Camp Make Effect - Design Bureau

Marc says:

Apart from eat, did they actually do anything?

I totally channeled myself there while watching the video & was boppin in my chair! Where do I sign up for 2012??? And what was the soundtract to the video…perfect!

Elizabeth Gilmore says:

It was the song “Bizness” by The Tuneyards!!! 🙂 Check out for future details.

Camp Make Effect

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

by Elizabeth Gilmore

In a world full of clicking, typing, and dragging, creatives often finds themselves getting caught up in this crazy digital bubble that we now call the world we live in. Drafting is now "vintage," and my Prismacolor markers have dried up along with my design patience and process. What happened to the wonderful world of creation...with our hands? This June, I was reminded of the beauty of making when I had the honor of being invited to participate in an art retreat in northern Michigan called Make Effect. It is a unique three-and-a-half-day workshop where professionals from all creative disciplines come together to work collaboratively to create new work and ideas. I was able to meet artists and designers from all over the nation, get my hands messy, sit around a campfire, and get silly. We all faced new creative challenges — I don't mean Illustrator crashing or browser incompatibility — like how to paint the letter "S" and how to mix the perfect shade of green. The lines didn't need to be straight, and the ink looked better blotchy as we discovered new ways to face design challenges. Check out this video that sums up the spirit of the camp.

As creator of Make Effect, Michelle Bowers states:

"Many ideas will be born through play and discovery. We will re-examine typography, design, and form making as kinds of drawing, image, photography, sculpture, and installation. We will investigate what it means to investigate, to experiment, to try things whose outcomes are uncertain."

It was with this curious mindset and her passionate enthusiasm that we all were able to experience what it is to explore new creative mountains. The camp not only reminded us of what "making" really is, but we also made some killer s'mores and got some sweet camp badges! We cut and pasted by day and then laughed and shared by night. A perfect combination that resulted in plain ol' fun. I sat down with camp attendee and Chicago illustrator Brian Beard and got some of his thoughts on the whole experience.

So what was one thing you learned while up in Michigan at Camp Make Effect?

One big thing I learned was that, yes, it CAN be that cold in the middle of June. I also got to experiment with making cyanotypes — a new technique for me. The whole experience was really refreshing, creatively.

How was this experience like for you?

It was tons of fun! I got to meet and connect with a lot of really great, successful artists and mess around with new techniques without the pressure of meeting a deadline. Everyone was there to work and have fun — and those two things were frequently one and the same. The camp itself was just awesome — lots of vintage charm and right on the lake.

What's important to take away from such a refreshing experience like this?

As many merit badges as you can and a hangover that lasts a week.

So what camp badge did you receive and for what?

The first badge I received was for "Best Idea" — not a big deal (I say as I put on my sunglasses). I also received the "Glory Hole" badge. No comment.

What was your favorite memory?

Campfire on the beach, tubing, spending hours on something, and trying some new techniques that actually turned out pretty cool. And the consistently amazing food! Lots of great memories.

Yep, a pretty stellar camp! It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I have to credit Michelle Bowers for pulling together the most relaxing, entertaining, and memorable trip. Whether it was our hands covered in lithography ink or running around a teepee late at night, the creative energy was unstoppable. We experimented with typography, letterpress, silk screen, linoleum cuts, painting, cyanotypes, collage, drawing...and all without computers. Hell, we didn't even have electricity in the craft house that we worked in. What a refreshing experience. A big Thank You to campers Neil Hubert, Jesse Hora, Abby Wynne, Tara Brouwer, Amelia Irwin, Brad Di Benedetto, Ian Macnider, Brian Beard, Crazy Jen, and Michelle Bowers. To check out more about Camp Make Effect, check out the site here!

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