Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Libra the Balancing Act

Libra design available on zazzle.com (©Taylor Barnes 2010)

Today was the autumnal equinox and the beginning of the astrological sign of Libra. The equinox is one of two times in the year when the day and the night are of equal length and Libra represents the sign of balance. So it seems fitting to reflect at this moment on balance in design and life.

As artists we strive for balance in our work. We try to create a visual that is weighted equally between many elements (type, illustration, color, etc.) and allow the viewer to take in the whole message without distraction. But there is the opposite end of the spectrum – that rare designer that can take chaos and orchestrate it so artfully that it is a delight to feel "off-balance."

But if you dig deeper the working artist also needs balance in the home and studio. Emotional distraction (such as my daughter just now walking into the room to yell "hi" to me as I am writing this blog post) or financial imbalance can retard the creative process. 

I once knew an artist who taught me this lesson (ironically he was born under the sign of Libra.) I noticed that although he worked a full time job he was very productive in the studio and always showing his work. I asked him what his secret was and he said that he had simplified every other area of his life so that the most complicated thinking happened when he was making art. He had five white button down shirts, five pairs of jeans, he ate the same lunch every day, and kept to this routine no matter how boring it might seem. But he produced a lot of work and seemed very happy.

I tried this for myself and found I did get more done. I have also discovered that whenever I give in to my caprices and let go of structure I get nothing done creatively. I end up "giving away" my creativity to my teaching, my child or my clients. In the end I am disappointed, out of whack and want to get back to center artistically. My survival instinct as a creative will kick in and cause me to do something to correct the situation but that causes a new imbalance as well.

Balance – the equinox of ebb and flow of ideas, money, love and harmony in one's life. That is the goal. However... that being said, it is the chaotic times that have produced some of the greatest inspiration in my life. Being human is not easy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate...

The above illustration is from an insightful academic paper, "Mapping the Unmappable:Visual Representations of the Internet as Social Constructions," by Adam B. King, University of Indiana. This illustration – the tin can network.

I have been very busy in the studio, with my nose tightly to the grindstone, creating the holiday line for L'Image Graphics. While I work, I think about the people I want to benefit from these images and where I would like to donate money at the end of the year. The tag line for my company is "creating change one image at a time," and with every card I design that is the vision I hold.

Something is threatening the entrepreneurial spirit of this venture and the potential charitable benefits- Google, Verizon, or AT&T (among other.) Take your pick. They want to change the way free enterprise is executed on the Internet. Call me crazy but in such precarious economic times, it seems like an exercise in foolishness to change the way people access the Internet. 

I personally have seen the Internet become an immediate and gratifying way to connect with clients and consumers. After years of manufacturing my products the old-fashioned way with printers, warehouses, employees, employee taxes, shipping and billing this new way of doing business is a breath of fresh air. For artists the ability to print-on-demand has been a career changing development. As a culture, we have only just begun to see the influence artists will be able to have through the Internet.

Marketing was always a mystery, something you had to find the dollars for or else. Now if you can network yourself via facebook, twitter, google, blogger, and anything else you can think of you will be seen very quickly. Many people have found ebay and etsy to market their wares. Or they build their own small business websites. The best part… as small business owners on the web we have the world as our market. That was not easily achieved ten years ago.

So I have to ask–if we adopt too many guidelines and change the way we access the Internet what impact will that have in a borderline depression economy? 

As I work on my new line of products, I reflect on the looming possibility that the very business model I have built my re-emergence upon may disappear. If you would like to examine the issues for yourself visit Save the Internet for one side. Google has change their position on net neutrality since 2006 and Google's 2010 position are worth reviewing. If ever, there was a moment to be informed this would be it. 

The conversation is ongoing and it is important that we become knowledgeable about all sides of this important issue because it very well might represent a turning point in how we communicate with each other in the future.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Look and A New Attitude!

                         Virgo by Taylor Barnes © 2010

A redesign is a good but unnerving thing to undertake. I approached this one with so many possible ideas but one criteria – I wanted things to lighten up. I am fond of saying, "white space is your friend" yet I wasn't practicing what I was preaching. Hence, the redesign.

I am happy with the cleaner look and you may have noticed the new logo in the header for L'Image Graphics. My primary focus as a designer is to resurrect the brand that I developed several years ago. I had not planned to walk this road until a few months ago when three completely random emails requesting to buy my products sparked an idea. It seemed to me that if, after all this time, people were interested enough to track me down then maybe I should be interested enough to produce that product again.

But once again that brings me to the subject of 'redesign.' Of course I couldn't put out the same product I did several years ago -times have changed. But what parts to keep and which to change are the difficult challenges we face as designers. A brand has to be respected but it can't get stuck either.

So with all that in mind welcome to the new and improved L'Image Graphics. If you are interested to see the new work you can find it at www.zazzle.com/limagegraphics.