Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Design Nugget - Mistake Yourself

I was reading through an old Comm Arts this week in search of web inspiration, and stumbled across this article. It's not often that I take the time to read too many articles (I know, SHOCKER, I would rather look at the pictures)...and it's really ironic that this is the one that I happened to read.

This is one of the best articles I've ever read when it comes to creative inspiration and the creative process. I am a classic example of what she talks about when she says, "When you get good at something, you repeat it." It's one of the reasons I am SO GLAD to be working at an agency and not at home, BY MYSELF. It's so easy just to do what you know, or tweak what you know, to make it look good for the next project or the next client.

I love what she says about not wanting to think outside the box, but to trip over the box because of something random she's intentionally done to lead her there. I love that! And it's so true! My best things have come because of a letter I've accidentally typed that suddenly turns into a beautiful graphic element...or a button I've accidentally pushed in a program that causes the most unexpected effect...or even conversations, catalogs, commercials, etc.

I'm not quite sure exactly how to apply this little nugget to my life and my work quite yet – but I am glad to at least be aware of it, and to be actively trying to make mistakes and to veer away from what I know.

And We're Back!!

You know it's been a long time since you've posted when your URL doesn't automatically come up when you start typing it in your browser. (*sigh) I guess the holidays will do that to you. I absolutely checked out this Christmas...from everything. I wasn't even checking emails...and I get them on my phone! Pathetic, maybe, but also SO wonderful.

Awhile back, I mentioned that I would be posting some of the Best/Worst Inventions Ever. Since I haven't posted once since then, I figured it was about time–and so here are two of the Best Inventions Ever:

1. Dunkin Donuts Coffee
2. Fingerless Mittens

DD's newest location (that I'm aware of) is about 2 blocks from our house, also conveniently on our way to the train station. (I should also mention that almost simultaneously a Papa John's also opened on the same corner...) This is going to do a lot for my outlook this winter. If you haven't tried their coffee yet, you must. It is simply the Best. Ever. (Aside from Ugly Mug...we're talking on-the-go-immediate-satisfaction-coffee-stop-coffee here.)

(On a design note: how LONG has Dunkin Donuts had their logo? While watching one of the best-ever, must-see-every-year Christmas movies, "While You Were Sleeping," I noticed that despite the dreadfully outdated and oversized clothes, the DD packaging looks nearly identical! And I still love it! Hey, if it's not broke, don't fix it.)

The fingerless mittens are courtesy of my sister and J.Crew. I must say, they make it quite a bit easier to operate a phone or an ipod on the train or on the go...while not having to remove your entire glove.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sew Crafty!

If you haven't discovered designmom, well, you probably should. It's not just about design. In fact, it's very little about design...she's very well-rounded in her exploration of crafts, projects, kids, clothes, cards, decorating, design, etc.

Today's post was so good I had to share it with everyone (assuming that most of you don't read designmom) have to check out Spoonflower. You can upload your own design and have custom fabric printed - $18/yard and no minimum! My friend Keri does textile design and I've always been envious. Now I can try it out...How fun!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Design Nugget - MAYA

After a lengthy hiatus from TV/Cable, it was decided this summer that it should be reinstated for football season (which has now turned into basketball season...). There are three things that affect me in a most positive way as a result of this decision: 1) HGTV, 2) What Not to Wear and 3) Project Runway. Numbers 1&2 are ongoing privileges, and even though the most recent season for #3 is long gone, I can't wait for the next one.

This season, one of the more difficult (albeit talented, of course) participants had been called out at several points throughout the season, saying that her designs were quite similar to several big-name designers (i.e. Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, etc.). Her retort was that she never looked at other designers' lines. In the season finale, the judges challenged her back by saying that she really needed to be aware of other designers and what they were doing, because even if she came up with the most creative idea on the planet, if someone else has already done it (or something similar), then it's suddenly not so creative in the eyes of everyone else.

Sometimes I catch myself having the Kenley mindset, "Oh, I don't want to look at other people's work...I don't want it to affect my originality." Hearing the judges comments brought back a memory from college when I started making my HoneyB cards. Everyone seemed to love the different "girl" designs I was doing...and I did, too...until I walked into every store and saw multiple cards with the same idea! Suddenly I didn't feel too great about my cards. And one of the big reasons I haven't pursued the whole card business thing is from that point on I became very convicted that if I was going to do cards, I better be darn sure that they are the best cards out there. And I wasn't convinced they were...

So how does this apply to me today? Well I also started thinking that I don't know too much about design in an academic sense. I mean, if someone asked me today who my favorite designer is, what am I going to say? Jessica Baer? Tommy Torres? Eh - probably not going to cut it! So I started thinking that I need to expand my mind a bit and do some research on some people who had a hand in shaping design - both presently and historically. Not only to expand my knowledge, but also to expand my skills! It's been on my list of "to do's" for weeks now to go to the library and get some books. Right. I'll sqeeze that in between too-busy-to-go-to-the-gym and how-many-inches-of-dust-are-on-the-shelf. So I've just been scouring magazines and books around the office as much as possible.

Enter Jessica and the introduction of Raymond Loewy's MAYA principle. Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.

According to Loewy, "The adult public's taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned to accepting as the norm."

Brilliant! I encounter this principle nearly every day while I work...however, I'm not always willing to bend to the "YA" part of "MAYA." Or sometimes I give up on wanting to do any "MA" and resort to only "YA." It's good to remember that when all is said and done, you can spend a million hours doing the coolest most complex design, and the client will probably still go back to the little sketch he did for you on a napkin.

I love how this principle has changed my thinking behind my projects the past few days. I'm also starting to think about the other areas of my life that it might apply...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Copy Cat

Downtown San Luis Obispo used to be one of my favorite places to shop.
Unfortunately, many of the cute out of the way boutiques seem to be
closing! There are fewer and fewer each time I visit. There was one
little paper shop I found that I wished I could pack up in a little
box, though. I was going through some pictures from our trip and came
across this one of some little paper flowers that I fell in love with
at that shop. I took the picture thinking, "these are so cute...and
they would be so easy to make myself!" And now I am doubly frustrated
that I did not pay the $2.75 for at least one to use as a template.
What are the stems made out of? How are they connected? What materials
were used in the center? Arg. I'll never find the time to scour
Lincoln Park or Old Town to find something similar. Everyone thinks
I'm crafty like a fox, but really I'm just a hopeless copy cat.