Notes from the field - March 25

Notes from my process this week, as breadcrumbs to follow later:

Learning how to work out of a coffeeshop. Huge part of this is finding the sweet spot between spending enough money to merit sitting here for six hours, and not ingesting so much coffee that I can’t draw anymore. Seriously, getting a straight line to come out of a pen after 2 large cups of coffee is some kind of voodoo miracle.

Getting comfortable with criticizing popular work, and turning that criticism on my own work.  It’s easy to get worked up about this one- that so much work I see posted by type and design Tumblrs and Instagram accounts is technically not good. And I can say that, because a lot of it is rule-based work and not just art. Type and logo work HAS to be functional. And if it’s not functional, it’s not good. One of the biggest issues I has as an art student was getting on board with the whole subjectivity of art thing. I would look at some of the work on display during a peer critique and would grimace. But in general/conceptual art classes you can get away with terribly rendered perspective and poor color theory and weirdly unrepresentative abstractions of simple things (how you can be an art major and fail to draw a reasonable chair astounds me, but, it’s a real problem, people). 
One of the reasons I am so drawn to type and design work is that there is less leeway for subjectivism to win out.  If you want to make some statement and paint a dog and title it cat, fine. I will read your artist’s statement and consider it while I drink my free wine at your show.
But if you need to make a sign that says dog, and all I can make out from it is cat, YOU DID PISS POOR WORK.

And that runs all the way down the line of things that could be done poorly. Kerning could be off, letter style doesn’t fit the subject, curves are messy - and THAT is the kind of thing I need to be able to apply to my own work.  It’s so easy to shoot something off to a client and chalk up the imperfections to “a hand drawn effect” or to post a picture of a piece and make excuses for my messy curves by telling myself it’s “just practice” or that it’s a work in progress.  But moving forward I would like to exercise some discipline in that department. Not that I won’t allow myself to share sketches, but if a piece is worthy of it, to do it until it’s done and done well. 
Jessica Hische, her holiness, reminds us young upstarts not to post every little sketch of every little thing we do. No one needs to see it, and we cheat ourselves out of doing good work that way.

Know your tools Turns out, there’s a thing in Adobe Illustrator called the Width tool, that literally anyone who uses the program to make letters knows about, except me, who dove in so frenetically to the program I couldn’t be bothered to learn the tools of the trade. I have wasted lots of hours fiddling with things that I could have done in seconds with the Width tool. How I thought I could survive in the opus of software that is Illustrator without even being able to identify 6-7 buttons in the tool panel is forehead-thumpingly dense (and so…so very much like the uncoachable lady I’ve always been).