Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is Culture in its Death Throws...hmmm

Is culture in its death throws.....(I'm not sure if this is a rant or an article, you be the judge!)

Recently I was shocked to read the literacy rate/ required- understanding level for popular music being produced today is roughly at a grade 2-3 reading level. Hmmm 20 years ago it was 7-8 if my memory serves correct so what does that say about us as a society. Don’t answer that yet. 

In the last year I have read a couple more disturbing about a long time gallery closing down (run since the mid 50’s) and a 80-ish year old sculptor woman in NY city (lost her space after 45yrs) that by her sole presence helped to keep culture alive and re-generated a marginalized area into a trendy neighbourhood... so trendy in fact that property values/rent climbed to the point said sculptor woman (and others artists in the area) could no longer afford to live where they/she had lived and continued to work for over 40yrs (which basically made the neighborhood sustainable) . She now has/had to move out of state to find a live work space... There are many other examples of this (which imo is sad). To me the majority of the monies in art should go to the artisans not the administrator or management or the like. The artists do the work after all...the rest well it could be done by the volunteer body of most supporting groups. Of the folks I spoke to "Paid " management/admin is where most arts funding goes...very little actually hits the pockets of the creators .....unless its to an artist (if you can refer to them as that) that is famous for gallery floors piled high with sand/dirt  and or garbage, as some kinda statement....Its garbage and sand hello!!!!!

After spending a fair bit of time on Youtube searching out good guitar tunes to learn I came across an incredible number of video’s of “homeless people” with almost unreal musical talent...which sorta (makes me wonder &) brings me to my point in this piece...which is this, “How is it that most of the real creative talent has been marginalized to the street...for the benefit of..... what or whom?” because I’m not sure of the benefit if the reason you move to an area for environment is removed. Kinda like moving to a park area and ripping up all the tree’s???? Or in the case of the musically inclined removing the (broad term here) “instruments” from said musicians???? I’m sorry if I offend anyone with this remark but “I prefer tunes with more than 5 different words in it” (and no I don’t have a solution). So if you mix this with the “how are we going to stay afloat” remarks and mur mur’s from the corp arts and culture community (ie; galleries and museums) I think their question ought to be how do we increase the awareness of the “intrinsic value & relevance” of artists and creative people in our society "AND" how do we reward their efforts since art making is a very financially risky biz (keeping in mind that if not for the creatives we would all be sitting naked in the snow/rain under a tree...freezing our “bits” off!). Originality or quirkiness ought to be supported & celebrated !

Now we come to another element in this...somehow the art, design, music, literature (culture etc..) has become verbose in description and toothless or weightless in substance. I always laugh when listening to an interpreter describe reasoning in an art piece or an abstract art piece. To me if your work is not easily discernible/understandable you haven’t done your job or finished yet....”One word of explanation etc... explanation should not pick up the slack (this kind of work cheapens all “imo“ and helps accelerate the loss of art tool and technique knowledge and skill other words it “dumbs” us).

 Art is the spice and grease which makes our world more comfortable and interesting ...not to mention easy to look at. If we continue to be politically correct by glorifying and celebrating mediocrity and “deep as a soap-dish” art and culture we are doomed to a future of dry, starchy, color & spice less hash. This age of “instant or easy” everything could be a fabulous thing but if we are not careful we could extinct regional (identity) culture and replace it with schlep (or sloppy irrelevant art).

 My thoughts are basically we as a society ought to be re-evaluating what we regard as valuable and how we go about identifying and rewarding it. Will our art be easily/obviously identifiable as an artifact or will it appear more like accidental rubish....this evaluation will not be solely up to you it will also be those of the future. So when you are creating or curating for what ever the reason remember, what you do will at some point later be measured AND you won’t be there to explain it!
    Quality is doesn’t just happen don’t you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Design & Iteration (don't let your big head get in the way of success!)

I have an Idea!
So you have an idea and are now going to save the world with it......hmmm you think so do ya lol.

When I look around in the world today I see alot of sloppy design and it kinda worries  and makes me mad. Now I have a special interest in my example but I will try to stay nice and hope this educates and inspires.

 So in my previous post I mentioned higher learning and Mooc’s.
  The adventure and shot (s) that caused me to re-evaluate my thought process and thus summation was my bewilderment at some of the creative endeavors of my city’s council and subsequent projects designed (in theory) to make our community more attractive and (?) sustainable. Our CAO was a pretty astute individual but these things persisted and now he has been (illegally) fired. Upon receiving some very personal negativity to my queries at city hall I sought higher learning or an unbiased referee/ judge. As I had mentioned I did rather well (in my search) which gives me the confidence to write this (from a point of wisdom gained over 30yrs as a artist/designer).
  This place we call life is a rough experience and it is in our best interests since we are in the age of specialists to take that into consideration (and use said specialists) as we go about saving the world...

Now some of the idea’s put forward by me were used but only in a vague way and thus the end result is less than favorable! So to the topic of this post....

Just because you have a bit if design theory or have taken a few classes does not mean by any means that you are qualified as a designer. Ok you can arrange the living room too ...but still! You have a flare for the attractive but what you probably lack is experience and there fore you suck (just like I “did” in the beginning). That's not to say that you will always suck but when I look around I can see not much thought has been put into ( or maybe not enough thought) your project/designs.

 So new rules of thumb (as it were)

1) does your design visually enhance and balance in the environment it will be placed, displayed or will be used? ( you don’t want to over power anything....or do you?) 3 out of 5 random people must think your design “rocks” or its back to the drawing board for you! (does “your”solution fit the problem?)

2) Is it faddy? (like a “pet rock”) or cliche? if so your on the wrong track so start again. (faddy is not durable...notice pet rock sales are down lol...)

3) do you have the knowledge base to do proper or adequate research to be sure your design covers the who what where and why parts of ( ? ).......Will it meet the need or just your own magically thunk up issue? if you answer no to this start again or hire a better /more experienced designer.
4) Iteration is your friend and should be slathered very liberally all over your design in such a fashion that it is obvious to the seasoned designer that it was done. (couple things to keep in mind about iteration...what “you” want and what you end up with often will be something different than the original vision (which is good). Iteration is the key! When I design something I always draw/sketch out the idea(s) and then flesh them all out into something i can show people. The more iterations of your idea, product concept, image or ad etc the stronger it becomes. We do this to save money, ourselves from wasting time, and to ensure we have done the best job and covered all the bases within existing constraints.). Kind of like “measure twice cut once” only measure many times and test etc...before you commit to one design or direction
5) Geo-design is a term that in my opinion is “used to explain the relationship between geography and environmental design” in other words “geographical design”. But I think a better use of the word would be to not limit it to Geo spatial Intelligence, rather use it to describe the relationship between good design and the method used to achieve that end. In Geodesign we are taught that all things are related and or dependant on one another in a symbiotic way.....and thus the need for iteration & balance. An imbalanced boat has an increased chance of capsizing. Just sayin!

6) opinion other than your own is immeasurably useful and should almost dictate what you do in one way or another. Why you ask? well it may be your idea but the public that will use it, look at and potentially hate it ought to be consulted and taken seriously don’t you think (especially if they have skills & expertise you don’t have. Good design is about smart, practical, and durable/sustainable solutions to problems or gaps of service etc.... not about ego...oh and remember most respondents to you idea or market tests will lie about 25% of the time so if you get 3 of 5 to say yes can be sure of the value...demographic section tests are helpful too!

7) practice the word “No”...learn to embrace it....good design takes work...and lots of it!  Critique is not criticism its how you say, or are told “this could be better”. Remember “no ego”! Good design is about clean ergonomic form or solutions (imo).

8) This is the most important part..... Good intentions and enthusiasm do not a designer make. Some folks have it and some do not. There are many more things that must be taken into consideration when designing something than I have mentioned here, and just because you know them still does not give you the “skills “ you need to wield said knowledge. (here is where I will try to be nice....If you are an elected official please try to remember you have won a popularity contest....and in that end you are not a designer even though you can apply for and get a grant or lets think big and say you ran a hospital in your former life...sorry you still are probably not a designer.

So should the idea bug bite be prepared for an outcome you did not expect (within reason based on the kind of solution you seek), along with unexpected work and 11th hour changes. If you are going to make something make sure its sustainable, is a good fit according to data/test results, is beautiful and clean in form and does not reek of EGO!

 Good idea's require good design & execution, they (and buckets of money) also can be wasted by inexperience....

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mooc’s & Higher Learning.....

A little more than a year ago as a result of bashing heads with folks at city hall I decided to discover whether it was me or them so I went back to school as it check my facts. As it turns out I did rather well (imo) 75, 8?, and a 96 with distinction). To me I vindicated myself....but so far there is no movement from city hall in a direction that would suggest they understand what they are doing ....I’m more educated and they...well they are still just council....

The route I went in search of enlightenment was Mooc’s....oddly all the courses I was interested in were offered through Penn State in the USA. Now that I am kinda comfortable with this form of education I may pursue some engineering courses...just to be sure of a few other things.

Now the idea that you can take a course from a higher rung school without actually having to attend on campus is fab...but imo it is a bit much to expect me to “pay” for a course that is going to be graded by fellow (as of yet uneducated in this field) students. I didn’t pay for the courses I took so perhaps I am being un-fair in regards to how assignments are graded...In my case I think I did rather well considering I only did 2/3rds of the work (started all 3 courses in mid/end of week 3 of 8-10 week programs)...and still managed to pull the marks I did .....BUT!!! In each of the courses I did I had to give higher marks than I was comfortable with giving when the/a student did the absolute bare minimum in effort. In another case I received a low-ish mark for some very complicated work and felt that some of my peers lacked a basic understanding in the area and the techniques I employed. To me if I was paying for these courses I would be beyond mad at those particular grades or marks.

In the afore mentioned case my marks improved the more flesh the project took on and there fore required much less explanation for my peer’s to understand what they were looking at....(this would be my grade of 75 that I am referring to lol).  So I think should you pursue higher learning through Mooc’s and your going to hand over some hard earned ca$h you may want to make sure your work will be marked by some one that knows substantially more about the topic than you or your peers. Now this does depend a bit on the kind of courses you want to take...are they serious topics or fun kinda things  in which your mark is rather moot as long as you learned something and had fun.

To close this topic I can say that Penn State did a great job presenting the info and made learning the material enjoyable so I strongly recommend the Mooc route and in particular the “Geodesign: Change Your World” course through Penn State. Not exactly what I was expecting but a very enlightening course ....and also the “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society”. If you are a designer of any kind you will benefit from both of these course's regardless of how long you have worked in these two fields

Saturday, January 18, 2014

don't Dis the Artist if you ever expect their help

Well its happened again or maybe its me! I’m not sure but I‘ve dealt with this many times over the years. So I was at a meeting of the Biz Development Comity that I volunteered to do. Anyway it was the first meeting of the signage comity and I asked what we were going to sell with the signs they intend to put up, “the community” was the answer I got. I’m still shaking my head over that as I honestly figured these folks had a clue since they were talking budgets choosing comity heads etc...
  To bring you up to speed, I “crashed” the second meeting as I wasn’t invited to the first (because I won’t belong to a biz marketing group that doesn’t use even close to best practice mentality) lol... Being me and not being afraid to ask for more information so I then proceeded to ask how we could come up with ideas to sell a thing with no definition of what “it” was....and the response was “look we aren’t here to discuss a plan we are here to come up with sign idea’s” ...Like helloOOOOO!!!! So then I spent the next 20 min explaining the process of design ie that there is a way to come about answering those design target questions with smart reasonable and logical thought, and therefore personal feelings based focus groups have no place here (unless they have marketing or graphic experience) as this is about money, not one persons the community’s as a whole. If you choose to go by feeling then you are probably doomed before you start...plain and simple
The old adage "if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail” that doesn’t include the effects of a bad plan though... So then our esteemed leader says I think we should stick with the History theme..(he runs a restaurant in his non-functioning historic hotel). I suggest that 30sec to a min (which is how long it takes to drive our historical “DT Core”) is about how long you can expect involvement of the tourist driving through town and after that there is nothing else to keep them so we have to tell them somehow of the things not so obvious, but talking about signs with out an overall plan of what we are saying and to whom again is cart before the horse. None of this goes over very well with my 2 fellow comity sitters lol. b So before I get thrown out on my ear I mention that it is quite normal that biz owners know nothing of this as they are busy with their businesses and unless its in advertising they might never know any of this! So then I’m asked what I think and I pretty much told them....then we started talking about ease of marketing etc... Then our esteemed leader says “So can you sketch up those idea’s for the next meeting? ”   “Sorry no I don’t work for free” I respond ( i suppose i should have said "you weren't paying attention to any of what I just said were you"). Then our leader then says “well I’m volunteering and not getting paid”   I said  “I’m here too or had you not noticed”.
Now like I said is it me or them? Creating artwork to sell a product is one of the talents I poses, but before any line is draw there are alot of questions that need to be answered as any good designer knows and most biz owners don’t. To the biz owners of the world A) doing it for yourself is ok if you have no choice, (but honestly just because you like to sing does not make you a good singer) if you can hire a pro even if its just to consult...its in your best interests (a volunteer is even better as some is better than none. B) If the designer suggests you should “zig” when you would rather “zag” then odds are they are probably right and getting all hissy won’t make a bad idea good. Emotion has no place in this other than (hopefully) the buyers end. I chose to help choose the path our community takes rather than just watching them all go in 15 different directions at once and basically waste money on an unrealistic unconcerted effort. With any luck I will be able to bid on some part of this at some point but for now I will try to ensure they can see the the forest for the trees and have a direction  rather than just a wish that they keep throwing money at....For some reason (must be emotional) they are offended that its easy to see the mistakes if you have trained eye’s. I respect who they are, that they too have volunteered and are probably pretty good in their fields of employment or business. To me its sad that most artists are only respected as long as it free. Would you hire the guy in town that bakes the best pizza to build your house? Probably no so why hire/have the carpenter build your pizza? Most of life is not a free lunch. The point being the comity head was offended that I should want to be paid for what I do as a business..... In my mind I agree’d to consult not take everyone out for lunch my treat. You market what you can sell (and easily deliver) and it may not be what you want it to be or what you think it is! As a community we need to think of the whole not the individual. We have things here most communities would be envious of and we do nothing with it! Smart design = smart results not just pretty pictures or words for greedy people......

Friday, December 13, 2013

Huffington Post's new manditory FB account link... censorship, Soup Nazi or just faking un- biased.....

I don't pretend to be any kind of journalist or some such thing as I am what I am and I call it as I see it period. As of late I have become very interested in politics or what ever it is that they do in Ottawa in that pretentious group of builds. My interest has grown so much that I now spend a fair bit of time every week trying to stay informed and after not that long, I discovered I'm not the only one that adamantly believes a bit to much jiggery-pokery is going and have started commenting on articles where I feel I may have something to contribute. With that said when I first started reading what Huff post writers and bloggers had to say I was intrigued and after a awhile I started commenting once I felt I new what was going on. At first all was fine and good I started gathering a bit of a following but as of late I have had to re-word my comments (make fluffy) or remarks so as not infer or imply anything other than how nice the clouds look today over ? to the point that there is virtually no reason in commenting at all unless you totally agree with said article or as I mentioned before comment on the pretty clouds overhead that has little to do with or allows the sharing opinion.

To me this kind of censorship is worse than mussleing journalists! Now a month or so back Huffintonpost changed the format of their comment section to allow for more "conversation"/censorship and pretty much as soon as they implemented this "new and improved" format my comments (that would be all of them) were now being screened for what exactly I'm not sure but I can't comment on the colour of a flower pedal with out the word police being all in my thesaurus which I suppose is ok-ish. I don't know about you but I am/was having trouble speaking my mind in a way that conveyed my point properly. Something funny (if you can call it that) happened....I almost completely stopped getting fav's on comments, no more new followers etc and it suddenly dawned on me that my posts were not being posted or were being buried....but that didn't/hasn't stopped me (I'm just that way!)

Can't say what your friends are like but most of mine from what history has shown me, they are not to interested in politics..... Or they keep their politics very close to their chest as it were......So "we" just don't talk about it as "its far to upsetting and they are already bitter" lol. What caused me to do this post is the following...
Today after reading an article on I was alerted to the fact that "NOW" in order to "like" or "fav" someone else's comment everything remains the same (no actual additional "verification"). On the other hand they "NOW" insist that you have to be linked to FB where ever word "you" type in the comment box on Huffpost will be posted to FB, apartently in the name of responsible conversation. Seems to me this is "Soup Nazi" type behaviour or perhaps more like censorship through peer pressure (idea being if you won't say it on FB you won't say it...which is sorta true). I will not make my friends or rather anymore of them, dump my FB feed as a result of's loosely veiled censorship through fear of personal reprisals. They suggest it will allow for responsible commenting but in my opinion it s a backdoor kind of censorship because they are going to post "ALL" of your past comments too I'm guessing on FB. So needless to say I know most of my friends have no interest in politics and you can be pretty sure this has nothing to do with responsible commenting more to do with tracking who says what about what....Sorry Huffingtonpost Canada but I'm not playing alienate your friends while making yourself a target on FB nor allow you to single me out...thanks but no thanks if you really want people's opinion then ask for them...but if you think your the censorship board think again...controlling what is said does not change opinion...just saying! free the words and allow for differing opinion which does (contrary to what you think) allow for constructive conversation. By trying to control opinion you are little more (to me) than a purveyor of political propaganda cira 19??.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Negotiating the Deal or wiring a bike don’t forget your/the fine print!

Negotiating the Wiring......

So fun with Bike wiring or what. long story short I have this xs650 that I’ve been looking at and poking at once in awhile. Now that most of the fabrication is finished I figured I should sort out the wiring. To start with its a 72 so its hard to find info specifically for it so I have had to try and figure out what what all the wires are for and what he things attached to are. No easy feat considering some things have no name or serial numbers on them.
Last night while staring blindly at the wires again (everything electrical works except for the indicators) wondering “what is it I’m not seeing?”. Its not like I haven’t done this before..(I suicided and shaved the door handles on my wife's “power everything” about wire!!!!) So this should be a breeze right...not!
Wanting to be safe I have replaced the turn signal lights with 9 diode superflux LEDs (super bright!). The problem is that the flasher relay seems to work but does not affect the lights....I had the tail light flashing though at one point so I can’t figure out why I can’t get the turn lights to blink. Turns out “the purveyor of said bike” assured me all the wiring/harness’s and various required electronic elements. What he didn’t tell me was this harness thing was from a different brand of bike and a 750, so none of the parts match...(although they may work they are not factory in anyway shape or form.
As it turns out there is a 'slight" (lol) issue on some older bikes in that they are not set up for LEDs as apparently there is not enough draw (from the LEDs) to pull the power to lite the I’m not sure how that works but that's the case it would appear...... what has any of this to do with working out a contra deal for art, well actually quite a bit. The deal in this case was a bike for a paint job....most of the paint job was done (except the actual painting part). Said purveyor of bike assured me that everything electrical worked...this deal ended up being a “making a point” kind of thing for me...(we both got what we wanted sorta so its all good-ish but)  The next time I do a contra type deal I will remember; 1) inspect all "deal" elements thoroughly, 2) don’t help allow the client to purchase too much (it’ll cost you in long run), 3) art has real $$$ costs so there “always, always,always!” has to be some in the mix (often to cover the short comings of said deal elements as its often not what it seems), 4) don’t “ever, ever, ever”, let the client pick your materials (to help keep the costs down) as its just not the same (this is a new one) and never turns out as well as it could have.
 I know all this but for some reason I have to remind my self.......
                                     Happy Arting!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013



While reading from one my fav web sources for info, the last week or so some interesting stuff appeared. Now here's some background...For many years now I have strived to produce thought inspiring,interesting, colorful, images and artworks. But this last little while I have noticed that our/my fellow socientans have absolutely no idea what is considered note worthy in the field of art, oooor maybe its just me! A month or two ago I saw an ad for the position of sculpture instructor and it kinda pissed me off. I think what it is/was , is that I have the skills but not the paper, and the more I thought about it (knowing lots of artists) I realized not many would fit the bill. None of the good artist I know have the paper either, so how would this (reputable) place find such a person to teach young impressionable minds?

When I first started doing art stuff I consciously decided to try and do what Warhol did (to create interesting stuff with everyday items) only I didn' want to sell crap just because I could come up with a good pitch/story , I wanted to do what I considered quality art. Recently I also read an article about how art has/is slowly moving away from skill to story or pitch under the guise of sophistication (thats my interpretation, of fine artists generally lack skills as in fine art looks like an unskilled kids "designed/produced" it) and I tend to agree. Digital art is well I'll share when I think I'm good enough with the tools to have an opinion.

What I read and saw shocked me! The art and images I saw really lacked skill (imho) and what folks were getting all excited about was well the equivalent to a grandma/pa getting all gooed up about G-childs first know "Panda photo ops" kinda thing. The art just really lacked... except for one artist that was producing or rather re-producing really complicated photo images (ie imagine painting shadows and high lites  to represent wrinkled up tin foil). Not an easy task but not impossible (just photo-real with heavy detail) and not original. Anyway the rest of the stories included a 3 year old with a Sony dslr camera that was the pride of his parents (and apparently all that witnessed his tiny greatness...except me)etc... Another artist was receiving great acclaim for some of their work, the example was an image, painted in dark rust/dark red colors. the image was basically a poorly painted window (canvas size) with 4 panes....And then there is the "fringe festival" and the act that involves 3 Mayo enemas......Now if that constitutes art there is something dreadfully wrong with what we perceive to be art.
"stolen from Wiki"     Wiktionary defines the noun 'artist' (Singular: artist; Plural: artists) as follows:
  1. A person who creates art.
  2. A person who creates art as an occupation.
  3. A person who is skilled at some activity.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the older broad meanings of the term "artist":
  • A learned person or Master of Arts
  • One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicineastrologyalchemychemistry
  • A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice
  • A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic
  • One who makes their craft a fine art
  • One who cultivates one of the fine arts – traditionally the arts presided over by the muses
A definition of Artist from creative person (a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination).

In today's obvious definition of artist "Skill" (especially) and "Imagination" have very little to do with art. I could go on about what I've seen. I suppose the most tragic thing is we the people haven't a clue really as to what constitutes art. Since we Anglos invaded North America  our society is made up of many groups of people with different ideas so our culture appears to be just about as mixed up. I grew up around artist type people and though I got it, guess not! I (silly me ) always thought that an artist was measured in their ability to manipulate required tools to produce desired effect. Picasso produced some weird stuff but before he did that he produced some stellar still life images (that incidentally got him exactly no-where). Oh ya another example of unskilled art....there was this guy that "designed " a stainless steel rectangular block about 20ft tall 3ft thick and 9 ft wide with a twist... it was installed in a park by a steel worker... In the newspaper of that town's story about the art piece no one cared about the "artist" because he just watched the welder fabricator.....the comments were a reflection of this..."why"   and then " I sure like the way the grind pattern is done/finished (again the weld/fab guy) It was pretty funny.... What this thing was suppose to represent I don't even remember it was that relevant.

All this just kinda makes you wonder if this is considered art then what do people like myself call ourselves.....and do I stop doing art and just talk about doing it and describing it for lay-people to make for me if I want to "still" call myself an artist? I talked to a gallery owner recently that was telling me all about this sculptor that does farm animals (predominantly horses) and then "has" them cast for her.... I think to truly call yourself "Artist" you must be able to produce whatever it is you do from start to finish "And" show skill  in the execution with the tools, along with originality in style at least.

                      One would like to think there are standards to be upheld....even if only out of respect for those that persevered before us....... As far as the teaching gig goes I feel it s better to just do and leave the teaching to the experts (with the paper) and I'd only show you how the tools work anyway so what would that be worth...