Friday, July 18, 2008

The hiring process and the titling process

Typing the title of this blog just triggered a memory of a thought I had the other day concerning the time one chooses to fester up a title for something, like this blog or a piece of art or a novel, etc. I asked myself whether or not I title things before or after I create them. My answer was both. I sometimes title them after creation because I then better understand what something is, an element necessary in order to determine an appropriate title. Sometimes I already know what I want to say so I think of the title first because I am certain is sums "it" all up. You can also apply this concept to giving birth to a child and naming it...The naming ritual. I always wondered what was better, to name a child before you know them by looking/seeing into their eyes for the first time or after. I always pondered the idea of a child becoming what you want them to be because you "dubbed"* them before they were born. And most names have certain meanings behind them and by naming a child that, they are then forever destined to be something they may not have been. So I suppose I can say that I would prefer to name a child after birth so I can meet them. I think this is traditionally how native americans, and I'm sure quite a lot of other tribes and cultures, "go about"* their naming rituals. Anyway, just an observation that I felt like writing.

As for my thoughts on the hiring process...
I was just thinking how silly it is to have a typical interview process for new hires, especially in the graphic design field. Graphic design seems to be a "field"* that people put their all and their souls into and one that actually is projected in visual, concrete form. Hence the idiom, "written in stone". So it seems that to fully know you think a person is better for the position than anyone else that you interview is to really and truly try and get to know them on a real level. To me, interviews are nothing but standardized tests for the job world. I never do well on those things because my mind does not process things in such a standardized way. Tests like that always intimidate me because I am put on the spot and quizzed...just doesn't seem natural. Feels more like interrogation before being sentenced to prison. Not something that would make me happy at all. I always freeze up when I am interrogated and it makes me seem like I am "guilty" (in this instance meaning, like I don't know my stuff.) When in fact, if I were taken out for drinks or actually just sitting there having a conversation with real people about design, not under any spotlight, people would see exactly who I am and why I would be good for the position. I think you can get a lot more out of a person if you don't grill them, quiz them or the like. Get on a real, personal, human (non-robotic) level (maybe this really means on multiple levels) and connect.

Those were my thoughts. yep yep.

*most of the time, when I place things in quotes, I do that because I realize there is a better or more elegant and sophisticated way to say things or more appropriate words to use but can't seem to think of them at the moment.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Paul Rand: A Timeless Genius

I recently signed up for the "Daily Heller" by Steven Heller. Today he posted videos about Paul Rand, a genius of the graphic design field. I do not use the word genius lightly. He is the PERFECT leader of the design world. He is the perfect example for young aspiring designers.

I often get frustrated and irritated by the lack of education among the masses regarding graphic design. You say "graphic design" and people think they know what you mean. There has been an increasing rise of technology and votech schools that offer programs in what they like to call "graphic design" but is really "lessons in design software". Growing numbers of people are going to these schools to get an education in what they actually believe to be true "graphic design". I have had many conversations with people who attended these schools and they really think they know the world of graphic design...until you start talking to them about design. They never receive any formal training in design where one learns the language of form (design principles and how to use them), just the techy stuff and they may never understand what they are doing. And they go off to make bookoo bucks from clients who believe they are graphic designers just as much as the faux designer believes it. But all they really have is the software skills and the shallow ability to realize and mimic the latest trend. So they know what people want, trend and prettiness. What sets them a part from good design is they have no ability to think like a designer so they look to the latest trends and simply mimic whats hot. And people gobble this up.

I shant worry however because Paul Rand said something in one of the videos Steve Heller posted that made me realize I do not have to feel as if these poor excuses for designers are going to take over the design world and keep me out of work because what makes good design is a sense of timelessness. Great design is timeless, not trendy. Trends die yearly, good timeless design has been around for centuries. It is not that in order to be timeless one must be completely original and disregard all trends. Paul Rand said it best, "Don't try to be original, just try to be good."

So one may ask, "what is good design?" To me (and to Paul Rand), good design is when a designer takes the language of form and combines it with content until he/she creates a perfect harmony or fusion of content and form, a perfect marriage of content and form. Genius comes in when a designer is able to find this perfect balance of content and form. When someone can look at a finished piece and can clearly see an obvious deeper meaning in a seemingly simple form fused with an equal amount of content, the designer has succeeded. Brilliance!

Paul Rand said that "the abstract characteristic of a picture is its form, the concrete is the content...without content there is no form and without form there is no content...A work of art is realized when its form and content are indistinguishable, when they are in synthesis, when they are fused." SO if you just have form, all you have is style. And style is not bad as style is what attracts the viewer to a piece, it is the aesthetics that make the piece worth looking at ("The degree of interest in a picture is often determined by its abstract quality...") but what makes the entire piece function is the content fused with a dollop of glue that is the genius of the designer. The genius is the ability to find a way to harmoniously fuse the content and form so that they function.

What I find so interesting about design and why I feel SO proud to be a part of the design world is that when one has hoaned in on that genius of solving the problem of effective visual communication, one has the ability to communicate with the ultimate universal language. I know the universal language has been known as math but I say that it is not so universal because not everyone does understand it...I certainly don't know how to communicate mathematically, because it can be so complex. But from the beginning of man, visual language has been a very effective method for communication, especially if you can pull it off just right with a "less is more" simple but completely effective approach. I have always been really hard on myself for not knowing other languages. I studied Spanish and German for a couple of years and could attempt to communicate with those languages but they are only good for communicating with Spanish and German speakers. It just recently dawned on me that I already know a language that communicates to EVERYONE! If a designer is good enough, they can communicate with anyone in the world effectively. This is what I will strive for every day as an artist/designer; not to be good but to be GREAT.

To simply sum up: "To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse." ~Paul Rand

Take a look at this poster by Paul Rand and tell me how long it takes you to understand the message. This is a good example of great graphic design:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Kush...

More of my Kush favorites...

Vladimir Kush

Over the weekend I went on a business trip to Southern California and while there, I got the leisure and pleasure to tour around surrounding L.A. areas, including Laguna Beach. The first thing I saw there (besides the beautiful beach, ocean and art vendors) was an art gallery called Kush Fine Art. There were brilliant paintings in the window that immediately drew me in. Upon entering I immediately found myself in a perpetual state of awe. Vlad's illusive symbolism and metaphor reminds me a great deal of my favorite artist of the 15th century, Hieronymus Bosch. I love pieces like Kush's and Bosch's because they are timeless pieces in that every day you may find something you didn't notice yesterday or even a year ago. Anyway, Kush's pieces speak for themselves....

Friday, February 22, 2008

other people's inspirational thoughts on design- quotes, we all love 'em.

I gathered most of these quotes from a design book I purchased about a year ago that I look at for inspiration often called, "Layout Workbook: a real-world guide to building pages in graphic design" by Kristin Culen. The book's own layout design is extraordinary in and of itself but the way it is organized with helpful information and thoughts on design, is even greater! It covers everything from what the function of design is, to the process, to typography..everything, really. It's awesome, to say the least. I am in awe at how every single page is it's own work of art. I am blown away at the idea of how long it must have taken to immaculately design 240 pages.

Anyway, on to the quotes or what I like to call "tiny vessels of infinite volume"


on Function:

"To design is to transform prose into poetry" ~ Paul Rand

"To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse." ~Paul Rand

on Discovering Inspiration:

"I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else." ~Pablo Picasso

on Process:

"The recognition of the value of journey, as opposed to the imagined value points of ending, informs the idea of process." ~TOMATO: london-based art collective (which is really cool. all should check it out.

on Analysis:

"Form follows function- that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, February 4, 2008

found and collected

I came across this artist on Friday, Mari Andrews. I really love her installations of the things she collects. It is similar to something I have recently started. I have started collecting old boxes that can be used to display miniatures and such. I have a few displayed in my house now. I use the smaller cubby holes or shelves in the boxes to display objects I have found and been collecting for a few years. So far it is mostly found objects from nature, such as fossils, pods, seeds, shells, and anything that has cool patterns, markings or perfect organic shapes. Although I will eventually have a series of found objects that are man made as well.
Anyway, Enjoy Mari Andrews.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


On my journey of becoming
a better artist, I find myself now trying to figure out why my paintings come out so bright and colorful when I am actually generally not attracted to bright and colorful paintings. Err, that is not true. I am attracted to some but my attraction to less color and to earth tones is greater than my attraction to brighter rainbow colors. I wonder why this is? Perhaps it is just part of becoming..perhaps every artist goes through a phase of painting what they are not attracted to just as a way to maximize learning possibilities.

I also wonder why I am attracted to certain art and not others. Where does my taste of art come from? I think partially it came from my design and art education. Without such education, I don't think I would have the same taste. but who knows? I'm sure it comes from other experiences as well and looking at art often. I suppose this is the refinement process?

But with my design and art education and the level of refinement I have reached thus far, I can't help feeling a bit pretentious when trying to explain why I do not like certain art that art enthusiast are attracted to. Let me explain a bit better by giving an example. I have a group of "hippie" friends who live in a communal house. They are all for art and for color and for painting their walls "trippie" colors. They paint their walls freely without thought of composition, theory, etc that "refined" or formally educated artists would consider. They dont think about it, they just go with it. Which I think is great. But aesthetically, I do not like the way it looks in a living space. I do not like this about myself but as an artist, I do like it and feel it is necessary. But I do not want to come across to these free folk as pretentious. So when asked what I thought of the newly painted walls, I wanted to respond honestly but without hurting the feelings of others who are not used to critiques. Most likely they have not sat through enough critiques to develop a tough skin for such positive, constructive criticism. Is it even necessary that I tell them what I really think? If I were to tell what I really thought upon first glance, I would have gone on to say that there is no uniformity with what they are painting. There is no composition. There is no mixing of paint, it is straight colors from the tube. (which has become a pet peeve of mine) I am all for what they are doing, but if I lived there I would not be able to handle the walls like that. I need uniformity and better color combinations. But that is partly personal preference as well as the artist training in me. Being a community house anyway, I would think it would give it a better feng shui feeling throughout the house if one color was chosen and it was a more harmonious, soft, colorful yet soft. Nothing boring but more of a solid color that is soothing. When painting large spaces, bright, raw primary colors can feel suffocating. Anyway, all this to say that I am noticing that I am becoming more picky about art and am developing "pet peeves" about it. I just dont want this to become annoying to others. Especially when my own art is not even up to my own standards I have developed. But these things do effect moods and energies and it effects mine so that is why i mentioned it. I am a believer in Feng Shui.

moving along...

When looking at art, I am attracted to:

-line quality
-good composition with lots of negative space
- subdued color combinations
-limited color palette (but wise choices behind the little amount of colors that were chosen)
-complexity in drawing
-tediousness (if there are hints of tedium that the artist obviously had to endure, I am impressed by that.
-subject matter/concept/cryptic symbolism/deep intellectualism/deep spirituality/shallow mundane life and everyday living observations that are approached intellectually and spirtually, captured and reborn into the artists creation, making it less mundane; impregnating it with more meaning.

If there is one way to sum up what I am trying to explain about the way I look and think about art it would be that I notice and understand the difference between intellectual approaches in art versus 'free lovin', trip style of art... not that lovers can't be intellectual as well. In fact, I think that is how I would have to describe myself and my art. It seems to be a nice balance of both worlds.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

design on the mind

from 1/15/08

Design on the mind
a lot lately.
I think I would make a good art director.
I know such a position requires further experience with design.
I often tend to feel limited because of technology.
I feel like I have great vision and ideas but I have a hard time executing the ideas into the computer.
Mainly because I don't know how to use/utilize the technology/software to its fullest.
This is where I see being a good art director to someone with design understanding, the ability to communicate effectively, team player attitude, and tech. saavy know-how would work well.

For a while I was drifting away from design.
I was disconnecting because I felt the need to rebel
against the design world and especially my design faculty mentors.
However, I am extremely interested in design and have a good eye and know when I see "good" design.
And I like that my design education did give me these qualities and the quality of being particular when it comes to visuals, especially when we have no choice but to be inundated by graphics and images on a daily basis.
I have a very deep appreciation of design because it is something I feel passionately about.
I am passionate about "good" design and with a very broad sense of the word "good".

Good is all encompassing. Good comes from a lot of necessary decision making that not everyone is qualified or capable to make.
Good design is a lot of things.
Good design is...
aesthetically pleasing
just as much as it is...
effective in communicating a message.
Every seemingly small decision can have an dramatically large impact or outcome of a design.
Therefore everything must be considered.
From color,
to placement and positioning in a space,
to the choice in font type/style,
and even to the particular extremes as tweaking (what is ever so unnoticeable to anyone else but a designer) the spacing between characters.
Design is particular
and not everyone is good at it.
I have theories of why this seems to be true...

There is a lack of understanding the value of design
and why good design is necessary and what makes design good.
Having the mind to judge "good" design is not pretentious
but necessary.
It is simply a form or level of understanding.
And not everyone should be good designers.
Because that would take all the fun (and work) from the designers who are or will be good at it.

Therefore I say leave the design work to the designers.
I have also been having the overwhelming desire to fully emerse myself in art.
To read about it, to learn about it, to see it, to feel it, to think it, to be it.

I <3> art & design!

And I believe that is all I need to become and continue to become a good designer/artist.
Of course, along with passion, desire and the need for more.

introductions and gratitude


Today i decided to create a new blog entirely dedicated to art, in the broadest sense of the word.
I will use this blog as a vehicle and a central location to verbally and/or visually document any thoughts, ideas, findings, etc., on art and/or design. It is my hope to not only share my findings with others in order to teach and inspire but to make more of an effort to dedicate to the full submersion of myself in the art world. I am plugging myself in to the art world by fully submerging myself in it and this blog is a way to motivate me to stay plugged in so that I may continue to emerge as an artist myself by maintaining inspiration outside of myself.

First, I feel it necessary to express gratitude to those that inspired me to choose this moment to start this blog. Audrey Kawasaki ( I love looking at her art via her website and I think she is a highly amazingly talented young artist but once I have seen everything on her site, I get sort of bored. Not bored with Audrey or her art but I constantly find myself wanting more. That is why I appreciate that she keeps a blog of all shows she attends and keeps everyone updated with the happenings of her art life. It is cool to hear her talk about other artists she admires and appreciates through her blog and I appreciate that she posts pictures of events she attends. So I want to do the same because it is fun.

I would also like to express gratitude to my friend Courtney who maintains an online journal of her writings. She has always served as a great inspirator and motivational force in my life. She is one of the most real and raw people I know who cares about her friends and family as much as she cares of herself. She has always taken the time to really and truly get to know me by attempting to understand me in every possible way by looking from every possible direction and does so purely and without judgment. She even takes the time to share her findings with me and for this I am eternally grateful. I don't get to see her very much, but I can still say she probably knows and understands me better than almost anyone. All this to say that I owe Courtney for getting me started in the cyberific world of blogs. It all began with livejournal and migrated to myspace, which is now manifesting itself here. While myspace is more of a social network and a way to maintain contact with old and new friends, this blog will be more of a way to network and stay connected to the art world and new/old friends in that world. Its a fun place to be and I want to jump right on in without holding my nose first.

So plug yourselves into me, kids and I into you! And brace yourself for one hell of a all starts and stops right here. <-----> ...or does it? ; )

~Mira Sol