Live Free or Die

81A738F9-683B-4A89-9709-D1802E342E85Tonight Lauren performed at New Hampshire State University University of New Hampshire. Met lots of fantastic progressive young minds — also felt a little old. College kids are pretty young these days.

Other points of interest: ate the most amazing lobster roll ever (resisted urge to post food pic), drank delicious coffee (the caffeine is creeping back into my life), talked about gender and sexuality in a car while driving through a pine forest, ate “Mexican” food (sorry, New England, it’s just not your forté), and met lots of interesting people. And in case anyone’s wondering, I’m a little bit in love with Portland, Maine (and not just because of the seafood).

I have poetry in my bones, and it feels so good.

 

On the Road #2

Tuesday I spent time standing next to the ocean, listening to and recording sea birds and waves crashing on the shore. I drank good coffee, sketched storyboards for scenes, and attended a poetry slam. There was also lots of really, really good food.

Portland, Maine is pretty amazing.

On the Road

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week I’m tagging along with the amazingly talented Lauren Zuniga on the final leg of her tour throughout the Northeast and filming a short documentary.

We had breakfast this morning at a giant wooden table at a coffeeshop  in Lawrence, Massachusetts, among what I could only describe as a sort of industrial ruin. I’ve been in three states today. I really like pointing cameras and microphones at things and people I find interesting. More soon.

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I’ll be posting snippets and updates from the road this week, so check back (or comment on this post and select “Notify me of new posts by email”

Afterlife

Emily Kai Bock’s jarringly gorgeous new video for Arcade Fire’s latest single Afterlife.

An Architecture of Thought

worther-shorty-pencil

I learned two major lessons in my years in architecture school: first, that design is my passion in life, in all its forms. Design is not a collection of geometry and color on paper; great design lives and breathes. It touches people.Secondly, I learned that I have no interest in being an architect.

In telling this story I’m often met with a response that implies that three years was some kind of a waste, a path to nowhere. I don’t see it that way.

The staunch traditionalism of this Beaux-Arts-styled program meant that computers, in the first two years, were nothing more than a research tool. Our designs began as rough sketches and words on trace paper and developed with markers, thick-lined sketch pencils, and quickly constructed models of cardboard. Our final products were hand-drafted, exquisitely-inked and meticulously-colored on expensive presentation boards, or bound in hand-made books of vellum and chipboard with marker and watercolor renderings. We learned to design — learned to think — with pencils in our hands.

When we start on paper, we start with an entirely different mindset. Lead on paper possesses a fluidity, a subtle impermanence. Mistakes will be made, just scribble harder. I can think of nothing that clears the mind like wadding up a bad idea and throwing it into a wastebasket, then looking down at a fresh, blank page. Touching a pencil to paper feels like channeling ideas from the intangible to the tangible. The pencil becomes a direct conduit between the brain and the page.

Computers, by contrast, exist quite literally in an ecosystem of details. Pinpoint precision and perfect geometry can be the death of ideas. I have tried, in vain, to begin designs on the computer. These endeavors inevitably end with me frustrated, retreating to the corner with my notebook and away from the computer where I’ve drawn a neat set of perfectly-spaced, dead lines.

When I show my clients sketches, they understand that I’m showing them ideas, concepts, possibilities. When I present them with computer “comps” they see a finished product. It’s important at the beginning phases for things to remain flexible. Presenting a client with a pixel-perfect Fireworks export may wow them, but it may also make them feel like we’ve taken some control from them. I’d rather the people I design for feel like they’re part of a creative process, not witnesses to it.

What that time in architecture school really taught me was not how to design. Sure, I learned a lot about color theory and composition, the importance of empty space and harmony. My handwriting became more legible and I learned that sometimes my best ideas come at 3am. But more than anything else, architecture school taught me to think like a designer. And I’ve learned, over the years, that I just think better with a pencil in my hand.