Ideas of March, Essays, and Diving Down the Rabbit Hole
I guess, overall, the day was pretty significant.
It was election day. George Bush would go on to win his second term as president, and my favorite band released a new album after a bit of a hiatus. I remember I was home from school early. I was a sophomore in high school and had taken two mid-terms that morning. I’m not really sure how it happened. Maybe it was an accident. All I know is I started something that I haven’t been able to shake off. And I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say it changed my life.
So I started a proper Tumblr blog where I can post all the stuff that doesn’t really fit with the overall themes of this blog. I’m calling it Hello, Mannequin and it will be filled with audio and visual fragments I find in my daily web browsing—essentially a curated stream of inspiration. Right now there is a lot of Woody Allen, jazz, and basketball. It should serve as a nice compliment to this blog. If that’s your thing, you should follow along.
The Sartorialist has been one of my favorite blogs for nearly five years now and I loved this behind the scenes video ion running the blog and how Scott Schuman gets some of those shots. Fully inspiring.
It’s hard to believe that 2010 is coming to a close. It was a big year for me academically, professionally, and personally. I thought it’d be nice to take some inventory of a few of the big ideas that I wrote about here on the blog this past year and the topics that will likely continue through 2011.
Design is a language. Like the French have words for things we don’t in English, design is better suited to communicate some ideas that just words or just images can’t quite convey.
Design is a liberal art. Design can be used as a problem solving tool and should be taught in schools as such. Design can take complex information and present it in a simple, concise format.
Designers no longer have the last word. Now more than ever, designers must create frameworks where the user can interact and contribute to the conversation. Designers no longer create static work, now we need to build platforms that encourage conversation, improvisation, and surprise.
Collaboration is central to the creative process. Working with others adds friction and restraint that working by yourself doesn’t provide. It’s hard work, but I think the pay off it worth it.
iPads and Kindles will not kill the traditional, printed book but they will change it. It’s important to consider what we feel is worth printing. Designers need to take advantage of the benefits print offers that a digital book can never duplicate and then tailor each book to fit the chosen medium. The written word is changing and each medium can play a different role.
Starting new projects is hard, but once you start you have momentum and can keep going. The lizard brain will try and stop you from doing your work. Sometimes the hardest part is just starting.
Art is about shining a light into a dark world. There is so much pain and suffering and complaining and misery but there is also hope and joy and love and redemption. Art needs to show that. Art needs to show people this world is still good.
White space is important in design and it’s even more important in life. Take a break sometimes. You deserve to rest a little. That’s as good a new year’s resolution as any, I think.
It’s been a busy year and 2011 already promises to be exciting. I can’t say it enough: thank you for continuing to follow along, read, and explore with me. See you in 2011.
In many ways the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and theirselves to our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read, but the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
But there are times when a critic truly risks something. And that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night I experienced something new. An extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.
In the past, I have made no secret of my distain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto “Anyone can cook,” but I realize only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
Leave it to a Pixar film—an animated movie, a cartoon—to get me thinking about the relationship between artist and critic and even more, the content that fills this blog. Because in many ways, that’s what I do here. Somewhere along the way I’ve taken on the role of the critic—linking to someone else’s work but offering my thoughts on it.
Who do I think I am? Does having a blog that a lot of people read everyday somehow give me permission to offer up my critique of another artist’s work? “Does everything need to be dissected?” Frank Chimero asked in a recent post on his blog, “Doesn’t dissecting kill things that used to be alive?” The first time I read those words I nearly leapt out of my seat in excitement. I ran downstairs to find someone to share it with because it so deeply resonated with how I feel.
Is that how I want to spend my time—sitting around dissecting everyone else’s art? Killing things that used to be alive? That’s easy to do. Like Anton Ego states: the critic risks little. A critic thinks she somehow sits above the rest of us. A critic doesn’t have to do something new. A critic doesn’t face the resistance. A critic doesn’t have to worry about a little voice in his head telling him no one will like his work.
I’ve gotten too comfortable in the role of the critic. I find myself all too often dissecting the media I come across perhaps erasing it of what made it beautiful in the first place. So I feel like this blog is changing. I need to remind myself I’m an artist first, not a critic. I want to spend my time creating my own meaningful body of work instead, pushing forward, seeking the new instead of critiquing the brave few who are already doing it. I still want to share the things I find that make me excited but I don’t want that to be the focus. I want to start producing and sharing more original content again. I want to be friends with the new.
Anyone can have a blog critiquing and dissecting other people’s work. But work I produce, that can’t be found anywhere else. And that’s what makes this blog mine.
Anonymous asked: What are a few of YOUR favorite blogs?
I use to read a lot of blogs until about six months ago when I set out on a quest to spend more time with books (and just away from the computer in general) and I significantly cut down on the number of blogs I read. I’m noticing a shift in my reading habits, shifting away from visual/inspiration-type blogs and more to the written word. I’ve discovered that sites like FFFFound and Dribbble can for the most part satiate my visual inspiration while my RSS feed for the most part houses quality written content. Of course there are exceptions and I’m slowly working towards a good mix of image and word in my daily blog consumption.
However, that’s not your question. Through all these changes and this continual shift, these blogs will always stay in Google Reader as they continually churn out high quality content and ideas. You’ll notice a recurring trend throughout the list: I like curation, thought and quality. The authors of these blogs obviously care and for that, I’m grateful.
Daring Fireball John Gruber’s blog, usually focusing on Apple and technology but occasionally branching out into other subjects, is unparalleled in quality and consistency. I read every single word Mr. Gruber writes. I value and respect his opinion on these subjects and Daring Fireball is the first place I turn to read thoughts on new Apple products. Aside from his knowledge on the subject, the guy is just a good writer. When I write longer essays here, I aspire to the quality of John Gruber. Easily my favorite blog of all time.
Frank Chimero Any regular reader of my blog probably already realize my man crush on Frank Chimero. Not only is he a talented illustrator, but his thoughts on design, craft, and creativity resonate with me 100%. We share similar values in working in our craft and his recent series on Nourishment (will there ever be a part four, Frank?!) could be one of the best things I’ve ever read online.
Bobulate If I have a man crush on Frank, I just may have a real crush on Liz Danzico. Her blog is continually full of gems and surprises and inspires me to stay curious and in wonder of the world around me. She’s obviously incredibly smart and good at what she does and reading her blog makes me want to continue learning.
Merlin Mann What can be said of Merlin Mann? Between his personal blog and 43 Folders, I’m always surprised by his insight and wit Sometimes he posts old concert videos and sometimes it’s a lengthy diatribe against social media. I’m happy with both. His posts on doing your best creative work have helped me in many ways.
Kottke Of course. Everyone reads Kottke, right? My one stop shop for all things “liberal arts 2.0.”
Subtraction Khoi Vinh’s blog is one of the first blogs I started reading and now that’s he no longer working with The New York Times, the increased frequency of his updates has me all giddy. His writing is clear and elegant and always provides new thoughts on interactive design, journalism, and business.
Marco Arment A relatively new find, Marco is a Tumblr employee and creator of one of my favorite apps, Instapaper. Candid thoughts on technology, design, and development get me excited.
Kitsune Noir Probably my favorite “inspiration” blog, Bobby Solomon and his crew take the time to find things that the other design blogs aren’t posting about. Everything from graphics to furniture to fashion to movies to products, it’s a great stream of inspiring work with their thoughts on it and why they are linking to it. Now that is rare! I appreciate that and strive for that quality here.
I recently finished up a quick project for my good friend Alanna Weaver. Alanna is a “photographer, aspiring style maven and world traveler from Chattanooga, TN” and needed a header for her wonderful blog.
I hand drew this header based off her name and then did a custom illustration around it. I wanted to go with something more hand-made to reflect her crafty, vintage style. I’m really happy with how it turned out and think it really fits the aesthetic of her blog.
Since moving to Tumblr, I’ve disabled comments on the blog. I think it’s better this way as I tend to agree with Gruber regarding comments and think the blog is stronger now. All that to say, I still do miss the connection with readers. It’s always nice to get an email or tweet regarding a link.
Tumblr has a nice questions feature and I’ve decided to give it a try. Let’s call it an experiment. I’m currently answering questions here on the blog regarding design, art, creativity, etc. Hopefully it will be a nice interaction. Unfortunately you have to ask anonymously unless you have a Tumblr account, so we’ll see how it goes.
Naz Hamid’s now defunct Absenter (archived site) was one of my biggest sources of inspiration when it came to photography and I was extremely sad to see him retire it in 2007. The domain has gone through various transformations since but nothing has quite stuck but I’m hoping it’s current incarnation is here to stay. He’s brought back the photo journal and added a musical element to it. I love the combination of photos and music and already look forward to each update. Such a great idea!
I got a lovely email from Tumblr this morning informing me that this blog you are reading right now turns one today. It started simply as an experiment to see how I liked the Tumblr platform and it slowly evolved into my primary blog, making it my official blog just last week.
It all started with this little link announcing my discovery of the band Radical Face. This is especially ironic since I woke up this morning and started playing the Radical Face album. What a way to celebrate.
I like what has started here over the past year but I’m even more excited about what is still to come. Thanks for reading!