Friday, June 27, 2014

Letter of Complaint

We all love a whinge. People all over the world, all over social media, everywhere - they  just love to complain. I have reached the age where I feel compelled to write letters of complaint, with the first recipient being my gym.

I'm a member of a gym which is currently under renovation. Because of this, we are forced to take group fitness classes in a cold, dirty, high school style classroom. Yesterday, during my weekly very relaxing and highly anticipated yoga class, there were construction workers in the hallway outside our room, swearing and making lots of very loud metallic construction noises. I was doing my best to breathe in and out and concentrate on my posture but I quickly became very angry about the outside noise. I was highly irritated by this intrusive racket! I was ready to pick up my mat and walk out! I was formulating my letter of complaint in my mind, mentally listing all the things I was going to say to the gym manager. I was trying so hard to concentrate on the yoga instructions! Then, our yoga instructor said with an apologetic smile, "Sorry about the noise, I can't do anything about it, we are on a construction site." This changed everything. I realised that it wasn't just me experiencing the sound alone and that if everyone else could stay in the room, then I could do the same. I forgot my letter of complaint and just focused on his instructions.

The noises were actually a useful tool. They kept me in the present moment. I then realised the construction chaos was actually a valuable gift! Do you know how hard it is to concentrate in silence? A lack of sound can actually be very distracting. It causes the weak mind to wander. A lot of sound can keep you grounded in the present moment. Disregarding the outside sounds provided an added challenge and different way of doing yoga.

So, I decided to change my letter of complaint into a letter of thanks. Thank you for the construction sounds and the people with no regard for our class, just doing their job, building us a beautiful new yoga room.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 15 - Do your worst

Take the pressure off and stop striving for perfection. Do your worst drawing ever. Take the worst photo ever. Do nothing on your to do list. Make a terrible meal. Come up with and crappy idea. Then another one. Don't stop until you have the worst idea ever. I dare you.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 14 - Go to a Zine Fair

A zine fair is a great place to meet people who write, publish and sell their own independent magazines, referred to as "Zines". There is one today in Melbourne! It starts at midday and goes until 5pm. It's free! It's at the Melbourne Town hall. It's part of the Festival of the Photocopier and is presented by the Sticky Institute. See you there!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 13 - Draw in Public

Drawing on the street or other public space is a great experience. Not only do you practice your observational drawing skills, you also get to meet a lot of people! Everyone wants to know what you are doing. You might even have your photo taken.

A wonderful opportunity for Melbourne people is happening tomorrow (1/2/2014) and it might inspire you to do the same in your city. Here is the info below - you have to sign up, but it is a free event and is part of the Melbourne Now exhibition.

Every Building on Collins Street

Inspired by Australian illustrator James Gulliver Hancock’s project to draw every building in New York, we look at Collins Street, one of Melbourne's most iconic boulevards.You are invited to a free session where you will enjoy drawing tips from illustrator and cartoonist, Oslo Davis, who will be joined by a historian and leading local architects. Each will help to set the scene by exploring the story and development of Collins Street. Participants will then take to the street to draw! All buildings will be digitally linked up to create one mass community drawing that can be viewed online. Participants of all ages and all levels of experience are encouraged to take part.

This event is produced in collaboration with The Office for Good Design.
10 am session
12 pm session
2pm session

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 12 - Go to a Job Interview

 If you are feeling down then go to a job interview. The feeling afterwards will be so bad that anything will feel amazing by comparison.
The other day, I attended a job interview. It was with a large corporation. I have struggled for years working and living as an artist and graphic designer. Always pursuing projects or money. Working 80 hours a week on crazy projects. Waiting to rush or rushing to wait. Never relaxing or feeling like a project will ever be complete. Chasing the next thing. Constantly worrying about money. So I decided, ok, now it's time to settle down and be corporate, follow guidelines, be happy doing that. Work 9-5, know when you will be paid, get a limited amount of holidays, dress to conform. Ahhh. Luxury. Music to my ears. But I felt excluded, like I wasn't good enough, I wasn't like them. They didn't want to know about my skills, just about my suit-wearing ability. I develope 2 cold-sores on my lips, and blisters on my feet. So, if you want to feel great, do something bad, then after you will feel better. Somehow. Maybe this is bad advice... ummm... draw a self portrait.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day 11 - Read Another Comic

Please tell me you have an issuu account? It's free, easy and you can make a magazine about anything and upload it and then people can read it. It's great. Think about your ultimate magazine - what would you find inside? What kinds of articles? Would it just be pictures? Mine's a comic. Here it is!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 10 - Use that Gadget

I know that you have gadget, appliance, a piece of software, an app, an item of clothing, or something else that you bought/acquired and have never used. You do. He does. She does. They do. I do. Everyone does.

I know how to make screenprints, it was my minor field of study at art school. I can make t-shirts, prints, whatever. I can use emulsion and dark rooms and that exposing light thing and the strange suction machine - all of it. But you need all that equipment or studio access, which I don't have right now. I found out that Riso make mini screen print machines so I bought a Print Gocco PG-5 about, seriously 12 years ago and I just opened the box today. TODAY! After 12 years waiting in the wings, this machine now has its chance to shine!

There are steps in this process, just as you will have steps to take to use your appliance, gadget, whatever. First, I have to read a manual or watch an instructional video. Then I have to set up the machine. Then... well that's pretty much it. If you are a Gocco user or a fan or just interested in this machine then check out this DIY Life webpage. It's jam-packed with useful links and information.

We all put things off. We all make excuses. If you are a fellow procrastinator, I know a great website with lots of great articles which will keep you putting off important tasks for hours!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 9 - All Day, All You

Let me start by saying we're all busy, that's no excuse. Today you must the spend the day doing things for yourself, all day. No replying to needy emails, no talking on the phone to people you don't like, no cooking for other people unless you want to: all day, all you, whatever you feel like doing.
You can do this task in your pyjamas. You don't need to worry about too much at all. The aim is to be totally selfish all day.
I spent the day drawing pictures of Eighties 'dating video' people. I spent all day doing it whilst watching sitcoms and movies. I didn't even take a shower. I didn't even get dressed properly. (Although I probably wouldn't admit this in a dating video).
Now I have the artwork for a new 32 page zine called "Eighties Video Dating Montage" which will be for sale at the Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair on February 9th, 2014 at Melbourne Town Hall.
And that is what can happen when you spend the day just on you. YOU GET THINGS DONE!!

80s Video Dating Montage

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Day 8 - Set yourself a challenge and stick to it!

Ok so at the time of writing, it's nearly New Year's Eve. Many people write their list of resolutions and never ever stick to them. But that doesn't necessarily apply to you. You've already ticked off a few minor things and possibly one big thing so you're already on your way to a new adventure.

Committing to a 28 day challenge like the one you are reading (or maybe even following) right now, is a great way to set change in motion. A restricted time-frame means there is an expectation of commitment. The other rewarding aspect is that you can look back at the last month and see a progression or change or a body of work that has been created. It may or may not be the end product. It could be a thing that leads to other ideas or bigger projects. The key is to stick with it and don't judge yourself too harshly if the results are unexpected - for once in your life there are actually no rules.

For inspiration, have a look at this cool drawing project . It's a 30 day drawing challenge by Amanda Mijangos. Perhaps you might like to try it too!
Image by Amanda Mijanos / Cultura Colectiva

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 7 - Cross something BIG off the list

It's day 7 and hopefully by now you've crossed a few things off your list. Doing a few small things will often lead to bigger things are small goals quite achievable. Well done. But it's time to get serious. Choose one big thing from your to-do list and get it done today. It could be something boring but necessary like doing your tax. It could be something horrible like going to the dentist. Whatever it may be, today is the day to tackle that big problem/goal/challenge. I won't let you put it off any longer.

As a reward, you will feel a great sense of relief or accomplishment. It will pave the way for other things. Having a big problem to solve is like having an elephant sitting right in your doorway; your path is blocked, you can't get out, you can't move on. So, just get on with it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 6 - Review

OK so it's day 6 and you have organised your workspace, written your list, uploaded something and realised that you are already good enough. This is a pretty good basis for the next phase, the real creativity, the real work. Time to start ticking some things off the list. Aim to tick off 2 things today. They can be big or small. Make sure one of them is fun and the other serious.

Something to help you along the way today is to go without your social media fix. This article at 99U  -an extension of Behance - highlights the pitfalls of looking at social media, and suggests that the images presented are "aspirational at best". Looking at pictures of other people's amazing holidays and gourmet lunches actually makes you feel like you're not good enough. And we don't need that, that's preventing us from ticking things off our list!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 5 - Liberate Plants

Plants. They die. They thrive. They are experiments with minds of their own. Sometimes they are costly experiments, but they don't have to be. You can be a part of the Succulent Liberation Front - a well established group of people who like to combine a good old fashioned walk with ninja-like skills in petty theft by snapping off succulents and sticking them in soil or water when they get back home. 

Succulents are abundant in most areas around my place, maybe yours too. They grow from cuttings and they spread like wildfire. Share the love. Snap off a succulent today. 
ps. please visit this excellent website for great tips on how to grow succulents from cuttings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 4 - Realise That You Are Already Good Enough

Put your hand up if you have heard or said these things before:

"I'm not going to have an exhibition until I have everything framed professionally, which I can't afford right now, so first I need to get a job, but before that I need an education and to get that I need money."

"I would love to make films because film-makers are cool and I love film but I'm not good enough so I am too embarrassed to put my films out there until they are perfect."

"I am sitting in my bedroom making music until the day that a big time record producer walks past and hears my cool tunes and signs me, like a supermodel getting discovered in a food court."

If you are already doing something then you are well on your way to doing something better or bigger. Every day that you spend doing it, you will improve. Then you will go backwards for a bit but then forward again. I'm a terrible film maker, but I like it. I've finally decided to put some mini stop motion films on my youtube channel. Have a look if you want. They are just going up so that when I become really good at it I can look back and say "well... at least I have improved".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 3 - Upload Something

It seems we are always downloading one thing or another. Isn't it time you gave something back? Find something, anything - maybe it's something you created a long time ago or perhaps it is your diary from last year. Scan or photograph it and upload it. Share it with your friends.

Too often, artists or other creative types work in isolation, creating away but never receiving feedback on their work. OK - it's hard to take criticism sometimes, but often it can help to improve your work. Or, you might find your work is part of a zeitgeist. Or someone will see what you have created and ask you to be a part of something bigger - a collaboration or festival!

If you're into zines or self-publishing then why not try issuu - the home of free magazines from all over the world?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 2 - Clear a Space

I am notorious for experiencing studio envy. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to beautiful workspaces with abundant natural light and inspiring objects casually placed around a massive worktable etc. But let's be honest, I don't have that and I mostly draw while sitting on the couch or while in bed. My desk is a mess, I haven't really touched it since I moved in, (only to pile more and more things on top of it). Now I just have this area called Paper Mountain where my desk once was. No problem though, the time has come to clean it up and use it for work. This is on my Immediate list. Then I can move onto things from the Short Term list, such as making some stickers, carving a rubber stamp and drawing some dress up characters. 

So ... clean your space up or if you don't yet have a space - find one and equip it with things to fuel your creativity - even if it's just a corner with a notebook and a cushion in it.  

For inspiration - have a look at a book called Studio Life - interviews and photos of 100 creative people and their studio practice - from painters to performance artists. Also constantly awesome and inspiring is The Selby - creative people - from restauranteurs to fashion designers - and their spaces and their stuff. Voyeuristic, enviable, and worthy of regular visits. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 1 - Make a List

Today is first day of the second round of Drawing Discipline. 
It takes daily-doing to form a habit.  A good one, a bad one, even a mediocre one - they all take time and constancy. I'm trying to form a habit of daily creativity over the next 28 days because I know that even doing something small - like a 10 minute creative exercise daily - will become something big. 

The task for today is to make a list. The list is like this:
1. Impossible goals
Nothing is impossible. Trust the power of the simple act of writing. Jotting down fantasy or far-fetched dreams here is a great motivator. 
2. Long term possibilities
Think about the next year or 2 - how do you see it? Where will you be? Who will you be surrounded by? What will you look like? What will you be doing on a daily basis? Allow yourself to set an ideal scene and to write down how you would like it to be.
3. Short term goals
Short term goals are happening in the next few months. 
4. Immediate tasks
Immediate tasks are the mini projects or the first things you need to do to make your short term goals come to fruition. I wanted to re-start this blog so the first thing I needed to do was to clean up my widgets and start promoting the blog to gain more followers. I feel good about completing that task.

Making a list is really important. Firstly, you can see that you have ticked things off upon completion and that makes you feel great. Yes! I've done it! Secondly, there is great power in writing things down - it helps to clarify what  you want. It also makes things official. These are no longer silly dreams in your head - they are now on paper, in print, (or in your phone or computer). It is no longer an idea in the wind, it is something that can be acted upon and writing it down is like casting a spell or sending an important letter or hassling a committee to take action. You've done it. Now all the things on the list will happen. Or something else will happen as a result of the list. Either way, prepare for action!

Friday, November 15, 2013

28 Days More

Welcome back, me, after a 4 month break. In this time I moved from Madrid to Melbourne, got a new job, new house and a whole lot of new house stuff from Ikea, op shops and storage.

I have been teaching concept development to graphic design students, which has been quite an adventure. Over the next few months I plan to compile my resources and findings into some kind of book/manual which is a pretty exciting project.

Apart from all this excitement, I feel I have been so dedicated to teaching that I have left my own creative output by the wayside. But no more. I have time / no commitments so I can embark upon all those creative adventures I have been plotting in my mind. 

To help me get motivated on the big, I have to begin small, so it's time for another 28 day rehab/bootcamp/daily creative exercise fest. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit so let's see what happens. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Troubleshooting Mavericks

Nothing blocks creativity faster than a software problem.

I ran into some "unknown developer" issues with Mavericks an finally got the workaround I needed. It was pretty easy. So, if you are having similar problems with running software, just go to Preferences > Security and Privacy > General and click on the "Allow apps downloaded from ..." selection of your choosing. If you are trying to open some software and you go straight to Security and Privacy you will immediately be given the option to "open anyway".

More about this issue on this nerd chatpage forum thing.