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

Archive for the ‘Artist/Designer Profile’ Category

Work Wisdom from Milton Glaser

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IMAGE: here

“I always thought about, in early life, our objective, certainly people in the design profession, is to look professional, and to feel professional…. and you wanted to have that veneer and that sense of authority… and it was all we really wanted to do – you come out of school and you want your work to look like these marvellously slick, professional things that were in the world…”

“And then at a certain point, you reach professional level, and your work looks like that, and you realize its not enough.  That merely, getting to a point where your work looks good enough to be called professional is just the starting point.”

“…as a metaphor… when you start to learn how to draw… you are so overwhelmed with the difficulty with making things look like what they are… and you almost die trying to control your nerve endings so that the object looks like its supposed to, and you spend years doing that. And then finally you get to the point when you finally draw something that looks like what they are.”

“And then you discover, that’s not the point.  That being able to draw something that looks like something, is nothing.  That that is only the starting point.  Now you have to ask yourself, how do I make a good drawing, or an expressive drawing, or a drawing that means something.  Because the ability to only make it accurate, is actually a low-level ability.  Even though its taken you years to get to that point, its not very relevant.  But there’s no other way to get there.

“The same thing is true of your work. You sort of strive to make it look good, and make it look as good as your peers, and make it looks as good as the other stuff in the “Art Directors Annual”, and so on.  And then at a certain point if you continue and persevere, you realize that’s not good enough.  You have to go beyond that level, in order to engage that other thing, which is true expressive content, true meaning.”
-Milton Glaser, Design Matters

A metaphor that, I think, applies to all aspects of work, and anyone who wants to be truly great at what they do.

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Ai Weiwei’s Snake

aiweiweiportrait,june13-2013IMAGE: here

Ai Weiwei was named by the Wall Street Journal as the World’s Most Influential Artist.

“…Weiwei took the top spot in the magazine’s annual list of influencers, beating last year’s No. 1 pick Larry Gagosian, the well-known art dealer who represents Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons… According to ArtReview, the rankings are based on financial clout as well as activity over the past year. It’s been an eventful one for Mr. Ai, who was released in June after 81 days of detention by Chinese authorities. Since then he has spoken out about his imprisonment and resumed his use of Twitter, two activities that may violate the terms of his release.” here

Although he is the ‘World’s Most Influential Artist’, I must admit that I actually am not all that familiar with his work.  I mean, I’ve heard about his name and exploits enough times, but only one of his pieces really comes to mind – the famous installation with thousands of hand sculpted and painted sunflower seeds.  I am planning on watching his doccumentary soon, and will probably do a post about him (look out for that), but I have to say, whether I can say that I know him more than I know his work, Weiwei is an influential artist that runs his business damn well.

He he is a ‘successful’ artist – and I say successful with a grain of salt, for who has the same definition of success? Yada, yada… – because he plays/is the part.  He lives a life of art, and ‘of his (business) goals’.  Every aspect of his life is focused towards his purpose, and he markets himself so successfully because of this.  The clothes he wears, his facial hair, his time in jail, his installations and work obviously, and even the amount of work he’s able to produce.  These all point in the direction of his portfolio, so that he becomes an icon of his work.  And I feel as though this all comes naturally to him – his clothes, his words, etc. – because he embraces his work as a way of life.  Thus small, everyday decisions follow.

I recently read one of the best posts I think Scott Schumann of TheSartorialist fashion blog has ever posted.  The post was in response to a backlash he had received from commenting on one of his photographs of a fashion student in Mexico City that “…it was nice to see a student that actually looked like she was interested in working in the fashion business.”(here)  People said that it was an unfair comment and that a student’s schedule doesn’t allow one to always look ‘good’.  Scott’s response was this:

To be a successful fashion designer, it’s not all about what happens in the design studio.

You have to learn something about how to manage a business (especially since most designers start their businesses balancing between being the designer, accountant, press agent, etc), how to articulate your design concept and how to personally embody the spirit of the brand you hope to build.

Do you think Karl ever says “I’m too busy/tired to look like Karl today?” (And before you say “oh he has massive numbers of people helping him” believe me, he is more busy than any design student.)

Most design schools don’t do a great job teaching this reality to students so you can put off until after you graduate to start learning these other skills and habits, but why wait? Start manifesting these skills/habits now.

At least challenge yourself to start personally embodying the spirit of your design aesthetic; Karl looks like his designs, Giorgio looks like his designs, Raf looks like his designs. It’s not easy, but neither is the fashion industry.
here

From his time in jail and his protests, his work, his intensity, Ai Weiwei, just like Karl Lagerfeld, feels like his designs.

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There is an exhibition coming up soon of Weiwei’s work at the Art Gallery of Ontario, so to promote it he installed this piece in the hallway made of backpacks called “Snake Ceiling”, 2009.  The description of the pieces is as follows:

‘On May 12, 2008, a massive earthquake in China’s Sichuan province killed approximately 90 000 people.  Ai Weiwei created this serpentine sculpture, made of about 400 backpacks, to commemorate the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who were killed when their shoddily constructed schools collapsed.  Government officials refused to release the numnber of deaths, or acknowledge any accountability so in 2009, Ai Weiwei launched a “citizen investigation” to ensure that neither the children nor the devastation would be forgotten.  He wrote: “Can these facts be altered? The hearts stopped beating, their limbs decayed, and their shouts disappeared with their breath can these be retured? Wave upon wave of mighty propaganda from the national state apparatus cannot erase the persistent memories of the survivors…. People’s hearts will call out each of your names, the name that belonged to you will be remembered.  When it is called out again, you will rise from the dead and be contented spirits.’

aiweiweisnake,june13-2013
Of course this pieces is so my style, but despite that, to look up and see a snake overhead is cool to say the least.  Never mind the fascination surrounding his cause.  Anyway, I hope you all have a great week and a great Monday.

The Importance of Side Projects

If you didn’t already know, side projects are IMPORTANT.

In whatever industry you are daring to work in.  Even the ‘irrelevant’ projects.  If you didn’t already know this, you are super late to the party.  I have heard so many great professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs speak about the importance of side projects, so listen closely.

In my opinion, and again, from what I’ve read from great people, side projects are arguably more important for your personal sanity and career of choice than school in a chosen field, or even employment experience in a chosen field.  This is because it shows:
1)  initiative,
2) potential (no client!! no limits!),
3) dependability and dedication, and
4) SAMPLE WORK

These four things are so essential for any hard working individual who inspires. Initiative and hustle are very important with everything being so fast and available these days (-> laziness runs rampant).  You have to be the one to grab it!  Also, when you work on a side project on your own time and money, it can literally be anything you want it to be, and thus holds so much potential.  It can be long-lasting and over the top and epic and beautiful, but also, if you fail, no big deal.  Just start again tomorrow.

Dependability and dedication are a given with side projects.  There are no real deadlines, you are not getting paid to do this and maybe no one will even see it.  Its almost more the opposite – often friends don’t get it, tell you its not as important as hanging out with them, and you run into at least two snags during the process (its becoming not what you were planning, you run out of materials, you are off schedule, your dog pooped on part of it).  But from this, you become self-motivated AND you become dependable.

It’s also a great way to build a portfolio, and continue to let your creative self naturally evolve.  Even if you are really great at writing fiction revolving around 9/11, sometimes you just have to move onto the next phase of your creative life and write romances taking place in the turn of the century.  You are no longer that person who wrote your first novel – you’ve grown, you’re happier/more depressed, you’ve explored it.  A side project is a great way to do that without pressure, or your editor saying that they’re not  really interested in this new kind of novel from you at the moment.  It is really one of the best ways to get the kind of clients you want and to focus your work in the area you want.

One fabulous example of a side project is starting a blog….. but there are SO many people doing all sorts of different side projects out there.

Here are some amazing examples:

Jessica Hische.  Jessica works as a letterer and illustrator, and with her early web presence started posting many different side projects on the internet.  Some of those include Daily Drop Cap (where she created a new letter of the alphabet every day. So far she has gone through 12 alphabets, but has since stopped the project).  She also made Mom, This Is How Twitter Works, Don’t Fear The Internet, Inker Linker, Should I Work For Free?, a doodle blog, etc. etc…  All while working and maintaining her own personal blog…. She makes me feel so lazy. Check out way more of her side projects right here (since she is the Queen of Side Projects, for reals).

-Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka SwissMiss.  In addition to starting her design blog as a side project, which has since become one of the most popular design blogs of all time, Tina has also created Creative Mornings a free, creative, conference-like lecture series that has since spread to major cities across the globe, Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo company, and the design-y to-do app, Teux Deux.

Ji Lee. Currently a communication designer at Facebook, Ji Lee created and started the famous Bubble Project, the word as image project, and so many other side projects.

Aaron Draplin.  Graphic designer who created Field Notes as a side project!

Kate Bigaman-Burt.  Drew copies of her receipts until they were paid off, and then drew everything she bought in a day, everyday.  She’s been drawing daily since February 2006.  Crazy.

I could go on and on, but alas, I must go floss.  Go start a side project! Tell me about it in the comments!  (Also, if you need some tips or encouragement, re-read this post or check out this link or this one.)

Vernier Panton

Vernier Panton is such an amazing artist and so influential to me!  He really embraced and pushed the futurist, space-age style of the 60’s and created environments, not just restaurants, bars or hotels, with his designs.

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IMAGES:  1 // // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8  // 9

Cloche Hats

My sister and I have always been huge fans of arty hats.  Obviously, basically because they are wearable sculpture art.
One of our favorite designers is Bahida Dolic, aka yellowfield7.  Her hats are just sculptural, fluid, art deco, flattering masterpieces.

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IMAGES: all from Yellowfield7 etsy shop, here.

apr11-2013,hats-yellowfield71What is more edgy and romantic than a good cloche hat?  I chose to show them to you guys in this ’60’s-circular shape, just because I love how cloche hats and short bobs made such a comeback in the 1960’s, even though they are really a ’20’s-’30’s thing…

Reasons not to bring a small dog to set with you

Amazing interview with Lena Dunham, writer, director and actor in the new, insanely popular show “Girls“.

So much to relate to and so much wisdom. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Something that I hope is that its not just about the moment between college and real life.  It can be about a transitional moment in at any part in your life.  Nothing makes me happier than when someone comes up to me, and says that my kids just left home, I’m 60, I want to make a career change, this show speaks to me.  The idea that its for any moment of lostness, or sort of grappling with what you have to offer the world…”

“The parts I enjoy playing aren’t really available to me, so I have to write them.”

“… it was hard for me to acknowledge that acting was something that I wanted to do.  Both because there was a little of the perception that it wasn’t a sort of intellectual pursuit because of the fact that it didn’t necessarily feel like there was a place for someone who looked and acted like me to play anyone besides, like, sassy best friend who, like, can’t stay away from the buffet, and because I loved writing and directing, so why would I not hire the person who looks right and knows how to do this job.  But I always wanted to act…”

“Success is connecting with an audience that understands you and having a dialogue with them, I think success is continuing to push yourself forward creatively and not, sort of, becoming a caricature of yourself, I think success is figuring out a balance between a really rich, intense, fulfilling work life, and the kind of personal life that makes that work life possible and that makes that work life meaningful.  I think failure would be the opposite of those things – I think it would be becoming too involved with the traditional markers of success, …”

Mindy Kaling

mindykaling,march13,2013
One of my favorite people ever is Mindy Kaling.  (I tried to write her a fan letter once, but seriously could not find a fan-email address to send it to.  So if ever we meet, I thankfully will not have to get around the fact that I may or may not have introduced myself already in a fan letter…) Not only is she an Indian, female successful writer, but a comedy writer! And a former writer/actress of The Office. (One of my favorite shows of all time.)

I’ve read and loved her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and Other Concerns“, and I think just all-round, she has awesome hustle.  One message that I loved from her book (although there is a lot of great life wisdom, and many comforting insights) is that if you can’t find a job or a project in your field, CREATE YOUR OWN dream project.  Keep making amazing stuff, especially if you think no one is going to see it.  (It gives you so much more freedom!)  She got her big break after her and her roommate submitted a joke-play that they had been improv-ing for fun in their tiny apartment.  It was about how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote “Good Will Hunting”, and had her playing Ben and her friend playing Matt.  Oh how I wish I could’ve seen this play.  Anyway, they compiled their improv-ed material and submitted it to the New York Fringe Festival and, of course, it was an instant, long-running success.

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She is triple-threating-it right now by writing, producing and acting in her own show, “The Mindy Project”, and although just light and chick-flicky, I just love the humor in it and that she has so clearly found her specific style of humor.  She is girly, and a bit ditzy, but also smart, and jokey and pop-cultur-y, honest, and totally gross.  I love a lot of female comedy writers, but I find most are SO girly, or SO totally gross-homebody (“Every human has hair on his or her face, some of us just have more.  I think it’s nice to occasionally splurge on a straight razor shave.  If you’re running low on laundry a bathing suit makes perfectly acceptable underwear.   Bandanas are a fun, sexy fashion accessory.  Put potato chips on a sandwich!” here) but I think she creates a fine balance between hard-ass, girly, smart, gross, pop-culture-y, ditzy humor.  Such a fine balance.

Anyway, if you haven’t, definitely check out her book! (I know this is definitely blasphemy, but I read Mindy’s book right before reading “Bossypants“, and I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it more!  I think I just felt like Mindy shared more of herself than Tina did, and it sold me.  Tina, if you’re reading this, I love you more than doughnuts.)  Mindy, if you are reading this, I love you more than a gourmet cupcake.

IMAGE: here // here

Listen to Mindy on the Fresh Air Podcast here.

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