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Arming ourselves with the design and communication skills necessary to bring about positive change. Advertising. Graphic Design. Industrial Design. Environmental Design. Automotive Design.

Friday, August 19, 2005

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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Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Fire Within...


I'm sick of my apartment. We just moved in a week ago, but I can't stand to be there. Why, Mike, are you sick of an apartment that you just moved in to? The damned air conditioner, which was promised to be installed before we moved in, has yet to be installed. It's hot as shit there now, and I can't stand doing more in my own house than eat, sleep, and take cold showers (the water heater also a little shady).

I find myself doing little errands all day to delay the inevitable foray into the inferno. I go to the grocery store for the smallest things. I make excuses to stop by my parents' house. But mostly, I've been going to restaurants and coffee shops, working to get this blog up and running.

Primarily, I've been choosing these locations for the free wireless internet and fuel to keep focused, albiet jittery. But I've really come to enjoy the buzz of people that defines these places, especially late at night. I'm currently at The Salt Lake Coffee Break, late on a sunday, and the crowds are just now starting to filter in.

This is such a contradiction to my usual Sunday nights which typically consist of board games followed by a movie. Sometimes it's just me lying around all day reading. I hate this more than anything. Not reading. I love reading, but I crave some sort of human interaction that i don't find sitting around like a lazy ass on a couch. I feel more alive and connected to the world when I am surrounded by the varieties of human existence, even if I am on the periphary.


This lack of varied human interaction is something that has plagued my mind since I can remember. I know that I find happiness when I attempt to take in the world around me. I know that I get depressed when I allow the world to pass me by without actively absorbing or participating. I have trained myself to be constantly engaged. I have learned over time to not be lazy. Even if you are relaxing, you can take in the world. You can read, watch, think, or simply meditate; but there must be a conscious connection.

The reason that I am plagued is the feeling that I am alone in this conclusion. Alone, at least, in the people with whom I am most often in contact. I love my friends more than anything, but I don't think that they have the same desires as I. I feel like I am always going upstream. It's so difficult for me to broach a subject that is at all liberal in nature that often times I allow the thought to drown in my head. At the coffee shops, I see groups--obviously not every group, but some groups--passionately talking about the things they love. I see people getting enraged over political matters, pouring their souls over the art that breaks them, and expanding their minds over philosophy--often in foreign voices I can't fully understand. These are the conversations that I crave. And I'm not exactly sure why I rarely come across them.

Part of the reason could be that I am a pretty reserved person. Yes, this information is being made readily available to the world, but it is being read by those who wish to know it. I'm not afraid of expressing my voice. The fear comes in the method of delivering it. On this page, I am anonymous. If a part of me is discovered, I can respond in a calculated manner. I have time to develope thoughts and time to make those thoughts cogent. Through direct contact, these thoughts are much less lucid. I'm not saying that the potential for coherent intellectual interaction in nonexistant. Quite the contrary; I feel that there is much to be said, but lack the exercise in expression.

Another reason may be public fear. These people I see who experience this depth in communication, very possibly, have just been lucky in finding each other. Just as I have been fortunate to have grown up with friends who instinctively know how to laugh, these groups may instinctively know how to expose each other. Allowing an outsider into our friends' jokes and humor is difficult. We welcome those that can pick up on and take the licks, but it requires us to be vulnerable to that person. For us to truly be ourselves, we risk that person not getting our humor, or worse, condemning our humor. It can be scary to open yourself up with something you love, and unfortunately the desire for interaction is not enough. There must be an introduction into that interaction.


Now you may be asking youself, "Why is he telling me this?" You may not give a flying fuck. You not caring is a risk that I am taking by exposing this desire. You could take this information, figure out who I am (there are ways), and try and use it against me. My weakness lies in my ability to bring up this information with people, not in my desire to share it. What I am hoping for from this post is that others share this aspiration and that they will either respond to the need for deeper conversation about the things they love, or share their methods for achieving enlightened interaction.

I watched, rather re-watched a very thought-provoking movie today. It's called "Waking Life" and it must be seen. I'm pretty new to the nuiances of philosopy, but this introduces some concepts that have inspired most of this rambling. What struck me as most important was the amount of control we are able to have if we treat our lives as a lucid dream. This is why I have written this post. I am attempting to take control of said problem I want to be able to speak openly and passionately about the things I love, and learn of the passions of others.

I just deleted the final paragraph that wrapped this up nicely, and I can't remember what it said exactly. Essentially, I want to know how you express these things--how you bring up in conversation the things that torment you mind and are scared that no one else will understand. There has to be a way of sharing and building on the passions that drive our life. There has to be a way to increase meaningful human interaction.

Mike

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Friday, August 05, 2005

The Other Side...

Although the areas surrounding Salt Lake offer some of the most beautiful and varied natural scenery I've ever come across, there is perhaps equally as much passed over beauty within the city itself. Admittedly, I don't devote nearly enough time to my photography, but whenever I am feeling the pangs of conformity, I try an discover parts of the city not typically captured by a camera. Here are a few of the more recent...

This is a row of gas meters behind the Pierpont Lofts. I love the way the dim, artificial lighting enhances the repetition.


I was taking pictures at the university field house of this door on the wall about six feet off the ground with no apparent use. The pictures of the door sucked, but I snagged the train as it was passing.


I sort of have an obsession with trains. It began with a series I took of tagging on old box cars, and grew to trying to capture the paint on the rusting metal. There are so many textures that can be found on old train cars. This particalar one was abandoned, and most of the windows had been shot out.


Two of my favorite buildings in Salt Lake.


This is my favorite alley downtown. There's really amazing tagging on the old brick, and there is a small gap whe you can see the sky behind the buildings. I spent like three hours down here the night I took this. People were probably wondering where the homeless guy got the camera.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

An Introduction



I have chosen a contradictory career path. Contradictory according to the two masters it serves. For, although the battling elements fall right in line with the rest of my personality, I daily experience a pull between blatant consumerism and artistic integrity.

I am a Graphic Designer. I want to go to school for Art Direction, and some day aspire to be a Creative Director. Along every stage of the path, I will be adding to the visual, mental, and physical clutter that is American advertising. This is where the challenge comes in to play.

Is it possible to create intelligent, beautiful, emotional advertising that eliminates the said unsightly clutter and proves lucrative for the client, yet maintains and even promotes artistic integrity? By nature, I am a person who has to feel at ease with the decisions he makes. Not only must those decisions be justified, they must become personal dogma.

Obviously, I believe that artistic advertising is possible. I believe that the most effective mode of change is through the front door, learning the ways of the system with which you disagree. I could have been a painter, or I could have been a business man. But our society places so much more emphasis on the economy than culture that the artist needs a strong yet coherent voice to be heard. My drive is to unite the two, to elevate art into the same realm of importance as the trading floor. It is quite possible that I am setting myself up for failure at the hand of an unconquerable opponent. But my choice has been made and I tend to follow through on decisions.

What I ask from you is you opinions, your encouragement, your reprimands, your ideas. Is this possible, or must advertising and art remain separate contradictory elements.

Speak up.

Mike