BRIAN HOFFSIS

DESIGN . ANIMATION . PHOTOGRAPHY . WRITING

 

 

I n the summer of 2001, after terrifying my family for a year of living and traveling in the former Eastern Bloc from a rural Czech Republic home base, I spent a month wandering the Italian countryside. It all sounds quite exotic doesn’t it? Well, no doubt I was primed for a vacation from the depressed and rusting industrial east. To fill the void of my customary communication methods I took to an ancient form of correspondence – writing postcards. With at least a week delay for transit, I succumbed to significant pressure to ensure I provided every bit of necessary information to aid any future search party efforts. By my second or third card and barely halfway through the swampy Veneto, it became clear that the tiny, nearly magnifying-glass-required, writing had become a substantial documentation of events. Upon my return from Europe, I conducted a retrieval of those cards and, recognizing their fragility, laminated them for safe-keeping.

That event marked the beginning of my documentation practice – one that I now feel sick for not starting years earlier. Leather-bound moleskins accompanied me most everywhere from then on. Added to the scrawled-on pages after a trip to Honduras and Peru were scores of photos shot with my first non-point-and-shoot digital camera. Until that point, the photos I loved to take found themselves scattered at the bottom of basement tubs as no physical photo albums ever seemed to do the cumbersome prints justice. Soon, under the new medium, photography would become an ever-consuming passion.

humble_beginnings

Again recognizing the vulnerability and limitations of such a valuable document, especially when lending to others to enjoy, I turned to technology for help. That’s when I discovered print on demand publishing. If only I had a graphic designer to make magic of my vision. Oh, wait . . . I’m a graphic designer!

My first self-published books were faithful and meticulous recreations of the original journals right down to the development of my own handwriting font to fill the pages. There is a degree of tedium in creating the same document twice but the success of the results were motivation enough to see them through to completion. My travel journals could now be handed out to friends and family to enjoy or distribute at will and I could keep the precious originals out of the reach of destructive hands.

Of course, I found that I had a lot to say even after the journals were published. That’s when a blog became the next logical development. In addition to new travel experiences, the posts acted as supplements to the published journals. Blogging as a single, self-contained entry was something that really appealed to me. 

As my great interest in photography grew, the form of the blog had taken full shape. One story, one photo, each sharing an equal and independent, bite-sized importance to the overall experience. As all of the elements mixed and evolved, new and ever-expanding ideas flooded my skull. My next project was an homage to Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War. One photograph, one story.

My journaling ballooned into ever expanding platter-sized coffee table books that tackled subjects well beyond travel narratives. It’s been a practice that’s allowed me to take a bit deeper perspective into casual travel and expand to every-day experiences closer to home.

AVAILABLE BOOKS

PERU: Seven Days from the Deserts of Lima to the Terraces of Machu Picchu

From the very beginning I knew this was going to be one of those trips of a lifetime. And I also knew I’d have to stay disciplined in my documentation of it. I got a Moleskin journal and faithfully recorded my impressions multiple times a day. I wrote only on odd pages leaving evens for adding photographs and various memorabilia. Later, when on-demand publishing became a reality, I accurately recreated my journal for preservation. The result is a travel narrative over-flowing with details and emotions that would have long been left high in the Andes mountains had I not documented them when fresh – something that many years on has been an invaluable historical record.

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THE TRAVEL COMPANION FROM THE REALM OF THE MAYA

Who were the Maya? Armed with a very elementary knowledge of a once great, enlightened and violent culture and disguised as a Caribbean vacation I was bound and determined to leave the experts to their own disheveled debate and find out for myself somewhere in the steamy, remote jungles of the Yucatan.

The little pre-trip research I did do led me to darker and darker realizations that maybe the Maya weren’t a people to be admired or for subsequent civilizations to aspire to.

So what secrets would I find buried and lost for a thousand years in an environment just waiting for the faintest chink in the Maya’s armor of obsidian to establish nature ruler of the land once and for all? And what was the source of strength for these people to overcome overwhelming odds and to thrive under the most unlikely conditions for so long?

What I found was a mixed bag of cruel truths, brilliance, incomprehensible fantasy and reaffirmation that there are many more questions than answers.

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THE TRAVEL COMPANION FROM 11,000 FEET

At 3,310 meters, Cusco ranks within a thousand feet of the highest and most inhospitable cities on the planet. The settlement drapes over the mountains like an impaled victim being pulled to the valley floor. It’s a remote land that time should have forgotten. Yet everyone from the millennia-old Killke culture to modern adventurers the world-over has somehow made their way to this mountain Mecca.

I was no exception.

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MY GERMAN VILLAGE

For nearly a decade I lived in the heart the historic neighborhood in the south end of Columbus, Ohio. I was inspired every day by its charm, it’s history and it’s unfading ability to time travel. This book is a compilation of images as I saw the village throughout the great variation of the seasons. Not one less charming than the next.

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See all of my books at my store page.

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