Archive | January, 2012

Think, not do

28 Jan

Thinking is the most mentally taxing part of my job, and what I should spend the most time doing.

I’m a doer. I don’t like sitting still for too long as I get bored easy. I can’t work on the same thing for more than a few hours.

I’ve come to a realization that this “doer” mentality can affect me negatively when it comes to my work. I often rush into things and want to see results immediately. This process often ends with a rushed, haphazard, unclear, finished piece. Without thoroughly thinking through the concept, hierarchy, and having a vision of what I want the final piece to communicate, I often end up with a solution that is either unclear or executed poorly.

Now, when working on projects I try to think more at the beginning so that there is less aptness for hiccups further along in the process. Sitting and thinking is not a familiar feeling. Usually, I am thinking and doing at the same time. Challenging myself to focus all of my energy on one subject has been an act of self-discipline.

I’ve noticed zoning in on one problem for a consecutive amount of time allows me to think about what the main concern is, and how that problem can be solved successfully. Allowing myself time to think of all possible solutions and resources that can help me in my search for the feasible, successful final product.

Being a competitive person, I always want to finish first, or at least be ahead of the herd.  After seeing how my work, spent mostly in production, compared to other students’ work, I realized I was doing something wrong as their pieces were always conceptually stronger. Because of this, there was no need for tons of design cliches and trends as the piece’s concept spoke for itself.

I was also becoming more aware of my ego, and how that was getting in the way of me working harder. I worked for the grade, not for myself, which was a mistake looking back. The grade means nothing, because that is based on assignments, classroom interaction, and sometimes if the teacher liked you or not. It’s an opinion, a very good one, but if I wasn’t genuinely happy with my work, than what was I doing?

With this realization I tried to look at things differently from the start. Sketching and writing helps to slow my process. To burst out all ideas of something is refreshing and also challenging. I often come up with random ideas of things I want to make throughout an average day, but I usually forget to write these down, or I doubt their validity. Focusing on those ideas allows me to think freely, and then I challenge them when sitting down with a colleague.

So the lesson I have learned in the past 8 months or so, is to slow down and think. The brain is a powerful thing when you let it work.

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Art – Milwaukee Style

27 Jan

Four times a year, galleries, artists and various venues participate in a Gallery Night event. It’s a time to celebrate local artists and galleries in Milwaukee in hopes to keep the art community vivid and active. Ideally, one could walk from place to place and admire the art, but because Milwaukee is so spread out, onlookers should probably drive or bus around the city to see the art.

I’ve only truly attended 2 gallery nights since I’ve lived in Milwaukee. This is pathetic as I have lived here for several years and have never taken advantage of the great opportunity to look at art and learn something, and possibly meet new people. Going to an art school, one might think I would’ve taken advantage of seeing tons of art all in one night.

I have to say, the January Gallery Night is not the most fun to attend as the weather is frigid and winter in Wisconsin is not always pleasant, but for some reason I’ve attended in January the past two years.

This year, I stumbled upon an artist I knew or at least met. Kim Weiss displayed her beautiful print and wood pieces along with Erin Paisley’s intricate watercolor and ink drawings at Hot Pop. It was a harmonious juxtaposition displaying the works on opposite walls. Weiss runs the print studio at Redline Milwaukee.

Weiss composed her mandala-esque pieces beautifully, exposing the wood grain to give a more dense and rustic feel to the piece. The prints were relief stylized in a way that made them look rustic, keeping in theme with the wooden surface and color scheme.

Kim Weiss

Kim Weiss

Erin Paisley

I need to open my eyes and explore where I am right now. I often feel un-inspired by this city, and have become impatient with it’s pace. What I need to do is find the inspiration instead of waiting for it to find me. Milwaukee has many gems, it’s just a matter of uncovering them, and not having expectations. There are so many talented artists and people in this city, I just have to find them and make friends!

Alligator Skin

17 Jan

I’ve heard many times in this industry (graphic design/creative) “You have to have thick skin.” So, what does that mean? I should have a callus on my mouse click finger?

Simply put, it means that as a creative person, I must be able to take criticism, analyze it, filter it, and see how I can make my work better because of someone else’s opinion or view of my work.

Taking criticism is not always easy. As a creative person, I may get attached or create some emotional bond with my work, as I have spent hours upon hours perfecting it to create the best solution possible. To have someone step in and destroy it with their honest remarks can be devastating; after all it is my personal work that my blood, sweat, coffee drips, and tears went into.

In reality, there are too many projects to be done to get so worked up over the critique of one. Don’t become emotionally, physically, or spiritually attached to your work just because it is your work. I’m not saying don’t be passionate about what you are creating, but don’t make it such a personal thing that any negative comment tears you down. When people critique your work, they are doing so so that you become a better artist, designer, writer, etc. Not to tear you down and insult your creative abilities.

By accepting feedback, my designs become stronger, but filtering this feedback is important and I still have to trust my instincts and creative abilities. Someone may give me feedback that I strongly disagree with, and it’s ok to ignore their comment if it does not create a more successful solution for my project. Filtering critiques takes trust in yourself to know what is valuable feedback and what can be tossed aside.

Having an open mind when receiving critique allows me to let my work evolve, and it also shows how important collaboration is when finding the best solution possible. By allowing others with different skill sets and knowledge to transform my work, a little bit of them is put into the project as well. Depending on oneself is not always in the best interest of the final outcome.

Will Nostalgia ever die

11 Jan

Nostalgia and thoughts about nostalgia seem to be popping up a lot lately in my surroundings. It’s got me thinking, what’s the big deal with nostalgia? Maybe my social circles are filled with lonely people.

In art and design, we are often looking back to the game changers and seeing what they did differently in their own time, and seeking inspiration. In culture, art and fashion we always seem to circle back to some trend from decades ago. I mean, who would’ve thought leggings would come back? Yet, when we re-cycle this trend, we may put a little twist on it to make it more modern, when sometimes it just ends up looking silly.

The American culture constantly cycles through different trends and styles, but we reuse previous trends in a different or new way and call them Avant Garde. How is it a “new” trend when it’s a different version what they did in the 60’s? Are we so un-original that we can’t think of something new?

Some artists believe that nostalgia is dead. They believe you shouldn’t look to the past for influence, but only look forward.

In life, the nostalgia helps us feel better. Usually we remember positive emotions or feelings about an event and it makes us look back and know that we are living a happy life, at times.

In the 18th century, they thought nostalgia was a disease and included symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Today, scientists have found that it can actually cheer people up; “nostalgia counteracts effects of loneliness, by increasing perceptions of social support. In addition, that same study found that loneliness can trigger nostalgia,” (ScienceDaily).

The events we are nostalgic about include ourselves as the main focus and often include a close support group of family and friends. This explains why having nostalgic feelings or reflecting on our lives can help subdue our loneliness.

But why be nostalgic in art and design? Is it possible that the maker of something sees an element from their past that they are fond of and subconsciously imports it into their work? The cycle of reoccurring or recycled trends may have a link with personal nostalgia, but I also believe that we as humans are fascinated and drawn to things in the past we were unable to experience ourselves.

“Psychology Of Nostalgia.” ScienceDaily, 12 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Jan. 2012.