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When Chicago Gangsters Carried Business Cards

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chicago street gang members were proud to show off their affiliations—so proud, in fact, that they actually carried business cards. “Street gangs made business cards displaying their symbols, nicknames, territories, and enemies as a means to assert their pride, recruit new members, and serve as general tokens of affiliation,” Brandon Johnson writes in his new book, Thee Almighty & Insane, a photographic collection of these historic “compliment cards."

These cards, he writes, document not only “the specific histories of these gangs and their members, but also the social dynamics of a violent and contentious time period in the city of Chicago.” Gang members created cards with the names and symbols of their group, adding slogans, hand-drawn graphics, and acronyms that are loaded with meaning for the initiated, but might not mean much to a layperson, as Johnson explains:

"For example, an upside down symbol or name is a sign of disrespect. Acronyms ending with the letter ‘K’ mean ‘killer’—so ’S.D.K.’ would be short for ‘Satan Disciples Killer.’ One Insane Pope card within these pages has the name ‘Larkin’ crossed out with ‘is dead’ and ‘G/L’s’ handwritten beneath, indicating that the Pope's leader Larkin was killed by the Gaylords."

The Old English typography and Playboy Bunny icons decorating the cards belied the violence of their bearers. The paper cards look a little like they should belong to a manager at Medieval Times, rather than deadly criminals. Check out a few Johnson collected for the book:



Preorder the second edition of Thee Almighty & Insane: Chicago Gang Business Cards from the 1970s & 1980s for $30 here.

[h/t It's Nice That]

All images courtesy Brandon Johnson / Thee Almighty & Insane: Chicago Gang Business Cards from the 1970s & 1980s.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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iStock
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Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
iStock
iStock

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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