Originally posted August 19th, 2006

After a few well-earned days of printing monsters, I had to go back to my paying work this week. My clients needed me for designs and press checks and revisions. Oh my! Beyond that, my dad’s birthday lion went in the mail Wednesday afternoon, and I baked a cake for my girlfriend’s birthday.

I don’t usually bake cakes. In fact, this was my first. Had to buy a mixer and everything. But the thing came out very well. Thank you, Betty Crocker. The top layer was triple-fudge chocolate, on top of a foundation of German chocolate cake, separated by a buffer of organic raspberry jam. There was no icing, just a layer of powdered sugar, applied with a stencil that I designed in Illustrator, then cut out by hand (featuring Home Run Script, a great new font by my friend Doyald.) I made a second stencil to insert the candles in a perfect concentric design. What can I tell you? I ams what I ams.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you any of the new commissioned work yet. My clients deserve their privacy. But I will tell you that I accompanied a design friend from the advertising side of things to the Art Center grad show last night. He was scouting for new people to hire and I introduced him to some of the bright new things that are graduating today. He made an interesting comment. He felt that in many cases the research got in the way of the execution. He saw too many student portfolios that were too eager to please. “I’m responsible. Please hire me.” He didn’t see the spirit of rebellion and artistic progress he was hoping for.

Oftentimes design students aren’t used to doing research. It’s a new tool for them and they go a little overboard. They gather lots and lots of information on their topic and then they try to squeeze it all into their execution. Sometimes all that information crowds the life right out of the piece.

Does that mean that research is bad? Of course not. Research good! But opinion better! The job of the artist is to distill, to make a personal statement so as to provoke a reaction, to provoke thought. Nobody is turning to us for a comprehensive overview of the topic at hand. They’re looking to us for our point of view.

A few days ago, I saw parts of Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan biography “No Direction Home.” One of Dylan’s friends, a painter from New York whose name I can’t remember, said something along the lines of “Back then, we didn’t measure artistic success in dollars. We were asking ‘Does he have something to say?'”

Stern words from a representative of a slightly humorless scene, but I found them to be a good kick in the ass. Not that I’m running off to make protest posters now—I think humor or beauty are absolutely valid things to put out into the world. Still, it’ll be good to keep the question in mind as work speeds up and the temptation to just get it done grows stronger. “Does he have something to say.”

Have a great weekend. And remember: 344 LOVES YOU

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