Stepping out of the world of design
I was in an argument the other night with a friend. It bacame somewhat heated, definately impassioned, and I found some of the core elements of my being being challenged. I think my state of mind stemmed from a lack of connectedness, a lack of feeling whole, mostly brought upon by all of the varied directions my brain has been leading me lately. My side of the debate was that my reasons for feeling so thinly spread were truly derived from artistic motives, not an avoidance of commitment. I've fairly recently developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a mind that cannot settle on a single passion. Wikipedia, podcasts, beautiful sunsets, quantum theory, and existentialism, to name a few, have bombarded my thoughts with more than a lifetime's questions. My problem, which I really don't see as a problem at all, is that I feel it necessary to investigate these paths. Pardon the cliche, but there is no where near enough time--or energy--in a day to accomplish all that I feel I need to accomplish. Her side of the argument was that I'm afraid to commit to a single direction. My shallow divergences into these random paths is a way for me to delay the inevitable of commiting to something for which I truly show potential. I don't think that she could be further from correct.
I have committed on a single something. Sort of. It was quite possibly one of the hardest, but most natural, things I have ever done. Design, however, is not singular in nature. Unless you believe that design can be taught through an online course, and that the extent of design's potential is creating cool-looking logos, you probably share some of my convictions. In order for design to be truly effective, the designer must draw from a varied and collective schema of experiences, images, philosophies, sounds, tastes, pains, joys, cuts, bruises, scars, and beautifully healed wounds. He must pursue those things which ignite a spark in his mind. He must stoke inclinations until they permanantly burn in his consciousness. Design is beautiful because it is limited only by ones capacity for knowledge. As I am quickly learning, as knowledge increases, so too does its capacity.
The other day, as I was about to leave after a late night in the studio, I metioned to my design director that I was headed home to watch "What the @#$%& Do We Know." After roughly describing its premise of attempting to understand the world of quarks and other sub-atomic matter with quantum theory, we began to talk about some recent experiments being conducted which related to the movie. One was performed by scientists in Australia who, by sending a photon of light through a silicate crystal, were able to actually stop the light within the crystal for a minute before it was released. Debatable was whether the light was entering the crystal, being slowed to a stop, and then released; or if the actual sub-atomic nature of the light photon was captured, destroyed, and reconstructed. A second experiment involved sending a sound through a yard cubed block of alloy. Using an atomic stopwatch, the sound was measured from beginning to end on one side, and measued from beginning to end on the other. The astounding thing was that the sound on the second side actaully recorded earlier than it was released. Now I can't even come close to explaining the mathematics of this, but, through the use of wormholes, the scientists were able record sound before they sent it! Perhaps equally beautiful is that the scientists chose to send a symphony through the alloy.
These conversations, on the surface, have nothing to do with design. They make my brain hurt, they stretch my concept of this world, and don't exactly have any practical application to my life. But in a way, they are more practical and more applicable than any golden rule of design. They cause me to think in a new way. They cause me to construct practical applications of the knowledge; potentially in my own field, though probably not. They do not, however, keep me from obtaining my goals.
I will get this out of the way now and forever.
"I will never be the most adept Photoshop user. I will never be a master kearner, leader, or letterspacer. My web design skills will be mediocre at best. My writing will always pale in comparison to the greats. My photography will forever be amatuer. My illustration ability will never reach its full potential. I will never be the best at any one aspect in the field of design."
A friend of mine once said that the worst thing that you can ever strive to be is a Renaissance Man. That a jack of all trades an a master of none is a poor way to go through life. Noting the way I have felt lately, I will have to dissagree. At least for now. I am not pursuing these random pathways to say that I am a better hiker on more trails than the average man. I am taking these paths because they interest me. And the further down the paths I venture, the more I feel that they are the right directions. Yes, my brain feels stretched to the limit. Yes, my soul is weary. My feet are tired and my eyes sore. This is the right path, though. Correction, plural paths, single direction.
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