*I just wanted to give a quick disclaimer before you read this post. Because the purpose of our latest trip to Madison, Wisconsin was to record video for a client, we were not able to physically take part in the protests that took place downtown. We were, however, witness to many of the demonstrations, both peaceful and less so, that took place near the Capitol Building and on State Street. This blog post is a first-hand account of the events we saw, and in some cases documented via photograph. Keeping the safety of all demonstrators in mind, we will do our best to shield the identities of those involved.
We were well aware of the atrocity that happened in Minnesota as we embarked on our trip to Madison.
The murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin was already weighing hard on our hearts, and we had been following the news closely during the aftermath. The protests taking place in Minneapolis, the police retaliating with force, and the subsequent looting. What we hadn’t realized was how far and wide this movement was spreading.
On Friday, May 29th, we arrived in Madison. We did a bit of photo-exploring and saw that there had been some light, peaceful protests that had taken place earlier in the evening. Handmade signs in honor of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement were placed all over the steps of the Wisconsin Capitol building. In particular, there was one very powerful sign placed at the feet of the “Miss Forward” statue that resides just outside the capitol building. The sign said the now haunting final words of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe.” This was even more moving to me after the fact when I learned the meaning behind the statue, according to its sculptor Jean Pond Miner. It was described as an “allegory of the devotion and progress she believed her state embodied.” And here we are. On the precipice of yet another social revolution, in which hundreds of thousands of black lives and those who support them hope that the world can one day actually be representative of Pond Miner’s words. We took in the moment and made our way back to our hotel. What would happen the next day, to my surprise, would astronomically surpass the power of the moment I felt on that Friday night.
“A small group, and I’ll reiterate, a small group of the protestors broke off from the back and looted a store called Goodman’s Jewelers”
After we wrapped up our shooting the next day, Saturday, May 30th, we headed over to a local coffee shop, Michelangelo’s, for a much-needed pick-me-up. Little did we know that the exact street we were on would become the epicenter of the demonstrations taking place in Madison that day. About an hour into our time at the coffee shop, the owners came and relayed to us that the local police department had instructed them to close up shop, as a demonstration was planning to come through the area. They asked us to leave, and we packed up. As we began to make our way back to the hotel, we encountered the demonstrators we were forewarned about.
Only it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, given the warning we were given. The demonstrators were completely peaceful. Marching down the street, chanting phrases such as “No justice, no peace”, “Black Lives Matter”, and “I can’t breathe.” The demonstrators stopped in the middle of the intersection where we were standing and began a sit-in. They lowered themselves to the ground, either kneeling or sitting in the street, and kept spreading their message. After this sit-in, the demonstrators pushed on down the street when a surprising incident occurred. A small group, and I’ll reiterate, a small group of the protestors broke off from the back and looted a store called Goodman’s Jewelers. Two or Three people broke in through the front door, rushed in, and rushed out.
Eventually, word got around that the police would be showing up, and like clockwork they did. As the demonstrators pushed on further down State Street, a group of police officers lined up in a strange, but intimidating formation. The two groups eventually clashed head-on, as the officers stopped only a few feet away from the group. It was then that the infamous tear gas was sprayed. Zach and I were standing a good 100 feet away from everything that was taking place, and even still we could feel the mild effects of the chemical agent. After getting sprayed, the group pushed further on down State Street. It was at this moment that I knew I had to document what was going on. A largely peaceful demonstration was marred by a small few who had caused some minimal collateral damage, yet the entire group was heavily sprayed and told to move. It was terrifying.
We returned to our hotel briefly to gather some camera equipment, and then we made our way back to the downtown area. At this point, the number of demonstrators seemed to have grown immensely. Additionally, so did the number of onlookers, and police officers. Again, the protest was peaceful. Just tired, and angry people standing in the streets and trying to raise awareness. To bring about change. At this point, police officers began trying to disperse the crowds again. Tear gas. Smoke bombs. Large groups of officers assailing demonstrators with their hands up. It was chaos.
“I too felt like crying at times”
As the tear gas sprayed, and smoke bombs exploded with loud pops, I witnessed a girl who was probably out shopping with her family. She began crying, fearful at what she was witnessing. I don’t blame her though. I too felt like crying at times. Crying for the state of our country. Crying because rights were being infringed upon. Crying because the police were being used in a militarized force against people who just wanted to speak up and have their voices heard. Instead, I just kept documenting. Trying to capture the haunting moments of what I was witnessing.
I captured many intense moments. Large puffs of smoke billowing in the middle of a shopping district. Demonstrators running in fear away from the potent tear gas. Friends pouring gallons of milk into each other’s eyes to help the agony of the tear gas subside. Demonstrators with their hands up, on their knees, as the police pushed towards them. It’s important to note that it was not my intent to try and capitalize on what I was seeing in order to “build my portfolio” or “get good content”. No. Not my intent at all. I’m of the mindset that when history happens, it needs to be documented. When atrocities occur in front of your eyes, they need to be captured. Because if enough people just like me see what happens, things might actually change. The tide might actually shift, and we can bring about a calm.
After I was around the demonstration a bit longer, things came to an impasse. People began dispersing in small amounts, and the police kept pushing in further. The streets were being cleared, and we decided it was time to go back to our hotel. When we returned, I began editing the photos I had captured from the day. A few hours passed and we began watching the news in the hotel lobby. Things had unfortunately escalated quite a bit. When we turned on the news, there was a man literally driving a flaming cop car down the street. Bullets were exploding in the back of the car from the heat. It was shocking, awe-inspiring, and confusing. On one hand, it was a literal burning cop car… but on the other hand, it was an important symbol.
For many years, the black community has been burning, and our society has been neglecting to help put out that fire. That fire came in the form of discrimination, innocent lives lost, disproportionate arrests, and pain in so many ways I will never be able to understand. Now, the police officers of Madison, Wisconsin experienced a bit of that fire, quite literally. But the main point I and so many others have made is that this damage caused (although inherently bad) is nowhere near worth the value of another human life such as George Floyd. The police force will be able to purchase a new police car, but we can not replace the many lives we have lost in the black community. In conclusion, I leave you with this. Black. Lives. Matter. Simple as that. The rest of the team and I fervently believe this and do what we can to help support this cause. If you would like to join and help out as well, please visit any of the links below.
Tristan Bennett is the lead producer at Pixel Labs, creating video and photo content for social media and broadcast. He is an avid cinema-goer, and loves implementing influences from film and television into his everyday work.
The overly-organized Sam here! And I wanted to write this blog to help those of you out there who are in my position. It all really started for me on March 13th, you would think…oh Friday, the 13th, but hey, I was born on Friday the 13th, that doesn’t scare me!! I started to realize that it was highly likely that I would be spending at least 4 weeks home with my kids. Anyone who knows me, I do not sit at home and do NOTHING well. So I went into action, I started on Pinterest and then once schools started shutting down I found all kinds of things to get ready for homeschool!
So, the very first thing I did on Friday, was head to Barnes and Noble for some books to read and the workbooks for 1st & 3rd graders. I personally found the Brain Quests ones to be great. They feature all subjects so we weren’t just working on Math or Reading. The next step for us was to go to Michael’s because you have to have an Art class, right! I am not the most creative person. Funny working at Pixel Labs, but I believe creativity and imagination is one of the best things to have in life.
I let the kids do whatever they wanted, they spent way more time on screens than I would usually allow, but technically it is still Spring Break and I needed time to prepare. I have read and heard it so many times that kids thrive on routine, well that is good because their Mama does too! So that was my first step, I searched for a schedule to follow and the one I found was from kiwico.com/kidsathome. They had their schedule, but a blank one for me to make for our kids.
This was day one for us, we didn’t stay right on schedule, but it was a great way to keep the day moving without the kids saying they were bored. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day we had a St. Patrick’s Day theme for them all day long. All my worksheets were found on Teachers Pay Teachers: I found this website a few months ago and love it because you can search by Grade, Subject, & Price. There are tons of free items which is so great! I am going to try to get different themes every other day so that we keep things fresh and this site has helped me find all kinds of fun items.
Another thing that I was invited to was the QuarantinED for Iowa Parents & Caregivers on Facebook. How amazing that people are making groups to help others in this difficult time. I have always thought teachers are amazing, but they are even more amazing in a time of crisis! They are setting up groups and posting ideas online. I have tons of former employees out there that are teachers and looking to help parents that are at home, trying to keep the kids educated plus work.
Take care of yourself as well!
I know that I am personally more tired than I have been in a while. My anxiety is higher with everything going on in the world, but I am leaning on my people! Not to get sappy, but Zach has been amazing! He is making sure our employees are taken care of, getting them all set up for remote work in a very short time. He is talking with our clients to make sure they are getting what they need. And he is always here for us at home! He is truly the rock of the Everman family!
Does COVID-19 have you working from home? Check out our latest blog post to learn some tips on how to do this effectively!
To see how we’re working during this time check us out on our socials!: Linktree!
Every year, this is one of my favorite posts we put out. It’s one of the best times of reflection because I take the time to look at the progress we have made as a company. Usually, this post comes a little earlier in the year, but it’s here, and it was so worth the wait.
This video here is what we call our Pixel Zeitgeist. We started this last year because I wanted a way to show the growth we have as a company every year. A reminder of the faces that make Pixel, Pixel. When I started the company in 2014, this was not part of the plan. But if life has taught me anything, plans change and evolve. They turn into something bigger than you could ever imagine. I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have at Pixel Labs and I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities our clients have given us.
In 2019 I was fortunate enough to be nominated as one of the Cedar Valley’s 20 Under 40 recipients.
The basis of that nomination was our internship program and what our team is doing to develop creatives, marketers and aspiring entrepreneurs. Our program has evolved so much since it’s conception into an experience that creates quick and consistent feedback on skills. The internship has led to students improving their skills at incredible rates throughout their time with us. We have seen so many of our interns and past employees go on to do amazing things. While I know we only play a small part in their creative development, it’s hard to ignore trends. But hey, maybe I’m biased. I’ll let you decide.
In 2019, we traveled just as much as 2018, we produced more content than ever, we developed processes internally that will set us up for future growth, we have seen team members take on unexpected leadership roles, we saw a significant increase in interest in some of the innovative spaces we have been working in for a few years, our live streaming capabilities were improved, we worked with tons of new clients, we hosted 5 interns and a high school job shadow, the list goes on and on.
So to each and every one of you who have touched Pixel Labs. Thank you! 🙏❤️
You all mean the world to me and I can’t wait to see what we all do in 2020.
-Zach Everman CEO
If you want to see more of us check out our Linktree!
When I was first asked what I am thankful for, I instantly thought of my family and my husband. There are also so many other things I am thankful for, that it was difficult for me to narrow down. I began thinking of my interests. Something that I do almost every day is some form of graphic design. Whether that be designing social media posts, newsletters, posters, small animations, illustrations, etc. Designing is something I love to do and helps define who I am.
While I was a college student working toward my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, I loved learning about the history of graphic design. It was so interesting being able to see how much design has evolved. Design can even be found over a million years ago in caveman carvings. If you are interested in reading a brief history on graphic design, I would suggest this article: https://99designs.com/blog/design-history-movements/history-graphic-design/
There is such a rich and ever changing history of graphic design, and it has made me thankful to live in the 21st century with advanced computers, affordable design programs, fast reliable internet. The design world has expanded so much in my twenty-four years of life. Some things went from being non-existent, to a daily part of almost every designer’s life.
While design has constantly changed throughout history, I truly do believe it has changed more in the last twenty-five years than in the last few centuries
It used to take designers days, weeks, or even months to create something from start to finish. Now, it can take as little as hours or minutes. While I love where design has come from, I am truly grateful to be alive in a time where design has grown in leaps and bounds! It’s an exciting time to be a designer or in the creative field!
I’m always thankful for the experiences life has given me. Whether it’s good or bad I know everything happens for a reason. Though it may sound odd, I might be more thankful for the bad experiences. While I enjoy the good experiences and they make me feel better about myself, the bad ones are where I feel like I can grow. A bad experience is like life critiquing your work. It usually makes you feel unsure of yourself and you kind of wish you never did it. Ultimately these are the experiences I look back on and think about most. Sure they might be negative at first, but positives tend to come out of them. They allow growth and give you the knowledge to know how to live a better life. The good experiences to me are there to reward you for the sacrifices you had to make or for correcting a mistake. These experiences work together and I’ve found that acknowledging these things can help build a better life.
I’m thankful to be able to call many places my home. My parents have also provided me with a place to call home. With a roof over my head and a place for me to feel safe, my parents do all they can to give me that stable home. But what about the homes that aren’t so stable? My friends have always opened their doors to me. In high school allowing me to stay the night as we played board games all the way through college where we catch up over breakfast.
I say these homes aren’t stable because like myself, my friends have also started to explore their own lives. It seems as though we are always moving around, which makes me wonder how these places can ever be considered a home? Until I realized my home is where I feel safe and where I can make memories. It might change from year to year, but I know the door is always open. From my parents who I know exactly where they are to my friends who I’m always asking for an address. Both types of homes are important and I’m thankful for them. Because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.