For two months I’ve asked myself, what is it that January, or February, made possible that was not possible before? And, each month I’ve failed to sufficiently meditate on the answer. And by meditate I think that has more to do with keep useful records on what exactly happened throughout each of those months. So let’s do a quick recap since this is a quarterly review and then dig into march.
January saw my first serious observance of the Feast of the Epiphany. Without waxing too esoteric, it is the still (against all odds) beating heart of the tradition of New Years Resolution.
What Resolutions tend to miss is the reflection that guides our composing them in the first place. But the Feast of the Epiphany still contains that concept since it’s woven into the bones of the story itself: three Zoroastrian Astrologists, magi
cians, notice in their star charts the arrival of the God made Messiah on earth.
Their actions are guided by the centerpiece of the feast itself, the discovery. The epiphany. And so imbued with new knowledge they set out to find the king born in humble circumstances. With them they bring gifts that befit his fate, and with his arrival a new year can begin and thus another epiphany can be shared and a new quest undertaken. Within the Feast, Christ becomes a cardinal direction on the face of a clock who’s hands belong to our very lives. As we intercept and overtake the solstices containing God’s made man (Dec 25), or men made martyrs(Jun 24), men made fathers(Mar 19), or Angelic hosts who’d been there from the beginning (Sept 29) tradition expects us to notice, to remember, and then grow.
Resolutions work better when their links in a chain and not mountains to scale. And so, we find our star to guide us, (often it’s the second one from the right) and go straight on until morning.
My star to follow was that 2018 provided me with the gift of world shattering self-recognition. 2019 would be the year I set out to take responsibility for those places I had left untamed that required domestication.
When we approach anything, especially in a field like design we should be actively participating with the symbolic. These are worlds we’re having to render into new permutations and purposes. It’s good to have a mouth feel for their shapes and colors and resonances that run deeper than pixels. They are taffy and can bend, and they can also break. They can be traversed between.
Sometimes I consider diving back in with the larger community of graphic artists. When I do, I’m often struck by something I find difficult to articulate when I bother to give this even the most casual as possible regard.
If I were to try, I suppose I’d say that design seems to be a field in a perpetual tangle between ignorance of it’s past to liberate it’s future. It’s present is ultimately commanded by convention, by deadlines, and by a few gilded master-crafts persons who seem vessels containing the muses themselves. It has proven resistant to cults of personality because we’re all fighting each-other for the same crumbs as we enchant and elevate the banal into poetic visual song-craft that we’re 1099’d often for less than we’re worth to compose.
But then again I’ve avoided designer YouTube. I haven’t really looked at a Photoshop tutorial since 2009. These days I can be found on stack exchange dispelling some ignorance I possess concerning WordPress and PHP.
My experience has been that since I began to do this professionally the only goal was to try and make enough money to survive. And it’s this urgent purpose that denied me sufficient time to consider the source urgent cries for structure and conventions and hierarchies. I have, however been able to contemplate their mechanics in such a fashion that I’ve observed striking symmetry between visual design and music theory, but I have not had much time to consider why we bother in the first place.
In the meanwhile, as the years pass and technology changes and Adobe attempts to co-opt the tutorial community by bloating their production tier software with mandatory introduction tutorials upon every update, or continuous improvement processes that seem to only render hardware obsolescent with a greater frequency. We become enthralled to learning the next best process or technique or trend to set us apart from our competitors or set us among the respected and well regarded within the design community.
Technology, soft rides shotgun while the things which brought any of this into utility to begin with, like icons or archetypes or mythopoetics or polemics or hermetics or even Egyptian magic that ran ink across papyrus in perfectly spaced columns and rows in mass produced books of magic that played with cosmological thought forms that saw relationships between metaphor and metaphysics and so messengers between worlds could be creatures who flew or crawled—literaly traversing heaven and earth. Carrion birds became one of the first div containers of human culture, literally carrying the dead into the heavens. Ringing bells didn’t give angels their wings, vultures did.
These metaphors required unique and ordered constructs and compositions to contain the various constructs and compositions they took note of, and attempted to steer though word or thought or deed.
So January got me thinking about thinking about things.
February was a blur. I experienced a strange run in with a strangely politically motivated group of people who read advanced copies of young adult novels on twitter. I was disappointed with how in the moment of sudden and severe concern for a topic I had cared nothing about five minutes earlier that, I failed in my aim to recognize the person-ness of others and made some hasty comparisons that were a little off the mark when a variety of perspectives are considered.
My inaccuracy was that I had suggested that Harper Lee wouldn’t have been published in a modern environment, which is very likely true. Where I went off the rails is when I called someone a cryptofascist, which, I suppose most of the crypo I was referring to was how no one in all of this mess could or would explain what Wen Xhao had specifically done wrong. At that specific moment, no matter how hard you looked, there was little to any evidence of any actual controversy at goodreads when this first popped off.
Eventually I found an obscure tweet thread about coded racial language and some insensitivity towards someone’s situation that I couldn’t be bothered to remember because it felt so absurdly petty.
My takeaway was, that first, something was up with me not with the world. I was getting drawn into marketing level manufactured controversies. Second, in an effort to make sense of conflict overall, I fell a period of watching and studying a part of my childhood left largely forgotten, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I doubled down on reading a theologian I’d been guided to last year who wrote on topics of stereotyping and prejudice.
I committed to try to read one book a week. I failed.
When it came to getting my passport replaced, I finally succeeded.
With the arrival of the passport I was able to complete a firesafe boxs worth of personal identification paperwork essential to live. It wrapped up a significant portion of a larger file system project I had started in August. (Next is getting a digital / physical 1:1 analog constructed for analysis and excel funsies; this is a soft goal however, and we can get to it when we get to it).
But with that major hurdle basically complete I was able to begin targeting areas of responsibility that are, at least for me relatively foundation. Portfolio websites, resumes, and fall backs. The earth had been leveled, now it was time to start building.
However, failure is not suggest total loss. In fact it’s in how I failed I gained a great many things I didn’t have at the end of February.
March was broken into four successive tasks. Portfolio Week, Resume Week, Tradeshow Week and the fourth week was up for grabs. Portfolio Week lasted three weeks as I worked out nuances to managing a genesis framework based website, found that my ability to generate mockups was hampered by the PSDCover’s extension’s resolution requirements (which cannot be tweaked) and my replacement PC’s meager allotment of 16 Gigs of RAM.
My Birthday came and went.
A sudden snap turn at the request of friends and I was learning podcast recording techniques. Building additional websites and planning a revenue structure for a yet to be realized local interview podcast focused on getting to know our neighbors and have crucial conversations that are hyper local. I find this exceedingly useful as an idea so I went all in on it.
I’ve also been working on this gardening project with another group of friends, and in my own time working on a bit of a nursery for a range of herbs and spices. I’ve begun building a database of information pertaining to the seeds and plants I want to grow this year. I intend to become fairly talented at gardening, canning, and harvesting useful parts of plants for various purposes. I’m also working on improving my field craft for back country hiking, and planning various trips over the summer to give myself something to look forward to that isn’t just work.
After a solid 9 hour design session Saturday, a session I recorded and am now going back through to edit with the intention of creating full blown ‘episodes’ where certain bits of design work get a ‘how it’s made documentary style treatment’.
I really like the idea of something that is in the tradition of a Picture Picture sort of ‘how its made’ documentary where light piano runs behind key points being performed for each project. I was also able to upgrade my equipment to something a bit closer to what I use at work. I wonder if only Dell XPS’ must make the leap from 32G of ram to 64? Is 48Gb even possible?
This is an experimental idea I’m still in the process of testing it’s viability. Video from the weekend is rendering at home while I write this, and I hope to be able to cut each project down to about no more than 5 or 6 minutes in duration.
I also started scoring my podcast with simple beats mixed with loops and some piano or lead synth additions tied on it. Depending on how long it actually takes to build one of these videos I’d love to sit down and sort of score the design process manually.
A chance encounter over the weekend has me thinking about how excuses I’ve made in the past and how to remedy them. I’m also looking forward to throwing my hat back into the ring with freelance work, at least analyzing better approaches to it and finding ways to properly capture improved CSS grid systems in a PSD environment, maybe tinker with adobe XD because why not, and working to dramatically improve my skills and talents as a designer.
I believe my reticence to self reflection kept me from developing any further and I think that it’s time to change that, if possible. I guess I need to seriously face the questions, “Can I do this competitively,” and can I really distinguish myself, and if so, what are some methods of doing so? Who are my guiding lights in this regard, and where do I plan to be come epiphany next January?
March 19th is the cardinal feast day for the second quarter of the year. It is the Feast of Saint Joseph, and he is the Patron Saint of Workers. He rises early, and we enter into spring working towards the heavy lifting of the summer ahead.