The Brilliance!


We’re really internet and we’re really back. A website about things Benjamin , Chuck , Virgil , and various friends & guests think are interesting. Little-to-no specific focus, a bit odd, speling errors, and incredibly culturally relevant.

1017 small

Follow us on Twitter, come on, it will be fun.

Twitter is an exciting new social web network home page URL site tool that allows you to social network, twit, tweet, network socially, and talk about your network social life. Come, follow us. ***I totally just twotted about this, omg, internet. - Benjamin

Ben -
Chuck -
Virgil -

1016 small

My new project: Boxed Water Is Better!

“Part sustainable water company, part art project, part philanthropic project, and completely curious. Boxed Water Is Better, is a boxed water company.”

Alright, I kind of can’t believe I’m finally posting on this. Feels weird, maybe therapeutic. April 30th 2008 I came up with this idea, like, fully hashed out…but well before that I always wanted to start a company that made something really simple, that everyone can afford or is already purchasing, that is really beautiful, well branded, and kind of a joy to own…like, something that’s only $1 but you can’t wait to go home and put it on the middle of your coffee table, or on your shelf at the office. For me it was either going to be chap stick or bottled water. I went with the the water, but didn’t bottle it, I boxed it. I knew literally nothing about the bottled water world, distributors, fillers, carton makers, the technology behind it all, etc. So I just jumped in head first in my spare time, and made just a huge number of mistakes. Some really hilarious ones in retrospect. But we did everything in a vacuum. The design, the concepting, etc, everything. For roughly 10 months only about 5-6 people knew about the project and everyone we worked with for manufacturing, filling, etc had to sign NDA’s. Honestly, half of me did that because I thought the idea was so ‘goofy’ at times that I didn’t want anyone to know about it if it turned out to be a really terrible failure, ha, and the other half because I did - and do more so now - believe that designing by committee and worrying about other people’s opinions ruins really great ideas.

The product itself…its done, its in about 9 stores here in Grand Rapids as we test the market (its been selling out too!). We got way, way more love on all the blogs in like 5 days than I ever thought we would maybe ever. The emails from everyone have been so cool, thank you to all those people. The response from the design community kind of blew me away too, I never fancied myself a package designer, but it sure was fun to create this one and I really dig how it came out. So yeah, thats it. I’ve always done stuff on the web, never a physical product, but here it is, my new thing man: Boxed Water Is Better. Long post I know, but a comment I need to make - be sure to check our site to learn a bit more about the project in detail, but know that we’re creating a product with less environmental impact, using renewable resources, and giving back a considerable amount - 20% of profit. We’re taking an industry that’s growing every year, and creating a product that lessens the impact and gives back a bit as well. It’s been a crazy ride to get this done coming in as a total rookie, totally new to everything. Thanks to Kevin for all the help. Cheers to everyone trying to do something new, and working to get it out of photoshop and into real life. Long post, sheesh!! Artist collaborations coming soon too! Have a good Monday everyone.

1014 small

The First Photographer - Pete Souza!!!

From Pete’s bio: “Pete Souza is the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama; he is also the Director of the White House photo office.”

What a job. Sheesh. Souza also served as an official White House photographer for President Reagan from ‘83 to ‘89. I often think about what it would be like to be in any President’s shoes. It’s just a fascinating thing to think about. And since so few people will ever truly know first-hand, I have to imagine the next best person to describe it would be whoever the official White House photographer is at the time. I love looking at Pete’s portfolio - he gets a chance to capture totally candid moments that the world would never see if he weren’t around to snap them. It puts an incredibly human feeling to a job that feels so far beyond the reaches of what most of us will ever get to see or experience. Aside from his work with Obama thus far, Pete is an accomplished photographer with other subjects, one of my favorites being the ‘Wrigley Field’ set on his site. Chicago being my hometown and having grown up going to Cubs games myself, I know first hand the ‘magic’ that Wrigley Field possesses and Pete really captures it well. (Except I don’t see a part 2, with photos of disappointed fans at the end of every season, but that’s another story…) Anyways, check out Pete’s work, again most notably the ‘Rise of Barack Obama’ section, the ‘President Reagan’s Funeral’ section, and ‘Plebe Summer’.

1013 small

Sharkfight!!! For real, like for real for real.

Sometimes I’ll be browsing around the internet, using The Google and reading newswebs and filesites, and I’ll suddenly come across something so perfect, so tailor-made for The Brilliance, I can’t believe it. Most of the time this happens with some new artist I find and want to talk about, but in this instance it’s one of those things that falls perfectly into our ‘Misc.’ category. So, all that said, let me start by saying that the New York Post really nailed it with this title…ready? ‘Moment of Tooth’. Moment of tooth. Ha. I’m not sure if this post is more about how great that title is or about how great the story is. Anyways…from the article… ‘These amazing pictures show an epic, two-hour battle between spear fisherman Craig Clasen and a 12-foot tiger shark in the Gulf of Mexico.’ Amazing. There are a lot of wild things about this…not only the general storyline, but the fact that the guy then proceeds to spear the poor thing 7 times, tries to drown it (how do you drown a fish!?), shoots it in the gills, and then puts a knife in its skull! Nobody - nobody - will ever top this guy when it comes to storytelling. You literally cannot have a more out there story to tell, unless this had happened in a small man made lake, or in the sky. Anyways, I have to mention the downer part of this…he says ““This was one of the most remorseful moments I have ever had in all of my years in hunting and fishing,” he said.” Which made me realize, yeah, that would be kind of hard to cope with. But then I read the first comment and I laughed again. “El Mac wrote:
Remorseful?!?!? Why, I’d be ecstatic! I’d mount that thing. What a sweet kill!”

1012 small

House of Holland, PANTONEs for Days!!

Runway shows are a blast is a close runner up. True you miss the excitement of it all but to really soak in each piece is kinda difficult when there are like 3 whizzing by. Any who. If you see alot of shows it hard to remember a specfic one unless they really go all out. I just flipped thru the first 3 looks of the House of Holland latest collection and was blown away…driven to post about it. In design school they always tell you just to focus in on one idea/point of inspiration. Once you keep adding other points of reference the strength gets lost. This collection is a perfect example of one REALLY good idea. The thing designers stare at the most…the PANTONE book. Mine is like an AMEX card, I never leave home with out it. Last week I decided to take it outta the bottom of my backpack and an hour later I get an email asking for PANTONE call outs. Back to House of Holland. Not only did they execute the PANTONE idea perfectly, white separating lines and all, they put them on super serious fashion silhouettes. That one men’s look is spot on. Check it out. Even if your not into fashion this collection is just great to look at. Get inspired.

1011 small

Important read: Interview magazine, James Jebbia!!

The Chanel or Vuitton of street/skate wear. I don’t own much Supreme, mostly cause I’m a slim guy and they don’t make my size…but I am a HUGE fan of their brand. I love classics, basics, true cultural referencers, etc. That is what Supreme is to me…its this like ultra simple brand that does just the most classic stuff. Ha, I guess everyone feels this way though right? So, James Jebbia, the man behind Supreme was just interviewed in the famed Interview magazine. Too cool, super insightful. I’ve always wanted to hear more of his thoughts. I love his matter-of-fact approach to starting Supreme. Letting things happen naturally, not trying to ‘be’ something, etc. Here are some choice quotes:

“It cost me, like, $12,000 to open the store.”

“With Supreme, there were no grand plans—with the name, with the store, with anything. It all just evolved.”

$12k, how nuts is that?? I love it. Check the interview though, great read on a brand that paved the way, if not created the market, for every other new ‘niche culture’ brand in the past 10-15 years.

1010 small

Booooooom goes the dynamite.

We love Ffffound. That should come as no surprise to anybody. The best ‘junk drawer’ site on the internet if you ask me. (Also, it’s got to be because of the invite system that that site has yet to be really flooded with dumb stuff…) Anyways, Jeff Hamada is the man behind the site Booooooom, that’s 7 “o’s”, and this site has been the source of a massive amount of awesome stuff that has popped up on Ffffound’s infamous front page and beyond. Jeff’s tastes for Booooooom have really come to define it as a truly unique art and design blog - the artists featured are of a consistently high quailty. You can hardly go through a full page without finding at least a handful of great new artists (or revisit a few old favorites). Jeff even uses an exclamation point (!) after all the subsection links and a lot of the post titles - and you know! how much! we here at The Bril!liance love that! I’m not sure how to describe the general style of artists selected for the site, but I love it, whatever it is. It always seems to be of an organic nature - something either handcrafted (rarely artists who use mostly the computer are posted), illustration, lo-fi photograpy, drawing, painting…all that. It’s like the best of New American Paintings, Juxtapoz, classic Tokion (which I really, really miss by the way. Here’s to you Deanne Cheuk…), and Anthem Mag all on one site. And those are four really great things to be compared to. Well done Jeff, the internet neeeeeeeds more sites like Booooooom.

1009 small

I kind of can’t believe I’m using twitter.

Maybe its just the name… ‘Twitter.’ If it was called like ‘Update’ or ‘Quick’ it’d feel a lot cooler…ha, I don’t know. Anyway, I started using it cause I opened an account and a few people started following, then like 20 or so, and I just figured why waste the outlet, you know? So instead of using it like the face book ‘is’ thing, I’m just using it to post thoughts, links, even song lyrics from Rick Ross…I mean, why not. I try and update it like once a day, keep it fresh. It’s a fun little outlet. I’d kind of ignored twitter so I was totally missing out on following people like Diplo and Lance Armstrong. Super entertaining. Diplo specifically. Virgil put me on to his. So yeah, totally get like, you know like, super web 2.0ed out and follow me on twitter dude! We can like totally tweet each other! Ha, jeez, maybe I shouldn’t have started using twitter, ha. ** get at me too! username: VAALLC ** 3/3rds of THE BRILLIANCE!!! is up and running.

1008 small

Welcome back aNYthing!!

I was pretty happy to see this news today. The aNYthing brand, with Aron at the controls, was always…so well done. I don’t really have any interest in moving to NYC, but I love to visit and I love, just love, to watch the creativity and CULTURE that is generated by its residents. We were lucky enough to interview Aron a while back through our relationship with Alex Calderwood - he connected us - and its still my favorite interview I think. I remember chatting with Aron via text message a bit and having him send a package our way super early on - I still have those shirts! So yeah…there was a bunch of ‘drama’ and aNYthing was controlled by someone else for a bit - but that’s no longer, Aron is back running the show, and I can’t wait to see what they cook up. Check the interview on Hypebeast, link below. A great quote from the interview: “Yeah kids today can jump online and study the culture as opposed to being involved in the culture. There’s some good too it but a lot of bad.” - SS Congrats and welcome back.

1007 small

The *New* Standard - Hotel!!!

So I am broadcasting from The Standard Hotel aka the crazy building that spans the High Line in NYC’s Meatpacking District. The Standard is seriously my favorite brand of hotels to stay in, in the world. Ritzy-fancy-old-hotel have too much of a generational gap for me and most boutique hotels over do it on the wrong details. The Standard does it right on all the details. Their logo is written upside down on everything. I love it every time. First off the design of this building is one of the best in NYC, period. It looks like it should even stand up properly. The entry/lobby is a smash…mirrors, marble and interesting lights. The experience of the stay is where The Standard keeps winning. The reality priced liquor bar makes it actually make sense to partake. I really dig the layout of the room, my glass boxed in shower is dead center in the room and separates the bedroom & bathroom. Free wifi (note to all hotels, get with the times). Free breakfast room service! Awesome views no matter what room you got. And icing on the cake is the iHome iPod stereo thing that actually charges my forever dead iPhone while blasting Sebastian Tellier all day long…and yeah…tons of ‘real’ magazines, like Fantastic Man, V, Art in America, TAR, etc. All in all I think you get the gist, I am raving about this place. It’s that good.