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.