The Blog



onight, as I waited at for my slice when I stepped out of the office for dinner, I picked up an old copy of what’s left of Time magazine. As I flipped through a few pages, I came across a story about how some real estate prospectors and city developers predict Detroit will be the country’s next boom town based, in part, on the dirt-cheap prices of land and homes. To illustrate the point, most of the opening spread was a decidedly mediocre photo of an empty residential lot from the Rust Belt.

The beauty of it came from a conveniently placed pizza grease stain. Aside from making me second guess my selected nourishment for the evening, the appearance of a pollutant taking the form of the foliage on a tree got my brain spinning. In fact, on first glance, I thought it was an intentional illustration (something the poorly lit iPhone photo above doesn’t quite convey). Sometimes you have to sketch out an idea, and sometimes an idea sketches itself out for you.


got some bad news the other day. Really, it wasn’t so much news as much as a realization: that I had a wrong mailing address in my phone, so a series of postcards (like the above remixed New Yorker cover from a couple weeks back that I mailed out a few day ago) I’ve sent are floating around in USPS purgatory. Of the cards I mailed, this is one of the only ones I scanned into my computer beforehand. Had I known none of them would reach their intended destination, maybe I would have saved more. Here’s to hoping they at least found a home somewhere other than the bottom of a trash can at a postal sorting office.


in Seattle for a few days to visit some friends, catch a couple Mariners games and see Leonard Cohen play a leg of his first U.S. tour in more than 15 years. And, as it often is, the Seattle Central Library was my first stop after I got off the train. It’s easily among the five coolest modern buildings I’ve been in, and I’m always compelled to visit it, sign on and check my email. And this time around, to sing the praises of this structure.

I’m no architecture buff, but it doesn’t take one to realize how beautiful this building is. Its exterior is a honeycomb of steel and glass diamonds, and its interior offers ten floors books, references and reading and work space. No single floor is like another, with each forming uniquely to the contours of the angular lattice shell of the building. Each floor is wide open but sectioned off by seemingly natural partitions of different floor coverings, low steps and steel hand rail.

But the best part of the design (aside from nice typography in the signage) is the endless navigation possibilities. Every floor is interconnected with a series of stairwells, elevators and brightly-lit escalators. The central stack is one giant, slow-rising coil. Patrons can visit floors three through nine — which all flow into one another — without taking a single step up or pushing any elevator buttons.

It’s also a photographer’s wonderland. Immediately behind me there’s a photographer and a couple of models shooting some hipster-y fashion photos. Alas, while I brought my camera, I forgot my card reader at home, so until I get back this weekend, the image I stole off Wikipedia and a webcam self portrait will have to do.


or the better part of the past year, my brothers (and more recently, Cory’s friend, Craig) and I have been participating in a weekly photography exercise in which we all make pictures based on a common theme. By the end of each weekend (or, in my case, usually in the wee hours of Monday after I’m off work), we all post our resulting images over at weeklyphotography.blogspot.com for every one to judge. Though I’m not certain stripes and plaids are an exact fit for this week’s topic of “forbidden,” this was one idea I had. But since I generally use the topic as a guideline more than a written rule (and topic of “fashionably frowned-upon” is unlikely to come up anytime soon), maybe this picture will find its way onto the other blog at about three a.m. Monday.


his season’s Blazers made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, so I spent my last week of shifts putting together a 16-page preview to the postseason, which starts today. The fourth-seeded Blazers take on the Houston Rockets in Portland tonight, and the section runs in The Oregonian edition that hits doorsteps this morning.


ere’s a peek at something I’m working on that may or may not evolve into an illustration for the paper. I built it using a 360-degree panorama I made a couple days ago of Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square and one of many sets of instructions on the web about turning a skyline into a globe with Photoshop’s polar coordinates filter. If it ends up being used in the A&E section in a few weeks, I may build a few more highlighting other scenic Portland locales and post ’em, too. In the mean time, here’s is a look at the original image I built out of a dozen snaps.


uch of the past month that I spent not working on Pickathon I burned building a full-page (horizontal) graphical timeline of the NCAA Tournament for The O with reporter Rachel Bachman. With branches of the first couple rounds of the West and South brackets, March Madness returned to Oregon after a generation (during much of which the state lottery had an NFL gambling game the NCAA frowned upon). Plus UO won the first tourney back in 1939, so a multi-layered chart plotting the development of the postseason seemed in order. It wasn’t the smoothest or best enterprise graphic ever designed, but it fell together in a hurry, overcame a number of obstacles, and I think it served the reader well. Want a closer look? Click these funny-colored words.


his past month, I spent a sizable chunk of my free time putting together a sponsorship guide for the Pickathon 2009 Indie Roots Music Festival. It’s an annual event held on scenic farm and woodlands a half hour outside of Portland. I worked on the project with über talented photographer Tim LaBarge, and am looking forward to soaking up a cocktail of one part sun, one part IPA and two parts bluegrass-inspired rhythms at this summer’s incarnation. And in case you’re a high-roller businessperson (okay, any roller will do) interested in marketing at a holistically positive event, download the PDF above and give the organizers a call. It’ll be worth your while.

fter an absence of about a year and a half, it’s time I re-enter generation tweet by starting a new blog and introducing my new portfolio site, quenluen.com. In the time since the last post over at now-defunct sixteen hours to burn (perhaps one day I’ll move its archive over here), I’ve grown my hair and cut it short, I’ve visited Central America and northern California (and plenty of places in between), I’ve moved from here to here and I’ve seen The Boss live. If I’m able, I’ll try to include such experiences at this here url, but at the very least I’ll regularly post what I’m working on, creatively and otherwise. In the mean time, take a look around, have a drink, feel at home and enjoy yourself.


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