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.

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What if this is the best time in new music, like right now??

Of course we could all be ultra pessimistic and say no, but look at what just happened real quick. My friend Acyde just retweeted "A label without a recording studio, is just a marketing company" - Richard Russell. There's no more barrier to entry to get studio time. An artists own Instagram and friends are their personal marketing agency. So record labels today don't seem like record labels of the past. That legendary Travis Scott Terminal 5 show, Migos touring Coachella, Lil Uzi stage free falling 20 feet, Sampha selling out US shows etc. all feels like music has less gate keepers than before and the baton has been passed to a new generation. I love anything new. We're in good hands. Bless streaming. Remember it was just a second ago the streaming concept seemed "weird". Now we don't second guess it. Your iPhone is the radio. The radio is no longer "the radio". That's wild.

Brill Brill Brill

Start-ups, working in VC, “ideas” and the concept of luck.

The more time I spend in the start-up / business world the more I think a lot of it is based around luck. So I suppose I consider my current situation as a bit of a “hat trick.” I was lucky enough to be in a position in life to be able to start a business when I was very young. Then, I was lucky enough to have one of those business do well - though the majority sputtered into nothingness. And finally…I was lucky to be invited to then work in venture capital as a bit of a culmination of the previous two bits of luck. To help others in their search for luck. Perhaps the Irony in all this is that the venture capital world, or any form of highly speculative or intuition based investing, requires a bit of luck. My definition of luck isn’t simply blindly having things fall in your lap… It’s some sort of 4 way intersection of preparedness, intuition powered by exposing yourself to as many different things in the world as possible, decisiveness, and the luck part…timing. If anyone is familiar with the Damen, Milwaukee, North intersection in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood it looks something like that - but add another street. Quite messy. (And oddly enough in the startup and VC world people tend to dress the same as kids in that area, lol.) It’s a tenuous place to hang out honestly. You either love it or find all the lack of structure incredibly uncomfortable…and honestly, even when you’ve fallen in love with it…its still can be really uncomfortable. I haven’t - or anyone I work with in the VC or startup world - become “wealthy” from the specific projects we work on yet. Would I like to? Yes. The concept of “fuck you money” isn’t one I am against achieving. That said…the value I derive from working in the space is the firehose of new ideas, information, concepts, solutions, and people I get to stand in front of every day. So fun. Shout out to all the lucky kids trying to catch the lucky waves… ***btw, I’m still out there, starting projects/business, looking for those “lucky waves” too…still in the line-up!!

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This Drake album is important. It's been out for like a month and is a soundtrack to the vibe of now. Genius level soundtrack with a "playlist" vibe. Interludes that aren't interludes. Features that are features. Raps! Melodies! Seriously tho. That Moodyman sample is deep before "Passionfruit" kicks off. What I love most about the album is that you can eat listen to it all point of the day. 6 am - 6 pm - 3 am. MURDA ON THE BEST SO IT'S NOT NICE!!



New things, new things! Literally and figuratively on this one…new project, via new objects. I’m feeling really fucking lucky that I get to do projects like these. For real. For the past maybe 5-6 years I’ve been playing around in the clothing space. Last 2-3 years I got super into materials and how things are made. So like, as a hobby I would dream up products in a given material. Sometimes the product came first and needed to find an interesting material to make it in - or the material came first and it was like: “what object would be wild to make out of this?!” Narrative was always like a playful bouncing back and forth between useful and useless. Irreverence can be romantic, no?

So now its a “business” - even though I love eternally calling things “projects” well after they are sorted as a business. Been lucky to take all the learning from previous projects I’ve worked on - some massive in scale, some corporate, some small, some playful, etc - and try and to not only build out a collection and NARRATIVE that makes sense - but a framework on the backend that allows it to be financially sustainable. I’m obsessed with that. Inspired by companies like Margiela and Visvim. Hotels like the Chateau. People like Marc Newson and Olivier Zahm. Who have a clear narrative but a super avant garde end result / product. Maybe no rules?? That sounds kind of corny - but I think its true. Those businesses, places, people are sustainable businesses that reinvest profits to even further remove themselves from rules while totally delighting their customers…you know??? I absolutely love that.

So this is me throwing my hat in the ring. From scratch. Experimenting, taking things stuck in my head and hustling to hold them in real life and see if people like them as much as I do. Yeah man, train has left the station, “AN OBJECT COMPANY” ~ link below.


Having stuff made!

I love learning how stuff is made and making stuff. meme font: “Everyone be like: what kind of stuff??”

Anything, I swear. It started when I was like 12-13 at the public library trying to figure out how computers work, which led to me learning BASIC and then kind of being able to make the computer “do things” - anything your imagination could come up with. That kind of freedom when you’re young is huge. But it was always stuck on the screen. I wanted to make things you could hold and touch, etc. Fast forward however many years - I started being able to do that with clothing. That was the first project. I knew nothing about the process of making a dress shirt. More samples than I can count and years later - I’m still learning, but I love it - love the learning part. It’s magical to watch a few boring materials on their own turn into an “object” than the sum of their parts.

It’s now become a hobby that consumes a decent amount of my daily life. Over the past 2-3 years I’ve learned a tiny bit about the process and had things made using: fine metal jewelry casting, slip-cast ceramic and porcelain manufacturing, marble work and the cutting/honing and engraving that can be done with it, light-weight cast concrete manufacturing, carbon fiber molding both wet-lay-up and pre-preg with autoclave, water jet cutting, and just starting to learn a bit more about CNC machines. I was super specific about those as they are all part of a very tiny “collection” I’m coming out with in a couple months - I hope.

Why the hell would you spend all that time and money learning those things to get a bunch of little trinkets, objects made - most which are fairly useless? Right now - because its fun and it opens your mind a ton. The more you learn and have things made - the more you think about the objects around you, how you could make them differently in a way that matters to you…maybe to other people, thus making it a business if thats what you’re after. It’s something I encourage people to try if you can - its like being an intern or an apprentice for a few hours or days…it reminds you how true this quote is:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”


Common ‘Kingdom’ directed by Hype!!!

Yeah. A post. It’s better the more random the timing is. This site is about noteworthy vibes. Immediately when I saw this video I thought of why we made this site and why I never really forget about this site called The Brilliance.

Yeah, Hype Williams. The director that defined the the generation of videos kids like me grew up with. Common the rapper that defined a genre of hip-hop I grew up in. Surging into 2014 with a video that caught me by surprise in the freshest of ways. I’m into the non-obvious. I love music videos without performance shots and that. At this point we have seen it all in terms of music videos. This video for ‘Kingdom’ by Common was a stoke of genius minimalism and very Chicago, ultra representative. Classic story telling in a modern way. This video deserves a lot of applause. So much so that I had to ask Chuck and Ben what my login password was for our site and toss this video in the random time capsule of our generation. Till next time. Soon.


The new best thing on the internet: The Met puts 400,000 (!) works of hi-res art online!!!

WHATS MORE RARE: FINDING A PICASSO AT A GARAGE SALE OR A POST ON THE BRILLIANCE!?!? lol. Anyways, let’s get real. This, to me, is unbelievable on so many levels. You can now search to see ~400,000 (394,000 to be exact) works of art in beautiful hi-res and it is amazing. When I say hi-res, I really mean it. Most images appears to be in the 10-12 megapixel range, which is more than sufficient to make any of this stuff a background on your phone or desktop, and still plenty sufficient to make some nice prints at home if you wanted to. But most of all, I feel like the reason this is important is because it creates a brand new entrypoint for people to look at art close up and really appreciate the details, ultimately encouraging them to become fans and patrons of it. The cracks in the paint, the erosion of metals and clay, the imperfections that make this stuff perfect. Of course, the ultimate goal here is to get you to go look at these works in person…but this really is as ‘now’ as it gets: hi-res images of historic, fine art on the internet so some 9 year old kid on his iPad can explore it close-up then tell his parents he wants to go to an art museum to see for him/herself. So an artist in need of inspiration can get lost for a few hours poring over the details of some newly discovered Albrecht Dürer illustration. So those of us already in love with art can fall further in love with it and those who aren’t can give it a shot. Can you imagine the amount of work that has gone into doing this too by the way? 394,000!! Insane. I assume this has been years and years in the making. From the Met’s own announcement about this, “...[works] may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee.” And from Thomas P. Campbell, CEO of the Met, “I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.” Go explore.


HEY ITS LIKE 2014 AND STUFF!!!!##!#!!#!!!

Ok, ok…so we haven’t posted since October 24. I know. But we’re like all busy and stuff. “Sorry, I’m just really slammed right now.” “Sorry - just really bogged down with work, haven’t had a spare moment!” “Man, super sorry…just been way behind on all my internet responsibilities.” You know how it goes. Like when someone is waiting for you to get back to an email or something and these are what you come up with. “SLAMMED! IM SLAMMED!! SORRY! HAVENT FORGOTTEN! SLAMMED!!! SLAMMED RIGHT NOW!!!!” Haha. Anyways…we’re still here. As for me, I recently launched a new podcast called Life+Limb which really was an extension for me of the interviews we’ve done here on THE BRILLIANCE! over the years. Like a spin-off, like, THE BRILLIANCE! is the White Stripes and Life+Limb is my solo album or the Raconteurs or something. Anyways, it’s going super well and has been a ton of fun. Been live just a couple weeks and is already the #2 podcast in iTunes Arts-Design section so that’s how you know this thing is cool as hell. I’m basically Howard Stern now, basically. So…go check that out at - I’ll probably make another post just about this eventually but be on the lookout for episodes with Benjamin & Virgil in the new year… Speaking of Benjamin & Virgil, they both have a lot of good shit going on right now too. Benjamin is DJ’ing and making clothes and traveling and continuing to grow the success story that is Boxed Water. Virgil recently launched OFF-WHITE which is his continuation of PYREX VISION and is obviously amazing, and the new #BEENTRILL site BEENTRILL.COM launched today which is also super good…it was made by the way by our friends over at OKFocus who are easily the coolest creative agency on the planet (their words but also mine). Anyways…so that’s whats up. I don’t know if we’ll post 4 times or 40000 times in 2014, but just because it gets quiet around here doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about THE BRILLIANCE! If anything, it just means we’re all cooking up something good that will eventually get posted about. HEY GO FOLLOW THE BRILLIANCE ON TWITTER @THEBRILLIANCE OK BYE HAPPY NEW YEAR OMG


Gifpop!! Physical, actual GIFs you can hold. Like, in your hand.

This is the epitome of the internet coming full circle, off the screen and into the real world and in such a cool, simple way. From the (successfully funded) Gifpop Kickstarter page: “Gifpop is a tool to make custom cards from animated gifs, using the magic of lenticular printing.” Lenticular printing, the same lenticular printing that has been used for years on the sides of plastic souvenir cups at events, on sports cards, on hokey bus shelter ads and really anything else you can think of. GIFs, the same gifs that have been practically a part of the internet since the internet existed… but put the two together and it’s something new entirely in concept. Holding a favorite gif in the palm of your hand, something to collect, to give to a friend, to use as a giveaway for artists or bands or designers or brands or whoever - honestly, so perfectly simple. Plus, I love that they’re working with two of the absolute best gif artists around and equally cool dudes, Mr Div and Davidope, guys I’ve followed for a while now and I love to see their craft moving to a physical product. And make no mistakes, gifs are a craft now and certainly even making moves into a more accepted form of fine art. Emailing with Benjamin about this and another awesome gif artist, Zack Dougherty, Benjamin said “THIS is what I want to see in art museums right now.” Couldn’t agree more. Go check out the Gifpop kickstarter if you want to contribute, although its been 3x successfully funded which is really great for a creative project like this. The project was conceived by 2 designers/programmers named Rachel Binx and Sha Hwang and we wish them nothing but success with this. #VERY #VERY #VERY #INTERNET


Nicolas Berggruen, homeless billionaire.

If you ask my friends, they’d tell you about how I kind of romanticize hotels for their focus on extreme connivence, comfort, often luxury, all in an oddly transient context. I love the idea of being a bit of very comfortable…but productive transient. Which is pretty much exactly what Nicolas Berggruen is doing. I found out about him a while ago - some New York Times article or something, can’t remember. Super fascinating. He’s kind of the prototype of what I envision for the maybe overly eccentric creative entrepreneur is, no? Something I aspire to a bit myself.

Grew up in France, was super leftwing socialist, then as a teenager headed to London to explore capitalism and the “real world” as he describes it. That led to starting a hedge-fund with the son of a tycoon from Colombia (ha), sold it, followed by a zillion other successful investments, fell in love with privacy, ditched all his personal belongs including his homes and decided to live anywhere he wanted in the world via hotels and his private jet. He has since transitioned from a bit of a playboy to a political voice/theorist through his org that focuses on “new ideas of good governance”. This is the quick and very chopped version of his life - google him, pretty wild. The thinking man’s gypsy??? Interview at link below is a good one.

***This link too.