9.JPG

Today and all the next few days and maybe even on into next week I am doing something I have not done for a very, very long time.

Cooking.

Okay, but besides that: file-cleaning.

Clearing the clutter.

Making the space.

I’m in charge of mashup for the next 12-set issue of S P A C E. It’s Autumn 2019’s series, ‘Trust the Process.’

I need to go through and find all the things that have helped me learn what this means. That means starting with… the records I have been floating about in the cloud since 2006 or something or maybe before that, even. Whenever it was that we got Dropbox, and other things, that let you place files ad hoc into ‘storage’ and you never ever think about them again.

It’s time to review.

Take stock, and delete the things that don’t fit the narratives that are emergent, now.

‘Flapping’, and then ‘diving’

That’s me, standing up, way way in the back on the left. Kind of. This one is also in B&W on instagram. I have to find a better one. Will keep looking. But this was MAKE II, a year after the first one. I did this one at Fishmonger’s because they were super nice and tweeted and stuff and we had a nice rapport. I like people like that.

I cannot remember why I don’t have good pictures of MAKE in Durham, when I had hosted that event right after returning to the Triangle after 10 years away. John Wendelbo, a bronze sculpture artist who likes math things like fluid dynamics and you can see that when you see his work, was one of my panelists and guest speakers. I loved what he had said, way back then, about how the creative process (which is what Make was about), is when you just fly around like a bird and you’re flapping, and you’re flapping, and for a hell of a long time you’re flapping, until, wham, you see something and as soon as you see that thing, you dive.

Returning to the Triangle was a mixed bag. After all, I’d been happily working on Design Kompany projects in Seattle for four years, and working as a newspaper daily reporter for two years in that city before that. And Ireland, of course. Was before all that. And leaving the Triangle had been a heckuva project, and then, why was I going back? Because… home. Seeking home. A nagging thing, with me.

[Long story deleted. Perhaps SLH will be able to relate.]

So yeah. Back I was, back in the Triangle (which, to those who are not familiar, is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC which RK likes to say ‘has the highest PhD per capita in the United States’). This might be dated info, of course, because it was the eighties when RK said that. And now, NC seems to be a place I have a very, very hard time thinking about calling ‘home.’ So I just don’t think about it. And go on the road, continuously, instead. Looking for home, wanting to find comfort, solace, and solidity. Okay, fine. That’s not easy to build, or to expect. It’s what happens when you go to the places that you know, and that know you.

These are rare.

But one of them is Dropbox.

 

Sussing, staring, learning, and deletions

9.jpg, from ‘Don’t Kick the Pigeons’, a zine by DK Seattle 2006ish

So now I have to go through and see what’s worth keeping. Revising. Sharing. Or getting rid of altogether in that permanent state of ‘never to be seen again, ever.’ Which I like. Those who know me well know that I don’t like to keep the boxes hanging around, indefinitely, all open and waiting for something ot happen. If nothing happens, nothing happens. Moving forward, moving onward, towards the shapes of spaces yet to be. That’s more interesting to me. So I get rid of stuff. And Im going through things and I’m looking around and finding some curious things like the jpg 9.jpg, which is part of a ‘zine’ I had made in Seattle, was it 2006? Something like that. I xeroxed it and showed it to JK, one of the more creative people I knew in that city, and he was like, ‘Okay!’ And I just… stopped zining.

Then it’s 2017, and guess what? I start up a zining thing that takes me to Europe and back to Asia like three times. Why? Zining must be important to me. The archives seem to tell me. Which means what. Which means getting rid of the other files in the archives that have no bearing whatsoever on the work I care about today.

Old bad poems, for example.

Old notes for books I’ve already published, as well.

Deletions, deletions. Make space for new things.

This graph one’s from a video of me talking about fuzzy logic and stuff, a video that you can find online, ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’

 

The video is here: checkit.

 

 

Still fits

I like it, even after seven years. I like it so much, in fact, aesthetically and philosophically because I haven’t wavered much on what I said here and still stand by most of it and this is why I am even where I am anyway and doing what I’m doing, in the first place. In fact, since it’s still valid, why reinvent the wheel? When they asked me to put a video link in to the crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, I used this one. Yup. I put it on the video link thing for our crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, the next and newest thing I’m up to, too.

Hrm.

I wonder if that’s something you can do if you have the video to a youtube that goes to a 7-year old video.

I wonder if it matters, anyway, what the rules are. Probably not. But anyway. You might like FQP.

If you do, then yeah, it’s a good sign that we’d get along in real life. Or online conversations that would develop, perhaps to the point of a collaboration, perhaps even in S P A C E. I care about that. I care about things growing and discovering stuff and learning together, and building something cool that is bigger than just you-and-me-met-at-a-party once and that was it.

Know what I mean?

The bigger story.

Us connecting. Deeply. Together, but also then, to others, too.

People who are curious.

And new.

Yeah. I hemmed and hawed about what video to put at the Chuffed crowdfunding page (‘does it have to be like everyone else’s? So many of them are just really terrible videos, probably costly, too… how the hell does that happen? F, f, f’)…

… and I don’t have any kind of video making skill after I got over making ‘Moving Pictures’ for YouTube when RV was 7. Ha ha. I wonder if RV will see that. You were like 7, dude. SEVEN. I was half kidding when I said that thing but you actually were in grade school.)

So why make a giant video abut S P C when it’s still emerging and all that. Better to just share my vision. Vision about ‘you don’t know what’s even gonna happen anyway so let’s just play, and enjoy it!’ Yeah.

To the journeys, then.

And to the things to come, with the new and different others, joining me this week in ‘Trust the Process.’ Join at our crowdfunding page, of course. Make | S P C… Link is this.

Here we go!…

Issue #38: S P A C E | Riga, ‘This is This’

A great conversation set led to the creation of this issue of S P A C E.

Many thanks to Nils don Sihvola, whose cover art is featured here. The story is by Dipika Kohli.

NILS DON SIHVOLA

‘DIGITAL VISUAL arts-digital SLR and image processing-is my thing. In 2013 a friend sold me his Canon 500d digital camera. Instinctively and instantly, I knew that the digital camera would be my tool to make art. Art: something I’ve known since I was a child I wanted to make. Every year I practiced, and in 2017, went to study photography at Kymenlaakson opisto in Inkeroinen, Finland.

‘Ever since, I’ve wanted to investigate questions like, ‘How does form support content? What’s “balance” in a composition? What can an image say, in complement to, for example, a spoken message?’

‘In a world that relies on the flat 2d spectacle, rotating the axis to discover a fresh perspective can mean the difference between “love” and “pain.”’
Instagram: @nils_don_sihvola

 

DIPIKA KOHLI

‘Art, to me, is a great conversation. I design space for that.’ [website | instagram: @dipikakohli]

 

 

Order it here >

The glory and quietness of DIY publishing

THIS WAS ORIGINALLY going to be a protected-page post. I didn’t want to get all corny about this whole DIY publishing thing. The scene. The strange feeling of having a thing that you want to share, but realizing that no one is readily around to hear it. And wondering if you are really on to a thing, or just think you are, but then, when you hit ‘print,’ it just all kind of falls, click, into place.

 

Movement

Getting to the point where you know how you’re going to approach the first pitch if you’re a seasoned baseball player, for example, takes time. Takes practice. Takes knowing the sweet spot on the bat and how your own personal stance is going to work out so you hit that, more of the time than less. No one bats 1000 but you can sure try to get better if you know yourself, what works, and how you have felt when the homerun gets hit.

But getting here and printing this stuff out makes me feel good: like it’s easy to go to bat, now. These changes have come with experience. They have more to do with the approach to taking to a nomadic life, kind of, on the road, and before that, the call of the road, than I had realized: the creative process is an adventure unto itself.

You go where the feeling takes you, you work it out, you develop the idea or set of ideas that feel rightest, and then, you make the cuts when the thing is starting to take shape. The ‘thing’ being the theme, the concept. It’s not about writing into sentences and paragraphs and making sure it’s all correct. It’s about feeling your way towards what is the mood of that place, space, time, mode, journey, and conversation set. There are no rules to this stuff. I wish that when people want to start talking to me about writing and art that they wouldn’t go right into, ‘What have you published?’ if they’re themselves authors, or, worse, ‘Have you been published?’ As if that means something. (Ask me if I’ve made f–ing good art, and then we’ll have a party.)

Shall I write down the conversations from those kinds of jam sessions, somewhere?

Was thinking of doing that.

 

Sharing

S P A C E | Riga, ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ is at this link 

What I guess I am feeling as I look at the small set of things that I have brought to show and share here and there with people whom I have found through the internet or in moments, in real life, when the moment hits that I want to let someone read something I’ve written in the past (never current writing, that’s just… that’s difficult, since it’s still being worked out)… well… When I do get to see how people feel when they read, it’s nice. It makes me remember that writing isn’t writing for me: writing is for making a thing that I can share. And that the moment of sharing, that!, that’s the whole point of this journey for me, in S P A C E. Which is ticking along, more or less. Every week since early December 2018, there’s a 16-page PDF that goes out to a small set of people around the world who have been supportive from the start of this kind of project and intiative. Honestly, I don’t know why I won scholarships for studying in universities: the same money would be much better spent, I feel, backing me on these kinds of in-the-field reporting gigs (they’re not really gigs, they’re self-commissions, which is, I think, ‘art’, if, and only if, so iff, they land somewhere, there is resonance…. only then is it really art… and is art for art’s sake the point? I remember debating this when I was 24, in some fancy pants art school, and it was dumb, and not that much longer after that, I was packing up and driving away from the place towards the far, green pastures I knew would await me… somewhere… didn’t know at the time that was going to be, er, Ireland, but yeah…. )

Green pastures and the call of the horizon, the road in general, has always been a temptation for me. I can’t not go. I can’t not see, try, discover… sometimes when I find myself in places too long (Phnom Penh, for example, or Seattle), I get to the point where I wish I could just leave. I mean, leaving is nice, and I don’t have ‘jobs’ to attach to, or a ‘community’ that wants me to stick around. I used to wish I had those things, but I learned, for me, it’s much more interesting to keep it light. Keep ties to a minimum. I haven’t bought new clothes for a long time, and the last time was right before I had to meet some people I had not seen in five years, so my clothes definitely needed an update.

So what does this have to do with DIY publishing?

Nonlinear

Contrary to popular belief, I do not write with a conclusion to walk you towards. In fact, most of this is just ad lib. All of it is, in fact. I do not pre-write blog posts, though I think that might help you see that I am, in fact, a serious writer, but I save my best stuff for articles for magazines, like over here, and also for the e-mag S P A C E. Those are the pieces I work out to my best. I give my whole heart to them, which is part of why, also, I publish in so few places. I don’t want things to get out of hand and I don’t care if the world knows about me or just 4 people. It’s fine. The art is the point, and the journey towards making better art is even more important. To me. I love it when I find artists and talk to them about things like this, and we are serious and we are happy to have found one another being serious also where they are, and when we talk about these things, rarely does it go into the specifics of the art-making itself. Rather, we are dwelling on a different cloud, one of possibility and range, one that invites newness, openness, the thinking outside gravitational forces and the usual G. Where it gets interesting is where we can jam, creatively and intellectually and playfully and thoughtfully but also in that spirit of collegial co-creativeness, where all are equal and welcome to the table. I think what I am writing is the exact mood I hope that S P A C E invites people to join in, when they come to events or read our magazines.

It’s getting tighter, better. Clearer, sharper. And it’s also going to end. One day, I know I’ll get bored of it, and want to go on to another project. Not sure what, not sure where. But like Seattle and Phnom Penh, I know I’ll want to move forwards from here. No wistful backwards glances anymore, for me… there are too many things ahead, and too much more to look into. I can’t describe this very well right now because some people are listening to some kind of phone-vid and the music in the background is much less interesting than it was when I got started on this post. But yeah. Things are okay.

I like it that whenever I pass a little cafe place, they have the telly on, and it’s almost always… ice hockey.

What a change from Cambodia.

Issue #3: Phnom Penh

Ira Glass and Neil Gaiman on the creative process

TODAY I AM CONTINUING to think about the creative process. It’s a follow-up from two things:

Science podcaster JR talks with DK on the work it takes to get good.

Exploring without knowing

MAKE 2, a conversation salon hosted by Dipika Kohli // Durham NC 2011

THE CREATIVE PROCESS itself was the subject of two conversation salons in Durham, NC: MAKE and MAKE II. ‘What is the creative process? Who uses it? What changes as a result?’ We had a dozen guest speakers at those two events; and a crowd. I can’t believe it, still, thinking back, that when I first returned to the Raleigh-Durham region after a decade away to throw the ‘do that we called MAKE how almost 100 people drove in from far and near vertices of the Triangle to connect, converse, listen, and learn.

Was just marvelous, that time, so we hosted the same event a year on.

MAKE and MAKE II were occasions, to me, the kind that I wouldn’t forget. I had no idea at the time that relational art would become my kind of party, that the being-together was the whole show. That awareness came way later, probably the night I read from the chapter ‘Blankslate’ at a cafe in Phnom Penh–the first chapter of Breakfast in Cambodia, to the group who had gathered that night–‘I know this street, I know that feeling, I know, because I”m here!’–that was the feedback.

And we were. Together, there.

In the moment, in the place that was written in the pages.

Diving in and out of S P A C E.

Yes. There’s a lot of philosophizing I could do here, but I’ll get back to the story of MAKE.

BEING THERE. I still remember JW, a sculptor and guest panelist at the first MAKE, talking about birds and the beautiful metaphor he gave us that day about how the creative process is like a flight. I can’t properly fit the whole feeling here… I couldn’t eloquently state it here; you simply had to be there, that’s what these salons are for, after all—the real life, real time experience. A co-created improvised play, which happens on the spot, and which ends in rather no time at all. Ephemera and the heightened moment of the urgent, sequestered ‘now.’ Oh, no. I’m getting philosophical. Well, let me save that sort of talk for another day. Perhaps this one, in Phnom Penh.

 

Two videos

EVERY SO OFTEN, and this happened just last night, someone says something that reminds me of the existence this video that someone made, animating radio host Ira Glass‘ thoughts on the creative process. Of course any mention of IG makes me remember JK‘s story about picking the man up from the airport and getting starstruck–too funny. JK, what are you up to where you are? What are you making lately? Questions I would foist your way, if we were in good e-communciation. I’m still around to talk about these kinds of things, you know. Hopefully in a comment thread to come, over here. But yeah. The video.

Here it is:

 

FILE UNDER ‘RESOURCES.’ Personally, I just like to ‘do’ the creative process. Instead of just diving in and making something, which is my usual habit when I have this kind of focus time, today, I’m writing to people around the world whose work I think is curious, and whose perspective I’d love to hear when it comes to questions about the creative process, why we make anything, and what we’re doing this for. It’s a big question, of course. The point is not to get ‘popular,’ for me, anyway, or ‘rich.’ I just want to make good art. Did you see that video, ‘Make Good Art?’? SK had sent it to me, right before I left the States. I must say it was a contributing factor to the decision to get going on the road, indefinitely, without a fixed income, savings, or a plan. But yeah. I found a link. Here’s the YouTube video:

 

For further reading?

SUGGESTIONS?

Anyone have further resources to add?

Please leave a comment with your link. Really would be great if you could point me to some people who aren’t white men, hey. I’ve been looking but it’s tough–women and people who aren’t white tend to just simply not get the spotlight as often. Imagine! But it’s true. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, with things to say. Help us find the important stories? Connect with me or just leave a comment below. I love the interactive part of writing this whole blog thing, because it’s not a flat space, we’re evolving it as we add to it. The geometry of a space is the set of all points within that space. And: S P A C E changes because you’re there. It’s kind of fun to think about physics and space, spacemaking and the fourth dimension. I can talk more about that, sometime. Let’s get to know each other, though, a bit first.

Thanks! Comments are open for a bit.

This post and other stories are made possible by support of members of S P A C E. Discover more here.

 

 

16 April | STAMMTISCH in Phnom Penh

STAMMTISCH is MONDAY. Guest artist Mike Dynamo will talk with us about music and writing. More below. Ticket registration page is here.

 

Salons: What are they?

Design Kompany hosts conversation salons. This is what it looks like. Pictured, from left: ‘The State of Publishing’ in Durham NC with Mercury Studio, MAKE at Fishmongers Durham NC, ‘Modern Sikkim’ in Gangtok India, ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’ at TINI in Phnom Penh, flyer for Designers Korner standing date at Stumbling Monk, which looked like the last image. Good fun. These happened 2011 through today, in (most of the time) very small circles.

Meet new people. Discover S P A C E. At Monday’s meetup in Phnom Penh, STAMMTISCH. What is it? A place that’s not home, that’s not work. For conversations with a center, and not sides. No agenda, not religious, just let’s meet and talk. But briefly. Let’s play?

When we first talked to Steve Zelle, or @idApostle, about creativity and the process, we realized the thinking would become more than just one short email conversation. It grew into a blog post, then a guest post, then a conversation salon, then a series. MAKE: ‘What is the creative process, who uses it, and what changes as a result?’ has happened three times and gathered more than 200 people. DK host MAKE in Phnom Penh as a low-key, small circle, at the standing date on Mondays called STAMMTISCH. (‘The creative process never looks like this’ graphic by Steve Zelle, first featured at his guest post, ‘A Sprinkle of Magic Dust’.)

 

Monday, 16 April’s programme: ‘Welcome to the Creative Process’

Phnom Penh-based musician and writer Mike Dynamo will be joining us at STAMMTISCH.

His blog post, ‘Has the Artist Been Killed and Replaced by the Entrepreneur?’, inspires this week’s session.

Meetpoint: Java 2F 4-6:30. At one of the outside tables.

Here’s a light agenda…

  • 4PM Podcasting
  • 5PM Artrepreneurship II
  • 5:30PM Short Salon: ‘MAKE: What is the creative process?’

 

About Mike Dynamo

Mike Dynamo is a Phnom Penh-based musician, writer, and thinker. He knows a little bit about a wide mashup of topics—culture, film, video games—and can converse at length about anything with remarkable energy. Substantially, not trivially. (Though he does host a weekly trivia night at Lucky Gecko). His piece, ‘Has the Artist been replaced by the Artrepreneur?’ starts like this:

There was an interesting piece in the Atlantic from two years ago that was about the relationship between art and commerce throughout the ages – what it means and where it is heading. The writer, William Deresiewicz, delved into the paradigm shift between the “hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional,” and the birth of the creative entrepreneur. I could barely wrap my head around it because it’s so difficult to understand what exactly I’m trying to create while still clinging to the old ideas that art isn’t meant to be a pursuit of massive attention as much as a divine gift from beyond to be used for its own sake. Read the full story >

 

About Dipika Kohli

Dipika Kohli is an author, artist, and designer. Her studio, Design Kompany, was founded in 2006 in Seattle WA USA, and has been exclusively freelance since. While in the US, she orgnanized a salon, MAKE: ‘What is the creative process, who uses it, and what changes as a result?’. This gathered more than 70 creatives and scientists around Research Triangle Park (aka ‘The Triangle) in NC to talk about these questions, together. Out-takes are at this writeup on Processed Identity. Ahead of the event MAKE, DK had asked the Ottawa-based graphic designer who runs it, Steve Zelle, to share a guest post with DK. That post, ‘A sprinkle of magic dust,’ is really great. And it’s here.

 

FAQs

 

Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Ages 16+

 

Can I come for just a portion of it?

Sure. But as we have very limited seats, be sure to register to confirm your attendance.

 

Can I pay on the day?

You can, but we do have limited seating. If you’d rather show up on the day, bring exact change to help us out. The tickets are: $15 + 1000 riel, so as to cover handling fees.

 

Where can I learn more?

Get an idea of what will happen when you check out the range of Design Kompany’s events. To do that, go here: http://designkompany.com/ateliers. Questions welcome, send them on to Jas Plac, that’s me, at DK, through the form at this page.

S P A C E || The Creative Process

In a set of conversations these last two weeks in Penang, DK has learned something cool. We found that there are many here who want to talk, in some depth, about the creative process itself. This is exciting.

MAKE

I am reminded of MAKE, a conversation salon we had held in the US, where I had invited eight guest panelists to convene and make a short comment to kick off what then became a meandering, unforgettable session. Some friends still quote from it, when we talk together about our newest or latest, because we are also aware that we are constantly developing a voice, and can’t see it in full until we play a bit, well, let’s be honest, a lot, and see what patterns emerge. What does our output creatively tell us about ourselves? Our conversations will shake out some of that, guaranteed.

Serious makers and creatives truly enjoy occasions to share on this informal, real time, and in real life way with others also struggling with questions of purpose, form, technique and gumption to keep making, when we aren’t sure where we are even going, when we do.

An Asian upbringing, for me, puts me in the same category that many I have met in Malaysia are, too: we ask ourselves (at the start, anyway) questions like: what about practicality, of following the Programme not only society seems to be setting, but your Parents are, too. No one wants to be a disappointment. But can you make really good work if that concern for what others expect or think of you will box you in, will limit you? I struggled with this question myself for a decade, then made a choice that I never looked back on or regretted. I will share that story at this event.

Here’s what will happen. Drawing from a past career in architecture, design, branding, and journalism, DK will bring forward a series of conversation-starting questions that might help some of those who are curious about Creative Process find ways to add troops to their own repertoire of how to make.

RM 50pp.

RSVP for location details, and to confirm your attendance. To RSVP, contact us through the form at this page.

 

‘A sprinkle of magic dust’: guest post by idApostle on 25 years of logo design

Steve Zelle of idApostle comments about the creative process ahead of “Make.”

The Process of Imagination, Analysis and Action

By Steve Zelle

The creative process involves tangible actions juxtaposed with the intangible mystery of creativity. It often suffers under a linear approach and blossoms when you dare to ask “why don’t we try ….” It’s what makes something more than just an idea. It offers a result via the marriage of imagination, analysis, and action.

For twenty-five years, I have been involved in logo design. For the last year, I have also run a site that showcases the creative processes of other logo designers—sixteen to date. My intentions with the site were to better understand the creative process, improve my own and increase awareness about the value it provides.

After all this time, I have learnt that the creative process never looks like this:

The creative process never looks like this.

In fact, the creative process of logo design truly is impossible to diagram, although many of us try in order to put our clients more at ease with it. It can’t really be put into distinct phases although many of us also try to do this in hopes that potential clients will feel more comfortable investing their time and money. In truth, I have found that the creative process requires a leap of faith from everyone involved. Its elusive nature manages to move a project forward, backward and sideways simultaneously.Â

The creative process is chaos wrapped around structure and held together by a sprinkle of magic dust.

The studies on Processed Identity show that while all designers approach projects in a unique way, the creative process—the time spent reading, writing, having conversations, organizing, editing, prioritizing, mind mapping, creating mood boards, sketching—”is essential to developing a deep understanding of a client’s needs. It’s what inspires and enables us to create something beyond the generic and adequate. In my experience as a logo designer, the creative process has proven to be my most valuable tool. It’s also crucial to a wide range of other disciplines including science, philosophy, architecture, art and writing.

We have all experienced occasions where it is clear the creative process has been minimized. It’s not difficult to recall poor user interfaces, cliche solutions, and ideas executed with seemingly little thought as to how the end user will engage with them. In contrast, by embracing and investing in the creative process, it’s possible to create moments of joy, satisfaction, and delight.

It is unfortunate that the creative process is constantly in need of protection from budget cuts, deadlines and non-believers. It seems to be the first corner cut. You need clay to make bricks[*]. It takes time, energy, dedication, and the willingness to build, knock down and build again (over and over).

I have learned that I best serve my customers by looking at the logo as simply a by-product of the creative process. I have also learned that protecting the creative process is essential and non-negotiable.

About the Author

Steve Zelle is a logo and brand identity designer based in Ottawa, Canada. He operates as idApostle and is the founder of the community driven design website, Processed Identity. You can reach him through his website or on Twitter.

*Paraphrased from: “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently, “I cannot make bricks without clay!”, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.