At the point of my last packet, I had finally reached a direction and inspiration for the next phase of work: essentially, play, but manifested in the form of animated stories with a written, performed vocal backdrop. Illustrations based on people’s stories, effectively portraits of them, that animate themselves into existence. Additional areas of play were also encouraged, not just ones that necessarily fit this ostensible goal (because if play were limited to a specific outcome, is it really play? Play is a discipline i still reflexively twitch at, but I am learning to lighten up a bit, I suppose.) The point of this play was to express an ideal from a list of ideals created to help further creative practice for not only myself, but also students and whomever should find my potential-book useful.
This section, I set about collecting the pieces I needed to do so: meeting with people, recording their stories, and refining my List. I had hoped of course to have completed everything I conjured in the dreams of my last packet by now, six to twelve completed pieces, but as usual my eyes are often bigger than my stomach, especially when compensating for the factor of reality.
The particular reality that this period was dominated by, however, was that of my largest contract client deciding they did not want to pay their artists or designers after December first, but not notifying them of that fact until late january— forcing many of us to not only have been working for the last 2 months essentially for free, but also causing us to scramble to find jobs to fill the next few months with work as we had been telling potential clients we were booked. So, necessarily, this section’s play was tinged with a certain need to bend to practicality. That is, most was done with an eye towards drumming up new business.
That being said, however, I think one sucess afforded me by my previous sections’ struggles is that I was actually able to wield play to these ends; that is to say I was able to come up with a wide variety of experimentation in a breadth of areas, from architectural 3D CAD design to fashion and wearables vis-a-vis enamel pins. I worked on my stories projects while also exploring other areas to drum up business, and I allowed the jobs I did take in to be influenced by my cource of VCFA study.
I let Matthew’s comment “I can see you building towards something, the fact that I can’t see where exactly it’s heading yet doesn’t especially concern me at this point” be both a guide and a reassurance during this time.
During the next two sections, with one packet remaining, I expect of myself to pull together a cohesive collection of work to showcase at pin-up consisting of the main results of this semester; e.g. a collection of animated, narrated stories/portraits, as well as all the ancillary play work that went into it. The overarching theme being the idea of how play is both difficult for me, was especially necessary, and still fits -legitimately- into the larger structure of a disciplined practice.
The Norwegians seem very much to understand, at many levels of their culture, that play is an essential part of productivity. They get a minimum of six weeks’ vacation per yer (Though most commonly people receive closer to 8 weeks, not including their copious number of work holidays) and yet they get more done in their 10 months working than most nations do in an overtime-laden 12 months. I know this, intellectually, that if i took on less work i would actually accomplish more, but I feel sometimes that the unfortunate American tendency to blindly correlate overlaboring with productivity or progress is too-well ingrained in me by my forebears. There are smarter, healthier, happier, more elegant ways to produce meaningful work over a long term than by grinding myself into a pulp on the altar of being a “hard worker.”
READING LIST THIS PERIOD:
Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographic Marks by Keith Houston
Moomin Valley in November
SUMMARY OF MAIN PROJECTS
Grid Obsession, Continued (Or, Bridging the Gap)
The Voice hired me to do some figuartive illustration work, which allowed me to begin bridging the gap between where I was— illustrating with no real story just to fill a grid— to more story based recording. Video below:
STories & Recordings
I’ve started the process of collecting stories to re-write into pieces and to illustrate. So far, I’ve collected about 6hrs of audio, but below are the ones best listened to. Here are a few conversations between my best friends and collaborators Tyler Thrasher (Science Artist) and Terry Mudge (Owner of StemCell Science Shop) as we go out for dinner to record stories specifically for this project.
3d Design and more Grids
My obsession with design grids has bled over into the realm of 3d design, as I took the same illustration grid I have been using, and applied it as the basis for some 3d architechtural models in Sketchup Pro.
Further branding work and refinement for Studio Holmlia
Got to spend some time reworking and refining the branding iconography and design for Studio Holmlia, the name of the teaching studio i wish to use mt time at VCFA to create. All of my writing, design, footwork, research— everything leads to this studio as an outcome. So I figured I could use as much lead time as possible to kink out its look. It takes it’s name from Holmlia, the village in Oslo’s borough of Sønre Nordstrand where my family lives, and where I live whenever I am in-country. The colors are scandinavian tints of standard primary colors, useful for education, the flower pattern based on traditional geometric representations of indigenous flora often found on the region’s national costume or bunad. I use the visual metaphor of the flowers as a staircase to the left, blue like blood without oxygen, leading to the golden fount of knowledge in the form of a book, and leading down the other side— red like blood now nourished, on to do its work and share with the world.
Original Pin & Honestly, Tho
As I said, some of my play has had a more practical skew, or rather, “practical.” In that I am throwing ideas out to try and make money to be able to keep going to grad school and eating at the same time. So, I have started two lines of wearable typographic enamel pins, Honestly, Tho (Focused on sardonic and way-too-truthful statements) and Original Pin (focusing on the sacrilegious art of pun-making.)
I have also started an LLC with my above mentioned friends, Tyler and Terry, to create to brands: Matter of Fact, a company specializing in the production of scientifically accurate and inspired-by-nature home goods, and “Deck Enhancement,” a third party producer of playing card expansions for the popular game Cards Against Humanity. We’ve set it up as a subscription based service, and already have about 150 subscribers.
I also mentioned last time about the film photography I had been producing on my 1938 Leica IIIf. Here are those pictures now, taken over the last few months in Lofoten Norway, Oslo Norway, VCFA, and Tulsa OK!
Letting go, a list of things to do and explore, or, stuff I’ve told my students that I should follow:
1. Go for a walk, moving blood means moving air into brain and clearer thinking. Distraction and boredom are actually beneficial to thinking about something. Thinking about the thinking to get to a thought is not
2. Be easier on yourself, find where ego, boundaries, and need intersect. Do you actually, really have to do that work? Yes? ONLY THEN
3. Kick your own ass. Don’t be limited by the definitions of expectations and limits the world has established— these are forever young. The very concept of having a job is only a couple hundred years old, to say nothing of a 40hr work week. How best can you structure your time, for you?
4. A human’s day, Year, and life is organic— it has seasons. Don’t expect that you can do everything the same way repeatedly every day forever. Allow a heated time of feverish energy, a summer, but also make time for stillness in turn. These are the breaths of the world, in, out, in. Find this in your life as well.
5. Know yourself. Know what things you should and can change, and what other facets of your personality need to be embraced or worked around. Wield flaws.
6. Limitations are freeing
7. Learn the past to open your aperture and inform your present, combine w/yourself to focus a lens on the future
8. Seriously, everyone says stop trying for others and just do it the way you would. They’re right.
9. Stop asking if it’s what you do better than everyone and start asking yourself if it brings you joy. THEN
10. Develop a voice. Being “good” is great for practicing skills— and you should actively and rigorously practice something— but this only informs what you do in your own voice, where “good” is less relevant beyond your own discipline. What is a way that you see the world?
11. Play. Create something with your work that surprises yourself, that you often want to do but never have the time, or that feels unrelated to your disciple. A designer? Try drawing for awhile. A draftsman? Try writing, or building a box of wood. How does it dovetail and inform the work you feel you’re “supposed” to be doing?
12. Understand how what you make, what you see as your work, in the context of a larger life context. How do you want to spend your time on this rock? What memories do you want contained in your head. Make a list. How does your creative practice inform, and get informed by that list?