Last Lion of Albion

Last Lion of Albion_Neko Case_Lobke van Aar art

I just had this fantasy that all of the lions killed would be just waiting somewhere, biding their time. [And] all those businessmen like Elon Musk and Donald Trump—who have bought everything already…I mean, I’m sure there are people that have deeds to Mars and are thinking about trashing this planet and they’re going to go to this other planet where the poor people aren’t—I hope all the lions are waiting there. And when they go down the stairs in their space machines the lions just devour them.

Neko Case talking with Thao Nguyen on Song Exploder about the wonderfully peculiar revenge fantasy powering “Last Lion of Albion.”

Illustration: Lobke van Aar

Civil: a design story

tl;dr: As a personal side project I had a go at Civil’s brand (circa spring 2018). Apologies all around and caveat emptor.

A story worth telling
I’m a fan of Civil. I came across them in a Twitter ad (IKR? Who notices Twitter ads?) and was intrigued by their plan to apply the blockchain to journalism.

The jist of Civil is to use tokens to fund newsrooms and the immutable ledger to record facts. Tokens get rid of ad models (and bad actors who can’t afford to mine), and the ledger establishes “truth” in the community. It’s an ideal marriage.

But it’s also a tricky story to tell. On one side you have journalists who are just trying to grok the tech—let alone put their faith in crypto. On the other is the crypto community who are in such demand they can easily overlook what Civil offers. Where do you point the story? What do you emphasize? And, for me at least, how can design help?

© Civil Media Company

I was thinking about this as I studied Civil and the familiar communication issues they face at this early stage. Like all startups, their story and visual choices could be smoothed out and made more consistent. But their immediate challenge consists of:

• establishing character
• building trust
• paying homage to their roots

I think Civil can simplify and humanize their story and, in the process, establish a tone that is reassuring to the writers and engineers they need to build their community.

And, since I was rooting around for a design side project, I decided to make this challenge my challenge.

I started with their name.

Continue reading “Civil: a design story”


“The most powerful experiences we have as humans are a combination of psyche, love and erotica, which can really lock you in an extraordinarily powerful way to experiences beyond what you know and beyond what you can control,” says Campion. “If you look back at those moments, they are often powerful awakenings, way beyond your comfort zone. There’s a sort of calling against decorum, against what’s best.”

Jane Campion, reflecting on her films, Wuthering Heights, and passion.

On art.

“I love the idea of “problematic.” Problematic art isn’t bad art, it’s art that has problems. “Problematic” is an idea that lets us lower the cost of acknowledging and fixing bad and wicked things in our world. Without “problematic,” all you have is “bad” and “good,” and that means that any stain on a piece of art that moved you, improved you, opened your horizons and lifted you up is a disqualifier — being virtuous means that you have to reject the art because of its irredeemable sins.”

Cory Doctorow, reflecting on Molly Ringwald’s essay about John Hughes, #metoo, and how the implications of art change over time.