Playlist Friday: Creative professions

If you noticed a hiatus here on the blog – or anything else awry with the universe, for that matter – I have a very good explanation: artistic temperament.

“Andy Warhol” – David Bowie

At the David Bowie Is exhibit, I learned that Andy Warhol didn’t think much of this song, but as far as I’m concerned it’s brilliant. Incidentally, Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol in Basquiat is spectacular too.

“Stage” – Live

They’re loud, they’re from the ’90s, they vehemently refuse to give up the stage. I can get behind that.

Little Egypt” – The Coasters

You can tell this song is old because when the dude falls in love with the mindblowingly talented burlesque dancer, she has to give up her art for the priviledge of bearing him seven children. This wouldn’t happen now because women have made tremendous strides towards gender equality. She’d only have two kids, three tops.

“Do It With a Rockstar” – Amanda Palmer

Wait, needy lonely rockstars actually exist? Asking for a friend.
P.S. Awesome video, which I set to start 2 minutes in, where the song begins. Do watch the whole thing if you have time.

“Paperback Writer” – The Beatles

The only song about writers I could find is by a band I absolutely loathe, and the sad reality of this is not mitigated by the fact that the lyrics are actually pretty good.

“The Piano Has Been Drinking” – Tom Waits

And speaking of amazing lyrics…
Now I want a drink. Wait, that’s how the blog ended up on hiatus. Nevermind.

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Reclaimed objects: large beveled mirror

This mirror was an experimental design, made just a few days before I was to exhibit all my new mosaics at a fair and when I completed it I thought it was a bit of a mess and maybe I shouldn’t exhibit it at all. In the venerable tradition of last-minute artistic experiments that are a bit of a mess and are in a style very different from the rest of the works, it was a hit. People would glance at the mosaics on display and when they noticed this one in the lower corner, their eyes would light up, they would approach it reverently, examine the finish closely and then give me a look that said: “This other stuff is fine and all, but this one…!” Some even said this out loud.

Large beveled mirror with a stained glass mosaic frame

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The business card and the search for a really really ridiculously good font

Did you ever find yourself having to design your first business card while handicapped by caring deeply, intensely and probably irrationally about fonts?

I did. It entails hours of looking through free fonts until you realize that it’s 2 am and you have thirty tabs of potential fonts open and you can no longer see any differences between them. So then you go to bed confident that when you look at it all afresh the next day, the one true font will manifest itself in a halo of golden light. But in the morning you’re still nauseated by trying to tell these thirty nearly identical fonts apart and decide to look for another type of font entirely. Repeat with completely different search parameters.

Fine, you’re down to, like, six fonts, so you download them all and try them on your business card layout. No! At least four of them are all wrong! Too condensed! Cap height looks uneven! Kerning is all messed up! That’s what you get for looking for free fonts – amateurs! Have to find four new ones! Here, a detour into looking at fonts that you know you won’t use but that have flawless kerning.

At some point you realize that you will never love any of these fonts as deeply as you love the idea of finding the perfect font. So you settle for one that’s good enough. After all, you can make it better! A good enough font + hours of drawing tiny squares in Adobe Illustrator = Fragmentalist logo that’s assembling itself out of mosaic tiles! Good place to stop. It’s just going onto a piece of cardboard. No need to animate it.

The product of this drama is revealed after the jump. Please follow me behind this curtain of crazy awesome…

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On the balance of daily experience

A couple of years ago I came across the idea of optimal daily experience – like a recommended nutritional intake for the mind. It was suggested that to maintain a healthy balance, there are four types of experiences that everyone should have daily: social, physical, intellectual and creative.

Here’s an example of each: lunch with a friend, a workout, a foreign language lesson, and writing a song. Daily. A daunting proposition for anyone with a 9 to 5 job, chores to do and kids to take care of.

When we’re younger, it’s easier to maintain the balance: in school or university opportunities to have a variety of daily experiences are readily available, and it’s not difficult to incorporate them into flexible student schedules.

As we grow up and get full time jobs and families, these opportunities gradually drop off. Most adults probably don’t have occasion to experience all four types in any given month, let alone every day, unless they make a conscious effort to do so.

In the last few months, I was starting to find that maintaining this balance was taking me an inordinate amount of effort.

I would go to work at an office where I’ve worked for years and where few intellectual challenges remained. The nature of the financial industry has no place for creativity. Hence I would spend a huge chunk of my day having zero-value experiences – not learning much and not creating much, just counting off the hours until I could get home, play with the kids and put them to bed and then try to squeeze the entire daily ration of learning, physical activity and artistic projects into the two hours that were left in the day.

When, a few weeks ago, I made the decision to quit that job, it was partly due to the realization that if a healthy balance of experience was that important to me, then I would have to make some very different choices to be able to maintain it. I think I was having creativity DTs.

top two panels from xkcd web comic "Choices: Part 4"

Dramatization of my internal dialogue on choices courtesy of xkcd

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