Thoughts

Things I've learned

  1. Don’t delete old work.
  2. Listen to people’s stories.
  3. Do your own research.
  4. Close the laptop as soon as creativity feels forced.
  5. Remember to read, write, and draw.
  6. College isn’t useful for everyone.
  7. Everyone has some form of creativity.
  8. Sometimes they just need somebody to help them unlock it.
  9. Doing work you love is a privilege, don’t take it for granted.
  10. Nature was made by an artist.
  11. Not making things does not equal being unproductive.
  12. Creative energy can take weeks, months, or years to recharge.
  13. Everyone is a nerd.
  14. The best gifts cannot be purchased.
  15. You sacrifice joy the moment you make art for likes.
  16. Work with passionate people.
  17. Art is much more enjoyable when you love the subject matter.
  18. You and your work are not a brand.

Paper Planes

August 29, 2021

When you were young, you used to create

You drew with your crayons, you spilled all the paint

A blank sheet of paper could fly or could float

A notebook was filled with the songs that you wrote

Some blankets and pillows, a book and a light

Were all that you needed to play through the night

But as you got older priorities shifted

And you slowly lost sight of the art you were gifted

A pencil and paper for notes during meetings

The chat message threads were all you were reading

This time that you spent with your screen in your bed

Is time that you could have been dreaming instead

So ask yourself now if you love what you do

If your routines and habits are making you blue

That feeling of wonder you had as a child

Is still there inside you it's what makes you smile

I know life can be busy but time does not slow

So remember to do what you loved long ago

Starting Over

August 1, 2021

I love patterns, grids, and rules. Design has a lot of them. I liked these rules so much I spent the last 6 years getting better at following them.

This all started because I was so determined to figure out what my style was as a designer. I wanted to specialize. And giving myself rules would help me do that. For a while I would label myself as only an illustrator, then a brand designer, product designer, visual designer, and so on. And for a while, I thought I landed on a great combination of Product & Brand Designer. Nothing like a good ampersand. This was my design world. Logos and interfaces, circles and squares. And eventually, that's all I would share through my portfolio, dribbble, and instagram. I had done it. I had specialized in something and my accounts looked consistent, curated, stylized.

The biggest driver of staying consistent was my instagram. Back in 2015, I made a lot of logos. 365 wonderfully terrible logos. And for some reason, 80 thousand people liked them too. It's hard for me to look back on old work. I am very critical of the quality and often archive anything I think could be made better. So… the whole project. * Poof *  I spent the next 5 years working with various startups and developing my style. And then decided to revive the account. Since I had finally specialized my art became a brand. Everything was usually made in Figma and always on a screen. My rules had made the work I love too predictable and physically draining on my eyes. So I turned to other creative outlets. I painted, drew comics, built things, made pottery, played piano. And like any kid who wants to see their work on the fridge I wanted to share these other forms of my art. But I couldn't. I was too concerned about breaking up the style I had worked so hard to create. How could I post a cute drawing of a succulent next to the hyper-minimal animal logo? The solution was domain after domain of branded side projects. Everything was in its little box. I apologize for all the usernames I've parked.

This was working until I started falling behind my projects. Priorities shifted. The world shut down. Learned about mental health. And stopped creating. I still had my full-time job. And I love it. But the side projects and personal work just weren't there. I called it a break, but I think I was stuck in my own rules.

So I'm saying goodbye. (so dramatic) To the account that helped me make design a career, to specializing, to following so many rules.

And starting over.

And writing more.

And going to bed on time.

And checking in on close friends and family.

And using less screens.

And more sunscreen.

From,

Steven