Design

I was recently thrown into a teaching position.

It is just one class once a week, but it has consumed my brain entirely. My mind is constantly planning out what to say, revisiting moments I froze up or left something out that was important, trying to improve upon my mistakes. I cannot handle any attention. When put on the spot I get flustered and my mind goes blank. I know this will improve in time, but I don’t want my problem to inhibit their learning. To compensate for this I have been spending at least two hours thoroughly examining each of their projects, giving them detailed feedback, information on the tools, and ways they can improve. I hope it helps.

In January, I have to start training for a CTE credential. Adobe Education Exchange has lots of free courses for instructors in all disciplines. So I plan on going through as many of those as possible. Been reading through old textbooks as well and reading up on classroom management and the like. It is a lot. I am trying to do the best job I can. I just don’t want to let anyone down.

Link - Op-ed Every Design Studio Should Be a Worker-Owned Studio

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“Across the advertising, architecture, and graphic design fields, you can find a similarly inverted relationship between the executive class, who hold the decision-making power, and the young, hungry underlings who execute much of the labor. In this system, design firms work toward signing the largest clients possible, make enormous profits on their work, and then pay their designers as little as they can get away with. Though this business model is still heavily entrenched within the status quo, we’re presenting an alternative to all designers who are increasingly aware of the precarity and exploitation they face: Consider joining a co-op or transitioning your studio to a cooperative model.”

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A good little piece with a nice list of co-op/other studios. Article also links to this spreadsheet which was created to encourage salary transparency.

If I read another interview about a designer that follows the format of “By the time I graduated [expensive school] I already had three unpaid internships / 5 connections at my dream company,” I’m going to scream.

I want to hear more stories about the people who had to work full time while going to school. People who were self-taught, actually self-taught, not “my high paying job wasn’t fulfilling so I took a few months off to take a Yale extension program and now I’m a Creative Director.” People who had no idea how to navigate the professional world because they didn’t have connections/parental examples, who struggled, who were late bloomers, people who actually had to figure it all out and somehow didn’t give up even though they wanted to. Stories from people who are still struggling to figure it out. I also want to hear about the people who did give up because this whole system is rotten and designed to make sure they don’t advance past working some dead-end minimum wage job.

When I say this I am not looking for those “inspirational” stories. Stories of how all you have to do is “hustle” and only sleep 3 hours a night. Nothing but capitalist marketing to make people feel like not working hard enough is the only reason why they haven’t “made it.”

Link - In CAPS LOCK, Ruben Pater Untangles the Relationship Between Graphic Design and Capitalism

“One of the key lessons of Pater’s materialist history is how much of it happens behind designers’ backs and beyond their control. In his chapter on “The Designer as Brander,” which begins with a devastating look at slaveholders’ marks, Pater draws attention to the example of Milton Glaser’s iconic “I <3 NY” logo. Layered over the context of a mid-1970s fiscal crisis, he describes how the design supplied cover for the city’s harmful campaign to roll back social services, expand racist policing, and displace poorer residents to make way for wealthy newcomers. If, as Pater concludes, “even the work of socially engaged designers with good intentions (like Glaser) can be used to drive gentrification,” this means we need to focus on something other than intentions if we are to make sense of design’s history — and the potential for ethical and political action within it."

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Link - If “Labor Is Entitled to All It Creates,” Where Does That Leave Graphic Design?

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Q: How can graphic design be more receptive to alternative models of ownership and class-consciousness?

Fisher: An important way is to actually understand how complicit graphic designers are intuitively with the interests of capital. Polemically within the discipline, there are a lot of narratives that get espoused about the capacity of graphic design to make social change. To imagine graphic design itself as actually outside of the class struggle is a flawed position. Just remembering how conditioned design is by its subordinate position in relation to capital is really important.”

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Feels like everything I’ve been reading points back to Buckminster Fuller. Might be time to dig more into his work. He put out so many books though, not sure where to start.

Bits and Bobs

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Made a playlist last week for World Goth Day. Just a short little mix of some of the standards/intro bands. It is a little heavier on the post-punk side. Recently I’ve been focusing on digging up newer groups so it was nice to spend some time with the favorites.

Went through a period of slowing down my usual reading amount. Suppose that goes hand-in-hand with reading three back-to-back books that required a bit of a pause and reflection after each chapter/essay. Trying to get back into the swing of it. Was lucky enough to find a used copy of Extra Bold: a Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers. That should push me to pick up the pace a bit.

The garden is being attacked by mites right now, but neem oil seems to be doing the trick. I know they have to eat too, but it is just out of control. Sorry little ones.

A few weeks ago I attended a portfolio review event through AIGA. I was lucky enough to give five one-on-one presentations. The feedback was almost entirely positive. So thankful to have such a great free resource. Wasn’t sure what to expect when joining AIGA, but the experience has been excellent.

Canva Impressions

Recently did some work helping to create some images and worksheets for an online course presented by The National Alliance to End Homelessness and created by My Dog is My Home.

What was different about this project was that everything was done with Canva. This was my first experience with this tool. I’ll admit that I’ve always been a little nervous about Canvas presence, mostly for job security reasons. But at the same time, I understand that not everyone has a budget for a professional designer and easy-to-use tools and templates can help small groups accomplish what they need.

Overall it was a better experience than I was expecting. Incredibly easy to use and a lot of the hotkeys were the same as those in adobe products so that helped. It was also nice to be able to simply send a link over to other members of the project and they had instant access. This way if they want to edit or repurpose an image on their own they can without having to call me up.

It has limitations. For example, you can’t adjust kerning. It didn’t look like you can adjust the dpi directly. There is no CMYK option, as far as I know. There are probably more, I didn’t do a full dive into all of its capabilities and only used this for a week to create very specific things.

At the end of the day, it is a tool like anything else and the success of the outcome has more to do with the design abilities of the person using it. Users can start with a blank slate or use a template, but even a well-designed template can go awry in the wrong hands. I would not use it for print, even though they have templates and sizes for posters and postcards because of the CMYK and dpi issues. Plus if one is going to spend the money to print something it is best to also just pay the money to have a designer look it over because there are too many things that can go wrong.

However, if you are a smaller organization that needs some social media posts or digital flyers for events and the like this could be useful. Especially if you are part of a team that needs to share assets, proof, and approve things easily.

Link - Biophilic Cities: Embracing the Optimistic Future of Natureful Cities

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“In Pittsburgh, the city has established an EcoInnovation District, the first of its kind, which seeks to invigorate underutilized commercial districts by planning and designing a neighborhood that is rich in opportunities to access nature. Biophilic include the reuse of vacant lots, improved access to fresh food through community gardens, and the planting of new trees and green infrastructure to capture stormwater and reduce the heat island effect. The project was recognized by C40 Cities in its report Cities100 for creating local solutions for climate change. The EcoInnovation District is one project among many that the city is pursuing to address the impact of its industrial history.”

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Going through and cleaning up the online portfolio today. Mostly minor changes.

Still stumped on how to best display all of the performance flyers I’ve made. A big grid feels like the easiest, but it doesn’t totally fit in with how the other projects look.

Frustrated with how little space Behance gives you for alt text. That is kind of important and you can only just barely fit in the basics. Also when you import a project to your Adobe Portfolio from Behance it doesn’t import the alt texts on anything. That second one isn’t a huge deal but is just something that can be easily overlooked. I only noticed it just now and have to go through and add them all in. At least they give you more characters on Adobe Portfolio.

First Book Illustration!

Woah! Hey! Hey! Hey!
My first book illustration project is out in the world!
Come learn all about clean energy with Sven!

This is the second in a series of nine books for children ages 5+ to help teach the basics of climate change as well as ways to help slow things down a bit.

I’ve been volunteering with Climate Science for just about a year now, mostly creating images for the website/app. Was honored when they wanted me to be a part of the book project. I am part of a team of artists so for each book I am assigned 2-4 pages.

This has been a lot of work, but each book has been a great learning process. Not just in workflow/skills, but also subject matter. I just gotta be careful because I keep ending up spending far too much time learning about different animals and plants. Although that isn’t totally a bad thing.

Link - This Is Not Good Design

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“In 2021 we have enough information readily available to exhaustively vet ideas, measure costs, run scenarios, and project outcomes. We frequently choose to skip over most of these activities because they take time and cost money. But I suspect that the more salient reason we skip them is because testing an idea is too risky to the ideologue.

Entire systems of business are constructed to protect the idea-havers from the idea-deliverers — to insulate them from the questions and concerns that those most acquainted with how things work and how people use them have as soon as they receive their orders.

Insulation is the enemy of empathy. If you can’t access the impact of your ideas, then you will never understand the damage they can do. But that makes you no less responsible. There is no plausible deniability in good design.”
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Link - True Design

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Sometimes I feel extremely alone in my desire to only want to work for organizations I believe in. I don’t want to contribute to mass consumption, don’t want to work just make more garbage. I do my best to be hyper-conscious of everything I put out to make sure it is sending the right macro and micro messages. In the end I always just feel like Lisa Simpson with her gazpacho.

Sometimes it is all too much and it gets very frustrating fighting the current. But every time I see someone talking about things like social responsibility and sustainability, it gets a little easier.

“When we, as designers and service providers choose to sign on a client, product or service, we are consciously, or not, supporting their ideas and what they stand for. To whom we choose to say no to, is a political act. When we see hundreds of thousands of work which may be either in copywriting, illustration, development, consultation, any particular service which helps in voicing and communicating certain ideologies which are not in alignment with our values, we are supporting the notion to their agenda further. There are a lot of things to factor in of course from the service provider point of view, but the most important thing is to do it consciously too. And work towards positioning the clients you work with, to your own values and principles. And it is not about saying no, but even inviting the clients you already have and offer consultation in shifting their strategy into a more responsible and sustainable way. It is a strict endeavour to apply, yet if we choose to leverage our collective power, it is the biggest civic act we can work towards together. Together we can influence the market towards a more responsible position within our society and communities. Community over competition.”
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