And on this spread of notes, we see notes about the French Revolution and a headline that resembles a dick
These chapters all had very useful tips and insights. Much of chapter 4 was very useful for my specific situation as I plan to freelance for awhile after graduating. I’m interested in a hybrid situation between freelancing and starting a studio: something more like a coop where freelancers all share a space and contribute to its rent/overhead, but work on their own individual projects. This seems like best of both worlds: you get work and live flexibly while being your own boss. At the same time, you are still experiencing that communal atmosphere where you can bounce ideas off other people, interact with human beings outside of the internet world, and it forces you to get out of your office and go some place else to work (which has tons of benefits in itself!). While design coops with constantly rotating members/participants are popping up more often, I’m more interested in a constant set of members within the space, much like Team Projects at ADX, Magnetic North in NE Portland, and the space shared by Mr. Aaron Rayburn, Adam Garcia and the other folks they share a space with.
Unfortunately this dream will have to be put on hold for awhile as I move to France without knowing a soul (professionally speaking). It’s probably better that way so that I can take the time to freelance from home, build up a nice body of work and make some regular client contacts — not to mention, get to know the local design/creative community. Admittedly, I am someone who often gets caught up living in the future rather than the present, so I need to chill out and focus on the now.
Down the road, I’d love to be apart of a small cooperative studio team with 3+ people. I like Shaughnessy’s discussion of shared responsibilities in that sort of structure. I’ve always dreamt of starting my own endeavor in that sense, but I’ve never had the desire to be in charge of someone else in that they get all of their direction and approval from me. It just isn’t in my nature to hand out orders. But a balanced, collective, cooperative team that shares in all of this … that sounds ideal! This will have to wait for quite a few years though, for the same reasons a freelance cooperative effort will have to wait a few years. :)
En français! Time to send it out!
Armstrong / Stojmirovic
Though much of this chapter was filled with technological jargon and broad concepts which made it hard to find anything to really relate to, I was most interested in the counter-argument to the idea of a world growing more automated and algorithmic, causing the designer to become obsolete: the idea that computers and robots and strings of code would do everything for us is comical. The automation and algorithms and softwares out there are merely tools — Karsten Schmidt hits the nail on the head when he points out that electronic music didn’t wipe out the musician with its automation; in fact, new forms of music emerged thanks to music software. Furthermore, spoken languages are nothing without the human being to breathe spirit, meaning, and narrative into them. The same can be said about programming languages and technology, which is what Keetra Dean Dixon was getting at when she said that code isn’t as cold and impersonal as we make it out to be: it can be given a ‘unique voice’ by the coder and find some individuality that way.
The problem facing designers of all types today is not the amount of automation available, it is the democratization of design thanks to the availability of design tools/software out there: now anyone can be a designer. This isn’t a bad thing, by any means, in terms of quantity of designers, but it is a bad thing in terms of quality of designers. Now anyone with Photoshop, for instance, can create something of design, regardless of whether or not they have a creative ‘knack’ or background or skill set.
But that’s another conversation for another time. :)
HOW TO BE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER, WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL
[These notes are a good representation of what goes on in my head: organized chaos]
In his introduction, I appreciated Shaughnessy’s addressing the notion of social, interactive design and how not every designer needs to strive to incorporate this into all of their work. As he puts it, many of us got into this field due to our love for aesthetics, for the way typefaces and colors and layout interact on a page or some other surface before influencing the user, and there will always be a need for the designer who is less concerned with social interaction via design. That’s not to say that interactivity shouldn’t be considered as a viable solution to our projects, but they don’t have to be present for someone to create good, successful design work. This alleviated some of my own personal stress as I had a hard time (feeling guilty!) trying to come up with a senior project which incorporated vast amounts of user-generated content. I now feel okay with not completely embracing aspects of social interactivity in my project.
And now onto the deeper reflection:
Within his discussion about being a designer with cultural awareness, his discussion about taking an interest in things other than design culture really resonated with me — the word he used was ‘polymath.’ (adding this one to my mental dictionary)
This sort of goes back to one of our first readings which discussed small talk and how we would be better off if we expected more from ourselves and our conversations with others if we could just get past the topical stuff. Combine this with taking a polymathic (OH YEAH) approach to the world and I think our relationships with one another would be so much deeper than they are now. Taking an interest in many various fields should also go further than what’s just on the surface of culture. Shaughnessy’s examples for having cultural interests were movies, book reading, and even where we choose to eat. So to take this a step further, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t just settle at those movies/books/restaurants which were the obvious ones?
Rather than being reactive consumers (READING: Twighlight; WATCHING: The Hunger Games; EATING: Cheesecake Factory), the world and our personal connections could be so much deeper if we were proactive consumers, choosing to push beyond the low-hanging fruits of culture and experiencing that which is off the beaten path (READING: The classics; WATCHING: independent/foreign/old films; EATING: at the hole-in-the-wall, family-owned Ethiopian restaurant downtown). It’s the difference between being cultured by seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and being truly CULTURED by choosing to travel the backroads of Italy into small towns where tourists are scarcely seen.
Some would call this being a hipster — I call this holding a higher standard for oneself. It is that point that we can really expect to have quality experiences, quality memories, quality connections, and thus quality influences which are manifested in our work.
WOODY ALLEN, CREATIVE MANAGEMENT GENIUS
Summary: The three tricks which have helped make Woody Allen so successful are…
- Hiring successfully with long-term goals in mind, fairly and swiftly letting others go
- Communicating one’s vision concisely in a way that encourages ownership and collaboration on the parts of the those involved with a project
- Trust that those involved are good enough to know what they’re doing (using empathy), and relinquish control
- Author’s Bonus: Approach creative leadership like a cycling pace line — sometimes you lead from the front, sometimes from the back, and sometimes you just relinquish control and let the others lead. (I love this)
What really spoke to me in all of this was Woody Allen’s method of only allowing his actors to read a script for a day before having them give it back. Aside from how this encourages them to make their lines their own, I like the underlying implications: dwelling on a problem for too long and overanalyzing it can actually sabotage the creative process. I know this from first hand experience… design school teaches us to exhaustively explore all avenues in the brainstorming stage of the creative process, which I of course agree with. However, I tend to overanalyze things and psych myself out before I’ve even begun creating anything.
A good exercise might be to try limiting how much time I spend brainstorming concepts and solutions, perhaps even within my thesis project. It seems apropos as I pursue [editorial] illustration which can often require producing results with a relatively short deadline.
Aesthetic moodboard for this project: I’m very aware that I want to explore using my hands more with this project. The classic illustration style and handtouch I think will end up complimenting a finished printed piece.
I’m still brainstorming about the final purpose/goal/audience/format of this project, but I have a few things in mind which I’ll post here soon enough.