Tag Archives: projects

The Election

At this point I’m not that interested in what the pollsters got wrong and theories why Trump was elected. I’m very bothered by the reports of harassment carried out in Trump’s name by bigots emboldened by the election result. On Tuesday night my wife repeatedly asked “are there really that many racist people in America?”

I don’t believe racism was the priority for most Trump voters.

I give most of the Trump voters the benefit of the doubt — my instinct is that they voted out of: party loyalty, dislike for HRC, the establishment, desire for non-progressive supreme court judges, and the magical return of ‘good’ jobs. Despite anyone’s reason for voting for Trump they did so in spite of his hostile rhetoric, and looked the other way.

Trump’s campaign was built upon scapegoating the most vulnerable for America’s problems, and taking the country back from “them.” While he was quick to speak out on behalf of Mike Pence for being confronted at a Broadway play, Trump has done little more than shrug when it comes to sticking up for hundreds of Americans being harassed and intimidated in his name. I was anticipating a strong denouncement from him last week during his 60 Minutes interview. This is what we got:

When we interviewed him on Friday afternoon Mr. Trump said he had not heard about some of the acts of violence that are popping up in his name… or against his supporters.

Nor he said had he heard about reports of racial slurs and personal threats against African Americans, Latinos and gays by some of his supporters.

Donald Trump: I am very surprised to hear that— I hate to hear that, I mean I hate to hear that—

Lesley Stahl: But you do hear it?

Donald Trump: I don’t hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…

Lesley Stahl: On social media?

Donald Trump: But I think it’s a very small amount. Again, I think it’s–

Lesley Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?

Donald Trump: I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together.

Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims—

Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.

Compare that to how McCain shut down this BS in 2008:

I mistakenly believed that Trump’s behavior would disqualify him. His voters compromised on decency.

When it comes to these views I will never understand the amount of capacity attributed to immigrants, poor and powerless to conspire and execute complex ploys to ruin the country they live in.

The only good thing that may come of the election is that people like me will be moved out of complacency to help our neighbors. I’m looking for a positive way to help out in Queens. In the meantime, I’ve put this together a small fundraising project along with my friends at Studio Rodrigo called pinpal.org

I hope it helps.

Designing the Cabin Porn Book

Cabin Porn Book More photos: mattcassity.com / Buy on Amazon

Aug 2013 — Cabin Porn posted a book review hinting at creating a book. I emailed straight away and was stoked to hear they were gearing up to prepare a sample for publishers. We had a skype call about a month later to get started.

Oct 2013 — Met with Zach, and discovered we had similar references in mind for the size, shape, and spirit of the book. A few days later, I made a trip to the mini-village / commune / handmade utopia Beaver Brook. A crew of people were diligently working on the sauna. I helped by repairing the mailbox that I’d run over when I arrived 😐

Initial Notes

  • An object — a “brick”
  • Size / tactile references: field guides, how-to books
  • Photos are the star of the book. Sacred, lush, presented as big as possible … it is pornography after all
  • Not contemporary or ‘now’ feeling … no trends or of-the-moment typography (side note: a lot of architecture books are designed by architects, and it shows!)
  • Typographic cues from manuals, how-to, back-to-the land books of the 60s & 70s, however nothing ‘retro’ or obvious

Nov & Dec 2013 — We worked on a proposal. I started gathering typographic samples and inspiration:

Cabin Porn Typographic Inspiration… many of the references used chunky serifs created during the Arts & Crafts movement. I liked them, but didn’t want to mimic them exactly, only nod to their tone.

I put together sample palettes of headlines, subheads, body copy, page numbers, etc:cabin porn typographyAn Intro to Typography rule is to stick with one or two type families. I break that rule and mix a lot of similar looking type to create texture, flavor, and mystery. I get bummed out when I can recognize the principle typefaces in someone’s work. It’s boring. This book has over ten different type families and remains cohesive. Keep ’em guessing!

Throughout 2014 the rest of the team traveled all over the country capturing the feature stories. Often projects have a tight schedule and there is little time to explore variations. I was excited to spend time and create a lot of different layouts. With each version, I’d tweak the size, margins, typography, and grid:cabin-porn-layouts-matt-cassity … I’d print these out to see how they conform to the many factors that make a pleasing layout — is there room for your thumbs, is the body copy readable, are the columns a comfortable length, are the headlines in proportion, do the photos lay in with minimal cropping?

Meanwhile, there’s a bit of planning needed to figure out the page count and how the pace of the book will flow. For that we created a flatplan:Cabin Porn Flatplan

Oct 2014 — All the assets were complete and we put together the first draft of the book. I try to put off the cover as long as possible. If you get something circulating as a For Placement Only cover, it often ends up as the Real cover.

From the very beginning  I had a specific cover idea in mind, but for the sake of exhausting options I put it aside and made about 100 layouts:Cabin Porn Cover …we tried all kinds of title orientations, stickers, and dust covers, and as you can guess; we ended up with the original idea for the cover —  wordless, lush, full bleed image on the hardcover with a discreet ‘wrapper’ bellyband covering up the sexy cabin. Simple and straightforward just like the website, without any wacky PORN! antics.

Jan 2015 — we had our only IRL All Hands weekend (hooray for distributed teams!) to go through the draft and finalize images. After that there was the usual housekeeping and tying up of loose ends. I’ve left out all the workflow and mechanical bits out of this post-mortem to spare you the tedium!

As a designer, it is often hard to look at a big book once it is printed because you spent so much time poring over every page, and you don’t want to find a mistake, and you may still cringe at some small compromise. In this case, I’m quite pleased with the final product!

Many thanks to the Cabin Porn Book team: 


doodl club

I’m excited to launch a new side project — www.doodl.club

doodl club zine

I love zines. They’re satisfyingly simple to create, not too precious, and plain fun. As a young adult they were a window into other worlds, and an influencing factor to my ending up a designer. I’ve been making them for my entire adult life — as glorified newsletters, self-promotional mailers, art, and to collaborate.

Matt Cassity Zines
Some zines I’ve made.

A few months ago, I sent a zine to all my pals w/ kids. I thought “kids love getting stuff in the mail, and they might enjoy these fun little drawings.” When I saw an instagram Kristen posted, I was like “oh — these could be coloring books!”

So it’s pretty simple! Cool little coloring zines for cool little people. Subscribe and you’ll get a new coloring book every month.

Two Goals:

  • Find 1000 subscribers interested in: zines, obsessive drawing, exposing kids to art, off-line activities, and finding something delightful in the mailbox
  • Make the process easy and beneficial to the artists — everyone will be compensated for their work, and the process is hassle-free with creative control in their hands

I was lucky to get the terrific illustrator Jim Stoten to do the first issue. We met a year or so ago, and he’s super nice. His work is so confident and it’s easy to get lost in all the detail he creates:

doodl club Jim Stoten

Please help me out and subscribe, gift, or tell yr friends about www.doodl.club — Issue One is ready to ship.


Some faves from my zine collection:

Andy Rementer ZinesAndy was the best section in The Artist’s Guide, and I’ve been following his career ever since. His zines are always really funny.

hit BookHit Book was a zine-making party organized by Kelly Rakowski and myself. A bunch of friends would get together and we’d spend an afternoon creating a zine on a single topic using stacks of old clip art books and making drawings. I love looking at the evidence of how much fun it was.

Wayne White ZinesAfter designing his book, Wayne White surprised us with a package of his early homemade comic booklets. They’re each a little treasure.

Cheetahs Never WinI met Steve Reeder at a graphic design conference in 2002 and we’ve somehow kept in touch ever since (thanks internet). His comics are excellent!

No Reward

I spent a few days helping Jenn get her Kickstarter campaign ready to launch. I pitched in with project management and light tasks —

  • Setting daily goals
  • Logistics for the launch party
  • Copywriting and building the page
  • Outreach strategies
  • Tracking tools
  • Writing targeted boilerplate emails

The campaign features lotsa rewards and styling on the page — we were very weary of losing our data. Occasionally I saved a PDF as a backup. Below is my wireframe sketch of what the backend / page builder could look like. I am sure much of this is already in the pipeline.


Week one has been a success. Early backers had backed other projects, so getting people to create an account is the first barrier. About half came on board for the campaign. I’m curious to learn more about the how and why people decide to give. I am also surprised / bummed out at the # of close friends who haven’t pledged. I’ve been reading up on links from the search “kickstarter psychology” and haven’t yet cracked the code. This Freakonomics podcast offers some good insight:

…what you tend to find is that people are more driven out of pure self-interest. And what I mean by that is that people give because it gives them a warm feeling …  if you want to induce people to give more money, you should really now be appealing to “hey here’s what this can do for you,” or “if you don’t give today this will actually be taken away and you will no longer be able to use it,” rather than appeal to, say “you know what, you can help this poor person over there.” I think fundraisers for years have gotten it wrong, that they need to appeal more to the actual donor rather than the recipient of those dollars.

SOMA (I backed them!) did a good post-mortem and shared a lot of their resources.

The problem I wished I’d been able to sort out earlier was estimating the cost of producing the rewards. My “pledge policy” is to choose a non-material reward or no reward. I would rather my money go towards the project than producing chotchkies. I started mocking up a rewards calculator, then found this one.

Original Artworks

I set up an etsy shop the other day. Several motivations led to this:

  • Very satisfied after buying a drawing off instagram.
  • To make some money. (Goal is $1000.)
  • To take the idea of selling my art more seriously.

I picked my best drawings from the last several years and priced them accordingly. My criteria were time and quality. I’ve been monitoring the stats. Etsy has their own engine, and I assigned different bitly links to my social media pushes.

A facebook post got 105 clicks. Then I ‘promoted’ it for $7, and it has gotten 2 more clicks since then. I hit the ceiling on views w/o promoting.

A twitter post got 1 click. I’m done with twitter. Took it off my home screen and bookmarks.

An instagram post got 1 click. There’s not an easy way to click links in instagram, it’d be a tough conversion to make a sale on mobile for a drawing.

A post I made in the comments of a popular blog got 9 clicks. I need to find other appropriate places to get listed. esty is so crowded.

So far I’ve sold 5 of the lowest-priced drawings to my friends. My next goal is to sell to a stranger. Getting people to spend a little money is hard! It’s funny how we don’t blink an eye at dropping $40 on pizza and beer, then wrestle over buying something lasting like art or a book.

Hosting Hostos

I wrote this for the mass moca blog, but they never posted it. I don’t know why.

Last December I was sitting in a pizza parlor telling my friend Sarah about the position I’d applied for at MASS MoCA. Before I could say any more she bursts “Great! I’ll bring my students up there.” Sarah Sandman is a professor of design at Hostos college in the Bronx, New York. Like most great teachers she thinks the world of her students and had been searching for an opportunity to pull them out of their day-to-day structure and explore what makes the creative life worthwhile — work and play.

Further discussion developed. What resources would they require? What would the focus be? Would the students freak out?

The proposed dates lined up nicely with Bureau for Open Culture’s Work Site — a public, social space for freelancers and work-from-home types. Headquarters would be established there. Naturally, the current exhibitions at MASS MoCA influenced the student’s investigation. The objective was to both ask and answer “what is a cultural worker?” (à la The Workers) As well as to create something from readily available, found and scavenged resources (Nari Ward).

Week one of the two-week residency was spent setting up shop and gathering data. The students broke into two teams and met local artists, musicians, dancers, artisans, and farmers to ask them if they were cultural workers. Individual students worked as reporters, filmmakers, photographers, and sound engineers. Saturday brought both the mid-point of the residency and August Heffner, creative director at MoMA in New York. August and myself spend the day with the students talking about their week. We were delighted to hear their interpretations of cultural work, and could see they were exhausted. August gave them a partial break and lead brainstorming exercises based on MASS MoCA’s Sol Lewitt Retrospective. In the afternoon we pinned down a plan for week two. The next few days were split into working on a collaborative project and a personal reaction. Thursday night was the official opening. Work Site was transformed from a jumble of tables, laptops, sketches and scribbles to a gallery documenting a journey.

As a patron I was impressed with the effort. As a (minor) participant I was proud of the accomplishment. I want to thank all the participants from the Bronx for choosing to work at MASS MoCA, and the Berkshires interviewees for opening their studios and lives. Explore the Hostos DesignLab.