May 17, 2013
Design is a process
To say I'm excited that Cincinnati now has a Creative Mornings chapter would be an understatement. I have followed the birth of these inspirational get togethers since Tina Roth Eisenberg started them back in 2008. I was even lucky enough to see a few really awesome talks while visiting New York City.
When our chapter was starting, someone put my name in the hat as a potential speaker and I begged off the prospect. I don't talk publicly very much—I'd only spoke about photos in a bar up in Dayton a few years back—so the notion was anxiety inducing.
But I was bending elbows with my friend Nick Dewald and he encouraged me to reconsider. Sometimes you just need a little push from someone you admire. (Thank you Nick, I offer a most obliged tip of my hat.)
So there was May 17 circled on the calendar and no idea of what I could share.
I started reading books about public speaking. I scoured past Creative Morning and TED Talks looking for a framework. I sought other examples to spur notions.
The task continued by sifting through each chunk of life, trying to glean one thing, some theme, that would lend summary and meaning. Each period ended with a natural transition I felt important to include. As with photos I post in my album, I like to remove the mystery by including the original photograph. I feel like by sharing this, process is revealed.
The day came and a fella asked me if there was anything I needed as I plugged in my computer and got the microphone in place. “A beer would be good,” I joked at 8:30 in the morning. To my surprise he said that it could be done. Perhaps an IPA? He knew me well. (Thanks Eli!)
The talk went on far too long, and I even left a lot out. (In hindsight, I'd cut any of the stuff that didn't come from personal experience.) But it is what it is, and I managed to “um” and stagger my way through 300 or so slides. I was nervous as heck, and if you stopped by at the podium afterward, I apologize for my clammy handshake.
But the response was genuine and kind, and I appreciate that more than I can articulate.
In preparation to post this, I finally decided to watch the video. If you've ever heard a recording of your own voice, you might understand why I never got past the first few minutes. Once I did slog through this past weekend, I was mortified. The movie with slide transitions I sent over to the Cincinnati team was a mess. Nothing lined up. Entire sections were missing. Videos didn't display. I could blame this on buggy software, but the fault is all my own for not reviewing it before delivery and finding a better solution.
So I remade a movie of the slides in an appropriate format and the kind folks at Creative Mornings re-uploaded it. If you suffered through those 40 minutes prior, I won't beg you to watch it again, but know that it's an entirely different experience. Hopefully it mirrors the intention and message.
Which brings me to this last bit of realization…
My premise was that design is a process to solve challenges. Not just graphic design problems, but anything in life. If we simply identify something that needs improved, we can begin the task of finding solutions. I truly believe in this.
I spend a lot of my days solving other folks' problems for work. It's something I enjoy immensely, but I'm beginning to see that I'm avoiding this ethic for my own life.
So I'm defining some personal goals and taking note of patterns that have repeated over the years. I'm looking deeper at myself, in hopes to strengthen my physical and emotional being. I want to open myself up to new possibilities with dedicated focus.
I have no idea how this will manifest itself, but I'm hopeful.
And I believe in this process I champion.
Now is my chance to prove it.
An example of the iterative design process.
Squinting. It's how I learned to draw!
This advice about shoes also applies to shirts, pants, underwear, coffee mugs, socks, non-perishable foodstuffs and toiletries.
Above? My list of the things I want to do. Today I'm going to cook bacon for breakfast, so I feel like I'm on track to reach my goals.
Here are 12 things I talked about that really don't mean much without context. I'm not a fan of such lists, but they hold value as a reminder. The funny thing is, I could totally go through each one of these tiles and argue the opposite. In fact, here's what that’d look like:
So there's all that. If you made it this far? Well, I tip my hat to you for the honor. Now go check out the Creative Mornings site. It's chock full of different ways to explore and contribute. It's beautiful in how quiet and integrated all the details work together. www.creativemornings.com
December 31, 2010
Checking out dud links
I'm extremely lucky that I've the week off between Christmas and New Years. Often this time is filled meeting up with friends that might be in town for the holiday, taking down decorations, catching movies at the theater, or simply doing things I want to do.
In this case, I finally caught up with "favorite" photo albums to span the last few years. It's an annual event I let slip back in 2007 and I'm not sure why, as it's a fantastic way to give some shape to the flipping of the calendar.
So I hunkered down after Christmas and sorted. And sorted.
It's an arduous process and I seem to leave more snapshots on the cutting room floor than I'd like, but that's part of the curating process. I call these albums "favorite" photos instead of "best" because they might not be the most excellent photos in the world. But they might represent a moment that was meaningful.
And 2010? Well it was the hardest to whittle down. The year started with a trip to SXSW and I met so many great folks for the first time. (And I've never posted all the photos from that event because there are So. Many.)
I went to Brooklyn. Played ambassador to the midwest for visitors from California. Did a handful of roadtrips to St. Louis, and Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I went to Southeast Asia—for three weeks. I came back from there and went right back out to spend a big hunk of time on the left coast.
And in between all of this travel? I enjoyed my time at home in Ohio. Met new friends. Made new traditions. Enjoyed some old ones.
I like to think 2010 was great, and I'm hoping 2011 continues on that trajectory.
September 18, 2010
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
So I'm crossing off one of those places on my bucket list of sorts:
At least parts of it.
My friends Chris and Dan are fantastic travelers and planners. They planted the seed for this trip earlier in the year and I said, "Heck yeah!"
Now it's September and, along with a good fella named Adam, we're winding our way around Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
We're not even halfway into it, but it's already been a marathon of incredible sights, pushy souvenir vendors, crazy road rules, food galore (some great, some "eh"), hotel rooms for a night or two, drinks that have umbrellas and good ol' beer, washing clothes in the tub, exhaustion at night, early mornings, and heat—lots of humid, drenching heat.
It's been awesome.
Just got into Luang Prabang in Laos this evening... haven't even seen the place in the daylight. But if I can stop freaking out about mosquito bites and malaria, I think I'm going to love it here.
Enough typing for now, it's bedtime! Until my next infrequent update, there are naturally some photos so far:
Travel | |
July 21, 2010
My photo processing technique
Folks write in and ask what process I use on images and I'm not ashamed to say I start with an action set called Vintage Film for Photoshop. It's free. Though, I should mention the cost of Photoshop isn't included. The good news is that most of the techniques used in the automated set can be achieved with free or inexpensive photo editing programs and websites.
Once I run the default set I go through and fiddle—usually lowering the opacity of these layers made by the Vintage Film Action Set:
- Cross Process
- Center Fill Light
- Magenta Cast
The amount varies but I usually keep things around 20% opacity.
Why do I do this? Well, in January I set out to make the entire year of 2010 appear as a cohesive set when viewed together. I honestly don't know why but I always think things will make more sense once you get everything together and take a step back.
Oh, and it's fun.
Photography | |
March 06, 2010
2/27/10 - Thanks to Tom for snapping this photo.
Hats off to my friend Mr. Pratt for bringing the wine a very long way to dinner.
It was serendipity that his travels brought him to Cincinnati on the last week of February, as the final Saturday of the month is a holiday of sorts. Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) is an annual event coined a decade ago by John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal.
The intent of the occasion doesn't fit neatly in a greeting card.
In Dorothy & John’s words:
This is why we invented OTBN, which is celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year. Whether it's the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands, just about all of us have that very special wine that we always mean to open, but never do. On OTBN every year, thousands of bottles all over the world are released from prison and enjoyed. With them come memories of great vacations, long-lost loved ones and bittersweet moments. The whole point of our wine column is that wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It's about history, geography, relationships and all of the things that are really important in life.That's pretty kick ass. During their tenure at the WSJ they rated wines on a scale of "Yech", "OK", "Good", "Very Good", "Delicious" to "Delicious!". That's also kick ass.
(from Sprucing Up for Wine's Night. 26 January, 2007)
So it was a good set-up as we met Tom & Wendy at a favorite restaurant that allowed outside beverages (see corkage).
Mr. Pratt brought the wine. Each bottle, carefully considered, was coupled with stories both dear and auspicious.
When I asked him what he thought after having a sip from the second bottle he said "ineffable." With some shame I asked him what that meant.
"There are no words. It means it can't be described" but he went on to mention that it had a feeling, a sort of tingling.
Great, I thought. Here I said it had the aroma of a freshly painted room—which it did—but what I didn't say is that a freshly painted room was the smell of new beginnings! But I felt a little tingle too; and I don't think it was from embarrassment.
Tangent? I once worked with a designer that never said anything negative when a client offered lame input. He'd simply say, "Well, that is really something!" with palpable excitement.
Luckily my friend isn't one to mince words and he regarded the paint fume comment without visible distress. He's also very patient.
I always thought patience was one of the most important components of wine, but this day gave me the perspective that it's not always about waiting, it's also about sharing the experience, and this evening was exceptional.
- Full Pour - Mr. Pratt contributes tasting notes with Mr. Coldrey who lives on the other side of the globe. Their site celebrates wine, favoring context over scores.
- My favorite exchange from the movie Sideways - You probably know the scene, with Maya and Miles.
- The Mysterious Heart of Deliciousness - The last column from Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher in the Journal.
- Lastly, I should probably mention the wines from dinner: 2005 Cayuse Cailloux syrah and 2003 Clonakilla shiraz viognier
March 04, 2010
Kate's random shoes-ings
What is this thing? 5 minute presentations, each with 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. Topics are both voted on and curated, spanning the gamut from local, global, personal and business.
These events are happening all over (view a list of cities), and I think its pretty darn great. Get people together, share ideas and keep it tidy.
Oh, and there's beer. (Your mileage may vary)
The dozen or so presentations were varied, with touching, humorous and insightful moments. Sure some rolled better than others, but to nitpick would be a disservice to the notion.
Which makes me wonder, what would I say if I had 5 minutes and 20 slides? It's a great question to ask ourselves even outside the framework of an event like this or TED or that wedding toast.
I definitely wouldn't talk about consistent blogging or how to use an iron.
Anyway, it was a most excellent evening; I met lots of folks again or for the first time — and it got me to think.
Cincinnati | |
March 03, 2010
10 years ago
I look less pained now, I think
Sent out my passport to get renewed yesterday. Looks like my old one was issued in July of 2000.
It was awesome. We took a boat out to Skiathos (to give you a visual - parts of Mamma Mia were filmed there). We ate excellent food, drank like fish, hit the tiny discos at night and spent the days on the beach where I finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
So what else was going on a decade ago? Let's see...
I was twenty-eight years old and working (probably too much) with a web design company I had started with friends in Cincinnati.
This was our heyday and super enjoyable even with the extended hours. I'm pretty sure all said and done there were 10 of us working together—a close knit group of friends from high school, college and beyond.
We had a warehouse studio on the edge of downtown, afternoon breaks with fresh fruit prepared by our office manager (my mom) and sometimes we'd even take to the windows and let off steam by blowing bubbles down to the sidewalk three stories below.
It wasn't all lollipops and rainbows. As work was going great, I was closeted and pretty disgruntled by the challenge of opening that particular door. (Fret not, the following year would see everything change for the better on that front.)
Other tidbits from the year 2000:
- Rung in the new year in Salida Colorado with good friends, thinking it would be a fine way to ride out any glitches from Y2K bugs.
- Shot photos with questionable skill using a little APS film camera and a Sony Mavica that stored photos on a 3.5" diskette.
- Listenined to Grandaddy's "The Sophtware Slump" on repeat.
- Also enjoyed David Gray, Crowded House, Coldplay, Adrian Belew, Guided by Voices, Moby and Travis.
- Cried at Erin Brockovich in the theater and caught other flicks including Cast Away, Gladiator, Chocolat, High Fidelity, Godzilla 2000 and Requiem for a Dream.
- Drove a VW Passat.
- It was an election year, so you can imagine it was crazy (I went with Gore and felt good about that).
- Didn't have a beard, just a goatee. Couldn't grow one proper for the life of me.
And now here I am sporadically posting in my journal. Hi!
Nostalgia | |
October 30, 2009
When I say "Hello Brooklyn," in my mind, I hear some Beastie Boys beats immediately drop afterward
I got here to New York yesterday and it's been go! go! go! ever since.
This is why I live in Ohio because otherwise I'd be dead from sheer exhaustion.
Heck, I should be sleeping now.
Last night? The Long Count opened, which is part of the reason I'm here. I had no idea what to expect from this visual and musical collaboration and I found it to be weird and wonderful and exhilarating. I'm not good with words, Brooklyn Vegan puts them together real good (and has a sample MP3) as bonus.
First words? "Oh my you're tall!"
A bit of chat, gushing, 30 questions, some of the most excellent coffee one can make without a barista on hand, then it was time to get down to survey the possibilities with FictiveKin.
Not sure exactly what will be packed in the next few days, but I am reminded that any trip to New York is too short.
Current music: The Long Count "Bull Run" (featuring Kelley Deal)
Travel | |
October 28, 2009
so many days, I lost count
So those 60+ days that just rolled by? Well, I was taking photos all along the way. Don't worry, I'm fine, really. Just remiss and have lots of stories and news to share.
At one point I thought I'd never get my act together and post them. So I spent this week sorting and selecting and did a push on Sunday, filling in all the visual blanks.
There were a lot of moments that deserve their own journal entry - but for now? This'll have to do:
Current music: Oingo Boingo "Just Another Day"
Photography | |
August 06, 2009
Various backdrops in a Dayton alley
The Breeders kick-off show at the Southgate House last night was awesome.
They played a mix from every album and sounded extremely great.
Man I love this band.
And this type of succinct articulation is exactly why I am not getting paid to write about music.
Extra bonuses of the evening:
- Running in to Shiv from WOXY before he heads down to big hot Texas.
- Seeing for the first time, the new full color version of the Fate to Fatal EP.
- Hanging out with lots of friendly folks I haven't seen in a while.
Music | |
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