What: One of Many is a monthly series of photo essays about twelve American cities and their creative communities.
Who: Designers, woodworkers, chefs, engineers, illustrators, writers and anyone else making something that moves people.
Why: To inspire and be inspired by the independent creative movement that is reshaping our economy and culture. To encourage others to make the leap. To empower those already there, and let them know they’re not alone.
Why Now: The growing creative independent movement, along with renewed interest in life outside the big cities, is rapidly reshaping our economy and culture. Read much more at oneofmany.co and find below the second of twelve One of Many essays.
Note: While I spent most of my time on this trip in Denver, I would be remiss to not include that a good selection of the following creatives spends most of their time in the beautiful and very nearby Boulder, CO. Though not quite as close as Brooklyn is to Manhattan, I found the symbiotic relationship between these close neighbors sufficient to include both communities.
Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Use the code “oneofmany” to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.
Luca Venter is a photographer and a secret musician. He was born in South Africa, and at six years old moved to the beautiful state of Colorado with his family. Luca’s art is dreamy in a way that follows a free and open mind, matched with a wandering soul.
When Luca turned 11 years old, his parents offered him the choice to opt out of the traditional school system and instead apply himself in a direction of his choice through self-study. Luca picked photography, wholeheartedly. He has since built up a gorgeous portfolio, and daringly stepped into the realm of music, applying his dreamlike aesthetic, confidently searching.
This is the story of a passionate barista, wanting more. Koan made his name at the highly regarded Crema Coffee House, but after attending a coffee festival his mind started to wander. When the thoughts solidified, he realized he wanted to start a roastery. So he did. First out of his garage, and later, by way of a successful Kickstarter campaign and with the blessing of Crema, in the back of his very own coffee shop and roastery Huckleberry Roasters. A few years later, Koan and his partners now have two locations, and their beans are available in various retail outlets, as well as through their own webstore.
Koan and his partners aim to bring people together for a meaningful shared experience. A quiet one even. Huckleberry’s philosophy feels is to enjoy slowly, which somehow is not surprising coming from a mindful man named after an unsolvable Zen Buddhist riddle. “Two hands clap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one hand?”
Oh Josh Harvey. Where shall I begin? Formerly a touring musician and muralist, now a purveyor of classy flasks and lighters for men and women that stand for something. A tattooed body, and a well-traveled soul. A kind heart, held in laborer’s hands.
Josh doesn’t give up. Josh married the love of his life after mere months, because sometimes you just know. Josh thinks life seems more complicated than it is. I think he might be right.
Natalie Wolt is mere months away from graduating with a psychology degree. She also just took a next step in her modeling career, getting signed by an agency and being published in various editorial pieces. I’d like to think both of those halves strengthen Natalie’s chances and resolve in either direction, and I look forward to following along with the inevitable successes that will come.
Tim Davis is a fourth son. Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Minnesota, educated in Texas, and now in seminary in Denver. I met Tim at Thump Coffee when he was studying his Greek flashcards in preparation for what sounded like an impossible seminary test. While wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt. He did just fine, and has since taken on a pastor role at his local church as he works toward his degree.
Jess is a performer. Both enigmatic, and open. Her rich interior life is easily noticed, but equally hard to decipher. Unless she decides to make it easy. Jess is in control.
Most of her time is spent working for Wands and Wishes, transforming herself into a very convincing movie princess by way of costumes and wigs, to show up at children’s parties to delight and surprise.
Jess steps into various other roles just as convincingly. She’s a seamstress for Winter Session, a creative assistant and bartender at Upstairs Circus, an aspiring sign painter, and a singer in the Denver Women’s Chorus.
“Choir feels like magic. There‘s something about being this tiny little piece of a huge collective voice; feeling like you‘re part of something so much bigger than you, that wouldn‘t be the same without you is really one of the best feelings.”
I enjoyed the first day or two I spent in Denver, but the city didn’t really show me what it was made of until an old friend introduced me to the a family of friends living in two neighboring houses, informally dubbed Sunny Meadows. I spent a most wonderful evening on their porch, listening to Josh Dillard and John Hyde play music, and talking to inhabitants current and past about their passions. I ate homemade food in a beautiful ceramic bowl made by Matthew Jorgenson, looked at gorgeous illustrations by Paul Michel of Mountains vs Plains, tried on something handmade by Shawn of Primary Ties, felt the softness of the Jordan’s Pine Top Workshop leather billfolds, watched florist Kimberly Hyde connect with the front yard, listened to stylist and writer Kate Hinojosa catch folks up on what happened since she moved out, and so much more. It was enchanting and inspiring and it changed my perception of Denver completely. I saw grit, and love, and warmth, and electricity. Nothing was business, everything was personal.
Earlier that day, before I headed over to Sunny Meadows, I stopped by the perfectly named A Small Print Shop, to meet co-owner and Sunny Meadows resident Dan Evan Garza and his partner Stephen Till. The shop finds it’s origins in graphic designer Dan’s punk-rock past, when his bands had merch printing needs in runs so small that they couldn’t find an economical way to make it happen. He also started designing for other bands, it made sense to expand the business and leave the road life behind. Since then the shop has done design and print work for local businesses and bands including Crema, The Lumineers, Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, and many others.
In order: Dan Evan Garza, Paul Michel and Kayleen Harvey, most everyone including Jeremy Burch, Kimberly Hyde, Shawn Reagan, Jordan Tinklenberg, and Kate Hinojosa
Todd Berger (left) and Lucian Föhr (middle) are the co-founders of graphic design studio Berger & Föhr. They split their time in equal thirds between identity design, client work, creating their own art, and side projects in which they take equity. The most recent example of the latter is Ello, designed by B&F, and co-founded with Kid Robot co-founder Paul Budnitz, and Mode Set. Super minimalist in it’s design, strictly built following a manifesto, and with a small but growing community of people sharing visual art and influences in an advertisement free environment. It’s a statement against social networks where the user is the actual product, being sold to corporations who turn data into marketing strategies. I am very curious to see which direction Ello takes. It feels like the right time for something like this to succeed if it’s executed well and finds the right audience. I’ve been a beta user for a few months, and it feels like a very passionate, albeit modest, userbase so far. Lots to improve upon still, but it’s a nice glimpse into a possible future.
Berger & Föhr have taken years to figure out their axioms for design and work life, gone through various iterations of what it means to be a studio, and now that they’ve found their sweet spot, they do not compromise. Everything goes back to what they believe in most strongly. If it doesn’t fit their world view, they do not engage. I like that about them.
Also pictured: Penny the dog and friend, and designer Owen Dodd (right).
Harper Phillips is a singer-songwriter, theatre worker, and graphic designer. She’s one of those rare people that is able to say the most love-filled, idealistic, world-improving things to this New Yorker of 13 years, and have me believe in them too. She exudes kindness and enthusiasm, and inspires the same in others. I mean, what do you expect from a former dolphin trainer?
Rachel Ryle is a self-taught and self-made award winning illustrator and animator. Her first-ever animation was posted to and featured by Instagram, and it changed everything. Since then Rachel has been able to turn her art into a full time career, in part by working with various companies and brands to help them tell stories in the most creative of ways.
At the age of 16, Jamie Kripke met with a career counselor, as one does. After hours of interviews and tests, he shared his findings and dubbed him a creative kid with a gift for hands-on work like laboratory research. Many years later, after various jobs, Jamie found himself back in conversation with a career counselor. This time, there was more to go on and the counselor told him that after 13 years of “dating” photography, it was time to marry his craft. Jamie hasn’t looked back since.
Jamie and his wife live in Boulder, with their two daughters who are affectionately nicknamed Hot Sauce and Nugget, because, well, you’d really just have to meet them and it would make sense.
Frank Bushell (top) is a partner at multifaceted design and development studio Cirro, based out of a creative cluster of shipping containers-turned-offices and stores called 2500 Larimer. Cirro joined the space alongside Huckleberry Roasters, wonderful restaurant Work & Class, and the good folks at backpack and apparel company Topo Designs.
Jules Davies (bottom, left) handles marketing and design for Topo. Jules sparkles like very few people I have ever met. She’s adventure personified and before you can even suggest the next thing she has already said “Yes!”.What a perfect match with Topo, a company that makes beautiful, functional backpacks, and sends Jules out to the far ends of the world to shoot gorgeous pictures of products in use from the Pacific Northwest to Peru.
Josh Deiss is the manager of Topo’s flagship store, right underneath their headquarters. Josh sports a most welcoming smile to draw you in, paired with a casual way of sharing all kinds of information on the backpacks and accessories without making it feel like a sell. It took about 5 minutes and I walked out with a brand-new yellow backpack. I still use it every day.
Just down the street from 2500 Larimer, I found the Our Mutual Friend Tenth Acre & Brewery, where I got to meet head brewer Jan Chodkowski. Moved by his incredible passion for beer, Jan started by working in the bar and volunteering in the brewery any moment he could. It didn’t take long before he proved himself and started co-creating new beer flavors, eventually taking over the head brewer position. His brand new wife Rachel DiPalma is the senior manager of brand communications at music store startup, Beat Port. She married Jan in Troy, NY this past spring, and since then she has taken on his last name. They’re a great pair that plays off of each other perfectly, somehow always leading to side splitting laughter on Rachel’s part.
Dan Storch (left) and Justin Fuller (right, interior) are the co-founder of Good Apples, a multi-disciplinary creative studio. A painting of Paul Rand oversees their conference room, where they meet with clients such as Patagonia Books, Threadless, and the City of Denver. Their work is clever and sophisticated, playfully engaging physical materials to translate their client’s goals into being. A good example of this is the combination conference badge and program that they created for TEDxBoulder.
Lee Motayed Mayer is the co-founder of interior design startup Havenly and a resident of the Galvanize community and entrepreneur space. Originally, Lee started Havenly in NYC, where small apartments and people with very little time are plentiful. Once they were able to work out the business model and gain some traction, Lee made her way to Colorado to live a more outdoors friendly lifestyle while continuing to run the company.
Chris Onan is the co-founder and managing director of the aforementioned Galvanize, which focuses on coalescing communities of early stage technology companies through the three pillars of community, curriculum, and capital. It’s much more than a co-working space, with a variety of classes and events hosted, and even an associated venture fund that makes investments in the community.
Rachel Scott is the passionate co-founder of the fully-clothed and cheekily named Naked Women’s Racing team. She is also the director of marketing for software consultancy Quick Left. Originally from Nashville TN, she cut her teeth in the world of country music marketing, writing copy for shotgun shells, rebranding non-profits. The variety of work comes from a strong case of professional and personal ADD, currently reflected in her advisory positions with the Denver Nordic Association and Inside the Orchestra, her soon-to-be hot yoga instructor side gig, and biathlon, motocross and climbing activities.
Eugene Wan is a Colorado native who happened to be born in Canada. While at the University of Colorado, he helped create Startup Summer, a ten-week program that combines a summer internship with a series of evening events and classes on creating and running a successful startup. Eugene was a Techstars Associate and parlayed that into a position as the assistant to founder Brad Feld.
Sara Distin is a writer, editor, and communications strategist. She believes that our stories—shared in print, pixels, pictures, and emails—connect us. After living in New York City for seven years, Sara decided to start a new chapter in her own story, by moving back to the state where she grew up, and choose a quieter creative life. Sara held onto her job with Brooklyn-based startup Tinybop, now working remotely, and spends the rest of her time in nature, under the sun and stars. At home.
|| More To Read and See ||
|| Visit oneofmany.co for the story behind this project, and information on upcoming cities and essays.
|| Find more photos on Instagram and by searching the hashtag #oneofmanyDenver
|| Find outtakes on Tumblr, published on a regular basis.
|| A list of my favorite restaurants and shops in Denver and Boulder (CO) is available on Foursquare.
I am profiling additional members of the Denver and Boulder creative communities in various publications in the next few weeks. These will include RJ Owen, Janet Hollingsworth, Robby Holb, Bing Chou, Tim Williams, Brian Corrigan, Nathan Snyder, and others.
PREVIOUS ESSAY: Charleston, SC - Published August 22nd, 2014
NEXT ESSAY: Nashville, TN - To be published October 31st, 2014.
NEXT TRIPS: Portland, OR - October 14-20 || Seattle, WA - October 21-29 || New Orleans, LA - November 4-12 || Detroit, MI December 2-9 || Follow along in real time via Instagram!
Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Click here to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.