The last five years have been an interesting journey, a stretch, a wearing-out, as is bound to happen when you test the limits of two opposing forces, here is one, there is the other, however far apart they are they get further, and you’re in the middle stubbornly holding onto both, taffy machines somehow are attractions because of this mechanism, a steady manipulation of their strength, tumbling this way and that, stretching back and forth, but most often than not dichotomies are not as fun as taffy machines, and I don’t end up in a neat package, still in tact, in the end. I am not delicious, and I am not taffy.
I am a graphic designer by trade, or at least that’s what my academic institution has trained me to be, a thinker I guess is more apt, but one who draws, is there a difference between the two- you’d be surprised. It’s not a jab at my trade, if I were going to throw a punch I would make sure all my weight is behind it, a jab is sufficient if you were looking for a comprehensive fight, I would be looking to knock something out or be knocked out, a good fight to me is one over quickly, so it’s not a jab, which means I’m not throwing punches, or at least not towards my trade, though I’d be happy to have a swing at the terrible design consumers, a fight that will be drawn-out and messy, trust me I would knock it cold if I could, but I can’t so I just lied in saying that I won’t throw blows unless I know it will end quickly, yes I did lie, but when faced with something as frustrating as ignorant clientele you’d find yourself doing worse than lying, I think your soul retreats to a safe place inside of you and lets your vices have a go instead of having to deal with them, so yes I did lie, and yes I did swing, this fight isn’t going to end soon.
I went to school at Cornish where authorship is valued more than technique, something that we all briefly struggled with as a result, but arguably it’s easier to learn technique than to hone eloquence and articulation, so maybe we didn’t lose after all, a sharp brain over crisp vectors, a beautiful process over gorgeous packaging- you can have both, but if you could only have one over the other, then it’s clear the path I keep nudging towards. Teach a man to draw a fish and he’ll draw his client a beautiful fish; teach a man to create a beautiful process, and he’ll tell the client that he didn’t need that fish in the first place. To think is a beautiful thing- to think and create is the only thing more complete.
After academia I spent my career mostly within a small group of people who had different wirings, different values, individuality is an amazing concept, community as a fantastic theory, but grouping the wrong individuals is disastrous, dreams devour one another until it’s a horrific amalgam of nothing, screeching cacophonies of fragmented voices, who am I, who are you, why was I here in the first place? I used to create, now I produce- I used to think, now I optimize. It’s a difficult process to accept yourself once you’ve drifted, but it’s only a while until drifting begins to feel normal, and you blissfully begin to accept yourself again, were those memories? No you had just made them up, now go on about your day, you have websites to churn, money to make, and conversations not to be had. What about my soul, isn’t it still hiding somewhere, yes but we’ve forgotten where we’ve thrown the key, we’ll find it later, you threw the key? No I meant I forgot where we gently left it. Now get going, money isn’t going to make itself, and your bus is coming up the way.
This morning is a beautiful morning, not even any crazy drunks on the bus, no, not today, because the fall sunshine is sharp, and even drunks realize it’s too beautiful to be miserable. I’m drinking my morning tea, reading a book, not a novel, a book, it’s not even reading, it’s looking, it’s both- it’s a thesis book by Kate Harmer, MFA graduate from RISD, BFA class of 2005 at Cornish, good friend. It’s been years since I’ve suppressed my desire for design, and she lent me her book for inspiration, and it’s succeeding in reminding me what I’ve lost the last years- oh there’s that key, how did it get here- and it’s waking up the dormants parts in hiding- doing guest critiques in her Cornish class here and there, speaking with design students and faculty, and entertaining the giddy idea of grad school; all in-between producing optimized, lead-generating websites that play by strict rules of clicks and userability, and by userability we mean for the mental capacities and aesthetic tastes of five-year-olds. The dichotomies of authorship have returned, do I speak to theory, or do I speak to clickability, no wonder the taffy machine stays entertaining, it never has problems like these.
So here I am, sitting at the Starbucks, quite literally, in between Cornish and Stripes39 SEO Consulting, one coffee shop in-between my academic pursuits and money-making endeavors, my thinking and my producing, my excitement and my livelihood, my growth and my death, sipping my tea, waiting for my push-and-pull for the day to begin.
For now: this comfy seat is my Swiss Alp, and neutrality will be my breakfast.