Arting Adventure Updates & Upcoming Exhibition!

Updates on my adventures!

I have begun working with Jesa Damora, an Art Marketer with FunnelCake Marketing, to learn more about the art field, build a strong network and a foundation of resources for making my passion more professional. 

Last week I had Mark Hunt, a photographer, come to do a shoot of my finished and unfinished works, in preparation for my upcoming exhibition!

Upcoming Exhibition!

Two of my latest works have been selected for an upcoming group exhibition at Art Mora in NYC:

Reigniting the Soul

Reigniting the Soul

Procession of Dreams

Procession of Dreams

See these works at my upcoming exhibition at:

Art Mora

www.artmora.org  |  (212) 564-4079

December 17, 2016 - January 2nd, 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, Dec. 17, 6 - 8pm

222 Main Street Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, 07660

December 1 - 14, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, Dec. 1, 6 - 8pm

547 West 27th Street Suite 307, New York, NY, 10001

Curated by JeongHyun Park & Lea Salzano


Work in Progress

I'm working on my most ambitious piece yet - a 4 x 5' oil on canvas abstract piece, affectionately named "Me When I'm Not Me."  

Studio shot - 10/9/2016

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Floating Geode Kaleidscopes

After finishing my latest piece, Urban Legends, I took a look at it and intuited that it and the rest of the Floating Geode series would probably make excellent kaleidoscopic images!

As an aside, I remember one of my favorite gifts as a child was a kaleidoscope.  A kindly family friend, who I remember as having a great sense of humor about life, gave me the set, which was comprised of the viewport and two tubes, one red and one blue.  I remember peering into that magical portal and being transfixed by the patterns that unfolded there.  It's time to get myself another set. :)  

My attraction to mandalic patterns has resurfaced many times over the years.  I can't help but wonder at how humankind, throughout cultures and timelines, have represented beautiful repeating colorforms and geometric shapes in their art, particularly in religious art.  If you compare the Rose Window of Notre Dame in France, the ceiling of The Temple of Heaven in China, or especially the many astounding designs of Islamic mosques, you can clearly see the call towards this central, breathtaking experience of beauty that I think is at the heart of spirituality across cultures. 

And to borrow the common phrase used so wonderfully as the title to one of my favorite comedian, John Cleese's, book "So Anyway"... so, anyway, I have made kaleidoscope versions of the floating geode series for your delight.

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The Design of Everyday Things

Living in the West, it is easy to forget the fact that there are other language systems that do not follow the left-to-right reading structure present in English.  Arabic and Hebrew follow the opposite direction, and so for them, the sense of progressing from past to future is associated with moving from right to left, not left to right.  Chinese, Korean, and Japanese can be written from left to right or from top to bottom and so these cultures have a more fluid temporal-spatial relation.  Further, aboriginal cultures that map their sense of time to the sun's path across the sky have different compass directions attributed to the past and future, depending on time of day.  

This is just one such example by which Don Norman in his bestselling book, The Design of Everyday Things, recalls our attention to and critically examines the behavior models and objects that have become invisible to us in their everyday ordinariness.  After reading this book, you'll notice your next interaction with door handles, faucets, stove burners, light switches, and pennies. Yet this book's message is not unique to material objects - it underscores the universal thought process required to design all objects, both material and digital.  For lessons on digital designing specifically, check his well-maintained Nielsen and Norman Group site.

UXPA Boston 2016

Today, I attended my first UXPA Boston conference.   While it was exciting to have the chance to attend such an iconic conference in the field, I found the presentations to be too general, unfortunately.  Chauncey Wilson's humorous wrap-up, with insights generated from his 40 years of experience in the field, was easily the most enjoyable part of the conference, and an uplifting ending to the event. 

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I did have the following takeaways (many of which I had already known), but ones I would like to reiterate:

  • In Your Organization: 

    • Product stakeholders need to have a unified vision on the definition of "great" for your product, otherwise you will be pulling in different directions all through the development cycle.  

    • In the supermarket, the milk is located in the back - why is this so, when so many of us want to just buy milk and leave?  The answer is the supermarket's business interests - they are obligated to display the highly branded luxury items first in the store, so that buyers are sure to pass by them on their way to purchase milk.  Design for what your users want, not for what your organization wants.  

    • There is no "truth" in product development - "truth lies in the finished product - be at the finish line together."

  • In Product Design:

    • "Fail fast, fail often."

    • Think about the user's mental state before, during, and after their interaction with your product.  

    • Avoid over-personalization - give the user ultimate control.  

    • "Features without comprehension are like extra pages in a foreign book."

  • In Research: 

    • Sit next to participants, not across from them.  

    • Reiterate the purpose of your session, how you will use the x amount of time you have with them, and that you appreciate that they have taken the time to speak with you. 

    • Be careful to construct your questions in ways that do not bias the participant's response.

    • Come prepared with the questions you want to ask in the session, but don't read from the script like a robot - some of the most interesting insights come from following the rabbit hole of a participants' tangent.  Use your judgment for when to stay on track and when to go off-road.  

    • Don't take the participants' answers personally.

    • You are in the business of gathering data, not proving a hypothesis. 

    • Always probe more, with something as simple as "Tell me more about that."  Ask "stupid questions."  We can't ever fully understand another human being - don't assume that you can.

    • Participants take time to warm-up - it's possible that you may get into your juiciest insights towards the end of the session - therefore, always leave time at the end to ask whether there was something that you should have covered.  

    • Be sure to have a dedicated note-taker and/or recordings from the session.  Verbatims are gold for when you communicate findings to the wider team.  

    • Always debrief immediately following a session, when things are fresh in your mind.  

    • Having all design stakeholders be able to see the research for themselves helps to get buy-in for making necessary changes - designers may be attached to their work and therefore need definitive reasons to alter their original vision.

    • Quantitative results can be inconclusive, especially at getting at the "why" behind user behaviors. 

    • When card-sorting, physical cards are intuitive because they are familiar, and offer additional benefits.  They allow you to: 1) understand the participant's thought process; 2) observe nonverbal responses; and 3) provide motivation to the participant. 

Edward Tufte's Course on Data Viz

Just took Edward Tufte's one-day course on data visualization.  These nuggets of wisdom stuck out to me from his lecture:

  • A common problem with data visualization is smoothing out the data - hiding the numbers.
  • No matter how beautiful your interface is, it would be nicer if there were less of it - the data is the interface.
  • Design can't salvage failed content. 
  • Don't design for the organizational hierarchy behind the data; design for what people actually come to your site for.
  • Dimensional compression is the fundamental problem.  Go out in the world and see how your data is collected.
  • Your contempt for the audience leaks through...you shouldn't dumb the data down.  

Excited to delve into his books next!  

Design Reading

This week, I read a couple of design books: Lupton and Phillip's Graphic Design, the New Basics and Johannes Itten's The Elements of Color.  

Lupton and Phillip's Graphic Design was a great high-level overview to the field, offering a number of design exercises across sections of design: typography, color, pattern, layout, etc..  I've not had a chance to experiment with all of the exercises outlined, but I did do some letterform patterns which were a lot of fun. 

I found some of Itten's explanations to be too basic for my needs (having already studied painting and read Josef AlbersInteraction of Color).  But, the book is quite short and does contain worthwhile diagrams and explanations.  One passage was particularly amusing, where Itten illustrates the subjective and psychological effects of color by asking readers to imagine a dinner party where meat, vegetables and potatoes are served to the guests, and the host alternates between flooding the room with red, then blue, then yellow light. Each hue alters the appearances of the meal's constituent parts, and it is only when the host stops his shenanigans and applies normal light again that the the guests regain their appetites. The lesson is an important one - various treatments applied to the same material will cast that material in a vastly different light, quite literally.  

Another important passage pertains to the 3 types of "attitudes to color" among painters: 1) the "epigoni", who have no internal understanding of color and merely copy their teachers; 2) the "originals" - those who compose works according to their internal sensibilities, and you can see their color preferences applied throughout their body of work; and 3) the "universalists", artists who are more objective with color, applying the proper treatment to each individual subject matter.  He remarks, "That there should be but few painters in this group is understandable, for their subjective timbre must comprehend the entire color circle, and this happens rarely.  Besides, they must possess high intelligence, admitting of a comprehensive philosophy."  I think we all aspire to be in the 3rd category.  

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The Elements of Typographic Style

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst has been acclaimed as the "bible" of typography - truly this is a beautifully written masterpiece on the history and considerations of type, and with its copious diagrams, tables, and examples, and lyrical prose, it deserves to be kept as a desk reference for the serious designer.

At summary, I would keep the following in mind:

Principles

  • Typography exists to honor content
  • Letters have a life and dignity of their own
  • Read the text before designing it
  • Make the visible relationship between the text and other elements (photographs, captions, tables, diagrams, notes) a reflection of their real relationship
  • Choose a typeface or a group of faces that will honor and elucidate the character of the text"
  • Give full typographic attention even to incidental details
  • The function of type is legibility - it should not vex the reader with its own originality in a self-conscious search for praise.  It should:
    • invite the reader into the text
    • reveal the tenor and meaning of the text
    • clarify the structure and the order of the text
    • link the text with other existing elements
    • induce a state of energetic repose, which is the ideal condition for reading
  • Don’t compose without a scale
  • Change one parameter at a time
  • Don’t clutter the foreground

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"Inner Creativity," Halloween 2015

This year, I hadn't planned ahead for Halloween, but given that Halloween is my favorite holiday and my new job was having a Halloween costume contest, I decided that I still had to do something!  Face paint offered a cheap and simple solution, as well as a new challenge.

After picking up some primary colors and white (they had run out of black!) grease-based face paint (soo much better than water-based, and reminiscent of oil painting) from The Garment District, I looked around on Pinterest for some inspiration.  I settled on an idea that involved mostly white and abstract colors/patterns, so that I could make it up as I went along.  Finally, after picking up a plain long-sleeved white t-shirt, I was set.  

Painting in the areas was a lot of fun, but took a while, since I had only one brush and three primary colors from which to mix others.  I later had to run out to CVS and pick up some eye liner to create the black outline, which made the two sections pop a lot more.

The idea behind this was to create the look of a white, statuesque outer shell that was cracked, revealing a swirling organic flooding of colors within.

(I wish I had had a chance for a better pic...someday, I will get a professional camera.)

New Position as User Experience Designer!

This week, I accepted a position as a User Experience Designer for Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company in Boston, and I'll be starting in October.  I'm very excited to delve into User Experience Design, as it draws from a number of my natural inclinations and passions: organization, visual design, psychology of human behavior, tackling complex "puzzles" and working on and delivering projects.  

Art & Fear

"Most of what we inherit is so clearly correct it goes unseen. It fits the world seamlessly.  It is the world.  But despite its richness and variability, the well-defined world we inherit doesn't quite fit each one of us, individually.  Most of us spend most of our time in other peoples' worlds - working at predetermined jobs, relaxing to pre-packaged entertainment - and no matter how benign this ready-made world may be, there will always be times when something is missing or doesn't quite ring true.  And so you make your place in the world by making part of it - by contributing some new part to the set.  And surely one of the more astonishing rewards of artmaking comes when people make time to visit the world you have created.  Some, indeed, may even purchase a piece of your world to carry back and adopt as your own.  Each new piece of your art enlarges our reality.  The world is not yet done."

"'When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art.  When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.'" - Oscar Wilde

"'When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work.  I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw.  She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?"'" - Howard Ikemoto

"To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have."

β€œTo the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that's understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call one's basic self-worth into question.”

"The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides – valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.”  

David Bayles & Ted Orland

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Bayles and Orland's book Art and Fear is a wonderfully poignant account of the emotions surrounding the art-making process.  It overviews the common missteps and assumptions art hopefuls and viewers make when regarding art, speaks to the need to make it, the false definition and motivation of talent, the fear of external and internal criticism, and the logistical difficulties of living life as an artist.  The book reassures that "talent" is a vapid term, merely an excuse for both art viewers and art makers to not appreciate the vast amounts of work required to make great work; talent deserves credit, not perseverance.  It voices the inevitable entanglement of the artist's identity in their work, preventing them from welcoming criticism, and further pushing them away from making their most personal, and best, work.  Laced with humor, this book is a highly enjoyable read for getting your wits about you in your art process.