jet lagged via ferrata 😅

move the body—feel better…

Another quick writing post for today to accompany some photos I took on the heels of my 6 day trip back to Texas (see previous entry). We decided to tackle the “Ferrata la Farina del Diavolo” near Udine, Italy per the recommendation of one of our friends. Out of all the ferratas I’ve done (a-hem…not many) this was probably my favorite in terms of the route. It was super well-maintained and just challenging enough to get the blood flowing, but not scare an amateur like me. If you are in the area and want a lot of vertical climbing, but with plentiful holds (both human-made and natural) I would definitely recommend it. I did this the day after flying back from the CST time zone in the U.S.—I can’t say it helped me sleep better that night, but after a long plane ride it felt great to get out and use my body after 20+ hours of travel the previous day. Speaking of moving the body…time to head out for a mountain bike ride before it gets dark at 16:30. Short days are a bummer—ciao.


Family, Racecars, Moto, & West Texas

⬆️ On my family’s property riding my uncle’s FC 450 (see info on the number his #550 Bell Magnum below). It always feels good to get back on a motorcycle where I learned to ride in the rocks and dust on a PW50. I’m wearing a Mattia Guadagnini hoodie—”101 Speedy Guada” (also see more info below)—photographed for my friends in @Astroclub.y

A fast, but fun week—and now jet lag 😴

Quick post for today: Last week I had the opportunity to travel from Northern Italy all the way back to Texas for my grandfather’s induction into the Amarillo Area Motorsports Hall of Fame. It was a special event for my family an amazing opportunity to get home to West Texas to connect with my family—and—with the multi-generational legacy of racing in our family. The trip was both fast and amazing, but I’m also always happy to get home. More soon—ciao.

🇺🇸 ➕ 🏁 ➕✈️➕💆‍♂️

fall 2022 status check ✍️

Jarred Elrod, status check, website, writing, Design, Italy, photography, travel, sketchbook

A few selections from recent writing in my sketchbook tells the tale. Planning, prepping, and considering a lot of things right now.


From 30,000 Feet:
Well, here we are. Amanda and I have been living in Italy for around a year and nine months—it’s insane how fast time has gone by. Our experience has been fulfilling and restorative in so many ways…be it travel, making friends, language learning, professional skill building, new forms of physical activity, etc… As our time progresses, we’ve naturally been presented with many potential scenarios regarding what we’d like to do next once our formal commitment here in Italy is finished. At this point there and many ways things could potentially play out. This, of course sets the stage for some pretty heavy decision making in our near future. Heavy decision making is almost never fun 😬.

I’ve been preparing for another exhibition this December (I’ll talk more about that below). Because of this, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the sketchbook. For me, time in the sketchbook always brings up the classic big questions—regardless of the project I’m working on. I pulled some of those blurbs from the sidebar to build the header for this post because I think they unconsciously attempt to put a finger on some of the existential questions we face moving forward. The best action always seems to happen in the sidebar. Lots of things are still uncertain at this point I can’t exactly talk about in detail here, but I thought as an exercise it would be good for me to lay things out broad-strokes style in hopes of further unpacking some of those ultra-pithy blurbs from the sidebar.

Jarred Elrod, Photography, Sardegna

⬆️ Me enjoying an incredible sunset in Sardegna this September—I’m one lucky dude, indeed ( 📸 by Amanda ).

I’ll start with just me. As I mention in the caption above I’m insanely lucky to have this opportunity. Looking beyond the veneer of travel photos, there have been several deep shifts for me personally since we moved. I was at a low point after my mom died in the early Summer of 2020. That loss affected (and still affects) me profoundly—combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, the insanity of the 2020 election, plus managing expectations in a tenure track position at a university exhausted me mentally and physically. The change in my work and in the pace of the culture we live in has been restorative. We live in a rural area near the mountains. This has provided a physical space for reflection that is both tranquil and beautiful. It’s also a space that lends itself to exercise. Having mountain bike and hiking trails in such close proximity to our home has allowed me to reconnect with my love of all all things related to two wheelsand—with really just being outside in general. Of course, the physical activity is great from an exercise/calorie burning perspective, but the mental aspects of deeply engaging in a hobby that is not “work” is where the real restorative benefits seem to be 🤔.

Amanda and I have been able to travel often in our van. This has been great for us in so many ways from our relationship to our language building skills. We’re also super lucky to live and work in proximity to a very active and skilled community of people who also love doing things outdoors. This has led to rock climbing excursions and dare I say it… me actually learning how to do stuff in a gym, lol. Long story short, we’ve both been trying lots of new stuff and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones physically and mentally. When I taught graphic design I spoke a lot about “creative fuel” with my students, as I often saw them trying to work through burnout. I was certainly in a deep state of burnout, but I’m feeling like I have some fuel back in the tank now, which is nice. I’m not sure I understood how low I was on fuel until I was blessed with the opportunity to hit the pause button and forced to make some major changes with my daily routine. The first several months here I would take multi-hour walks in the morning through foothill trails and also on gravel orchard roads behind our town. I think it was during those walks I realized how run-down I had actually become. It took the better part of a year for that fog of mental and emotional exhaustion to begin lifting.

Learning to speak Italian has been a brutal, amazing, ass-kicking, humbling, beautiful experience. I was hoping to be further along after almost two years here, but it isn’t stopping me from continuing to try. Much like losing weight or building muscle, the progress is so slow it’s difficult to recognize until one day you say or understand something that gives hope that things are, in fact, getting better. Then there are the days when it feels like everything is backsliding, but I have learned to accept that the deep nuance of this language is something I will never fully get a grip on—and thats ok. I’ve taken up listening to Italian podcasts while I make long climbs on my mountain bike. I’ve been listening to Muschio Selvaggio—it’s a basically a group of young dudes that bring in a guest and ask them questions. It’s mostly Italian pop-culture related stuff—and it’s full speed and funny as hell when I can understand what they are saying. I’m probably only getting 30-40 percent right now, but comprehension at full speed with interference is improving. I’m not sure if doing this while my legs are on fire from climbing is good or not, but I see it as an opportunity to learn and practice focus / patience where I’d otherwise be listening to music or podcasts in English. Perché no??

Jarred Elrod, Via Ferrata, Italy

⬆️ Via Ferrata, consider the comfort zone officially pushed 😬

⬆️ Having fun with building my threadless store and my design process. Getting back into AfterEffects felt solid.

Creative Practice:
My making practice is in a solid space right now, but I could be pushing harder to break into new domains. Problem is I’m having trouble deciding where to focus creative energy. I’m photographing, drawing, writing, and illustrating more than I have in a long time. There’s less pressure attached to what I choose to do now that it isn’t unhealthily tethered to a tenure process I don’t believe in, but less pressure and looser deadlines are a double-edged sword. That said, I believe that steady engagement in the processes that feel right will produce the right outcome(s)—whatever they may be. I have so many interests. —to start—I want to start working in the action sports industry—specifically motocross/enduro and mountain bike domains. Nothing definitive in terms of producing outcomes has materialized yet, but I have built meaningful relationships and am actively monitoring what opportunities are out there—but—I also had an illustration exhibition at local gallery that went so well I was invited back for another—so I’m pumped about that, too! —and—I finally had the time to build an online shop (see video and link above). While again, not really making much money a-hem—yet the process has been exciting and I’ve learned a ton. —on top of that—I’ve had a good time building books pro-bono for a Gainesville non-profit I care about…getting ready to start another project for them as I write.

Jarred Elrod, design, art, exhibition, Italy

⬆️ Documentation from my first show at La Taverna, “Fare o Essere”. I have another show, “Tempo di Recupero” coming up this December I’m currently getting ready for 😀

—and finally on top-top of that—There is an important/valuable project I left behind with my last job in academia I’d like to pick up again—Creative Perfomer. I have a first full draft of a handbook just sitting on my desk next to me as I write this. It’s in dreadful shape from a writing and editing perspective, but the framework is there. I think because this project was so central to my “tenure” package when I decided to formally leave my last job something snapped there and I just didn’t want to look at it again. I had already collaboratively rolled hundreds of hours into this project with Amanda and I just kinda let it die on the vine—sad story. Now that I do have some fuel back in the tank, I’m starting to feel some desire to continue with that project to see where it leads—or maybe it’s just indigestion, who knows.

Without question though, one of the best / most sustained things I’ve done since moving is keeping this journal at least semi-regularly updated. It has provided a home for photos from my cameras as well as my thoughts / ideas on our collective experiences here. Looking back over the posts from the past year and a half it’s easy to see areas of progression and stagnation. Optimistically though, I would say the overall arc is one of progression. It’s nice to have a record of that progression to refer to and a companion to my sketchbooks.

⬆️ An online workshop teaser Amanda and I made for Creative Performer. We ended up creating a catalog of 4, one hour workshops. 4 hours—that’s a lot of material! The way we created the workshops in progression made it easy to build the framework for the handbook. Now to finish…

⬆️ PRAXIS: why must there always be hoops to jump through that cost money?

Professional—the Conundrum:
And now, finally to the professional aspect of things. I’d more or less say my “career,” is the thing that has suffered most since I’ve been here if you’re looking at things from professional title or monetary perspectives. I mentioned leaving my last job was mentally healthy for me. It was a great job that paid well and even though I knew it was good for me to step away it was still really hard to walk away from. Amanda and I could have maintained a distance relationship so I could keep my job, but our relationship was / is without question the more important priority.

Amanda is carrying the earning weight here while I am working part time and managing things at our house. She does an excellent job at something very few people are qualified to do—and her job is the primary reason we are here. Her job is also very demanding and stressful at times—facts. I’ll be honest though, not feeling like I’m contributing enough monetarily bothers me even though what we are doing now is working well. Unfortunately, my steady creative activity here (while fulfilling) is not making up for the income I lost when I left my last job. Maybe it’s toxic aspects of masculinity causing these feelings? Both of my parents worked growing up and it has been a long time since I haven’t had a “formal” full time job. I feel like I’m doing something wrong here. I want to take more burden off Amanda, but there is nothing I can do that will change the unique demands of her work here—facts. Inversely, me earning more now could set her up for a sabbatical later—also facts. Of course, I work hard to make things low stress at home so when Amanda is off work so we can make the most of our time together instead of worrying about running errands.

The only thing I’ve identified that could pay well and would allow teaching in a creative domain—which I definitely miss—would be teaching art or digital media at the K-12 DoDEA school on base. I started the formal application process to become eligible to apply for DoDEA jobs and unfortunately even though I have an MFA in my field of desired teaching and over 10 years of formal teaching experience I have to take 6 Praxis exams to even be eligible to apply. Of course, each exam costs money 👹. On top of this, I don’t even know if they will have an opening while I am here. It’s a big if. My first reaction was no. Teaching K-12 has never been something I’ve felt particularly driven to do—I enjoy working with folks over 18. The thought of dealing with parents just doesn’t sound like fun to me.—buuuuut—I do miss teaching and being formally qualified to teach K-12 would round out my existing skillset. It would also give me something to sink my career with a capitol C teeth into and make some actual money should we decide to stay here longer than our original commitment..which is potentially possible. And it’s pretty much impossible to beat the flexibility of an academic schedule.

I’ve started studying for the Praxis core. I’m not worried about the writing and reading sections, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to even open the math study materials. I made an intentional move away from ever having to take another math class again a looooong time ago, yet here we are, lol. I guess feeling prepared for 2/3 ain’t bad. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do yet. On paper ponying up the money and taking these tests makes the most sense. Intuitively though I have pretty serious doubts. If K-12 is something I know I don’t want to do long term is it worth the time/$ and potentially setting sail down this dubious path if something does happen? I suppose one can always change course. We’ve done it before and I’m sure we could do it again. Enough privilege-laced rambling for now—going to keep working on this and feeling thankful for this experience—ciao.


Van (& boat) life: Sardegna

⬆️ I did break from the digital camera for a little toy camera action. We made the most out of one roll of Kodak Portra 400.

⬆️ We stopped in Pisa just outside the port, which was located in Livorno. What a bizarre and spectacular site this was!

I still can’t believe how easy it is to just rent a boat (I’m talking about a real boat with a 40HP outboard motor, people) and literally go out to sea with it—the Tyrrhenian sea in this case. They call them “Gommone” in Italy, meaning “rubber dinghy.” At any rate, renting the boat was awesome, and it allowed us to see everything from a completely different perspective.

⬆️ My wine knowledge pretty much stinks, but I’m told Vermentino is the most popular grape / variety of wine in Sardegna—this is usually a white grape. That said, we tasted all different varieties of wine, both red and white at a super neat small vinyard called Cantina Ligios just off the Northern Coast. They also let us stay in our camper overnight on their property (photographed). This was a good thing, becasue we had a very generous tasting paired with some food. Other guests who where staying on the property joined us for the sunset event. We literally met people from all over the world—and everyone was incredibly nice. We sat a tables family style and it just felt like a room full of old friends—it was both a beautiful and reassuring experience.

⬆️ My mind was pretty much blown by the experiences on the “traghetti” and ferries with our van. We ended up going round trip from Livorno to Olbia on Moby Lines. The experience was peculiar and exciting, but also relaxing and relatively easy at the same time—it’s like a massive floating parking garage with a hostel built on top. One leg was overnight, which was nice since we booked a cabin space on the boat for both legs. Lots of folks brought blow up mattresses aboard and tried to sleep out in the open. No thanks. I will say boarding and arrival were both pretty chaotic with everyone aboard the ship scrambling to be the first on and off the boat. As a kid from West Texas where there was very little water to be had anywhere, the concept of just driving a large car onto a ship and sailing across the ocean felt pretty crazy. I suppose after a few trips that feeling might wear off a bit. I digress.

Driving vans onto big boats never felt so normal…

S A R D E G N A: Polcenigo > Bologna > Firenze > Pisa > Livorno > Open Sea > Olbia > La Maddalena and back again—a complex trip indeed, but traveling with the van not only made it possible, but fairly easy! We were fortunate to have friends and family visit pretty much every month this Summer. As great as that was, we didn’t get a ton of time to explore new areas of Italy / Europe for ourselves. Sardegna has been on our bucket list for several years, and I’m so glad we go to see it—and experience it the way we did with the van and bikes. We had one week and we made the most of it. Although we only got to see about 1/2 of what we would have liked to have seen, every day was full. We decided to focus on the Northern half of the island for this trip thanks to the guidance of good friends from Italy that were generous enough to sit down with us and a paper map to discuss and mark points of interest. They also warned us not to try to pack too much in. They were right.

We ended up spending three nights on the island of La Maddalena. We had only planned to stay there one night, but it just didn’t work out that way. Once we got off the 20 minute ferry with the van from the main island of Sardenga we just kept finding amazing spots to experience the coast and the water. We stayed at two quirky campgrounds while there. Both sunset shots above were taken just in front of where the van was parked at our first spot, where we stayed two nights—damn, it was awesome.

It was an incredibly hot and dry Summer here in Northern Italy. Days are now getting shorter and it’s definitely starting to cool off. Sardegna was not cooling off so much, lol. It was still hot there in mid-September and I pretty much sweated it out in the van trying to sleep every night. The wind and dust reminded me a little of West Texas, but the landscape was rocky and breathtaking at every turn—particularly when views of the coastline were involved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen water so clear. Many folks compare the landscape to the moon—they even have a stretch of highway there (rocky vista photo sans-ocean above) called the “Lunar Highway.”

We have a solar panel and propane that powers essential stuff in the van, so with a full tank of water we survived pretty comfortably without needing electricity access (thank god for battery powered camping fans, though). Our blackwater tank lasts about 5-6 days—it’s smaller than our last camper’s tank, but MUCH easier and more hygienic to empty 🙏 . All that said—the ability to be mobile seems like a good fit for Sardegna. Even though most of it is rural there are plenty of resources for people in campers. I suppose the locals probably get sick and tired of seeing people like us come through. However, everyone we interacted with was super nice and spoke to us in slow Italian so we could understand and communicate with them effectively. The island has a very complex history when it comes to languages and dialects (and culture/religion for that matter—just read about the flag), so I was pumped we were able to practice our Italian. Of course, almost everybody also spoke English, too—this is always both convenient and embarrassing 😅 We met lots of locals, we bought cheese and wine that came in what I would call up-cycled 2 litre water bottles from their trucks, end we even got a little home-made bottle if Mirto that I’m actually sipping on as I write this. We also met lots of really friendly Germans—I suspect they were soaking up the last bit of sun before they go back to a long and dark Winter season. I even took pictures of a couple that were just married and they shared a bottle of their wine with us on the beach.

All and all the trip was an excellent lesson and an active exercise in remaining flexible. We were able to stay more or less off grid in the van pretty much the whole time. Having the language skills to navigate the ferries and ship boarding process helped a ton. My Italian still stinks after 1.5 years, but I’m still progressing. On the way home we slept in the center of Florence for a night in public access parking. It was awesome! And a little uncomfortable. Having the bikes on the back of the van added to our ability to be mobile. I never thought I’d be able to bike through Florence, but it was definitely nice to test out the bike lines in many parts of the city.

I always say this, but maybe I’ll add to this later. Lots of thoughts that have yet to be articulated, but for now, an abrupt end and bed. Ciao.


a foray into the threadless world…

Jarred Elrod, graphic design, art, shop, threadless

a work in progress…

⬇️ ⬆️ After going through the process of creating the “Fare o Essere” collection for my first exhibition here in Italy, it’s nice to see these prints together in context with other things I’ve made in the past. Putting trust in another entity (threadless) for printing does feel a little strange, but their range for printing is pretty astonishing. While I’d love for the shop to be financially successful, I’m finding value and satisfaction in the process of simply sharing things I’ve made again. The fact these things have life feels good and it’s fun to play around with the graphics on different media platforms—in many cases it’s thought-provoking to play with mockups of the designs on different types of products because of the context of the product. Example: putting the “Nothing Worked Today” graphic on a blanket adds a whole other level of meaning I never considered prior as opposed to putting it on a shirt or sticker. There’s no way I could replicate this with the production tools I have here…so…I’m going to keep refining the shop and we’ll just see where it goes. That said, I’m not giving up on printing myself! I have some exciting things lined up for this December I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.

Jarred Elrod, Threadless Shop, Shirts, prints, cards and accessories

⬆️ I’m definitely still learning how to make my shop build better. I created my first collection to house the Fare prints, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of how the menu is working on my site as of now—it’s too complex. I keep learning new stuff to streamline things as I go. As I mentioned earlier though, it is nice to actually see this work together with production potential. I can’t help but frequently think back to when I was in college starting my career as a designer. I thought I was a badass because I had the hard drive partitioned on my 1st gen iPod to store both my music library and my design files (as opposed to ZIP drive). That was such an exciting time. I was making lino-cuts and running over the plates with my car to make a print. And now this is the landscape designers are coming into—ready made digital spaces to show and potentially sell anything on any surface. It’s freakin’ crazy, man! Sometimes I think I should just go completely analog—or maybe even in totally different career direction with everything going on with AI generated imagery etc…but then the sketchbook or camera calls and I just can’t help myself. I have to make stuff.

Vote Here!

⬆️ My first design submission from my shop to the threadless website…I reckon the idea is to up-vote the submission as much as possible to get the main threadless site to pick up the design from individual the artist shops. Not gonna lie, figuring out how these sites are related and how they differ was a little confusing from a design perspective, but what are you gonna do? I know the threadless site came way before artist shops, so they are kind trying to Frankenstein them together for lack of a better term. I was also bummed to see that only people within the threadless community can vote on these designs. I suppose I see why given the kind of social media followings (or even leveraging bots or fake accounts) people with power can leverage these days, but it makes it tough for someone without an existing following on threadless to even get votes. I’ve noticed many folks that sell through shops and on threadless leverage discord and reddit pretty heavily—I have pretty much zero interest in spending a lot of time in either of these spaces. Alas, I’ll keep trying.


Via Ferrata—round 02

No country for fragility…

Italian Alpini

⬆️ Italian Alpini

“Via Ferrata,” or “Iron Way” is a climbing method developed by the Italian Alpini. The method started out of necessity during the 1st World War—primarily to transport soldiers and equipment up the insanely steep mountain faces in Northern Italy to engage the Austro-Hungarian Empire in mountain warfare. It’s basically a thick cable that goes in a route up the face of a mountain. To use the cable, you wear a climbing harness with two large clips attached to it. As you ascend, you clip into the cable as you go up. These cable routes are all over the place here (along with extensive cave networks cut into solid rock) and continuously maintained by groups of Alpini. What does all this mean? It means a goofus like me with little to no climbing experience and a few lessons from a pro can shimmy up the side of a huge vertical mountain face without extreme fear of falling—a-hem…I mean…there is still SOME fear 😬. Wanna see photos from my first Via Ferrata? Check them out here! The skies were a bit brighter that day, so the images are definitely a bit more vibrant tone-wise. Plus, we were way higher in the Dolomite, just outside the town of Cortina.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in charge of creating these routes and fighting/living in such extreme conditions in pretty much all wool clothing during the WWI and II eras. I’ve only been a few times, but each new experience is pretty incredible. It’s not the easiest place to tote a camera around your neck (even a small one), but I managed. Speaking of—we encountered some light rain on this particular trip, which made the rocks super slippery. I’m glad it didn’t open up on us—the camera got a little wet, but I was able to keep it out the whole time. I think it might be time to grab a newer gopro. It’s crazy how good the anti shake technology has become in such a short period of time. Huge thanks to the folks we went with on the trip that have more expertise in this area than Amanda and I do. We’re still new at all this mountain stuff, but we are learning. An most of all, huge thanks to the Alpini for making it possible for us noobs to climb mountains! Enough for now—ciao.


a little slice of jarrederraj history

2009: “the internet—the electric speedstick:”

As seen on your local instagram feed:
02.19.2009: I was going through some old files this morning and stumbled across my thesis project from graduate school. Long story short, I wrote daily responses every day using twitter and google search trends as source material. At the end of a week I would choose my favorite piece of daily writing and make an illustration about it. The writing and all of the illustrations became the physical exhibition. I also built (and continuously re-built) a website to document everything in real time, logging daily writing and posting illustrations as I made them. I printed the posters two-sided—one side image, one side source writing. The whole thing was really raw, and ultimately ended up becoming very personal. At the time, I thought I had spun off the rails at the end of the project, but looking back at this final dual-sided image post…my sleep deprived, gin soaked brain was onto something. facebook and twitter had only been around for a little bit, and instagram hadn’t been released yet. People were just getting their first-second gen iphones. But from the rigor of posting, writing, and looking at news trends I was experiencing fatigue I’d venture to say is pretty normal for anyone on the internet or social media today. But it’s not only about “post it” volume, it’s also about the convergence of digital and physical worlds, which we’ve seen over the past few years has deep “real-world” consequences—in particular when viewed through the lens of geopolitics and misinformation. The internet IS a war zone—a self referential “Wild West” kinda place complete with cowboy-clowns wearing hot pink hats and guns. Yeah, that feels right. I felt kind of embarrassed about this at the time, but looking at it now over ten years later the absurdity of this image makes perfect sense. I’d say where I was off was graphic design was/is certainly part of the problem of how we communicate online today, but I severely underestimated the scope of the issue. Anyways, just thought I’d share this little tidbit if jarrederraj history #graphicdesign #old #stilltryingtofigureitout—ciao.


spaces, filters, limitations & ruminations

red filter digital trickery, but in an old school kinda way…

Greetings folks, as promised in my last post, my friend Daniel and I went to Milan. I took my normal LUMIX, but put a red lens filter on it and shot square format monochrome the whole time we were there. The process was limiting in a very fun sort of way. When shooting in monochrome, you’re actually seeing the simulated effect of the red filter in the camera viewfinder. Nothing can replace shooting with TMAX 400 in a 35mm camera with the red filter, but this was an interesting experience—it made shooting digital somehow feel more special or unique. The color photos are from one of my favorite places in the world, Tipoteca and were shot in boring old normal raw format with my other DSLR, a Nikon D750.

I took the majority of the square format photos in Milano at Fondazione Prada, the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, and the ADI Museum. Given that I had gone to graduate school and basically learned to teach and make with my friend Daniel, it was awesome to reconnect with him—we talked a lot about making and teaching—and the general state of those things in 2022. When we were in grad school we used to meet at least once a week to discuss these things. Those conversations were extremely helpful and I didn’t realize how much I’d been missing them. Since we both had our cameras, we spent a lot of time lingering and discussing what we were seeing through the viewfinders, using the cameras more or less as laser pointers to guide our conversations. I found this experience both enjoyable and mindful in a sense given the slowed, intentional pace we established. I don’t think it would have worked with the phone cameras because of all the distractions and ease that come along with using your phone as a camera. That said, I’ve been using my phone lately to shoot a lot of stuff from the hip while hiking or mountain biking—where ease of quick access is essential. There is something appealing about having a tiny high quality camera with you at all times—even if it does come with the distractions. I suppose we need to become better and handling distractions. On the flip side, there is something extremely appealing about the intentionality shooting with an actual camera brings to the table. And this, ultimately was why I have my LUMIX set up to shoot in such a limited way. We’ve all been told sometimes it’s easier to make great work when there are strict limitations—these limitations ultimately encourage innovation in a best case scenario. I don’t really think there’s much going on with my B/W squares above in terms of innovation, but I can say the limitations forced me to examine the content I was framing in a deeper way.

Dang. It’s important to have someone to talk shop with. I do miss that. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been working in a gigantic vacuum since around 2012. I was never really able to connect with anyone in academia the way I did with Daniel and our weekly coffee talks and ongoing collaborations (DRUGTOWN R.I.P.). Writing in this journal certainly helps, but nothing can replace a few hours of good old shop talk. I’d say out here in Italy I talk more shop with my camera and myself than I do anyone else, lol. It would be good if I changed that. A good place to start would be balancing the ratio of self-talk with talk to other creative people about their work, process, outlook, etc. I’ve been doing that more lately and I’m finding many folks are grappling with the same issues I am—in particular with social media, privacy, the current state / direction of academia in America, etc. Guess I still have a lot to figure out. For now—focus on the constants—the viewfinder, the sketchbook—the making, the sharing?. Ciao.

Jarred Elrod, Photography


mid-summer photo check

(I’m still here 😌)

Northern Italy Destinations 📸: Venezia, Prosecco Hills, & Lago di Barcis

Bright splashes of color bookended by black & white…

I’m here at my desk kicking myself because I accidentally just deleted fully processed photos from Abruzzo I was hoping to include with these. No way to recover them (even off the camera), or the time it took to process them. That said, I’m grateful to have had the experiences—let it go…Things have been super busy in the first half of this Summer—balancing work with hosting visitors has been a unique challenge for us, indeed. It’s not that I haven’t been taking lots of photos with my travel LUMIX, my editing just seems to be getting stingier. Out of about 200 photos I kept 20. Out of the 20 these are the ones I decided to share—except for those dang lost Abruzzo files 😩—not still salty with myself about that at all, though…a-hem. The weather here in Northern Italy this Summer has been hot and very dry. Not gonna lie, it’s triggering my West Texas-born fear of no rain for a super extended period of time. It’s hard to imagine a place this green going this long without real rain. Anyways, I chose these photos because of their colors/tones and textures. I think in their own ways they all say “mid summer.” I had a birthday in June—for some reason these have always been difficult days for me—even when I was a kid. I think it’s the sharp awareness of time passing that really gets me. In its own (sadder) way it’s a strong reminder how lucky I am to be here with people I love—and to have experienced the privilege I have in so many domains of my life—for these things I am extremely grateful. Maybe the sadness comes from reflecting on people and vibrant experiences that have (and will) inevitably fade with time—maybe that’s why losing the Abruzzo files hurt so dang much! Photos are a great way to keep those moments alive in their own unique way. June has ended up being a pretty complex month for me in terms of loss—I’m sure that factors in as well. Alas. I’m told the birthday is something to celebrate, and I’m still trying, lol. That said, as a birthday bonus (thanks to Amanda for getting out of the house) we took a few amazing van trips to Prosecco Hills, Bassano Del Grappa + Asolo, Venezia, and Lake Barcis (all photographed above except for Bassano del Grappa + Asolo, which were amazing —files not lost, just photos not taken—maybe it was them birthday blues 🙃 ). I was hoping to keep a tidy archive of van trips…numbering them on the blog. Well, I nailed 001 and 002, but 003 to Abruzzo was sacrificed to the trash bin ether and well…004 is peppered into this post. I’ll get back on the numbering wagon soon. We’ve had family and close friends come and go in the past few weeks, which is both exciting to see them come and sad to see them go, but also an interesting opportunity to check-in and re-evaluate where things are at here with our routines—the things we miss…the things we don’t miss so much. Our first year here travel was pretty much a no-go, so we didn’t have visitors. I think during that time we developed a pretty quiet / slow pace of life. Maybe it’s just aging, but I’m finding it harder and harder to move at a fast pace for more than a day or two at a time or stay up late every night. God I sound boring. I don’t even care, though. Or maybe it’s just the work of trying to balance too many important things that require serious time…at the same time. Who knows. I’ll be heading over to Milan soon with one of our friends visiting from the US. Since I’ve already been to Milan with my camera, I’ve decided to outfit my LUMIX with a red lens filter and shoot monochrome square format only the whole time–limitations. We’ll see what happens here–until then, ciao.


First Friday La Taverna Exhibition—”Fare o Essere”

⬆️ Disclaimer—I did a horrible job documenting this show while it was up. I was hoping to photograph everything before I struck the show, but when I arrived to photograph and strike the owners had already started moving stuff around to help make things quicker, as it is a functioning restaurant and bar. Guess I should have planned better and taken more photos during the show, but I was just too busy having fun to care 😅. I don’t regret it.

⬆️ (click any image for a larger look) I built 10 medium-sized mixed media pieces—these made up the bulk of the show and were based off a series I started in 2020 called “random assembly required.” The name of the series implies exactly how the pieces were made. All of the content was literally plucked at random from my sketchbook or from stuff I’d scanned or photographed with my phone I thought was odd or peculiar. Example: A lot of people asked were the butts in the yellow piece came from…this was from one of my spouse’s chiropractor visits. I found it crumpled under the seat in our car one day and knew I needed to do something with it—it ended up becoming a metaphor for moving through the pandemic and all the physical and emotional things attached to that experience…

⬆️ I printed these large A1 size pieces on canvas—this is where the name of the show (Fare o Essere—Do/Make or Be) came to be and where the idea for the audience participation piece (see below) came in. The other typographic expressions are more or less other ways to say the same thing or pose the same existential question. One of my goals in moving to Italy was to design/set type in two languages. I’m happy to say I was able to do that here. That said, after a year + of learning I still have so, so far to go. I’ve been photographing a lot since I’ve been here. It felt great to use some of my photographs in this work as well. They printed really well on the canvas.

⬆️ I’ve always wanted to make a series of small square pieces—just because. These are 10X10 CM and are basically all just cherrypicked from my sketchbook randomly.

⬆️ Almost every show I’ve ever had features some sort of audience participation piece. This one was no different. It was really neat do do this is two languages (Italian and English) to explore potential cultural differences in how people might respond. I had around 70 responses in total—which I thought was excellent! It was about 70/30% majority Italian. And I found that people that responded in Italian tended to go deeper conceptually on the whole. My favorite response overall was “Fare lo stronzo o essere carta igenica”—which translates to—“Make the asshole or be the toilet paper.” As crude as it may be, this concept speaks volumes about so many problems we have today. I’d like to think this person might have been an engineer, architect, or designer, but who knows. This general idea of building better frameworks for survival or suffering the consequences really hit me hard. Bravo, whoever you are that did this! This one piece alone made the work of building the show worthwhile. It also felt great to use my garage screenprinting setup to print these with metallic black ink on color A4 paper stock. Gotta say, they turned out pretty sweet—and consistent! Still got it, baby 😀

⬆️ As I mentioned before, the show was already half way down when I came to photograph and strike, but nonetheless, La Taverna, Slow Bar in Polcenigo was the perfect location for this show. The owners are incredibly generous and were amazing hosts for our mixed reception of Italian and American friends. This show was held on the first Friday in April, 2022 and the place was packed. We were humbled by the amount of friends we had come out in support. It was also great to have patrons of the business mixing and mingling with us as well. The show was up for the full month of April.

More emphasis on fun that show documentation…

I’ve said most of what I wanted to say in the captions, but I do want to reiterate how humbling and neat is was to have both Italian and American friends we’ve made since being here come out (in driving rain) to support the show. Huge thanks to La Taverna and everyone that came. Since I’ve started working as a Graphic Designer for the USAF on base, there hasn’t been a whole lot of free time to do stuff like this. I’m proud to have been able to make this work and very much appreciate the support of my spouse, Amanda for coaching me through the pinch points. This was/will be a highlight of our time here in Italy for sure and I’d love to do something like this again in the future. Now that I’m not in a tenure track teaching position, there was no pressure or expectation to make this “fit” into any sort of framework for “approval.” I just made the work and enjoyed hanging out with the people that came. We had a ton of good laughs along with many drinks and great food from La Taverna. Yeah, I wish I would have snapped a few photos of the show actually happening, but looking back being fully present was by far more important/valuable. In the past when I’ve had shows I was preoccupied with how I would document it for tenure. Being free from that just felt right. Between the making, the screenprinting, and the audience feedback this experience touched on all the things that are deeply important to me as a maker—and as a human. Active energy exchange through making / thinking between maker and audience during an exhibition is absolutely essential for me. Ironically, there were many points in the process where time was short and things felt like an inconvenient squeeze to make it all work. The daily grind has a way of obscuring or distorting deep personal values, but even if you’re tired once you break that patina of inconvenience and get into something deep down you know will make you feel good…the good feelings do in fact, start rolling in. Enough for now—ciao.

📸 ➕ ✍️ ➕🖼 ➕