Learn, Forget, & Then Design
So day to day two should have a title like the survivors like the first day we had a few falling off, they lagged far too far behind the group and we couldn't wait for them. We ate them for dinner, right? And I wanted to start with kind of a few observations and few things that, like a cz we're all leaving the room, we probably like, oh, I know what I should have said or I know what I should have done, and the last night at dinner there was of course, for me, it was just like, what really is the root of prisoners over a million ideas coming in a few things that I that I wanted to talk about, a few things I made notes to kind of bring up in the crit things, things that I like to point out during a crit, and one of the things I wanted to say is that I failed to say yesterday, and this is this is completely important on debt will show up when we when we do the crit, both the online crit and the stuff from online has been awesome bully for you, but one of things I wanted to say get back to...
the meat of it is I think you guys have getting an idea that a lot of what we're talking about isn't technically about well poster design or technically graphics because as far as I'm concerned the actual proper definition of poster designer graphic design is basically a pleasant arrangement of shapes on a page right like I know how you guys work I know how we work, you know, work in the computer whatever program you use, you open up a box and so you type in the letter a you know, you just start and you make the aid this big you make it this big and make it this big and then move it over here and you make it red and get this big you know, this is how we work on the computer. It is a pleasant arrangement were making these arbitrary choices about where things sit it seeking some level of beauty and yes, you know, a lot of a lot of designers have you take a really traditional course they'll say, you know, they'll talk about these these things and they'll talk about levels of reading like this is the thing that's supposed to arrest you and then that will lead you you will then lead you to this and if this maintains your interest then you will possibly read the small you know there's this all this stuff that goes on and yeah, that works and yes that's important and yes, we have to learn those things even if we learn to forget him because for me, the whole idea is learning first learn everything I learned that learn about auto mechanics have an interesting having interest in gardening read emerson, learn everything then forget it and then design right because everything that we're talking about is all the work you do before you even put pen to paper that's extremely important because I see a lot of work and it will show up today in the crit a lot of work that has less thought in it is much more of a punk straight to paper, you know? And I love it when I whenever we do a live crit either in a workshop situation or in a classroom say somebody has brought in something and it's like I don't I don't know what the I don't know what the what the subject is on and I'll say, well, you know what else you know, what are they trying to say and the person somebody else ago? Well, it could be a guy, you know, walking the dog like no, no, no, no you're tell you want straight so you're going straight to a visual. Oh, how about how about if it was an apple who no, no, no, no, no, you're going straight to visuals that's why I say this is an intellectual process, not a visual one because you're picking visuals immediately without having a thought as to what you want to say and that's the important part what is your opinion? Because I have judged I've judged international poster shows with the kings of graphic design you know that we just we select them from all around the world the best from around the world and we bring them in there was a earth day competition of a bunch of years ago that I submitted work too and I actually won some money which was really cool but I submitted were too and there were posters by the heroes, the guys that you know, the guys that were in the books you know um and so it was earth day on whose hilarious there were four posters that had right the earth and a hand four posters the exact same some version one will look like that one looked like that four posters exact same that's an idea my mother can come up with. Obviously we could do some more work there. Obviously there are other angles remember them that big clumsy block with somebody standing going for right? You juliette I have to figure out what your m o is and it's going to be somewhat the same all the time it's like how do I get in there? What am I going to add to this? What I have to say about earth day how does it affect me personally? Because in the particular lies universal your opinions oddly enough the things you love the things that drive you crazy the things that that you aspire to drive other people crazy they aspire to them they love him and it's hard for us because you you know a lot of times a lot of times when I ask this you again go straight to visual so like I'll ask for your earlier list of obsessions right and I'll see you know the basic looked like you know in high school you open your locker and you had all those the collage in your locker it was like it was like cats and wine and you know I mean it seems somewhat generic that's meaningful though that's meaningful the fact that I can put girls bunnies in america and road racing into my work and people get it that's meaningful if I dug cats and put them in my work it would have meaning I wouldn't just plan when just like parents stick a cat in there we have to have some thought behind it so that's all this thinking before we put pen to paper that's the important part in question gave that's the hard part and quite frankly that's the tough stuff is never taught because you can't teach it it's just too hard it's too it's too it's too deep school is busy with teaching you photo shop and illustrator and you know oh, you know you want to make you want to make things move oh, then there's these programs oh, and then there's these aps like, oh, my god, my head is exploding so I choose to ignore those all and concentrate on the tools that blow my skirt up. All right, so all the work before penn goes to paper and then I had another idea last night because I was thinking about my friend cuba from poland dude wrote me and mentioned henrik thomas chayefsky this polish goes and I was having another conversation with ht bunch of years ago and he said, um so his his his job our job is to one think about what you want to say. We talked about this yesterday, you know, having opinion think about what you want to say, to figure the right form for it to take and I forgot three and three is really important and three is and sometimes you miss right? How do we translate that yesterday? What do we say? Everybody poops that's what he's saying everybody poops so there's just a few. I want to kind of get through this because I want to get to ah, a couple other things I want to show you so today what to expect so you know what? I didn't know you didn't give you any time for questions well they're just my answers I just skipped over the question part one straight answers you guys must have questions after yesterday andy uh I just had a question king you say, um all the work is done before pen and paper are you is that includes sketching or is that only in your head thinking um um my sketches at that point actually tend to be more words more like ideas then then then visual because I don't want to get I don't want to fall in love too quickly, you know, I don't want to fall in love with an image or or even a mark I mean, you know what I mean by a mark? I mean, like, literally fall in love with like, I'll be making a note and will not like it and I'll scribble it out michael that's kind of cool, I can use that, you know, I'm like no that's, not the that's like that's like you're you're driving out to dinner, you know when you see an ice cream shop, but look, I go there, you know, um sketching part is important, but the but sketching not looking around in books, not doing research as long as it's all in here and you're not you know not as long as you don't find yourself seeking visuals seeking an answer immediately you gotta live the questions remember and ask a lot of questions and live the questions for you have the answer what else I think as well one coming back on the decision well we were talking about this yesterday after we finish and of course you have a lot of sketches but of course discussions you have trees sketches and the tree are the best so you needed a lay off sending it right now so you say like a one two tree what do you think like use the side like I well I think this is one better so I think you know I ask you how do you this side like that except yeah you know that's so funny because you know, we talked about this yesterday and I can see this in you is that you want to answer now like of course I know I know you want an answer and the thing is I can't give you guys write your answer on dh er when I will tell you like like like real co would tell you in patients you will have the answer that you need but you're gonna have to practice and practice means sending in the wrong one everybody likes that we asked everybody poops and you know and you have three different answers now I would ask you being an intelligent client why are you showing me three things why are you showing me three things I asked you for the best that can be three of the best right? Yeah who has clients like that awesome three know somebody who says one way make them we create those s a lot of times we have clients and well teo three different directions and they'll be like okay, we do one that so I got a little bit on the safer side and we know it I know you love but um so there's got this like this one right? I see mild medium and spicy yeah and no no mild oatmeal and spicing it always over a meal a lot of times they're like this is where we are now this is where we want to be in five years and we need to go with this right now let's go with this this is this is going to work for us you solved it and we're going to get there how are they going to get there? What are you doing? How are they going to get there by by trading over oh meal on the way you know, I mean I dio but they don't know that it's ok, this is they're going to lose people with this and they're going to just scratch their heads and be like what I mean they're gonna lose people with with the high spicy with the spicy you know what how about this those people they're losing are not their core customers those people they're losing are hanging on by their fingernails ditch him that's the problem we have tio educate our clients to say listen you are not for everyone you cannot possibly be you cannot possibly be for everyone just the sexy people I know for a fact that my work my ideas thank god I didn't find the chat room cause I'm sure there's somebody sniping away over there especially on this top topic I'm not for everybody I know this I'm cool with that I don't need to be for everybody just the sexy people but clients tend to want to everything every end the thing with with bigger budgets and bigger dollars that's more fear than they say that without you afraid and so I'm working on a ah an article right now stay tuned I'm working on an article about business and creativity because business and creativity don't go together really they wanted but they don't want it because I get so many clients who come to me and they're like we james we want you because you've got that thing we want we want to do this and this and this I go really I mean be honest with me because if you do I can do it but if you don't you know you just give me the kill fee now let's just stop talking because you know because I could bring it you can't be for everybody it's just impossible it's human nature impossible it's it's our question where are where's where's where's your love assignment is mornings love assignment you know she this point in her life doesn't believe that there is a one right that's what a client is like there's like no we no no no no we can have them all waken take him all come on this is good that's what clients feel and not all clients I've had some amazing I had a client a reputable relationship with a client for over ten years I use school called portfolio center in atlanta georgia they grew reputation wise and volume is a school I grew as a designer working together in our relationship was bail built on the fact that I would remind them they don't want every single student you do not want every single student coming because there are some who just aren't worthy of year of what you want to d'oh quite frankly you don't we it's impossible you know or if they just took all comers and they'd be like, oh, we need more teachers we and they're growing and what happens was is there growing but they're growing cause they've lowered their standards so you know, how do we talk to clients about this and how do we more so how do we make ourselves? This is the thing, this is the thing, lauren, everybody else how do we through the work that we do before we put pen to paper, the confidence that we that we teach ourselves that we remind ourselves, you know, and understand that we have to be brave and scared shitless all the time? Because that's, just how it works, what that does, how do we attract those clients that want to work with us, who are, quite frankly, searching for you? They're looking for you, you just don't know it, you know? I mean, my my thing is like, so funny because I career wise as an artist and designer, even author, I have been underground for most of my career and and I've always known it and then also this wonderful, creative live opportunity comes up and my name is going to be a great paper you're playing out all over the place and people are writing in going where's this guy been who? Well, I've been looking for this guy, I am everyone's favorite designer, they just don't know it yet, you see, and that's what I have to put out in order to attract those clients were going to say, james, I like the cut of your jib I want you to do this and this for me try to swear less you know people are like james you should do ted talk but you know they don't like swearing I'm like what are like ten year olds watching ted talks are you kidding me? I don't understand ted my ass so does that answer your question a little bit it's just it's a hard answer is it's really hard it's a party and it's like we keep trying to go that way and the clients come back and they just they get scared and then they, um I think a lot of is just fear in dollars yep, yeah and businesses is replete with fear of course, because it's you know, money is on the line. Of course the legal department first kill all the lawyers. I'm not the first one to say that by the way, mike, please. So it's kind of along those lines, but even if you do, because I often they want to see three sketches even if you do three that you feel are kind of spicy, you hear like, well, they'll probably pick the one that you like the least and so many times that's happened, so I try not to show anything that I don't like it was getting one yeah, we're just getting one and you say you asked me for my best, this is it you know, it's funny, because what we're this conversation, what we're doing, we're not talking about right now is we wave because we're doing that three thing, and then we go back, what would you change those? And we go back and where the help we're now the help? We're not a trusted confidante, a trusted adviser that they're paying well to help lead their business? We're now the help can't do it, not prudent, do you ever do you ever ask clients for, you know, have them show you examples of what they're what they like or what they're interested, or you just don't even go there? Yeah, there's a nice you know, I used to know this this this cat who back when they were, like, really, like annual reports done, this guy was really good at, and what he would do is he had a book, he had a book like a like a workbook that he would send to a potential client, and it would be like four types of chairs and we like circle which one you like? And they're like, ok, they like the chippendale chair that chosen and turn the page and be like, eight typefaces, which type fees, you know what, he's basically trying to figure out there their level of taste so then hopefully he could go off and make amazing work for them within a certain set of you know of of of likes and dislikes that he understands already without going in just jumping in and with helvetica and the client going uh swiss uh you know um but do I do it no but I'm also not doing you know, annual reports and I mean if I was going to do something like that yes there would be a lot of they would be conned they'd be dinner a lot of dinner dates a lot of really making it personal speaking trying to speak very honestly and plainly with them quite frankly even possibly trying to scare them away just to make sure just testing you know but it's a relationship and it has for me it has to be a good relationship is I don't have time for bad ones what else? Any other questions this question you got some comments that are you need good morning you're supercharge this morning you were like power posing in the kitchen it's actually about the morning I'm curious what is your schedule every day schedule my schedule yes um yeah that's a marine is good question my schedule is I wake early gently very early I like I always said that my studio in my studio were like the marines we get more done by nine o'clock in the morning than most people do all day well I'm standing like this you know um I wake very early and there's two things that I have to do um I try to study like I try to read or possibly practice meditation which I suck at completely that might take you know thirty seconds so um and I exercise a lot so I tried to run every day all right there's some there's some classes that I take that I exercise um because I know that my body and my mind need that exercise it's like it's my it's partially therapy and it's partially I know myself well enough that my body craves intense intense exercise so I do that coming back have breakfast and chatty with my wife we kind of get rolling in the studio at about ten ten thirty you know that's we don't usually let anybody come into the studio until ten thirty like any assistance or anything we uh take lunch is outside of the studio almost every day we call we say where the studio that lunch is because it's a really great time to kind of sit and just chat about work without it being you know without looking at diagrams and talking about this kind of stuff is just like hey what do you think what would be fun you know um I knock off fairly early for four five if I'm if I'm working on a book or writing an article I head straight to the office you saw the office yesterday um it's a pub down the street on I get a lot of writing done and I come back to the studio and laura will be cooking or something and then that's a really great time for us to I'll just sit back and I'll just have a pad in front of me and talking doodle and and we'll talk about talk about stuff and then uh I am uh uh early to bed early to rise but that's like that's like a pretty good day I can't always get it because I travel a lot but I lie like that I like getting up before the sun and before anybody else and it's it's a it's a great time, especially in new york it's a great time and I try not to be, you know, habitual about anything too because that's tough too. I like like like the coffee thing for me right now is becoming a real habit like, uh, kind of conscious of my habits reading in the morning I there's a like a big stack that I could kind of just pull from there's a bunch of stuff I like to be that like, I like poetry I like uh, there's these people who remind me what's important like ralph waldo emerson and roomy and hafeez um um I actually read everything deepak chopra meet my he's my keys my calling like my cling on author you know deep told wrong right um uh I'm trying to there's a bunch of books that I'm trying to read like I don't read stories you know but there's one that's going to come a movie pretty soon about louis zamperini what's it called um I forget the title because I haven't started it but I have it were trying going to start reading it um um that kind of stuff and there are a few authors that I really love that I keep going back to like I actually influence as a writer and influence on here was anthony bird ends kitchen confidential because he spoke the truth and I loved that um and here here's here's anthony borden thing in kitchen confidential it's in the particular lies the universal because the version of the book I got was a paper back but it was a later paperback and it has a little new introduction and in it he says I thought I was shooting my foot myself in the foot with this book he said he said basically this was in the book that was like I will never work in this town again because he told all the secrets right what happened the book did well and he went on a book tour and he would be in some tiny town at a bar in a hotel late at night having a drink and then you see the kitchen door open a little bit in close on dh then a little bit later the kitchen door open and somebody would scott a lot with a little dish and said the chefs prepared this for you and he's like and eventually the chef would have the guts to come out and introduce himself and he would say mr borodin, you wrote my life and of course more dance going on uh, no, I wrote my life because in the particular lies the universal tell the truth my mother used to say tell the truth is the easiest story to remember right? Tell the truth that's why working with the truth and we'll try it here with the litter campaign tell the truth that's your best tool and as that goes with client relationships too tell the truth not emotional, non emotional, you know, ask ask ask my son, you know, I one thing I know that I'm good at I'm a pretty good graphic designer I'm a really good dad and part of it is because I learned to be not emotional about the hard stuff you know, because that just feeds more, especially in relationships that just feeds is just like throwing stuff on the fire so that's a weird place to go from your question, but from books, books to that people who are in the chat room that there is a reading list that you have put together so that something that people could get with r s v p to get some more insight into some of the reading that james has been doing also I want to read a couple of comments that came in here you were talking about you know all the praise you've been getting sasha endo says james I love you I've been learning a lot of the client related stuff that you're talking about the hard way so it's great to hear that I'm not insane when I pass on work because I'm not the person for that client right? We talked yesterday yesterday about seeking permission you guys don't know the power you have you guys don't know that you're already doing it right you just think I'm just screwing up along the way no sasha dude you're doing it right you're doing it right? You know we all suffer from what's it called impostor syndrome we all think we're a fake I will tell you for a fact I know I'm a fake I know I'm a fake I'm sitting here in my little workable voice and there's going the's people are listening tio dude when do you get paid way all suffer from that we forget that we are used to say heroes here were heroes heroes of your own story it's great I'm not saying you're special because you're not, but it still doesn't mean you can't be heroes. Yes, what else? We had people in the chat, we want one coming from lily, who says, I love the one concept approach, it works so much better for my clients, and this got a couple of other people asking a question from nine he says, james, how do you get a client to accept that one concept approach? Maybe you could add a little bit more to that because I think a lot of people out there struggling to get their clients to accept that simplicity and the other tips you can give to people how to make their clients accept that, um, you know, it's funny, I don't even like to be there when I send stuff in, I don't even I don't kind of give disclaimers or anything. I kind of sent a very short email saying, I love this and that's it all caps, I don't I don't try to sell because I don't want to feel like I'm giving them something they, you know, forcing something on them, and I think part of I think part of the success rate for me is that I've had a lot of practice. You know, I think that's that's the thing is I think a lot of I think you know, burning questions we haven't we haven't really used this as the subtitle but the subtitle I'd like to have for for our burning questions thing is harder answers for easy questions because there's a lot of questions like that like how do I you know, present one and convince them and I think the convincing thing is is weird I think the convincing thing is weird um I think agencies do that advertising agencies do that with the dog and pony show with the big pieces of white board that have like well here's typography from the period you were seeking and here's some lithographs from the you know, if you're redesigning a budweiser can or something you know like and here's some with the graphs and engravings that would be the kind and here's you know, some typography currently there was you know, and then you spend you show them you know, essentially what looks like a boring beer can like really you gotta do all that to sell a beer can I'm sorry there's something weird about that because you get a good studio and they could make a really sexy fear can that look that looks like a beer can without all that crap you know, so I try not to sell to hard um um but paul rand, genius crap designer used to have this wonderful, I'll tell you two stories used to have this wonderful bit that he did that he would create little book little booklet that took you through his graphic process, that the first page would be just a white page of the yellow circle and the second page would be that yellow circle it with a piece cut out of it and the third page, you realize it's, a setting sun, the fourth page there's, some typography and on the fifth page is the logo, and you're just like, I know it's like poetry, right? And I have I've heard from a couple of different friends that what they're doing right now is they're like sending a video, they make a video, it shows like this, like some awesome music and there's pictures of, you know, l this and then a picture of a fast car and then did it and then the logo and the client is like, yes, yes, yes, he has yes, we're gonna put that on our web site and the guy goes, I know you can you can we can't get rights for, so you can put it on your weapons, so I have smart friends out there, you know, figuring ways too to make these things happen. But that's what you want you want the client got so awesome and also, you know, something else that you need to think about is where the guys to bring the party, right? So we never give just what the client asks for for my my clients it's like here's what you asked for here's, your poster here's a bunch of stickers, here's a corporate installation like, you know, we like that we've had amazing we are amazing relationship with this group called male chimp I don't need his use male chimp you should know, I think you do, but has come up in some courses before, ok, ok, well, they're amazing company think you guys are awesome, and we we do like corporate installations for them, we give them stickers, we wait, it's just it's a relationship and it's really great! We've kind of gotten to know these people, which is also kind of weird too, because when you start to know them personally, you know familiarity breeds contempt sometimes, you know, the kind of you could take advantage of that or you could be feeling the collected or something, but anyway, but you know, we've we've been really lucky to have some great sponsors and and and clients that that trust us and and we send them candy and flowers literally, and yet last question does that discussion okay? It goes back a little bit to what you're talking about around like you know we're all heroes and well I guess a personal struggle I have sometimes is you know there's not enough there's not enough room for like for all of us to be victoria's or pulsars are there is there aren't enough giants on the planet there are there's tons of room don't don't ever make anything smaller andy don't ever make the atmosphere smaller you don't ever do that no trying to ask well, wouldn't you have so what do you I guess ah what would you what would your advice feeling that that critic is it simply just it's wrong it's wrong you whatever whatever you're thinking is wrong especially when it involves I especially when it ball involves shoulders going down like this when you notice your body doing that when you're not like shoulders back chest out chin up possibly you know leading with your left um um yeah then it's wrong and sometimes I might go through days like that and I understand and I'm like ok, I'm just going to sit shiva on this one you know and go drink every day because this is bullshit and then I'll get it and I'll get over it and you know I mean like um but I know that you just have to understand there's room there's room because the what I mean we have met the enemy and he is us right? Remember that possum philosopher pogo um ok I wanted to mention to you yesterday one of the things that we're going to do today we're gonna do it right now and I put it out online last night I put a twitter and I said I am going to teach you creativity in one step okay you guys ready okay this is how it goes for a second I don't have a slide for it but let's get today what to expect creativity, success and purpose and we're going to creativity right yeah okay at home is gonna be difficult to do but try it um so what I want you to dio I'm gonna say ready set go and when I say go I'm shit serious on this when I say go I want you to look to the person to your left and look to the person to your right and make the funniest places that you can clothe believe dio ready set go awesome awesome awesome! There were some who are a little bit hesitant on a bit on the um on the beginning they're uh a couple things one you're laughing which is always great to I've done this with groups that can I've done this with groups where he there's the whole cluster that kind of looking around going like you know looking around um creativity is about vulnerability at its highest level, if you are not divulging something of yourself in your work, then you're not bringing it and that's the process right there, being able to open up being able tio to show that you're vulnerable that you're oh my gosh, dare I say human? You know, there's these high end designers that people look up to literally everything so clean, it's helvetica so swiss and stuff, and I'm like it's pasta with no sauce it's so tightened tied up that there's nothing for me to look at, there's nothing I can't get in there anywhere. It's empirical. I hate empirical design like human scale, right? So good job on the funny faces use that whenever you want. I mean, you know, going going, teach other people there you need there you go, lauren, and take that to your client and say, you guys have a stick up your butt so I'm going to do me too, my job creativity in one step and you're gonna say three and they're gonna go, you're gonna go ok? Ready, set go already said, go right there going to be like, and then, you know, then you going this, um I quit, right, because they're not the one for you.