glossy 8x10 number 1

You will be a victim of style

It’s just a matter to what degree. It’s common knowledge I like to give my unsolicited opinion on any given number of topics and usually aforementioned topic is a design choice that offends me. And usually it offends me because it’s a cliche, a poorly executed technique, ill-advised type selection or instantly recognizable photoshop filter. Well okay that’s the short list of things that offend me if I’m to be truthful. Crocs, turned up polo collars, shabby chic, Ed Hardy, and sugar substitutes also offend me. Now where was I? Right style and victimizing yourself by it’s hand.

Recently a close friend sent me to I snickered for hours. I looked at no less than than 8 pages of the blog. I was equal parts horrified and bemused. Look a lot of people even people in my life often think my job is easy-peasey, “Oh you are a designer and web person. Well that sounds FUN!” In fairness yes sometimes it is, in fact it’s a lot more fun than filing TPS reports, can’t argue that. But it’s also torture sometimes, because the job really is half psychology. And the longer a business has been in action the more bad design relationships they’ve probably been in. So I hear things all the time like, just so you know “I really hate yellow”, “at this seminar one time I heard blue makes people feel relaxed”, “I really want to use a gradient or an effect on this *insert whatever design element*”, “the last designer I worked with never communicated with me”… I could go on. So I metaphorically and sometimes in real life hold their hand, look into their eyes and say, “you can relax now you are working with me I’m going to remove this stress from your life. Leave me in charge and I promise you’ll be happy but you gotta trust me.” Okay I don’t really hold clients hands, maybe once or twice, but those folks where real basket cases. Generally in fact the hand holders were damaged goods and I had to fire them. But that’s for another day. Again I digress.

If you want to evaluate if what you have done is cliche, passe and or outright cringe inducing remember the old adage. Know who your client is and why they matter. A bomerang swoosh is probably not the right answer, also probably not the answer, sparkles, flames, drop shadows, bevels and linear gradients. The trendiest web effect, I’m looking at you glossy reflections, probably suspect. Anything published in Photoshop magazine or other “tutorial site” as “cool type effects” be very wary. All in all be wary of style, it’s often a trap. Focus on solutions, focus on usability and make sure it functions as flawlessly as possible. As a communicator by trade my motto is indeed function should precede form. Things that work they way they should are almost always by default beautiful. You aren’t going to win every battle with your art director or clients. But if you come to the table with sound logic, you’ll have a much better chance than if you say “it just looks better this way, I can’t explain it”. Next time try “The user analytics tell me the average user only has a screen 800 pixels wide and a lot of them are still using I.E. *cringe* so we really must accommodate these users if we want return visits from these folks.” And yeah use the word “folks” that’s a pro-tip makes you sound accessible and everyone thinks us designers are snobby, elitist, D-bags with overly complicated starbuck orders. Which is silly most of us drink way better coffee than that.

In any case I leave you with another find from my vintage photo treasure trove. I spent a lot of hours with the 35 mm scanner this week to illustrate my point with the fine, fine lost art of the seventies pose the groovy style is a given. I figure most of these folks were aspiring actors in L.A. But I have no names or photographer contact. Just lonely anonymous 35mm strips. They all look like pretty sweet people, but I think we can agree victims of style most of them might be. Do not do this to your work design or otherwise compatriots, you do not want Farrah hair on your design. Well unless it’s a sweet parody on a seventies exploitation flick. Then get that airbrush out, Seriously get it out.

bouffant meet seventies kitsche

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bouffant meet kitsche

glossy 8x10 number 2

This is natural and not a staged photo, no really

glossy 8x10 #3

Suspicious plant to the right meet fashun

8x10 glossy #4

glossy 8x10 #5

whoa background pattern!

The A Bomb

…but meanwhile

this post is revived from my old blog but I think the message is still very pertinent. New material coming monday.

    someday I’m going to write a primer for crippled saints but meanwhile…

as the Bomb sits out there in the hands of a
diminishing species
all you want
is me sitting next to you
with popcorn and Dr. Pepper
as those dull celluloid teeth
chew away at
my remains.

I don’t worry too much about the
Bomb ? the madhouses are full
and I always remember
after one of the best pieces of ass
I ever had
I went to the bathroom and
masturbated ? hard to kill a man
like that with a

anyhow, I’ve finally shaken
R. Jeffers and Celine from my belltower
and I sit there alone
with you and
as the real and the
artificial heart
continues to falter,

I love you but
I don’t know what
to do.

-Charles Bukowski

I have read many other poets, it’s just that I’ve just been re-reading bukowski over and over for something like 6 years. I suspect it had a lot to do with LA itself. This city still breathes him out and you can feel it like a hot wind off the Santa Ana’s often. We, him and I, may have come to a crossroads. I still think his work is exceptional in that it is untethered by fear, utterly unabashedly, emotionally naked. As I get older, he makes me wince more than I used to. The more fragile you become the harder it is to read about weakness, maybe it’s fear of mental instability by suggestion. He did find great success, in fact he’s still lauded for just as many right reasons as wrong ones. On the other side of the coin his youth was bitter & malnourished, he fought circumstances and personal demons so very hard throughout his life, to do something so beautiful as be a poet, albeit one that raised the hackles of many a do-gooder and academic. The world will never know if he’d lived under the shelter of privilege and comfort if he’d have become half the writer he did. But it makes me very sad to think it would have ruined him artistically to have had that peace.

The A Bomb

Think Less, Do More

Today I had a brief chat with a friend of mine, and the summation was “you only have so much creative energy you can expel in a given number of hours.” I think for most creatives this is a frustrating reality. I have a couple of ideas however about how to maximize your returns. Okay really only have one today I’m sure I’ll think of more down the line.

1. it’s not new, this book has been out quite a while, buy it and read it and most importantly think about Stefan Sagmeister’s book “Things I have learned in my life so far “ if anything just find a copy for the beyond cool die-cut cover.

Seriously this isn’t a pitch, I make exactly zero dollars from this recommendation. Maybe like negative a quarter of my hourly rate if I include the time I took to write this post. If I had applied everything I gleaned in my first read… Well I dunno but nothing but good could have come of such an application

One of my favorite passages is “Worrying Solves Nothing”. I implore you readers, why is this so damn hard to remember? I’ve lost a lot of sleep this week from ignoring this one truism. Sometimes in my head (not out loud so as to avoid being mistaken for crazytown bound) I repeat “think less do more, think less do more, think less do more”. It works a lot of the time, and I kinda imagine this is what Yoda would tell me if he were a design instructor. (disclaimer: did he actually say that in the movie? If so I give credit where credit is due).

Please creative friends just do more I love seeing what you are doing and any creative victory you have is a victory for all of us. The more we stagnate, get tangled in fear, or dwell on that which we cannot control the less we’ll contribute to the collective. And in these times every bit is meaningful. I know you are way over hearing about “these times”. I get it, maybe you have a mortgage, children, rent to pay, groceries to buy, relationships that are working or not working. You know what the the best remedy is for all those trials and obligations? Being awesome. Yep that’s it, be awesome, do what you do best, do it a lot. Do it so much it’s as much second nature as walking is, or avoiding your landlord is. You know what I’m getting at. Oh and just so we are on the same page this is as much a pep talk for me as it might be for you.

So in summation, while we pray in the time we aren’t creating that they reactivate the WPA, thanks for the ear my friends and I’ll keep on keeping on over here.

What’s that? Okay yeah sure we can all raise fists now, I’m game.

Fist raised graffiti