career

career, education

How Punk Rock Has Made Me a Stronger Designer

I just filled out an application to become a part-time graphic design teacher at an alternative school. Naturally, the first question they ask is why do you want to be a teacher. In many ways, I had to stop myself from typing, "BECAUSE F*CK THE ESTABLISHMENT, THAT'S WHY!" And while I didn't think that starting off an application with a slew of curse words longer than a N.W.A. song was the best idea, the overall sentiment is perhaps still the same. 

I said I was interested in teaching because:

  • I'd like to offer exposure to atypical career trajectory
  • Want to encourage alternative education in the forms of what's available in public access, community, self-taught whatever, etc.
  • I'm more of an asker than a teller. I explained how I just read a book called, Humble Inquiry which says that the most dangerous thing in American culture is that we tend to do a ton more telling than asking. As a result, people are made to feel dumb for asking questions and keep quiet. Humility is not valued in this type of environment. I'd love to create a classroom focused more on asking questions rather than telling students what I know, what they did wrong, etc. I feel this is especially valuable in an artistic classroom where, isn't design subjective anyway?
  • Celebrate students' authenticity. Both personal and professional
  • Don't want students to make the same mistakes I did or am still making

I wish I could change that last bullet to a past-tense phrase but truth-be-told, I am still making many, many mistakes in my career. Most recently, I'm upset with forgetting who I am and what I believe in, especially in the workplace. When I think about what I value, I care about real art/design (art-art, performance art, film, music, etc.). I care about work/life balance. I try to be healthy and environmentally conscious. And people/culture. I care about connections and relationships with people. 

So where does punk rock come into play in all this? 

As a former dedicated member of the Misfits field club and attender of hundreds and hundreds of small DIY shows, I've learned so many more valuable lessons in teamwork, dedication, and community than I ever had in any corporate office. Let's not forget what punk rock teaches above all else: that you should be free to be whoever you want to be. Don't let society tell you what defines success and what it looks like. Refuse to be put in a box, especially in a box that someone else made for you. "Do It Yourself," a core value of punk rock, is the ultimate reminder to find your own way to do you. 

If I'm able to go into a classroom and teach students to DIY their design, their life, whatever and to offer them a safe space to explore/reclaim/question/confirm who they are, that would be an establishment that I would be proud to be a part of. An anti-anti establishment, of course.

 

career

So You Don't Want to Hire Me Because I Live in Philly? Here's What You're Missing.

I can't tell you how many times I've read through exciting, compelling job opportunity descriptions only to come to the end where it says in fine print, "Local candidates only." Granted, I can see some benefits to this. First, a company doesn't want to pay for someone to move, especially if it's not guaranteed that the candidate will stay. Budgets are tight, let alone dealing with the waiting period of said candidate packing up and shipping out to your location. Second, there are regional traditions, cultures, language conflicts of interest to consider. It's kind of awkward when your Japanese co-workers chow down on Yaki Imo and all you've got is your American peanut butter and jelly with the crusts chopped off. Need a 300dpi, CMYK photo optimized for mobile? Good luck asking for that in Finnish since the only two languages you wrote down in the "Language Fluency" section were English and Pig Latin.

I get it. It's a risk. But when we talk about the cost of having an "out-of-towner" come work for your company, are we talking about monetary cost or are we talking cost value? There's a real difference between the two and it's not always clear which a company is asking for. Can you put a price on an exceptional, loyal, trustworthy candidate? One who works seamlessly with others, implements improved standards, takes initiative to not only better him/herself but also to better the company as a whole? Value cannot be defined (or should I say confined?) to distance.

Aside from bringing inherent professional characteristics to a job, I could also bring useful, practical Philly skills to the workplace, wherever that may be. You say you want a candidate with strong, verbal communication? Try debating with your Geno's Cheese Steaks-loving, South Philly neighbor on why you think Pat's Cheese Steaks is better. Not only do you need to hold your own in the argument for an appalling length of time (South Philly natives do NOT back down), you have to have the evidence to back it up. We're talking variables such as average wait time, courteousness of staff, selection of toppings, etc. So anytime a company requests that the candidate "Considers all possible outlets of a project", I have to chuckle; that's easy. Try problem-solving when the #23 bus is experiencing delays, traffic is bumper-to-bumper on highway 76, and the subway is shut-down because someone delivered a baby (true story). Seeing alternative possibilities is what this Philly girl does on a daily basis. I recognize that one way of thinking, one way of getting from point A to point B isn't going to work.

Similarly, one type of person isn't going to benefit anyone either. If it's true what they say about a person being a "product of their environment", wouldn't a company want to diversify their products? The beautiful thing about people from a variety of places is a different way of seeing; unique perspectives making it certain that a company does not stay stagnant in their approach.

For all the companies who claim not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, etc. maybe you could also include "location" on the list. Because now you know exactly what you are missing, and at what cost?

 

career

Dad Always Knows Best

When I was in middle school or high school, my dad brought home several VHS tapes on how to become an engineer, "I think you'd be really good at it," he said. I watched the tapes, didn't really get it, and opted to apply to Drexel under Music Industry. However, I applied late and the program was capped so they couldn't fit me in. Instead, I was accepted under my second choice, Interior Architecture. Did that for two years then changed my mind again to Graphic Design.

And now I'm thinking my Pops was right all along and that, at heart, I'm a problem solver, a builder, experimenter. My heart is in 3-D. I love, love graphic design but I want it to come off the page. Can you imagine a Russian constructivist poster built in 3-D, and then movable? 

Source:   http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9009/stengal.html   The Man with the Movie Camera, '29 (Chelovek s Kinoapparatom) USSR, '29Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler Fund  This poster was created by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, who were members of a group of artist engineers in the early Soviet Union. The brothers created posters to promote films that embody the constructivist style. This poster uses a montage of several drawings and designs from the film. It uses contrasting colours and simple designs and geometric shape. There is also a very strong emphasis on technology (the camera), which persists in constructivist art.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9009/stengal.html

The Man with the Movie Camera, '29 (Chelovek s Kinoapparatom) USSR, '29Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler Fund

This poster was created by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, who were members of a group of artist engineers in the early Soviet Union. The brothers created posters to promote films that embody the constructivist style. This poster uses a montage of several drawings and designs from the film. It uses contrasting colours and simple designs and geometric shape. There is also a very strong emphasis on technology (the camera), which persists in constructivist art.

Imagine the possibilities in transforming this piece, that way. I don't mean sculpture, I mean moving, interacting, etc.

I should have paid more attention when all the birthday cards I ever made anyone were based on simple mechanics. Pop-up cards, movable parts, textured variations, die-cuts and elements of surprise.



Of course now, the concern becomes hire-ability. I'll have to start building on my own and market it enough that hopefully someone wants to hire me based on that. What jobs do I take? My heart sank when I watched that Wayne White documentary because he did, and is still doing, what I would prefer to be doing, at least as far as the prop building, experimenting goes.


Here's some words that should be associated with me:
1. experimenter
2. builder
3. lover
4. story-teller
5. problem-solver
6. interactor
7. guerilla art enthusiast
8. magician
9. beautifier
10. listener
11. giver
12. collaborator
13. communicator
14. (endlessly more)

Also, I feel like many of the newest technologies have the illusion of human interaction but do not actually achieve it. It's kind of like when American history class used to tell us that the U.S. was a melting pot of different people and cultures. Then later they said that that wasn't actually accurate, and what was more true was viewing the U.S. as a tossed salad: each culture is still its own separate entity, not actually mixing together. I'd be interested in melting things together again, so to speak.