Updated: Jan 14, 2019
The daily nonsensical nuances of your life are very much weaved into your art. Deadlines traffic stops conversations that are pointless
Everything will eventually find itself creeping on the page.
The garbage that swims around in your subconscious may find its purpose in a moment of calm. Imagine your ideas scattered across on a spider’s web, essentially dis jointed never seeming to connect, until one experience brings all those thoughts together, ultimately resulting in an ‘aha moment’ or a deep, ‘oooohhh I get it now’.
My mentor would hammer this thought into us, the more you experience life, the better designer/illustrator you would become.
Take Simon's Cat for example, the animator turned his interaction of his daily encounters with his cat into 3 minute exaggerated animations brought him much stardom and I presume profit because he really hit a nerve with millions of people who've had cats that have suffered greatly at the paws of their pets’ destructive curiosity.
Another great example of this was when we had our final project in what seemed to be a bitterly cold December in London where we'd task ourselves to rebrand frozen foods. Trust me when I say it was insanely uncomfortable to unearth my hands out of my gloves after walking through windshields of 3 c only to lower them into the frozen foods section to get a pack of peas and carrots.
Naturally cold flesh and plastic would collide to produce a burn that would chill you right down to the tips of your toes.
It proposed a pretty good problem, how the hell do you bring yourself to purchase frozen foods in the middle of winter?
We thought of heat pads, tongs you name it to make the experience less treacherous. The rebrand lead the team to win but only because the insights of buying them gave us an edge. Sometimes to you need to go the extra mile to get that tiny wisdom that would pierce the truth through the visual junk. Maybe part of the responsibility of making design is to exhume the truth for the highest impact.
My tutor at university imparted some pretty prolific advice during our final project; Inji if you want to get a job, making people relate to your portfolio will increase your chances of landing that job.
Beyond the standard logos and mini branding projects I'd somehow manage to swindle, it was always the characterised illustrations that would land me a gig (it was all the rage in 2004). I had illustrated a bunch of guppies that were accessorized with Madonna's bra cones and platinum blonde wig that would thaw the icy and cold sweat inducing meetings with art directors. A laugh or a, ‘no way you did that!’ later I'd find myself photoshopping tires for Toyota.
Yes, that is a job. And most design jobs are very unglamorous. Know that donkey work will be a staple for a while until you are trusted with an idea to carry it through to the finish line.
This brings me to Qūn. At 33, I'd had enough kicks in the teeth to find myself pushed to hear my thoughts. I’d eliminated so many distractions by then, some had walked out of my life permanently and I had some time to look back. I think of it as a roll call of experiences that i had no idea still lingered in the attic of my brain. They sediment with other thoughts along with the millions of visuals that museum visits and trips that started to take shape. Qūn, started with frustration and ended with an enlightening phone conversation with a life coach.
Drawing an eclipse during an eclipse, illustrating lost battles between friends and coworkers, remembering those key miniscule moment that forever changed my perspective. The art behind the deck started to merge real life stories along with art history. Almost by complete accident and with stubbornness to measure I had a narrative going. What started off as “[a fuck it] let’s see where this goes” to a full-on book and card set, it dawned upon me that everything is experienced mattered and had a relatable story that happens to resonate with so many.
Everything matters, eventually if you can connect those dots.