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Blog

Words Into Shapes

Zach

Between our Summer and Fall collections we here at Mindful Release are trying to build a closer relationship with our fans and followers, and as part of that push we'd like to fill you in on the various calligraphy projects that have come to be (besides the garments) since our launch. 

Words Into Shapes, Work by Mindful Release

Words Into Shapes, Work by Mindful Release

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If you've been following Mindful Release for a while, then you know that Shane is always looking for ways to grow and experiment. He regularly branches out and brings his letters into new forms. One of these forms that shows up regularly in his work is the calligram, an intersection between calligraphy and imagery wherein an artist arranges words in a picture or interesting design. Our Instagram is covered in examples, and as of recently some of these examples and several new works can be found in the new book that we were lucky enough to be a part of, "Words Into Shapes: The Graphic Art of Calligram". This book, published by Monsa in Spain, features 144 pages of brilliant lettering work from artists all around the world. Check out Shane's pages here.

Monsa publishing is dedicated to highlighting contemporary art in many stylistic niches. They publish collections of collages, murals, manga, "Sweet & Bizarre" art, and tribute collections for Wes Anderson, Star Wars, David Bowie and more. Their work anthologizing and publishing artists is something we deeply respect and appreciate here at Mindful Release, and it was an honor to have been selected for this collection. Check out some previews of the book and Shane's work here and on the Monsa website linked above and, as always, stay mindful my friends.

Summer Collection 2017

Zach

Summer is coming to an end here in Minnesota and at long last the Summer 2017 collection is here. A smaller drop, this collection of two garments might seems sparse, but the designs and the places they honor are more than enough to fill the room. Hopefully they help you all enjoy your own last weeks of summer and encourage you to reflect on the season, or look ahead to the summers to come.

With this collection we went to the heart of the season and worked with the essentials. The first garment? The always classic cotton tee, available in white and black. The design criss crosses Minnesota with overlapping and interlacing strokes and features the signature Mindful Release stamps to the side. This shirt is Mindful Release's homage to its Minnesota roots, a tribute to the relationships and flows of energy that connect things across the humble and beautiful state. It's a must have for Minnesota natives or transplants, but at its heart this garment has a universal message. The places we live leave their marks on us, but what do we leave on them? Where does your stamp sit, relative to your homeland?


Our second garment, the Asemic Towel, is the biggest, boldest piece we've released. Asemic writing has no semantic meaning, but artists have used it for years for its evocative form and with the meticulously printed textures of each stroke on the towel it's easy to see why. The beauty of this piece is in the attention to detail, from the rendering of the brush to the hand-sewn labels expressing every beach goer's sentiment: Beach better have my Sunny. A full-sized beach towel with the glyphs running across the whole length, these seem just as well suited for a scroll-like wall hanging as they are for a day of lounging on the beach.

As always, the garments in this collection are available exclusively through Mindful Release and can be found on our SHOP page. With this release we are also doing a one-item giveaway with both of the garments! Everyone signed up for our email list is eligible to win, and it's not too late to sign up, winners will be chosen next Friday, September 1st so you can sign up for the email list anytime before then. Supplies of both our garments and the summer season are limited, so don't hesitate to get your shirts, your towels, and your sunny, now!

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Mindful Release & the Kinjaz

Zach

The Kinjaz' Great Wall

The Kinjaz' Great Wall

If we are mindful about our interactions, there are no strict transactions. Every encounter is a collaboration, a meeting of ideas, a chance to learn—and that's exactly what we found earlier this year with our first commissioned mural project. At the start of 2017, Mindful Release was preparing to drop the debut collection when we heard from Jon Shih of Vibrvncy. Jon, who works closely with a California-based dance crew called the Kinjaz, had taken notice of Mindful Release's beautifully intricate lettering and meditative mission. Like the Morton salt bottle says: when it rains, it pours, and sure enough the week after we released our first garments the Kinjaz invited Shane, our founder, letterer, and the driving force behind Mindful Release out to Los Angeles to paint in their dojo.

To give you some background, the Kinjaz are a self-described "artists' brotherhood" characterized by (as the name suggests) a ninja-inspired aesthetic; a mission to innovate, entertain, and positively impact the world through movement, media, and mentality; and a mantra: Respect All, Fear None.

They are best known for their dance crew, which is currently taking their characteristic, intricate choreography to the World of Dance 2017 competition. Working on the murals gave Shane a chance to work with the dancers as well as some photographers and models from the Kinjaz crew as well—a tiny peek at the brotherhood the Kinjaz seek to cultivate "at all costs."

There were three murals painted in the week Shane spent with the Kinjaz in LA: a complex, Kanji-inspired mural on the Kinjaz' "Great Wall," an inscription of the crew's "Respect All, Fear None" motto on a wall above their dance studio mirrors, and a text-reversed work in the hallway leading into the Kinjaz' dojo that when read in a mirror reveals one of their secondary mottos: "Movement in the Shadows."

I

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The Great Wall, pictured above, stands in the Kinjaz' studio waiting room as the barrier between their physical dance space and the outside world. The scope of the mural on this wall far surpassed the others and it resulted in a sprawling collection of inscribed circle calligrams and columns of glyphs that Shane invented specifically for the project. The glyphs were inspired by Kanji, a set of characters integrated into Japanese writing from Chinese origins. Kanji glyphs don't indicate sounds to be made in pronouncing a word but rather represent a whole idea, like a hieroglyph, which makes them impractical for writing a whole language but packed with meaning. As characters, Kanji stand out for their inherent balance, a trait that struck and inspired Shane in the process of creating the murals. When asked about the Kanji, he says "the balance and the stroke construction are what resonated deeply within me. I took those lessons after the mural and have applied them to every piece of calligraphy since."

The Kanji-inspired glyphs cover the sizeable expanse of the Great Wall in gold and white but the design is minimal with a soft earth-toned aesthetic to it that is meant to resemble rice paper. The balance of the glyphs is tied to the balance of the mural's massive scale against its quiet design, the characters weighted with meaning but seated on the fragility of rice paper.

II

The balance and tension of the Great Wall mural are no coincidence. The foundation of the Kinjaz' philosophy is made up of the balance and tension embodied in their mantra: "Respect All, Fear None." The wisdom is not lost on Shane who said, after the project, "I believe that [their motto's] meaning lines up with everything I believe in as a human being, as an artist, and as a business." He had plenty of time to meditate on the four word code of conduct as he painstakingly brought them, stroke-by-stroke, into the Kinjaz' dance studio. 

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"Rule number one on this planet, in all aspects of life, is respect all." Shane reflected when I asked him what he thought about the motto. "I will never know the struggles each individual has had, so I can never judge. And I will always know that any form of hate from anyone is just a deeper problem within themselves. I can understand them, and regardless if I like what they are saying or doing, I will respect them. The second part to that motto, Fear None, is how I've lived since I started studying letters and pursuing my dream. It's how I believe all people should live. Fear is a concept that is made up within our brains. It holds no physical form, and disappears the second we face it. I let fear guide me. If I'm afraid, or nervous to do something (within reason), it generally is a sign that I need to do it ASAP. Once you face it, the growth achieved within is enormous."

III

The third wall of the project, though smaller than the Great Wall, was perhaps the most technically challenging. The hallway that leads to the waiting room where the Great Wall is housed has one wall entirely in mirror, and rather than painting the other wall in bold design to fight for attention with the mirror the final part of the project brought the small hallway into harmony by relying on the mirror to be fully realized. The third mural features one of the Kinjaz' more characterizing statements, "Movement in the Shadows," but painted in reverse. 

The third mural reflected - Photo by Jon Shih of Vibrvncy

The third mural reflected - Photo by Jon Shih of Vibrvncy

The vertically-flipped design of the mural fills the very first space a person enters when they come into the dojo, and the effect is captivating. The work is cryptic when viewed straight on, with the meaning revealed only when the viewer examines themselves. Then, just as the viewer finds their reflection, the bright letters jump out of the dark tendrils creeping in from the side of the wall. Like the Great Wall, this work relies on the power of working in subtlety, which is the core of the Kinjaz' work and resonates strongly in our own hearts here at Mindful Release.

The chance to work with the Kinjaz and learn more about their mission was invigorating. This shared appreciation for not only artistic expression but for balance, harmony, subtlety, reflection and respect—this kindred mission made our collaboration with the Kinjaz a true honor. During the week that he worked on the murals, Shane was lucky enough to watch the Kinjaz in action as they prepared for their next performance on World of Dance, which was just as inspiring as meditating on their motto. "The thing I noticed most about them, and with Jon from Vibrvncy, was their amazing work ethics. They literally never stopped working. It was inspiring and really made me rethink the activities I do each day and how I could cut out certain tasks to work as hard as them." The way this brotherhood of artists seeks to continuously hone themselves and their art to positively impact the world should be an example to all creators, whether working collaboratively or on their own.

It is a pleasure to work for something that you believe in, but the kindness and wonderful hospitality of Jon Shih, Vibrvncy, and the Kinjaz also made this project quite enjoyable to work on. Our many thanks go to all of them, along with our best wishes as they continue to compete for the title of World of Dance champions and live out their mission.

To see more of these murals and get a glimpse of Shane at work, visit our Portfolio page. If you'd like more regular updates about where Mindful Release is going next and who we're working with (along with special offers on signature pieces of Mindful Release gear) click here. And lastly, as you go into the world to pursue your own Mindful Release, remember:

Move in the Shadows

Respect All,

Fear None

The Spring Collection 2017

Zach

Spring has sprung! Here in Minnesota the sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and Mindful Release is dropping its very first Spring collection. This line features new colors and letter style but maintains Mindful Release’s dedication to elegant, innovative design on simple, practical clothing. The garments are comfortable and classic: short sleeve t-shirts and a dad hat.

Last week saw the drop of the Gothic Circle Tee. Available in black or white to fit with every style or outfit, the focal point of this shirt is one of Shane’s circle calligrams wrapped around the left side of the torso. Under an open jacket or unbuttoned flannel, with only the Mindful Release insignia on the breast showing through, the Gothic Circle Tee can pass as a plain tee. But when the layers are shed and the shirt stands alone, these shirts are anything but plain. With this kind of versatility, whether you’re scrambling for a clean undershirt or want to make a statement with something different at a party, the Gothic Circle Tee has you covered.

Today we debut the Gothic Tees in sand and olive: simple, earthy tones for a simple, earthy time of year. As opposed to the Gothic Circle Tee, on these shirts Mindful Release sprawls across the chest in long, elegant letters in a celebration of expansiveness. Celebrate your own return to the park, the beach, the field and other sunlit spaces with this lightweight, comfortable invitation to release.

Next week we add one final item, our first foray into headwear and an essential part of any springtime wardrobe: a hat. More specifically, a dad hat. With an easy-to-adjust metal clasp on the back and the gentle curve of the brim, this hat is a throwback to the sunny days your pop spent playing baseball down the street. Whether you need a trusty brim to shade your eyes as you track that fly ball or just want something to look fly in, you can bring the round brim back in style this Spring with Mindful Release.

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Each item in this collection is available in extremely limited numbers and there will be no restocks so order yours as soon as you can. As in the debut Release collection, our garments are 100% cotton and come preshrunk with the designs printed in water-based ink. That means softer, more durable garments for you and a smaller impact on the environment for our printers.

That’s a wrap for our first Spring line up! The rest comes down to you: choose, order, wear, and release. Soak up (or block out) the sun in style and let this be the Spring that you dedicate yourself to cultivating your Mindful Release. I often find that each Spring brings me new energy, so it is the perfect season for starting new things, but as you feel the warm sun on your skin and work through the long, sunny days to pursue your release I want to leave you with a quote to muse on for the season:

“The Spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your Spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently.”
- Gary Zukav

From all of us here at Mindful Release, we wish you a lovely, very frequent, Spring.

Beat Submission Spotlight Artist: WOKREW

Zach

Good afternoon friends, we hope that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed April, the onset of spring (depending on where you live) and the very first month of Mindful Release’s Beat Submissions initiative. Excellent music was submitted by some very talented artists and it was tough to choose just one for our very first artist feature, but we are thrilled to present WOKREW (“woke crew”) here for their submission of the “Gold Fleece” beat:

The legend of the gold fleece comes from a Greek myth, in which Jason sets out to find the fleece, which is seen as a symbol of authority, and prove himself king. Throwing back to the Greeks is one of many ways that WOKREW draws from great artists of the past, they trace inspiration from a historically lauded line of composers equally with contemporary artists and their everyday environment. Like Jason, they seek treasures in the world around them, specifically in the works of local graffiti artists. The result is a sound that is both classical and at home in the hip-hop scene. It remains to be seen whether their journey ends with a crown, but with the talent and creativity that TEEZY and CARTEL bring to their work the future looks bright. We were lucky to steal a few moments from the two members of WOKREW and have them answer a few questions about their art and their thoughts on Mindful Release. Read on to learn more about these young artists and don't forget to check out their music at the SoundCloud links below.

CARTEL (left) and TEEZY (right) combine their talents to create WOKREW

CARTEL (left) and TEEZY (right) combine their talents to create WOKREW

How many years have you been making beats for, and how do you see music production fitting into your future plans?

TEEZY (Cal Tesar - Ann Arbor, MI) has been creating loops since he was in high school, he has been practicing the art for over four years. His partner CARTEL (Erick McLellan-Martinez - Minneapolis, MN), has been self taught and trained in classical music theory since the beginning of his high school career. WOKREW has been collaborating together for over a year, but started getting serious about their music recently. WOKREW strives to create music that reflects their various experiences, they hope to fit music production into their busy lives, always aware that anything can be expressed through music.

Why do you make music?

WOKREW creates music to express their ideal form of how they view the world. Both members of WOKREW find that writing original music is therapeutic. The rewards of creating and presenting their original works to the world is fulfilling.

Who/what are your biggest inspirations, and how does that affect your process of making music?

For TEEZY: J Dilla, Dr. Dre, and The Gorillaz are his biggest inspirations when it comes to writing his music. It is through these artists that TEEZY was able to find his passion for electronically producing beats and sampling music. CARTEL derives his inspiration from Sergei Rachmaninoff, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Gustav Holst. These great classical composers have inspired CARTEL by the way he layers his music through a bass line, a mid line, a secondary voice, followed by the melody. CARTEL and TEEZY work hand in hand, where CARTEL focuses on the melodic part of the loop, and TEEZY works on all the percussion sounds.

What do you hope listeners gain from hearing your music?

We hope that our music will create a sense of bliss and relaxation to our listeners. When we write, we like to combine a “Popped White Collar” sound with sounds that are inspired by the urban art scene. CARTEL is fascinated by the Minneapolis graffiti scene and many of his melodic works are based off of local urban artists’ work.

How did you first hear of Mindful Release, and what does Mindful Release mean to you?

CARTEL was first introduced to Mindful Release about a year and a half ago, when he was scrolling through his Instagram “suggested” feed, and he came across this beautiful style of handwriting. Curious, he went and explored the soon to be Mindful Release account. CARTEL was amazed at the artist’s interpretation of the alphabet and immediately was drawn in by the incomprehensibly complex designs that could be drawn from letters. CARTEL had no idea that there were so many possibilities for one letter. Inspired, he reached out to Mindful Release and asked for a design for his back tattoo. The tattoo design consisted of his favorite song lyrics, when the design was ready CARTEL met with Mindful Release and has stayed inspired ever since.

What WOKREW hopes others will realize about Mindful Release is that there is power in vision, that trying is how positive progress gets done, that to be pioneer like Mindful Release, you need to step out of what is normal. Mindful Release has taught us that some of the most simple designs bring out the beauty of a letter, and to never be afraid to try something new.


Learn more about WOKREW and pick up some of their music for your May playlist at the links below, and don't forget to submit your own beats throughout this next month! WOKREW hit the nail on the head: trying is how positive progress gets done, so try! Step out of what is normal. Send us your work and add to the conversation to drive that positive progress forward. 

WOKREW
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokrew

Cal (TEEZY) Tesar
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/caltesar/?hl=en
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/tzybeatz

Erick (CARTEL) McLellan Martinez
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erick.m.m/?hl=en
Facebook Business: https://www.facebook.com/NebulaCartel/

Beat Submission Sundays

Zach

Happy Sunday all! In honor of spring, the season of new growth, we are happy to announce a new initiative to help our musically-inclined fans fuel their mindful release. As of today, and on every Sunday going forward, Mindful Release is accepting, and encouraging, beat submissions to be featured in our non-commercial videos (Instagram, Youtube, etc.) as part of Beat Submission Sundays (BSS). 

Every Sunday, we will review the submissions from the week prior, and choose a few to accompany our videos for the upcoming week. When an artist is chosen, their name and social media accounts will be advertised with the video when it is published.

At the end of every month, one of the chosen artists will be interviewed and featured on our blog as a Submission Spotlight Artist (SSA). Each SSA will have their music linked to our blog as a way to promote deserving talent. Artists can submit as many times as they want, and all genres of music are accepted.

To Submit your beats, click here.

Artists must only submit their own work, and Mindful Release is not liable for any copyright claims if you have submitted someone else's work. To learn more, visit Section 20 of our Terms & Conditions.

 

Release and Resistance

Zach

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Right now, friends, I’m a little concerned with the direction my country’s politics are headed, and because of that I can’t help but make this inaugural blog post a loosely political one. I feel a kind of dread at what the next four years might hold for the people and the land of my country. Sometimes it feels like a humid summer day where the air is so heavy that it hangs on you like a weighted coat. Right now I could use bit of release, but when I think of “release” I think of prisoners, or waivers and some kind of corporate liability.

When I think of moments of personal pleasure, of release, I can’t help but ask myself if those are appropriate right now. Is it an extravagant use of my privilege to lose myself in a drawing, or sit down to write a poem about the creek behind my childhood home? When C.S. Lewis first wrote the Chronicles of Narnia they were poorly regarded as “escapist” books, allowing people to flee their lives for a land of fantasy, and many mocked that desire to find a space outside of the dreary reality of postwar Europe. At any time, but especially when the future could be grim and there’s much to be done, how is release a responsible use of our time?

I suppose it depends on what we deem responsible. Is resistance of the negatives forces in our world valuable? If we find a moment of personal release, isn’t that a liberation from any larger problem that could be sucking you in? Cathartic release doesn’t have to be separate from the release of a prisoner if it builds a bubble outside of the prison. And if we can start to envision a world outside our “prison," whatever it may be, what better place to start? If we want to make a change we have to start with the things around us.

Calligraphy is Shane’s release. He takes a pen and creates something beautiful right in front of him. Is that escapist? If thousands of people from around the world spend 50 seconds watching an instagram video of the graceful, intricate process of calligraphy, does that have no larger impact?

Shane told me “when I sit down and do calligraphy, there’s so much attention to detail, I literally can’t think about anything else while it’s happening, I'm too focused on each stroke. It reminds me of meditation practices where they give you just enough to focus on that you can’t focus on anything else.” Even if nobody ever saw his work would feeling that way, letting everything else go to focus on every last stroke of the pen, not carry into the rest of Shane’s life, and then into the lives of whoever he saw that day, sending out ripple effect like the butterfly who flaps its wings in Brazil and causes a hurricane in Florida? A man with a pen in his hands can change the world, even if at first it just changes his mood.

But release is only half of what this is all about. Addiction and adultery can come from release and a desire for it that rules out everything else. That’s why it’s Mindful Release. When you’re mindful you focus entirely on what it is that you’re doing. You stop running on autopilot so that every action is deliberate. And so, in a way, Mindful Release is not separate from prisoners and it’s not separate from liability either, the deliberate nature of creation is an assumption of personal liability.

Some weeks, I carry a lot of baggage into the weekend. Or maybe I get to Sunday and find I’m already fretting about the week ahead. Perhaps I want to think about an unfinished project, or I fret about what a friend who I haven’t spoken to in a while thinks about me. But my mindful release is baking, so when I feel this way I realize I need to make something. I take responsibility for the world inside my head and when I roll balls of cookie dough for the baking sheet or knead a big lump of bread I work everything out, just as I work the flour in. I am taken aback by the beauty of the soap bubbles swirled over the mixing bowl as I wash the dishes and when everything is done, I feel refreshed. I go into the next week with renewed energy and enthusiasm. How could that release not be essential to any role I want to take in making change?

So as you ask yourself how you can fight against the forces of hate or set others free, ask also: what is it that sets you free? Where do you find happiness? That is your mindful release. And if you act on it you are creating peace in yourself that will spill over into the world.

I asked Shane what the unifying theme for his first line of apparel was, and he told me “Mindful, and Release. Also, all the prints are going to be in walnut.” Eventually the white long sleeve with the black print came to be, but the original plan was to do all walnut-colored printing. I’m often amused at the words that people use to describe colors, but walnut actually seems quite fitting. Even more fitting that the items that feature walnut do so on a black background. When times are dark we must plant seeds for good things.

The Release Collection - Winter 2017

Zach

The wait is over, and our first collection is here. Simple and practical, everyday but elegant, The Release Collection finds itself manifested in two items: the MNDFL Hoodie and the Release Long Sleeve. 

The hoodie as a garment is a classic piece of street wear and this one is no exception. A black background with walnut graphics, it’s comfortable enough for a night in, but the signature calligraphy element gives it an air of sophistication appropriate for a gallery opening as well. The sweatshirt is light enough to layer or to be used as outerwear as soon as the summer heat starts to wane. An easy but important piece of every wardrobe, the hem tag says it all with the signature question: What is your Mindful Release?

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The Release long sleeve serves as a lighter layer, available in both black and white to suit your taste. The intricate lettering sits in the middle of the chest but doesn’t speak too loudly. These shirts don’t try too hard to prove anything, they embody release by letting the graphic sit as it is, coexisting naturally with stretches of empty shirt. Both white and black versions are 100% combed, ringspun cotton and come pre-shrunk so you don’t have to guess at sizing. For a better idea of sizing, view our Size Chart.

All items have been hand designed and are printed with water-based ink. We use exclusively water-based inks to treat both the wearer and the environment right. While plastisol-based inks leave a film that can be felt and cracked, our water-based ink binds with the fabric itself. The printing process doesn't leave any film so the fabric is just as soft and pliable as before the printing. This means no blocks of ink folding awkwardly when you sit down, and no cracking and fading of the design as you wash it.

The water-based ink also helps us stay Mindful about our carbon footprint. Plastisol inks typically contain chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, are harmful to the environment, and have been linked to numerous medical disorders. They also require the printers to use harmful solvents when they clean their screens. Water-based inks can be washed right off of the screen with water and can be made without the chemicals, lead, and heavy metals you find in plastisol inks. So in the end it was easy––we chose water based inks to do right by our customers, our printers, and our world.

Consider this our formal invitation to explore your Mindful Release in our first collection, and in your own life. Whether you need some fresh clothes or a fresh perspective, we could all use some Mindful Release.