Pakistani musical group Khumariyaan performs at South by South West music festival in Austin.

Photo Credit: Amil Malik | Daily Texan Staff

The rich culture of Pakistan still thrives thanks in part to the Butler School of Music here at UT, and the school’s three-year partnership with the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, Pakistan. 

The four regions of Pakistan — Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan — each represent unique sets of sounds. The more we, as musicians from Pakistan, collaborate and perform with artists around the world, the more we realize the uniqueness of our own sound.  

Through NAPA, one of the first performing arts academies in Pakistan, Pakistani musicians have the opportunity to work with some of the best music and theater faculty available — individuals who have survived in Pakistan’s fragile entertainment industry. 

Established in 2005, NAPA aims to mold students into artists who can express the uniqueness of Pakistani music. Professors at the institute do this by offering a unique set of academic courses that are not available in other schools or universities in the country.

The three-year partnership between Butler and NAPA has only furthered this goal. Facilitated by The South Asia Institute at UT and financed through a federal grant, the partnership allows 12 scholars from NAPA to visit and study at Butler for a semester. The first batch of four NAPA musicians came in the spring of 2014; a second batch of two artists came in the fall of 2014. I am part of the last batch of six scholars on this program, here to observe and audit music classes. My peers and I were selected for this program by our senior music faculty at NAPA based on our grades in music theory, the results of our practical/viva exams and our overall participation in music performances back home. 

Studying in Austin has been a great learning experience thus far. In my classes, I study sight reading, composition, music theory, and voice. At the same time, another NAPA scholar, Arsalan Pareyal, and I are helping develop music curricula for NAPA and are also preparing for a collaborative ensemble performance. The ensemble consists of 12 people, six from Butler and six from NAPA, and we will perform in the spring of 2016 in both the United States and in Pakistan. 

This semester Yousuf, another NAPA scholar and I are taking part in the Concert Chorale — singing great choral works of Haydn, Bach and Bernstein. We are also taking vocal pedagogy lessons from David Small and performing in the UT Middle Eastern Ensemble conducted by Sonia Seeman. 

Waqas, another NAPA student and talented tabla player, is performing in the ensemble as well. He is also getting to learn music notation and drum lessons at Butler. Arsalan is learning jazz and working with the Jazz Combo at UT. Another student, Kashan Khan, is studying classical guitar and western music theory. Kashif Hussain from the theatre department at NAPA is learning acting. Needless to say, Butler has opened up a breadth of opportunities for us and other Pakistani artists who have gone through the program. 

It feels great sharing the rich musical heritage of Pakistan with our peers through our lectures and recitals as well as through presentations at Butler and other colleges in Austin. 

In such lectures, we always try to find a common tonality between traditional Pakistani music and American music — something that never ceases to amaze the audience. We all have many more opportunities to look forward to in the coming months. 

My fellow students Arsalan and Kashan had their dream come true when they went for a guitar workshop with English guitarist Guthrie Govan and had the chance to meet and interview him. Waqas looks forward to meeting Ustad Zakir Hussain next week in San Francisco. I am looking forward to continuing to attend workshops and master’s level classes and recitals.

One of the best features of the program is an online video link set up by the State Department grant at NAPA. It enables NAPA and BSM faculty and students to interact and have live video lessons in real time. The first in the  series of online workshops this semester was with Small, during which NAPA students in Pakistan learned about voice technique, breathing and posture. 

Along with integrating in the UT community, NAPA students have been performing for greater Austin. We played Pakistani folk and Sufi songs at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and in The Fine Arts library at UT. Both performances were very well received. We also performed Turkish songs at a Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, festival at Central Market. 

I look forward to our upcoming performances with the Middle Eastern Ensemble, Concert Chorale, Jazz Combo and at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. But most of all, I hope that such exchanges continue, as they help facilitate a higher level of communication and understanding between the U.S. and Pakistan. I would like to thank the U.S. State Department, the South Asia Institute, NAPA and the Pakistani community in Austin for their support.

Shabbir is a visiting research scholar at the South Asia Institute in the College of Liberal Arts from Karachi, Pakistan. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Butler went ahead and ended Texas’ disappointing season Thursday afternoon, 5648.

And it was all too familiar for head coach Rick Barnes and company in college basketball’s biggest tournament.

Costly turnovers. Inefficient offense. Missed free throws in the clutch.

“At the end of the day, it was us executing more and finishing games,” junior guard Demarcus Holland said. “We’ve been in a lot of one and two possession games. We could have made that one play, could have changed the whole game. Obviously we fell short, and that sucks.”

In the midst of an ugly game, Texas found itself down 9 in the latter stages of the game. Just as the Longhorns have done many times this season, they clawed back — but not all the way.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor then sliced and diced his way into the lane, cutting the deficit to 2 with plenty of time left.

Then he double-dribbled. Junior forward Connor Lammert missed the front end of a one-and-one. Taylor fouled Butler senior guard Alex Barlow, an 83 percent free-throw shooter.

“Plays like that at the end of the game — it pretty much sums up our year, to be quite honest,” Barnes said.

The struggles started early for the Longhorns, who, for the majority of the first half, couldn’t have played any worse. They turned the ball over eight times. They jacked up 10 threes, which is exactly what Butler’s packed-in defense wanted Texas to do. Quickly, Texas was down double-digits.

Then the lone scholarship senior, Jonathan Holmes, decided he wasn’t quite ready to call it a career.  

He halted Butler’s run with a pair of threes and a steal-and-score, sparking Texas as the first half came to a close. All of a sudden, the Longhorns found themselves down just 2 at half after a 90 run.

They carried that over to the second half, even grabbing a 2-point lead. But the Texas offense then reared its ugly head at the wrong time. It missed 11 straight shots and let Butler take control.

Butler was able to pack in its defense against the bigger Texas team, limiting its number of post touches.

“Well, people question our shooting,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to pass the ball in the air. There’s just not a lot of space there.”

When Texas settled for the open shot, it didn’t end up well. Texas shot just 34 percent for the game and only 31.6 percent from deep.

“That’s where we got to get better as a team,” Barnes said. “We got to shoot the ball better. We need to be able to stretch people out there more, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Even with their poor shooting, the Longhorns still had a chance. The Bulldogs shot only 33.3 percent, but they knocked down 20 of their 28 free throws to add that extra bit of scoring Texas couldn’t find.

Holmes led the way for Texas with 15. Taylor added 14. Butler junior guard Kellen Dunham finished with a game-high 20 points and was the only Bulldog in double digits.

Butler advances to play Notre Dame on Saturday. 

Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz scored 16 points against Xavier in the Big East tournament quarterfinal. Chrabascz is one of Butler's most prominent players offensively.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mike Andrews | The Butler Collegian

Few Texas fans know much about Butler. Heck, even head coach Rick Barnes admitted he doesn't know much about Butler. While he analyzes them frantically on his Synergy Sports app on his iPad, I will attempt to fill you in.

The trio of junior forward Roosevelt Jones, junior guard  Kellen Dunham and sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz handle the bulk of Butler’s mediocre offense.

Jones is a driver. That’s it. He averages 11.2 shots a game, with every single one of those coming from beneath the arc. He’s a 6-foot-4 forward because he doesn’t have a shot. Inside the arc, he has a bevy of unorthodox ways to get to the cup—and he does it well. He averages 12.6 points per game.

Dunham is the Bulldogs go-to man. He is their best shooter, and, at 6 feet 6 inches, finds ways to score from all over. He shoots 41.5 percent from behind the arc to the tune of 16.7 points per game. He also finds his way to the line, where he shoots nearly 86 percent, with ease.

Chrabascz may have been the missing link for head coach Chris Holtmann. The 6-foot-7 forward does most of his damage in the paint, but he can also stretch the defense out to the 3-point line. His weakness is at the line, where he shoots under 60 percent.

The rest of the Butler roster is the supporting cast on offense. Senior guard Alex Barlow can hit some threes. Senior forward Kameron Woods can bang down low. Each averages over 30 minutes a game but attempts just 12.5 shots per game combined.

The only Bulldog who adds anything significant is freshman forward Kelan Martin. He’s most efficient in the lane and averages 7.3 points per game.

As a team, Butler is just average offensively. The offense is not the Bulldog's bread and butter; they can do a little bit from all over but nothing exceptional. One glaring weakness for them is their free throw shooting. Despite Dunham and Barlow shooting at incredibly high rates, the team still shoots just 68 percent. Every other Bulldog to get significant minutes shoots below the 70-percent mark.

The Bulldogs also find themselves on the other end of a rejection quite frequently. With an undersized lineup, they get turned away at the 279th highest rate. Not good news for them going against Texas’ leading shot-block unit.

While they aren’t great offensively, they work hard and do the fundamentals. They will attack the glass while rarely turning the ball over, especially against a Texas team that forces next to none.

This is Butler's strength. The Bulldogs' prides themselves on their defense. They aren’t big, but they play as a team, making things difficult for opponents. They run opponents off the 3-point line and keep them off the glass extremely well.

The 5-foot-11 Barlow leads the defensive unit, which plays with tenacity on that end. They work hard around screens, chase down shooters and make everything difficult. They are best in man-to-man but will use the zone occasionally.

Check out our additional March Madness coverage:

Statistical Comparison: Texas and Butler are statistically similar, but with entirely different styles of play

Column: Texas needs to take advantage of its size when facing Butler

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas vs Butler: two teams nearly identical on paper, but opposite in reality.

Both teams have struggled to score. Butler averages 69.6 ppg. Texas 67.9. Texas shoots just .436. Butler .439.

Both teams defend well. Texas holds their opponent to 60.4 ppg. Butler 61.2. And they do so without steals. Texas does so at one of the worst rates in college, barely nipping only Towson, Quinnipiac, and Northwestern with their 3.8 steals per game. Butler’s 6.2 still finds itself behind 158 other schools in the nation.

Both teams clean up the glass extremely well. Texas outrebounds its opponent by 8.3 a game (6th in the nation). Butler 6.5 (21st).

Just by looking at these numbers, you would think these two teams play the same style, but in reality, they are pretty much opposites.

Texas’ size is unparalleled by any team outside of Lexington, Kentucky. Texas’ starting center Cam Ridley will have 85 pounds on Butler’s tallest man, Kameron Woods. Freshman forward Myles Turner at a less-than-generous 6-foot-11 will have at least two inches on any Butler Bulldog. Texas will look to pound it inside against the smaller Bulldogs on offense.

Butler on the other hand, will look to go bombs away. Junior Kellen Dunham, senior Alex Barlow and sophomore Andrew Chrabascz chuck up 12.3 three-pointers per game between the three of them. That’s three of their four leading scorers feeling comfortable behind the arc. And with Texas sporting “27-feet of big men,” Butler, in all likelihood, will look for its shots.

On defense, Texas gets it done with interior defense. The Horns lead the nation in blocks with almost eight a game. Texas’ guards at time struggle on defense, forcing Barnes to mix and match his lineups.

Butler, on the other hand, gets it done with a great team effort led by Barlow. Barlow, a 5-foot-11 guard, is the exact opposite of an interior presence. He accumulates nearly half the team’s steals. They are solid at all areas, though, specializing in keeping teams off the glass and running them off the three-point line. 

Check out our additional March Madness coverage:

Preview: Here's what you need to know about Butler University basketball

Column: Texas needs to take advantage of its size when facing Butler 

Junior guard Kendal Yancy turned in 14 points, tying a career high, and freshman forward Myles Turner put up his second straight double-double. However, their big games were for naught as Texas blewa late-game lead to fall to No. 17 Oklahoma, 71–69.
Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

Jonathan Holmes was nervous leading up to Selection Sunday. As the lone scholarship senior, he didn’t want to finish his career in the NIT. Yet he knew that was an unfortunate possibility after Texas played its way onto the bubble.

He woke up at 5 a.m. and immediately began studying bubble teams. Later, watching the selection show with his teammates, he couldn’t sit still.

“You don't aspire to be in this position,” head coach Rick Barnes said.

But when Holmes saw Texas’ name appear on the screen as a No. 11 seed he sprinted out of the room, excited.

"I was definitely nervous,” sophomore guard Kendal Yancy said, expressing the same emotions. “Man, I did not want to be in the NIT.”

In the first region revealed on Selection Sunday, Texas found out that it was the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region. It will face off against the No. 6 seed Butler in Pittsburgh on Thursday. 

"I'm excited for our guys,” Rick Barnes said. “Really, I felt the big game was our game against Texas Tech."

That win against Tech helped Texas avoid that “bad loss” and gave Rick Barnes confidence his team would get a bid.

It wasn’t any particular game that got Texas in the tournament, however, according to Scott Barnes, the NCAA selection committee chairman. Instead, the committee examined Texas' entire body of work.

“Texas' strength of schedule made the difference,” Scott Barnes said on CBS.

And Rick Barnes agreed: “I think it’s the most important thing.”

Butler (2210, 126 Big East) is led by their two junior guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. Over the course of the regular season, Dunham shot 42 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 16.7 points per game. Jones, on the other hand, is an attacker. He didn’t take a 3-point shot all year and averaged 12.6 points per game.

If the Longhorns make it past Butler on Thursday, they will then face Saturday the winner of No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 14 Northeastern.  

The Midwest Region is highlighted by Kentucky as the No. 1 overall seed and Big 12 powerhouse Kansas as the 2-seed.

Texas players were quick to tweet their pleasures:

“All we needed was an opportunity man lets get it! #Hookem,” freshman forward Myles Turner tweeted.

“Let the games begin…#Horns” sophomore point Isaiah Taylor tweeted.

On Thursday, follow us on Twitter at @texansports as we live-tweet Texas' game against Butler. In the meantime, send us your thoughts about the bracket. Did you think Texas would make it to the Big Dance?

Arcade Fire has sold millions of records, won a couple of Grammys and toured around the world. Their fame is undeniable, yet Will Butler, the band’s jack-of-all-trades who rotates from keyboard to bass to percussion, has stayed mostly anonymous. 

Most fans recognize him as the guy spasming around the stage as if he were hopped up on ecstasy, shouting and beating on drums. You’d expect his debut solo album, Policy, to be just like his chaotic performance style.

Rating: 7/10


Upon a first listen, Policy might feel quick and hectic. Lasting only 28 minutes with only eight tracks, the record is still difficult to get through because of its chaotic mixture of genres. 

In terms of style, Butler is characteristically all over the map, making for an interesting listen. He starts out with chord-heavy rock but finds himself on different ends of the spectrum with ballads and sing-a-long pop choruses. Classifying the album is nearly impossible, so the catch-all “indie” is the most appropriate label.

The most impressive and surprising part of Policy is Butler’s songwriting. Butler’s brother and frontman of Arcade Fire, Win Butler, and his wife Régine Chassagne get most of the creative credit for Arcade Fire’s music from the media, but Butler contributes heavily to both Arcade Fire’s albums and beyond. 

The Academy nominated Butler along with composer Owen Pallet for an Oscar for their work on the score of Spike Jonze’s “Her.”

Butler’s previous works led me to expect the songs on Policy would sound similar to those of Arcade Fire. About ten seconds in, it’s obvious that’s not true.

“Take My Side” is a raw, guitar-heavy song that opens with a simple two-chord riff. Butler executes a garage-rock feel that might not be as extreme as The White Stripes or The Sonics, but it’s far from the style of Arcade Fire.

If Butler had recorded a garage rock record, the album would have been fairly straight-forward, but Butler steers away from that style with “Anna,” an electronic pop 80s-throwback song. 

The song’s quirky vocals, synth line and touches of saxophone make it the artistic highlight of the album. The piano ballad “Finish What I Started” and the catchy “Son of God” are equally as memorable. Up to this point, every track feels fresh.

Butler falls prey to his own game, though, with the second half of the album offering repeat efforts at the styles from the first half, often with shaky results. 

“What I Want” rocks nowhere close to “Take My Side,” and “Something’s Coming” isn’t nearly as fun as “Anna.” Butler’s execution is mediocre, serving as a reminder that this is Butler’s debut album. By the end of the album, his style feels a bit stale without the element of surprise it had in the beginning.

Maybe Will Butler isn’t destined for a solo career, but Policy proves that he deserves more than to dance in the background.

The Austin Police Department launched a new bicycle safety campaign last week in an effort to decrease collisions between bicyclists and drivers in the city.

The initiative, known as WAVE, is a general safety campaign that encourages bicyclists and drivers to share the road and acknowledge each other with a passing wave. The Butler Brothers, an Austin-based branding firm, partnered with APD to advertise WAVE through a website, merchandise sales and the “WAVEMOBILE,” a car with the slogan “Roll nice” that will appear throughout the city. 

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Austin bicycle shop owners pledged to support the initiative, along with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who announced the new initiative at a press conference in front of City Hall on Wednesday. Acevedo said he thinks WAVE has the power to save lives, and he hopes people spread the movement by posting about it on social media.

“This campaign is about being kind,” Acevedo said. “Let’s judge people based on the way they act, but, most importantly, let’s all be part of the solution — not part of the problem.” 

Adam Butler, one of the co-creators of WAVE, said the initiative may seem simple, but he hopes it will help decrease tensions between cyclists and drivers in Austin. 

“If WAVE sounds overly simple, that’s the point,” Butler said. “Ninety percent of cyclists are also motorists. We’re all people trying to get somewhere. The infrastructure improvements needed to ease tension between cars and bikes can’t happen overnight, but you can wave at someone today.”

Butler said the cost of the initiative is underwritten by merchandise sales from advertising, and, as of now, there are no plans to advertise WAVE on campus.

“Campus is a pressurized space where everyone is in a hurry — cars and bikes,” Butler said. “It’s a microcosm of the city of Austin. So if everyone, including pedestrians, can connect for even a split second, it can make the overall movements on campus safer.”

According to Butler, the campaign came about partly because of increased pedestrian and cyclist accidents in Austin over the past couple of years. 

“Visibility is a big part of traffic safety, so it’s a very practical concept — be friendly, be visible and increase safety for all,” Butler said. “There have been double the pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the last couple of years here in Austin, according to the city stats, and increased density certainly plays a role [in that].” 

Plan II sophomore James Smith, who bikes around campus, said he wasn’t sure how much of an effect the initiative would have in increasing safety. 

“I think it’s a good idea to try and raise awareness, but I don’t think just waving at somebody is really going to prevent an accident or anything,” Smith said.

European studies senior Brigitte Chapman (left), studio art junior Cara Butler and fine arts senior Kristyn Coster share the journals they created during the Tuscany study abroad program. The met through their trip to Tuscany and were inspired to pursue art in their professional lives.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

Seated on a bench outside UT’s Visual Arts Center, Cara Butler, Brigitte Chapman and Kristyn Coster laugh about how their trip to Italy was nothing like a European romantic comedy.

“Scratch everything,” Chapman said. “We are just like ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie.’”

Butler, Chapman and Coster met each other during UT’s “Learning Tuscany: Art and Culture in Italy” study abroad program. Despite their commentary on the importance of pizza, they emphasized how their time spent in Italy convinced them to pursue art in their professional lives.

“Being in someplace new gives you an outlet of ideas,” Coster said. “I think you become more productive.”

Butler is a studying English and art, Chapman is studying European studies, and Coster studies studio art. They said the trip to Tuscany sounded appealing because they finally had an opportunity to focus on art.

“I actually wanted to be an archaeologist,” Butler said. “This trip solidified [that] I want to do art.”

The program required students to create journals. Each student kept two journals. One journal was displayed in the UT Visual Arts Center as a part of the “Gestures of Travel: Learning Tuscany” exhibit, while the other was personal. Coster said the professors did not provide specific guidelines on how to format the journal. Chapman used watercolors, Butler drew illustrations, and Coster combined modern day events with traditional Italian art.

“I put a sarcastic twist on Italian culture,” Coster said. “It is difficult to explain. For example, I made Jesus into Mick Jagger. It does not look offensive. It just has a little satire in it.”

After returning home, Coster is currently working on another journal. In this journal, she translates poetry into different languages and makes videos based off of the poems.

“After learning Italian, I got more into languages,” Coster said. “It’s like I’m writing an inner dialogue with myself.”

Butler continues to create illustrations and would love to pursue illustration as a career.

“[Italy] taught me how to be disciplined,” Butler said. “I did not want to lose that and I try to make for my own versions of children’s books.”

Although Chapman is not working on an official project, she still dreams of opening a gallery one day.

“I went to many museums and I want to be surrounded by that beauty in my professional life,” Chapman said. “Italy reinforced what I want to do, rather than helping me what I work on, since I am mainly an art historian.”

Chapman also talked about the importance of studying abroad.

“When you study and study abroad, you’re looking at all view points,” Chapman said. “You can always take the LSAT after, but I think art can teach you a lot about how to be a human being.”

Butler, Chapman and Coster agreed they would study abroad again if they got the chance.

“When you’re stuck in one place, it becomes mundane,” Chapman said. “Sometimes, you have just got to shake it up a bit.”

The rise in popularity of Spotify and iTunes radio, two popular online music streaming applications, has reduced UT students’ motivation to illegally download media, according to UT officials.

Tom Butler, associate director of the Legal Services for Students department, said he attributes the decline of copyright violation notices sent from UT to students over the past three years to the popularity of alternative music streaming services.

“ITunes and Spotify have taken the impetus out of illegally downloading,” Butler said. “If you can have access to music for a fairly small amount of money and you don’t get in trouble, then people will start to move that direction.”

As long as it is relatively easy, UT students generally lean toward the more lawful option when downloading their music, said undeclared freshman Briana Boston.

“I would imagine downloading Spotify is certainly easier than looking around individually for songs on the Internet,” Boston said. “It definitely removes the temptation to do illegal things.”

Students whom copyright-holding companies catch illegally downloading media usually receive an informational referral email from Cam Beasley, UT’s chief information security officer, that  warns against continuous copyright infractions. Repeat offenses can lead to a loss of Internet access on campus and a significant fine from the copyright holder. Beasley said these violations have stabilized in recent years.

“It isn’t unusual for the campus to receive about 50 reports of alleged violations each month,” Beasley said. “It was probably about three years ago where UT would get around 150 notices of copyright infringement a month.”

Butler, whose department provides free help to students wanting legal counsel, said punishment for breaking copyright law can vary among individual cases.

“Sometimes the student gets a cease and desist notice, and in that situation, we usually write a letter to the company on behalf of the student basically saying that they’re sorry and that they’ll never do it again. But sometimes they still demand money,” Butler said. “I have seen letters that threaten a lawsuit after one instance of copyright violation, but usually we can find a settlement that works for both parties.”

Even with the decline in recent years, issues with copyright violations haven’t entirely disappeared, Butler said.

“It’s not a big numerical problem anymore, but it hasn’t completely gone away,” Butler said. “It’s something we still try to warn about.”

On South Congress, Michael Murphy and Meredith Butler stand at their booth where they sell their handmade laser-cut jewelry under the name Diamonds Are Evil. In addition to making their own jewelry, the couple also custom makes all of their booth displays.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Two years ago, Texas A&M students Michael Murphy and Meredith Butler decided to start using scraps of wood from leftover architecture projects to make intricately designed pieces of jewelry. The couple vowed against the culture created by the diamond market, which shaped the idea of Diamonds Are Evil. 

Since Diamonds Are Evil’s founding, Murphy and Butler have relocated the business from a wood shop in College Station to their spare room in Austin, where they design, cut and assemble each piece of jewelry by hand. The jewelry pieces are made from multiple layers of birch plywood. The layers are laser-cut with their original designs, laminated together and then attached to necklace chains or other metal findings made of antiqued brass-finished steel. 

In their booth on South Congress Avenue on a Saturday afternoon, they sell their jewelry next to dozens of other vendors. 

“Who would have thought to use plywood to make jewelry,” said Marvin Henderson, a Diamonds Are Evil customer. “That’s just really interesting. It’s beautiful. I don’t know; it’s just different. I always look for jewelry for my mom, and she just likes things that are really different.”

Murphy and Butler pride themselves on making original products. Over time, diamonds have become the standard jewel of engagement rings, wedding rings and luxury jewelry. The rock gives Americans three ways to measure commitment: carat, cut and clarity. According to the World Diamond Council, the United States’ diamond market makes up 50 percent of the world’s total diamond consumption and is an approximately $36-billion industry. 

“We chose Diamonds Are Evil because diamonds are pretty repetitive,” Murphy said. “It’s just a ‘blingy’ rock, and a lot of people think it’s pretty and that it’s cool, but I don’t think there’s a lot to the design of it, whereas you can do the opposite of that and take a sustainable resource and turn it into art work and make it affordable for people to enjoy.”

Besides the qualm they have against the mainstream popularity of diamonds, Murphy and Butler also are concerned with the existence of blood diamonds — diamonds that are mined in a war zone in order to fund warlords. This type of mining occurs most commonly in Africa, where about 65 percent of the diamonds sold globally are mined, according to the World Diamond Council.  

“There’s no guarantee that you’re not buying a blood diamond whenever you buy a diamond from a store,” Butler said. “They can say that it’s not a blood diamond, but, once it comes through the processing centers in the states, they all get mixed up and there are blood diamonds and non-blood diamonds, and you never know which is which.”

While Diamonds Are Evil has grown by 600 percent as a business in the past year, it is not the couple’s main source of income. Butler works full time as an intern architect, and comes home after work to make jewelry and complete online orders, in addition to selling at their booth on weekends.

“It can be really stressful if I forget that it’s just a side thing,” Butler said. “It’s busy for sure balancing both and also hard because I know I want to do this full time eventually, so I want to put everything into it, but I know I need to put everything into my real job, and what’s left over goes to this at the end of the day.”

Despite the busy schedules and stress of running a small business, they both claim the experience has not worn down their relationship, but strengthened it.  

“We do balance each other out pretty well,” Murphy said. “We’re both creative. She’s more organized, but I usually have more common sense.”

Diamonds Are Evil pieces are sold at the couple’s booth every Saturday and can also be purchased from their online store Diamondsareevil.com. Fifteen percent of their profits go to Aid for Africa, where Murphy and Butler hope the money will help those negatively affected by diamond trade.