24. Being a Writer

Week one, first Creative Strategist class. I sat excited and nervous in the strange yellow seat, soaking up everything that was going on. In this soaking, however, there was something that made me twitch. “You’re all writers,” Deb said.

I’d always opposed the idea of writing for some reason. I’d get A’s on the papers I cranked out through high school, but I never enjoyed it very much. Creative writing assignments made me groan, and when I started telling people I was going into the Journalism school at UO and they’d say, “Oh so you want to write?” I would be quick to answer, “No, no, I’m not sure exactly what I want to do yet, but not the writing.”

But greeted with this slightly daunting fact the first day of class, I set off to accept being a writer. But throughout the term, I realized I didn’t have much to accept. Through this blog, as well as further examining the things I already did and enjoyed, I saw that I was, in fact, a writer: I had simply been working with an incredibly narrow definition of what a writer is before.

I’ve always enjoyed journaling and free writing. Whether it was a silly diary filled up dramatized scenarios about my middle school crushed, or the stream of consciousness rambling that appears on my blog today, I have a need to get my thoughts out this way since at times I’m not much of a talker.

I also eat up things that other writers say, whether it’s in their own works or just in general (see my post on my love of quotes). I love this post on Kurt Vonnegut’s advice for writers, and I always get excited when my Spanish classes have a section on Pablo Neurda's Poems. I pick out lines I love from my favorite songs and scrawl them on pieces of paper and stick them to my bulletin boards, even if anyone else that enters my room doesn’t know where it’s from.

In conclusion, I’d have to say that one of the best things I’ve taken away from this class is realizing that I am a writer, albeit in my own way. While I shied away from it before, it’s safe to say that now it is fully embraced.

23. Learning Curve

I’ve always been a Photoshop girl. Getting interested in photography when I was younger brought my attention to this program, and I decided I needed to snap it up in anyway possible: Free trials of every version I could get, finally securing an old copy of Photoshop 5 (5, not CS5…big difference, my friends) when I was about 14. The only instruction I ever got was from internet tutorials, when I had a really specific effect I wanted, or problem I was experiencing. However, I learned the most by simply playing around with the program, and seeing what I could do.

It’s been awhile since I’d had to learn a program like that, much less so quickly. However, this term in my gateway class, we got thrown into the rest of the Creative Suite with only the help of Lynda.com. With these tutorials, as well as the help of professors, there are more sources of help than I’ve ever experienced. This time, though, I don’t have the leisure of dinking around the programs on my own sweet time—I have to get in there and figure it out as quickly and as well as I can.

While it was daunting at first, I feel that this learning style fits me well. It’s a challenge, but if I know I can come out of something knowing I taught it to myself, I’m that much more motivated to figure it all out.

My creative strat project, which will be revealed in just about two short weeks (spelling out exactly how much time I have left is incredibly scary…) is something I had to use this strength of mine for. I had the basic tools for what we wanted to do, but my overall vision required some skills I didn’t quite have yet. While it was ambitious, I decided that in the end, it would be worth it-It’ll be something I’m proud of, because it’ll be the highest skill I could push myself to in the time that I had, which with basically starting at zero…

The learning curve for these crazy programs might not be so easy, as I’m fully aware that I’ve only scratched the surface of their capabilities, but knowing that my own personal learning curve is how it is, I can confidently say I’ll be past that surface layer eventually.

21. Quotes for the Creative

As I’ve stated before on this blog, I am more often than not a visually oriented person. I love photographs, illustrations, etc. However, in probably the past year, I’ve become infatuated with quotes. Collecting them in my own way, whether reblogging them on tumblr, doodling them on a scratch piece of paper that I pin to my wall, or placing them in that “Favorite Quotations” section of Facebook that I doubt anyone actually looks at.

As I’ve found in my search for more inspirational (but not cheesy) quotes, there are MANY weird, crappy, cluttered quote websites where you have to dig through hundreds of weird unorganized quotes. I’m the kind of person who will immediately leave a website if it’s not clean and well designed (both visually and functionally), so I gave up on trying to find quotes on my own this way.

However, just recently I stumbled across the blog Occasional Musings, the blog of Rusty Meadows (who is the founder of Tattly, which is a new company that’s making temporary tattoos incredibly cool). His blog, while it’s described as “a destination for things I happen to stumble upon”, is compiled of hand selected, incredible quote. While there isn’t a huge number of them, it is being updated currently, so I’m sure there will be more coming in the future. 

Since he’s someone that works in a creative and innovative business, not only are the quotes generally inspiring, but many of them speak specifically to the creative workers. An example is this one:

"Don’t do anything that someone else can do. Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible."

Edwin Land on his personal motto in Forbes Magazine, May 1987, pg. 83.

And this one:

"If you want to build a product, and you want to build a product that is relevant to folks, you need to put yourself in thier shoes and you need to write a story from thier side."

Jack Dorsey on “The Power of Curiosity and Inspiration” at Stanford University, February 9, 2011.

This has also inspired me to create my own quote blog of sorts eventually…even though the last thing I need in my life is taking on another social media persona.

19. Make It Count

As far as controversial ads go, it’s probably safe to say that the ad that Casey Neistat did recently for Nike’s "Make It Count" campaign is up there. However, it’s not what is in the spot that is controversial…

Instead of using the budget to produce an ad, he took the money and spent it travelling around the world with his friend, until they ran out of money.

Nike may not have been too happy at first with the way their money was spent, but in the end, you can’t deny that Casey Neistat is absolutely, without a doubt,making it count.

The video:

18. 7-11 Re-brand Student Work

On Tumblr, a decently large population of students like me: studying things such as graphic design or advertising. While many of them mainly use Tumblr as a way to archive things that are inspiring, from time to time they will post their own work, whether personal or for school.

One particularly interesting and relevant one that recently showed up was done by a design student, Ricky Linn. What he posted was part of a project about re-branding 7-11, which is an interesting concept because it is true that 7-11 is not a brand that is very strong. What he did is a market research analysis, compiling information about the brand and company before he makes any decisions on what the re-brand would be like. I thought he did a stellar job on it, both in terms of the information he found out/included, as well as how he visually presented it. Since this is something that is extremely relevant to not only our Creative Strategist class but the advertising world in general, since it is something you absolutely have to do before you start a branding project, I thought I would share it here.

7-11 Re-brand Market Research

And, for ease, a link to a larger version of the image he posted of the project.

In the end, it’s things like this that remind me how great the internet is, because it brings together students from all over the world who are in the same boat. Seeing what other people are doing is alwaysincredibly interesting and helpful.

17. A History Lesson

History has never been one of my favorite subjects in school, but I’m thinking it may be just because of the format—boring textbooks and date memorization is not really my thing.

However, history is actually really cool, and when things are presented in a more interesting and visual way, I’m enthralled.

An example of this that I found are these photographs taken in Russia over 100 years ago. Not only are they interesting historical photos, but they are also in color—something that was achieved by using red, green, and blue filters over black and white images. Being a complete geek when it comes to analog photography, I think this is absolutely awesome. They’re also crazy in the quality of the photos, they don’t seem like they are from the beginning of the 20th century at all. However, they are, and because of that I got to learn a little history and look at beautiful photographs all at the same time.

16. Compiling Resources

During my many hours spent messing around on the internet, often I come across things that I want to keep. Half of these are fun things I want to keep, but some are important. Things such as a website with a bunch of cool free fonts, a post about how to ace your job interview, a blog full of design inspiration, easy to understand explanations of HTML and CSS that I want to conquer eventually, the websites of people in the industry that I aspire to be like. However, I’m terrible and putting all these things into one single place. Some I bookmark, some I pin, some I even write down on a scrap piece of paper.

I would like to compile these place I find into one place, not just for myself but to share with other curious thinkers and doers like myself.

That said, I feel like it would be a good use of my time to start that list here, since it’s something my fellow students can see, and something that I can go back and add to in the future.

Design Inspiration:



General Brain Tickling

To Be Continued…

15. Nothing Can Be Something

I knew I had to write a blog post today. It was on my list of things to do. However, most days, I seem to have some amount of time to be thinking or observing or “consuming” life around me, and at the end of the day, I usually have something to say.

But today, it became blog post time, and my mind was blank. Immediately after waking up, I went straight to work, then straight to the library to do Spanish homework…and then came upon now, where my mind is blank. I was struck by a horrible feeling that I hadn’t learned anything new or done anything interesting today.

However, I decided to do away with this feeling, since if I’m going to be in the idea industry, I need to have ideas everyday—whether or not the day seems to be particularly inspiring or not at first glance. So, I’m going to take time to look at the smaller things that can be interesting and fulfilling as well.

  • Talked to my coworker about what she’s learning about in her psychology class: Biological gender differences, such as the digit ratio, correlations between handedness and sexual orientation,
  • My partner and I got a TON of responses on our survey for our Creative Strategist project about creative inspiration and roadblocks. While some responses were funny/sarcastic (ie, Q: What inspires you? A: Barney Stinson), many were interesting and insightful.
  • I found my next DIY Project, courtesy of the Free People blog: Dip dye t-shirts. Even if I didn’t make something today, I’ll make something soon.
  • While doing my Spanish homework, I learned how to better use prepositions (it’s harder than it sounds, I swear.)
  • Speaking of languages, I also rediscovered this video that offers a visual play on words. Watch carefully!

In the end, even if a day is crazy busy and seemingly uninspiring, make it inspiring. Ask questions, look around, find some humor in the little things, soak it all up. Staying creative is at the base of any job in the advertising industry, and in order to be creative and have fresh ideas, you have to work out those creative muscles no matter how many other things there are to do.

14. Freaking Out is Healthy

Okay, maybe healthy is an overstatement. Our bodies weren’t ever designed to take on the burdens of stress that today’s society inflicts on us. However, it’s reality. And while stress isn’thealthy, I’ve found that I often need a moment (or a few moments) of stress, anxiety, and general freaking out to get me to move past a certain stage.

I was reminded of this truth this morning, when we had advertising students that went on the University of Oregon New York trip come talk about their experiences in our class this morning. Sitting there in awe, my general thoughts could be explained in two ideas:

1- This is amazing, these people are amazing. I want to be there, I want to do that.

2- HOW AM I EVER GOING TO GET THERE? I can’t be that great. I’m scared of all of this, it’s too big.

However, my thoughts don’t ever stop at number two. This above example is a minor, hypothetical version that went on in my head-Sometimes it’s bigger, more real, and more pertinent. Getting to that point, however, makes you realize that you literallycan’tstay at that point. You have to move past it, and to move past it you have to stop freaking out, hold your breath, and dive in head first.

One of my new favorite websites, strikingtruths.com, provides daily manifestos embedded in beautiful design. Pulling a quote from this particular one, Seth Godin says “Safe is risky”. This is exactly what my freaking out sessions make me realize over and over again: yes, what I have to do (whatever that thing may be) is scary and daunting…but not taking the risk is even riskier.