PinkTank Ltd Marks for Books via Colossal

 

New in the Shop: Marks for Books | Colossal.

I would have preferred to link directly to the maker (Pink Tank Ltd) but their web site made me angry. I love these book marks, at least in principle. Not so into these designs, but the potential for awesome is tremendous. Naturally, my first thought was I should have a laser cutter, but (a) this is someone else’s deal, Wade, and (b) I have too much other stuff to do. Oh, also, (c), I absolutely could NOT be trusted with a laser cutter. (d) I do not actually know that this is done with a laser cutter. I just want one.  >__>

However! Pink Tank, if you’re out there, and want to work with me on some designs, hit me up. I would be delighted. This looks so freaking fun, and I love what you are doing. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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Sweet!

An image search on Henry van de Velde brought me to this pendant. And a lot of swank furniture. There is a book about Van de Velde that I would LOVE to have, but I probably can’t be trusted. I would get the pages stuck together drooling all over the delightfully swoopy lines.

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

I have just returned from 2 weeks in Essen, Germany. It is a very utilitarian city in the Ruhr valley, not too far from Brussels and Cologne. Kind of grey, definitely a place where function tops form. At least, this is the case in the middle of winter. It rains a lot. Although my impression of Essen was a city for automobiles, it is supposed to be very green. One suspects that is meant literally, in the sense of having lots of vegetation, and not in the enviro-social sense of being friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists, recyclers, vegetarians, and so on. In fact, the city seemed fundamentally hostile to pedestrians, bicyclists, and recyclers. I can’t speak for vegetarians; neither of us wants that.

Not having much luck in terms of sitting outside and making sketches of fancy buildings (because the buildings are, generally, not fancy, and sitting outside was a bleak prospect), I mostly worked on some pencil and ink compositions. There were a few people I was able to sketch in buses and coffee shops, but someone kinda sorta tried to pick a fight with me about that on a bus one afternoon, so I abandoned that practice. I have scanned all those sketches, they are available on Flickr. Just click through to that site from the image here, and you can see all the latest in my photostream.

In Essen, I did visit the Red Dot Design Museum. As far as I and my companion could determine, the basic idea was to fill a giant coal processing facility building with examples of award-winning design. As all the awards were bestowed by the museum itself, it seemed to mostly have to do with the museum foundation exchanging a certificate of design award for the item under discussion. Some of the things were quite neat, some were … unremarkable. A few were outright baffling, and a very rarified few were extraordinary. Some of the exhibits were clearly more about corporate sponsorship than about independent design evaluation, but that is OK. I imagine design museums are kind of expensive to operate. The museum shop was a bit of a disappointment, or to put it another way, I saved a lot of money there. I am glad I went, but I am not yet planning my next visit.

I also listened to several audio books in the past two weeks:
Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin. All through this book, I asked over and over, where was this when I was in school? I grew up in the borderlands of the US South, and while I can understand that this was a couple of decades out of date by the time I got to school, I cannot imagine why it wasn’t considered one of the major must-read titles for damn near everyone. (The short story: A white guy goes on walkabout in the American South in 1960 as a black guy, and discovers just how bad things are.)

The People Speak, a series of dramatic readings of historical primary accounts, edited and narrated by Howard Zinn. Many of these pieces were crushingly honest. I especially loved this Independence Day speech by Frederick Douglass.

Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, read by assorted voices. I had read this (with my eyes!) many years ago, and somehow it did not register as the severe, bleak, dystopian collection I registered this time around. But, hey, I was maybe 20 then. So even the worst dystopia could only be so bad…

Asimov’s Second Foundation. Another I had read long ago. It seemed more interesting at the time, although whether that is because I was younger then, or because my own (internal, mental) rendition was just better. Hard to say.

I also had a couple of pieces published in the The Weekly Alibi:
Badass Lady-Love: Women of Comics soars at Metropolis
Your Secret Celtic Heart: Let Galician musician Carlos Núñez uncover it
(The next thing I write for the Alibi is already in the works, a review of a new book from Carolyn Kastner, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: An American Modernist.

All in all, February was a busy month, and I am … vaguely relieved that it is concluded? I have SO MUCH to do, here on the blog, with the Etsy store, on the business end of things, in the studio, in the local art scene … ! So. Much. While traveling, I was positively seized with the urge to cut a new printing plate. This is problematic only insofar as I am deep in the middle of about 10 other projects…. Sometimes I think I need a project manager to help me focus a little better. And a business manager, so I don’t need to focus on business. And … hmmm. Maybe just a big fab studio so I can crank out designs and other people make it happen. If you wish to set me up in a sweet situation like that, please contact me directly!

My next post should be about Copic SP Multiliner pens, but you can never really tell with me. I mean … I never can. Maybe you are better at this.

Under the Influence: Seth Godin

 

Seth Godin.

Alone in my home this evening (yeah, Friday night, shuttup), I have been puttering around in the kitchen, tinkering with recipes and listening to The Icarus Deception, written and read by Seth Godin. If I were to be inconsiderately honest, I would admit that I chose this book over my other options for two reasons: First, it did not involve waiting for someone else to return it to the library, and Second, I have always been fond of the name Seth. Is that shallow? Is it serendipity? Who knows.

He is talking about something I have long considered, and been unable to gain a lot of traction on — the question of what comes after the Industrial Age, where the Information Age is headed. Unless Godin is one of those prophet guys, he is speculating. I have no objection to that, my own thoughts on this are speculative, as are those of the various authors, artists, visionaries, and regular people I have engaged with on this topic.

However! Godin’s premise is solid, and solidly supported by his arguments. He comes across somewhat as a guru of revolutionary living in the post-modern world. Without going into the terms of art, artist, connection, and so on, I will sum up some of what I have heard that struck a chord with me. (There is a great deal more in the book than I could hope to spell out in bullet points, without actually just retyping the book. The writing is concise, and compelling.)

  1. There is a crucial difference between doing something for recognition of your contribution and doing something because you are driven to do so for the specific satisfaction of having done it.
  2. Waiting to be chosen is roughly equivalent to winning the lottery, and just like winning the lottery is totally impossible without a ticket, you cannot be chosen without connections to others, specifically those who are in a position to choose.
  3.  … therefore … if you decide that you are the person in a position to choose, and use that empowerment to choose yourself, it is not unlike giving yourself license to print lottery tickets. The more chances you give yourself, the more likelihood of winning.
  4. Personal connections are the currency of the future, because goods and services are swiftly becoming devalued by overabundance of goods and services. Personal connections are valuable because they are rare, and because we don’t really need much else, really. (We’re so rarely confronted by actual life and death distresses, privations of any kind, etc.) Personal connection really is the last valuable commodity.

Perhaps it is a little bit abstract to discuss these things as a means of going forward in life. Godin does come across a bit like a sage guru, dispensing clear explanations that surely would be crystal clear if only we were able to attain his level of higher vision.

… and that may be true. I do know that, of what I have heard that I believe I understand, I have found no objections, and come across a lot of ideas I want to contemplate at some depth. Several of the ideas make me want to demand that other people read this book, so we can talk about it. (Presumably because the feedback of people who are not inside my own head is one of my favorite ways to validate my own thought processes.)

The topics of compliance, conformity, consumption, who benefits from your labor, the difference between physical and emotional labor, and the difference between wealth and success are central to this book. I believe the author is trying to nudge readers toward the conclusion that life is much more rewarding if you are able to identify and nurture your own drives and rewards… but that perhaps most of us have been so far separated from our own drives and rewards that we end up in an endless cycle of serving the “economy” and rewarded by socially smooth sailing. Don’t rock the boat; you will be threatened with drowning, even if we are not out to sea.

Maybe it is all twaddle, but I really don’t think so. Of course I find it compelling, I have a lifetime of speaking up in ways that are not appreciated by the hierarchy, proposing insane ideas which sometimes are validated, and other times are best never spoken of again… and the ones that are complete bombs don’t stop me having ideas. Also (and I think this is actually pretty important!) having GOOD ideas also does not stop me having other ideas.

This is a philosophical text, and I expect at some point I will pick it up on old fashioned paper, to peruse and consider at some greater leisure. I would like to think that some people I know will read or listen to this, and we can talk about it. I know I will hear Godin’s ideas coming out of my mouth in conversations soon, and I am very much looking forward to what the others in those conversations will have to say about these ideas. Of course, there is a big difference between finding something compelling and actually understanding it.

 
THE ICARUS DECEPTION: The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD] Seth Godin (Author, Reader)