Saturday, March 28, 2009
Venice Beach - seductive and inspiring
graffiti on a store window in Venice Beach
You may not see what I see in this photo but it is inspiring to me. The play of texture, the white accent of the type, the natural grid formed by the window; it is the type of street art that goes into your subconscious mind and creates a library to pull from later as a designer.
I have watched Venice Beach change along with the rest of the world but there is something different - something resistant to change in this community. It has a "spiritual vortex." Every time I think development is going to smother the spirit of this unique place it rebounds and shows its funky side again. The weather brings out the performers on the boardwalk. The election brings out the aging hippie political reformers. The close-knit community brings out the grass-roots publishers and organizations.
In a sense this is a barometer for that old saying "the more things change the more they remain the same." As the world of design zips along with one technological breakthrough after another the basics never go away. We still need to get our ideas across in the most succinct manner possible. As designers we have to make color and font choices but we also need to keep our spirit. That is what makes us unique and our work worth looking at.
I wrote "dare to be square" as I reflected on this indomitable spirit of Venice Beach. This place inspires me because it takes on the new, integrates it with the old and creates a fascinating hybrid. That is my personal goal... to be a 'fascinating hybrid.'
Venice is covered with outdoor art; stencil art on the sidewalks, graffiti, wall murals, tagging, sculpture and if you count the street musicians and outdoor painters it is almost too much to take in. The rules get broken here because there is no monetary reward for what the artist is doing. It is simply a pure expression of their "spirit." But if you look closely street art has the roots of all other great art movements at its core. Social expression.
If I had a nickel for every client who came to me and said "I want an edgier look" I would be very wealthy now. But edgy changes and is not easily defined - until you look at the art people are creating on the street, then you see it. The best of these cutting edge ideas will later make it into the lexicon of modern design.
But to translate those ideas and make them work for the larger public you need to "dare to be square." The basics of good design make those gritty street ideas work for the rest of the world.
'Daring to be square' is the method by which one becomes a fascinating hybrid.