rob jillson


chicago, il

all images are copyright

2008 © robert jillson


My Blog
thoughts, happenings and current photos

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End of 2008

Hey everyone. I hope 2008 had some good in it for you. I know that there were a whole bunch of headlines that will go down in the "wish it hadn't happened" category. But, there is always good that seems to tag along with the bad - the whole ying and yang thing. So, I hope you think of your happy memories of 2008 as we all look forward to 2009.

Signing off for 2008 - Rob

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays

In wishing you all a wonderful 2009, we hope that each and every one of us will try to bring a little more peace to the world. No one has to give up their principals or views, just take a little more peaceful route and look to resolve rather than to conflict.

Our world is always in the midst of change. But now, the entire world is more aware of it than ever: the world's climate, the world's economies, the Middle East conflicts, oil, new industrial nations, the United States presidency. Through all of this, we hope there is more peace at the end of 2009 than at the beginning and we hope everyone has a little more of a twinkle in their eyes.


The Jillsons
Rob, Lisa, Simon and Noah

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

today's reflections

I was downtown today for a couple of appointments. The first was at Chicago and Michigan and the 2nd was across from City Hall. I parked my car at a meter on Chicago at the Lake and did a little walking. Today is election day and Chicago is holding the official Obama rally tonight so the place was littered with the 65,000 people who came into town for the rally. You could make them out because they were all (young and old) walking around with Obama shirts and taking in the sites like a day at the amusement park. Then there were the reporters. There were several set up along Wacker at the river recording pieces for tonights broadcast. One was just a guy in a suit with a tripod holding the big video camera and a mic. Another had multiple lights and reflectors and his own camera guy. Although, I gotta say the guy in the suit all by himself looked a lot better than the MTV type guy with the club t-shirt with all those lights and camera guy.

Anyway, you would think that I would have pictures of all of this but I just took it in. It is the buildings that turn me on. Cheers,

Monday, November 03, 2008

More Blue

Okay, there had to be a repeat performance since my boys halloween party was the weekend before. So, halloween afternoon I shaved the head again and went blue once more. Our neighbors had a their yearly kick-off party and then we went trick or treating. Now I am kinda interested in getting some hair back.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a blue halloween

Saturday night was Simon and Noah's school halloween party and I decided to get in on the fun as well. Simon went as a zombie boxer, noah as a ninja, and I went as one of the Blue Man Group.

And yes, I shaved my goatee/mustache and my head. I wasn't planning on shaving the head but the latex cap I got to go bald tore in several places. So, I was there in the bathroom with a torn bald cap the desire to still pull off the costume. Then, the razor came out. Well, needless to say, Lisa was more than a little surprised when she walked into the bathroom after a nap to find her husband hairless. I believe words like "you didn't tell me", "big corporate dinner Thursday night", "what about clients and interviews", and something along the lines of "you will be staying on your side of the bed" came out of her mouth.

But, you gotta admit - the blue rocked and the party was a blast. Many a parent had dressed up and the costumes were great. One came as a mad scientist with huge white Einstein hair. Some took a picture that I hope to get a copy of - huge white hair next to the blue skull. Another friend who is sanctioned by his wife to shave his head every day decided to go on the wild side by adding a huge curly 70's wig and mustache - I hope there is a picture of that one too.

Hey, and I get to do it all over again for Halloween night. cheers,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday Night - a Power House

This Thursday night is a power house of a night. Can I call it a power house when some of what I am talking about is a show with my own work in it? Where will I be? at the 5th Annual Alumni Art Show for the University of Michigan Club of Greater of Chicago. A mouth full... and a whole lot of fun. If you would like to know about the history, look at one of my earlier posts about the show. Hey, steve vandervoort and I came up with the concept of the show and were founding members so it's our baby. This year stands to be an exceptional show although we will be missing Susan Clinard who is a wonderful sculptor and taught at the SAIC before following her husband to the east coast after he took a faculty position at Yale or MIT (can't remember - all that matters is that he is really smart).

So, find a babysitter and come and keep me company. I will have 5 pieces in the show and if they aren't bought they are going to end up on my walls at home. So - I guess I should use some reverse psychology and say - "please don't come and please don't but any of my work" That way I get all the wine and chips and I get the artwork on my walls.

Okay - I love my stuff but the U of M show in itself does not my a powerhouse of an evening. Having Dorothea Lange's son give a talk about her life at the MoCP in front of Lange's work is what makes it an incredible night. I wish I could be there for it so I am hoping that MoCP will record it. I am going to go see the show next week before it closes at the end of the month. Lange is a legend - so if you don't come to see me, then go and see her. cheers to all

for your reference:
SAIC - the school of the art institute of chicago
M0CP - the museum of contemporary photography

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

okay - am I going to go off an a tangent here? I guess so if by tangent you mean talking about the state of the architectural profession versus talking about my state of architectural photography. A wise man, like my father would recommend that I keep my mouth shut - but there is a reason that I left behind being an architect and a big part of that was the state of the architectural education in america and the lack of proper project management training in architectural firms. so.....

On Linkedin, someone posted the question "
In your experience, what do you see as the main contributing factor which makes it difficult for a designer or architect to make a smooth transition into the role of project manager?"

People posted silly answers like "knowledge, experience communication, vision".... and more. Oops - I guess they wont be hiring me (not anywhere near chicago anyway). But, I think the real issue is an underlying lack of respect of project management in architectural schools and in the profession. So, here was my reply.... and that is the post for today. cheers, rob

I think it is something much more fundamental than all of these things. Yes, the items everyone has listed gives a PM the depth, etc.... that comes with age and experience. Those are the skills. However, I think there are 3 fundamental barriers for designers and architects becoming good PM's.

1. many people go to architecture school because they love design and architecture - not because they love project management. And yet, the architectural and design structure is such that there is the need for many to execute and only a few to design. Project management is the fundamental basis for executing any design and like a pyramid - many are needed at the base to execute the design concept at the top.

2. the typical architectural education re-enforces this concept that everyone should be a designer (at the top of the pyramid) and that project management is for those who can't be king of the hill like a Philip Johnson, Helmut Jahn, Frank Gehry, etc.... Not true so please don't get upset, but that is a very general assumption that is still out there. The schools emphasize a right answer and a wrong answer and worry more about design concept than possible execution of the design. This breeds a distain for team approaches and project management.

3. and this is the kicker. architecture firms do nothing to train people for project management. Oh, I am sure that many are out there ready to type me a zippy reply about how they help train those underneath them - but it is true. When did you send your associates to a project management training seminar? When did you do anything but tell them the procedures? When did you help them hone their presentation skills or talk about setting client expectations? etc.... etc.... My wife went through business school and works in advertising. It is a degree focused on project management and a position defined by project management. When she started at her first big agency, they handed her a nice fat binder that contained, NOT procedures, but training and lessons on the project management skills she would need to advance and do a great job and she has grown from there. I photo copied that binder and kept it at my desk in the architecture firm I worked at. I ran a department at that firm that did interiors. More than once I was told that training manual was a waste of time and yet corporate interiors is an accelerated microcosm of the architecture industry, and more jobs are lost because of not managing the pieces and the clients expectations. And yet, even in the advertising industry shake up that is going on - they still justify and make much more money than architects and yet the fields are remarkable similar - a creative concept with the need to execute it.

In summary, I don't think that the field of architecture values project management skills and develops and rewards them until we as architects have been through the ringer of self-experience to learn the value. At that point, we are the few that have survived and we wonder why those coming up through the ranks don't have the skills and don't value how incredibly necessary project management is to getting the job done and keeping the client happy. You don't transition into project management - instead, it should be a fundamental underlying skill set that is developed throughout your career.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Newberry Library. Amy and I photographed a wonderful wedding on Saturday and the reception was at Newberry Library. No photos of the wedding yet because that wouldn't be fair. This one is of Newberry's staircase which is just beautiful. I treated this one with a cool tone. The color difference comes from the different kinds of light bulbs on the staircase versus the downstairs lobby. I had never been in the library before I scouted it for the reception and it is one very cool place.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

John Barnett, jbd design ltd

I had a great time today. I did spend some time going through paperwork to be ready for tomorrow's appointment with the City of Chicago for a permits (yes, I still do some architecture work, my oldest client and I love them to death and - I gotta make ends meet.)

Anyway, besides getting ready for city hall, I got to photograph 3 of John Barnett's projects and I had a great time. John is a designer of furniture, space, etc... and he runs renovation projects of older homes and condos, particularly in the Gold Coast area. In the above project there were several built-in pieces of furniture and a few other things by John; but, this photo is after something different. Here, John stripped the stone mantel and wood top. Instead of painting the wood top, the decision was made to leave it raw and I think the result is both subtle and striking; and the charcoal and mixed media artwork drive home the fact that it was intentional. I'm not sure that I would have been brave enough to leave the mantel top raw (maybe if I had a can of paint as backup) - but the more I look at it the more I am drawn to it.

This photo is using natural light but the mantel does have a little extra on it so it doesn't get lost compared to the direct light from the windows. I like the way this photo layers light to dark and space to space. It will be a few days before I get all of the photos processed but this one caught my eye and so was the first.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey ho ho - the product section of my website is up. It makes me happy. Now it is just the people and the projects.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mandron Gallery

The University of Michigan's Club of Greater Chicago - School of Art and Design 5th Annual Alumni Art Show is having it's opening reception on Thursday, Oct 23rd from 6 to 9 at Madron Gallery. In an earlier blog post I outlined a little bit about the show.... 5 years ago, Steve Vandervort and I came up with the concept of the alumni art show. We put out a call for help and Charlie Daas, Jason LaBelle and some others I can't remember helped launch the 1st annual show. Charlie provided the 1st gallery space since he was the director of a non for profit that built the Acme Artist Condo. The 2nd year we used the Around the Coyote Gallery and got some wonderful support from the Art and Design School. At that show we were able to get the president of the art school and each year has been incredible. For the 3rd year, alumna Yen Chin of Madron Gallery was able to let the association use Madron Gallery which has been incredible. After year 2 I stepped off of the committee which is a good thing since Jason, Yen and others I don't know have made this show something I only imagined back in the beginning.

So, clear you calendar for the evening of Oct 23rd. I'll do another blog and send out an email announcement closer to the show. Oh, by the way, I have some great photos in the show - so you gotta come and see.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

old friends

It is great to catch up with old friends. I dunno, they just kinda fit like that favorite pair of old jeans. It doesn't matter that they have been hanging out in the back of the drawer without too much attention, two way street really, but when you pull those jeans they just feel right and remind you of all the good times you had together. Okay - too much on the analogy. It's just that I had a great time today catching up with an old college friend who is in town. We have stayed in touch over the years - he was at my wedding, we were both at our other good friends wedding a few years after but it has been a long time. He is on the account side at one of the WPP companies so it was great talking shop, photos, art history and all the stuff in between.

So, we have the beer above because even though we didn't drink. Lunch just kinda felt like the picture above. That was taken outside of Santa Fe on an afternoon that would be perfect for a Corona - and that was what today was - cheers,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a wait list for the website

a couple of years ago I had stacks and stacks of negatives and proof sheets and very few prints. I guess I still do since those stacks are still there on the shelves with the negatives waiting to be scanned. Anyway, I went through a role of film once - well, maybe a few times over the course of a day or week - but then it got filed. Now, with digital negatives and good assest management software I am going back through and tagging and looking and seeing a whole bunch of stuff that I never would have seen in the past.

I say this because I don't think I would have used this photo if I had shot it on film. I remember seeing when I took it and seeing the image in my mind. Then I remember seeing it on the computer as a thumbnail and thinking that there were other images more striking. Going through again, this photo got a second chance and I am growing fonder of it the more I look at it.

Well, the architectural section of my website is up and I think it will be a few months before I make any changes to the images - but this one is going to be sitting there in the queue. I've never had a wait list - kinda cool.

Oh, so you ask - why a wait list, why don't I add it right now? Well, the program I am using to make my website only allows 20 rollover/linked images on a page. Yes, there are work-arounds but that gets more fussy and the more streamlined I make this the more current it will stay since I am the one designing and publishing this baby. So - we have the start of a wait list!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

never done before

Lisa and I went to a get together Sunday night and so people could get to know each other, everyone was given a question to answer. My question was "What is something that you have never done that you would like to try? Why?"

The funny thing is that I couldn't come up with anything meaningful. Maybe it was my perspective. Sure, there are things that I haven't done and I will feel a whole lot more fulfilled once I get my photography business to the point that it can help better support the family. But there is no aching thing that I have never done. I have a burning desire to make images and art but that is not what the question was talking about. I would like to go to China sometime but I have been to Europe many times and although I want to get to China it's not on my bucket list.

I have traveled, I have been a ski bum, I have been to art school, I have been a certified scuba diver, I have sailed, camped, kayaked and traveled the country with only a few hundred dollars in my pocket and all my belongings in the trunk. That's not to say that I am done - not by a long shot. Maybe it will be traveling the country when I am 60 on a motorcycle. I certainly want to go skiing and scuba diving with my boys and wife. Lot's of stuff to do but I don't have a bucket and I think I kinda like that.

philly in june - well, I can cross that off of the list that I don't have.

University of Michigan Alumni Art Show

I just found out that I have been accepted into the University of Michigan Great Chicago Area Alumni Art Show which will be Thursday evening, Oct 16th. Man, I gotta say U.M.G.C.A.A.A.S. I don't even want to know what kind of acronym someone could come up with for that.

A little history - a few years back I was talking to an older alumna who mention that most of what the chicago chapter did was to get together at bars to watch the football games. He wondered what other activities we could plan. Since I am also an SAIC alumna (you look it up - I'm not typing all of that) and their yearly BareWalls Alumni Art Show is huge - I suggested an art show. There was much doubt floated about - but I was sure there would be a great turn out. I was told to plan for 40 people. We ended up with 10 exhibitors and of course they invited their friends. The result was over 100 people and the beginning of a great tradition. The yearly show has moved to the Madron Gallery which is a great and makes available a huge gallery for us. The big bummer is that they now have to limit the number of participants since it has become very popular. The SAIC does a lottery due to popularity and so are we. The bummer is that one of the orginal ideas was to give everyone a voice, to let everyone participate. I guess that is what can happen when everyone wants in. Bummer.

The up side is that I made it in and the above picture will be one of 6 that I plan on showing. Stay tuned for all the details.

lake michigan photos

Going through my photos, I had to get these posted. It is going to be a while before I get to the special projects section of my new website.

Mornings are always long at our family place in Michigan. We are at the edge of the woods facing west and overlooking Lake Michigan. That means that at 8am often feels like dawn because the sun hasn't cleared the trees. These photos with the long shadows were take somewhere between 8 and 9 am. To the left of the picture are two small inland lakes, North and South Bar Lakes and the town of Empire. The mist over that low lying area is moving off over Lake Michigan as the sun casts the strong shadows from the trees at the edge of the lake. I took these photos about a month ago - mid august

Monday, September 22, 2008

finding photos

I have started this blog as I tackle going through 100,000 photos to categorize them and make selections for the launch of my new re-tooled website. So, I will start this blog with a photo that most likely wont make my website but will hopefully find a frame and a place on one of my walls. Cheers
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