Colossal Turns Two

Photo by Kevin Meredith.

Excuse me while I step out from behind the curtain for just a moment.

On cold fall day in 2009 I shuffled into an office at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago (the dreary building with the giant Picasso sculpture out front), was given a juror number and was told that in exchange for seven hours of my life I would be paid just enough money to buy a really fancy sandwich. I then found a seat in a row of immovable rickety chairs that were probably installed during the Nixon administration and waited for my number to be called. At the time I was doing freelance web design and I pulled out my laptop to do some work on a project when I discovered with horror there was no wireless. A quick survey of the room revealed almost nothing of entertainment value. A few old newspapers, some back issues of terrible magazines, and a crackly old TV (also Nixon era), stuck permanently on local news. Rumor quickly spread that it was going to be a slow day, nobody should expect to be called for actual jury duty. I literally had nothing to do.

So I sat. And waited. For some reason I launched a text editor on my laptop and started making a list of things I had been thinking about doing lately (read: procrastinating for months). At first it was just ten simple things that we all put on our lists “get in shape” and “read more books”. But as I sat there, with this day of civic boredom stretching into infinity before me I became ambitious. I made spaces instead for 100 things and decided to get specific. “Learn to kayak. Run a 5k. Take a course in ceramics.” Because why not? All that pot throwing has to be pretty calming and therapeutic or meditative right? The list went on and on. There were plenty of easy things and lots of hard ones. I put “Finish a book” on there about a dozen times because I’m terrible about finishing anything I begin to read. Then, way down toward the bottom, at number 83: “Start a blog.”

The entirety of 2010 was spent Doing the List. It was tacked up on my closet door, three pages taped together, and to keep up the pace I did one thing every 4 days. For 365 days. I ended up the year in great shape having run my first race (and subsequently haven’t run again, but hey, I finished 163rd out of 600). I made some wobbly ceramic cereal bowls or also flower pots. There was kayaking, traveling, I spent time with my dad in his wood shop making a wooden acrobat toy for my son… it’s so completely fragile you can’t actually play with it, but it looks great! And, as part of it all, just to cross off a line-item on this boredom-induced bucket list, I started a little blog I decided to call ‘Colossal’ where I posted cool art and design things that I found online each day starting with the photograph above by Kevin Meredith.

As of last week Colossal is now two years old. Nearly 30 million people have stopped by for a visit. It was nominated for a 2012 Webby Award in Art and a number of influential people have said extremely kind and humbling things about it. But what’s more interesting to me than its size or relative influence is this: I never set out to make the blog you see here today. None of it was planned or envisioned. I’d like to think that Colossal was destined to exist regardless of my temporary stay in jury purgatory but who knows. I started posting things, followed my happiness in whatever I blogged about, ditched what wasn’t working, and it soon lead to this glorious world of visual artists, filmmakers, designers, musicians and performers I never knew existed, some of whom I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting and seeing their work first-hand. In the end, I made a daunting list of 100 things to do, stuck with it, and a random item suddenly became this huge life-changing thing. Go make a list. I recommend it.

Colossal has taken an enormous amount of time to build and upkeep, requiring tons of help and patience from so many people. I want to thank my wife Megan and son Caleb who are now (mostly) accepting of me jumping up in the middle of everything screaming THIS MUST BE BLOGGED IMMEDIATELY. Thanks to Paul Overton at DudeCraft for being the first blogger to ever link back to Colossal with kind words. Thanks to Veken Gueyikian, Alice Yoo, Shelby White, Johnny Strategy, Chase McClure, Scott Beale, and Paul Strauss for tons of invaluable advice and help the past two years. Also thanks to Media Temple and CloudFlare for keeping things firing on all cylinders. And most of all thank you—specifically you—for visiting.

OK, back behind the curtain. Let’s look at more art! Have you seen Tim Tadder’s water wigs and I have no idea what’s happening in this claymation by Emanuel Strixner but I love it.