The inspiration of watching process.

I grew up watching Bob Ross on PBS practically every day during the 1980s. He was an artist that literally completed a painting in an hour and it was just him standing with his canvas, his palette of colors and his brushes. That’s it. No fancy backdrops, no guest speakers, no background music. The show was entirely about Bob, his ability to paint “happy trees,” and create something from nothing. It was about his soothing voice as he tutted through his process. (Watch a full episode here).

PBS Remix-Happy Painter

PBS was on to something, maybe without even knowing it. People are fascinated with how something arrives from nothing. Now, you can’t throw a stick without seeing a tv show about building a tree house or learning how a potato chip is made. But sometimes I just want to see pure process again. The endless interviews usually drive me a bit batty and force me to change the channel. But sometimes I get lucky and come across a fantastic illustrator who knows how to put a process video together.

Camille Rose Garcia, is an illustrator based out of LA. Influenced by her Mexican activist filmmaker father and a muralist/painter mother Camille became interested in creating narrative and wasteland fairytales with a style all her own. Her work always seems to be a study in contrasts. Her style allows for the creepy and the beautiful to mix, and at times still retain that Disney-like polish that is applied to many classic fairytales these days.

Camille Rose Garcia: Snow White

What’s even better is that she has created a video that shows her illustration process and it’s nothing short of fantastic! Between the polka music in the background, her use of a hoof ink pot, and her actual illustration techniques, it is no wonder I have watched this video close to six times already. It may not be the same as Bob Ross, but really, what is? hehe Enjoy!

Inspiration is the key to a happy creative!

Designers are collectors. Whether you have actual flat files full of ephemera or you wear the newest piece of technology, we collect the things that inspire us. Even the most minimalist designer will have a few key pieces on their walls that are highlighted to really let them shine. I personally have many inspirations that range from vintage fabrics from the 1920s (where do you think I get my color palettes?) to educational charts and books. I know other designers that collect bottle caps, match books, comic books, magazine spreads, vintage cameras, sewing patterns, maps, and the list goes on. Anything can be inspiring to the right person.

Vintage 1930s Fabric

We also get a charge out of seeing what other designers are doing and what they’re interested in. Designers are inherently curious folks. We can’t help ourselves. The only upside to critiques in school was that we got to see what everyone else was doing! So when I was researching designers for an upcoming book project, I happened to come across Andrea D’Aquino, a woman that resists titles such as designer, illustrator, art director, but instead tries to exist between.

Her work is EXCEPTIONAL. Between her new rendition of Alice in Wonderland and the Moroccan-inspired backdrops she created for Anthropologie, I didn’t know where to start first. Needless to say, I was on her site for about an hour, pouring over her work. Her work is definitely mixed-media, with each piece pictorially telling a narrative that is so simple, you know it took her a fair amount of time to tell such a nuanced story. Each time you view her work, you can always find something new that you most likely missed the first time. This is why her work is perfect to keep coming back to for inspiration.

Alice in Wonderland: Andrea D'Aquino (Alice in Wonderland. Copyright Andrea D’Aquino)

Anthropologie: Moroccan Series (Andrea D'Aquino)

Anthropologie: Moroccan Series (Andrea D'Aquino)(Anthropologie: Moroccan Series. Copyright Andrea D’Aquino)

So who knows when the influence of this inspiration will strike, but it never hurts to keep the coffers full! Want to see more? Check out Andrea D’Aquino’s full site here.  What inspires you? Share it in the comments section below!


Chapter One…Wait, what?

Dear Readers,

It certainly has been a while. Just a little over two years since I last wrote. I didn’t completely stop writing, I just put those efforts toward more scholarly pursuits, writing about design education, and where I thought the future of design might go. Which by the way, it’s nomadic. Peripatetic Nomads to be exact. Feel free to request that gem of a paper. I may have had had a temperature of 103˚ when I wrote it, but it actually makes a few good points…But I digress.

I am proud to say that I completed my Masters of Design this year in June. It was a wild ride. I have met so many amazing people: Classmates, professors, students, friends, collaborators. Between being in a new part of the country, which in many ways was a culture that required assimilation, and surrounding myself with these new perspectives, its truly been a growing and enriching time in my life.

I got to work on some really interesting projects that ranged from understanding how and what we feed 30.7 million students through school lunches every day to creating a smart wearable that could intervene in sexual assault in alcohol-fueled situations. There was no topic off limits. And then there was my thesis. My completely beautiful and life-altering project that not only focused on my favorite things (people, education, and making), but allowed me to really dig in. When you’re in such a project, it feels like it will swallow you whole, but eventually you find (or damn, weave it yourself) that golden thread that connects all your thoughts together into something that isn’t too shabby in the end.

So I’m picking up where I left off. A little older (I have the gray hairs to prove it). A few more experiences in my back pocket (remind me to tell you about trying to cook a geoduck…). But ultimately, I’m starting fresh. Little did I know that the learning process was just beginning again. Or rather it never ended. (Prosaic, I know, but bears stating now and again!)

Check back in each week as I share the new and interesting things I learn about design, the people involved, and the inspiration behind it all. Have a topic you find interesting? Drop me a line and let me know. I’m sure I’ll want to learn about it too!


MDes 2015 CohortThis is my Master of Design Cohort at our thesis exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery (2015).
From left to right (Scott, Shagheyegh, Me, Ryan, Kun). 

The Creative Process

Oh the creative process. I have to sigh before even writing this post because if you are a creative, then you can know the joys and woes that come along with the words “creative process.” I have often said that it’s a marvel and a curse. It’s a marvel that such a process exists where you start from nothing and in what seems like magic, something beautiful, wonderful, insightful, fantastic, and tantalizing presents itself and the world is saved once again (yes, it can totally feel like that).

The curse comes when that process betrays you. Each creative has their own process and they are as varied as there are stars above. But sometimes that process gets stopped or blocked. It is either someone else blocking our path because of budgets and asinine requests (insert the word “client/committee” here), which once you’ve been in the “creativity as a service” industry long enough, you kind of get the hang of dealing with them. But then what happens when YOU block yourself. When that innate part of you that you’ve always been able to call upon refuses to give you that spark of inspiration. Or refuses to run smoothly, where each step forward feels akin to running into a brick wall repeatedly. Oh yeah, it can feel like that. And mind you, all of this is taking place inside your head. Yikes…

But us creatives keep coming back for more. There are those of use who do turn their backs on their creativity and that spark because it’s too emotionally draining, but most of us keep coming back for more. We can’t help ourselves. To be without it would be to be missing part of ourselves. Plus, look at the tangible items that come from the creative process? Houses, planes, sculpture, spoons, posters, films, fashion, cars and the list goes on. Our world has seen some pretty freaking awesome things come from the creative process.

I’ve spent three paragraphs attempting to explain the creative process and didn’t even come close to it, if you haven’t experienced it yourself. But I came across a commercial for Dodge (It’s always the car companies. Damn them and their huge marketing budgets…) that attempts to show not only the creative process, but the process of specifically bringing a vision (car) into a reality.

So if you have a creative process, then you’ll definitely identify with the video. If you don’t have one, then you’ll get the most accurate version that I’ve seen of the creative process out there, even though it’s about cars. Enjoy!

Inspiration #2

I originally thought that when I did these “Inspiration” posts, it was be other people’s work, pictures, paper, etc. So basically it was inspiration that affected my own work. But then I saw this video and it made me think: Why not have inspiration to inspire your life and not just your work? Life inspiration, career inspiration, I often feel it’s one in the same for graphic designers and often times for creative people in general.

So this week, I was inspired by by a video. A young woman who owns the company/store front called Orange Beautiful, based out of Chicago, Illinois. So enjoy the video and feel inspired about more than just your next project!

Emily Martin of Orange Beautiful from ReadyMade Magazine on Vimeo.

An Inspiration

So I thought it was high time that I took my own advice: Collecting inspiration. There are so many topics I want to talk about, but sometimes you just need some good ol’ fashion, stop and make you stare inspiration. The below inspiration is not new to me, but it only reaffirms my love for 1950’s patterns, and anything European.

The movie “An Education” is simply breathtaking. The story in it’s own right is a beautiful coming of age story, in which the audience member can relate on many different levels. Woven amongst the story are these beautiful backdrops that are just luscious. The characters themselves are also a source of inspiration every time they change outfits. The movie takes place in 1956, which is rather distinct in the world of visuals. It takes you back to a time when men looked dapper and women simply dazzled. I’ll try to post more things that inspire me. If you think of something that might inspire me, don’t hesitate to comment!

HOW Design Conference: Upon further consideration…

Well I’m back from my trip and more confused than ever. That sounds negative, but it’s not meant to be. This year’s set of session’s and speakers seemed very unique to me and well planned. Last year’s sessions/speakers were much more about the environment designer’s work in and practical tips for day-to-day designing. This year’s were more about the designer themselves; the kind of person they are outside of being a graphic designer and how that in turn helps them be better at their jobs. Sessions ranged from looking at all the stuff we keep on our homes and desks (toys, pencils, pens, posters, books, etc) to what inspires us. I think it made several people stop and think: Wow, there is a person behind all this work we all produce daily. Often I think designers feel like human computers that components are put into and out we spit a marketing piece or a website. We can start to feel very “unspecial” and that can affect us deeply.

For me these sessions made me start thinking of so many things and made me really question who I am independently of graphic design and then who I am with my work and how they interlock. It was amazing how so many graphic designers were baffled when asked what we draw inspiration from. It was clear that many people, including myself, hadn’t had time or even thought to ask ourselves what inspires us to come up with that new great idea. We all get so focused on the job/project/pitch/new idea that we had forgotten about ourselves.

So this is what I take away:
1. I am unique and to do my job it takes a little bit of nurturing and understanding of myself.
2. Don’t dismiss the little things: You never know when a red kick ball can change the world.
3. There usually is another person in a worse work situation than you, so keep that in mind.
4. Find a mentor if you don’t already have one. They will change your life.
5. Be a collector of inspiration. It never goes out of style.
6. Network. Even if it feels weird, you can only get better at it.
7. Be open about who you are. You’re not alone.

So my confusion comes only from looking in at myself, being intrigued, and trying to figure out who I am and what truly inspires me.

Most likely my company won’t pay to send me again next year, but based on this year’s experience, you can bet I’m already saving for next year.