Dealing with design work

Well, it…at least feels as though, it has been a long day.  Although I’ve been monitoring what’s been going on with my class, I haven’t really been participating, today.

What I can say is that I feel like I’m relatively prepared to work with Graphic Design.  Relatively speaking — which means, as compared to people who have no experience in either Art or Design (which seems to include most of the class).

I don’t have a degree in Design, and I only have an AA in Art; but that training allowed me the experience of critiquing the work of others (over and over again), so I have some grounding on which to base my opinions.  I also have experience working with computer graphics tools…and with how to note down design ideas in the middle of the night.  (The latter came from being kept up with story ideas in undergraduate work; the former came from taking Digital Imaging courses, plus one Graphic Arts course.)

This meant that the exercise we recently undertook in my UX class — redesigning a couple of signs — was fairly easy for me.  I had thought of working things out by hand, like I did in my Intro to Graphic Design class, but I actually had the tools I needed so that I could manipulate elements digitally.  It vastly speeds up the process, and makes it easy to place color fills and gradients, and work with type.  And quickly change the font, size, spacing, placement, and color of that type.  I was actually kind of amazed at how easy Photoshop makes these things — and I’m not even working with Illustrator, or InDesign.

I’m hoping that the MLIS program will give me the background knowledge to make functional Design, as versus Design which looks nice but is nonfunctional (due to a lack of consideration of the end-user’s experience).

We were introduced to the idea of “personas” as used in marketing, this semester — which seems as though it draws off of creative imaging skills.  I have an abundance of these, but I was never told that I could work in Business in a Marketing department, utilizing the same skills I had used in Creative Writing.

Aesthetics seem to be placed below functionality, so far as Design is concerned in the classes I’ve been in, in the MLIS program.  I can’t help but think that this is the case, however, because people have been taught how to make things look nice, but not how to make them usable.  And I’m not sure I would fault the Graphic Designers for a lack of overall consideration of the user (although the Graphic Designers seem to take the blame — is this why they don’t get paid as much as others?).  It seems as though someone isn’t doing their job…and I’m not sure if it is the Graphic Designers, that is.

I’m almost wondering if the MLIS program will help me progress more in my chosen career path, more than a degree in Design would help me.  I’ve heard Design dismissed offhand in the Art world (most notably, as “selling out”), but in reality I think that even though both Art and Design utilize skill in working with images, visual communication, and fine motor movement, Design is a totally different category of activity, than Art.  They’re not anywhere near being the same things, and it becomes extremely apparent when you’re dealing with things like user research (which seems to utilize Social Science techniques) and usability, among other concepts which are hard for me to name right now.

I’m not sure if people in the Art world realize this (or if Clement Greenberg — the person I am thinking is most responsible for the current idea that money corrupts art — knew enough to realize this), and nor am I sure I’m totally up to picking them apart, at the moment.  It is a question that has continually been in the back of my mind, though.

I haven’t been writing so much recently because I’ve been trying to see what it is like just to live, without recording my life for several hours a week (each of these sessions is more than an hour long).  It’s apparent that logging my experiences is useful, but I don’t think I should do it out of a sense of obligation.  At this point in my life, my thinking is cohesive enough that I don’t really need to work at drawing it all together the way I had to, say, four years ago.

What I really do need to do, though, is keep some kind of practice where I put thoughts into words and into text.  It’s a great strength which declines when I don’t write.  That doesn’t mean I have to write about what I have been writing about…or in such volume…but I need to write.

I’m getting pretty tired right now, so I should log off:  though I had wanted to write about moving back into my toned paper journal.  But I had wanted to look at this from the perspective of considering Design to be a creative activity in which the message I’m communicating is somewhat predetermined.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of trouble starting because of not knowing what to communicate, or what to draw, etc.  Maybe Design can provide that for me, but really it does feel like …a puzzle.  Like creating a solution to a problem which just happens to be functional, useful, and beautiful.

I think I’ll leave you on that note, right now, run and brush my teeth, and try not to collapse before I get to bed.  🙂

I suppose I can take time out to write.

Hi all,

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading, recently, for my Summer class.  On top of this, I worked extra hours this week.  I just finished the last two lectures tonight, and appear to be all caught up on my reading.  Now the work begins.

In class, we’ve been reading a book called Letting Go of the Words:  Writing Web Content that Works (Second Edition), by Janice (Ginny) Redish.  This is with an eye to building functional and useful (library) websites.  Because of this, and because I didn’t wholly realize that the site at which you’re reading this now is likely a “destination site,” I had been thinking that massive reorganization was necessary for this blog.  (Library websites are usually not “destination sites;” they’re usually redirecting sites.)

It seems that yes, some reorganization needs to happen so that readers aren’t continually faced with textwalls.  However, I need to take stock of what is here and what is most used (and ideally get some reader feedback), before I do it.

What I had been doing, instead of posting here, was experimenting with the Pages function on WordPress.  (And, right:  I’ve also changed the Theme.)  I’ve been thinking of keeping a (relatively) static front page with links back to (periodically revised and added) material which may go unused when the front page is just an infinitely-scrolling list of chronologically-organized text.

It may just be clear, however, that doing that kind of work to this blog may, 1) inhibit its functionality as a recording place for me (rewriting things written three years ago may destroy their relevance), and, 2) not be feasible, in terms of content.

In terms of the initial goal and approach of this blog (as a place to record my thoughts so that I could formulate a career direction), and the newer goals I can see emerging (now that I have a career direction), it might be more worth it to keep this place as a place to record my thoughts, and set up a different space with the goal of actually serving my readers.

(I wonder if blogs’ reasons for existence have shifted, over the past 20 years?)

Anyhow, I have a number of things due in what is, in practicality, the next 24 hours, so I’ll try and cut this short so that I can get enough rest to be functional tomorrow.

And ah — right!  I wanted to record this somewhere I could remember it.  This is off-topic for this post (though on-topic for the blog), but M said something to me the other day.  She didn’t mean for me to stop painting, but rather for me to get a job which could support me in order to enable my creativity.  This was likely in response to, “I’d like to go to the art store; I have some things in mind, but I won’t be able to even use them before Monday, because I won’t have time.”  Apparently, people have been saying that I should be making art because I could be making money at it… 🙂 …always a nice thing to hear!

Remembering that mission…

I…feel like I should be doing something else, but wanted to record this impulse while I had it, as it may possibly mark a turning point as regards this blog — I can’t tell for sure, though, in the moment.

I’ve been attempting to record as much as I can, when I can…both to keep up my writing skills, and so that, months down the line, I don’t forget what I was thinking (maintaining continuity has been a historical issue with me — before I began journaling, it was apparent that I’d get caught in potentially infinite loops and not realize that I’d come to the same conclusions, before).  I think a couple of things have been happening, though:  one, being a stagnation of what I’ve been doing outside the blog (although I don’t know why I would argue that, as I just got back from a two-week vacation [albeit one in which I had to take along my studies]), and two, wanting and needing to devote energies elsewhere.

For instance, the art and craft area at my home has recently been reorganized; so the amount of freedom I would have to utilize my art supplies is fresh in my memory, at this point.  As well, I’m now officially behind in my work, again; though the extent to which this is because of me, I question (I’ve learned not to trust one of my Professors, because of this; though at the same time I’m not sure what I can do except trust him…and possibly, fail because of it).

I’ve read a good number of pages, today…I have at least 20 more to go, I think; before everything should be clear(er) in the lectures; but I’m still, basically, two lectures behind, and doing classwork which I should have started before Spring Break (though I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THAT).  I need to get the reading out of the way and then look at the online tools; I think our next graded assignment will be given out on the 13th (in four days), and this is the class where I’m currently carrying a C…so I need to get equal to or above that in the next couple of assignments.  Because of that, it takes priority over my other two classes (in which I think I presently have As), meaning I’ll be behind in those as well, most likely.  I hope to get what was due at the beginning of this week, done before Friday (I don’t do assignments well when I’m stressed — at least not when I actually have to think about them).

Anyhow, time has become a limited commodity, and I question how much using it to repeat myself here (I’ve started to do so, so that new readers don’t have to look through previous entries) is a great use of it (particularly given what I think is called a “chilling effect” from a recent legal change).  There is the fact that I can work thoughts out here and reach conclusions which I might not have come to, otherwise; and WP’s algorithms do help when I’ve written something similar before that I’ve forgotten about.

I don’t always have something new to write about, every day.  Then, also, sometimes I do have something new to say, but I don’t feel like saying it online.  An example of this is sharing my images of Hawaii…most of these are floral images, and I get irritated at myself for not sharing them, but then I also still want to keep them private, at least until I myself can use them as source images for artwork.  Once I’m done with them, fair game, right?  But I’m still dealing with a feeling of protectiveness about them, although I know setting them free is the most ideal way to ensure they survive.

I’ve also, recently, seen my Stats trail off a bit — as happens when one doesn’t post regularly (I think I made three posts over the two weeks of vacation, compared to one every two to three days, before I started ramping up and trying to get as much work done as I could, prior to vacation) — but I’m not sure that what I’m thinking about (that is, pulling back from writing here, a bit) is entirely due to that.

I think what’s happening is that there’s too much writing and not enough living.  It’s an imbalance that I noticed, too, at the end of my Creative Writing program.  It’s hard to write about things when you aren’t living new material from which to draw your writings.

I’ll try and get some of this work done, and it would also be nice if I could get the art done, as well…but I’ve realized that the work will finance the art, that the art is for pleasure and healing, and that this blog may be more of a liability than not…in this era.

And yeah, I…don’t want to be political, though I feel that as a writer and artist, it’s expected of me.  I would also dislike being truly apolitical, but it’s possible to have an opinion and just not say it (at least in public) until it’s appropriate, you know?  I know there is power in numbers, and we can’t know how many of us there are if no one says anything; because then we’re isolated — and isolation breeds fear, and power exploits fear.

It’s just that it’s not my goal to be an activist, again.  I actually don’t want to be an activist.  I just want things to happen in a way that feels correct, but I don’t know if that will happen without my voice.  The only problem with speaking…is that when I’m speaking, I’m seen; when I’m seen, the safety cloak drops and I know I may have to fight.  I don’t want to fight, because I don’t want to be harmed, or to harm anyone else.

Then again, I don’t want the world to die, either, because I didn’t do what I could, when I could.  That then gets into solipsism, however, and…life choices, responsibility, trying to shape who and what I want myself to be, in this world.  What energies I want to emit; whether I exist for generation or destruction.  I’d rather be a healer than a warrior…and maybe on some level…I need to be a healer; at least to heal myself.  Maybe once that’s done, I can reassess where I stand…

but…yeah.

that may just be the spirits speaking through me.  Which is the reason I write and make art.  I shouldn’t forget that.

Breaking the silence

Writing the last post, I realized that a lot of what I’m going through now would seem to be the consequence of having been a largely silent child.  I don’t consider myself an intensely private person; at the same time, I get intimidated by social media (I’m not even sure of the last time I went to Facebook, though I know I initiated contact with someone and then forgot about it), and form deep, intense connections with a very small number of people.  The only reason I’m on social media in the first place is that it was a requirement for my Library & Information Science program.

Is blogging considered social media?  I don’t know.  I did start out my first blog, Hidden Jewels, a very long time ago; seven years, unless I’m mistaken.  I would have been 28, and have just entered the job market.  At the time, I was in the Business program at the college from which I ended up getting an Art AA.  I bailed on the Business program because of realizing the difficulty of making a living at craft jewelry.

Even if I did start my own business, I would have to have a side job to make ends meet.  I eventually turned to Library work as a primary way to survive, which would give me the time and funding to be creative on the side — in some way that I wouldn’t have to rely on jeweling and/or beading to feed myself.  Though I would like for it to be possible, I simply don’t have the skills right now to sell my work for as much as I’d need to sell it in order to survive and be assured not to be in poverty.  It would be easier if I were a bench jeweler, but I’m not that interested in Fine Jewelry.  (Except in electronics and engineering applications, gold is overrated.)

I should probably read more in that Quiet, book.  Basically…as I grew up I was unable to be unknown, and the publicity (which had to have been a slew of rumors going on behind my back) was not a good thing.  I’m not sure how much I want to recount, here, but a lot of my private time at recess ended up being spent making crafts and dealing with things which were, in my perception, either the sensation of the spirits of other speechless life, or imaginative projections.  At a certain point you get tired of your (human) “friends” hurting you.  I learned that it was better to be without friends than to be with abusive “friends.”

I think the problem is that I was too open.  Plus, I didn’t really know much about racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia, all of which ended up impacting me, pretty much concurrently.  Given the applicability of Intersectional Feminism, here, it becomes apparent that statistically, given my genetic background and my social environment, things were not laid out for me in such a way that I had much of a shot at lifelong mental health.  I’m really lucky that I’ve had no suicide attempts or hospitalizations, thus far.

Maybe this is the reason I withdrew into myself to the point that I channeled all that energy out into my writing.  Right now, when I write fiction, it feels escapist, but it’s pretty much an escapist nightmare more than anything, which …kind of isn’t the definition of escapism.  Historically, though, I’ve had issues with embodiment which have been related both to gender and race (if you’re new to the blog, I’m mixed-race, but primarily identify with the side of my family I was raised around).

In any case, the world of my dreams — and illusions — has long been safer and more compassionate than the world I live in.  Most of this hasn’t been disclosed, though, except in my writing.  Maybe it’s because of this that I was drawn to writing.  Though I don’t think I’ve been an avid reader, outside of what had been assigned at school and what I occupied myself with as an alternative to being alone (the library was good for this)…I have been someone for whom writing has been necessary.  It’s a way to keep track of and organize my thoughts.

Otherwise…there was a long period when I didn’t know who I was.  Maybe because of a lack of social interaction?  I’m not sure.  I did develop my own internal “social” spiritual interaction, but that was probably a last resort from being externally understimulated.  It doesn’t happen so much, now.  I’m not certain why, though I suspect it has to do with medication, and more outlets with which to show myself who I am.  Of course, writing is instrumental in this; my long-term memory isn’t great when it comes to remembering who I was in 2011, or what I was dealing with, etc.

Writing for an audience seems like a different thing, though.  I really, really am not used to other people reading, and responding to, what I write!  It’s almost as though I were talking, and someone is actually listening to me.  😉  I have gotten used to making speeches as well, but it still makes me uncomfortable when I am expected to take, and defend, formal positions on problems which I know I don’t fully understand.  I know it’s really easy to go wrong, that way; and it seems understanding would be desirable before being forced and/or expected to spit out an answer.  It’s the major reason I tried to get my brain sorted out before even seriously considering testosterone.  I was terrified I’d make a decision for the wrong reasons, and then be unable to undo the damage.

But maybe that’s something social people do?  Take positions on problems they don’t fully understand and rest in (ignorant) faith that they’re right?  I’m not sure.

Maybe the issue is being pushed or forced to make a decision or take a stance when one is not a warrior type, but more of a balancer, or a person who sees multiple factors acting on a situation without assuming that any side people are taking up even addresses the correct problem.  (Something I learned in Critical Thinking is that it is indeed possible to use language to construct nonsensical propositions.  Often the key to solving a problem is asking the right questions.)

It is very much easier not to take a stance when one is silent.  It’s easier to run silent — except when one reaches the point that it becomes imperative to say something and actually stand for something and actually deal with the consequences — both positive and negative — for having done so.  If it’s something that really checks out, which is really important or urgent, it’s not an issue:  things need to be addressed, and worked out through dialogue (what is dialogue called with more than two sides?).

But the problem is that people rarely if ever question whether what they think is right actually is right, and this seems to hold across the board.  It seems to be something about the nature of the brain…which I don’t personally understand; but I’m sure we agree that we can’t all both disagree, and also be right, about everything all the time — and just because it’s you who thinks it doesn’t make it right.  (I use the second-person tense here because I want to make it clear that this is not a weapon to throw at people who disagree with you.  If this observation is correct, it applies to everyone.  It applies to me, it applies to you.)

Anyhow; it’s much easier to exist…for me, just to plain exist, without taking a stance all the time.  And I’m certain that this is related to growing up as a silent child.  But there are times at which it is necessary to speak up.  For me, an outlet was necessary, and that outlet was writing and storytelling, in lieu of speaking and socializing.  At the same time, reading…does help.  But I am still in a place where I need to see my own words reflected back on me, maybe to see myself as a person.  To me, language is a mirror, through which I can see myself.

Though maybe, as I “come out” further and further with regard to both my disability and all the other hidden levels I contain, my life will become richer for it, and I will be not just surviving, but living.