Sometimes the idea sucks.

An area that I find creatives struggling with is the topic of good or bad.

Just for example sake, let us look at creating a brand, writing a story or creating a piece of music. That way we have a breadth of "creatives" to talk to since we have all been there...no matter what you do creatively. Knowing if what you are doing is good or not.

My best piece of advice is to make it public, publish it, show it on the internet...exhibits etc. No one gets to decided what is good or bad. People/consumers...aka the market, gets to decided what is a good/bad idea.

You could create the most beautiful piece of art, music, what you think is awesome logo or creative writing piece. But if no one else likes it...is it actually good?

This is where we start to dance around the bigger question of...are some creations inherently good regardless of what people think. Yes and no.

Just the same...just because a lot of people likes something does not mean it is good.

"But you just said..blah,blah,blahblah."

I know, it is a bit of both.

I do believe that certain creations...stuff that is truly unique, things that changed the way culture does/sees things...something paradigm shifting. Those have inherent qualities for whatever reason that will forever make it good and very hard to slip through the cracks of the market. Mozart's music, The Mona Lisa, Evard Munch, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Socrates, Dickens, Picasso, Einstein etc. These people have created unique things, ideas, positions, art that never existed before them.

"So just because it never existed before and now it does means it is good?"

No, of course not. But those same people also had the market on their side. Not only did they make something new but that new thing was wanted/needed.

This is why I say we do not get to determine what is good and bad. It is up to everyone else to let us know if sucks or not.

So we must make our work public and get as much feed back as possible. That way we can determine if the idea/thesis sucks.

The hardest part about this is patience.  Sometimes the timing is poor and the market doesn't like it or need it now but maybe they do in 5,10,20 yrs. Sometimes it takes awhile to get enough eyes on it. So waiting, learning and understanding feedback is very important.

Now some amazing stuff will slip through the cracks. Shit happens and the chance you are next ground breaking artist,musician etc is slim to none (sorry).

The hardest part for many of us is simply putting our stuff out there in as many spots as we can and getting feedback to know if we can hack it. This is all up to you and what you do. Learning how to feel things out etc.

Keep making awesome stuff, keeping publishing and let the market decide what is good.

 

Why is tomorrow better than today?

The topic of seizing the day, of taking advantage of the hear and now, to be about the current moment, to do whatever it is you want to do. Is a topic in business and life in general that is beaten to death. Clouded with fake motivation, inspiration and a crap facade of spontaneous wannabes that leads to wheel spinning.

Now I am not going to say there is no merit to this thesis. That would just be silly. There is tons of truth to be learned from concept of "doing" and a lot of people could benefit from hearing a message like this.

Often a lot of us get in a rut, stuck in some kind of grind. Every now and then we get an idea. Maybe it can improve your job, start a business, write a book, a piece of music/art, a non profit organization, a trend, a app etc etc. You know...those ideas you get in the shower while you are thinking about how life has lead you to this current moment in time.

Often these ideas are gone as quickly as we are finished drying off from our shower. But why? Now, I get that not all ideas should not be acted upon. With a little research and know how, we can find out which ideas just should be scrapped.

This is where the action of doing is so important. For a litany of reason we as people do not like to "do" of our own accord. We like to listen to someone else tell us what to do and leave it at that.

So by all means. If you are able to, take full advantage of that idea. Grab it by the horns and do something with it. The important part to take away here is...do it till you succeed or fail. Don't just do it and stop or constantly put it on the back-burner. Do it and do it till you can say, "Well that was a shit,ok or amazing idea." That way you can bury it forever or grow it into something amazing.

Here lies the constant battle we do with ourselves and our lives. Is this idea good? What would so-and-so think about this? What if I fail? What if i succeed? What if I never finish? Can I afford it? Do I need help? The list seems endless. We are often our own worse enemies and shoot down ourselves before the plan gets a chance to start. Audit yourself and be real about what you can and cannot do in order to figure out the best plan of attack.

You cannot change what you have done and the future is not promise. All we have is the here and now.

Just enough is more.

Everyone has heard the old say, "Less is more.". There are some amazing truths and things to take away from that statement. Not just as creatives but as people in general.

Now as much as I tend to lean in agreement with that statement. Since there is a beauty, a refinement and elegance of designs that are simple. Showing ultimate refinement and control over computational elements. Apple being a quintessential example of how simplicity and restraint is used boldly and elegantly at the same time to communicate effectively. That thesis is pervasive in everything they create.

After reading an essay by the great Milton Glaser. He is quoted as saying, "Just enough is more." He understands that not every solution out there requires the bare minimum of elements. There seems to be a misunderstanding that just because something is"busy" it does not mean that it cannot show refinement, elegance or restraint.

Sometimes you need to open the flood gates open more. The voice and the message is what is important, what is trying to be ultimately communicated. Communication is not always clear, it is often noisy, cluttered and disorganized. Rough around the edges...often having a hand crafted appeal that makes communication so individual. (Why I think hand lettering and styles as such are growing in popularity.)

It only makes sense that some people will have different voices and in need of having to say their message differently. People often have a hard time disseminating aesthetics elements from gestalt principles. For example, lets look at a grunge or punk band. Aesthetically speaking, they will look as such. Loud typography, tons of texture, clashing colors/patterns...this type of look often doesn't please the vast majority of people (which is good). It is lacking the restraint and refinement of Apple. Often times, these aesthetics are still well designed, great organization, hierarchy of computational elements and communicates very effectively. But....what if they still broke those base guides?

Then maybe that message isn't for you. I believe it is very ok to understand who you are trying to talk to and communicate with them how they like to be. It is expected as such in marketing 101 kind of way.

After all, who decides what is good and bad design? We create and build something that fits the need. They public/consumer gets to decide what is good regardless of "our good tastes."

Use enough elements to say what you have to say, not the minimum amount...just enough.

Perfectionism is killing you.

I always thought that with my creative projects that I was a "perfectionist". That everything had to be just right in order for me to call the project finished. Embracing it as some kind of quirky creative character flaw that seems to follow most people in this community.

As I started growing in my understanding of self, I found out that this perfectionism was killing my growth and was simply an excuse to not ever finish work and start more.

Perfectionism is fear.

I will draw this example to show you what I mean. Let us take a fine art piece I begin working on. I start getting to the fine tuning end of the project, the final details so to speak. I used to not be able to stop picking at it and call it "done". Tons of creative artists never "finish" projects. When you call a project finished, that means that it is open to review...open to criticism. Most of our egos are pretty fragile and we like to keep it as safe as possible.

By not ever finishing anything and when we run into criticism, we can simply say, "Well it isnt finished yet...." This protects our ego's from the stones of opinion that get tossed at our work. Work that often we pour differentiated levels of ourselves into. The ol' blood, sweat and tears.

We want to take this thing that we have created and protect it...protecting ourselves from the reality of what other people think.

This inability to deal with 3rd part influences or criticism keeps our growth at bay, from truly tapping into something great that we have to offer our community.

It is our duty to finish our work, whatever it may be. Mark it and label it as finished, that way we can send it off into the world for further review. Maybe everyone hates it but then again..what if they don't? Often times, the success is more daunting than the failure, since failure is often expected and success isn't.

Finishing work lets you get started on more and repeat the cycle. Increasing your chance of finding something that is worth doing, something that matters.

Stop making it perfect and finish it.

Self improvement is a life long journey that requires daily labor.

Every creative person has some kind of process they go through when they start doing a project. Some are super organized others are utter chaos. Most of us seem to fall in the middle somewhere when it comes to the process.

One thing that would help me become a better designer is organizing my chaos better and having a more direct plan of attack. Documenting how I got to where I ended up and my reasoning as to why I made certain decisions along the way. It is helpful to document this for future employers, clients or even just self criticism in hopes of self refinement

I tend to start on paper, lots of sketches, wire-frames, ligatures or whatever it may be that I am working on. Lists, maybe some words, phrases etc that will be helpful in my development. I do tend to get distracted a little bit at this point. Using your hands to create allows for so many different looks, the possibilities are endless. So to go off on tangents and exploring looks that upon a stricter self criticism would prove to be pointless, can certainly be a better usage of your time. So make sure you audit yourself to know where you can be most and least productive at teach stage of development.

Just the same when I get to a computer...I try to be almost too thorough. Exploring typefaces that often have no business even being explored. Just to say I was thorough in my exploration. Again wasting time in favor of finding some pile of gold in a giant pile of garbage.

When I finally have a typeface or look decided this is where I really start to make some moves. I find that I can make different ligatures, spacing, angles, cuts etc etc to quickly develop a mark or layout into something that by this part only needs refinement.

So somewhere from the beginning to the middle is in need of refinement. I tend to get a bit scattered brained in my direction, the scope is a bit too wide. If I could become a bit more organized in my process, I could do better and faster work.

between each of these steps I tend to just toss my process out. Old sketches, or major breakthrough. I will delete the beginning stuff simply because it does not look good in favor of the finished product that looks great. Which ultimately ignores how you got there. Sometimes the process is the most important part.

Self audit yourself and process. To each their own but knowing your strengths and weaknesses is great insight. It is not wise to recognize character flaws and issues and just ignore them...or worse...except them simply as what makes you unique.

Self improvement is a life long journey that requires daily labor.

 

Where is your audiences attention.

If there is one thing I have learned from working with teams of people throughout different companies is that there tends to be a some kind of disconnect between the marketing team and the desired audience that said company wants (granted that is their job to solve that gap.)

I find that the first people to pick up on this are the designers. Why, I am not too sure. Maybe understanding the subtleties of the story being told gives them a better insight into why the company is not getting the attention they want.

Also why I think that it is not unheard of for designers and marketers to jump between those two professions often. Some find they get one side or the other better.

A short story/example.

It was not a rare thing for me to work with a company that needed some work done on the aesthetic side of things and worked with the marketing team. Their audience was the early 20's to around 45yr old age group. Great, solid demographic to market to.

The very first thing they wanted to do was do a direct mail blast, some other printed publications and some direct email marketing campaigns.

What?!?! Blew my mind. Even though I would get paid regardless.

Anytime someone hands me a piece of paper, a brochure, information, card, or mails me something...and I did not ask for it. The first thing I do is toss it right in the trash.

I did not ask for this, I did not want it, you are selling me something or a service that I also do not want or have no need for.

Right in the trash with you.

Just the same with email campaigns. If I do not shop or use your service regularly, there is a maybe 5% chance I open it....maybeeeee 5%. That small chance I do....even a smaller chance of me clicking a link or following through on anything in the email.

Cut it out.

I fall into that demographic stated early. My attention is not on print media and good luck with email. My attention is on my phone and social media apps. That is where you have your best luck reaching me. Other then that, I do not want to marketed at.

It is like walking into a store and a sale rep coming right up to you asking you what you want, if you want to try anything and starts trying to sell me stuff.

The chance of me coming back to your store after that is low.

Understand where attention is and how to best use it.

So instead of that company wasting money on me redesigning print material, I helped them understand where their audiences attention is and helped to design digital ads for different platforms that would better reach who they want.

Design and tell your story where people are actually listening.

 

A web design/marketing trend that is insufferable.

Can we pleaseeeee stop having pop-ups as soon as you enter the website.

"Join our mailing list."

"Do you want *insert offer*"

"10% off all orders today!"

"Sign-up to see rest of article."

etc, etc etc,

The very first thing I look for when surfing the web and visiting sites, is that little X that closes that pop-up box.

I cannot be the only one. I often do not even read what it's saying, I go straight to closing it.

Stop advertising to me!! Please just stop.

I do not watch your commercials anymore, I do not read your print ads, I do not read that email (unless it is from a place I spend money at a lot), I do not read that banner ad...and no I don't click it. For the love of all that is holy, just stop tossing ads at my face.

If you use ads, pop-ups, sign up windows...the chance of you getting my email drops automatically to almost zero because I am so annoyed. Especially on mobile. The limited real-estate and the possibility to miss-tap the close X....super annoying.

I will drop your site like a bad habit and get that content/value somewhere else if you constantly ask me for info or try to sell me something etc.

The amount of times I just close my browser tab if I enter a site that has a splash page pop-up has got to be 80%.

Does this tactic work for getting emails? Even if you are getting emails...are they just peoples "spam" email that they never check? If they are legit emails...are they even opening them? The vast majority of users are turning into me, they are tired of being undauntedly marketed to.

So instead of constantly asking for shit, how about you provide me with a reason to give you my actual email or a reason to not just exit your site immediately.

Prove your worth to the consumer.

An issue I have with employers.

My younger designers who are still trying to make something of themselves in the professional arena are constantly running into the same problem, hell I had it myself out of school.

Lets say you want to get a job as a designer, start paying off school loans etc while maybe you work on your side freelancing etc.

You start going through design job postings and seeing what is out there. You are often met with the biggest frustration for many designers.

Employers will ask for a "graphic design" but that is NOT what they want.

After you are done reading the job description you find so much more. Employers want the following....or a combination of most of these....

  • A designer
  • Web/App developer
  • Print Production Manager
  • Art Director
  • Content Manager
  • Photographer
  • Illustrator
  • Project Manager
  • Writing Skills
  • Social Media Manager
  • 3D design capabilities
  • Videography and Editing
  • Some marketing skills
  • Flash or other animation
  • UX/UI
  • CAD Knowledge

This is NOT unusual. This is mostly the norm!

All while having 3-5 yrs experience and advanced software knowledge in just about every piece of software needed to fulfill any of these requirements.

And the compensation being that of someone with 1-2 yrs experience.

So imagine you are looking for a job as a electrician...but the job description is asking if you know how to do plumbing, wood work, project management, payroll, roofing, painting, drafting, cement pouring etc etc.

Get it?

Cut the shit.

If you want a designer, then hire a designer...not a developer...not an animator...not a videographer etc.

Some of these qualities listed, many people have entire careers dedicated solely to one of these things.

Now, some of you designers can do it all....that's amazing...you are not the norm and it is sad that it seems that is how things are shifting since very few professional settings want to pay salary money to hire multiple people. Instead they would rather hire one person who is just ok at a million different things.

Just imagine the quality of work done when you hired people that can do just a couple of those things...reallyyyyyyyy well.

Now, if you come by someone who can do it all and to your liking that is great. But compensate that person how they should be. That is so much to know especially right out of school. That is why younger designers have such a hard time getting jobs.

If you want to hire a designer....hire a designer.

A favorite designer of mine.

Massimo Vignelli is in my list of top 5 designers, easily.

Now, I know...that is like saying, basketball players have a lot to learn from Magic Johnson. Obviously they are great and recognized as such. But it would be a huge misstep to not acknowledge the influence that they have had on not just my development but on the entire craft itself.

When I was younger, still in high school. Like most designers, I did not understand the full implications of typography and how powerful it is. I readily skipped over it in favor of illustration every time. I watched a well known film "Helvetica" which gave a discussion of not just the specific typeset and its history. But also addressed designers who did and did not use it, their work and the importance of type in design.

The film (at the time) seemed a bit boring, was type really that important?

This was the start of need to learn all about type. I got into college and started my design studies and I did not know where to start learning about type. With the help and direction of some awesome professors I dove headfirst. Low and behold, in my first type class we watched the same film "Helvetica". It was that much more interesting at that point in my life. Such a great film and only gets better. (I may watched it probably 2 more times throughout my life.)

In that film Vignelli had a huge part in the narrative. He is considered to be THE best designer for Helvetica usage. His designs showed the entire breadth of creativity and type usage. Even though he considered only about maybe 5 types were worthy of any usage at all. And he seemed to mostly use 3.

The usage of white space, scale, color, type/layout.....was just amazing, groundbreaking and ultimately legendary.

He was able to communicate so many different things while showing such restraint all whilecreating some dynamic iconic designs.

I refer back to his work time and time again in order to better my own type setting skills. To try and learn from one of the very best is always a great way to learn.

If you are already very familiar with his work.....then go back to it...take notes...study it, if you somehow aren't....do the same.

Go near the fringes.

Whenever I start a new design or project I do my best to tackle it from every angle I can imagine that way I have many different looks to use in my development of the design.

Having many different points of references allows you to pick the best solution for the problem you trying to solve.

Now what do I mean by work with the fringes. It means taking the design principles you learned and pushing them to a limit that often you are not comfortable with. One of my favorite examples of this is scale.

Scale can be such a powerful tool when used properly in your ability to tell powerful, convincing and dynamic stories. Scale is the size of an element as it relates to its usual physical size. The ability to use the size of elements on a plane to dictate the narrative is a next level design skill. Everyone loves drama and what is more dramatic then large elements juxtaposed against small elements. But there must be a rhyme to the reason or else you are risking the loss of computational fluidity.

I always take the element I am using and make whatever is important really big....like uncomfortably big. Just to see where the fringe is. You would be surprised at how many times what you thought would be too big is actually in the viable realm of use.

Just the same when it comes to making elements small. Scale objects down till they seem too small. This is helping you define the usable spaces around and how you will tell your story.

From here on, you will find that it is a juggling act of scale comparisons. The bigger things are, the more dramatic they seem, almost like it is shouting at you. Just the same small things are often just a whisper and sometimes can be missed altogether.

This is not to say that something large cannot be soft but it is all about the relationship to other elements.

You will also start to see that compositions that often have all the elements roughly the same size are boring, unresolved and bothersome. Now, there are often exceptions of course, we must take into account the reason for the design in the first place. But generally speaking, scale is something that really brings it too life.

Be daring and create some drama.

Be organized.

This is a short and sweet tip for any designer out there.

Be more organized with your designs. 

Be able to use grids, proper alignments, rulers etc to properly compose whatever you are designing is of the utmost importance. We often rely too much on our eye to make these judgment calls. As good as some of our eyes are, being able to make pixel perfect decisions with grid lends itself to super well organized and balanced aesthetics. 

This is super important in typography. Learning how to properly set tools is the foundation for learning and applying all other gestalt theories. I am still working on my typesetting skills myself and when they progress my eye for everything else increases and I make better choices with composition.

Design is quickly becoming integral to UX/UI. They need to learn how to work hand in hand. A flashy webpage or a slick product does not mean a lot if the user experience or interface is terrible. So designing with the user in mind is of the utmost importance. 

I can get down with this.

The design community is subject to the cycle of trends just as much as any other community. I hate trends and think that they lower the creative ceiling. (At least being a slave to said trends).

One of my favorite things going around is custom lettering and attention to typography. It seems to be almost a fight against the many years ruled by the king Helvetica. Now do not misunderstand. I love Helvetica and use it a decent amount myself. But it is great to see a change coming to the current status quo.

Many hand lettering is done on paper, sketching out letters, inking and refining the lines. Then importing the finished letters/type into Illustrator and vectoring the logo making is crisp, clean and highly usable since it is now a vector. Now you have all the tools available to you in the digital realm to make changes and edits to further explore the mark you are creating. All while preserving the handmade look of the original drawing at the same time. 

This really speaks to my background. I grew up drawing and am pretty handy with a pencil and pen. So being able to combine these two worlds to create unique logos and types is really a dream come true.

To see larger companies start embracing this look and breaking from the blocky, sans serif type choices is refreshing.

I would love to see this not as a trend that is destined to die. But more like another tool to add to the toolbox. Offering another look and possibility when working on brainstorming sessions.

Shout out and a thank you.

I think it is super important to recognize people that influenced, taught, pushed and overall helped us progress further in whatever cause we are chasing for.

This shout out goes out to Fabio Sasso.

Firstly you can find him at.

http://fabiosasso.com/

http://abduzeedo.com/

He is the founder of abduzeedo which is a responsible for helping, motivating, connecting and inspiring millions of creatives around the world.

He is by trade a designer, product designer and art director with just a stupid (in a good way) amount of talent and years of hard work to back it up.

Years ago I found myself looking for new tutorials on how to learn Photoshop better. I stumbled across the abduzeedo tutorials page where Fabio and other awesome knowledgeable designers had amazing tutorials to help anyone looking for something new to learn. I probably went through just about all of them one by one, step by step, trying to recreate the style or effect.

I learn by doing and this was perfect for me. Being able to take advanced techniques and with some growing pains memorize and keep them as my own bag of tricks.

I cannot emphasize enough doing tutorials, even if you think you have a pretty good grasp on things. Even reading through them I can pick up on tips, tricks and moments to keep in the ol' tool chest.

From there I explored the rest of his page. His links to other artist, creatives and companies...connecting people all over the world. Sharing ideas, information and art/design etc...it was amazing. I spent so many hours going through links and exploring the awesome web of creatives across the globe.

So simply said, thank you Fabio (I hope you find this some day). I cant thank you enough for what you have taught me.

Make better Photoshop selections.

One thing that has really pushed my photo editing and manipulation game to the next level is my ability to select exactly what I want and need.

Those little "marching ants" is what is keep you back from some exemplary work. Even with the best typographical, composition, color theory and illustration skills. If you are making crap selections for your photography then it will painfully show through.

A lot of young designers do not put enough practice into selections simply because it is hard and tedious. Do not get me wrong, it sure can be. Understanding photo resolution, how the selection lines interact with the pixels, how to adjust your feathering, which tools are used to create the best selections needs etc. It can be pretty daunting for a newbie, let alone someone who has been at it for awhile. But with many hours of practice it is well worth the pay off.

The basic selection tools are a great way to get started. Practicing with how everything interacts with one another will help you build a quality foundation. Just getting good at those is an accomplishment.

If you want to step up your game you can learn how to use layer masks. I used masks for awhile but I found it bothersome and lacking the exactitude that I wanted and needed. At least for my liking. So i ditched that for the tried and true pen tool.

Being able to control exactly where the pen line goes has helped me create perfect selections for any type of editing need.

I cannot stress taking the time to learn the pen tool, how to use the anchors and get your ants marching just right.

But maybe you like the other tools better, maybe you have a way that is different then my own. That is wonderful. Whatever you find yourself enjoying the most is the best tool for the job.

Make amazing selections and do some beautiful edits.

The lost art of drawing.

Before anyone gets too upset, just hear me out. I came from a fine art background so I am trying to be as unbiased as possible. I'll will let you be the judge of that.

Let me say this first.

So for the most part I have always been able to draw or use whatever is in hand to illustrate. With more years under my belt I have grown my skills and have gotten to a point where I feel comfortable being able to draw well...anything and do it well.

I believe this gives you a bit of an advantage when it comes to design. There seems to be no better way to understand the concept of form and space then trying to recreate that object on a plane. For example, being able to study how the human body is put together, how the skin sits on the muscles and gets wrinkled at curtains places and proper proportionality of anatomy.

All of these observations take place in the eye and brain. Taking mental notes trying to learn. But ask someone who cannot draw to visually show that information they just learned. Even if they spent an hour studying just the eye, they would only show a poor representation of what they had just studied.

Why? Do we forget what an eye looks like? Well of course not. But we have not practiced the forms. Many of us have to learn by doing, especially something that relies heavily on observation. We have to use our hand to practice laying down lines over and over again till we start to build whatever we are observing on the paper.

This repetitive practice of using these physical motor patterns and nerves firing help us learn these forms in a better fashion. That is why the vast majority of designers who have a background in illustration have awesome understanding of the basic gestalt theories already. Why? Because they have to, it they didn't then they would most likely not be very good illustrators.

Practice recreating forms and experimenting with space and volume. Teaching your eye not to just obverse but to be able to reproduce it down these physical pathways. Eyes have terrible memory so it is up to us to ingrain the motor pattern so that our brains are more in tune with this fine detail and level of observing.

I took a summer art class when I was younger and my teacher said,"Drawing is 90% observing." Which makes sense. Look carefully and thoroughly so you can properly understand the shape in front of you.

Draw more, people.

 

 

 

Teaching as a way to learn.

One of my favorite ways to learn anything I find myself not doing as much as I should.

Teach someone who wants to learn what you know.

Every time I give someone Photoshop lessons I find myself constantly reminding and remembering tricks, tips, even basic fundamentals that I often overlook. The ability to take what is in your head and put it in a way someone else can understand, is one of the best ways that I can think of for ingraining information.

I will use my Photoshop example.

When I am working by myself on a project you sometimes enter this autopilot mode...where you just go through the motions, plugging away at keys and clicking the mouse till something resembling progress shows up your screen. When people have watched me work some describe it as almost robotic. Knowing what each key does, the fastest way to do things, running scripts etc etc.

While all of these things are good, I often find myself getting ahead of myself. Skipping steps or moving things around or even adding things that shouldn't even be there in the first place.

Breaking something down as complicated as Photoshop into small understandable bits helps me constantly ingrain better habits. A couple things that I am always relearning each time I give lessons.

  • Do not just rush into the program with an idea to begin with, start with paper and create lots of ideas.
  • Be organized! Label your layers, put them in proper groups and order so you know exactly what each layer is for.
  • They give you an awesome grid for a reason. Use it to balance designs. (I find myself taking for granted my eye instead of using grids) Which ends up taking less time and is often better balanced anyway.
  • Use more shortcut keys, learn them all.
  • Ctr+S saves lives, tap it more.
  • Make a back up.
  • Make a back up to the back up.
  • No not on a thumb drive.
  • Rulers are your friends
  • Keep originals of photography and of large edits.
  • Learn the pen tool, practice and master it.

These are only a small list of the things that constantly go through my mind. This is just the technical stuff too. This doesn't even touch on the the basic and fundamental design Gestalt theory.

Whether you are learning a sport, a program, a new skill anything at all. Trying and teach whatever you have learned to someone else. It will only make you stronger at that skill.

 

I hate trends and so should you.

I hate trends...oh so very much....they are what constantly keeps the creative ceiling low and from growing faster.

We all know what trends are, those things, music, styles, fashion, art, design, hair etc that is pervasive throughout our society for a litany of reasons. Some are cool, some are harmless and others are just dumb. But somehow we decide what is popular and it gets used up and tossed to the side once there is nothing else to use (or something different and cooler comes along).

Trends keep creativity low because we become slaves to them. We want to provide content and work that people will like so we dip into the current trends to make clients happy...which is fair. Soon we become reliant on this type of photography, those font styles, that style of illustration and now we are stuck. We are left abusing these awesome resources till they are of no use anymore.

Then once a style starts dying off and new one comes to a head the same cycles presents itself. Use, abuse, dumb and continue the cycle.

Some of these things in and of themselves could last much longer but when coupled together with other objects to identify as a style...it is doomed for the bell curve.

We keep ourselves limited by wanting to do acceptable work so we can make our living or just provide good content. If we had more resources at our hands...one could only imagine the type of work we could produce. People say to think outside of the box for something new...but that is pretty much bullshit.

Unless this new thing has some kind of inherent value, usefulness, skill etc then it will be ignored. Most of the avant garde were thissss close to being ignored and not even recognized. The best way to have a lasting change on something is to either be that one off amazing new valuable thing. Or to work at the fringes...don't go outside the box...work near the edge of the box. That is were the new trends are, that is where you can find the lasting change and permanent impression we are looking for.

Not outside the box just near the edge.

Helping myself

There has been one thing that has helped me the most in my search for growth as a designer. It is pretty simple

Do more work and make it public.

I always thought that I was a perfectionist growing up. That I did such little amounts of pieces and work because I always wanted it to be perfect. But in the recent years I have learned that that is a bunch of crap.

I was and am.... scared.

When I was younger my sketchbook was always filled with finished pieces mostly and not ideas. It was filled with things that I would be proud to show people if they thumbed through my book. I was scared to have anyone look at stuff that wasn't good, that wasn't finished and that didn't show my skills. There was some kind of irrational fear that showed itself as perfectionism. 

There was a moment where I became a bit more self aware about my own growth as a person and designer. I was stagnant and boring...there was nothing being added and I professionally suffered for it (hell even personally).

So I decided to do more work...and show people. I made a online portfolio and an Instagram account along with some other platforms to showcase my work. It forces me to continually do more work, practicing, trying new ideas trying to better myself. But most importantly I have it public. For all eyes to see, to judge, to like, to not like..to comment etc etc.

This helps to keep me honest. To slowly build a body of work that represents who I am as a designer and person.

Hopefully this lesson doesn't come too late for me. Hopefully any damage done can slowly be mended as I try to "Quiet the lizard brain." Seth Godin. And do my best to be proud of my work.

So my tip to anyone out there. Do more work....and show it.