Creativity and Design

Fortunate events

Date : June 16, 2021

This is a short update, it’s been almost a month since my last post Unfortunate Events, things got really interesting and I am not going to go into extreme detail but remember when I said my AC unit died and the repair guy quoted me a ridiculous amount? Well I found a new company and got a new top of the line AC unit for the total amount of zero dollars and zero cents. Turns out I saw a truck on the street with a phone number, I called to set up a meeting and later found out they needed some design work, so we traded. Now I have I brand new AC unit and they have the design work they were looking for, everybody wins.

The other fortunate events are even weirder, I started getting a lot of work, project after project, I honestly was not prepared for that much, I got contacted locally and from out of state. So I have been busy finishing projects, taking care of my clients and focusing on my family and staying healthy.

Just because we tend to perceive some events as bad, doesn’t mean they are all bad, we can’t see the whole picture all the time, sometimes we just have to be patient and wait to see what the outcome is going to be.

“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

This inexplicable roller coaster of events is still strange to me, my life has had its up and downs but I’ve never had a series of events happen one after the other like this before. First a series of “bad” events that led to a series of “good” events.

If you haven’t read the story of the farmer and his son I suggest you give it a shot, it’s a good short story and provides a lot of perspective in situations like these.

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Unfortunate Events

Date : May 21, 2021

It’s been a strange week, I’ve had a chain of events that just came out of nowhere, my wife was involved in an car accident (she’s okay), car may be declared a total loss, my son needs surgery, and to top it all off my home air conditioning system is dead, so I am writing this covered in sweat at a crispy 90°F (32°C) with a fan at full blast.

Bad things happen

Life happens and bad things happen, it’s just the way it is, but having them all happen one after the other is a bit strange. It is even more strange to me how in all this I have been able to keep calm and follow the first rule of a crisis: “Don’t Panic”

The single most logical phrase in the entire galaxy

The day of the car accident, I woke up thinking it would be a regular day, except we had no electricity because a freak thunderstorm had knocked out the power to most of my neighborhood the night before, it was still raining in the morning and the sky was covered in dark clouds. A few minutes after my wife left home to run some errands I received a phone call and was notified that she had been involved in a car accident but that she was okay. I felt like someone punched me right in the solar plexus, I drove to the scene of the accident and indeed she was a bit shocked but physically okay. The car was a mess and I had to cover the windows as fast as I could so the rain wouldn’t get in. It took about two hours to get a tow truck to come pick up the vehicle while I waited in the rain making a few dozen phone calls.

I am a problem solver, I like the challenge of fixing broken things and finding solutions, well the universe is a fun place to live, it offers an infinite amount of problems and zero solutions. The next day water started leaking from the ceiling in my house and by the end of that day my AC unit was declared dead. The AC repair guy quoted me a ridiculous amount to fix it and an even more ridiculous amount to install a brand new one. It’s really hot right now, I think I should move to a hotel for a few days.

I think I should move to a hotel for a few days.

The part of my son needing surgery I will keep to myself but I will say that it is serious but he needs it and there’s no way around it. I am sure he’ll be okay.

Dissect the problem, find the solution

In all this I have been able to dissect every problem into smaller parts, find solutions and keep going. Panicking does nothing to solve a problem and getting frustrated only leads to mistakes. Every time I analyze a problem I usually find a viable solution and every time I find a solution I get closer to restoring normality. How do you like that Douglas Adams!? Ha!

“Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.”

-Douglas Adams

I am currently waiting for my house to catch on fire or a T-Rex to appear out of nowhere and stomp my car, I will keep you updated. To be continued…

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Taking on projects

Date : May 17, 2021

When I was a teenager, a friend of my father asked me to make him a logo for his car repair business, he had no idea what he wanted but he knew he needed something to represent his company. I accepted the challenge and spent two weeks working diligently on a variety of concepts for him, I made multiple logos and chose the best one.

He was amazed at the results, he told me he would print business cards, make t-shirts and paint the logo on the side of his building. He asked me “How much do I owe you?” and considering he was a family friend I replied “Whatever you want to pay for it”, his immediate response was “Well, how about nothing, I want it to be free!”.

Remember, I was young and inexperienced so I didn’t understand how I put myself in that situation, after all I was happy to help but at the same time I expected some payment for my work. I never got paid for that project. Over the years I learned valuable lessons from my experience as a creative professional, so I’ll share some of them with you:

1. Don’t work for free

Your time is valuable. As a creative professional you want to be taken seriously, right? This means no spec work. Do not give away your talents for free. It has taken you a long time to get where you are so if you are good at something, never do it for free.

He’s right, you know.

2. Set your prices

The value of your creative work can be hard to quantify but don’t be afraid to set a price for your services, over time your clients will decide if your work is worth the price tag.

3. Get paid before work begins

Very important. You can set a minimum amount paid in advance and the balance when the work is complete, this shows commitment on the client’s part and covers the initial costs of the project.

4. Put it in writing

Find a lawyer to write you a contract that protects you and the client, make sure it includes:

  • A description of the project
  • Project start date and deadline
  • Your terms of service
  • An exit clause
  • Penalties in case either party fails to deliver
Don’t forget the signatures.

5. Get to work!

Negotiations are complete, it’s time to focus on the project. Communicate with your client and stay within the scope of the project. Remember your client’s needs and when it is time to deliver the finished product, do it on time. Remember, under promise and over deliver.

(more…)
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Talent is earned

Date : May 14, 2021

I want you to try an experiment, grab a pen and paper and draw a horse from memory. Sounds easy? Ok, You have 90 seconds…GO!

88… 89… 90! Okay, time’s up! How did it go? Does it look like a horse or does it look like some failed genetic experiment? The thing is, even when we know what a horse looks like it is hard to draw one on paper. Here’s mine:

My mutant horse, drawn with a Sharpie on a Post-it

Putting our ideas on paper is a process that only through many hours of practice and lots of patience we are able to do better. The brain is an incredible learning machine and through repetition it makes small corrections every time we practice something.

Everything we do is a process and it takes practice to master a process.

So I wonder, what else does this apply to? For example, writing an article may sound easy for some but for me it takes a long time to finish a single post. I’ve never been good at writing, I never took a course but I can notice that it is easier for me to find mistakes in my writing than a few years ago.

To draw something efficiently we have to coordinate our brain, our eyes and our hand to basically become a human printer. Just thinking we are good at something doesn’t make it so. In one of his comedy specials, John Mulaney said:

My body is bad at sports. That’s the problem, and I say my body is bad at sports because my brain is good at sports. Like my brain understands how a human being could like, dribble down a basketball court, and then make a lay-up, right? But then it has to outsource the job to my weird limbs, and so when I play basketball, it looks like I just bought my body. Like I don’t know how it works yet.

John Mulaney

This bit caught my attention because we understand the concept of doing something, the information is in our brain but yet if we don’t train our body to do something, we really don’t know how to do it right. The same applies to other aspects of life, like processing new information, forming opinions, being objective or even teaching others new skills.

Talent is earned by our proclivity to practice certain activities that we love to improve gradually over a long period of time. Although some people might be exceptionally good at learning or have an inclination to certain activities, no one is born talented.

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Zombie Hand

Date : May 11, 2021
Digital artwork made in Procreate for iPad.

I didn’t mean to draw a zombie hand at first, but I started with a flat hand, then added fingernails, suddenly I decided to turn it into a zombie hand (don’t know why, maybe for the challenge?) then I kept adding more and more details until it looked good enough. I had never drawn anything like this before but I am very pleased with the results.

Here’s the full size wallpaper for your mobile device. Instagram doesn’t allow high resolution image downloads, so I am posting it here if anyone wants it.

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