Thursday, October 29, 2009

evolution of process

(I wrote this on 10.22.09 and forgot about it)

Just two days ago I applied the the Graphic Design bacholor of fine art's program at Cal State Long Beach. For anyone who knows the art education field, they know that the CSULB program is very intensive (most rate it on par only to Art Center in terms of West Coast art schools) and very difficult to get into. Which is why, when I came out of high school and went into junior college, the "big goal" was to transfer into CSULB and give this program a go. At that point, as a fresh high school graduate, I had about two years of practical design experience under my belt doing clothing design with Timi Bumatay at our clothing startup, junkapparel, (as well as working with a host of people at article.1 that taught me the basic ins-and-outs of clothing embellishment and production) and getting the chance to work with Blake Kimmel in several clothing design collaborations as well as being there when abstractmall launched. It was a great education, and I learned a lot about design and production values along the way from lots of fantastic people. I thought I was, at the very least, a capable designer that could make it into a graphic design program at a state university easy-peasy. What I didn't know was this – I knew ab-so-lute-ly dick. And I still do, for that matter.

My book has evolved a lot since I transferred into Long Beach last fall. Before, I was designing whatever looked cool with no real thought or reflection about concept or top-to-bottom applications and solutions. But after talking to the design faculty, looking at the work that was being produced by the seniors in the design program, and just straight-up looking closer (and more frequently) at good design from good designers, by the spring of 09, while my taste and aesthetic approach were still as they were before (albeit constantly evolving and refining, as they always are), my ideas on concept and "design as a solution" were turned on their heads and spun around a bit. My understanding of those two things had, in just one semester, been greatly refined and reframed.

And now I look back on my book from nearly two and a half years ago, the one that I was so proud of (and still am – your pieces are like your kids, you're always proud of them even if they don't hit a home run at the little league game), and groan at the lack of follow-through and even basic concepting. A lot of growing has been going on.

And the "big goal"? It took a while, and a lot of work and revision mired in self-doubt and -criticism, but I made it.

And with portfolio review finally over, after all the all-nighters and printing fuck-ups and hair-pulling, I'm getting the chance for the first time in months to sit back and think and reflect on my processes and concepts as opposed to always being just "GO GO GO" in a frenzied, by-the-seat-of-your-pants way of design. I started thinking to the beginning of the semester (such a long time ago) and how I was completely just teetering on the edge in terms of what I thought of my work and my portfolio choices. I remember seeing this on Scott Hansen's blog a month back and it, along with some really choice kick-in-the-ass advice from Mike Whitlow, really stuck with me through my portfolio process, and really kept me going:

"The first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good — it’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you — you can tell that it’s still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase and a lot of people at that point quit.

And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. We knew that it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have and the thing is — everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase or if you’re just starting off and you’re entering into that phase, you’ve got to know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work."

(watch the video at Scott's blog)

And in another two years, I'm sure I'll cringe a bit at this book that I'm so proud of at this moment. But now, the "big goal" is old news. The new "big goal" is to do some great things with this fantastic team of talented designers. I'm excited to see what we can put together.

posted by Jack Curry @ 2:50 AM | 0 Comments Links to this post

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