Kickstarter | Penxo by john cheng

Recently I've returned to using 2mm mechanical pencils to get a more organic feel in my sketches. I love the sharp point of a 0.5 mm pencil, but it was just too rigid for me.

But me being me, I search near and far for the writing utensil best suited for me. This also means that form and function must be on the same level. In the case of my everyday carry pen, I searched for about 2 years before landing happily on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt with a Parker Pen fine ball point tip refill. The aesthetics of the pen are beautiful and the function of the Parker refill suit my writing and sketching needs perfectly.

I'm undergoing the same process at the moment with my pencil. Currently I'm using a Staedtler 2mm pencil and functionality wise, it works fine. The aesthetics portion however, are just so so in my opinion. But as always, Kickstarter seems to save the day. I discovered the Penxo today and immediately backed the project! It is such a beautiful and simple writing utensil an the perfect mix of beauty and utility. I just hope that when I receive my very own Penxo, it will hold up to it's presumed glory.

Kickstarter - Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production by john cheng

There are many tools and practices that we use now inside InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator that had practical purposes behind them when they were produced manually by hand rather than by the computer. Some of these reasons and best practices are starting to wane due to the very fact that we rely on the computer to do so much now. It is for this reason that we must understand the history behind graphic design and the old school processes that got us to where we are today.

With that, I say you check out this awesome kickstarter project that delves into the history of graphic design and how our graphic design predecessors worked day to day.

Imagine designing and printing a brochure—without a computer. How would you set the type—making sure it fit your layout? How would you crop the images? How would you place those images alongside your text? And what would you hand over to the offset printer when you were done?
Up until just 30 years ago when the desktop computer debuted, this whole process would have been primarily done by hand, and with the aide of fascinating machines that used a variety of ways to get type and image on to the printed page.
Mad Men gives us viewers small glimpses into this detail-oriented, time-consuming process—but working as a commercial/graphic artist in the pre-desktop computer era entailed a lot more than marker comps for client meetings. Graphic Means will explore these methods and the skilled people who used them.

Kickstarter: A Mechanical Pencil That Will Last You A Lifetime by john cheng

I'm a pen and pencil addict. I love finding writing utensils that are well crafted. Andrew Sanderson has created a mechanical pencil on kickstarter that fits this category. Not to mention the aluminum version of this pencil will match the aluminum Retrakt by Karus Customs that was also funded through kickstarter.

Hurry and back it now! The reward tiers are beginning to run out and it's still got 50 days left!

Xavier Aston by john cheng

Watches and Kickstarter seem to have found a happy marriage. I've seen a number of watches now on Kickstarter and they all have something great to offer. Xavier Aston is one of such watches. I think what really catches my attention is the ability to switch out their straps.

Watch straps have always been a problem for me since I love using leather straps, but they get worn out fairly quickly because of all the use I get out of them. These straps on Xavier Aston watches would provide a simple solution to switching out watch bands rather than heading out to a jeweler just to change a strap.

Check out their campaign and decide for yourself if this is a watch suitable for you!

Hendo Hoverboard by john cheng

Earlier this year there was a hoax video with 'Doc Brown' and Tony Hawk and a new hoverboard that was developed. That video was all fun and games until now? Hendo is a kickstarter campaign that claims to have created hover engine technology that uses magnetic fields to levitate an inch above ground (it does, however require a special surface). I can only begin to imagine the possibilities with this type of tech. Did I mention that one of their rewards is a dev kit?

Nutlock by john cheng

Nutlock is a new type of bike lock that will protect your bike wheels from being stolen. It's actually quite funny that their video takes place on the USC campus, because that is exactly where my bikes were tampered with/stolen.

This is a great idea and it reminds me of lugnuts on your car wheels that have a key imprint so that only you can remove the wheels.

No more carrying around multiple giant ulocks!

Bunch O Balloons by john cheng

DEEENNNNGGG! GATHER YOUR TROOPS. If you love water balloon fights or have kids that want to have water balloon fights and you also hate how it takes half a day to just fill up one balloon, you should probably back this kickstarter campaign.

I totally wish I had this when I was younger. I would have mauled my brother with water balloons like there was no tomorrow.

Swich - Wireless Charger by john cheng

Wireless charging tech is becoming more commonplace in the tech world as of late, but I've found that most of them are fairly, how do I put this lightly, ugly. Swich, however, seems to take a more aesthetic approach to their wireless docking station while keeping the user in mind.

I'm still borderline on whether or not I would ever use a wireless charger, but the concept and tech behind it sure is intriguing and enticing. I think I'll still wait to see how tech like this pans out.

Nevertheless, you may feel differently, so be sure to check out their kickstarter page for more details.

Magnote by john cheng

I love my sketchbooks and the Moleskine has been my book of choice for a very long time. Currently, however, I've been using a Baron Fig and its been pretty good so far. It feels like my moleskine, but my only wish for the Baron Fig book is the elastic band that keeps the book closed mostly because I toss my book around alot.

Moving on! A new notebook as surfaced on Kickstarter. The Magnote! This is very intriguing to me because I've always liked the idea of carrying around various notebooks that have different purposes. One for sketching, one for notes and one, for misc and etc. The only problem with that is the idea of carrying around three separate books. The Magnote however can attach to each other! How cool is that?!?! I'm probably going to have to get my hands on one of these. I wonder how much they would cost under normal non-kickstarter standards.

Sabertron by john cheng

This is great! I would have loved to have a set of Sabertron swords as a kid. I remember having sword fights with my brother when I was younger and we would always argue with each other who lost the fight. With these, it's no longer an issue. Maybe, for nostalgia's sake, I'll get a set of these and challenge my brother to a duel. How about it Luke?

EDC Tops by john cheng

Ever since I was little, I've loved spinning toys. I played with tiny spin tops, larger trompo throw tops, gyroscopes and etc. There was something very captivating in watching something spin and seemingly float across the table.

Anthony Lawson has created a spin top that has captured my interest. His tops are manually machined solid brass & stainless steel with a ceramic ball tip to increase the spin time. Be sure to back his campaign if you want one of these bad boys, there are only 16 days left!

Not only are these tops amazing, but his shop is amazing too! Lawson has a set of spinning top cufflinks that I seriously want to own, the only problem is that I don't own any shirts that require cufflinks. Bummer!

Ledr: Taming Tool Chaos by john cheng

As an artist, tools are a very important part of my life and keeping them organized can sometime be a challenge.

Ledr, by Dave & Calvin Laituri seems to solve that problem with a very simple and elegant solution. I love roll organizers because it lays all your tools out for you to see rather than the conventional pencil case in which you have to dig through in order to find that one specific pencil you're looking to use.

There are 34 days left to go on this kickstarter campaign! Check it out and see if you want to back this project!

Double O | Bike Light by john cheng

Double O bike lights are a brilliant design by Paul Cocksedge. The lights are designed as 'O's and are attached to your bike via magnets. The one design choice that really struck me as genius was the decision to make them in the shape of an 'O' so that when you leave your bike, you simply remove your lights and lock them with your u-lock. No more carrying around bike lights!

The Great Discontent Kickstarter Campaign by john cheng


I have previously posted on The Great Discontent before and I highly recommend reading their content and supporting their Kickstarter campaign. Tina and Ryan Essmaker are making the leap from taking their side-project and turning it into a full-time affair. Actions like this really inspire me and get me excited. Let's help them "...make a magazine!"