Talk with anyone from Dirty Coast and one thing is clear, they love the city of New Orleans. They’ve made a number of excellent pocket books with us, so it was about time that we got to know the whole story behind the books. One of their latest is a pocket guide to the city of New Orleans in the form of a bucket list. As with nearly everything from Dirty Coast, it’s simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and completely sincere. Entries in the book range from catching a coconut at Zulu, to volunteering on NOLA day, to just kicking it on the porch. It really is an insiders guide to some of the best that New Orleans has to offer. We chatted with Blake Haney about how Dirty Coast came to be, and what it was like making the pocket guides.
Could you tell us a bit about Dirty Coast?
I started working on the brand in 2004 as a response to what was passing for local apparel on Bourbon street; a way to make cool designs for die hard New Orleanians. Small batches of shirts and posters. A fun side project.
In 2005 right before we were to launch, a Category 3 storm made its way through the area without causing too much damage. Then the federal infrastructure meant to protect the city failed and filled New Orleans with water.
Soon after, I found myself in Lafayette with all plans placed on hold. While in exile, meditating on this fate of New Orlean, I designed a bumper sticker that read, “Be a New Orleanian, Wherever You Are.” I then printed 5,000 of the stickers, and placed them all over New Orleans as soon as I could return. The reaction to the message in the design was overwhelming. Launching the Dirty Coast brand became a no-brainer and then had a mission to start a conversation about the city with those who had returned, were still displaced and those who loved and supported us around the country.
We have helped to start a cottage industry of other small locally owned brands creating shirts, posters and other items celebrating the city. We are proud to have taken a part in that resurgence of the city.
How did you first hear about Scout Books?
I discovered Scout while doing some research online for pocket sized books. We had this idea to produce small booklets over time to offer box sets to customers and Scout Books was the perfect partner for this.
Who does your design work?
Some of it is on house but most is through a network of designers and illustrators with roots in New Orleans. We work up the concepts, usually with a tagline or visual reference from sources like Dribbble or Pinterest, and then find the right creative to collaborate with to bring the designs to life.
What’s it like putting a book together instead of t-shirts?
Obviously more time consuming and a different head space. However the the smaller size book and page length has a creative constraint similar to a t-shirt or poster. The use of the copy with illustrations and photos is a fun process to work through with our team.
Can you tell us how your pocket guide, The Bucket List, came about?
We have become a tour guide to the city because of our brand celebrating the local insider experience here in New Orleans, so it just made sense to create a check list of experiences. We wanted to make it a mix of the evergreen experiences, the places to visit and the off the beaten path moments you won’t find in a mainstream guide book.
Do you have a favorite to-do from the book?
I do and ironically it has to do with leaving the city and visiting our neighbors down the bayou:
“Get up early. Make your way to Fred’s Lounge in Mamou. Get some boudin at Best Stop. Drive past endless sugar cane elds. Be a part of the countryside.”