What I Don’t Know- Part One On a Design Discussion

You are probably wondering why my design and lifestyle (haha) blog has no design as of the late. There really is no big reason, except that at the moment,  just don’t like my designing.

Last night, before I left for class, I was already feeling so tired I could fall asleep standing. My head hurt, tired of sitting in front of a computer for all but 8 hours a day, and I was just in no mood to share what I knew would be less than stellar designs. For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking two classes with very construction heavy elements- Information Design and Book Design. Both these classes require the creation of projects from concept to construction. Entire books, infogrphic maps, presentations on designers, etc. They are workload heavy. I knew that going in.

You see, I became so disenchanted with design after my first year and a half, that I thought, “let me throw myself back into school work the way I did my first year, and remember the reasons why I fell in love with it to begin with.” Instead what happened was me feeling a sense of dread when starting a new assignment, and feeling like I lost my touch and inspiration.

There I sat in class last night, trying to explain why I made the choices I did when designing the front and back covers, front matter, and spine of a book. My book, Rex’s Stout’s Too Many Women, was set in the 1930’s. My job was to reinvent the cover with a more contemporary design so that it appealed to a modern day audience. I decided to go with a graphic novel theme, and for the past 2 weeks of drafts and comps, I have fallen short. Why am I such a shitty student this semester? Why don’t have I more of a concept of how to pair typefaces together? Why are they not seeing what I see in this design? WHY DO I HAVE TO JUSTIFY EVERYTHING?!!

I became visibly agitated at the feedback my classmates gave me on my work. Not because I completely disagreed and I didn’t give a shit what they said, but because I knew they were right. I was mad at myself, because I knew they were right. I never get to  REALLY look at my work until I’m in that room with all my classmates looking at it with me, and it’s unfortunate, because all the ways I could have made it better are GLARING at me.

After class, my teacher, Amy asked me if I was ok. Amy, who is a tough but knowledgable cookie, is really good at making me crack because she will just get the uncomfortable observation out of the way, tell me to calm down, and then tell me to get it together. I told her my problem. I feel like I was good at design before, I loved it, was passionate about it, and then all of the sudden, I am just…NOT. I feel like I’m not good at it anymore and I’ve lost my inspiration to create good work. She said that I didnt’ loose my talent. Her words were, “You are just frustrated by what you DON’T know.”

I really am.

Amy is right. I’m discovering all the shit I want to do, but can’t execute because I don’t know how.  There are things I want to learn how to do, and spend time exploring, but I can’t because I don’t have that many hours in the day. I want to study typography more, explore books in the bookstores and libraries, spend entire days perfect something I love, and I can’t. I don’t have that time, and it is frustrating. While I was talking to Amy, she asked what my workspace was like. I told her it’s all my own- my books, inspirational pictures, etc. She suggested I simplify it if I feel like it clutters my thoughts, and try not to sit at the desk the entire time staring at my work. Take a break, walk around, go do something else, and come back. Then those things I may need to change are more obvious to my eye.  Go to the library, the book store, with my laptop in tow, and explore the different types of covers, binding, typeface combinations, etc, and figure out which ones I like.

All I could think about on the way home is what I needed to changed and how this all happened. Essentially it is this- I’m tired. Staring at a computer all day and then coming home to stare at one is exhausting.

I get surges of ideas from about 8 to 10:30 and can’t work on them because I need to go to bed. I get up at 5 am and if I don’t go to bed, I can’t get up to go to work.  I also can’t come home from DC and act like there isn’t other shit to do around my house. I still need to make dinner, I need to run errands, work out if there is time, and do normal EVERYDAY things. At the end of the day, I am tired, eyes hurting in my head from staring at a monitor, and I’m sad that there is no time for what I love.  There is no streamlined process, so something has to change here.

Amy is right. I am frustrated by what I don’t know- design wise and time management wise. Something has to give, and very soon it will.


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