Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Read Part 1 here.

I remember the moment that really triggered the impatience with my continuing fear and it was around the same time that I had coffee with my girlfriend who informed me about digital magazines and their work-for-free policy. It was back in early May. I had stayed home sick, randomly. Feeling gross and stuck in bed all day, there was a silver lining… I was able to watch a live stream of the Adobe MAX keynote speakers. I had no idea who any of these creatives were. Now, even just a couple months later, I want to stab myself in the foot for not knowing who Paula Scher was, but alas I did not.

The only way I knew she was someone important in the design industry was because she was speaking there of course. I remember how incredibly impressed I was with her work, never having seen any of it before. It is literally transformative. I was in awe at how smart and talented this woman was.

Paula Scher map art

Queens Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills, Queens

I needed to break out of this place of fear and figure out what Graphic Design was all about. Paula Scher made me want to do this.

Ready to dive in, I started to research anything and everything I could get my hands on that would give me insight. I think the scariest thing was wondering if I would truly love it once I really dove in, not to mention whether my skills could even get close to those of someone like Scher.

I started by referencing my Twitter feed, which is one way I like to bookmark designers I want to learn more about. I went back and searched through all the Graphic Designers (there were a lot). I began looking at portfolios, watching lectures and reading interviews. One of the first designers I researched was Jessica Hische because I knew a little about her and wanted to know more. I watched her “Procrastiworking”  lecture at the New Adventures conference which is just what I needed. It was pure luck (or fate) that it was one of my first design lectures. She talked about how important it is to search for something you love to do nine hours a day and not to work toward any title. This is of course the opposite of what I had done my WHOLE life. I was always searching for “success” in job titles, even after I learned that I loved sitting behind a computer designing. She went on to explain the title she made up for herself (Letterer) and what she does all day. It looked like a dream to me (watch this fun interview if you’re interested). It freaked me out, but nonetheless looked amazing. Type is one thing that scares me most because I know how important it is to Graphic Design and also how complex it is. I love type, I appreciate it, but I don’t KNOW it. Not to mention, at this time I was still scared of the pen tool!

Inspired by her talk, especially where she emphasized the importance of not letting anything hold you back, I decided to get on Illustrator and learn the pen tool (which I blogged about here). This was my first digital illustration above. I did a rough sketch first (and had fun digging through my art box looking for my tools). Next, I tackled the pen tool in Illustrator and was a little surprised that it wasn’t as “impossible” as I had always thought. Maybe I was just determined. I added the type later. I was a little scared at first so it was just the fiddle for a couple weeks.

To be clear, I am in no way saying the pen tool is easy. It’s quite hard and I have a lot of practice hours to log before illustrating with any degree of accuracy and/or speed.

After enjoying the Adobe MAX keynotes and Hische’s talk so much I have since been watching Creative Mornings lectures, reading The Great Discontent interviews weekly, listening to podcasts, following inspiring designers like James Victore as well as ordering design books from Jason Santa Maria’s suggested reading list. Needless to say, I’m spilling over with inspiration and yet somehow I just can’t get enough.

Here is a Creative Mornings talk given by Debbie Millman which was amazing. It’s from 2011, but it’s worth it nonetheless. I’m also reading her book How To Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, which is basically a documentation of several casual interviews with some of the best designers. It’s a really great read. I think a better title (or maybe a subtitle) would have been “Understanding Graphic Design”. Through the recounting of several great designers, it becomes clear what Graphic Design really is and how amazing it is. I didn’t even miss the iPad at the car wash over the weekend (which Lamont took with him to Comic Con).

Below is my second personal project. The pen tool is still hard for me and I don’t know ANY Illustrator shortcuts, but I’m getting a little more comfortable with it. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing is going to look great right now, but practice will pay off. Plus, I’m having SO much fun! I’ve never done what Jessica Hische suggested in her “Prograstiworking” lecture, which is to just do what you have fun doing and then create a career around that. This was mostly a problem because without knowing myself for so long, I was unable to discern what I enjoyed doing. It seems so simple, but it doesn’t come easy for everyone. So for now, I’m in the just-having-fun and creating stages, but as I improve I look forward to where all this could lead me…..

Before these two personal projects, I had never done anything like this because I couldn’t understand the purpose of working on something without any “purpose”. After listening to enough talks and reading several interviews, I learned that personal projects are almost more important than the projects you get paid for. Sometimes, you can even land a paid gig just from putting them out there. Not a sure thing, but a possibility nonetheless.

I am currently overwhelmed by inspiration, hope and motivation. It’s an amazing feeling. I leave my day-job and can’t wait to start working at home. What I eat for dinner is not even a priority, which is saying A LOT for me.

In case you’re wondering… How? Why now? Where is your sudden motivation coming from after years without much direction……  I have an answer for that.

Stay tuned for Part 3 and the conclusion tomorrow…

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Monday! It feels good to be blogging again! I missed it. I love sharing inspiring design, rambling about stuff and through all of it, somehow understanding everything a little more than I did before. However, the difference between now and a few months ago is that I don’t feel guilty for posting only once in the last month. Maybe that’s because I’ve been spending my time really well. If you follow me on Twitter you know I’ve been trying to create and not just curate. If you follow me here on PHM you also know, the path to finding what I want to do the rest of my life has been a long journey. You may even compare it to running under water, like those frustrating dreams where you can’t get anywhere no matter how hard you try. The good news is, I keep making progress… (most recently explained in this post).

Lately, I’m also trying to give myself credit for trying so hard to figure it out rather than just feeling insecure about it. To be clear, I am one of those people who wants to love work and love what I do. I want my life and my work to be one and the same. I just never thought I could get to that point, until now.

I’ll start a little further back and give a little more detail than I have in past blog posts… I invite you to follow along in this three part post…

I grew up very sheltered and cared more about how those around me felt than myself. So I’ve had to first learn how to figure myself out, which took a LONG time and is not easy to do under any circumstance.

In an attempt to pull away from my comfort zone, I chose to move to L.A. and attended UCLA (even that was only a two-hour drive). This transition for someone who was raised super sheltered was very hard. I didn’t gain any sort of independence until my second year and even then, I was still heavily influenced by my parents. Besides the difficulty I had pulling away from my parents, I always felt out of place. Like I belonged, but didn’t. I got the grades to get in there, yes. And I was smart enough to graduate (somehow). But I never felt like I was on the same life plan as everyone else, specifically my boyfriend at the time. He could not understand how I didn’t work super hard to get A’s and have a career plan. The horrible thing is, I felt inadequate because of this, like I was failing somehow. But I wasn’t, I just wasn’t like that. As much as I tried for several years after college, I was not the suit-wearing “successful” career woman. I’m finally okay with that and actually find myself a little relieved I’m not a “suit”. I hate suits.

After several jobs in a couple different industries, I was finally heading in the right direction toward design when I enrolled in FIDM. Unfortunately, at FIDM you have to declare your focus upon enrollment. I was most comfortable with interior design so that’s what I chose. I knew I loved it, but it’s also all I knew. I had no idea what Visual Communications was, nor what to do on a computer besides use the internet. Keep in mind, I’m old enough that my first computer (Senior year of high school) was a hand-me-down from my brother. It was one of the first Mac’s.

So, unlike UCLA I knew I was in the right place at FIDM. Not 100% sure of what I was doing necessarily, but I felt like I belonged there. I was happy there. It felt so wonderful to let myself go and just be creative. By nature (back then) I was a rather uptight and stressed out human being. It felt good to let go. Once I graduated from FIDM and got a good job working in Interior Design, I was happy but not quite obsessed with the work I did. However, I didn’t notice this. I mean, how can I expect to be “obsessed” with any “job”. Since I’m slow at picking things up, I simply started to realize that I loved the days at work when I had to sit at the computer all day and create digital presentation boards. I never thought about exploring this feeling further. I had finally settled in a career dammit and I was going to make it work. Well…. then the economy tanked. After my friends and I lost our jobs at the firm, I had no idea what to do with myself. I was devastated. I had just found “security” and now it was gone. What the hell am I supposed to do without a full time job?! I literally had no idea. For the first year I tried to get my old job back, or something like it. Of course there were no jobs so I was completely lost. And then, about a year after freaking out (and gaining/losing weight) I decided to do something. I asked my friend about her blog because I had NO idea what they were or the awesomeness that was the blogosphere and the internet in general.

Cut to: starting my own design blogs and realizing I cared more about what the blog looked like than the content. Even though it was super amateur, I had so much fun designing the blog and the header. After following a couple bloggers who I later learned were full time graphic designers, I started to realize I was more interested in Graphic Design (I still enjoyed Interior Design as long as it was from behind the computer), even though I wasn’t totally sure what it was (but does anyone really?)….

As much fun as I was having, I was still frustrated. I didn’t know much about Graphic Design, other than the basic design principles that could be shared with Interior Design like color, space and context. What I could see was that it was more contextual than Interior Design. I felt like there could be more thought behind it rather than measuring and plan drawing. I enjoyed the idea of working in media rather than someone’s home. I mostly loved the way Graphic Design overlapped with Art. Sometimes they just flirted and sometimes you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. This mystery intrigued me. Even after all this, I still felt that I was too old to start over yet again (I was in my early 30’s), but took comfort in the idea that I wasn’t considering starting over necessarily, but rather just taking my design career in a different direction.

I let it all marinate for a while (aka: wasting time in fear for a little while longer).

After several months of still feeling curious and intrigued, I deciced to take some courses in Graphic Design. So I did and I received my certificate. Mind you, I pretty much learned the basics of CS, nothing about type or anything else super important. So even after completing this certificate program I felt insecure, which is ironic because security is mostly why I thought I needed the certificate. Once again, I retreated to my place of fear. I had concluded that I would simply embrace my limited skills and try to get a job working on a digital magazine doing layouts. However, I had no portfolio to show so just sat in fear a little longer. I mean, creating a portfolio would take actual Graphic Design skills and I didn’t have those.

After more time just blogging and curating, but not really creating anything, I became more frustrated. I always felt like something was missing, like I was missing out on some great experience. Basically, actual design work is what was missing. I began to realize I didn’t want to develop my blog and make money that way. I hated that all I could do was curate, but had no real skill and couldn’t call myself a Graphic Designer. I was getting to the point of being tired in settling. Not long after, I had coffee with a girlfriend one day who is also a full time blogger. When I expressed wanting to do magazine layouts, she pointed out to me that all gigs working on digital magazines are unpaid. I had no idea. I would have to find some other way to make money.

Ok, this is stupid. I have to develop actual design skills! I refuse to work for free. I’m going to take the leap and REALLY figure out all the awesomeness that is Graphic Design……

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

Images via La Casuarina, Ezine Mark

Monday, June 10, 2013

Warning: This is one of those rambling posts. But interesting if you stick with it.

I didn’t blog last week, partly because well I don’t have to. But, mainly because I just wasn’t feelin’ it. I’m a believer in blogging when I have something to say or share.

Design by Nicole Martinez

So, the reason I wasn’t feeling up to blogging isn’t because I’m tired of blogging. I love documenting beautiful and inspiring work from around the design world or curating stylish items for the home and closet. I enjoy curating, I’m just tired of ONLY doing that. I keep feeling like I can’t take the next step in Graphic Design because I got started too late and I should just be happy where I’ve landed, which is somewhere between Interior Design and Graphic Design.

But recently I watched a lecture by Jessica Hische. If you don’t know her you should, she’s a brilliantly talented letterer and illustrator. During her talk she emphasized doing anything that makes you happy and taking on consistent side projects, even if it means procrastinating the things you should be doing. The “procrastiwork” (her term) is probably what you should be trying to do with your life anyways. But more importantly, she pointed out that fear of the internet (or technology) should not stop you. This hit home for me A LOT.

I’ve taught myself how to edit code when I want to make some quick changes on my blog, but I don’t really know coding. I want to. I love that kind of stuff. I took a class in high school as a random elective and loved it. I got an A in the class. Did I ever consider pursuing a creative career?… Not for one second. So horrible!

So, here’s the breakdown so far…. I enjoy coding but I’m scared to really learn it. I never work in Illustrator, it’s too scary. I love Photoshop. We might be getting somewhere so stay with me….

I see work that other designers have done (like Miss Martinez above) and I’m in awe, but never think I can do that sort of thing myself. My excuses are usually about how he or she knew what they wanted to do when they were young. It’s too late for me to learn all that tech’y computer stuff.

Woah! Step back Cori! So wait, I would LOVE a career where I sat behind a computer and created stuff all day… Not just curated stuff, but created stuff… And I’m not doing that WHY?

So, on Saturday I approached the Illustrator pen tool like it was my bitch and finally tried to learn it. Before I sat down at the computer I sketched out my idea (I forgot how much I enjoyed sketching). Then, I headed to the computer. As I was working, and TOTALLY enjoying myself, I decided to start a self-initiated project for practice and hopefully I’ll slowly get better. Maybe some of it can even end up in a portfolio one day…


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This is how I spent my Sunday morning… in bed with my iPad. It was perfect.

I had heard about Creative Mornings, started by Swiss Miss blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg, but had never really seen any of the lectures. Until Sunday, when I watched Ben Chestnut, co-founder of Mail Chimp talk about his journey. He’s smart, witty and inspiring. He reminded everyone to make sure they love what they do rather than do what they love or you’ll no longer love it. If you’re loving everything you do, it will lead to something big.

I watched my second Creative Mornings yesterday and listened to Graphic Designer Chris Doyle talk about creativity and what he thinks defines it. He emphasizes the importance in meaning rather than aesthetic. “We spend an incredible amount of time figuring out what our work looks like, and not enough thinking about what it says.”

I highly suggest watching some of these talks given by really smart, creative people. They didn’t just happen upon their creativity and their success so it’s interesting to hear about their journey.

See more of this lecture series here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Marimekko Spring Look Book is out of this world. Brilliant styling. The clothes are something to stare at, the colors are magnificent and the model has so much personality! (Thanks for sharing on Twitter Ilena!)

Monday, April 8, 2013

I’m helping my brother with his blog and so far the design is coming along. I got him a template from Blog Milk so the layout is clean and unfussy. But, since my brother is a film editor he pays attention to details. He’s asked me to make some tweaks to it which means editing the HTML. I’m no coder so it’s been a challenge, but really fun! His blog is all about movie making from the music to the poster design. I’ll update you when he sets it live.

One of his posts is about Saul Bass, graphic designer and filmmaker. Perfect timing for me because I’m currently designing a poster for one of Lamont’s scripts that’s in the process of being picked up. I’m submitting my poster design to his friend/director and hopefully they’ll hire me on. The only other thing I’d like to do besides design magazine layouts is poster design!

Saul Bass designed posters to be simple, bold and geometric. It’s the direction I’m taking with the poster I’m working on so they’re a great study for me.

There’s lots of alternative poster designs of well known movies out there like this ET poster below which have adopted the simple geometric aesthetic. They’re great for inspiration too.

There was a great design project completed by Albert Exergian which was recently displayed at the Hammer Museum’s Graphic Design exhibit. The posters feature simple, geometric designs based on the story-lines of each TV show. The Nip/Tuck one is pretty hilarious.


Images: Love in the AfternoonAdvise & Consent, ET, Set of 4

Friday, April 5, 2013

Funny story… I was working on this post at my computer when I heard glass break in the kitchen. Lamont broke the glass carafe for my french press. Incredibly annoyed, I returned to my desk to keep working and soon after found the top image. It seemed oddly appropriate.

I’m a total tomboy and I love pink. So what.

Growing up, I hated pink. I think I made myself not like it because it seemed like the typical response for a little girl when someone would ask… “What’s your favorite color?”

It took a long time, but within the last few years I’ve grown to love the wide range of the color pink. It can be bright and bold or it can be soft and moody, like in all of these images. It can be super feminine or it can be the perfect addition to an ultra-masculine design.

What’s your favorite color…..?

Balloons via Glitter Guide

Mantel via I Love Pretty Things

Palm Trees via Hannas Room

*So many problems finding sources on Pinterest again. Help if you can.