I did it! I beat my deadline by a week!
I can’t be bothered linking yesterday’s post. It wasn’t anything worth linking. I did, however, set myself a task. I said that, since knowledge was everywhere, I was gonna get me some of it. I proclaimed that by next Wednesday I’d come back having learned something. Whether this was picking up a new skill, or just forcing myself to watch a documentary. I took the path of least resistance and watched a documentary. I say “least resistance”, but it took work to push myself into not just zoning out on my own. I’d played some Magic out of habit and was basically just refreshing my Facebook feed/Reddit. We all have those loops where we look up the same handful of sites, right? Much as I figured I wasn’t getting anything done, pushing against the default isn’t a walk in the park (unless your desired task was a park stroll). I probably did the Facebook/Reddit/Magic loop at least 3 times while trying to decide how to attain learning.
I watched an episode of Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix. Sure, that may be a leisure activity for some, but for me it wasn’t. I have very little visual acuity. I love words and sounds, but it’s rare that visual components spark my synapses in quite the same manner. In order to push my boundaries a little, I opted to watch an episode on graphic design. It’s something I’ve rarely looked into. Of course it’s interesting, but without much acquired vocabulary it often goes over my head. I figured if anyone could translate for me, it’d be a Netflix doco made for general consumption.
I lucked out. The graphic design episode featured a designed named Pala Scher, who seems to be a longtime fixture in the New York scene. Why was that lucky? Because typography in particular was her specialty. WORDS! One of my two favourite things! It was literally visual language, and her style was totally captivating.
What did I learn though? The doc focused more on her legacy and work than necessarily technique. Still, I think I took soft inspiration from seeing the range of concepts she evoked. Typography is always something I’ve passively consumed. The way she used words was truly an artform. Sometimes it’d be sparse and minimalist, with a subdued aesthetic. Then other pieces would be utterly crammed with words. Words jammed into almost every inch of a poster, framing the subject by the use of negative space. They’d vary in font, colour, shape, size. Y’know, the usual stuff designers do with words. But I swear it was impressive. She often negated formal structure in lieu of style, with words disregarding ease of reading in favour of visual metaphor.
If this doesn’t mean much, one piece really stood out. She’d taken a self portrait she’d drawn, then chronologically overlaid different stages she’d gone through. Her face, for instance, had lines listing illnesses she had at different ages, free flowing at all different angles. She’d written her various hairstyles through the years, flowing down in waves like strands. I’m doing a terrible job at describing it. Just look for yourselves.
Look, it might be a stretch saying I really learned anything valuable, but I was quite taken by the way she interpreted the world. Lots of out of the box thinking, dynamic visuals and bucking conventions. I noticed that as I was watching all these stylistic choices, my brain was translating them to audio effects, the main design work I’ve done. I’d look at certain angles and consider how that’d be represented in EQ. A representation of “R”s of different sizes brought to mind speed, and how that could be varied within a sentence itself. Shadows made me think of multi-tracking, and colours corresponded in my head to pitches. I don’t know why this was all happening in my brain, but it was curious that I was completely sober. I do wonder what kind of inspiration has been planted, and if that’s something I can harness. Y’know, I could always watch another episode…
Oh, maybe I learned that learning isn’t so bad?