This past weekend I saw a documentary at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Cinema in Queen Anne and the following preview for the documentary "If You Build It" came on before the main event started. It reminded me why I design...and that design of all kinds can be a powerful force of change in the world if we put it to good use. I can't wait to see this film!
And, as Cal Newport says in this video, "Follow your passion" is terrible advice!
I agree! This is an important thing to remember in career building during your 20s (and beyond) and something that Americans fixate on because we are told "find your passion." It's bad advice!
Most people don't have a pre-existing passion that they can identify and follow, and just because you like something doesn't mean it translates into a long-term, engaging, and meaningful career, says Newport.
I think we all enjoy seeing Google's subtle (or not so subtle) illustrations each day, especially when it is timely! Today's illustration, the rainbow olympic athletes, is making a statement about Russian politics and inequality.
We are all humans!
More and more, our current job market looks for people who are focused on a certain field—highly specialized and experienced employees.
Job training programs can be expensive and are thus hard to come by these days and many companies that are strapped for cash are unwilling to invest in the workforce's skill set through training programs.
However, employees are generally (if you hire the right people) very stimulated by and excited about learning new skills. There are so many people in the world who would love to change paths, even ever so slightly, and this has become harder and harder to do.
Hiring highly specialized employees can be a dangerous trend because it makes for fewer well-rounded people. I am convinced that being a jack of all trades and a master of many is very valuable. It's important to learn every day, try new things, and learn new skills. Being able to do so shows eagerness and dedication to constant improvement. I have worked with many people who can perform well doing a variety of skills and tasks. It makes for lively exchange of ideas and a creative, stimulating work environment.
I urge companies and hiring teams to be more open about the people they hire, and to think more in terms of the big picture (employee satisfaction and retention) rather than thinking about filling one specific need or role.
I have been working on a web refresh for the past few weeks, updating the skin and functionality of the site for our organization. We have been looking at different graphic elements and working on making all the CSS consistent and elegant.
Here are two examples of web design that we were comparing and admiring.
Light Speed Retail's website is gorgeous. It scrolls and functions beautifully, and its modern graphic elements are simply elegant and understated.
In contrast, Light Speed Retail's competitor, Intuit, has a site that is outdated and clunky. There is too much text, too many boxes, and each page is inconsistent with the functions of the last. You can see how a customer would prefer to do business with Light Speed Retail's sleek interface.
This phrase, which was coined by my dear friend, Devin, is meant to be used to get yourself out of bed in the morning. Especially on the weekend :) Works like a charm!
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean --
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
During my time in Boulder I had the awesome opportunity to work at Pivot Communication, a PR and design agency that works with a variety of local Boulder companies. It was such a fun experience to work with the team at Pivot, especially Pivot's creative director, Andrew Krzysiak. I learned a ton.
One of the projects I worked on with Andrew's guidance and collaboration was Boulder's Walk & Bike Month (June was Walk & Bike Month in Boulder). The campaign was a great success—in fact, it was the most successful Walk & Bike Month yet. Pivot Communication estimated that 8,100 people rode their bikes to work on Bike to Work Day!
Now I can share the look and feel of the campaign with you! Before moving to Seattle, I created the illustration in the campaign and applied the illustration to several different media including social media, email marketing, web banners, posters, and some other print applications. The idea for this illustration came from several iterations. We needed an illustration that we could easily edit and make relevant to different events for Walk & Bike Month, and that would give a personality to the campaign.
There are countless articles and books on how to spark your creativity. How to get rid of creative block. How to get inspired.
The best advice I could give about getting rid of creative block is to just sit down and start. It is the only thing that works for me.
My creative process is:
1. Make a list of how to get on track: What needs to be done? What are the first steps? What content do you need? Whose brain do you need to pick?
2. Start ticking things off the list. One of the things on the list is usually to decide on the graphic elements, structure and colors of the piece.
3. Start the first draft of the project!
In the past couple of days, I had the pleasure of chatting with two artist friends who have been in the field of graphic design and illustration for many years. Eric and Lynn.
Lynn started her career working as an illustrator for fashion catalogues, then moved into art direction for a large toy company and travelled the world. Now, she is a sculptor in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Eric started his career as a graphic designer. "I thought I was going to be a designer my whole life," he said. Now he owns and operates Corkboard.com.
The takeaway from our conversation was, don't be rigid in where your career is going. As Eric said, once you are a designer, you will always be a designer and think like a designer.
Sometimes you are thrown into opportunities, or life changes course when you don't expect it. In the creative field, no trend or project lasts forever, and you have to be prepared to move on to the next phase of your creative career. When a door opens, be ready to enter!
I heard Dan Pallotta's TED talk on NPR's TED Radio Hour last week. Pallotta is an activist and fundraiser in the nonprofit sector and his talk is a great eye opener on the outdated constraints we put on nonprofits and people who dedicate their careers to helping others.
He points out that the nonprofit sector has been stuck at earning two percent of the U.S. GDP for 40 years, compared to the for profit sector because our society discourages charities from advertising all the good that it is doing. We need to allow nonprofits to be more bold with their goal-setting and more risky in their ventures in order to fuel innovation.
Keeping nonprofit overhead low is not a goal. It is a hinderance. Getting the U.S. off oil by 2030 (AUDACIOUS!) now THAT is a goal. "Overhead" a.k.a. marketing and leveraging investment (things the rest of the free market is very good at) is a means to an end: Growth and scale to deal with major social issues. Changing the world.
Pompom. What a fun word. These furry little embellishments have been showing up everywhere—they are not just for first grade craft time anymore.
Pompoms can add an exotic and eclectic element of whimsy to so many different kinds of accessories, like pillows, scarves, bags, throw blankets, garlands...the possibilities are endless. Here are some of my favorites.