Archive for May, 2007

I hella heart the bay

May 31, 2007

I hella heart oakland
Me and Pam, friends since the days of Sequoia Elementary.

For you sensitive ones, let me explain the “hella.” See, there are lingo differences between those who live in Northern California (NorCal), and Southern California (SoCal). There are actually countless other differences in the two regions that quite frankly could be different states, but I digress. Upon further research, “hella”is a bay area original heavily used by NorCalers similar to “wicked” in the Boston area. For those with sensitive ears and wincing, consider “hecka”, the polite counterpart.

Anyway, I’ve had a hella good weekend, seeing friends and tootling around the bay. After hiking on protected watershed in Pinole Valley, connecting with the chicas from high school again, and screaming, “Let’s go Oakland!” to cheer on the A’s at top of my lungs, I’ve become nostalgic and realize exactly where my roots are. Not so much in the land of insane traffic, search helicopters and tragically urban fashion of SoCal (I’m sorry, I really can’t pull of the polished vagabond look). I miss the commonality of everyone in rain-jackets, fleece and running shoes up north and the need to wear them due to actual weather (side-note: Don’t go to an evening A’s game in capri’s and flip-flops. More layers!). While SoCal does have its good points, the beach being up there on the list, NorCal (specifically the East Bay) is my core through and through, and I’m hella proud of it. If nothing else, it justifies my continually expanding collection of fleece clothing…

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Michael Schawb

May 24, 2007

book cover

Perhaps you know I drool over Michael Schawb’s clean lines and nostalgic forms. Not to mention how I adore his stacked type and trademark font… Turns out he’s an Art Center alumni, and came to speak to students tonight at the Hillside Campus just up from the Rosebowl in Pasadena. He has gone on to be a successful illustrator and graphic designer located in San Francisco. You’ll probably recognize his Golden Gate National Parks campaign, and if you’re a Peets coffee patron – his early poster art might hang behind the counter at your local shop. His posters are here.

His talk was open to the public, so I grabbed a friend and headed to meet a hero. He gave a brief background on his schooling (texas, new york, and LA) and his career (San Francisco). Going through slides, he narrated a bit of his process and experience with occasional insights.

He himself is still unclear whether he’s a designer or illustrator after decades of experience. There was something reassuring in that grey area. I was struck with the authenticity of his art, he’s pretty disconnected from technology by still using models to sketch and develop the famous figure silhouettes he’s known for. Also interesting, in finding the right composition he makes a direct connection between art/design and theatre. He strives to find the memorable moment, a climax to capture for dramatic effect. There is not only an element of entertainment but of communication.

Hearing a designer speak again was like coming home. I love design and I especially I love hearing people talk about it.

I brought along my copy of his anthology, The Graphic Art of Michael Schwab, and a sharpie to have him sign it. I was the only one with a copy of his book, so he was excited to see I had it: “That makes me feel good!” Though, he was talking to other folks, so I just got a quick “m schwab 2007” on the title page; a little bittersweet when meeting such an personal design hero. Guess he has more influencing to do… and granted I was stunned into silence. Oh well, it was a great talk and more importantly he’s still producing great work. I’ll forever drool over his simplistic silhouettes and stacked type. *sigh* If your around San Francisco, look out for his MLB All Star Game campaign in SF right now.

Clap your hands if you’re alive in this

May 21, 2007

Turns out I’m alive, and turns out I’m in this. Get to dancing and grooving; the hula hoops are in the back.

I spent this weekend at the Joshua Tree Music Festival out in the desert. I don’t have dreads, tattoos, or skills with a hula hoop, but there I was. The whole experience was ridiculously new to me, but it was great. I spend so much time in books these days, I loved the live music and the wonderful laid back folks who emphasize peace, love and fun. To be part of a community ready to celebrate life (and not just think about it) was a great break and quite eye opening. Chatting up strangers until they aren’t strangers anymore is the mode of operation. I was impressed by the hospitality around us (which started with offers to help us set up our tent within 5 minutes of our arrival).

My good friend Katie was raised in the festival environment and passionate about the great music and people. Talk about hospitality – the weekend started with her bringing me into the festival world. I’m so grateful she shared the experience with me. In addition, the music was quite different from my store-bought CD music knowledge, and I needed some background throughout the weekend:

Me: “So…why don’t they stop between songs?”
Katie: “That’s how they play, stream of conscience. It’s called jamming.”
Me: “Oh!”

The first night I was hit by so many thoughts. I guess my theological mindset travels with me and wants to affirm where I see God moving and working. In this environment it was clearly evident: the community, hospitality, attitude of celebration. But even more I was struck by how these artists were sharing their work for the benefit of the whole – unabashedly rallying the crowd to the cause of peace, joy with a quality crafted beat to move and groove to. Call it hippie music, but it was good. It was holistic and direct from the source of those who’d created it.

One of the artists, who played solo by looping beats and melodies on his guitar, was grateful to share the “healing frequencies” he’d been playing this past year. My made my heart twinge in my own gratefulness for him. I wondered if I’m finding ways to share my own “healing frequencies” with those around me?

Granted admist all the wonderful things I saw, and there was much to pass on. I tried to keep the deer in the headlights look to a minimum. Yet there is something to it… and the freedom to choose God made my tie stronger to him. Thought it was interesting how many artists acknowledged a spiritual connection, whether it was a mystical, eastern, “mamma earth” or “creator”, it’s obvious they were tapping into the spiritual realm too.

Larger picture: it affirmed the need (again) for spirituality in religion. John Drane said it best when the secular society has become spiritual, but the church has become secular. A squeaky clean welcome/worship/message/in an hour God is good, but nothing close to kinesthetic, spontaneous, hospitable and incredibly personal God I felt closer to this weekend. There are droves who’d drive out to the desert to find community and haven with each other, and are seeking some larger connection to the divine. Something to think about.

Pictures? In the theme of sharing and community, check out photos from other festival-goers tagged on flickr. A pesky memory card error left me with corrupt jpegs, and will keep this weekend’s memory only in my mind. Perhaps that’s where it needs to be to remember the larger picture.

Sunday ramblings

May 13, 2007

It’s quiet around here today. Generally Sundays are … people are in and out for church all day and resting. Bits of conversation float through the windows here and there. There are the clip-clops of heeled shoes rather than scuffs of flip-flops from the rest of the week. People are so cheerful, I wonder if it’s canned Christian cheer. Maybe not, maybe they are that happy. Do I sound like that when I say hello to people? Probably. Maybe I should turn it down a notch – or not. I know the kids who are usually yelling, laughing and wailing aren’t canned – maybe that’s why I don’t mind them so much.

I’m tired and want to take a nap, but instead I organized reciepies and my image file while making a red collage for the bathroom wall. The collage is crap, and I don’t know why I spend time on the recipces since I hardly cook. I guess I’m operating off the theory if I have easy access to the few I do use (Moroccan tea, Mexican Chicken Soup, etc) I might use them more. Then maybe I’ll even use the coutless others I’ve pulled out of Real Simple… hmm…

I think I just have a passion for plastic sheet protectors and senseless organizing. Hence my excitement to learn about an image file from my Art Center painting teacher. It’s a binder with all sorts of picutures and scraps you’ve collected that catch your eye: everything from people, objects, rooms, landscapes, type, patterns (all stuffed into plastic sheets!). Then when you’re in the creative mode, you have an image bank of inspirational images ready to go. I think I’m going to love that black binder. It’s already filling up fast and validating my obsession with collecting magazines and not being able to throw them away. Now I can pull out what I like and recycle the rest. Ahhh, freedom and potential all in one.

Monk painting/sketch

It came in handy last Satuday when I sketch and painted this tibetian monk. I would never have had that type of image on hand or thought to paint it, but it felt right when I got the easel out last weekend. It’s funny, I think the sketch turned out better than the painting. Funny how that happens. I had a drawing teacher tell me the cool paintings (unfinished) get a hot (positive) reaction, while the hot paintings (finished), get a cool (negitive/neutral) reaction. Huh. Maybe that’s why I never know if I’m done.

Theology of showing up

May 13, 2007

Let’s hypothesize: a certain class you happen to be taking is very boring, so you stop going, or come late or show up “when you feel like it.” This is ok and justifiable, because … class is boring. You’ve been there, I’ve been there, so I won’t go on.

But what about the day you don’t show up and miss the most amazing lecture, or the question that lurks the class out of lethargy into discussion or possibly redirects the entire course of the class? Would you want to miss that? I’d personally want to be there!

Sure class may usually be boring, but when it is not, when it speaks, to you teaches you, challenges you, you need to be there and be ready. You need to be faithful to experience it: it’s the theology of showing up.

Social design

May 2, 2007

I think something is happening in the design field…but see what you think. If you have any feedback or knowledge, please comment. I’d love to dig deeper into this:

While there are designers who are constant in their commitment to use design for non-profit uses and the greater good (consider blogs like social design notes, houtlust, etc.) my little naive designer antennas are starting to pick up more and more about a broader social design through my faithful RSS feeds and the industry journal, Communication Arts.

This started last October when I posted briefly on Milton Glasier’s Designism. That was very exciting but I just haven’t heard much else, and no one I talk to seems to know much about it.

Then I open my recent Communication Arts to Carolyn McCarron Sienicki’s Inch by Inch article. She mentions several other designers and initiatives such as Christopher Liechty’s cross cultural design understandings, Stefan Sagmeister’s heartfelt design, and Natalia Ilyin emphasis on the human. These are all new to me, and I got quite excited as I kept reading:

It may sound like these designers and business leaders are quoting different theories, but they are not. They’re all talking about the same thing: using our creative thinking and design skills to help redirect the present course of the world—economically, socially and environmentally. Maybe it was Hurricane Katrina that finally did it. Maybe it was Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. Maybe it’s the never-ending casualties and ever-growing troops in Iraq. Whatever the trigger, there’s a collective feeling that we can no longer afford to go on working and living the way we have. In a world that grows smaller every day—where we are economically interdependent on each other, where cultural and social clashes create terrorism, where the changes in the environment are now too disturbing to ignore—the things we are creating no longer feel sustainable.

Hmm…I’m officially getting excited. I’m hearing Fuller’s theme verse this year ringing in my ears: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Before you think I’m prooftexting this, consider this: the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design on Museum Row in New York City is opening their first exhibit dedicated to social design next Monday: Design for the other 90%. John Emermon’s Social Design Notes blog points to a recent article in the International Herald Tribune about this (check out the slide show, it’s truly inspiring). While Emerson seems to think this design exhibition is more an act of charity than representing a paradigm shift I’d hope to see, call me silly to say this glass looks half full. I’m excited leading design institutions (Communication Arts and the Cooper-Hewitt) are starting to notice trends of designers responding to injustice and poverty through the design process. Sounds like mission work to me.