Greece—Athens + Hydra

Acropolis with Greek Flag

the Acropolis

We came from Northern Italy to Greece to visit our best friends, who were visiting from the United States. We only had a few days overlap in Athens with them—staying in a hotel just a few blocks from the Acropolis. Visiting the Acropolis was something we were all looking forward to experiencing together, and it was indeed an incredible experience to explore with such great company. I tried to uniquely capture that shared experience through my photos—not an easy challenge in probably one of the most photographed places in the world! Having conversations with one another about the structures and context(s) in which we were viewing as we walked made the experience both rich and memorable.

Acropolis ruins, Greece

⬆️ Jon and Amanda working to make sense of it all. One thing about the Acropolis site that was really striking to me (aside from the incredible ruins) was the 360 degree view of surrounding Athens—the metro area was strikingly large + dense ⤵️.

Acropolis ruins, Greece, Parthenon

The Parthenon was under pretty heavy construction, but it didn’t take away any of the grandeur to see it in person—such an incredible experience!

Evil Eye, Athens

One thing I kept noticing in Greece (mainly in the city of Athens) were references to what they call the “Evil Eye” (image to the left ⬅️ ) I’m sure there is an element of touristy go-to stuff here, but none-the-less I’m very attracted to the meaning and thinking around the evil eye—it was something that kept coming up for me over and over again—even after we left Greece. Then I realized that without knowing it I had already created a version of my own Evil Eye. I made the above full-width graphic into stickers (image below ⤵️ ) a few years back. I am also reminded of Aesthetic Apparatus’s “Doom Drips” series, which was influential on me when I was in school.

Evil Eye Designs, Jarred Elrod, Greece Travel, stickers

Panathenaic Stadium—Athens

Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Jarred Elrod, Greece, Photography

The Panathenaic Stadium is built on the site of the ancient Olympics dating back into the BCE —and—the site of the first officially sanctioned “modern” Olympics in 1896. Long story short, this was a very cool visit (and just look at that engraved type—muah) and an easy walk from the center of Athens. Everything is made of marble and the track (track surface not marble 🙂 is shaped like a paperclip—I suspect any athletes that competed on this track had amazing ankle mobility because of those sharp turns 😅. If you want to read more about the history of this site, I’d recommend visiting the official museum website.

Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Jarred Elrod, Greece, Photography

The ancient version of box seats. These are from the re-build in the late 1800’s, but were modeled from the original ancient stadium—we saw ancient seats like this in the public theatre spaces at the Acropolis as well.

Island time—Hydra

Hydra, Greece, Jarred Elrod, Photography, Travel

Headed to Hyrda after a few great days in Athens—cruising through the other islands on an Alpha Lines ferry.

Hydra, Greece, Jarred Elrod, Photography, Travel

We stayed in a great spot on the water that was an easy 10 minute walk from the city center—paths down to the water like ⬆️ were common and great for sunset time.

Amanda in her element—gelato in-hand and ocean near. The ferry through Alpha Lines was easy to navigate and affordable. The roof deck on the boat allowed us to ditch our cabin seats and ride on the roof for the whole 1.5-2 hour journey both ways—this was both refreshing and beautiful (bring your sunscreen, people).

the value of new contexts…

When I attended college in West Texas we studied Ancient Greece during my Art History courses. I honestly never thought I’d have a chance to see any of what we looked at in person—my mindset at the time wasn’t capable of allowing it. I suspect it was because my perception of what it meant to “travel” at that time had been very limited (this was the case with the majority of my peers as well). It wasn’t until my undergraduate Graphic Design professor (hi Bob!) suggested I look into the University of Tennessee for graduate school because of their opportunities to work in a letterpress studio. I didn’t know anyone in the state of Tennessee—I did know I really wanted to learn Letterpress. I had no idea what I was doing when I applied, was accepted, and agreed to move. The real weight of my decision (leaving family, friends, etc.) didn’t hit me until about one week before my move because I was so naive. It wasn’t so much the roughly 1,200 miles of distance between cities in Texas and Tennessee that changed my mindset on travel—it was the complete and total destruction and re-construction of my physical and emotional comfort zones that did it. It took a solid 1/2 year of feeling sorry for myself in Tennessee until I started realizing the deep value in the leap I had made. A lot of folks would say moving from Texas to Tennessee isn’t that big of a deal, but at my young age coupled with extreme lack of experience and general ignorance it was a major deal! People in other places do things differently—and there is so much that can be learned from that. I came to understand this through my own process of re-learning how to live and work in a new context—initially in Tennessee, but since in other locations—each move its own unique growth experience—these experiences are generally both difficult and exciting at the same time.

After that move for graduate school, the notion of continuing to build my experience library through travel or taking advantage of great relocation opportunities became essential. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to have had in-person experiences like this trip to Greece. I was inspired by how enthusiastic Athenians we spoke to were about their city and surrounding islands—the cuisine, culture, texture, history, etc…I was also embarrassed to not have the appropriate language skills as an outsider to communicate in Greek, but once again almost everyone we met was bi-lingual (or more). None-the-less, we were made to feel incredibly welcome everywhere we went and encouraged when we did try to speak. This has been the case time and time again as we travel more and now live outside of the United States.

Over the past decade I’ve had conversations with many students contemplating big moves or major life-changing experiences as a design educator. It’s hard for me not to time warp back to that time I left Texas long-term for the first time with zero experience. I usually begin the convo by asking if they can clearly identify the combo of emotions about the upcoming change they feel most often: discomfort coupled with excitement or discomfort coupled with dread? It’s no solution, but generally if the compass is clearly pointed more towards excitement it’s something worth really un-packing.

🇬🇷 + 🛥 + ✈️ + 🚶‍♂️

Visit your local motorcycle shop—learn more about yourself

Honda, Sacile, Albatros Moto

⬆️ Albatros Moto in Sacile, Italy has a showroom and a shop—a few months after we relocated to Italy from Florida I bought the Honda XL350 (below photo) there. These are images of the shop, which I loved visiting because of how unique it is. The stickers and the well-worn space tells the multi-year story in a way nothing else can.

↗️ The previous owners took amazing care of this motorcycle given how old it is (33 years!). That said, the tank graphics are not correct / original. These XR graphics appear to be from the 1998 XR line—a decade newer than this motorcycle and not the right model. I knew I wanted to replace those when I got the motorcycle. That, and it was in need of a new chain slider.

↗️ The XL on sale in the showroom at Albatros

↗️ After rebuilding and printing the stock graphics I was shocked to see the original tank decals unharmed underneath the XR stickers. I was able to remove the XR stickers without damaging the XL graphics, so I decided to keep them.

↗️ Back to the original tank graphics—just keep it simple.

⬆️ The sticker rebuild process: The photo of the tank in the middle image above was the best image I could find of the original lettermark graphic kit for the European release of this motorcycle (the graphics were not the same in the US, nor did they even release XL 350s after 1985—this one is listed as a 1988 on the paperwork. I worked with Albatros to have these stickers printed and am super happy with the quality even though I ended up sticking (no pun intended) with the original graphics since they were still there under the fake XR decals (above left).

⬆️ My 2016 Honda XR 650L—sadly in storage right now in the United States. This motorcycle has as much sentimental value to me as it does anything else and I really wanted to have it here in Italy. It’s symbolic of a reconnection for me. That said, the cost and risk of shipping it overseas was too much. I’ve only had this motorcycle for a few years, but I enjoyed having one again so much this is what led me to find another motorcycle here in Italy. Ironically, I ended up finding an older / smaller version of what I already have—not intentional, but ok with me (still miss the XR, though).

on motorcycles & making…

My first motorcycle was a 1983 Yamaha PW50. I was four years old and it was the best. I had a VHS tape of the 1989 AMA Supercross season I watched on repeat. I grew up around motorcycle and car racing in a family of racers. I started racing go-karts and then micro-sprint cars myself between the ages of 12-20. The bright colors and numbers (especially from dirtbikes of the 80s and early 90s) became ingrained in my visual vocabulary from a very early age. I’m sure these experiences influenced my eventually becoming a Graphic Designer—and someone who loves and teaches typography.

After the PW I moved onto a YZ 80, then a RM 250, and finally a KX 250. I broke my ankle on the KX when I was 20—it was around 2003-2004 and I was going into college. I decided to sell the motorcycle and buy my first iMac computer. At the time this was a good decision, as it kickstarted my career as a Graphic Designer. I moved away from motorcycles and racing (not intentionally) in my 20’s and early 30’s. Getting reconnected over the past few years has been a unique and fulfilling experience in so many ways. I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting on my early experiences around racing and being a racer myself. I moved from the Texas Panhandle to the University of Tennessee for graduate school in my early 20s. Lots of amazing things happened in Knoxville—including the beginning of an amazing relationship with my partner Amanda I am still in today.

In Tennessee I was completely focused on learning how to teach Graphic Design. This eventually lead to the beginning of my career as a design educator. There was (in my mind at least) no room for motorcycles or racing. It was a radically different experience and I had to re-learn how to do many things I thought I was already good at. For anyone who says teachers teach because they can’t do—you are mistaken. Teaching is a profession that pairs with, but stands separate from practice (I could do another post on this, but not getting more into it here—maybe later).

I’m in a space now where I’m reflecting on what it looks like to synthesize these seemingly opposing worlds. Now, (with the benefit of hindsight) I see so many obvious connections I couldn’t see before. I’m not a great rider, but the experience of being on a motorcycle is mindful—much like the experience of letterpress or screenprinting (or teaching others how to do these things). It’s not about the objects or outcomes, it’s about the experience. For me, the intersections are rooted in practice. Leveraging my design skills to re-create these XL stickers (even though it’s a very small thing)and visiting local shops like Albatros are a synthesis of so many important things to me as a creative human. Understanding this is an ongoing process.

🏍 + ✎

Via Ferrata—La Prima Volta!

Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography
Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography
Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography

Two above images: Professionals and all around awesome people Mike & Madison teach us how not to die at the base of the mountain.

Yeah, that’s a tunnel you see in the image directly above. This area near the town of Cortina was the front for a time between the Italians and the Austrians in World War One. These tunnels, and other things such as rusted barbed wire can still be found with ease. According to what I have read about “Via Ferrata” (Iron Street more or less directly translated) is that it was a method of climbing that was both relied upon heavily and refined during WW1.

Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography, Dolomite Mountains
Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography, Dolomite Mountains
Via Ferrata, Cortina, Italy, Jarred Elrod, Photography, Dolomite Mountains

Epic views all day…

No bad photos possible in this incredible place…

Last weekend was a first. Amanda and I went climbing in the style of “Via Ferrata” near the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. We’ve done a little climbing a tons of hiking before, but never anything like this. Luckily we were able to go with two professionals (Mike and Madison) that helped us with everything from proper equipment to technique (and moral support all the way up, lol). The method of climbing is basically clipping into lengths of a large cable mounted to the mountain face with tethers from a waist harness. It basically allows newbies like us to experience climbing lengths of vertical face—we honestly would have never tried anything like this without professional guidance, but I have to say we both felt really comfortable the whole time. I definitely tried not to look directly down much, though 🤓. Our trail was just outside the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which is a super cool mountain town. Something that was I will be going back to explore is the World War I open air museum and the tunnels in the mountains. This particular area was the front between the Italians in the Austrians—the most intense of which happening in 1917. You can still see bundles of rust barbed wire and other debris scattered once you get further up—I’m told there is still danger of mines and unexploded ordnance in the ground from mounted artillery pieces. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to fight in conditions like that. Just hiking and climbing were absolutely exhausting. I have so many more great shots from the day, but this is a nice little sample. I carried my trusty Panasonic Lumix with me in a fanny pack slung around my shoulder for the climb. I’m glad I didn’t drop the camera, as I don’t have a strap on it right now. Guess that’s all for now—a dopo!

⛰ + 🧗‍♂️


Toy Camera from Firenze—06/21. Raw strip scans + edited singles. Shot on Kodak Ektar 100.

Twin Lens (Yahsica Mat 124G)—light damaged b/c left in camera for 2+ years! Also shot on Kodak Ektar 100.

Look, it’s medium format film—& a quasi- Instagram rant!

I’ve always loved the process of shooting and editing photos on film. There’s more intentionality, curiosity, and mystery at every step in the process— from selecting and loading the camera with film, shooting full-manual (no instant review available, yo) through scanning and editing the negatives (I don’t process the C41!). Yeah, it’s a time consuming process, but the time demands and the anticipation that is conveniently/automatically built into the space between shooting and processing force us to slow down and think more about what we make and how we consume imagery (and our precious attention).

It has been a quick minute since I scanned and edited film. I started getting impatient scanning these negatives and individually going through each frame until I reminded myself to just lean into the fact that it was going to take time. Yeah, I guess that’s the point.

You might have noticed I deleted all of my instagram posts a few months back…again ( 🤓 ) Shooting on the phone and editing with the phone was great, but the experience of the process just started falling flat for me. I picked up a pocket-sized digital camera a few months back and started shooting raw format again—taking the photos off the card in small batches and editing individually on my computer (many of these images are posted below). I’ve found this process to be so much more pleasurable / rewarding. Seeing the photos at a larger scale just feels damn good!

While it’s a great tool for networking and sharing, Instagram is excellent at compressing everything into the same tiny box at the speed of light (which was the original purpose with the whole lomography knockoff, I suppose—remember those sweet skeuomorphic image borders???). Obvie, that’s not the case anymore—IG basically has its own financial economy now. People literally work full time jobs managing feeds. I’m not gonna sit here and crap on IG, because to be frank, even though I’m not posting I’m still looking—more than I’d like to be, in fact. I keep up with friends and things I enjoy (a-hem vintage dirtbikes, sprintcars, and Formula 1). Ironically, since I’m in Italy messenger accidentally became my primary mode of communication with several very important people in my life b/c of international phone plan issues.

The convenience of having one company own multiple platforms is a double-edged sword I’m not going to get started on here. I might attempt to tackle more on IG in another post. For now, I’m just not sure where I fit into that whole deal—maybe I’ll find it one day—or not. I’m pretty happy posting stuff on here trusting the right people will see it at the right time—Ciao.

🎞 + 📸