If you like Spencerian script, and are a fan of artwork printed on smooshed up trees, have I got just the thing for you! I’m trying out the Kickstarter thing – check it out. I’ll have more updates as things progress.
Dang, I’ve been busy. But I’d like to pick this back up (Although there’ve been over a hundred posts in just over a year; one every three days ain’t so bad, really). It might have less of a single-ish focus on the Fortune (though there are plenty of pages left to scan, so it’ll still show up) and will include random blatherings, plus some examples of my work. Because I like to blather about work.
Okie dokey. Summer’s over, so I guess I should pick this thing back up. And because I’m too lazy to scan my Fortune just now, I’ll go with an update to something that I’ve mentioned before.
So, another child’s been killed by our beloved game. Yippidy dippidy doo. The most stunning quote to me is this one, by Boron High athletic director:
“It still hurts. Everyday we talk about it. We wear his number on our helmets.”
On the helmets worn during the game that killed him. I understand the impulse, but isn’t that – looked at another way – kind of horribly crass? Like memorializing a car crash victim with a bumper sticker?
Is there anything else that ends in the deaths of children that we rationalize so blithely? It’s just goddamn entertainment. We are the Romans, these kids are the lion food. Enjoy football season.
I wanted to mark their passing but I couldn’t find a straight up GM ad in my Fortune, so this will have to do.
I might have to add another category to the companies from 1934: the dead, the agglomerated, and now, the government-owned. I’m not anti-government in any way, but I just can’t help but think that we’re headed to Trabant-style centrally planned Fiatillacs.
By the way, Fisher is now reduced to making one model of transit bus. Which is just depressing in a way. From Harley Earl to this. Yippee.
Again, I don’t blame the engineers or the designers. I blame the marketers. I wish an actual journalist would dig up the marketing reports that foisted such crappy cars through the hierarchies of GM and out the other end. I have a funny feeling a lot of innovation never made it past the tracing paper stage because of those reports. But that’s just me (and yes, I’m sure there was some macroeconomic shit flying around too, but I’m a designer not an economist, so).
It’s Warhol’s world, and we’re just living in it.
Lately I get the feeling that everything is kitsch, which is maybe the inevitable result of a mature capitalist economy (or past mature, considering that we’re arguably witnessing its collapse). I mean, the worth of just about everything has been reduced to a singularity: that of its monetary worth as measured by sales. If it doesn’t sell, it must suck; if it isn’t already popular, how can it be worth my time?
This is sort of reflected (in a way – this is tenuous, I know) in Internet culture. Everything is faster, to be skimmed, grasped, perhaps commented on, and forgotten. But in no way contemplated. Capitalism has compressed all values into a singularity; the Internet compresses our attention into tiny digestible bites (which is something else I don’t understand – say you’ve come up with and promoted a successful meme. Then what? What is it for? You get two million hits (more accurate to say “glances”) but they are hits of dubious, if any, worth. Okay, end digression.
But my main point is that, everything salable is, essentially, kitsch, if you buy the argument (and I do) that kitsch reassures us of the things we already know. And art tells things we don’t. In a way (and this is just to button up that opening sentence), Warhol slowed us down to tell us something we, in fact, didn’t already know. He was showing us the what and how of kitsch (and the occasional art that resides within it). But ever since then, we’ve been steadily abandoning his kind of thoughtful irony, and art, and just jumping in to a great boring pool of familiar soup. Shit, even irony is its own kitsch now – a shorthand for a set of shared and unchallenged aesthetic values.
I’ve been jolted out of this recently (and I’m as susceptible as everyone else – fuck, life’s hard, why complicate things further?) by a play and a record. The play was a Brecht joint, and, man was it difficult. Brecht himself is difficult, his messages were open-ended and oblique, and the guy has a logorrhea that would make Dostoevsky plotz. But in the end, that very difficulty was a kind of refreshing jolt. My mind is so used to being lulled, that actually having to dope out the threads of this monster (and I still can’t say I like it – but that was part of the small marvel) felt genuinely, surprising, invigorating.
More invigorating, I’m sure than this overlong post. So I’ll wrap it up –
The other difficult (although much less difficult) thing is the new record by a killer band called Rudder. I hesitate to call it jazz because jazz is unpopular and therefore generally perceived as worthless. But if you want some music that will tell you things you don’t already know, that will take you in directions you didn’t realize existed, check it out. The difference between this and the Brecht, though, is that I love this record. And it’s still just as invigorating and rewarding. Great reviews at the Boston Post, on Jambase, and on a cool site that I didn’t know existed until just now (though the reviewer moonlights for the LA Times),
Take an (abbreviated) listen here.
Apologies for the silence. I’ve been working my patoot off to stay ahead of the recession/depression/collapse/apocalypse.
Speaking of: so, the bank’s shareholders are afraid of a government takeover which would devalue their shares. But the only reason they’re susceptible to takeover is because they did virtually no oversight when it would’ve made a difference. And the government is already in pretty deep with bailout money. So, the next step is for the shareholders to dump their shares, hastening the devaluation that they’re trying to avoid?
I know nothing about money, so I have no comment, really. Except – really? This is really how banking works? In my little life here, basically, I work and make things that are sold to people for money. But it seems like in banking, the expectation is that you always make money no matter what happens or how badly you screw up. Wow. Must be nice. Look, I’m not exactly setting the design business world on fire with my decisions and acumen – can I have my free money now?
I are the champions. A piece of script I did was awarded a something of excellence and for inclusion in the TDC Annual 30. Which is nice. I actually do have a rant about competitions and their relative merit, but it’s seriously pretty specious to complain about winning an award. Especially from the TDC, which I respect a lot.
I’ll be blissfully computer-free for a coupla weeks. Back in twenty-oh-nine.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails about the script piece I did. They’re mostly younger people and granted the young are stupid, but they all ask what software or font* made it. I can understand that they may not know the intricacies of Spencerian script, but I cannot understand their assumption that there are no intricacies to be known.
There is an idea that seems to be prevalent lately that there is not much to be known about anything. This link is a potshot (assuming it’s not a hoax), but there is abroad what I think of as a late mutation of the self-esteem movement: that our own knowledge is the only knowledge. The lady in the clip (to whom we’re all supposed to feel superior (when frankly we should be ashamed at the depths we’re willing to allow our educational system to sink to)) does something that a lot of us do: takes her own assumptions as totally, unquestioningly valid. From there it’s not a big leap to start spinning harebrained theories.
Theories not unlike the ones in my emails: the existence of software that somehow automatically draws flourishes for you, or that there is a font with those exact flourishes included. Theories that don’t include the notion that someone worked for scores of hours refining a design on a piece of tracing paper – actually, many many pieces of tracing paper – before getting a computer involved at all.
One more (supremely irritating) example: often I typeset really horribly written copy. Can I express the seething locomotive of hate that barrels through my brain when the grammatical corrections I’ve made get unmade? No, I cannot.
There is a lot to be known. And, not to get all Rumsfeldian or anything, I think you’re much likelier to improve once you’ve begun to embrace the existence of known (and unknown) unknowns.
* I hate the word font as much as I do the word blog although both are perfectly valid and reasonable – but then again I also hate moist and blinker too .