Jen Adrion – Ohio
Maps are a visual representation of the places that have changed us and the countries we dream of visiting. Whether on a life long journey or a weekend destination, at home or in a foreign city — These Are Things produces beautiful modern maps of the places we love. Jen Adrion and Omar Noory are the creators of this Columbus, Ohio-based start-up, which has flourished since its humble beginnings in 2010. They are “inspired by the many adventures that our planet holds,” and we were inspired by there brilliant maps of the United States and beyond. We spoke to Jen Adrion to find out more about starting a business and her favorite places to visit. Read the full interview below!
BANGSTYLE: How did you two meet and decide to start These Are Things?
Jen Adrion: Omar and I met during our first year at Columbus College of Art and Design. We were friends during school but didn’t start making art together until after we graduated. During a freezing Ohio winter, we spent our weekends designing a world map to help us track our future travels. We hadn’t planned for the project to continue past this first map, but we soon realized that lots of other people had been searching for a modern decorative map, too. We were inspired to continue making maps and see where it would take us. Nine months later, we both quit our day jobs and have been working together as These Are Things ever since.
BANGSTYLE: Tell us about These Are Things.
Jen Adrion: These Are Things has become so much more than that first world map. Over the past two years, we’ve designed a full range of city, state, and country maps. We’re now in the process of branching out by creating some science-themed prints and other educational items. Each piece is designed by Omar and me and printed locally here in Columbus, Ohio. We’ve formed great relationships with a handful of family-owned printers and craftspeople who help turn our visions into reality. We’ve shipped prints to over 40 countries. As artists, there’s no bigger compliment than having someone choose our work to decorate their walls, so to ship our work all around the world has been a real honor.
BANGSTYLE: What is it about maps in particular that inspires you?
Jen Adrion: Maps represent the possibility of adventure. They also bring back great memories of places we’ve lived or cities we’ve visited. There’s something special about a piece of art that can simultaneously remind you of home and inspire you to go out and see the world.
BANGSTYLE: What are some challenges you’ve faced starting your own business?
Jen Adrion: From the first day, this project really threw us into the deep end of owning a business. Neither of us had ever run a shop before, so we quickly realized that we had lots to learn. Over the past two years, we’ve had our fair share of disasters – from logistical problems (oh, we have to tape these tubes shut?) to manufacturing errors (oh, these won’t be printed in time for the holidays?) to time management issues (oh, let’s just take a nap.) The good news is that none of these disasters have been fatal. It turns out that this is the best possible way to learn – by just figuring it out as we go along.
BANGSTYLE: What are the benefits of working collaboratively?
Jen Adrion: Omar and I have very different yet complimentary skill sets. I tend to be very detail-oriented, and Omar has a great ability to take a step back and evaluate the project as a whole. It’s great to have a partner to tag in when one of us is stuck on something. The best part about our collaboration is that each piece comes out truly feeling like something that we made together. You can definitely pick up both of our influences throughout the collection.
BANGSTYLE: You both obviously have a passion for traveling. What is the best place you’ve visited and why?
Jen Adrion: This is such a hard question! We always take something different from each city we visit. New York City has always been a huge source of inspiration for us. We love walking the big design trade shows and indulging in tons of delicious food. We actually decided to leave our “real” jobs while in New York. No matter where we go, each trip always ends up being exactly what we need at the time. I guess that’s the magic of travel!
BANGSTYLE: You’re participating in Cleveland’s Weapons of Mass Creation festival. What is the art community like in Ohio?
Jen Adrion: There’s an incredible community of creative people in Ohio. I could go on and on about the people who are working hard to create something really extraordinary, from artisanal ice cream and spirits to handmade, eco-friendly baby toys. There’s just such an authentic, hardworking spirit here. There’s not a sense of competition or rivalry. Everybody genuinely wants everyone else to succeed. Weapons of Mass Creation is a perfect example of that community spirit. We’re excited to be showing our latest work alongside some of our good friends and design idols. This will be our first time at WMC, so we’re super excited to spend the weekend up in Cleveland.
BANGSTYLE: How do you spend your time when you’re not creating awesome maps?
Jen Adrion: Omar’s playing Diablo III as I speak, so there’s his answer! We both make an effort to have our own personal creative projects going on outside of our work with These Are Things. We also like to get away from the computer whenever we can. Whether it’s a bike ride or lifting weights, it’s always nice to do something physical.
BANGSTYLE: What are your hopes for the future of These Are Things?
Jen Adrion: To continue making work we’re proud of and keep pushing ourselves to be better.
BANGSTYLE: Where can BANGSTYLE readers buy your maps?
Jen Adrion: Our full collection is available online at www.thesearethings.com.