All in Tallinn – or to be more exact tALL·INn – was the original name for this blog. I loved the bilingual word play of pulling “all” and “in” from inside “Tallinn.” And I loved both meanings of “all in:” the first implies that you can find “everything in Tallinn” (which is almost true these days) while the second (borrowed from the world of poker) expresses “full commitment” as in letting everything ride on a single hand of cards. Of course, typing Tallinn as tALL·INn was never going to be very elegant ….
After realizing that I’d need a designer to make sense of my word-image, my thinking wandered off in different directions. A few revolutions later, flatfish was born – and then given shape by a bit of fakelore and Anatoli Ljutjuk’s wonderful accompanying illustration. By the way, if you’re a current flatfish subscriber and would like to receive your own handmade Kalamaja Flatfish postcard, just email me your street address and I’ll send one off to you as my way of saying “thank you” for following that fish.
Of course, no idea ever really dies. While volunteering at Tallinn’s Ukrainian Cultural Center and helping Labora’s creative collective, I realized that there was another solution to my tALL·INn problem. I didn’t need a 21st Century graphic designer – what I needed was an Old School letter smith. Enter Master Calligrapher Tatiana Iakovleva to the rescue. Sitting down with Tatiana, I explained what I wanted – just as I should have done at the very beginning.
Before I knew it, Tatiana came up with the exact image I would have wished for all along. It turned out that the only thing this visual word play needed was a talented calligrapher – or the right master of the visual art of writing. Calligraphy, after all, is Greek for “beautiful letters.” Just look at the image above, and you’ll see how Tatiana transformed the word tALL·INn into something worth admiring.
Oh, yeah. The tagline I would have chosen to accompany my original blog was: “Tallinn from the Inside Out.” Although that phrase still runs through the back of my mind, I realized early on that I wanted to do something very different from a traditional tourist site – especially as the excellent Visit Tallinn already has that ground covered. And I also wanted to create something beyond my own personal guide to Tallinn – especially as Tom already does this on his detailed Hidden Tallinn site.
And so, as a frustrated cartographer who has been fascinated by the incredible changes that have taken place in Tallinn over the last 35 years, I decided to focus instead on creating “memory maps” – a series of journeys tracing Estonia’s ongoing evolution into the future. From markets to public transportation – from neighborhoods to islands – from food to the arts, I’ve been fortunate to watch an incredible transformation taking place.
So, while I sometimes still think of the tALL·INn that might have been, I embrace the flatfish that is. And I look forward to exploring an ever-changing Tallinn together with my talisman fish.