Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Archive for June, 2012

Link Round Up: Organization

1. Favorite organization/physical layout website.
2. The Art of Packing, by Louis Vuitton, here.
3. Fabulous post by Tracy on High-Straitenance (or Homefries) about re-organizing your office.
4. is simple tool to save web pages for reading later. here.
5. The Paper Wings Podcast lists 7 time management tips to accelerate your personal projects, and they are actually new, good tips that are totally realistic to implement.
6. This planner looks like one of the BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN. As soon as my moleskin is done, I am buying one of these.

(Click on all images to go to their original webpages.)

Artist/Designer Round Up: Lisa Congden

“San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon was raised in both upstate New York and Northern California where she grew to love the trees and animals that surrounded her. That love is now expressed through her paintings and drawings.”

I first heard about Lisa Congden from the MyLoveForYou blog and podcast. The podcast has such a great interview with Lisa, and I highly recommend anyone who’s interested in her work to give it a listen.

I love Lisa Congden’s work because of her humble start up, but also her drawing and painting style, her use of color and her subject matter.

Lisa is a self-taught artist, who was one of the earliest art-bloggers on the web. Over time, as her art improved and style clarified, she developed a strong following and eventually became a full-time artist.  I love that, from the beginning, she always had such a great fearlessness towards color. She runs this very fine line between loud and strong color use, and simplistic shapes, but I would never say that the two are balanced. I like that she is more stylized than clean and minimal. To me, it makes the art seem more real and personal, because real life is not as clean as minimalism, often.

I love that she does not mind being a bit quirky or fun or kitch-y or folk-art-ish. Her paintingss have such heart, simplicity and depth, but stay fun.

In the podcast interview with Lisa, when asked what one piece of advice she would give to herself, back when she first started, Lisa responded with:

“Don’t really worry about what other people think. I had this perception when I started out, that as an artist, unless you went to school for art, you were like cheating. What I didn’t realize is that art is what you make it. Its not about your technical skill, its not about, like, there are some well trained artists who purposefully fuck things up because they don’t want it to look textbook, but I had this perception in my head that somehow it was cheating or somehow that I was a fake. So, I was really worried about how people trained as artists were going to think of my work.. that was just my fear of not doing something the right way. I don’t have that fear at all anymore. I realized that if you make work that’s interesting, even if its super primitive on some level, and people enjoy looking at it, then its good art. Its not about your training or whatever. … I think, [I would tell myself] ten years ago: Don’t worry what other people think. Keep doing what you’re doing. Just keep trying to make your work as good as your work can be.”

-> Conclusion: Even if you untrained, inexperienced, etc., JUST START doing what you want to do. Don’t wait till school, or until you get trained, or until stuff is good enough. EVERYONE has a crappy learning curve. EVERYONE. Teach yourself, get some practice in, do SOMETHING. Because this is your LIFE and if you know what you want to do, just start already!

In another interview she did with The Great Disconect, Lisa discussed her internal conflict with becoming an artist and her need to directly ‘give back’:

“I went into teaching right out of college because I wanted to give something back to the world. My whole identity was wrapped up in what I gave back every day; that was how I felt good about myself. One of the hardest things for me to overcome when I made the decision to leave my career in education was this sense that I was abandoning my commitment to give back to the world and I felt so much guilt about it. For me, that was the hardest thing about becoming an artist.

I do think I still struggle with this a little because it is so important to me to feel like I’m doing something good in the world every day, but I’ve been able to realize that there are many ways for me to give back. I think when you’re doing something you love in the world every day—if you get up and you’re excited about what you do, it’s good for everyone. I do volunteer occasionally and I also sit on the Board of Directors for an arts non-profit here that supports artists and works with low-income youth to expose them to art.”

Although it is totally silly, when considering industrial design as a future career, I know that I, too, had this same internal debate. I knew it was wrong to feel this way, but I totally had to get over this feeling that going into design was a ‘cop out’, because I couldn’t hack it doing engineering. I could hack it! I just need to do what I love, and what I am so good at! Anyway, I feel you Lisa.

(Click on all images to go to their original webpages.)

Portrait of A Lady (Not the Novel. Literally.)

I’m not so great with super subtle, white-to-black, multiple shades of grey blending (not fifty. never fifty.) on my palate yet, so in my portrait things are defs a bit color-blocked.  Although I’d like to have done it intentionally if I’m gonna do it (instead of just because I suck at blending on a palate). Nevertheless, I quite like the effect.  (By the way, excuse: it is so hard to tell the real color while its wet! especially when dealing with the subtleties of a mono-chrom painting!) The shading the lower cheek area has some issues, but nonetheless I love how realistic and intentional, yet cartoon-y, she looks.  She is in the damn  bright sunlight. :)  And she is fierce.  With the craps-ton of shading, you can really see how powerfully the sun was hitting her, and how powerfully she, amazon princess, hits it back!

Are you a fan of the overt-color blocking? Like Obama-poster-esque?  Except in painting..

Barack Obama Poster, New York

Barack Obama Poster, New York (Photo credit: racoles)

I kinda like the effect.  Also, for some reason my painting totally reminds me of this famous self-portrait by Frida Kahlo:

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait, 1940. See discussi...

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait, 1940. See discussion of her works below. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s something about black and white color-blocking that makes me think that, if it was in colors, they’d be SUPER bright colors, like in this painting. Also, the eyebrows in mine and in Frida Kahlo’s are totally mint!  Agree? Disagree? HATE that I besmirched Frida by associating her with my painting? Let me know in the comments, if you feel like it. :)

Art/Designer Round Up: Ross Lovegrove

Ross Lovegrove is probably one of my favorite industrial designers of all time.  And since I am currently moving towards devoting my life to ID, that is saying a lot.  That is saying that this man get’s my raison d’etre.

“Inspired by the logic and beauty of nature his design possess a trinity between technology, materials science and intelligent organic form, creating what many industrial leaders see as the new aesthetic expression for the 21st Century. There is always embedded a deeply human and resourceful approach in his designs, which project an optimism, and innovative vitality in everything he touches from cameras to cars to trains, aviation and architecture.” (quote found here.)

What I love about Ross Lovegrove and his work, is his idealism and his refusal to compromise the need for an absolute harmony in his designs.  All the components of his design not only work well together, but often work so harmoniously that they are co-dependent.  The idea of a product working cyclically as a result of the dependancy of different components, is an elegant design to me.  When the product assembly, product materials, the usage of the product, the purpose/s of the product, etc. all work to bring the design in the same direction, it is totally miraculous.   Although his ultra-minimalistic, all-white/grey aesthetic is not personally my taste, his process, ideology and final products are still the closest to what I aspire for myself in my designs.  They are crazy awesome!  No moment of realization is better than that eureka moment, when a design or use-ability of a product comes from an obvious place to create a more accessible end product.

He considers himself to be an organic essentialist, and his work is often nature-influenced.  In a great interview he did with designboom, he said,

I’m an evolutionary biologist, more than a designer.
I don’t know what design is anymore, I create form,
I understand form and I’m enjoying the digital age to create it.
I’m hoping to push that even further. my work also relates to nature,
in an evolutionary sense as I’m concerned with reduction.
I exercise what is called ‘organic essentialism’ which means using
nothing more – nothing less than is needed.
I feel comfortable in this organic, isomorphic, anthropomorphic,
liquid age of making things, but I try not to force it into things that
don’t need it.


His advice for students:

‘stay positive whatever happens’ because people like positive
people. have stamina, this job is very demanding.
you are always busy (that can be a good thing though, if you
like what you do).
try to remain individual and don’t copy others.
to begin with it’s okay – as a point of reference – but then try
to move on. watch out for a corner of this earth and make it your
own, do something that has relevance, that ‘has legs’ and
can go forward.
also, think about good environmental solutions.
we are going to go through a new industrial revolution of sorts
at some point, because we can’t keep using resources the
way that we have.

I first heard about Ross Lovegrove years ago from this TED talk he did. Seriously, if you are a design nerd like me, watch it.

(photos from here, here, here, here, here, here, here.)

Drawings are Hatch-ing…

I was going to write about hatching today. All the romances of using cross hatching, and shading, and how it adds grit and depth.  And blah, blah. And ‘look at my portraiture drawing!’

But, I just read a post that Swiss Miss did (Tina Roth Eisenberg) about the 15 things to learn from the Eames’, and I needed to share it.  I love the Eames’ (Eames’s? Eames? Eames’?).  Their work, their workplace environment (so open and weird, even though it was the freakin 60’s), their colors, their personalities, their home, their ideologies, their funny marriage and how they worked together. [Awesome documentary]  These 15 points are so important to me, and I hope I never ever, forget them.  Every point is essential, as a human and as a future designer. I hope when reading them, you guys totally read them slowly, too :)

The 15 Things Charles and Ray Eames Teach Us

01. Keep good company
02. Notice the ordinary
03. Preserve the ephemeral
04. Design not for the elite but for the masses
05. Explain it to a child
06. Get lost in the content
07. Get to the heart of the matter
08. Never tolerate “O.K. anything.”
09. Remember your responsibility as a storyteller
10. Zoom out
11. Switch
12. Prototype it
13. Pun
14. Make design your life… and life, your design.
15. Leave something behind.

(Taken from this whole essay, here.)

Anything to add to the list? Thoughts? Please leave comments below!

P.s.: get excited! Because hopefully sometime soon, I will have completed this art project I have been planning on doing for MONTHS! And, I’m just gonna be real: I think its seriously going to be awesome and I really hope it turns out the way I picture it in my mind…

P.p.s.: About hatching: You’ve just gotta practice hatching a lot, I think.  It is SUPER important for industrial design sketches and really good to have a handle on for all types of shading. Also, remember that hatching is meant to indicated existing planes, and the hatching direction can indicate ‘plane direction’, so be careful when you chose the angle of your hatching lines!

Link Round Up

Here’s my weekly mostly-design related inspiration this week!

1. Clay Shirky describes five student projects that he thinks are pushing the creative boundaries – from interface design to how people cluster to build new work. Here.

2. Ideas of the deep south and diehard football players and cow-people (politically correct cowboys) in the United States have totally been inspiring me lately. I have been watching too much Friday Night Lights!

3. Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you – talking about what I’m aspiring to. TED talk: What Your Designs Say About You

4. If you haven’t heard of creative mornings, its amazing and such a resource of information on the creative industry.  Thank you Tina Roth Eisenburg. Basically, it is a monthly breakfast lecture series by distinguished creative professionals, which takes place in cities all over the world.  And are video recorded and uploaded online. Have fun.

5. Wear it now! Don’t wait or put off wearing your awesome clothes! Here. Have that crazy miumiu suit? Wear it. Have a meat dress? Go for it!

6. People have been raving about this book so much, I kinda really want to read it.

7. Love this phoot camp revival photo series! I really want to go to this one day! The photos are just so great and fun and creative.

Have a great weekend!

Art/Design Round Up: Stefan Sagmeister

So, I posted in a round up a while back about Stefan Sagmeister’s book, but I wanted to do this week’s artist feature about him, because although a lot of design NERDs, such as myself, may know about his work, there are a lot of people that do not know about him or about his justified fame.

Sagmeister is so awesome for a plethora of reasons. 1) He is a graphic designer. 2) He takes an unusual (by today’s standards) approach to graphic design.  It is clear that he thinks of graphic design in a traditional, ‘literal’ way, but still makes his work very fresh. 3) He is clearly super involved in inspiring new graphic design around the internet and world. 4) He doesn’t care about stupid rules. 5) He shared his life lessons with the world. I think when the day comes that I am ready to share my life lessons with the world I will be a ‘grown up, bigger person’ and I will be significantly less cynical. I respect his putting-himself-out-there-ness.  6) He is a damn cool old-ish guy.

In his newest book and in much of his work, he tends to unconventionally use real-life, existing materials to spell out words, or to make us re-consider the idea or the text in a new way.  Sometimes with added perspective, or in a more tactile, literal sense.

Although there is a label of ‘graphic designer’ put on him, I love how he does not let that limit his perspective or work.   So much of his work is 3-dimentional or art-installation based. The title of ‘graphic designer’ indicates his background and perspective perhaps, but his work maintains that he is a general, innovative creative.  And however he decides to move forward with that, damn straight, he does.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with him:
“Design can seem so impersonal and I’ve read that you want to be able to touch someone’s life. Do you think it is possible and have there been any times where someone has told you so?”

“Yes, I do think it’s possible, and I do think it’s very hard. The only instance where I knew I touched someone’s heart for sure was when my friend Reini came to New York from Vienna and was afraid that none of the sophisticated NY women would talk to him and he’d wind up very lonely. We printed a poster with his photo and the headline: “Dear girls, please be nice to Reini” and plastered it all over the Lower East Side. He was touched. And got a girlfriend.”

All images found on .

Theme On Eames. Chairs.

Oh man. That title is so lame. But as soon as I thought of the rhyme, I HAD to write it.  It was a Siren Song moment (in case you don’t know what a siren song is: when you find yourself in a situation, where you know you should NOT! do something, but you just NEEED to do it anyway. E.g. 1) this lame title, 2) wanting to drop your keys in a grate as you walk over it (I’ve never actually done it, but everytime I walk over a grate, I actually have to hold onto my keys tighter to fight this insane compulsion..), 3) wanting to press every button only when someone tells you not to press any button, etc. )

[p.s.: Do any of y’alls have some bad/good Siren Songs? Post them in the comments below! (Ha, seriously, do it! Some of the ones mentioned on the podcast (that I linked above) were hilarious!) Oooo. I just thought of another one! When body lotion smells really good (and like food of some sort) I really, really have a compulsion to eat it.]

DAR 1948, by Eames

ANYWAY. Today’s post! So, today’s post was supposed to be up on Monday, but of course some issues arose on Monday, so I am posting it today! Here is the start of a series I’ve been working on:

 I’ve drawn up probably the most famous and well-designed Eames Chairs, the DAR (1948).   After, I have started imagining up crazy and weird variations on the theme.

To start off slow, I drew this cushioned version of the chair.  Its kinda interesting cause for me, I was totally going for an 1850’s interpretation of the chair, but while keeping the original chair as in-tact as possible,  but I think it may have come off as FULL 1960’s version anyways..  Whatever, as they say, what happens, happens. Also, I drew this a while back, way back when my perspective still sucked and also, I kinda had to finish it off fast, since I kinda spent awhile on that cushioning, so don’t mind the rough-and-dirty-ness! Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to show you guys some more versions on this theme sometime soon.

Links Round Up

So, these are some mostly-design related stuff that are inspiring me this week! I hope you all enjoy!

1. So, every year in the Fall, the Met in New York City has an amazing-looking, crazy-buzzed-about fashion exhibit with a theme.

“The Costume Institute houses a collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories, representing five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present. … Due to the sensitive nature of textiles, the collection of The Costume Institute is not on permanent public view, but the department organizes special exhibitions each year.”

(I never even knew this existed until, like, two years ago!)
Anyway, last years theme was ‘Savage Beauty’, included pieces throughout the illustrious Alexander McQueen‘s career. (I would have KILLED to see that.) This year the ‘theme’ is “Impossible Pairs: Musing on Schiaparelli and Prada in the Met’s Collection” and here is the online pictures and audio and visual of the exhibit. So fascinating and Prada is one of my absolute favorite designers! Constantly re-considering, approaching with fresh eyes, and yet, still able to have fun with fashion.

2. MoMA‘s library is now online.

3. So fun! Write a letter to yourself in the future. With the internet, you don’t even need to steal Dwight’s stationary… (The Office reference..)

4. Have a joint dinner party and talk about how you are going to better the world at 7 p.m. on October 5th, 2012! I’m totally doing it! And donating to this Kickstarter page!

5. Dude, if I HAD a gentleman caller, this quiz would be so necessary. (Hobby Compatibility Quiz & Creative Dating Guide)

6. I want to read this book. Looks fascinating, so useful and a little unnerving, hopefully in a good way.

7. This soup (Julia Child’s Vichyssoise) is amazing! My mum has been making it forever and it always turns out how I imagine in my mind that a potato leek soup should taste… Not too rich, but just enough, creamy and thick.. Now I really want potato leek soup. :)

Art/Design Round Up

So, I’ve decided to try a new thing where every Wednesday I feature some art, artist, designer or piece that has been super inspiring for me. This week its this amazing piece found on by artist Kent Rogowski. The piece is called ‘Everything I Wish I Could Be’.

To me, this is a piece that I wish I thought of. (Especially when looking a my last post, which was a piece I made driven by the idea of books and what they can mean or represent to different people) I love the cream on cream, and the use of pre-existing materials (just in general though, I love when artists reuse pre-existing materials…), and the meaning in everyday objects, and the lack of cheesy-ness, but honesty, that the piece has. Its so freakin visually compelling.

Describing his work, Rogowski says,

“I had been thinking about how people deal with moments of pain and change in their lives and knew that I wanted to explore this in my work. I started collecting self help books and realized that there was literally a book for every moment in life: from relationship advice to dealing with a midlife crisis. I liked the idea that I could create images that would represent individual moments in life using the books that were written to soothe and help with those moments.”

Fascinating, I think. And maybe a not-harsh or embarrassing look at self-help books, which I find is so often seen whenever the genre is mentioned in the media and in life.

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