Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Perils of Graphic Design

Some of the strife I put up with is the seriousness of my field of study. Graphic Design is such a seriously criticized domain for professors of higher education. A popular career choice since most people can make of living of it by using Photoshop in the privacy of their own home. Yet, we find it to be of limited potential for a student with no knowledge of software to be shrunken when evaluated on his or her performance in school.

Here I present to you the strange world of Graphic Design. If you want to find yourself in a pool filled with sharks, tight deadlines, didactic gospels of typefaces and endless attempts to educate the philistines on what good design means ... welcome aboard. Life doesn't get any better for a freelance designer.

But have patience, because in the end there is a slight attempt in getting your talent noticed. Perhaps one day the perfect client will understand why you changed the color of the banner, omitted some of her copy from her clichè writing skills and she will dare to overpay you for such brilliant work.

Unfortunately, clients like that don't exist and pretty stories are only found in children's publications (which is a great job you should land immediately). Criticism is your best friend and your only hope. Sure, your first critique in class would hurt the first few dozen times. You'll outlast the pain and soon be callous to anyone's opinion of your work. From that point on you'll just keep doing what you're doing better, and they'll keep doing what they do better. It just works out like that.

You may ask though, why would someone like to work like that? I'll tell you why. Making a career in shapes and colors beats the hell out of boring subjects like botany or accounting. A highly caffeinated graphic designer lives their life in constant consciousness of their metropolitan surroundings. That's their zen.

Instead of seeing a map of the bus route a designer sees a layout through a grid system. When you show us a flyer for a lost puppy, we scoff at the use of Comic Sans font and use fancy words like "kerning" and "hierarchy" in reference to text placement. We hate it because of our awareness, and love it for the very same reason.

Many of us still don't know why we chose this path but when you're in here, you can't help but have more coffee and keep working.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"... my childhood sucks ..."

Today on Designing God, I invite you through a personal journey of mine where the scope of my reality was contemplative and imaginatively ambiguous. This is a time capsule I've unearthed earlier today when I encountered a picture of a little boy in a shopping cart.

Are we satisfied with our childhood? Today, when problems occur in our personal life, we usually attribute it to our upbringing. We can't resist the urge to blame mom and dad for fucking us up the way they did. But how much left is there to blame on ourselves?

Mom and Dad could be at fault for doing things to you that they regret. Some parents divorce, others mistreat their children, sometimes there is a death that takes one or both the parents. This is obviously out of our control and it could be justified in saying that the blame cannot be upon us as an individual.

But what about that other sector of human development that contributes to our moral perception? Sure, our genetic predisposition is vital to consider, yet exterior influence hardly involves parental conditioning. Mom and Dad aren't always around to change the way you think.

The list is endless as to what affects Personality. From informal information to personal experiences. Regardless of institution or group one belongs to, Mom and Dad were not present at every single step of the way. You are what you are because of the blank canvas you were born with that later became colored by life's ubiquitous contaminations of external and internal stimuli, in other words - shit happens.

But this brings me to another important point about the furtherance of understanding our flaws. Humans are not perfect, but the subtlety of our mistakes are caused by exterior (environment) and interior (genetic) influence. What, however, do we call this "thing" that gets affected?

The "Me" in the sentence, "My parents messed me up" is evidence of a unblemished entity that witnesses these occurrences. Some say that this "me," or "I," or "ego" survives death and becomes habitable to another life form - reincarnation. But I'm not here to talk about death. The interesting thing about our consequentiality of ideas and the furtherance of absolving ourselves from blame has little to do with remaining an innocent being through means of the Lie. We inherently understand that at a deep level, our "self" is an unblemished source of light and love.

That with which we cannot touch is most certainly real because it is us.

So if you hear some jack-off yammering about his parents, his environment, and stating the ultimate cause of his complaints springs forth from his origins, please do yourself the favor of slapping the prick and remind him that he's beautiful just the way he is.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Day In Jupiter

I've just recently been on a three day outing with my cousin in Jupiter, Florida. Well, it's not much of an outing since we've been here at his mom's house. But once in a while we'd hit the road and check out a few spots.

Jupiter, Florida is a city where many would find it tempting to joke about it's title. Mostly anyone can't resist interrupting without referencing the 5th planet from the sun. So please, lets put that aside.

My stay here has been a bit interesting. Mostly fun when I've had the opportunity to spend more time with my cousin Chris. Times are tough and money isn't cycling through him as it once did. This family is on my mother's side. Her mother's sister currently lives here. They resided in New York for 30 years and now they're residing in South Florida. Chris is here to help take care of my grand aunt along with her husband who's now suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Chris is one of my favorite cousins since he is very well informed of political jargon, as well as a spiritually attuned meditation practitioner.

One particular reason why I'm writing this blog is to comment on my Tia Blanca. She's now turning 68 this coming month and I've neglected to ask her all these years about my origins. So this time around, I had breakfast with her and we started talking about our family's history.

She remembers names and stories of most of my ancestry dating back to the time of the Depression. I never knew some of my family members were from Spain. I only heard that I had a great-grandfather who came from there, and that he was almost 7-feet tall. My brother, it is believed, inherited some of those traits because he too is a tall individual. This brings to mind the power of genetic inheritance. Respectfully, I have a deep appreciation for all the family members that passed on, but I cannot help but marvel at the mechanism that makes us living creatures - sexual reproduction.

It took 3 generations for my great-grandfather's gene for height to be manifested in my brother's genes. Upon seeing this picture of my great-grandfather, I couldn't think of anyone else except Ivan.

So, my most profound experience of this scientific revelation is that we cannot escape the effectiveness of nature. As complex as the genetic code is, as mysterious as the skipping of generations might be, it is a fact that these phenomenon occur in nature regardless of what species you are.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Designer's Block

The life of an artist is meant to be spent in appreciation and with the freeness of expression. But sometimes we run into little de-motivators called Blocks. This is mostly associated with writing when an author stumbles upon a "writer's block."

In this blog, and for the first time on Designing God, I'm going to provide an informative approach to the struggles of the creative process. I will describe that there are two struggles with creativity and finally I will suggest a way out of these struggles.

Leo DaVinci was a very bored man. He couldn't limit himself to just painting. He had to study science, philosophy, engineering, sculpting, pottery, literature, and music (apart from other studies he was interested in). I'm quite sure that Leo, being the first renaissance man to be as gifted as he was, suffered from the terrible struggle of Designer's Block equally as much as modern designers.

At times, we feel that the limitations of our perception persuade us to give up on a given design. Projects pile up and deadlines get closer. So in that angst, we struggle to finish something that we know for a fact looks like a turd. I too, on countless occasions, have been a victim of such artistic tragedy. Let me address the two types of Designer's Blocks that exist.

Block 1: Brainstorming
All artists need an idea to start with. You could never begin a project without processing a thought that becomes an organized idea. It's preposterous if you think you could, and plus we're not anywhere near Hogwarts to test such a proposition. Every organized idea, whether it be for a business/school project or personal expression, has an influential element of inspiration.

We need inspiration! Have you ever encountered someone who stares at their blank canvas and blatantly says, "I NEED INSPIRATION!"? Have you ever noticed that these people are usually lazy by nature? This is by no means an insult, but a mere truth about artists. Most of our artwork is mental and not physical. So the main objective is to conjure what our brains have generated and convey that mental display onto a canvas. This is not the struggle I'm addressing though.

Brainstorming is difficult and, without inspiration, we artists cannot thrive as we do. We need a little ADHD time to ourselves in order to gather our thoughts like eggs in a basket. I suggest surfing the web and copying some ideas from work that has already been created. This isn't stealing. Being original isn't an ability, it is a lens of how we see our vision apart from others. And plus, all the ideas presented throughout history have already been done. Being original is a delusion. It's safe to copy other's ideas and make it into your own. It's difficult to do, but when you get past your lack of faith in yourself, eventually the ideas start flooding in and your work will begin with a bang.

Additionally, the best ideas usually come from sources in close proximity. Opening your mind to the environment and the internal clutter of your own thoughts generates a pure creative thought completely out of spontaneity. This one technique is a little tricky because we tend to close our minds up to avoid confusing ourselves, but it really helps if done correctly.

Block 2: Production
This block is very simple to navigate around. The most obvious demonstration of this block is when we're in the middle of a project and we cannot find any more coal in our steam engine of creation, hence the term "running out of steam." As a result, we tend to half-ass our way through a project and just concentrate on the "details" instead of the overall scaffolding of our presentation.

Preplanned assignments are honestly the most important part of the overall project. When done with enough dedication and patience, the result is pure magic. Don't allow yourself to bend over backwards just to magnify a detail of your project. Every bit you do is all-inclusive.

What I do is carry a notebook with me, write notes sometimes when an additional detail comes to my attention, continue with what I'm doing (preferably, pre-planning the entire presentation) and finally look at my notes periodically to see when it is a good time to make those final touches to the piece.

And most obvious of all to this particular Designer's Block is that we sometimes lack the motivation to continue our project. Sometimes work is tedious and boring; whether we're outlining a margin or cutting a measuring multiple distances in our layout, just remember that it's part of the design process.

A sure way to destroy self-doubt and boredom in your production time is to constantly focus on the objective. Do not get caught up on how something looks at the beginning or near the middle. Focus your energy on your vision with full seriousness and determination. Most mature graphic designers who have dedicated their lives to this discipline love their jobs to the Nth degree. You too could be as successful and happy with what you do if nothing else exists in your world except you and your work. Building that relationship with your work is more than worth the while.
"We need solutions"
- Bush [rock band]
We have thus far looked at two Designer's Blocks that trump us in the creative process. Their problems and solutions are unique but workable. To recap, the first Block is Brainstorming and the solution to this is to seek inspiration and simultaneously open your mind to the traffic of information flowing through you. The last Block is encountered in the Production phase which can be eliminated by fully focusing on your objective and keeping that vision in your mind throughout the whole time you're in the lab. Good luck fellow designers!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Their Ego Again"

"It's not so hard, just forgive yourself"

Don't let the picture fool you, this blog is not going to be another rant on the ladies. I just like female figures. Seriously ... I couldn't find a good picture of a male loving his own reflection as much as this image. Go figure ...

Any who, thoughts have once again seeped into my mind and it's time for another moral lesson. For the spiritual audience who reads this blog: Aren't you tired of this nonsensical frustration we have with our own self-image? Everything we think of is in relation to our ego. It's very difficult to think of a way in which any thought or action is ego-less. We're hopelessly devoted to the motive of "me."

Who ever thought of the notion of a selfless act, was probably stupid. There is no such thing. The concept of love or empathy is always going to be related to our own experiences.

Now you might think I'm wrong in saying this, but lets first define a selfless act as an act that caters to the betterment of others in which the faith of oneself is completely absent; we are constantly selfish because everything we do is for the furtherance of understanding ourselves. We're far from the depiction of angels on earth. We are completely reliant on our ego whether we like it or not.

Ken Wilber has predicated research about the stages of moral and spiritual development. The more we grow in moral understanding the less we rely on our selfish genes and steer towards the betterment of others. Sounds good right? But the following proposition is a good example of when reality sinks it's sharp teeth into our polished butt-cheeks:

No matter how much we grow in moral/spiritual development, we still carry the previous stages of egoic moral development. This means that even a distinguished moral philosopher could behave like a reptile given the preferential conditions. Sounds good right?
We like to think we've evolved and advanced because we can build a computer, fly an airplane, travel underwater, we can write a sonnet, paint a painting, compose an opera. But you know something? We're barely out of the jungle on this planet. Barely out of the fucking jungle. What we are, is semi-civilized beasts, with baseball caps and automatic weapons.
- George Carlin (Life is Worth Losing, 2005)
Of course, not each human is identically predetermined based on one element of moral life. But, given the reality of developmental stages it's time to stop fooling ourselves in assuming that we graduated from the ego-centric ways of thinking.

Monday, April 12, 2010

You know ... the rules!

Disclaimer: The following blog is meant for entertainment purposes and does not offer any professional diagnosis for relationship advice.

Who made up all the rules
We follow them like fools
Believe them to be true
Don't care to think them through
- Jem (a female) [singer]
What are rules? Do we really follow them like fools? Who made them? Yup, I'm talking about the courting process ...

As a good friend of mine used to say:
If you're not benching 250 lbs, driving a nice car, dancing well to salsa music and operate at the CEO mentality at a yacht party then you're never going to get laid.
Unfortunately this proposition is not far from true. Some people will adopt these guidelines as true requirements to "git wit me."

If we were to absolve ourselves from Ebonic terminology, the crisis we face is indeed unsolvable. But this blog will present a therapeutic perspective on how to look at it differently and whom to blame for this chaotic structure of rules.

The Process:
What happens in the course of 3 weeks is a mating ritual. The male will offer a series of dates of progressing intimacy in order to express his reproductive abilities. Throughout the course of these 3 weeks, he demonstrates his commitments by engaging in provisional donations to the female's request whether it be materially or psychologically sacrificial gifts. The female at this point decides whether this male candidate is adequate enough to protect and provide for her and her potential offspring.

In laymen translation it would be this:
You meet a nice girl, see if she is interested in going out, ask her out, have a good time, "be yourself," pay for dinner on the first date, allow distance between her and yourself to make the attraction more indelible, go out a few more times and make the first kiss happen, allow a month to go by and begin foreplay, eventually you will have sex. Then you give her your full attention, helping her, listening to her daily worries and making yourself a bullshit-story receptacle that puts up with her drama, excuses and eventually her attempt to break every boundary you have acquired throughout your adolescence.

The Issue:
So my question is this: Who made these rules? Why does society engulf us with these meaningless traditions in which the female population is so brainwashed to believe in? I'll tell you why. And the answer is the Disney Princess Fallacy.

A long time ago, these young and innocent females sat through hours of Pavlovian conditioning watching the damsel in distress chose a man at her own expense. Knowing completely well that her shit isn't together, she will grow up attempting to attract vulnerable, naive boys to her undeveloped lifestyle filled with an oxitocin and estrogen marinated brain. Ergo: break-ups, endless hours of crying over a boy she likes that wouldn't give her the time of day, bantering towards her father's male image, gaining a selfish view of female independence, and forever hating men at the most internal level conceivable. What is the result of this? What future lies ahead of such a growing woman?


Rules that she creates to classify EVERYTHING!! Such rules that answers these question:
  • What constitutes a boyfriend?
  • What makes a good first date?
  • How should a man feel when she's upset?
  • How could I bail out on him when he behaves like a baby?
  • How much will he be willing to give me of his time/money/love?
  • Will having sex with him make him needy?
  • What makes a man Mature?
  • Preferences? Age/Income/Status/History/Career/Availability
  • etc. etc.
Of course, being a male, this list I fabricated does little justice to the truth. But aside from what is "estimated truth" regarding all females, generalizations cannot be given without a certain precaution. Not all females are the same, but the crazies are rampant and willing to agree deep down inside (though externally they will rant and squirm until their fists turn white). But to be completely honest with myself and simultaneously diplomatic about this whole fiasco we call the "gender wars," my opinion is only personal and cannot be disproved until a radical change comes about from the opposite sex. It is sad to say that even after 24 years of waking life, I'm still waiting.

What ever happened to intrinsic values? For example, "the more I think about you the more I deserve your fellowship?" ... NO! Now it's the females saying, "the more I know you're under my spell the more likely I will can you."

Men and the Female's Frailties
If it is not obvious by now, let me just say that I am a strong supporter of the men's movement. It is a shame how women expect the most intolerable, violent behavior from us men and expect us also to be sensitive to their seasonally biochemical hurricanes of drama. Can't a man be weak sometimes? Does he not also have the right to dramatize his feelings and carry out his ability to care and show compassion for a female counterpart which he might mistaken for a "good woman?"

And here's another misgiving, what the fuck is up with these women who can't appreciate something until it's gone!? As a matter of fact, why can't either of us appreciate something until it's gone? Perhaps this is a human frailty.

I'll tell you why. It's because of our consistent record of fucking up people's lives. The more we fail, the more hard-hearted and callous we are, the more hearts we break. Shouldn't this be against the law? Just a thought ...

... Well, maybe not because that'll just be another rule to follow. But who cares, we need good rules. And while I'm at it let me go ahead and state them.
Rule: Never allow a man's heart to be broken at the expense of a dumb rule you made up out of a failure you can't get over.
here are some more ...

Instead of finding love from a male provider, you are from now on obligated to observe self-reliance to be a main virtue.
Rule: Just like you expect men to be strong when you throw shit on the walls, men now have the same right.
... and finally this one:
Rule: Love everything about the person you are with especially his flaws. That's true Maturity.
[end of rant]

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hate is ...

Designing God is a blog about what we understand and what we create.

It has become obvious that the subjects I touch upon are very general and can apply to anyone. I've already mentioned God, love, death, meditation, stupidity, drugs, sex, etc. Now I want to take some time and discuss with you, the reader, about hate.

What is hate? Hate is a type of Fear, Fear is the father of Hate. As many psychoanalytic simplifications might suggest, everything under the sun falls under the categories of either Fear or Love. This concept, Hate, is continuously used in reference to something we are familiar with and simultaneously decide to absolve ourselves from it's source of pain. We could hate people, ideas, emotions, ignorance etc. Any affiliation with the unknown and simultaneously associated with something we're familiar with provokes feelings of hatred. I'm suggesting here that hatred is a negative emotional reaction to an unexpected result.

I have a dear friend of mine that is recently over a break up. Her stories about her boyfriend were emotionally confusing and the dialog easy to misunderstand. His explanation for the break up was clear but his actions spoke differently. Throughout all this confusion, it is no wonder that she concluded the following words: I hate him.

This same friend asked me a random question about the heart.

She said, "Vincent, what is the definition of a heartache?"
After minutes of pondering the question I responded with, "It is the emotion you feel when you know someone took something away from you that you know you can't have back."

I honestly cannot say whether she agreed with me or not, but I do believe the words I spoke. What we cannot have back is what terrifies us. We, as free agents of this universe, create and innovate our environment with the gifts of love and creativity. When our ability to love or create is taken away from hurtful criticism and ambiguity of the connection, we will naturally react with negative emotions as a result of human stupidity.

We cannot hate without harboring the element of fear in our hearts. It is simply the consequences of fear that lead to our suffering and inevitably to hate.

Hate is never justifiable. If we hate it's because of fear. When we fear it is because of a lack of love. When we lack love we lose understanding.