I bought a new Penguin!


Spending the first 20 or so years of my life in strictly play. I’ve started to gain interest in catching up on all the literature I should’ve read. Although, I don’t quite feel regret for not having read more, because I don’t feel I would’ve taken as much from the books I’m reading now when I was younger.

The fact that I’m actually really excited about this makes me feel as though I have finally begun a new chapter in my life. (no pun intended) My first book which I picked up yesterday is, The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. I can’t resist the designer in me, so I got the Penguin.

Lovely, I think.

A Visual Shift

I recently stumbled upon an article from a talk given by Milton Glaser, which I’m ashamed to say I’m not familiar with, but nevertheless was very inspiring. It more or less was one of those, “name 10 things from your life experience that will give me supernatural abilities” kind of talks, and although I may not be able to see thru walls yet it certainly does open your mind.

The section that most paws at my sleeve is number 6, which for convenience I’ll post here, but you really should check out the whole talk and the rest of the site.

I think this idea first occurred to me when I was looking at a marvellous etching of a bull by Picasso. It was an illustration for a story by Balzac called The Hidden Masterpiece. I am sure that you all know it. It is a bull that is expressed in 12 different styles going from [a] very naturalistic version of a bull to an absolutely reductive single line abstraction and everything else along the way. What is clear just from looking at this single print is that style is irrelevant. In every one of these cases, from extreme abstraction to acute naturalism they are extraordinary regardless of the style. It’s absurd to be loyal to a style. It does not deserve your loyalty. I must say that for old design professionals it is a problem because the field is driven by economic consideration more than anything else. Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often. So every ten years or so there is a stylistic shift and things are made to look different. Typefaces go in and out of style and the visual system shifts a little bit. If you are around for a long time as a designer, you have an essential problem of what to do. I mean, after all, you have developed a vocabulary, a form that is your own. It is one of the ways that you distinguish yourself from your peers, and establish your identity in the field. How you maintain your own belief system and preferences becomes a real balancing act. The question of whether you pursue change or whether you maintain your own distinct form becomes difficult. We have all seen the work of illustrious practitioners that suddenly look old-fashioned or, more precisely, belonging to another moment in time. And there are sad stories such as the one about Cassandre, arguably the greatest graphic designer of the twentieth century, who couldn’t make a living at the end of his life and committed suicide.
But the point is that anybody who is in this for the long haul has to decide how to respond to change in the zeitgeist. What is it that people now expect that they formerly didn’t want? And how to respond to that desire in a way that doesn’t change your sense of integrity and purpose.

-Milton Glaser

Before I get to my bit I’d like to point out how awesome that in just this one section he has referenced Picasso, Marx, Balzac and more. It just doesn’t seem like this type of ancillary material is as common, regardless of profession, in the American educational system. My wife did point out though that this can also stem from living a privileged life. I asked some people I know, who are currently finishing their undergraduate studies, what type of courses they took outside of their major, and the required core(math, science, etc.). Most of them working middle class, like myself, and the responses I got were not surprising. Some mentioned they don’t really recall them or more interestingly was that they did, but said it was useless. In this case the topic was philosophy, but it’s the opinion of it being useless that intrigued me the most. True, maybe there aren’t jobs on Career Builder for “philosophers” outside academia, but certainly we can assume that the great works of people such as Glaser wouldn’t have been what they were if there were no Marx or Picasso or Kant or Freud. It’s that very limited depth of field that handicaps our way of life. We act on on the ends over the means, but I digress.

When Milton talks about visual shift is when I began to ruminate. I started to think about how we go through shifts in style in regards to typography, clothing, automobiles, homes, language and it got me to thinking. This can also hold true with lifestyle. Recently, I’ve become unsatisfied with the lifestyle of the average American. Not in the sense of material possessions, but rather what it is that we do in life.

“Your born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Til one day you’re up in the rarefied atmosphere, and you’ve forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son.,” delivered by the magnificent Michael Gambon from the movie Layer Cake about sums it up. The American Dream. I think that the everyday process of typical life in this country has become cumbersome to me, and I’m looking to make a shift. Perhaps this is typical of someone my age, but I’ve noticed this in more than just myself.

Of course, all this might just be normal. To draw from Milton’s talk once more he mentions later that “doubt is better than certainty.,” and “One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.” I strongly believe that this is the cause of much frustration in the human scape. We often try to create absolutes in a world where there is no absolute. Ever. Milton mentions that there is a fine line between skepticism and cynicism, and knowing the difference goes a long way.

Overwhelmed, Exhausted; these would be awesome words if I were playing scrabble.

I have now begun to work on my advanced project proposal for my graphic arts degree. It has been an arduous journey to say the least, but at last I can finally tie the knot on this unremitting experience. I suppose the part of it I enjoyed the most was when I first started and I was spending most of my days painting, drawing, printmaking, etc.. Perhaps I’m just running out of steam, but since this is my final project of my BA I want to make sure it is done right. I have a few ideas of my own, however, if anyone surfing through cares to leave some thoughts on a graphic design final project your comments are welcomed.

What I can recall happened in 2010…..

Well  it seems that however fast my life was going, 2010 seemed to be the longest year I’ve had in a while.


I paid off my car and promptly sold it. I have now gone an entire year without a car and I can’t really imagine why it took me that long to get rid of it. Now I absolutely despise driving and am a little worried about moving out of Chicago since I enjoy being able to get around without one. Everything about this has been good. I don’t hit up drive-thrus anymore. I am reducing my carbon footprint. I was also able to use the money to pay off some old bills and best of all I bought a couple of bikes.

As far as design goes since we are always on the subject here, this bike is AWESOME. It slices, it dices and it folds into a sweet little carry-on bag that can go on the EL’ during rush hour. The wife and I took our 3yr old for a 35-mile bike ride up to Illinois State Park and camped out for 3 days.

I have no idea how we packed all that and a 3yr old on two bikes and a toddler trailer, but we did.


Aside from the camping trip we had a lot of great times at the beach and I got a big hump of school work done. Speaking of the devil I think I should be within my last two semesters of my undergraduate degree. YES! On a random tangent, I saw this and it made me chuckle then weep.

I don’t know what gen I fall in, but I think we can all relate to this.



It was a much needed wrap to this long, long year. Finished another semester and hopefully only two to go. Had my great holiday visit with family, and I got to take my 3yr old to see Chuck Berry. At 84 I can’t see how he is still hitting the stage and you may have heard that his Chicago performance was cut short due to exhaustion. Regardless, I got to hear some good tunes and see a legend. Although it was on the first of the new year it was a good wrap to 2010 and a pleasant start to 2011.

Happy beginnings to you all.

more to come…