I used to make a lot of mixed-media collage-like stuff.
It was related to the scrapbooking thing.
A few years ago I was commissioned to make a few paper lines (which I one day might look back on, here, since it was kind of a design contract I got before I was ready for design contracts that essentially pushed me toward deciding to go to school). Anyway, I had this random pile of old-artwork-to-scan that accumulated from unpacking our new place last year. I kept every little bit I handmade for those paper collections - because it really was a labour of love that took so long to make! - but I started to scan it to have a record of it that won't take up so much space.
I was kind of struck, looking at these, at how different they are from the work I've been doing lately. I'm kind of curious, honestly, at what my collages might look like now if I gave them a try again...
Probably more colorful? A bit less grandma? (not that I think grandma is bad).
I really hope I have time this summer to dabble in collage, again, now.
The thought of making anything, at this point in finals (three weeks left til I can sleep!) is appealing, though. lol. So is being able to go to yoga, the relaxing smell of lavender, and looking forward to summer trips. I can't wait for April to get here! Until then, it seems I'll only have time to blog when I'm procrastinating and waiting for my started-it-really-late laundry to be done. :)
I was thinking about it, and then I stumbled randomly across this video:
(on the gap in good taste versus good execution)
"But it's like there's a Gap. The first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good, okay: it's not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good - but it's not that good." - Ira Glass
I randomly thought of this the other day in class as I struggled through a type specimen. It went though a big ugly phase - I'm a believer that things usually look ugly before they start to look good (and that's actually right in line with this) - and finally after two weeks I got it to what was good enough for print. And then I thought: "This is alright! It turned out alright! Wait a minute. This is not good, though." I mean, I recognize it as alright, for right now: but in 5 years I know I will think this is not good. Know what I mean?
The thing is: I'm slightly jealous of 20-or-so year olds who don't yet know this. That when you have been working for even as little as 2 years, your student film - the one you thought was good - is a hideous scary thing that you don't want associated with your portfolio by any means. (I may be speaking from experience here...ahem). Heck, even drawings you did last year are no longer looking so hot. And the 'portfolio' of pencil drawings you accumluated through highschool? They're pretty comical - in a keep-this-its-so-funny kind of way. You thought those were so good, coming out of highschool - didn't you? I know I did.
Maybe, like me, you thought you were 'good' (or at least getting better) and are now realizing you aren't - lol. That you haven't had the time and practice required to get better, yet. Or maybe your visual taste seems a bit more defined for you than what you actually produce (I am often in this phase, too). Either way:
It's simple: the more you do, the better you get.
If you haven't done a lot, you're not better yet.
The older you get and the more you do, the more you are conscious of this.
The more you're conscious of this, the harder it is to ignore.
For example, now that I'm almost a new designer at 30 I'm trying to pretend I won't think that the stuff I'm designing right now will look like crap in 5 years. I mean - I'm hoping it won't, but odds are - it will. My illustrations will look flat after I learn more techniques and I'll probably find faux-paus all over my typography assignments: like Ira Glass says in that video, though, if you listen to this little voice you're at the risk of being discouraged to keep creating and get better.
So here are some things I've found to start briding the gap, for myself:
1. Look at a lot of precedents
If you're a designer, follow what's happening in design. What's current? What are your contemporaries making? What came before and after you? What has been done in what you're currently doing? I'm a firm believer that soaking it all in develops your taste and your knowledge: if you've never seen a vintage-style sign before and just try to make one, it's going to look crappy. on the other hand, if you've seen signs old and new you'll have more of a fighting chance of making a good one.
2. Curate & refine your taste
The best thing I ever did was start a Pinterest account. Everytime I see something I visually love, I file it away. When I go back to look at my boards, I start to notice patterns: I think seeing them altogeher somewhere grouped by similar properties makes things like what colors, eras, and textures you gravitate towards more obvious. If you just try to note these things everytime you see a picture you like in your head, you end up kind of getting a distorted idea of what you like - as opposed to seeing it laid out there.
3. Is the gap closing up?
If you're stuck in that stage where the gap doesn't seem to be moving - your taste and your ability aren't getting closer to connecting - and you can never quite realize your vision in what you produce don't worry: I'm still here! I will be for a while. Just keep looking and doing and practicing and absorbing.
4. Remember: you're only conscious of it once you've been through it
So enjoy your obliviousness to it! Think, instead, "Damn! This is good. I got this". I don't think you can fully understand it until you have your old 'good' work in your hands or up on that website you haven't had a chance to update in 5 years - so pretend I didn't say anything and enjoy it! And if you know this already: there's nothing you can do but your best at the time: be excited about the best that hasn't happened yet - its not a bad thing to get better. :)
And, truthfully, what is 'good' anyway?
Our own twisted idea that stems from getting better in the first place?
What do you think of the 'Gap'? Are you aware of it? In the midst of it?
Is this just hard for perfectionists to grasp?
Have you heard of Invisible Creature? Don & Ryan Clark make up this awesome illustrative design studio (their story is really cool) - they have an extensive list of awesome clients like MTV, Dreamworks, and every record company you can imagine!
(Posters by Invisible Creature - found here)
It's worth clicking through to see all the illustrations full-size! :)
I was in awe when my Motion Graphics teacher showed this in class last week:
So good. The song, the timing, the imagery. Aaah. Not to even mention how awesome this makes the show look (haven't seen it yet - really want to! We have no cable so I'm always delayed on HBO shows). It was done by the awesome Antibody. I want to watch it over and over and find it really beautiful and inspiring. I'm a sucker for double-exposure-esque things.
There's a bit of the process behind it right here, too.
I have a confession to make: I'm a bit of a title sequence nerd. I distinctly remember when I was little liking them, and seeing the words "casting by so-and-so" on screen, and thinking that the title sequences were done by this coolest-ever casting person. What kid thinks that?! This kid. lol.
I've been feeling super-inspired by a lot of cool stuff lately which I'm going to try to share here. :)
Oh, you know...just drawing unicorns for homework around here:
These days - in the midst of midterms (they snuck up on me!) - I find myself stressing about homework and then I realize I have to draw. lol. Or make a cute logo. Or brand an imaginary business. This always amazes me. I feel pretty lucky to get to do so. It makes me really happy to know that when I chose to go back to school it was largely so I'd have time to develop my own style and get some things off the ground that I've always wanted to do but never had time to...things that I didn't have time to do while working. So glad one of these is happening right now! Even if it's stressful.
It's been a super-crazy couple weeks, here. After "reading week" (which is code for Spring break without the break) I had a million homeworks to catch up on and the aforementioned project this illustration is for has been looming over my head: it's a self-directed semester long project, and I decided to design a children's publisher's catalog - sounds like a strange choice, maybe, but I get to invent and illustrate a bunch of books to go in it. It's been super fun so far! I draw a lot, but I don't often color my illustrations. It's been really fun (and a bit slow and frustrating!) to get in there and learn to work together with Illustrator and Photoshop and experiment with texturing and outlines (or lack thereof). I've also made a baby blanket (really, this was all I wanted to do! Felt nice to make something with my hands) and worked on a super-cool short-term project for the 'ol animation studio. Whew!
I'm taking tonight off with the mister before I have to dive head first into a paper-writing, catalog-illustrating, layout-doing, typography-sign-making, project-brainstorming crazy marathon of a catch-up weekend, here. I'm trying not to count down to the summer! lol.
What have you been up to?
I bought myself an ipad mini for my birthday - so inbetween homework and a bit of freelance working I've finally been able to explore apps and games and stuff. I'm currently nursing an addiction to Plants vs. Zombies, Badland, and a few Adventure Time games...he he.
I'm finally on instagram, too!
You can follow me right here, if you want.
It feels pretty funny wielding the big ipad mini to take pictures outside thus far - lol - so since I don't have a phone it's been mostly taking pictures around the house (plus, we finally got the majority of stuff unpacked and away and the place is looking spiffy!) But one day I'll get more personal stuff on there...once life involves more than homework. lol. Oh, school.
Are you on Instagram? Link me up!
Oh yeah! I turned 29 a few weeks ago... :)
I just remembered that I had a '28 before 29' list, though!
Prooobably not a good sign that I forgot it existed. :) lol.
Let's see how I did on those goals over the last year:
I didn't finish it all. Not even halfway! But I'm okay with that.
I'll just keep it rolling this year.
It was a pretty lofty list anyway, and this year flew by like a snap what with my halves of second & third year of university, summer classes, work, buying our apartment, moving, going to Mexico, and then the mister breaking his foot. lol. Ah! I haven't really had time to reflect much on last year yet, truth be told. I'm still stuck in the whirlwind of it, maybe?
Here's the review of what I did get done:
3. Wear Red Lipstick: Kay - didn't really do this. Tried it at home. Felt not like myself. Not a fan of the red on my lips. Don't really want to make myself do something that doesn't feel like me...so I cancel this one.
4. Learn Illustrator/InDesign: Can you ever really say you're done learning programs like these enough to check it off a list? I don't think so...and I have a ways to go. But I did learn both of them a ton more than I knew them before this year. Illustrator was the big one - and I used it for a few projects. Begrudgingly. lol. And I still don't get the concept of artboards, either.
6. Get a Record Player: We got our darling record cabinet from the most amazing estate sale ever. It's been super-fun, so far. And it's fun when people come over because it's such a novelty! We try to find the strangest records: for example, "Dinosaurs" and "Sounds of Australia".
7. Go to at least one hot place: Went to Mexico for a friends wedding in May. It was awesome! We've never been away with a group that big and it was so fun. I think it might've been one of the only times we got away over the year though - sad! And weird, for us.
10. Get my big tattoo: Yesss. So happy this one finally got done! I have about an hour and a half left to get done before it's finished and I can share some pictures of it... :)
18. Camp/Hike at least once: Yay! We did this one. Only once, but still. There are many reasons why we didn't go more than once: we used to backpack camp a lot, but my rib injury was acting up when carrying heavy things, so that just wasn't going to work - since a heavy pack is the essence of that. Sad! Between full-time work, a summer class, both of our parents (and some friends) visiting, and trying to unpack/settle into the house before school started again: it just didn't happen a lot. And renting a car every weekend we want to go is an expensive pain in the ass. We went on the one annual camping trip with the same group of friends we go with every year and it's always super fun - and we're hoping to buy a cheap lil car to save the trouble of having to rent one so we can camp a lot again this year. We miss it!
19. Learn to shoot my digital camera manually: I learned this! So excited! Kay, well - sort of. I know how to do it, but I struggle remembering the direction to turn the aperture and shutter speed, still. lol. I mean, I know by doing how to do it, but I get mixed up on which way lets the most light in and what not by the numbers. I took a class for this at the beginning of last year and it was great: it was self-directed and I got to explore a lot with blurry photos and a fun macro lense attachment. I should share those here!
20. Buy a home: Dude! I'm so so happy and thankful about this one! Biggest milestone thus far for the mister and I. I'm still so amazed two little contract-working animation-workers got approved for a mortgage. What?! It's a tiny 650 square-foot apartment, but it's awesome. And its ours. Thankful for this one, and having so much fun pulling it all together.
21. Vintage Couch: Yellow velvet! My dream. So crazy that I actually found one. lol.
25. Process book of my own: I actually just started this last week, finally. I'm the type to doodle on post-its at work, so I had piles of these doodles sitting around full of one-day ideas that needed to be housed and collected somewhere. :)
27. Practice wearing high heels: Last new years, I wore the worst yellow velvet cheap high heels, which I couldn't walk in, which I think inspired this goal. But really, now, I have no desire to practice wearing them. They're not me. I don't really want them to be. Give me some chucks anyday over em! I did wear a cute pair of yellow wedges to a friends wedding, though, and that was muuuuch nicer than heels.
28. Keep my files organized: My paper files are organized! It's a miracle! I went through boxes of unorganized paperwork from the last 7 years and finally got it all in a filing cabinet. lol. Aaah. Feels so good. My computer files, however, are another story.
So there it is! 12 before 28, done. 16 before 30 to go...lol.
I'm kind of a podcast junkie, these days. More specifically: a design podcast junkie.
I just found a new one - Life & Limb - via Design Matters (which is another awesome one that will need its own post one of these days). I listened to an interview there with Sara Blake, went to her blog, checked out her uper-cool illustrations, and then found Life & Limb from there.
You can stream episodes/find out where to stream from the here:
I feel like there's all these cool designers out there that I want to learn more about, you know? Maybe I'm nosy, but I love learning how people work and try to balance life and freelance and all that. lol. I like to listen to interviews when I'm doing the more 'mindless' work, like doodling initial ideas or vectorizing something and playing around with the pen tool. :)
Last week I stepped out of my clean-drawings-painstakingly box and experimented with a two-inch paint brush, some big paper, guache, and the first typography assignment of the year:
Can you guess the song?
I know, I know: technically lettering is not typography (scroll down to #9). Either way, I'm so happy we finally get to do some hand-lettering in type class! It was pretty time consuming to scan it all in, and I'm still on the first draft...but that's what I've been working on. It's still looking a little too 'Art Project' right now.
In other news - I'm trying really hard to finally get some sort of portfolio for my design work started, since the end of the program is starting to loom over me. lol. What a beast it's been, so far! So daunting to set up, right? I'm like - "Wait, I have to shoot three years of my favorite projects? Sort through them discerningly, and then organize them in a please-hire-me-potential-clients kinda way?" I'm a little overwhelmed - especially at the thought that just when I was ramping up here, it appears that I used the web address for what should be my eventual homepage for this blog, which is not so good because it means I'll have to move it. Again. Doh.
Oh, the plight of a designer-to-be. :)