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  • The Secret Behind Prototyping New Grove Products

    Here at Grove when we say we do everything ourselves, we mean that we do everything ourselves. When we make a product we do the whole process from A to Z -- meaning we prototype (design it), test it, make it, sell it, ship it, and do our best to communicate with our customers and respond to feedback. Today we’d like to share with you a little bit about the design process and what prototyping is all about. As Grove co-founder Ken Tomita is fond of saying, “The design gods make it so you have to go through a lot of failure before you finally succeed.”  We believe there are a certain amount of mistakes that must be made (no matter what) before you finally get there-- and the best way forward is to put your head down and work through them until you do. Grove boasts some dynamic thinkers in our crew and so there are abundant ideas that come and go. We end up designing a lot of products that are shelved for later (or for never) as we are intentionally keeping our company small and have a limited capacity for production. So it is almost as important choosing what not to do as it is choosing what to focus on. The reason for staying small is simple-- we like what we do and want to keep it as manageable and enjoyable as possible. Prototyping for us is a group effort as there isn’t just one designer. We get feedback throughout the whole system from everybody here at Grove. When it works well we can do things things that we could never do alone by weeding out the ideas that aren’t so great and taking the best from the total of our team. We believe that prototyping and production go hand in hand. Ken learned with his furniture business that when you are pushing the limits of a material like we do with bamboo-- you need to design it and test it with the actual material. Something might look good on a computer screen, but it’s a whole other ball game when you make it in real life. We also value feedback from our customers! Through customer emails we heard that our old iPhone 4 cases were too fragile, so we figured out a way to reinforce them for the new iPhone 5 and the redesigned iPhone 4. Thank you for your help and encouragement! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York. When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • Grove’s Favorite (Baby Boomer) Artists

    Here at Grove, we are definitely of the mind that “art fills the void.” Much what we do with our products is in the name of art and of supporting the artist community. Since our first Bamboo iPhone Case for the 3g, we’ve been running our Artist Series of available engravings, which has now spanned into the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 cases and our selection of leather Notebook covers for Moleskines. We cherish providing modern illustrators from around the world the opportunity to see their works as engravings, and it’s exciting to help our customers bring a bit of art into their everyday lives through these common objects. Most of us on the team consider ourselves creative in some capacity, and we can definitely count some talented artists among our ranks. That’s why we’d like to start celebrating some of our favorite artists on our blog.   Here are a few of the artists that we admire of the Baby-Boomer variety: From La Cité Feu, 1984, a collaboration between Geof Darrow and French artist Moebius Geof Darrow, American comic book artist, born 1955 Darrow is known best for Hard Boiled;The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, which was adapted into an animated television series; and,Shaolin Cowboy. Grove lead designer Max describes Darrow’s work when he says, “It's Heavy Metal meets Where's Waldo and it was love at first sight. Darrow's method of filling every possible inch of his work has inspired Max’s own illustrations, such as this poster for the band Holiday Friends. Excerpt from My Neighbor Totoro, 1993, Hayao Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese animator, director, and artist, born 1941 Miyazaki’s career has lasted more than 50 years, and he’s gained international praise for his anime feature films. Miyazaki co-founded film and animation studio Studio Ghibli, known for such films as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. A fan since he was a child, Grove Production Manager Sean says of Miyazaki:   “Every one of his stories inspires thought about the deep connections we all have with each other and with the world around us. I love his work, because it always transports me to another place and allows me to reflect on parts of myself that I sometimes forget about - helping me to always view the world with a childlike wonder.”   Photograph of Within Without, skyspace exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), 2010, James Turrell James Turrell, American artist, born 1943 Turrell is an artist concerned with the creation of indoor and outdoor exhibits utilizing light and space. He was a MacArthur Fellow in 1984, and is acclaimed for his work in progress,Roden Crater, a natural cinder cone crater located outside Flagstaff, AZ that will become a massive naked-eye observatory. Turrell currently has exhibitions at the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Guggenheim. Grove CNC Programmer Barrett says, “I am attracted to his creativity [in] coupling architecture and nature to create inspiring spaces, as well as the importance and attention he gives to the viewers experience of light (both natural and artificial) in his pieces.”   Screenshot of Felix in Exile, DVD projection with sound, 1994, William Kentridge William Kentridge, South African artist and animator, born 1955 Kentridge’s eclectic body of work includes prints, paintings, drawings, tapestries, sculpture, animations, and Opera productions. He is known for his unique animation style in which he uses a single drawing that is altered and filmed continuously until the end of a scene. He then displays the drawings used along with the films as a finished piece of art. Watch this full-length documentary on him here. Production assistant at Grove Mike Schultz says, “I really appreciate how inventive William Kentridge is.  He draws, makes animations, writes plays -- he basically  takes his art wherever it wants to go.”   Thank you for taking the time to learn about some of our favorite artists. We hope some of this work was able to spark a bit of inspiration for your day, week, or year to come! In the future, we’d like to feature more of our favorite art right here. Happy creating! Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Behind the Scenes with Grove's Big Move!

    We are very excited to report that Grove has just moved into our brand new shop in a great location! Since 2009 we have occupied two different spaces in the same building in SE Portland, OR. Our 5th floor office space had an incredible view of the Willamette river and Portland’s downtown, but the woodshop needed to be on the ground floor because of the weight of our mighty CNC machines that do our milling. We made it work in two different spaces, produced tons of iPhone cases, and got really good at climbing stairs! But we are thrilled to now have a unified shop and wanted to share some of our enthusiasm and highlights of our move! The building we are now in needed some work! Ken’s back to his carpenter roots building walls and installing doors, while others like Galen, Scott and Sean have been working around the clock to get our new space in order. At one point a mysterious gigantic robot even showed up to lend a hand... We are excited about our new view of the hills, all of the big windows and wonderful natural light, but mostly, we are psyched to finally be together for the first time. We’ve designed the new shop so that there is a distinct production flow snaking through the space-- our raw material is delivered in one door and goes out the other to the delivery trucks and into your hands! We are putting the principles of lean manufacturing to the ultimate test to design a unique space that lends to as little waste as possible. The one piece flow from handwork to shipping. Lastly, we are enthusiastic about our new neighborhood! Still located in SE Portland, we are looking forward to all of the new neighborhood eats like the Sweetpea Baking Co. and the Gonzo Falafel and Hummus cart attached to hip brewery Basecamp! Thanks for letting us share some of our new shop with you!  It was a long weekend, but production is already up and running again!  Go team and goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • Bamboo Backs are Back by Popular Demand (and Now for iPad and iPad Mini Too!)

    We’re pretty psyched to bring back the beloved Bamboo Backs for MacBook, and we’ve added some for iPad 2, 3, 4, and iPad Mini as well! Turn your MacBook or iPad into an instant conversation piece by decorating it in smooth, all-natural bamboo. Check out the sweet video below of them in action!   Back by popular demand, our Bamboo Backs come with one of 50+ unique and quirky cutouts. Express yourself the moment you open your MacBook display or pull out your iPad. It’s a fun and affordable way to stand out from the crowd, even when you’re hiding behind that Apple logo for most of the day, like so many of us do. About the Bamboo Back: Compatible with the MacBook Air 11” and 13”, MacBook Pro 13” and 15”, iPad 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation, and iPad Mini Made with all-natural bamboo veneer Hand sanded and finished with natural oils for a smooth feel Choose from one of 50+ fun cutouts Adheres with a 3M adhesive that does not leave a permanent residue Barely altering the size of your device or your wallet, Bamboo Backs instantly add style and smile to your everyday gear. When your MacBook is turned on, the Bamboo Back cutouts illuminate just like the original Apple logo! Bamboo Backs for MacBook, iPad, and iPad Mini are now available on Grovemade.com at just $29! Written by Mary Yajko. Mary is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Grove Blog Exclusive: Behind the Scenes With the Skatecase!

    We’re really excited about our new Skatecase product for the iPhone, and today we wanted to share some of the behind-the-scenes production with you. The Skatecase comes from a collaboration with Lindsay Jo Holmes of MapleXO, who uses recycled skateboard material to make jewelry. (We love her work-- what a great way for an avid skateboarder to make a living!) Originally we teamed up with Lindsay to make the Skateback for the iPhone, and so naturally it evolved into a case. Using a material that would otherwise be a waste product is not only a good way to reduce manufacturing excess, but it’s a fun challenge to make it all work well! From the get go, it was a test of the skills of our engineers, designers, and woodshop production crew to fabricate an iPhone case from recycled skateboard material. Our engineers worked around the clock for months to find the best way to mill and produce our Skatecase. (Is sleep for wimps? We can’t say. But a sleep deprived Barrett did make a CNC jig called The Millenium Falcon for just this product!) Once our crew dialed in our large CNC machines to get the milling just right and we were happy with the fit of the cases, it was go, team, go!     After the Skatecases come off the mill they go through a rigorous quality control check where each one is inspected by hand at several work stations. If they do not pass the tests they are fed to the beast. Once inspected they are cleaned up by resident edge sanding genius Sean, and readied for the woodshop production team to knock them out one by one. Our woodshop team now knows the process backwards and forwards. We hand sand each case to make them look as pretty as we can. We oil them and clean them up and let them cure until they are just right. When they are ready we do the final procedure of installing the bamboo buttons and inner materials that keep our iPhones snug as a bug in our cases. In the end each case goes through another series of quality control tests so we deliver you the best product possible! After that they are processed and shipped out to you by our team. goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. Mike is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • How Many Countries has Team Grove Visited?

    It may be hard to believe that the members of team Grove have had lives and times outside of the realm of bamboo iPhone cases, but it’s true! The approaching summer has got us daydreaming about potential travel plans and reminiscing about our past ones. If you could add all our individual travel experiences together, we’re quite the globetrotters, having visited Canada, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, England, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Poland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Pohnpei, Macau, Palau, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, Morocco, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Ethiopia! Check out our official Grove travel map below: We’ve compiled some of our favorite parts of our international experiences. Maybe it’ll spark some future journeys! Some of our favorite things about Some of our Favorite Countries: Canada Galen - The yummy Chinese food Brodie - The clean cities and friendly people   Mexico Max - Cobblestone streets of Oaxaca; warm rain; roasted grasshoppers; shopping for Christmas presents at the hectic, fantastical market. Brodie - Warm water, great food, and the people   Thailand Mike S. - The delicious food and my amazing experience working with Burmese migrants and refugees at The Puzzlebox Art Studio! Brodie - The food, the people, the diving, and the history   Australia Mary - Sailing and surfing, rock climbing in the outskirts of the city, sleeping in the desert near Alice Springs, and colorful birds and giant lizards everywhere. Oh yeah, and making friends from other countries! Mike D. - Holding a Koala, taking a trip to Nimbin, beautiful beaches   Japan Jim - Biking through bamboo forest, eating home cooked dinners, cold Kirin, and Toto toilet technology! Sean - Proposing to my wife, Priscilla!!! Spending time with Priscilla and her Grandparents. RAMEN! I had so many favorite parts, I can't list them all. All of my trips there have culminated in some of the best experiences I have ever had.   China Brodie - The food, history, people, and the temples contrasted against buildings being built for the Olympics Ken - Attempting to play cards with an old Chinese couple on a train when I spoke no Chinese and they spoke no English   Belize Barrett - Drinking rum, eating lobster, and singing while Hurricane Igor passed by us.   The UK Mike D. - (in London) What was supposed to be a week turned into almost 3 months, working at concert venues, seeing Daft Punk play in Hyde Park, meeting lots of Aussies, seeing the sites, and drinking some drinks. Ken - (outside Dublin) Our material for a large bamboo sculpture got stuck in customs, so we went into the forest, cut down some trees, and made a different sculpture designed on the fly   France Mary - Walking through Montmartre, drinking Orangina at outdoor cafes, and meeting people who were very different from the people I grew up around.   Italy Max - Drinking milkshakes with legs overhanging the canal, every day of our stay; Venice lives up to the postcard 100%.   Costa Rica Mike D. - Traveling with no set plans, hanging out on beautiful beaches, sketchy bungee jumping, and surfing Jim - Playing soccer on the beach. In a matter of minutes of pulling out the soccer ball, we had a full 10 on 10 game with locals that appeared out of seemingly nowhere.     Well, we won’t bore you with the rest, but we’ll be thinking wistfully of our trips and dreaming up more for the rest of the day. And, even if, like some of us, you aren’t leaving the US anytime soon, it doesn’t hurt to daydream about this beautiful world of ours! Written by Mary Yajko. Mary is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • What You Didn't Know About Sylvia from Customer Relations!

    Here at Grove we are fortunate to rub elbows with some pretty incredible and talented folks-- and Sylvia is one such person! She keeps a busy schedule between helping her mom’s business out in the mornings and lending her skills to our customer relations department. If you’ve had questions about products like our new Skatecase-- it’s likely that Sylvia was the one who kindly answered you. But one thing that many people don’t know about Sylvia is that she is also a fierce fighter for global human rights. Specifically, she volunteers for groups working to stop human trafficking-- and we wanted to share a little bit about her volunteer work with you. “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." - Albert Einstein Sylvia has always wanted to become a voice for the voiceless. However, a few years ago during a difficult period in her life this became a reality after she stumbled upon the horrific issue of human trafficking. She chose to channel her indignation and empathy for those who've faced injustice and exploitation and hasn’t looked back since. One simple way to lend a hand is through campaigns like this: Currently, LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is running a campaign through Sevenly where if you simply SHARE the post from their website (http://www.sevenly.org/LiNK) you can help them reach 7,000 shares which unlocks a $10,000 donation to the cause! LiNK is one of the three non-profits that Sylvia is most directly involved with. It is an organization that is working to end the North Korean human rights crisis through raising awareness about the atrocities happening inside the country. They are lobbying for the legalization of adoption for abandoned orphans born to North Korean mothers and Chinese fathers (but are unrecognized by China and therefore don't qualify for any federal documents or aid), and help by aiding and rescuing refugees who have escaped from North Korea and are in hiding for fear of being repatriated or being trafficked. Please visit the Portland chapter of LiNK here. Compassion First is a passionate and dedicated group here in Portland that has a house in Indonesia-- one of the largest trafficking hubs in the world. CF rescues, advocates for, and rehabilitates young women and girls who are survivors of human trafficking. They are doing great things by changing the legal landscape of Indonesia, and by working with Indonesian courts and law enforcement through a partnership with the Portland Human Trafficking Unit.   With Chika one of our Indonesian Case Workers who was recovering from heart surgery, and Bickey the Director of CF’s Operations. Freedom and Fashion is an amazing platform that brings non-profits and ethical clothing companies together to raise awareness, while promoting smart consumerism. They are making fighting slavery fun, easy, and fashionable! Current estimates report that up to 27 million people are being trafficked or are the victims of human trafficking (the majority of these people are women and children). Sylvia admits that these problems can seem overwhelming, but as she says, “I like to remind people to focus on just doing their part, whether that be a weekend a month, an hour a day, or once every year. If you can help just one person, even a little, isn't it worth it?” We’re lucky to have someone like Sylvia on our team! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. Mike is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York. When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • 7 Facts About Apple's New iOS 7

    On Monday, Apple announced iOS 7 Beta, a new operating system for its mobile devices. Here at Grove, we’re looking forward to getting the new system installed on our iPhones and iPads this coming autumn. The main theme of the new system is improved design and simplicity in user experience. To quote Apple: “Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.” A big draw of iOS 7 is its sleek new appearance. With each aesthetic aspect redesigned, including all icons and countless Apps, the operating system is looking quite fit indeed. Apple chalks up the good looks to good design, stating, “When something is designed to work beautifully, it tends to look that way too.” Here are seven facts about the new iOS 7 that we found especially interesting (find more facts on MacRumors): Parallax Attacks! - The interface shifts slightly as the phone is moved, giving depth to the screen, which includes wallpaper, alerts, notifications, etc. Dynamic, Panoramic Wallpaper-amic - The two provided wallpaper options are dynamic and animated, or users can upload their own panoramic image instead and watch their screen pan around the image as they shift their phone. Your Time in the Spotlight - Access Spotlight through the home screen by swiping down from the middle of the screen and manually change settings for the result categories that will show up. Please, Sir, Can I Have Some More [data]? - Track and ration out your cellular data usage manually from App to App. Take Control of Your Land[scape] - You can now access the App switcher and Control Center in landscape mode as well as manually quitting Apps by swiping up and closing multiple Apps at once. The Right to Free Skips - Each hour, skip 6 annoying songs per station in iTunes Radio, whether or not you are a paying user. Hold Your Horses! - Experts say to be patient and remember that iOS 7 is still in Beta, recommending that users wait instead of purchasing a developers account for $99 or paying someone online to register your UDID for you. One of our favorite things about the new beta is the sense of dimension it can bring to the iPhone 5, iPad, or iPod Touch while still retaining its signature simplicity.  “Distinct and functional layers help create depth and establish hierarchy[...]The use of translucency provides a sense of context and place,” says Apple on their site. “And new approaches to animation and motion make even the simplest tasks more engaging.” Very profound, indeed Read some designers’ reactions to iOS 7 on TUAW and check out the video on Apple.com. Did we already say we’re excited!? Written by Mary Yajko. Mary is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Meet Jim- Grove's new Operations Manager!

    As Grove’s new Operations Manager, Jim sees to the day to day running of the company. He’s a dynamic thinker and is quickly becoming an integral member of team Grove. For his first five months he familiarized himself with how we use lean manufacturing to make our products.  He spent a lot of time getting to know the behind the scenes at Grove and is especially interested in inter-departmental communication, process, and flow.  Jim is also a project manager, primarily for product launches - the most recent being for our new Skatecase! Jim hails from Romeoville, IL, a place he describes as “an industrial nexus in the ever expanding Chigolandland beast with lots of options for good Italian beef.” He came out to Portland in 2001, where he now lives with his wife Sarah Toor-- a photographer who also does marketing for Portland’s White Bird Dance Company. Outside of work Jim loves to get his exercise playing soccer at Portland’s longest running pick up game in West Moreland Park. He practices yin yoga-- a very slow, gentle, restorative yoga which takes place largely on the mat.  Yin wards off those pesky soccer injuries and also helps him stay grounded and chill. He’s also addicted to Blitz chess-- a chess game where each player gets a grand total of three minutes for the entirety of their moves. Jim also likes to paint and draw (currently his favorite things to draw are sumo wrestlers in yoga poses!) He and his wife Sarah host two annual events-- The ShortShort Film Fest and The Blacklight Audio Fest. The ShorotShort attracts between 50-60 people and shows 10-12 film submissions usually ranging 3-5 minutes in duration. The Blacklight Audio Fest features found sounds, spoken word poetry, and longer sound pieces similar to our favorite NPR shows This American Life and Radiolab. Fun! These events are in their sixth year running!  You can learn more about these at yumilife.com. goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. Mike is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content. You can see his work on his blog and his website.  
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  • Introducing the SkateCase for iPhone 5!

    You’ve been asking for it, and we listened! Check out our new SkateCase for iPhone 5; It’s a full case made from post-industrial skateboard waste! The first 100 customers to order get a free limited edition keychain made from recycled skateboard by MapleXO. Take a look at this video if you want to know more about how the SkateCase is made: The Making of the SkateCase for iPhone 5 from Grove on Vimeo. PS Stix makes more than 4,000 skateboards a day, 200 per hour, three per minute! Each week, the factory throws away one city-bus load of scrap wood material. Together with MapleXO, we’re rescuing the waste from the dumpster and giving this vibrant wood a second life. The SkateCase for iPhone 5 is crafted from recycled skateboard veneers here in our workshop. Each case is hand-sanded and rubbed with citrus oil to bring out its unique color combination. • A special collaboration with jewelry and accessories designer Maple XO Made from upcycled skateboard material at the Grove workshop in Portland, OR • Colors vary because the sheets of skateboard material are formed into a solid block by hand • Re-enforced with a solid surface material core and topped with an actuated wooden power button • Hand-sanded and finished with citrus oil to make the vibrant colors really stand out The unique SkateCase is made using a dual material design, which combines a solid surface material core and an outer shell of recycled skateboard. We design and make the case here at our workshop in Portland, Oregon through a combination of precision milling and good old-fashioned handiwork. We take pride in finishing each of our pieces by hand to guarantee a smooth feel, an accurate fit, and artisan character. After pioneering the original SkateCase two years ago, we're bringing it back due to popular demand with the new and strengthened design. Our cases are crafted with care here in the USA. Each Grove iPhone case journeys through several days of hard work: milling, filing, gluing, sanding, soaking, oiling, lining, laser engraving, quality control, and packaging, before finally shipping directly to the customer. The SkateCase for iPhone 5 is now available on Grovemade.com for $149! (Don’t forget: the first 100 customers to order get a free limited edition keychain made from recycled skateboard by MapleXO!) Written by Mary Yajko. Mary is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Meet Our Creative Friend: Arty's Kickstarter!

    Arty Johnstone is an Austin, Texas based artist who recently made a Kickstarter campaign to fund a collaborative art project and artist residency on a remote piece of land in beautiful New Mexico. There are only a few days left to support this fantastic project-- go here to check out Arty’s Kickstarter campaign and to make a contribution!   Some of you may remember Arty as a former Grove employee from previous blog posts about his work. Around here he is the stuff of legend. Arty is recalled daily at the eerie sound of the siren coming from the mobile burrito cart passing by our shop. He would often go chasing it down for a morning snack... He was a sanding powerhouse and since leaving Grove has travelled across the United States to all of its major art centers-- drawing to his heart’s content and checking out the art scene and museums in each city. For a while he even worked for Ken Tomita’s mentor at Bamboo DNA building crazy bamboo sculptures!    About the project: A Kickstarter project is a way for artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers, (and more) to receive direct funding for their projects from the general public. Often for each tiered donation there is a reward of some kind-- for Arty’s Kickstarter all donations receive original works of art for rewards! Yeah! The only catch about a Kickstarter campaign is that if you do not meet your pre-named monetary goal then you don’t receive any of the donations. (It’s an all or nothing type of thing). By funding this project you will be supporting six emerging artists and helping them to hone their vision? They will be living in a one room compound in the wilds of New Mexico 77 miles away from the nearest town-- far from the distractions of city life and from the comfort of the Internet. More than just a collaboration they will adhere to a schedule of rotating tasks and food duties so that each artist has equal opportunity to focus on their particular craft while taking care of each other’s needs. Did we mention the risks of braving the natural world? There are beavers, mountain lions, coyotes, and grey wolves out there-- be careful Arty! Go here to check out Arty’s Kickstarter campaign!  Written by Mike Schultz. Mike is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York. When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content. You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • The Life and Times of Barrett Hafner - Grove’s Lead CNC Programmer

    Barrett is a multi-faceted creature who wears several hats here at Grove. Besides being an avid outdoorsmen, Eagle Scout, and wild party thrower -- he is a Systems Engineer and a Product Developer. Basically, Barrett works alongside Ken to wrangle the CNC machines and design products like our iPhone 5 cases (Thanks, Barrett!). He then imagines the manufacturing process from A to Z -- the “how-to” from raw materials to creating a product with them -- and implements that process in the most feasible and efficient way possible.   He does a lot of other things for Grove too, including being our computer fix-it guru, resident mathematician, network administrator, and our in-house masseuse. (He’s pretty popular among our tight shoulders...) The guy has lived a full life so far and has been all over the world! Before the age of 13 he had lived in 5 different states and one micronesian island, and had visited over a dozen countries. He then moved to Kailua, Hawaii and spent the rest of his childhood bodysurfing, hiking, cruzin’ on the beach, and playing lots of ultimate frisbee. He came to Oregon to be a student at the University of Oregon (where he met Grove co-founder, Joe). He got a double major in Physics and Math, with lots of extra curricular activities including: computer science, acting, art history, economics, urban farming, and studying abroad in Tübingen, Germany. The guy is a smarty pants! Out of college, Barrett went on a number of adventures before he ended up in Portland. To name just a few, he has: fought forest fires at Tiller, OR with the National Forest Service; spent 3 months living, WWOOFing, and bike touring in Italy, France, and Spain; worked as a barista/baker at the Blue Scorcher bakery in Astoria, OR; and apprenticed as a cargo-bicycle builder at the Center for Appropriate Transport in Eugene, OR, where he learned to weld, use machining tools, and design 3D models (some of the skills he uses at Grove today). After his apprenticeship he moved to Portland into a house across the street from our old CNC shop and got job sanding iPhone 4 cases. From there his position blossomed into what it is today--Grove’s Master of CNCs! These days when he’s not at Grove you can find him working on art projects, sailing on the Columbia river, snowshoeing on Mount Hood, or throwing his annual Portland Halloween party. It’s a four story house party that hosts 200-300 people in fully decked-out, amazing costumes... The house is fully decorated with a theme -- this past year’s being A Halloween Dream. It’s epic!  One particularly clever party goer once remarked, “I didn’t even know parties like this existed! It’s like all of the Brat Pack movies in one, but it’s real!” We’re very lucky to have this great guy on our team! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. Mike is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York. When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content. You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • 10 Incredible #grovemade Photos From Our Instagram Followers

    We love Instagram here at Grove! Check out our posts and follow us - our handle is Grovemade. We’ve recently surpassed 20,000 thousand followers, and we’re super excited about that! Check out some of the awesome shots from our fans and followers, which they tagged with #grovemade. From Lyssa_Lei: “It still smells like cedar.” (Sorry, Lyssa_Lei, it’s actually bamboo! But it does smell great. Ha!) From coreyhayman: “From the UK, thank you Grove! I love it!” From xJaninacornx: “love it” From Donttashthis: “Free advertising for #grovemade” (Thanks, Donttashthis!) From KingslyZissou: “No whales or bears today, but I sure love my case” (A little Grove out on the town) From Barista_Dan: From Jvera_: “Best iPhone case I’ve ever had” From traviswerbelow: “Love my new #grovemade #skateback for my iPhone!” From janzurek: “#love #these #bamboo #accessories” From HealthyTurtle: “Love my new grove case!!!” Thank you so much to all our Instagram followers for your beautiful photos. Keep ‘em coming by tagging your Grove photos with #grovemade! Happy ‘gramming! Written by Mary Yajko. Mary is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • The Mystery of Grove: How We Do It All

    If you know anything about Grove, you are probably aware that we like to do things ourselves, all from our single location in Portland, OR. Our woodshop and engraving studios share the same building on the east side of the city. In simple terms, the bamboo, skateboard material, or leather comes into our shop in large sheets and then leaves again in the form of bamboo iPhone cases, SkateBacks for iPhone, and Grove Notebook leather covers for Moleskines. (See more of Max’s work at OrangeYear.com) The first step to doing what we do is actually product development - dreaming up and designing new products is one of the most exciting things that goes on under our roof. Co-owners Joe Mansfield and Ken Tomita are designers by trade. Here at Grove, we even design our own packaging. Product designers Sean Kelly, Barrett Hafner, and Mike Dowty get in on the action, and illustrator Max Brown makes it all look nice and perty. Once the product is designed, it’s time for the woodshop crew to bring in the material and craft it up. For our bamboo iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 cases, the material is prepared and then milled - each case is cut roughly from a sheet like a cookie. Then, our team hand-sands the cases until they are nice and smooth. To really complement the wood grain, we rub on a natural citrus oil and wax blend. The final step - after trying each case on a real iPhone, of course - is laser engraving the artist series design on the case. Finally, we package up each case and ship it to the customer, straight from our shipping desk to the post office. You might be surprised at some of the things we do here behind the scenes, aside from the thrilling design eurekas and vigorous sanding and shipping. Some of our other hats on the Grove Team include web programmer, copywriter, photographer, customer support contact, production manager, machinist, and more. All for the love of making beautiful products! Go Team! Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Bike, Run, Skate, Swim, Hike: Grove’s Favorite Summer Activities in Portland!

    This week we’d like to share what we love to do for summer fun when we’re not sanding and shipping out mountains of iPhone cases. We Grovers are an active bunch and here are some of our favorite summer activities. Strap on your boots and pack your water bottles because we love to hike! There are great trails out in the Oregon wilds. Our main spots are hiking out in the gorge-- up Angel’s Rest, and also Saddle Mountain. Ginger just climbed Dog Mountain! But we also love any kind of hike involving swimming. Bagby hot springs is a favorite as is Punchbowl Falls in the gorge and Ken’s secret beaver swimming hole. We love to raft down the rivers, swim in the lakes, camp out at sites like Lost Lake and on the coast at Cape Lookout. We go crabbing on the beaches, surf in the ocean, and go sailing when we can.   In Portland we toil lovingly in our gardens raising vegetables, herbs, and fruits. We brew our own beer and enjoy the Oregon Brewers Festival in July. We eat a lot of late night summer snacks from the food carts and work it all off in yoga classes at Yoga Bhoga the Bhaktishop. We ride bikes everywhere! Summer months here are the best for biking in the fresh air and sun. Machinist Scott participates in the World Naked Bike Ride. This year it convenes at the Portland Art Museum where the admission for the evening is $1 per piece of clothing! Mike D. aka “the other Mike” aka Mike 2 says his favorite summertime pastime is chilling in his front yard in a kiddie pool and blasting his favorite jams (anything by Counting Crows). Basically, whether we admit it or not we Grovers are hippies at heart and love to commune with nature in the summertime! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • 5 Companies in Portland, OR That Sell Beautiful Things

    We are in good company making our products here in Portland, OR. This is a city with a vibrant economy for established businesses and startups that make handmade goods and sell beautiful objects. This week we wanted to share five local companies that we love! 1 Pigeon Toe Ceramics - Pigeon Toe makes elegant ceramic pieces that you will want to keep in your home for life! 2 Vanilla Bicycles - Vanilla Bicycles are so pretty you almost don’t want to ride them in the rain. But you do, because it rains a lot here. These bikes have strong frames with a fantastic design and are highly sought after. We even know someone who got married on one and rode away down the aisle on it! 3 Studiomoe - Studiomoe makes simple striking furniture pieces to brighten up your home-- and it’s made from either sustainably harvested forests, reclaimed wood or local trees that died naturally!  Their furniture is influenced by clean Scandinavian lines, and it shows. 4 Caravan Pacific - If you are looking for classic American lighting then check out Caravan Pacific. Their products have a modern and sleek look to them, but the designs are reminiscent of mid century America. They join wood and clay seamlessly into beautiful and elegant pieces to light up your rooms. 5 Pendleton - Pendleton is a local staple in fine wool products- they’ve been a family owned business for more than 140 years! Is Oregon that old? Yes... barely! Check out their beautiful woven rugs when you get a chance. These are five Portland companies that we love- hope you do too!  Portland has experienced a burst of small business growth over the past decade. Check out more shops, individuals and goods here on the Made in Portland site. goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • The Grove iPhone 4/4s Case is Back and Better than Ever. Win One This Week!

    We’re thrilled to announce the re-release of the Grove Bamboo iPhone 4/4s case in our new, updated design. Once again, iPhones 4 and 4s can be decked out in a brand new Grove case. They are live on our site as we speak in the same sturdier dual-material design as our all-new iPhone 5 Case. What’s new? Sturdy inner core strengthens the case against everyday wear and tear Actuated wooden button on the top of the case just begs to be pushed Free flash-fix adhesive defeats the flash distortion caused by using a hard case Bezels in pure white or black look sleek against either iPhone 4/4s color Pattern Series designs offer something for everyone Just like our iPhone 5 case, the Grove Bamboo iPhone 4/4s Case is made from a close-grained bamboo exterior and an inner core of solid surface material. It’s stronger than our last iPhone 4 case and revolutionary in its smooth feel. A wooden actuated button tops off the case, so you no longer have to touch cold metal when using your iPhone (who wants that?!). You can choose from one of several Artist Series engravings from renowned artists and illustrators from around the world, or check out our Pattern Series we launched for the iPhone 5 case back in October.  With the solid surface bezel in either pure black or white, the case matches both colors of the iPhone better than ever. And, as always, each case is hand-finished and carefully treated with a natural citrus oil and wax blend. All Grove products are crafted here in our workshop in Portland, Oregon. Rad! The Grove Bamboo iPhone 4/4s Case is available starting at $79 for Plain and $99 for engraved, shipping to you in one to two weeks. Make sure you take your chance to win one in the Tree design by submitting your best pic of a tree to our current photo contest! Enter here. Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Five Things You Didn’t Know About Laura: Oregon Love!

    Laura is Grove’s Sales Account Manager heading our wholesale, corporate and co-brand categories. Basically, if you want to buy our iPhones in bulk, Laura’s the lady you talk to!   We love her! She’s an upbeat ball of energy-- she’s positive, fun loving, and lives by the words Work hard, play hard! But did you know that outside of Grove Laura’s got a very full life? It’s true. Here are five things you didn’t know about Laura. 1. She’s building her own house with her betrothed, Tobin! Check out the salvaged kitchen beams from a barn in Mollalla, OR.   2. Every week Laura coaches U-14 Girls for the Hollywood soccer club (This is her 8th season in a row!) She also plays soccer on a local team sponsored by the Lucky Devil. 3. Oregon love. Laura grew up in the Pacific Northwest (the PNW!) and the girl loves the great outdoors-- she often out of the city camping, skiing and playing on the beach. While she kills it on black double black diamonds Laura’s favorite thing is to ski in fresh powder down through the trees. 4. Community and volunteering are both very important to her. For five consecutive years Laura travelled to Guatemala and volunteered as a translator and blogger for the Newburg Rotary Club. They went with a dental and a medical team that continues to work with the same village over the years, practicing general medicine and educating the local population on oral hygiene. Now, each year because of their continual effort in the same area with the same population they are seeing less dental extractions and more restorative cases to work on. What a success! 5. Laura is the proud mamma of a rescue dog from the Oregon Humane Society named Kasi-- who was named after Ninkasi Brewery. He’s the best dog in the world (she wants you to know he’s way better than your dog). Did we mention that Laura is feisty?  :)   You can peep her personal links here: https://twitter.com/_gfunk https://www.vizify.com/laura-gonzales goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • Carhartt Features Our Very Own Ginger on Crafted in Carhartt!

    Team Grove’s Master of the Woodshop (yes this is her official title), Ginger, was recently featured on the Carhartt blog Crafted in Carhartt! The post shows off her amazing bamboo crafting skills along with her ability to seriously rock some Carhartt gear. It was so nice to welcome Crafted in Carhartt into the Grove workshop for the day, and a couple of us even got to visit The Carhartt Store with their team. Check it out! Carhartt was founded in 1889 with the goal of creating the most well-made overalls for railroad workers. A simple yet entirely novel idea at the time. In their words, the company continues to be “a family owned operation committed to the mission of providing Best-in-Class apparel for the active worker.” Crafted in Carhartt is a Carhartt-founded blog that showcases women in the handicraft trades who exhibit the skills and attitude that Carhartt strives to promote. The blog sums it up: “In today’s media, it’s hard to find the right women to look up to. But look no further, here are the girls we should celebrate. Girls who are doing, carving, painting, sawing, welding, planning, and building.They’re not only making something, they’re making something of themselves. Follow me on my hunt for the hardest working women around.” Ginger has years of woodworking experience, and is an expert at shaping and perfecting our bamboo cases. To quote her bio on our blog, “Ginger aka Danger Pennsylvania aka “Gingembre,” hails from central PA. She’s a dedicated sun worshipper and devoted motivator (some might say mastermind) of all outdoor activities.” Ginger is definitely worth celebrating; we don’t know what we’d do without the knowledge and dedication she brings into our workshop each day. Read more about her here. Because we agree with Carhartt’s principles as a company, we were honored that their blog chose to visit us. To quote founder Hamilton Carhartt, albeit from a time when most “active workers” were male, "I believe that when a man wears an article that I manufacture, his self-respect is increased because he knows that it is made by an honest manufacturer, who is honest with his employees". Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Five Rad Places You Can’t Miss in Portland

    We love our fair city of Portland, Oregon. It’s green, it’s gray, and when it’s actually sunny it can be heavenly here. This week we wanted to share our favorite places to be in Portland! 1. City Parks Everyone has different parks they love to hang out in. Some of our favorites include Colonel Summers Park for summer evening beers and badminton and Laurelhurst Park, a rolling landscape with a gorgeous pond called Firwood Lake. But Mt. Tabor takes the cake-- it’s a dormant inner city volcano which boasts some of the best views of Portland and hosts fun events like the adult soapbox derby race each summer. 2. Powell’s Books When you need to read, there’s only one place to be-- Powell’s Books!  Founded in 1971 Powell’s books is located in a building that is four stories high and takes up a full city block in downtown Portland, OR! It is said to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. 3. Springwater Corridor Trail The Springwater Corridor is a 21 mile (34 km) long paved bicycle and walking path that winds through woods and towns all the way out to Boring, OR. (Yes, that’s its name.) It’s fantastic for long uninterrupted bike rides and feeling the wind in your hair when you need it. 4. Music Venues Do you like music? We do too! There are a lot of great venues in town to see some amazing shows. Favorite haunts include the Aladdin Theater, The Mission Theater and Crystal Ballroom, and the Doug Fir Lounge. 5. Food Places (everywhere!) There’s so much good food in Portland that we can’t agree on where we like to go the most . . . so here are the food spots near Grove that fuel us while we make mountains of iPhone cases and Skatebacks. Produce Row for burgers, food carts for tater tots, Rontoms for drinks, Sheridan Fruit Company for the daily special, and Pho Green Papaya for some of the best pho soup around!   So next time you’re in Portland, be sure to check out all 5 of these awesome establishments! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • Go Hard or Go Home: The Story of Grove

    Around here the story of Grove’s beginnings is the stuff of legend. Grove founders Ken and Joe were neighbors who occasionally liked hang out, talk shop, and toss a football in the street. One evening in 2009 while doing just that they realized that if they combined their efforts they might be able to pull off an iPhone case made out of bamboo, a notoriously difficult material to work with. Ken’s background was fine woodworking and at the time Joe was running a laser engraving business out of his bedroom. At once they realized that the idea was too good to pass up so they agreed then and there to go all in and the rest is history! When Grove began there were mountains to climb and rivers to cross. Ken and Joe didn’t know anything about how to run a large business or how to operate the heavy duty CNC machines that we use to mill our products. But with a DIY spirit (Do It Yourself!) they figured out and overcame every problem that arose-- from Apple’s accidental leak of an iPhone 4 prototype that jeopardized our iPhone 3 case launch . . . to wrangling the CNC machines to operate with finesse and create products that are aesthetically pleasing as well as strong and precise.   “Go hard or go home” has been Joe and Ken’s mantra all the while. Through the ups and downs they strove to stay positive and focused on making high quality products that we could be proud of like our laser engraved iPhone 5 cases, Moleskine covers and Skatebacks. But the truth is that we wouldn’t be where we’re at without the help from our friends and families and especially without you! Thank you for your support and making Grove possible! goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter from Ithaca, New York.  When he is not working for Grove, he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content.  You can see his work on his blog and his website.
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  • Show Off Your Deck in the Grove Skatestakes to Win a SkateBack for iPhone!

    It’s spring, and the skate parks in Portland are rollin’ with the homies. Show off your deck on our Twitter, Facebook wall, or Instagram for the Grove Skatestakes to win one of three SkateBacks for iPhone! It’s the perfect time of year to add a lil’ skate mojo to your phone, and it only takes three easy steps to enter.   Step One: Take a sweet picture of your beloved skateboard. Step Two: Post the image to Instagram, Twitter, or our Facebook Wall using the hashtag #skatestakes Step Three: Enter your email and you’re done! Winners will be contacted on April 30, 2013, and announced the following week. Enter now; we’re so excited to drool over your rad skateboards. (Zoom zoom, ya’ll.) Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.
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  • Three Apple Rumors About Which We are Pumped (and Maybe a Grove Rumor Too!)

    If you are a fan of Apple and a fan of Rumors, you might like this juicy round-up of tidbits. Stay ahead of the curve... MacRumors shared a photo from a French site Noweherelse.fr, which allegedly shows the new iPad fifth-generation front panel sporting thinner bezels down the sides. This would mean, like the iPad Mini, the new iPad would have a wider screen. According to DigiTimes, production on the iPad 5 would start in July or August of this year. Analyst firm PiperJaffray’s just recently completed its 25th bi-annual teen tech survey. CultofMac reported teens in the survey found Apple to be the most desirable tech brand, with Google following closely behind. Of teens surveyed, 48% already own an iPhone and 62% plan on buying one soon. Data from PiperJaffray Think Apple’s on the way out? I would guess again. But also, visit the new Apple Pop-Up Museum just in case! The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) shared news of the traveling exhibit that showcases a nearly unabridged collection of Apple’s technology since 1976. The Pop-Up Museum consists of the private collection of curator Lonnie Mimms. Check out the photo below of the awesome 20th Anniversary Mac released in 1997, which featured golden hues and black leather! As far as Grove rumors go, let’s just say that if you are a fan - or even just a slave to - the “old school” when it comes to iPhone models, you may be in store for a treat within the next month. Be sure to stay up-to-date on our product launches by signing up for our newsletter on the bottom of our site! Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup
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  • Living Consciously at the Grove Workshop

    We love Mother Earth-- who doesn’t? These days it’s easy and a bit cliche to state that you are environmentally aware, but together we Grovers are an eco-friendly bunch both at work and at home. This week we wanted to share a little of what we do to live conscientiously. Living in the Pacific Northwest we are close to the natural environment. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump to the mountains, desert, coastal rain forest, the plains, and the Pacific Ocean. Grovers are an outdoor loving bunch and we want to do our small part to help to keep our environment clean and protected! It’s hard to do everything yourself. So, here are some of our daily practices that collectively team Grove contributes to: We recycle our trash and use our materials as efficiently as possible to reduce waste. Many of us ride bikes every day! We use metal water bottles and ceramic mugs for our piping hot green tea. Some of us roll in hybrid cars.   We have a compost pile which makes happy healthy worms for Scott’s indoor aquaponic gardening project! We cook at home and pack our lunches. Sean’s got big plans for a small scale solar project at our new shop. (He’s also building a chicken coop at home!) We support local organic farms and for those of us who buy meat and eggs we try to support free range farms whenever possible. We try to reduce our plastic consumption by buying items in reusable glass containers. In the summer months we garden and grow sprouts! Grover Mike “Mac Daddy” Dowty has even sworn off showers to save Portland’s water supply.  :) How do you practice living conscientiously? We know that you can’t change everything, but every little bit counts. goGrove! Written by Mike Schultz. He is an oil painter who hails from Ithaca, NY. When he’s not working for Grove he’s painting and drawing to his heart’s content. You can see artwork on his process blog and website.
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