The value of a thing is the amount of life we are willing to trade for it.
Let’s discuss ‘lack,’ or ‘thiếu.’
But softly, quietly, and comfortably.
I hope to find at least 4 people to make this *happen*. If we can, I will do this. I think it’s a big, big topic and worth exploring.
If you think the page is ready to share, I’ll be grateful if you can help me discover some new people to invite…
Here is the detail.
My first book, The Elopement, was about running off to Ireland to get married. Kind of. I didn’t mean to run off, and I didn’t mean to get married. Lots of things happen in the course of, well, youth.
Reflecting. Writing. Sharing. Namely, about the 20-year journey in the time since the events of The Elopement . Putting the final touches on to my new book, End of the Rainbow. It’ll be published next week.
Time. Sure. Flies.
The writeup about this book is at my writing website, Kismuth. Here’s a link to the page about End.
I sent you email today; a joint email. I like a good conversation circle, as you both well know. It occurs to me: do you know each other? Probably. The town where we met each other is indeed a small one. Journeying very many miles and days since then, those moments when we met, I mean, and also, those when we connected, loosely, in the cloud, through the e-circle style I mentioned, well, those things happened, didn’t they, and here we are. I’ve been good here.
A lot of updates to share, and I’m going to look forward to it.
On the off chance you happen to get my mail (things go to filters a lot now, owing to spam bots and other ‘nefarious’ mechanisms, I thought it was funny someone put it that way… ‘nefarious’…)… So yeah.
If you get it, and if you read it in time, and if you reply, and if you see my note here, somehow, all those ‘ifs’, if they line up… then let’s do it. Start another party, in the cloud. Just us three.
I’m certain we have many, many things to discover and co-discover, from here. Check your inbox, like.
My Irish accent, um, is on these days, thanks to the writing of End of the Rainbow (Sept. 15 / Kismuth Books). Wow, long story, but yeah. West Cork, that is to say. Grand stuff, so. Mostly I just really wanna know how you’re doing but I don’t want to send more 1:N notes. Too much work, too little reward, and far less personalized. What’s the point of that? I don’t know. See you in the up, maybe, L & C?
I’ll be waiting for you, here.
PS Miss you.
Last night, I was reading a bunch of extraordinarily boring articles online, which made me very tired, and also, reminded me all over again that the internet contains a lot of junk, written by clickbait-seeking who-knows-who, and their poorly paid ‘gig economy’ freelancers who are ‘finding my creative outlet on the side.’ This is sad. And this, too, the feeling that you couldn’t find anything really good to read without being bombarded by popup ads (2000s) or advertorials masquerading as ‘This is my honest opinion’ affiliate-link people, made me feel like starting my own mini-magazine. Which has no endorsements, ads, or BS.
Such a dearth of real-world, real-time information that I could discover, on the spot, also made me feel like hosting parties to get people together and seeing what we could find out, in the real world dimension, too. So that’s part of why I began to convene people in very small circles, in my conversation parties. It used to be really large-scale, but I found out I prefer simplicity. Depth, substance, and progressions over time. With just a few. This is why I make a membership-based thing called S P A C E. It’s so that we—we as in me, and the people who, like me, want what I want, ie quality–could get to the work of talking about things in ways that don’t waste people’s time.
Curating as I go, I’m putting together an August series for Papers, which is going to be about innovation, not in the business-speak sense, but in the live-it-and-talk-from-experience-of-actually-trying-things kind.
It will be published in S P A C E. It’s a special edition of S P A C E. It’s members-only. Memberhip costs. You can find out more about how to become a member of S P A C E at this crowdfunding page, under ‘perks,’ see ‘Basic Membership.’
Here’s a link.
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
A: That is edgy
Need help with a design project ?
[Update: Before Design Kompany became a roving atelier to gather people’s stories on the spot in real life, we were gathering perspectives in our online community, behind protected-pages at this blog. This post was originally an exclusive for a forum, ‘The Village,’ on work, life, and relationships.]
TODAY I INVITE you to read a short email conversation with Michelle Lynn Stephens, a poet I’ve been in touch with since the time we met at a fun open mic. We share roots in Durham, NC, and recently reconnected when I hosted a tweet chat about self-publishing. That opened a space for an entirely new conversation, in which I got to know more about where things have gone for Michelle since we met. Here’s our interview, which took place over email through the spring of 2017. This piece was originally published as an exclusive for our online community, S P A C E.
Venturing into the unfamiliar
DK: We talked in our email conversation about journeys. And leaving, and how that can inspire us. Can you talk about this a little bit?
MS: How interesting that you should ask this question, as I met you at the beginning of my open mic journey! I am definitely the adventurous type. I love trying new platforms and traveling to different venues. I have met so many wonderful people who have been very supportive and eventually became my creative village.
DK: Can you tell us about what you’ve written, so far?
MS: My book is The Divorcée Chronicles. And I co-authored an anthology, Single Mama Dating Drama.
DK: OK. Besides writing and traveling, I think we also talked about family. And… dating?
MS: The sequel to Diary of a Divorcée Diva is all about dating, but nowhere near finished. There is a tad bit of dating adventure in the first book and my short story in the anthology is about getting back out there after divorce. The anthology is focused on single mothers, so that may be where you are remembering the parent thing.
DK: But then, there is the massive adventure of parenting right? The ultimate adventure into the unknown?
MS: Kids are fun and inspiring! The only downside is losing sleep sometimes when they are young and finding courage to let them go off own their own when they are older… While my toddler is my only biological child, I have had a plethora of little ones in my life and don’t feel particularly new to parenting. I have always taken care of children and it feels very natural to me.
My mom tells me that I wanted to do whatever she did with my baby sister, such as feeding her, combing her hair, rocking her and such. I took care of my baby cousin, I have several godchildren who call me ‘Ma’, I volunteered at daycare and after school care programs as a teen… I once had stepchildren who I adored and I take my niece and nephews around with me quite often.
DK: After we met in Durham, where have the journeys taken you?
MS: My circle in Durham encouraged me to share my talents with so many others. I may have been afraid to venture back out after my California dreams faded into the working world, if it were not for my arts experience in Durham. It is a place that embraces and supports the arts tremendously. The path from Durham led me to the next town over, then to major cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to share my words. I gained the confidence to submit my work to some heavy hitters in African American literature and became a part of a book project that turned into a #1 National Bestseller. My territory is ever increasing and I dream of seeing my work on the big screen someday, but I would also like to remember where I came from and remain a part of the circle that started me on my way.
DK: On your way… to where? Curious.
MS: I have back and forth from the DMV area often, as my significant other takes on mostly government contracts. I love the arts up there as a spectator, but unfortunately have not been able to participate much as an artist. I have no support system there, as far as babysitting goes. There’s always a book festival, library event, or museum to stop by in DC and the scenery is quite inspiring…
DK: Venturing out seems important to you.
MS: I am a firm believer that venturing out into the unfamiliar serves to strengthen your creativity. It opens your eyes to things you have never seen and expands your worldview. I have not traveled as far as you have, but testing the waters up and down the East Coast has been very fulfilling. Even before I began doing poetry and publishing, I was off to California and exploring the performing arts world. I experienced being among the best performers, in the audience of great theaters, in studios, filming for television on Hollywood sets, at casting and modeling agencies and briefly attempted to form a singing duet. My time there was amazing and continues to influence my writing and stage performances today. There is, however, a time for stillness when it is time to gather your thoughts on the page.
DK: Who are your favorite artists?
MS: My favorite artists are two alumni of North Carolina Central University, my late aunt, educator Barbara Tuck Ebron and the incomparable Ernie Barnes, a Durham native.
DK: Art venues?
MS: My favorite museum is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They have very diverse exhibits with everything from presidents to Native American experiences to African American musicians and writers on grand display.
DK: Can we share an excerpt of one of your books?
From The Divorcée Chronicles: Diary of a Divorcée Diva…
I never felt so free as I did on that flight to LAX. The sky was the limit and I was literally on top the world, looking down on it from Cloud Nine. No one could tell me anything would ever go wrong ever again at that moment in time. After chatting it up with Darren a little bit about my hopes and dreams as always, he suggested that maybe I should look into moving to Cali, too. It would be the perfect place to start a totally new path in life and get away from all my troubles. I daydreamed myself about it right on to sleep.
“Good evening, passengers. This is your Captain speaking. I hope you have enjoyed your flight. We are approaching our destination and fully expect a safe and uneventful landing. Thank you for joining us. Have a good night.”
Waking up to stare out the window at the stuff that dreams are made of was surreal. The view of the Concrete Jungle, with all that water surrounding it, was amazing. I saw nothing but miles and miles of highway and bright lights! I had on my cute little sleeveless cotton dress that was hit just above the knee and got a rude awakening when I stepped onto the tarmac. The cold, sweeping air hit me right in the face.
“Whoa!! How can it be freezing in California in the middle of July?!”
“Kay, this ain’t Cackalacky. Ain’t none of that humidity out here. Don’t you know this is the desert?” Darren was always so thorough in his ex-planation of everything. Always had been, even back in the days when he was trying to tell me why we needed to break up and just be friends.
“You gone love the way it feels outside tomorrow when the sun is out, though. I’m telling you, Kay. The wea-ther is addictive.”
“Ok, I’m just gonna have to trust you on that one ‘cause it’s just freezing my legs off right about now!”
That night as I looked out the 12th-floor window of the hotel at all the lights that put the dark, tree-lined streets back home to shame, I was hooked and my mind was made up. If the rest of Cali was like the view from here, I was gonna call it home and soon.
The next day, Darren and I headed out to paint the town. He was right about the weather being gorgeous and we checked out the usual tourist traps like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater, then watched the many talented hopefuls acting out at Venice Beach. We toured the star homes and rode past all the famous places like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood sign. We even checked out South Central and in the words of Ice Cube himself, I gotta say it was a good day.
“Tomorrow we’ll go look at the apartments I found online”, Darren said.
“If you decide to move here, you can just find something when you get to town because people move in and out around here all the time. It’s not like back home.”
DK: Thank you! Last question: What’s the best advice you ever got?
MS: Never give up!
Editor’s note: First published in S P A C E in 2017, this short Q&A about the creative process still rings true today to those of us at DK who remain very curious about how to continuously improve on what we make.
OFFLINE CONVERSATIONS lately are turning to the process itself, and, to take it further, discoveries that happen on the way to ‘making.’ Maybe it’s in the air? Looking back on what creative people have told me about this work of making, I recalled something I learned from science podcaster Jai Ranganathan. (Find him on twitter at @jranganathan.) We had met at a science conference in NC’s Research Triangle Park. That was the kind of place where bunches of people convened to share tips on making science interesting to a general audience, more or less, and I discovered Jai was set to instruct scientists at University of California Santa Barbara on how to use social media.
DK: What do you need to think about when opening a wide-open project like a podcast? That’s a pretty big blank canvas.
JR: First, define your purpose. Then, what’s your scope? Do you want to be a local brand? Have a national audience? If you want a large audience, people really go for video.
DK: OK. So if you know your purpose, then what? Any tips?
- Think about where can you add value. Ask businesses, ‘What’s a problem you have?,’ and then share, ‘Here’s how we might solve it.’
- Give your product away so people want to know more.
- You can do latest tips. Interviews. You could have seminars.
- Just get started. Do it frequently. Keep it short—2 minutes.
DK: Wait, so you just have to be prolific?
JR: You don’t have to be flashy, or always funny, or the best-looking. But you have to be compelling in your voice. Be engaged, animated, and interesting.
DK: But what about talent?
JR: Talent is overrated. You have to be interesting/entertaining first, or else it doesn’t matter what you have to say!
DK: How do you do that?
JR: Boring podcasts are that way because people are checking boxes off a how-to list, as opposed to doing something that’s really them. Anything creative like this—podcasting, video, or writing—is about deciding what you want to say, and what’s your way of saying it. How to make that your own is key.
DK: How did you get into this?
JR: I was doing my postdoc in conservation biology. If you’re not a scientist, your job is to write papers. I was disenchanted after a while. How likely was it that what I wrote would lead to action? So as a hobby, I started interviewing scientists. I’ve always really liked radio. Someone found me and offered to pay me to do this, so now I have $2,000 broadcast-quality equipment and I make a good living. But, I had hoped more people would listen.
DK: What can others learn?
JR: It takes a while to figure out what you’re doing and why the heck you’re doing it. Don’t make it too scripted. You can have a script, but don’t read it. Imagine somebody giving a talk and reading a script–it’s death! And you know, you have to like doing it. And keep doing it, that’s key. Don’t wait to get good. No one sprouts out of the earth fully formed.
Published in S P A C E, 2016.
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 designersâ€”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:
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.Â 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.