovate for their customers.

With the goal of highlighting teams who are collaborating cross-functionally to create and deliver the next generation of high-quality product — experimenting and driving innovation in fabric and fit — this is the first Craft Hero video where we've not only focused on a team, but also interviewed different team members on camera and edited for one cohesive, cross-functional story.

We worked with Athleta's PR and Comms teams to ensure our messaging was aligned, and to not only use the video as a way to highlight a proof point for current employees, customers and potential new employees, but to also build this behind-the-scenes angle into the brand's marketing campaign for its new Sculptek line.

Find the full video on Athleta's Chi Blog and Gap Inc.'s aDressed blog, and see shorter video trailers, gifs and photography on both brands' social media channels.

Really proud of this one.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos of video producer Kelly Flanagan filming next to Athleta headquarters in Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, and in front of Gap Inc. headquarters along the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Christmas in February

This past December, my Gap Inc. team created a series of stories highlighting employees and their thoughtful gifting tips as a part of the company's #LoveWhatYouGive holiday campaign.

As a part of the campaign, we created a series of laydowns — highlighting each story's theme and chosen gifts — to be used on Gap Inc. social media channels and at the bottom of each blog post.

It was important for us to include props, which gave the product laydowns a lived-in, real-life feel, and helped evoke the personality and story of the gifters and their chosen recipients. I collected holiday decorations, chopped off a few branches from my Christmas tree, and we otherwise raided our homes for trinkets — including a stuffed llama I was gifting my 1-year-old niece — that could be included in the scenes. 

While we're currently working on putting together a more elevated studio space, we approached this holiday laydown project DIY-style, clearing out the video editing bay and using a thick, clean piece of white foam core as a backdrop. Post-production, I used Photoshop to color-correct the warm lighting and remove the tripod legs.

Check us hamming it up behind the scenes. I blame the small room, hot lights, and excessive amount of sugar. (That holiday candy wasn't going to eat itself.) 

Read all of the #LoveWhatYouGive stories on Gap Inc.'s aDressed blog, including one I wrote about Banana Republic marketing manager Sarah Quon and her strategy for last-minute gifting.

Hello, again.

It's been more than a year since I've written anything here.

A lot of fun, design-y things have happened, and the idea of them not being chronicled here makes me sad. I like having an online diary documenting all of the cool projects I've been able to undertake and be a part of. 

So, without further ado ...

I'm going to start slow, skip some things altogether, and not pay attention to chronological order.

You've been warned.

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt

I wrote an ode to The SmithsBigmouth Strikes Again ... from a mouse's perspective. Read it here.

This happened because I stumbled upon the Medium Writing Prompt, which is exactly what it sounds like: a weekly writing prompt for Medium users. And the prompt was I Fell in Love with a Song.

And I started thinking about how I've had wonderful, emotional, heartbreaking relationships with songs. And about how these songs inevitably leave me feeling small — either because they've unlocked a hiding place, or they've channeled a powerful, identifying feeling so acutely I feel powerless in its wake. 

And then I started thinking about the time in the fourth grade when I tried to prove that my cat was a Bush fan. And about animals and music. And then I started thinking about Bigmouth Strikes Again (because I love it) and feeling small again (because I sometimes do). And then I wrote this. I hope you like it.

Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood

My book club has a patron saint, and she's Margaret Atwood. For so many reasons.

On Tuesday, I emerged victorious from an online tunnel of horoscope predictions and celebrity Scorpio lists when I discovered that Margaret Atwood and I share a birthday: November 18, bitches!

Feeling extra blessed.

Dear Bridal Magazines: A Breakup

Last week, I paused in the middle of cleaning my apartment to pick up a previously discarded bridal magazine and flip through it in search of collage materials. 

I thought about my changing relationship with the bridal magazines — which have appeared in my mailbox every month since my engagement two years ago — and realized that it resembled a romantic relationship gone sour. So I wrote a breakup letter.

I used Medium as my publishing tool, and submitted the essay to the Dear (Blank) collection, where it was accepted and published this week!

Although a bit self-indulgent, it was a really fun writing exercise that I'm happy to be able to share with so many people. I hope to do more of it!

Read the essay/letter here.

Getting Lost

"The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration — how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?"

— Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost


Fifteen things I did this week, in the spaces outside of my job search:

1. Helped out with layout at SF Public Press. Pick up the fall edition at your local SF bookstore and/or market!

2. Reacquainted myself with Trader Joe's.

3. Drank copious amounts of wine with a dear accomplice.

4. Ran from Duboce Park to Ocean Beach with my brother — who unlocked his first 10K!

5. Ate fried chicken sandwiches, drank beer, and went bowling with my brother, to undo any possible healthy progress we achieved from running 6.3 miles.

6. Watched the Giants in the World Series.

7. Made "WE NEED ALTERNATIVE MEDIA NOW" protest signs with SF Bay Guardian publisher Marke B. 

8. Waved my protest sign at a rally against the closure of the SF Bay Guardian alongside Assemblyperson Tom Ammiano, progressive politicos, SFBG staff and supporters.

From left: Nos. 1, 4 and 8. Protest photo by Erika Rae Langdon; others by yours truly

From left: Nos. 1, 4 and 8. Protest photo by Erika Rae Langdon; others by yours truly

9. Applied for unemployment.

10. Made stuffed bell peppers.

11. Donated blood at Blood Centers of the Pacific. (PSA: Donating is quick, painless, and saves lives — it's an easy way to help patients with cancers and leukemia!)

12. Caught up on Serial, my new podcast addiction.

13. Created a wine collage and transferred my article on natural wines in Paris to Medium, since who knows how long the current SFBG website will be up. 

14. Became completely obsessed with Medium. (The platform, not the show — already obsessed with that.)

15. Put in 8 miles of therapeutic running/walking with editor/writer extraordinaire Cheryl Eddy.

No. 13 — check me out on Medium: https://medium.com/@brookeginnard

No. 13 — check me out on Medium: https://medium.com/@brookeginnard


Death is not the end

Yesterday, on the morning after we sent the SF Bay Guardian's 40th annual Best of the Bay issue to press, staff were informed that the 48-year-old alternative weekly — "raising hell since 1966" — would be shut down effective immediately.

There's still a lot to process. Many things, including how to handle the paper's storied archives —online and in print — still need to be sorted out between the owners, the staff and the community. 

I'm sad, obviously. But I'm glad that the SF Bay Guardian's last issue (at least in this incarnation) is a great one. 

Publisher/Executive Editor Marke B. and I worked with local legend Jeremy Fish for this year's Best of the Bay artwork. Fish being Fish, I gave him very little art direction aside from the issue's theme (ironically Día de los Muertos, more on that below) and the four categories in which we give awards (City Living, Food+Drink, Arts+Entertainment, and Shopping). Per usual, Fish killed it, making this not only one of the most exciting issues I've worked on, but one of the easiest covers I've ever produced.

The Best of the Bay issue hits stands today, so go to your nearest SFBG newsstand, pick up a copy, admire Jeremy Fish's insane talent, and read about all of the reasons why we love San Francisco and the Bay Area. See Fish's artwork below, and scroll to the bottom to check out the entire paper on ISSUU.

I'll end with some all too relevant words from Marke B.'s introduction to Best of the Bay, on why we chose Día de los Muertos as this year's theme:

Lately when it comes to the Bay Area, "change" has been the dominant subject of conversation — especially in terms of what's been lost in arts, industry, creative types, and overall freak factor. But change can be a great positive motivator, and in celebrating the things no longer with us, we keep their spirits alive — and at the ready to help us embrace new beginnings.


Scroll through the entire 40th annual Best of the Bay edition, the SF Bay Guardian's last issue:

Ai Weiwei

With space specifically set aside for art, a relatively low page count, and stories that were generally turned in on time, I was afforded some extra time to think about my layouts for this week's issue — a rare luxury!

I'm especially happy with the Ai Weiwei spread (pages 28-29) and the beginning of the Music section (pages 20-21).

For the piece on Ai Weiwei's @Large exhibition on Alcatraz, we were able to send photographer Nassime Addi to The Rock to preview and photograph the exhibition, which made for fantastic interior art, as well as an online slideshow.

Flip through the issue below (check out those layouts!) or read the individual articles online here.

Pedaling and feasting

SF Bay Guardian editor Steven T. Jones spent much of his vacation this year biking and camping along the California coast, and wrote about it for our current Feast Issue.

Despite my crippling fear of biking with car traffic, he made the trip sound irresistible. I would love to try his route — or at least a portion of it — someday when I'm a little braver. Read his article here.

To accompany the piece, I created an infographic map that shows 12 of his most memorable meals along the coast. Check it out below.

A Moveable Feast

For the SF Bay Guardian's Feast issue (on stands now), I wrote a story about my husband's and my spontaneous trip to Paris, and our discovery of natural wines while there.

UPDATE: Read it on Medium here, or at www.sfbg.com here.

Monkfish at L'Agapé: course 4 of 7

Monkfish at L'Agapé: course 4 of 7

Awkward sexy magic

For the SF Bay Guardian's annual Sex Issue, arts intern Daniel Bromfield wrote a feature/playlist on awkward songs to give oral to, which was hilarious and amazing. (Read it online here.)

I sent an early copy of the text to illustrator Gracy Henry Pincer, and we came up with this awkward sexy magic:

Layout for the Music section opener in the Bay Guardian's 2014 Sex Issue; illustration by Grace Henry Pincer

Layout for the Music section opener in the Bay Guardian's 2014 Sex Issue; illustration by Grace Henry Pincer

My virtual reality is made from cardboard

For the SF Bay Guardian's annual Sex Issue, we decided to base our 2014 cover shoot on our cybersex story, and go with a TRON-esque setup (inspired by Playboy's 2010 tribute) with Virtual Reality headsets, à la Oculus Rift.

We immediately found two perfect models: dominatrixes Maitresse Madeline and Lorelei Lei at Kink.com, which kindly allowed us to stage the photo shoot in Kink's Battlestar Galactica space at the San Francisco Armory. (Sidenote: Kink has the most amazing prop closet I've ever seen!)

And photographer Matthew Reamer took care of the blue and red lighting to perfection.

But I ran into problems finding an Oculus Rift VR headset that would be available during our scheduled photo shoot. After looking at a few VR spoofs online, I decided to make my own with cardboard, goggles, and spray paint:

I think my fake headsets translated pretty well in the final cover:

Guardian photo of Maitresse Madeline (top) and Lorelei Lee by Matthew Reamer

Guardian photo of Maitresse Madeline (top) and Lorelei Lee by Matthew Reamer

Here's a behind-the-scenes shot from the photo shoot, courtesy of Matthew Reamer:

From left: Maitresse Madeline, Eleanor Bleier, Matthew Reamer, Pony Gold, Lorelei Lee, Brooke Ginnard

From left: Maitresse Madeline, Eleanor Bleier, Matthew Reamer, Pony Gold, Lorelei Lee, Brooke Ginnard

Pumping iron + smoking weed

Things I learned on the photo shoot for the SF Bay Guardian's Pot Olympics cover: 

1. The secret to staying young is exercising every day (especially skiing in the winter and hiking and/or playing volleyball in the summer) and smoking weed.

2. With the right equipment, my apartment (specifically the central space connecting my kitchen, living room and bedroom) can be transformed into a photo studio.

3. If you put your energy into doing the things that you love, everything will be OK.

4. Everyone has a cannabis card.

5. My neighbors do not care if the hallway smells like weed for an entire day.

6. Michael Keeney is a fantastic photographer. (But I already knew that.) 

7. Medium is a hell of a show.

Guardian photo of Brad Olsen by Michael Keeney

Guardian photo of Brad Olsen by Michael Keeney

Read the story here; flip through the full issue here.

Burning Man jumps the shark

As soon as the phrase "Burning Man has jumped the shark" started being thrown around earlier this year, an image of the man on waterskis popped into my head, and I campaigned for SF Bay Guardian editor / Burning Man author Steven T. Jones to write a cover story.

I felt like a collage lent itself really well to the surreal image I had in mind, as well as the basic logistics of the festival itself — people and art appearing in and then eventually disappearing from the desert, leaving no trace.

I scoured a small collection of magazines for a mix of desert and ocean hues, and tore those pages into smaller pieces that focused on color and pattern, leaving behind only a hint of the original image. I then arranged those pieces on my living room floor. Instead of gluing them down for a more manicured look, I let the pieces curl and create depth and shadows.

After photographing the physical collage, I used Photoshop to insert images from Burning Mans past into the desert portion. I also used the software to add a man on skis, and a shark for him to jump over, à la Fonzie

Collage using torn magazines, AP file photos, and clip art.

Collage using torn magazines, AP file photos, and clip art.

Streets of San Francisco, Revisited

This year's Streets Issue featured one of my favorite SF Bay Guardian covers of all time.

Influenced by the process and aesthetic used for that cover, illustrator Patrick Sean Gibson redrew a few of the illustrations and expanded the concept into a new poster, below. It's such a compliment to see how the Streets Issue cover project continued to inspire, and eventually transformed into this new work!

See the original cover here.

Illustration by Patrick Sean Gibson

Illustration by Patrick Sean Gibson