Dancing in the kitchen

I pretty much hate my kitchen. It really isn’t a great space for me. It’s so small and cramped and dark. It’s so small that I can sit on one counter and reach the other counter with my feet…and I’m short people. Plus the lighting is terrible, and since I hate doing dishes, I tend to want to avoid that room entirely.

However.

I do like to cook. Not all the time, of course, and I haven’t quite figured out how to attempt something simple like a hamburger, but right now I’m totally into soup and greens. So on an occasional night, I’ll let lose my inner Diva Chef, and go to town, and for me, the right music makes all the difference. Granted, it takes me longer to cook because I spend a ton of time shaking my ass and drinking wine. But there is nothing like listening to the sexy Danzig serenade me…fucking damn! He’s amazing.


 

Damn. Back to the cooking thing…well, really, the dancing thing. I love to dance and cook at the same time. It makes cooking such a better experience for me…could be the wine too, but just saying. I also bought an immersion blender so that has helped shorten my time spent in the kitchen as well as helped out immensely. Please note, if you enjoy soups or shakes…buy one of those. It’s delightful.

As lame as it sounds, I’ve added some personality to my kitchen to replace the drabness. It really is the small things that I’ve added or changed that have made being in my kitchen a much more pleasant experience. I’ve put some color into the room, added a speaker for my iPod…And since I am only cooking for myself, it’s great that I can try whatever I want without the pressure. No pressure that someone is grumpy and hungry, no pressure that they want something simple instead of the elaborate and scrumptious meal I am preparing them…it’s all about me eating what I want, when I want and after I have satisfied my need to express myself with my body.

Since I’ve started making these smaller changes (and the obvious big change of forging ahead solo), I’ve decided my soups are succulent and melt my palette, my “quickie greens” are delicious and rejuvenating and I have to admit…my new tofu chocolate shake is surprisingly savory. (BTW: shout out to Pinterest here for the amazing recipes I am always finding. So many great ideas there. Thank you!!)

Point is, it’s the small things that have helped me find the beauty of my kitchen, and really, isn’t that how it is with many things in life? The small things that pick you up and make you smile. It’s hard to remember that sometimes when all the shit is going down and people are walking all over your heart and soul. So much anger and resentment in the world tend to consume and overwhelm me. Really, it drains me…You know that part in TrueBlood where Sookie finds out she is a fairy and that Bill, as a vampire, is stealing her light? Well, I’ve definitely had my vampire…so there is very little light in me right now. But it’s these small things, an hour enjoyed seducing Danzig over the radio waves, stirring some soup and drinking some wine…that make me appreciate that even Darkness Screams in the Midst of Beauty.

Darkness Screams in the Midst of Beauty painting

Sometimes I forget

Sometimes I forget.

To listen. To actually shut my mouth and quiet my thoughts and listen. My shallow desire to connect, to share, to be seen as someone who knows has left me as someone waiting to speak.

It has left me inauthentic.

Sometimes I forget, that it’s not about me. That though I am the center of my world, that so is everyone else.

I forget that we are all connected. That we share in the universal energy.

Sometimes I forget.
To appreciate the silence.

 

I am just a tool

I just worked really hard on a piece. I’ve actually been working on the piece for about a year now. Not consistently, but I’ve been working on it here and there. It’s one of those personal pieces where I put a lot of time in it, get it where I think it is good, and someone says, nope, it should be this way.

It’s frustrating and heart breaking.

I wasn’t the one who initiated this piece, so in some ways I do have to care what that person thinks. I know I know, if I like it it should be enough, but when you are trying to work with somebody, and that somebody has a strong vision, it doesn’t really matter what I think. I’m just a tool, really, a means to an end. A tool that doesn’t seem to have the right attachment to make the final product into the vision.

I just want to hear, that looks awesome.

Sounds lame, but I do. I struggle and put a lot of thought and effort into my work and it is becoming increasingly difficult to just hear, better, but it isn’t…and it completely dashes my confidence. Which is probably why it’s taking me so long to work on this piece. You’d think with my meditation and yoga, that I would be better about removing my expectations and need for approval from others. But that need has been there longer than the meditation and yoga. It’s driven beside me in all of my endeavors. The need for approval and to hear positive things said about me and my work is so strong that to not have it is an embedded fear. It’s a large reason why I procrastinate…if I failed it’s because I didn’t put a lot of time into it. I usually didn’t though…still was pretty successful.

And now…WTF?

And now I try, I put a lot of time and effort in and it’s still not good enough. What kind of reflection is that for me? Maybe it’s a reflection of the other person living an unsatisfied life, never being happy with themselves or what they are doing. Maybe it’s them feeling their own personal failures and unintentionally bringing me down to that level. Makes me wonder if the piece will ever be good enough. The only time the pieces are good enough is when that person gives me step-by-step directions, over my shoulder, on what to do. Not really an equal partnership. Huh…that sucks. What’s difficult is the work we do together is pretty fucking brilliant. But I can’t really consider it a we project, not when I’m just taking directives, being told what to do. I really am just a tool. I have the programs, the computer and literally the technical skills to accomplish a vision…but it’s not my vision.

I’d say when is it time for my vision to come to fruition, but I need a solid vision first. And any time I have had a solid vision, it still doesn’t get a lot of great feedback. What does that say about me? Maybe I really am a failure, maybe not an artist at all. Maybe I should just give up and except I am a tool. Or just not share my personal art with anybody. I clearly get my feelings hurt when I don’t get the response I was hoping for. My artist self may just belong in a cave in the farthest reaches of the mountains. Yeah, dramatic, I know. I’ve heard that before too. Whatever.

Being a designer can be frustrating

Tons of people are designers, artists, something of that nature these days. Seems like there are more artists than anything else right now, except maybe yoga instructors. But every once in a while I encounter someone who isn’t a designer, and their response is always something to the effect of, that is so cool, you must love your job. And I do. I get to draw, color, and essentially make a message look awesome all day. Yes, I sit in a cubical with no windows, but it’s still surrounded by art. I have pretty flexible hours considering I’m not a freelancer, and I get to work on some pretty creative projects. Overall, I enjoy being a graphic designer.

However.

The other side of the coin can be incredibly frustrating. I work within the in-house marketing team, so all of my “clients” are other departments. And said other departments don’t seem to understand the work we do, or they just don’t care. It feels very dis-respectful at times, to work in this department.

One department constantly demands ASAP turn-around times. On occasion, I totally get it. Shit happens or comes up and you need something quickly. But when nearly every project is ASAP I really just want to say, Take some damn time-management classes and respect our workload. We can’t always drop everything for you. Oh, and BTW, designing a flyer takes time! Concepting it, writing it, designing it, getting it through the review process…we’re not just throwing crap together here! Seriously, time-manage!

Another department constantly demands variety, which, again, I totally understand. We’ve tried asking them to fill out surveys in the past, but no one ever did. So my team researches best practices, works hard to come up with a variety of designs that maintain brand integrity, have our logo and social media buttons on them, variable data that allows them to customize their own text and say what they need, with HTML emails we actually code them for two different tools that require different types of code for them to choose the email tool that works for them. It’s seriously a large chunk of my time. And a lot of energy. And you know what? Most of the department doesn’t even use any of them. They decide they want to have a little creativity in their jobs so create their own. They use pictures from across the internet, some off our website, some of off our INTRANET that are SPECIFICALLY designed for internal purposes, and just throw some text in. No branding, NO LOGO, incorrect grammar, none of our messaging, sometimes wrong facts…just a complete mess. Oh, and did I mention that the formatting of their emails gets all jacked up because when it gets forwarded the images become attachments and all formatting changes? It’s sad. And it’s really frustrating because so much time gets put into creating things for them to use and they go rogue and do their own thing. Why do I waste my time?

Also within that department, we had a couple people come to us and ask us to brand something for them (they had been doing an event for three years and just putting their own marketing materials together. They finally just asked the marketing team to help). We get the details and spend two months working on a design for them. I presented to my directors and marketing specialist a ton of sketches to choose from, took the favorite sketches and turned them into a variety of digital options, and took the final six designs and presented them to the clients. And of course, all I heard was complaints. One of them even being, Well I really liked what we have done in the past, why can’t we just use that? Really? I mean, come on, REALLY? For several reasons 1) We aren’t in kindergarten 2) this is a business 3) you didn’t even bring up in ANY of our meetings ANYTHING about carrying a design aspect over from previous years and 4) because you came to us and asked for our help. We are specialists in this area and clip art and animation isn’t what we’re going for here.

It’s just inane to me the things that come out of their mouths and the things they do. They completely disregard all the time and effort we put into doing our jobs. It’s so often just a complete waste of time and energy. Being their designer can be frustrating.

Snow Fun in May

Something I find interesting about my job, and really any job in marketing or where you have to plan far ahead, is that I am designing for events in December. It’s May and I’m sitting behind my desk trying to brand Snow Fun Blood Drives. What’s ironic is that the weather has been moody each time I’ve worked on this project. The weather wants to be sympathetic.

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These are the options I am sending to the client. A decent variety. This client is particularly difficult and I am providing so many options to hopefully satiate their need for ownership. Which they should feel. It makes sense. So hopefully they are satisfied with at least one of these options.

It’s interesting that this morning I deleted Option 4 and then decided to throw it back in just because. And every person on my team really like it. Made it to the final round. Interesting how that works. I may have just deleted it because it was the first one I designed. Who knows. I actually presented 17 options to my team and they narrowed them down to 6. Kind of sucked that my art director thought I grabbed images from the Internet to make up the last two options. She suggested I illustrate them all, which is what I did. I put a lot of time into drawing those images, scanning them, and then penning them in Illustrator. They are all original vectors. Can’t always satisfy everyone though. She only slightly contributes to my misanthropy.

At any rate, I’m super glad to have had so much time to work on this, and even though I just planted my garden I think head Snow Fun graphics turned out pretty damn good. I’m excited to hear what the clients think! Wish me luck!

A reflection on usable art

I posted previously on usable art. That my man and I were trying to turn out personal art into usable, everyday items. I may still be our number one customer, mainly because it takes time to get products published let alone marketing them. It’s all a process, but we are taking the first step and that’s still exciting. And I have to say, I love being surrounded by our wonderful art.

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My wall calendar. A brilliant splash of color on my otherwise dull grey cubicle wall.

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My coffee/tea mug keeping me awake.

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A print reminding me that there is life outside this cubey.

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And my water bottle keeping me hydrated.

Such amazing art on things I use everyday. It really is genius and I hope more people will support these products. Support local artists, and the amazing talent that exists in side.

Please check out our Minaxus site. We aren’t nearly done uploading products. But hopefully you’ll see something you like. And if you let us know, we can change the colors or whatever you need to be happy.

Useable art


By day, I’m a graphic designer. And that is an applicable use of art these days. I design programs, invitations, email marketing, direct marketing, all sorts of stuff that is used. It’s not something that is hung up and looked at. Which also means it has an expiration date and is quite transient. I’m okay with that actually. But at night, I try to paint, and my SO is an AMAZING artist. You can visit his site here. Together, we are trying to work ourselves into the artistic community. But it’s so hard for us. In so many ways and in just as many ways I have no idea why. One of the things we are starting to do, is create products on our Zazzle site. Again, driving traffic to this site and getting people to buy is super hard and we still haven’t figured out how to be successful with it. But it’s such an amazing concept that allows our fine arts, to become useable products. We’ve created a few products and have tons more to create. And although I may be our biggest customer (I have our calendar, cards, a coffee mug, iPhone case and just ordered a water bottle), I have high hopes that people will latch on to this idea of art. Perhaps it is the 21st century idea of art. The idea that art doesn’t need to just hang on your wall, but can grace your water bottle as well. Yes, water bottles always have had designs on them. But they aren’t from a local artist who has a day job and stays up all night drawing/painting/etc. That’s what’s beautiful. It’s not a mass produced design, but one that maybe only you will own. So. Brilliant. I hope you will visit our store, and check back often as we will constantly be creating more products. Maybe something will jump out at you and you’ll fall in love with our art.


Minaxus Waterbottle
Local art graces a water bottle

On being a “pretty” designer

 

Hmmm…today I received some feedback and I love positivity around my work, but sometimes the choice of adjectives is severely lacking. Yes, I am female. Yes, I am sometimes trendy. But come on, does being female really warrant the adjectives of “cute” “pretty” and “adorable” to be applied to my designs. Yes yes yes, I realize I shouldn’t be complaining since it is positive feedback and that can be hard to come by around here. And yes, the paper itself is pretty; pearlescent paper is. But I get these adjectives for EVERY design I do. Am I really a pretty designer? Is my work really deserving of these “kitten-describing” adjectives? Or is it because I am a female? I would just like, at some point in time, to have a different adjective. I have heard these same adjectives since I was in college and nearly half of a decade later I would like to hear something different. That may require a different approach to my design work, different material, different content. But it is a goal of mine for 2012 to have my designs require a different adjective to be applied to them. The current adjectives seem so superficial and I can do better. At least I hope I can. If not, I will have to bow down to the adjectives and just accept that is the kind of designer I am. A pretty one.

 

A "pretty" design

 

But what makes a pretty design? I feel like my designs have varied quite a bit but I still get the same responses. Here is a list of things I think contribute to me being a “pretty” designer:

    • Color choices. I guess this one could be obvious, though I was told my black, white and red design was pretty. Some color combinations are just pretty.
    • Content.I work for a non-profit company that revolves around blood/blood product transfusions and saving lives. While we could definitely go to the dark, dramatic and intense side of this (and I always want to), the boss-people tend to shy away from that and always want to make the content soft. They go for the heart-tug and as a result my designs reflect that.
    • Images. While similar to content, the images we choose can be pretty as well. See the content section for why my images may be considered “pretty”.
    • Paper or background.I love paper for this reason. It really can make a design come to life. The paper I chose for my most recent event program was a gold pearlescent for the cover and a champagne pearlescent for the text. Though flooded with color, this really makes the whole program shimmer a bit. It is definitely pretty and I am okay with this adjective here. (I’m still struggling with adorable though). The program is all about light and depicts candles, lamps, lanterns and the such and to have it shimmer really brings the vibrancy to life. On the web, a background color or texture can act in a similar way.


What else makes a design pretty? Are you a pretty designer? Am I the only one who seems annoyed and plagued to forever receive these types of adjectives? What are the adjectives commonly applied to your designs?

Start with something to say


I just read an article over on The Art of Non-Conformity about having something to say. Chris Guillebeau mainly talks about writing, but it applies to art as well. What is your art saying? What is my art saying? Do I even have something to say? And something quality at that?


I think this concept is why I struggle with art. I always want to express myself, to use my emotional content and portray it on canvas. To use art for catharsis. But it never seems to work out. Or at least the quality is rarely there. It’s almost like my emotions are so wild that I can’t seem to put the details into it. Or maybe emotions just are ugly.

Woman releasing anger
Woman releasing anger
Energy
Energy - protecting oneself

 

Heart and Skull Flourish
Love and Death flourish


They all seem so out of control and I’m not sure that they portray my emotional intent as deeply as I want them to. Perhaps they are just so amateur and if I could just get better, than I would be able to exhibit emotions a bit more purely and intensely. Can you tell what it is I am trying to say? Do you feel the anger? The love? The Passion? I doubt it. But I feel with these paintings I had something I wanted to say…I’m just not that articulate I suppose. My default paintings are flowers. I feel like I have nothing to say when I paint flowers and that they are just kind of there and typical. Even my Ganesha is that way.

Purple flower on Green
Purple flower on Green

 

Ganesha
Ganesha



So yes, starting with something to say is a perfect start. And knowing that clearly is good too. I usually don’t have anything to say when I am playing around with my graphic design. I’m just trying to go for something “cool” and it rarely works out. So that is an amazing thought and one I appreciate and agree with. And then the next step is knowing how to say it and being articulate…that is a struggle. What do I have to say, and how do I say it in a way that is as intense as I want it to be?

Navigating the inner and the outer

Every human being must navigate between the inner life and the outside world, just as the artist must navigate between Poetry and Craft…

We are all artists, in our own ways. We have the same struggles, the same drives…sometimes, it seems, and I could be wrong here, that artists just feel it more. Want to express it more and try to help the world via their own personal expressions of that navigation between their inner selves and their outer selves.


And for some artists, the torment is romantic.

And for some artists, the torment is romantic.


It’s an element that denotes life allowing us to scream out, I AM ALIVE! To get caught up in the mundane necessities of life is to deny an entire human responsibility. Not every one can answer this call. And that’s fine. Each of us is on our own journey and each of us on our own path. I have a path of pain, of extreme human emotion-sometimes mine, sometimes not-that cries out for expression. It dwells so deep within that it hurts. Deep in my Manipura, my personal power and how I relate to the world. It is excruciating and sublime simultaneously. Beautiful and ugly. The polarity I feel towards art, and this deep-seated feeling of needing to express, scares and excites me.


It is a visceral experience that foments existential unrest at times.


Each day is an opportunity for art. Each day a time to succeed or fail. To sit with art, to live with art, to express in art, is a curse and a gift. One that encourages you to explore your soul, you inner deep being, and somehow connect that to the world. the challenge, to not get lost in your soul universe and to remember that there exists an external community to connect with. To be a hermit, is all to easy.