Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Rejection: a poem

Sometimes projects just don't work out as you hoped—like anything on earth I guess.

Perhaps it was your fault,
Perhaps it was mine,
Perhaps we didn't work,
No thanks,

We won't continue from here,
We don't require your services anymore,
Pack your sketchbook and grab your coat,
Remove your reflection from this floor.

It's not vindictive,
Nor have I any anger,
We just didn't mesh,
No means no,
We needn't confer.

This is how it ends,
No fix, not amends,
We're not enemies,
The learning appends.

No money for me,
No design for you,
This sounds like David,
Blue, blue, Electric Blue.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Viva La DIY

In these BrexTrump times, we need to revive DIY—force our hot, angry breath into it's lungs and restart that post-punk heart. THUD THUD THUD!

As we look back on the not-so-distance Women's March; we see a global gathering of women's rights and a plethora of homemade signs. Despite it's international traction, I'd argue part of it's huge exposure was the constant sharing and conversation about the quality of all the signs, banners and scrawlings. DIY was living again.
Both the Women's march and the Anti-Trump marches were beacons of shining DIY greatness, shining red Sharpie ink into the sky like a Hollywood premiere of anti-establishment ideologies.

In previous years—never have broom handles, municipal photocopiers and poster boards been so popular. In a generation where voices can be twisted by images on Facebook and careers can be ruined in 170 characters or less, the physical DIY of retribution and revolution is something that wouldn't have been predicted by the smartest of horoscope writers (If such thing exists). People lining the streets, chanting, waving banners made of cloth, duct tape sans-serifs and pure anguish; who saw that coming? Not I.

If in the past DIY art movements were lead by Sniffin' Glue, I can only assume right now we're Sniffin' Fake Tan. Up, rising from the ground is the otherwise pleasant public, being driven to the surface by the red-hot pokers of ignorance—but what do you do when your voice isn't loud enough, you make it visual and what do you do when you know not the rules of visual communication? You Do It Yourself. DIY Kids, D I Y.

If you looked around above head height, you could swear it was 1984; not the dystopian future of oppression and surveillance but 1984, Northern England. As thousands of men walk and strike in solitude of their fading future, their crumbling industry—above and around them, a sea of messages, banners, flags and physical 'fuck you's to the state.

Just as we now see the DIY mentality rise it's beautifully ugly head to defy the aggravated orange man, it was called on by every miner, their wives and the people who supported them. It's a clear symbol of "I mean this words, because I made them" and when those words are a couple of feet tall, bouncing upon the sea of people like a profane bouy; they shout the words that otherwise wouldn't be heard audibly.

I originally made the connection between now and '84 because of a fantastic, if not slightly cuss riddled talk by Craig Oldham at Nicer Tuesday's where he talks about his book that covers the Miners Strike, his link to the images and stories it holds and a lot of trash talk about the conservative party in a heavily northern voice—a refreshing brush of sandpaper for a northern lad working his way into the design industry.

Though he doesn't make the link between these two events because his talk was before the Orange Tide O' Doom, I think it's only logical that he would see this as I do. Replace Donny Trump with Ms. Maggie herself, and Women with Miners and aside from a few ugly sweaters and a lot of crap weather; they are very similar indeed. He's also just written a rather swell article for It's Nice That about his book, if you're interested.

It wouldn't be much of step to say that both the Miners and the marching women are punks. Brandishing their boards, defying the conformity demanded of them. Whether they are musical or not isn't the point, Punk wasn't restricted to just the music—it was just as much about the clothing, the swearing and the hair as it was the lyrics they shouted at one another.

Looking pretty punky to me

Just as punk thrived on being accessible by rebellion, such is the state of our current time. Poster boards flying the flags of cult references and crudely drawn figures line the above head's of citizens like an angry smog; and it's not just the angry who want a piece of this Cut, Stick and Paste saga.

We need to be the punks, the miners, the women and the artists. I say we call by DIY with an almighty roar and stick those poster markers right where it hurts—into the media, into the streets into the publics ideologies. Should you want to be this punk, but haven't quite the artistic calling, then may I suggest that you grab this poster kit from O Street. A design studio saying Piss Off to London and playing by their own rules, Punks of the British Creative industry. Did I say Punk enough?

Viva La DIY.

Sunday, 5 February 2017


Everywhere you go, there are just fags everywhere. Sick of em' I am.

I think you'll find smoking indoors is illegal, sir.

If the above GIF didn't otherwise inform you, I'm not being a dirty stinking homophobe but instead referring to the constant littering of cigarettes and not any particular man who may want to have sex with another man, because that's totally fine. Unless of course either of these men may drop a cigarette before engaging in coitus with each other, then it's not cool. Litterbug! 

Recently friendly local designer with the immaculate fringe Megan posted about a pretty solid cigarette bin, spurring me into a fit of excitement—which is quite odd considering it's little more than a yellow box with two holes and a glass panel. Though it's stupidly simple, there is something rather engaging about the box, the option of choice, interactivity and luminous yellow!

I am a supporter of free choice, though not directly a supporter of smoking as although in most cases you don't harm anyone else from puffing greyish white clouds around your respiratory system, I just can't see any benefit from partaking in smoking—perhaps I'm just not cool enough.
Either way, I think these simple bins are bloody fantastic; they are a breathe of fresh air for the community that seek to not have any.

I feel too often we see cigarette butts on the ground because there is no reason for them not to be there. There is truly little incentive for anyone to seek out a bin once they've finished their smoke and I don't assume anyone that does smoke is any less socially conscious than someone who does, but if you've optionally started smoking, there is clearly a sense of rebellion and anti-conformist within you; so why would they want to hunt around for their nearest wall mounted nearly black-grey, most likely on fire cigarette bin just to dispose of something that could be just a 'cooly' flicked? 

This little lime yellow bin is the answer, an engagement of interest—a functional design that has truly taken it's audience into account. For the most part people are only using 'post-nicotine sticks' to vote whether they prefer one hop to another but it's ideology is of participation, rivalry and community; three driving factors that likely sit behind every expensive hobby.
Yes, it does seem bizarre that I would refer to smoking as a hobby, but as I see it, it's got little different from any hobby I know of—a devoted community, a sense of fulfilment and questionable productive gain.

I find these bins to be a productive, unpatronising banner for possible advancements in social awareness, both of litter and that of health; with the glass panels displaying a sort of squashed orange and white bar chart of preference and public health. To me it's tackling to revert how smokers are treated within society, the students of lifestyle choices.
I feel students and smokers are not so different in their societal roles and if university taught me anything it's that a large proportion of smokers are students—though how they afford to be so, is still a mystery. I find that both communities alike are mildly exploited and judged hegemonically.
Students give us your details for these various free goods, Smokers drink here because we've got outdoor heating, Students are always drinking, Smokers always smell etc. etc. etc.

So yeah, well done smoking bins, you did a good thing today. I realise that smoking isn't a necessary choice and that it costs our National Health Service millions each year, for what otherwise is an avoidable habit. But like everything, it's a choice and the freedom to have that choice is what empowers us—never mind the fortunes in tax we receive upon buying cigarettes.
To me, these bins are a clear indicator to how socially engaging infrastructure should work; scrap digital bus stop screens and you can burn those suggestion boxes, we want luminous yellow and iconic references.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Arts—a dying art

It's not much of a secret that myself and a conservative backbencher wouldn't see much eye-to-eye but I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure his party are driving a bulldozer through something I rather love.

You're really doing it aren't ya? Shitting all over the arts.
The Guardian reads "Last art history A-level axed after Michael Gove cull of 'soft' subjects" placing the very last straw onto the back of the British hopeful art students, shaking as their knees anticipate the incoming dry grass, whispering threats of death and failure to their now fragile hopes.
It's true that you're never going to walk into Cambridge just because you took an Art History A-Level and it'll likely be more useful you choose a language, so you can order various breads in a French bakery or just wow the average pub-punter with a plethora of foreign curse words. But Art History opens that doorway to creative freedom, the first step to saying "I realise this isn't the most sensible choice, but it's my best choice, it's my preferred choice" it truly is the stepping stone to studying something you love.

This action under our current government isn't something that I wouldn't have anticipated but it seems beyond backwards by all accounts—there is no single living toff that doesn't claim to love Manet and there certainly isn't a single stately home drawing room without some ghastly oil landscape that the owners "just had to buy".

The conservative government no longer need Art History because they have direct access to the museums and have sailed through their private education; so why would they continue something they no longer need?
When part of this countries artistic history belonged to your grandfather, an Art History A-Level seems a little redundant, but lets say you're an average citizen of this country and you want to distinguish your Frued's from your Bacon's where are you going to turn? You're a child of a working class family and your grandparents own little more than their council house and crippling arthritis—there is level of disconnect here, one so obviously displayed by the class differences between our government and the people who will miss out on this now defunct education system.

Some may argue that despite this, the arts have been dying for the longest period anyway; with the world moving away from artistic expression and towards technological advances. I disagree, though it may very well soon by biting the cyanid pill of blind disregard.

From 2003 to 2013, the numbers of students studying the arts in higher education rose by 23% in the UK alone, which is a promising signpost that I'm just chatting on a mouthful of horse manure—but before Theresa May can celebrate a victory of outsmarting a 22 year-old chap, she may want to consider this first. Though I haven't the data to support my argument, I'd strong suggest that the price hikes for higher education post-2013 have damaged the attendance of arts courses heavily. Spending £10,000 to follow your passion seemed like a sharp price to pay, but now once you've scrambled over the fallen pillars of formal arts education and lift yourself to the doors of University, handing over £40,000 to follow that same passion is certainly a harder choice to make.

Sure the passionate and driven will succeed, you may argue, but here is also the problem for that. As the Arts die off, the respect for the arts falls two, chained together at terminal velocity groundward bound. As it was in the past, if you were to create something monumental, something bigger than life, you would christen that precious thing with art, the final finesse. Say perhaps you had the strange idea to make a chapel in Italy, the Sistine Chapel perhaps—a tribute to the lord, how on earth could you dress something so majestic? Art. Metres and metres of art.

It doesn't require a strong argument to convey that the arts don't hold the respect that they once did. There isn't a household within this country  that isn't aware of Leonardo Da Vinci, but should you follow in his footsteps and study as he did—you'd be told about how it's a Micky Mouse degree; "What jobs that gonna get ya then?" – "What's so fine about your art then?" – "Illustration eh? Surely there are only so many children's books?"

Not only have we lost the respect, but also the understanding; for every grandfather can complain until the backs of his teeth are covered in vowels and consonants about the economy and it's failings, but should you ever stir the conversation to the creative field in which you aspire; very quickly you'd be met by more confusion than trying to purchase rare cheese at a Spanish auction house with a German translator and a bag full of toenail clippings.

As The Arts steps into it's coffin, looking back at the world that it once used to enhabit it can vaguely make out the few fighting to lift it back up, the modernists pushing ahead reinforced by a gaggle of DIY punks. There is hope that the creative youth may just be fast enough to see it's frail figure before the casket closes; but let's just hope that one of those is the next Michelangelo, so they can sculpt a new, sexier, more modern figure for the higher authorities to kill once again.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Just the tip: Deadlines

Deadlines, anybody in the creative field will know of them but it seems that for the less experienced they are a daunting weight to uphold.

Not sure what this crap is from, but it's got that sexy slogan
It seems like most people manage to meet deadlines but not all people manage to get there so easily—it's not an uncommon story to hear people working all night the day before to make changes that they don't even remotely support. As I understand them, deadlines are both to be flexible and solid; you must have a final end point but they must be able to bend, to flex, to harmonise along with any changes.

Deadlines are kind of like those bamboo canes every Grandmother has next to her tomatoes. If you are to lay that cane flat you have two obvious end points—a clear start on the left and a finishing point on the right. Without you cutting it down, the cane clearly displays a straight line from start to finish, but with some applied pressure at either end you'll get a little give; a slight bend. The bending of the cane is the changes you'll reach through the project, it's still the same length as before but it's not as direct, meaning you'll need to be flexible to follow the new curves of the project and reach that end point.

Cane analogy over, let's start with some tips because my writing style is about as subtle as post-bender elephants on Parquet flooring.

Tip 1: Organ eyes see those who Organise
So clearly the title is a bit of a piss around; what even are Organ Eyes?
But it's important to organise if you want to be on time with anything, specifically work with a tight deadline—if you can't even find your latest version of that .psd, you're doing something wrong.
Folder structure, version numbers, colour highlighting and sketchbook archiving are all obvious way to keep yourself in control, steering towards that sexy fat cheque baby!

Tip 2: Set up is very important
Often it's said that you can tell how well a project will go from it's first meeting, and although that seems a little pessimistic; first impressions both count and cost. At the start, there are many things you should do, but it's more important that you know what you shouldn't do, here's a quick run down:

  • Do not set prices straight away
  • Do not promise timescales until you know the whole job
  • Do not start without a contract
  • Do not lie about your talents (deadlines are hard enough)

Tip 3: Chip away at it
Don't just look at your work and say, well this could take a month so I'll set the deadline to March 5th—add note to my calendar that it needs to be completed by that date, break it down and chip away at it. Make a range of tasks that add together to completely finish the project.
Initial ideas (4 days) – First draft (3 days) – Feedback (1 day) etc. etc. etc.

My teenage years in a GIF

Tip 4: Know that your end, might not be the end
Once you've sent over that zip file and pleasant invoice asking for your rightful money, it'd seem like you've finished the project, you've met the deadline and you've reached the end. But your end might not the the end end. If it's a print project, it's still got to be printed and you'd be a small fool to think that your client wouldn't want your help overseeing that, if it's a web project it might need fixes, different sizes and every other varient you could ever think of—though for these things, you can totally charge more. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ **money money** $$$

Tip 5: Don't be stingy with time
If you've got the freedom to set a longer deadline, then do it. Perhaps the work might only take you a day, but if you've got the freedom of that whole week take it; it's strange how different things will look when you've had a day or two to ponder over them.

You don't need to be unfaithful and over-charge for time you haven't spent working, but at least you had the freedom to make mistake, the freedom to change and the time to be wrong.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

When is Art, Art?

Recently I've been dabbling with what would otherwise be called art becuase I've got little else to describe it as—but when is Art, Art?

That is Frida you disapproving poopy-head
As I develop as a human, turning more adult by the day, I'm finding myself both understanding art and questioning it more than ever—even partaking in creation of something I'd mildly class as art.
As I walk around a gallery, I find myself looking at artworks that I would have otherwise dismissed; one artist in question going through this internal Walden phenomena is the infamous Rothko.

As a younger male, I used to spit through my teeth at the single colour canvases that could be seen hanging around any particular Tate wall, but now as I think about it a bit more I see them as wonderful things of imagination. Realistically they didn't take great finesse or massive amounts of talent to physically produce but there is something to be said about the contrast of looking directly into a deep blue square, three metres high. For myself, I've starting to look into them as a psychologist might into colour theory, linking the hue to a perceived emotion or feeling.

There are many ways I could describe the various colours and compositions he's created, and that's part of the beauty of them. They are ambiguos enough to allow you to reflect your own emotions onto them, read your own meaning but also delve into the viewpoint of Rothko himself.
What I perceive to be art is anything that is made to be art, as there is no real definition for what can or cannot be a piece of art—like many thing in our world, it's merely a battle of personal perspective.

Moving away from Rothko, I have personally been playing around with what I might call Art as I can't for the life of me class it as design; as it hasn't any real purpose of existence other than to be pleasurable for myself. With shapes on the mind, and likely a subconscious craving for simplicity I've been playing around with something I can imagine you might find in the throw away corner of a student exhibition. It's some kind of mixture between a visual balancing act, with shapes leaning on one another inside a corresponding frame and the metaphorical idea of balancing; balancing large above a structure of small, all balanced on the point of a needle.

Above is what I've been working on – or worked on for a couple of hours – which I titled "The Shape of Shapes to Come" a pun at one of my favourite Jazz albums and a prediction of my on-going desire to draw endless shapes. I think subconsciously I was trying to make some kind of hybrid between Columbria record sleeves and the Suprematism movement—both in ethos and aesthetics, rejecting the detailed designs I was working on through the process of creating this.

So the question is When is Art, Art? I don't bloody well know, I'm not an artist.
My best guess is art is art when it's created to be so, defining design as a development upon art; being Art for a purpose. Next time on Walden Wisdom Week we tackle the tricky world of Modern Sculpture!

Friday, 6 January 2017

The power of the Ego

Ego, Ego
I got one, you got one, and now we equal
Sometimes it makes you trip out on your people
Sometimes it has connotations of evil 
Sometimes niggas call on it when they need to 
It's called the ego

Let's start this first by clearing up that I'm not being a racist shite—quoted above are lyrics from the track Ego by A Tribe Called Quest, which you'd likely have already spotted if you're a bit of a hip-hop fan like myself. And if you disagree with me even printing the word, despite me being understanding of it origins, effects and development then maybe you need to listen to some more ATCQ; perhaps I could suggest Midnight Marauders, track five. RIP Phife Diggy, the Trini Gladiator.

So if you are still here (thanks for sticking around) it's been said that I've got an ego. Though I don't completely disagree, I think there isn't just a single ego that carries you between all sections of your life and I highly disagree with what is understood of the term Ego. I've been informed of my ego, but only about design, my passion and my craft—I certainly don't swagger down the street with an ego about my appearance or place in this world. I'm smart enough to realise I'm worth no more than the elite, the government or the homeless.

So what is an Ego? I hear you not asking. Well as I understand it, by the powers of google it's a "person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance" but definition aside it's often pointed at myself in a derogatory manner. I personally think Ego is like religion, it's a single construct used both to offend and lift any particular person. It's a tricky one.

When someone doesn't care much for themselves and is on a path to self-destruct, it wouldn't be uncommon to hear someone say "She needs to boost her ego" but on the same shelf when you see someone proudly exhibiting their work, talking about it with great praise; it's just as common to hear a slightly under-breathe "His ego is bigger than his head". Just as the hateful and the hateless operate differently through religion, the scorned and the supportive illiterate the term ego varyingly also.

Now to bring this back to myself – as I always do with this blog – it has always been reinforced that I myself carry an ego, quite a large one if I'm to believe what I've been told. Though it's not always said to me in full seriousness, I always laugh it off as I don't really care for taking myself too seriously but that still doesn't mean I believe what I'm being told—as I imagine any person with a stinkingly huge ego might also say.

yes, you all know why this is here.
I think instead, I have self-confidence and an attitude of positivity towards my work and that stands out as an ego in an industry drowned in self-doubt and crippling anxiety. If you can imagine everybody looking at their work, feeling as if they've copied someone else or have no worth in the world around them and they look up in contrast to a privileged white boy smiling and being confident about his work; I too can see why I look like such a conceited arsehole—the Donald J Trump of Cumbrian designers, if you will.

I disagree with what I've been told about an ego because, though I hold an understanding of self-worth, I don't believe that alongside every other creative working just as hard as I am, that I am any better than they are. As a person I don't believe that I'm any better than anyone else, but as a creative, I know with certainty that I'm a better creative than any of those who use the term "it'll do" or just blatantly rip off everyone else. If that means I've got a massive ego, then feck it! I've got an ego. I'm perfectly fine either way.

As I see it, then only things that are truly right, truly factual are the results of science and mathematics—the rest are opinions, view points and prejudices. I realise that's a bit of a hard line to draw but in the case of an ego; it truly is little more than an opinion whether you hold one, don't hold one or whether it really even exists. Find your own truths and always ask why; and perhaps the idea of whether I'm truly egotistical or proud will seem a little more obvious.

I am with out doubt almost certainly the best ramen making designer though. Just saying.

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