Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The End of the World and Angel Visits

Egyptian Angel by Taylor Barnes @ 2010

Of course I have to pose this question now. I tried to avoid it. I tried to ignore it. I tried to discount it. Then today, while getting my morning coffee from the local coffee shop, this is the conversation I overheard:

Young, cute, 20-something girl talking to scruffy bearded 20-something guy:
"I plan to spend the last week of my life in church praying all day. Do you want to come? There is plenty of room in God's house."

Guy: "Nah. If that's gonna be my last week on earth I plan to spend it somewhere in the dessert trippin' my balls off."

This little snippet of conversation got me to thinking about the very thing that I did not want to think about before my first cup of coffee - immortality and our very existence. Lately it seems my world is a confluence of strange spiritual concepts. There is the idea of spiritual self-determination, that my every thought manifests my reality. There is the idea of the universe and it's omnipotent power over all of us and that has a sense of fatalism to it. And then there are angels...

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I would mind if she sent some angels to visit me. I felt like it was a strange concept to wrap my head around but at the same time I have had some profound spiritual events in my life that maybe could only be attributed to the actions of angels... so why not? It seems the angels have a very precise schedule, they travel for 5 days and stay for 5 days. So mine are not due to arrive for a few more days. But I am anticipating this event on several levels.

The days my angels will visit is roughly the week before the world ends. Hmmm - seems advantageous but not the point to focus on. This visit has also caused me to examine intent. Is the power of our intention, focused as a group, so powerful that it can manifest our reality? What does that say about the end of the world? An entire planet of people anticipating and visualizing the end of the world. Meanwhile I have my angels visiting. Talk about a conflict of ideas.

My angels are supposed to give me hope and guidance. I am supposed to make three wishes and let the angels help to manifest them. This is a big responsibility. Remember the fairy tales and the people who squandered their three wishes? I certainly do not want to end up with unexpected consequences to my selfish motives! How I could not wish for the saving of the planet? And what else could I possibly wish for on a personal level that would be so important? A new car, or a trip to Italy seem trivial in comparison to saving the world. I want to be selfish and throw caution to the wind by saying the world will be just fine and we will all wake up on December 22nd to a bright and shiny world. No matter how I rationalize it I still have this idea looming over me... the end of the world.

Intent is everything. So in my quest to come up with the perfect wishes I've come back to intent. The couple in the conversation above represent two perspectives on the end of the world; one is intent upon saving their soul and the other is intent upon living in the moment. Both perspectives are valid to the individual.

Isn't this the energy that art is created from?

My intent is that life thrive and continue every time I pick up a paintbrush. I am hopeful that an audience will be there to appreciate the work when it is finished. My wish is that we love and live well and not at the cost of the planet or others. So I would say, if the angels can manage this, some enlightenment for humanity and a new car for me (preferably one that is not harmful to the environment) would be nice.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Button It!

 Button it!

Often I have uttered this phrase and never stopped to think about the use of the word "button." Even "zip it" would be more contemporary.

Buttons... those archaic remnants from a Amish lifestyle.
Buttons... which gave way to zippers.
Buttons... which gave way to velcro.
Buttons... which are now collectors items...

Buttons are symbolic of how design cycles through our lives as relevant, irrelevant and eventually collectable or discarded and forgotten. How many times have you thought about that Superman action figure or Barbie doll you had as a child and wished you had kept in the box? Or at least not ripped the head off and tried to give her a punk, razor-cut hairstyle?

The next time you loose a button you may wonder if that one button could be the thing you wish you had valued at the time when everybody else took it for granted - and button it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Goddess of Abundance

 Goddess Abundance © Taylor Barnes

This week I created this image, for a client, to represent a "Goddess of Abundance." I dove into the assignment with particular enthusiasm because I thought, "how great, maybe she'll bring some abundance into my life!"

That line of thinking stopped me in my tracks. What was I doing? Creating an image with the express purpose of meeting my needs financially? How crass, how materialistic, how uncreative of me! But if I am totally honest we are motivated by financial reward because it allows us to do the vanity project that is near and dear to our hearts.

Striking a balance between the monetary goal and the creative goal is the challenge of every illustrator.

Can chasing the dollar corrupt your work? Yes. But it can also cause you to hold yourself to a higher standard because you want to sell your work.

Can chasing a dollar make you compromise your ideas? Yes. But sometimes that compromise is because you are working with a brilliant art director (who is also chasing the dollar) and together you form a perfect synergy that makes both of you greater than the sum total of your individual work.

While I was working on my Goddess of Abundance, I was not focused on the money I would be paid or the attention she might get - I was focused on the process. I pondered every line, the color balance, the mood and the processes I was using. I was involved in the work I love to do.

In the end this little Goddess of Abundance retaught me a lesson I needed to learn again...
Do what you love and the money will follow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Potential Reasons I May Burn in Hell

I found this warning reprinted on a website called Dangerous Minds and I found it thought provoking if not a little disturbing. Several of the items on this list I have participated in with great joy (reading Lord Of The Rings or the Harry Potter books), or to improve my life (yoga and vegetarianism), only to discover now that I may have sealed my fate as a sinner.

You are probably asking what does this have to do with design? I will tell you - it is about arbitrary rules, that you must follow, no matter how little sense they make, or you will burn in design hell. This list is ridiculous and so are some of the lists that designers make to determine what work is worthy of greatness.

DESIGN RULES ( and who decided that?)

1)  Go for the trendy solution - hmmm - use the clever solution not the trendy solution of the moment and maybe your work will remain relevant.

2)  Less is more. Really? Sometimes more is more. Controlled chaos springing from a a lack of white space can be visually interesting.

3) Forget what you have succeeded with in the past and start every project like it is the first one. Do that and you will spend hours of your time designing incredibly innovative solutions only to have them rejected by your client and then they will insist you design something like the "so-and-so project." Save the innovation for your down time and if you never have any down time then the stuff you already know must be working pretty well.

4) The font (fill in the blank) is the freshest look of the moment and you must use it in all of your projects. Follow this rule and you will virtually guarantee that your work will disappear into oblivion along with all the other designers that used Papyrus or Lithos ad nauseum.

5) The design needs to have (multimedia, animation, fill in the trend of the moment) because everybody is doing it. Watch out. Usually the client has no idea what that means and they just think it makes them look smart.

 I think the little list I started this post with looks like the seeds of an interesting life and an interesting life can lead to an interesting design!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Redesigning my Design Career

Every year I hit a point where I know, unequivocally, that I need to reinvent my image. In the process of change there are some challenges - such as what to keep from my past work and what to relegate to the files.


I am always in the process of growing, if not growing up. I hope I never loose my sense of curiosity and playfulness with regard to my work.  In the spirit of recreation here are some on my favorite designers that have survived brilliantly in a capricious industry that craves change as much as maintaining a certain status quo. As my personal redesign progresses I will be hold the brilliance of the following people as a standard to emulate.

Fleur Cowles
Founder and Editor of Flair Magazine (famous for their die-cut cover designs)

Tibor Kalman
Editor-in-chief of Colors magazine

Andy Warhol
Interview Magazine and everything he ever painted, filmed or said

Diana Vreeland
Vogue Editor, visionary, and mentor to many brilliant designers and artists

David Carson
Ground breaking typographer, designer and creator of my favorite "lost" magazine, RayGun

Finally no list of this nature would be complete without mentioning the brilliant,
Saul Bass
Film posters for Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese

This list is short and many names that should be here are not here. These are the influences of the moment not a definitive list of designers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Art and Taxes

A friend of mine posted the above statement on her Facebook page and it has been twisting and turning in my brain ever since I first read it. It was posted in an effort to make the act of making art more accessible - more commonplace. But is it? Is life art? 

My answer came when I filed my taxes today. I make art for a living. I have made art my entire life and I can honestly say that when I was filing my taxes I was not using the part of my brain, or my soul, or my spirit or anything else that I use to make art. Taxes were definitely not art for me! This thought gave way to the poster above and I started to think, why do we want to reduce the miracle of talent and creativity to a commonplace activity? It is true that art is a part of life - it lends beauty, it creates controversy and it incites passion BUT art it not life. 

I know the statement above says that Life is Art and I said, Art is not Life. Life is so much more than art and art is so much more than life. Bits of life are contained in art but the work that is created transcends it's source. Art is magical when it is done right. The statement above reduces living a life gracefully to making art. Any artist knows that your aesthetics will flow into all areas of your life simply because you are living art. However I know plenty of artists that save all of their energy for the work and their lives are neither well decorated nor do they have distinct personalities. 

I suppose on one level the fact that someone would post this statement belittles what I consider to be so important. It says that making art, thinking about art and considering art in and of itself is not that special. If you can be artistic in how you make a grocery list is this really saying anything? To make it mean something wouldn't you have to put that grocery list in context with something else?

Art asks the hard questions - it leaves room for interpretation - it messes things up so you see things differently. Art is a process and a dynamic way of processing information that requires talent and skill. 

I have decided to reword the statement above to show how I feel as an artist to have my profession and my training reduced to a statement that infers anybody can do it...

i think everything in life is brain surgery.
what you do. how you dress.
the way you love someone,
and how you talk. your smile 
and your personality. what you 
believe in, and all your dreams.
how you drink your tea.
how you decorate your home,
or party. your grocery list. the food
you make. how your writing looks.
and the way you feel.

life is brain surgery.

You can see how ridiculous this looks when applied to brain surgery. The same set of standards when applied to art are equally baseless and ridiculous. But somehow we accept making art as a profession that everyone can do a little of - it is a cultural prejudice that we don't want to be a nation of factory workers. We are all striving for individual expression and art allows us that. So when I look back on my reaction to this poster I suppose I should be flattered that so many want to feel artistic in their daily lives and hope that it creates a greater appreciation of the art that so many of us strive to make.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bonne Année!

New Year's Day in the city of lights! This photo was taken from one of the windows in the Louvre by Napaleon's Apartments. The timeless elegance of this city is astounding. Even with the I.M Pei pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre you can still catch glimpses of a time gone by. 
This city inspires reverence for the old and beautiful while still infusing it with the energy of the new and experimental. Somehow it all stands side-by-side and remains simply - Paris!