Beginner's Mind | 002
Aspirations to widen the aperture of creativity without tripping over ourselves. Plus, what can we learn from Booker T. Washington about facing adversity.
Hola a todos —
It’s 02/02/2020 and this is issue 002 of Beginner’s Mind. Ah who cares. Numbers are made up anyways. No they’re not.
So what’s new? I moved; I now live three blocks north of where I used to live. This is my work station that I set up this weekend, which I’m very fond of.
So with the new year here, I’ve been pushing myself creatively to produce more work. I’m fascinated by ways in which we impose ourselves onto the work that we do, mostly the artistic work that we do. What gap or void are we trying to fill and why? We all have some agenda and agency that fuels us to do what we do and I’m thinking through what my voice is and what the hell it is that I have to say or express, not that I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt to dive deeper. Writing this newsletter helps.
Creative inspiration is available from all types of avenues at all time and we tend to make sense and look for that which we find familiar or comforting, whether it’s a microwave, a dark alley or a damn god forsaken city skyline we photograph to prove some point; we all have our own vision or drive or whatever.
In an attempt to widen my aperture or better yet, evolve my personal design philosophy, I must challenge myself, experiment, deconstruct myself, hate myself, love myself, fail, succeed, repeat.
Robert Pirsig writes in his book, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, that the Zen we find at the top of the mountain is the Zen that we bring. If we are looking at this through the Zen Buddhist philosophy, it means seeing the nature of things. The nature of chairs, the nature of masking tape, and the nature of water. Not applying our own conceptions to things. Basically, “not-knowing”, and being able to operate within an absolute reality or relative reality. I will write about this later at some point, if Fortune allows it, as Massimo Pigliucci puts it.
First project of the year was a logo for a friend and MMA fighter named Sergio Plasencia — it was a fun project that allowed me to step outside of my routine of designing interfaces. The objective was to design a monogram that he can use across merchandise and marketing purposes. My approach was to play with hard angles that convey speed and strength.
I pitched several concepts — all which were rejected. Personally, I love the far right.
Final logo deconstructed
Final logo. I like it.
I wrote a song this month called Stacy Says. I composed it using my Korg-MS20 and recorded audio from an encounter with an acquaintance in December. I approach music the same way I approach design. I try to solve a problem and then build an experience that addresses the problem or provides a solution. In this case, can you figure out what I did?
If your ears aren’t bleeding, expect more soon.
Book of the month
The book of the month is Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Up From Slavery, published in 1901. Perhaps you remember learning about Booker T. Washington in school when you were a kid. He was born a slave and was freed at the age of 8 thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation. His desire to get an education inspired him to do whatever possible to attend school. He would walk miles, sweep floors, sleep in the street, beg, and sometimes not eat, all because he knew that the only way to advance himself and his race was to receive an education and then educate others.
His commitment to helping his peers inspired him to form Tuskegee University in Alabama; a school for blacks to learn a skill or trade and become contributing members of society. His dedication did not go unrecognized and because of this, he would receive large sums of donations to grow the school and keep it afloat. Both Southern and Northern whites appreciated his character and felt inspired by his powerful orations, eventually he would receive invitations to speak all throughout the country, including Paris and London. Twenty years after the foundation of Tuskegee University, he received an honorary Master’s Degree from Harvard University, being the first African-American to receive this honor. Now, this is badass.
Reading about his life, struggles, accomplishments, and perseverance, will inspire you, if it doesn’t… well… I don’t know what to tell you.
Some quotes I highlighted that resonated with me:
“I have a strong feeling that every individual owes it to himself, and to the cause which he is serving, to keep a vigorous, healthy body, with nerves steady and strong, prepared for great efforts and prepared for disappointments and trying positions.”
“Any man regardless of color, will be recognized and rewarded just in proportion as he learns to do something well — learns to do it better than someone else — however humble the thing may be.”
“I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
Film of the month
Man, Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni (1953) is great. The film doesn’t have that much of a deep narrative. The theme is centered around coming to terms with being an adult and figuring out what’s next in life. The film follows a group of men struggling to find their place in the world. One is forced to marry but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing other women at his wife’s emotional expense, another is a failed writer attempting to find his voice, another dealing with his own troubled cognitive trauma.
Stylistically speaking, I Vitelloni is a beautiful masterpiece composed of painting-like shots that can exist on their own.
Music of the month
Two albums which have accompanied me this month are:
Ambient excellence featuring John Foxx and musical pioneer, Harold Budd. A nice friendly album for contemplation, work, and relaxation or war.
Alright, this album here, Red Hot + Bach, is a collection of Bach inspired pieces, each track composed in its own unique style. The album features, Dustin O’Halloran, Max Ritcher, amongst other well-known composers. Some of these songs might sound familiar, because, well they are.
Thanks for getting this far and taking the time to read—I truly appreciate it.
Please feel free to respond with any questions or comments or a simple Hello.
Oak Park, Illinois