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Creativity

This Is the Story about “These Are the Things”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 14, 2014

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory of the design and illustration studio, These are the Things, are the paradigm of successful creative entrepreneurs. Young and attractive, their resumes are the stuff of designer envy: creators of cool maps featured on the tony shopping site Fab, illustrators with a steady gig with Afar magazine, purveyors of beautiful cards and posters, and subjects of a case study in a best selling book on successful start-ups. Yet at last autumn’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, Adrion and Noory dispelled any myth of an easy ride. In a talk memorable for its honesty, they described the daunting setbacks they’ve faced.

The lecture, titled ”How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy The Ride,” is illustrated with a graph showing Adrion and Noory’s meteoric rise, a suitable device for two infographic designers. Rather than showing a steady, straight angle towards success, the upward trend is punctuated with deep dips representing financial loss, anxiety, and thwarted plans. The two provide a frank recounting of their setbacks, from unmet expectations, to naïve mistakes and oversights in financial planning, to circumstances beyond their control.

Despite the grim topic of lessons learned, the lecture is hardly a downer. Both Adrion and Noory are brimming with energy and self deprecating humor, and many of their setbacks were the result of inexperience, hardly unsurprising for two 20-somethings starting their first company. What stands out is their ability to assess a bad situation, and do whatever is necessary to continue in the business they love. The lecture is a gift to the creative community, made all the more generous by Adrion and Noory’s openness.

A full transcript of their talk is provided on their website.

Portrait of Adrion and Noory, used with permission.

Jen Aldrion and Omar Noory

Go North: Guild Member Discount for DesignThinkers 2014

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 16, 2014

November 6-7
Toronto, Canada

Join the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) and over 1,500 visual communicators for the 15th annual DesignThinkers Conference, a celebration of creativity and strategic design thinking.

The event welcomes a star-studded line-up of 25 international speakers, including:
-    Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter
-    Irma Boom, Netherlands-based Book Designer
-    Henry Hobson, Film Titles Designer, “The Walking Dead”
-    Wesley Grubbs, Founder, Data Visualization Studio Pitch Interactive
-    Aaron Draplin, Founder, Draplin Design Co.
-    Sybille Hagmann, Type Designer
-    Ellen Lupton, Author, Educator & Curator
-    Karen McGrane, Author, “Content Strategy for Mobile”
-    Debbie Millman, Author & Host, Design Matters
-    Paula Scher, Partner, Pentagram
-    Erik Spiekermann, Author & Creative Director, Edenspiekermann
-    Richard Turley, Creative Director, Bloomberg Businessweek
-    Jessica Walsh, Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh
-    Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director & Sr. VP, Marketing, Target

Members of the Graphic Artists Guild get special pricing! Register on the Group/Org rate. Early Bird rates end September 26. Learn more at www.designthinkers.com.

DesignThinkers © RGD

Purge Yourself: Jealousy is Creative Poison

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 21, 2014

Jim ZubThe multi-talented artist, writer, and educator, Jim Zub, has written a cautionary article on the destructive power of jealousy. “Jealousy is Creative Poison” is targeted to new cartoonists and comic book creators, but the advice is relevant to anyone working in a creative field. Zub acknowledges that he is stating the obvious when he warns artists against measuring their success against that of others. While he recognizes that jealousy is unavoidable in a career in which one’s ego is wrapped in one’s creation, he exhorts creators to push past it.

Zub passes on three key pieces of advice: First, don’t let jealousy motivate creation, leading you to tear down the work of others. Second, don’t lash out when you feel as though you’re failing. And third, don’t focus on others’ success, but live in your present. Zub ends on a high note, reminding his readers that there is an extensive audience for good stories, good characters, and artists who persevere.

Zub’s website is well worth a visit to aspiring comic book authors and graphic novelists. He’s featured a series of articles covering everything from “How to Break into Comics” to “How to Find an Artist,” comic writing, creator-owned economics, communication, and comic promotion.

Jim Zub is an award winning cartoonist and writer living in Toronto, Canada. He is the writer of Samurai Jack, Makeshift Miracle, Skullkickers, and Pathfinder. His client list includes Disney, Warner Bros., Hasbro, and Mattel. When he isn’t writing comics and graphic novels, he’s the Program Coordinator for the animation program at Seneca College.

Photo used with permission.

From Croatia, with Love (and Inspiration): The Design Blog

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 18, 2014

Croatian designer Ena Baćanović  (aka Ruby Soho) made a splash when her “If I Wanted to Work for Free…” poster went viral in the summer of 2012. Few realized then that she is also the founder and curator of The Design Blog, a collection of inspirations and resources from around the globe. The Design Blog seeks to live up to its mantra, “Don’t Just Be a Designer  – Be a Good One” by featuring beautiful work and resources. The homepage features selected projects, elaborated upon with text and photographs from the creators.

The site also has recurring sections, which showcase work and projects across a range of disciplines on selected days of the week, such as Designer of the Week, Web Design Wednesdays, UI/UX of the Week, Featured Video, and Friday Freebies. (The moniker “of the Week” is a bit ambitious. Although posts for each section are frequent, they don’t seem to appear on a weekly basis – hardly surprising considering the breadth of disciplines which are covered.) An extensive list of resources lists typography resources and inspirational blogs.

The Design Blog is all the more impressive when one considers that Baćanović is only 23 years old. She’s both energetic and multi-faceted. In addition to running The Design Blog and working on her own projects, she’s the drummer in the female band Punchke.

Images @ Ena Baćanović. Used with permission.

The Online Harassment of Women, and One Artist’s Unique Response

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 13, 2014

This past year, the widespread abuse of women who are active online has been well documented. One artist, however, has found a unique way to own the harassment.  Lindsay Bottos, a fine arts and photography major at Maryland Institute College of Art, posts frank images of a number of subjects on her Tmblr account. Her self portraits almost exclusively attract some hateful comments. As Bottos writes, “The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily.” Her response has been to take the comments and superimpose them on self portraits, which she’s collected into a project, “Anonymous.” The project photos render the comments powerless, accentuating their hostile stupidity, while the arch expression on Bottos’ face provides commentary.

For a number of women, though, online harassment goes beyond spiteful comments. A widely read article by Amanda Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” was published in January in Pacific Standard. In the article, Hess, a writer for Slate, describes anonymous misogynistic attacks, culminating in threats of rape and beheading from one enraged cyberstalker. She lists several other well-documented cases of women being targeted for abuse, from feminist Caroline Criado-Perez, who affronted by suggesting that the Bank of England feature at least one woman other than the Queen on a banknote, to well-regarded technology writer Kathy Sierra, who had to put her career on temporary hiatus.

Sadly, women in technology and gaming have to deal with especially virulent attacks. Anita Sarkeesian, a gamer who started a Kickstarter Campaign to support her video project exploring the stereotypes of female characters in gaming, discovered doctored pornographic images of her posted online, as well as a web-based game which permitted players to virtually punch her. Zoe Quinn, an illustrator and game developer, twice submitted her game Depression Quest to Greenlight, the peer-review community for the online gaming platform Steam. Both times her submission generated a torrent of abuse directed towards her via social media and forums, as well as anonymous telephone calls which forced her to change her cell phone number. Both women succeeded in their ventures despite (and to an extent, because of publicity generated by) the harassment. Sarkeesian’s campaign raised more than five times the amount she originally requested, and Quinn’s game is now available on Steam.

Photo © Lindsay Bottos. Used with permission.

Photo © Linsday Bottos

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