Tag Archives: art

on Purpose


we all live relatively short lives

with that in mind — there is not all that much time to really make a difference in peoples’ lives over the course of one life

i am a designer

i am actually both an artist and a designer

its taken me 45 years or so to re-find and refine my personal purpose in life

i am an extremely late bloomer, i guess { as if you couldn’t tell }

but that 45 is just on the art side of who i am as a person — and although i tend to purposely blur the lines between Art and Design, after about 20 years of practicing experience design and related areas within the industry i think i’ve also begun to re-find and refine my personal and professional purpose in life as a designer

i believe its vitally important, too, for designers to find a higher purpose for themselves

it took me a while to actually give myself permission to take this more personal, purpose-driven approach to the work i do, but let me tellya, it makes a world of difference when you look at your life and what you do on a daily basis with the right pair of glasses on — know what i’m sayin’?

the goals you set for yourself while under the influence of your higher design purpose can help put your entire career and your entire life in much better perspective

you start to understand not just what you should do and which fights to fight, but you also start to build a far better understanding behind why we design — there’s a far better precedent put to the work and you can just really sell that shit with a brighter, more meaningful confidence in your heart and in your soul

this purpose that i blog about here, for it to truly help you out { and to truly help out the organizations you work for } — your purpose needs to be bigger than any company, perhaps even bigger than the industry you are designing for

most of the time the truly innovative, speculative design ideas you come up with will be ignored, overlooked, undervalued and perhaps even ridiculed or dismissed — and this is okay, its actually what’s to be expected, as unfortunate as that may sound

your purpose goes with you, though, from place to place to place — and the ideas and the experiences you collect as an employee, which is another way of saying an inside primary user of the company brand experience, gives us all new business dynamics to learn from and to ultimately grow as a business person { and as a designer }

my own personal { and professional } experience design practice advocates for a human feel — the technology needs to serve the people that use it as best as humanly possible, otherwise i feel that we’ve missed the mark as a design and development team, and ultimately { at the overarching level } as a company

stories — real, human-told stories — give us all some guidance for the human-centered design process and help us as designers and developers understand what human considerations need to be made for the systems, interactions and flows we build together

because ultimately — at the end of the day — as interaction and experience design professionals we’re pretty much designing this wonderfully strange, dynamic madlib story for people that need to use our software and we’re asking them to be our characters — we give them props, tasks and ways to accomplish what they might need to get done from using our online { or off } experience, we put them up on the stage, write them into the page, and then they step in and live out the stories that hopefully meet and exceed all of their needs and expectations

we then need to re-read the story and devotedly follow the characters to observe where the story feels broken or less than human enough for the world — observe, analyze, refine, repeat

little by little the hope to improve our human experience in life glows

we bring some light

that lightness then hopefully maps back up to our personal higher design purpose


into the subconscious


swept away into this vast ocean of overwhelming feelings & my own aching emptiness
i dive deeper, i swim away from the surface
down, down

here i find a suboceanic comfort
a lightness
a safe, watery nest
where time becomes fluid & still for a spell

i can stay here for a while
or dive even deeper
into the subconscious

my artwork, part i

hand as drapery

forgive me, my friends, if i take a shortish blogPost to talk about the evolution of my artwork as if — in some delusional way — i were some famous, well-known artist

you see, unlike many of the brave folks i happen to know out in the performance art and music circuit in and around Boston, i did not delve into what i consider to be my original, innate passion and expressive gift for art as my core creative activity — and i’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good or bad thing for me in any way — at the tender age of 45 i think i’ve come to realize that there is not just ‘one way’ to pursue expressive, personal, creative work as a means to be ‘an artist,’ but there are potentials to take many, varied paths, and i appreciate now, after occasionally struggling with some internal philosophical and lifestyle-based concepts — or personal hang-ups — around what it might mean ‘to be an artist,‘ i think i’ve finally let go of those heavy sandbag preconceptions pertaining to my own previous beliefs and inner conjecture around what exactly qualifies an individual to official claim he / she actually is an artist

from about the age of 3 or 4 my passion for drawing filtered the way i looked at and learned about the world we live in

the drawing above from 1991 i titled ‘the hand as drapery

i think that — after completely dropping my daily practice or drawing { or almost ‘completely’ dropping it } by about 10th grade, at least as an official class in public high school — along with the physical act of drawing as a performative act, my rather playful nomenclature for the work i started up again through my own more lone, personal pursuit extra-curricular course work and eventually as part of my return to practicing visual art at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, started to exude a less introspective and shy aspect of who i was becoming as both an artist and a young person

my reference to drapery in the title of this hand-drawn study of my own hand surely derived from studying the Pre-Renaissance art of Giotto as his mini-mountainous, diorama-like landscape backdrops for the religious setting of his painted storytelling gave off this wonderful sense of undulating folds of fabric, very similar to what we might see when children sometimes build little tents in the livingroom with blankets, chairs, tv trays and pillows — the reading and research into a more classic style of painting definite influenced and touched me in a manner that i wanted to at least reference back in homage to these greater works through my somewhat encrypted and silly nomenclature


this portrait of Henry Miller — painted in only red, white, black and blue oil paint and medium — was one of my many beginnings for potential serial sequences of work, what i now call streams of subConscia, that evolve or at least sometimes fit a theme

i originally intended to paint many more of these primarily red, white and blue portraits of famous literary and art-related people and call the body of paintings something along the lines of ‘The Great American Portrait Series‘ — hopefully keeping this rather liquid, shadowy, shape-based sense of movement throughout the entire collection { of course, somewhat influenced by Thomas Hart Benton and also highly influenced by a profound affinity with anything and everything visually ( or otherwise ) Surrealiste }

a bit more on the evolution of my personal life with art after these messages …

Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise — Saturday, June 8

on Saturday, June 8th — Lee Todd Lacks, Tom Swafford and i will appear at Matt Samolis‘ ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise,‘ a new and interdisciplinary performance works events out at Nave Gallery in Somerville

Check out more info up on The Book, aight?

we’ll perform a new composition of Lee Todd’s written in A flat minor with relative wholetone flourishes and micropolyrhythmic, purposely dissonant percussive undertone accompaniment with a slightly woody taste wildly reminiscent of 1984 or so aptly entitled ‘Ghost Mall’ — you won’t want to miss it — i’m serious — well, okay, i really have no idea who you are right now, right? the technology i used to put this blogpost together can’t really dynamically detect who might be reading this post in the moment and then, based upon your innermost desires and personal likes or dislikes in music then assess whether you might or might not want to miss it, this ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise’ that Matt Samolis is putting on out at that wickid cool Nave Gallery in the general Somerville districts of Massachusetts and all, but, hey, i have the write to pretend and play and let’s pretend for just a second that WordPress allowed for that post-humanic, überCreepy and simulated predictive functionality, okay?



that’d be, like, kind of simultaneously amazing, this kind of stuff we dream up and invite, but also a little bit annoying and probably a little bit broken


it might not get it EXACTLY right, right?

but we’d kind of ignore the fact that it’d be a little ‘off,’ right? like we normally do — and we’d probably think, like, woah — oh my gawd, that’s pretty fucking awesome — who the hell dreamt this cool, new innovative trick up? how’d they implement that? was there some sort of direct emotional sensor that somehow reached out via webcam into my retina to pull out my wants, needs and personal tastes in music and performance art?

probably not

i bet it’d just be kind of random, but we’d believe there’d be this wonderfully creative and epically smart algorithm of pure genius behind it all — that somehow data answers every question we have and that any tiny miraculous event can be somehow utterly dewonderfied through scientific conjecture and fully quantifiable proof of anything seemingly magical, real or exciting


i’d go out to this ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise’ — ‘sGonna be off da hook ‘n shit

i can tell it is

probably the best way you can spend your Saturday night { unless, of course, you’re going out to that competing Mobius event happening on the verySame night — jeez! }

mediaLuscious Design + Art Review

i just recently finished editing up the official exhibition catalog for mediaLuscious Design + Art Review — thanks to everyone for not only showing your work and participating in such an amazing gallery exhibition, but for also patiently putting up with my random email requests for photos, writings, input and feedback over the last few weeks

i have to say — this is probably the best book i’ve put together to-date, much better-looking in my mind’s eye than my own thesis even, which can probably be contributed to the fact that this project of capturing the spirit, energy, community and fun of this show was done for DMI and The DMI Family moreso than myself

anyhow, after a few more tweaks here ‘n there, i will be sure to post this up to Blurb and get a print proof to deliberate — and then and only then the book will be open for more public consumption via Blurb, ISSUU or wherever

[: what a show :]

On Intellect

Today I found last year’s MassArt MFA Thesis Show Catalog — it was so exciting to flip through the book, see all of the artwork and re-read the reflections of each artist, designer and performer that participated in the 3 shows that ended last year’s Spring Semester 2011.

In the mix, of course, many of the artists let the work speak for itself. An interesting choice. Kind of makes you wonder, though, why an artist would pursue a graduate degree at all and then not provide some articulated sense of what the work is actually about, maybe generously set up some mental context for the reader since this wonderful vehicle of marketing and communication will most likely meet up with its audience asynchronously, right? Sometime after the fact, after those miraculous little shows.

Now, not to pick on anyone here in such a public, online place, right? But one person, in particular, decided to make a statement about not making a statement. And the dude’s not expressing some nihilistic neo-Dada conundrums through the printed word. I just don’t think the artist had a lot to say, maybe even felt offended at the mere suggestion he should write as part of his graduate studies at art school.

James Ovid Mustin III stated, ‘Intellectual rhetoric is insignificant, because talk has little to do with procedure.‘ This statement is eloquently accompanied by 8 untitled paintings, each a dazzling display of diagonally-arranged, isoceles triangles of various muted hues that potentially suggest an animation of prismic lights when considering the entire series as a progressive collection of one larger work — this ‘procedure’ as Mustin III calls it. Besides the fact that a few lines of code in Processing could have automated the entire full-time graduate career he spent on these paintings { maybe freeing him up for more worthwhile pursuits, potentially even some reading and writing } — I find the focus on insignificance extremely telling on a thoroughly Freudian level. I mean, his short sentence could be seen as a gutsy, bold artistic statement, I guess.

At the end of the day I feel a little disappointed in both the statement and the work cataloged for JOMIII in 2011. One could spend an eternity coloring in the triangular hairlines, practicing this exercise one typically encounters as busywork in your typical Visual Design 1 class in most undergraduate programs. But to have no reasons, to leave no trace of any deeper thought or reason for those looking into MassArt for their own future consideration as a rigorous program of artistic graduate studies — its almost a slap in the face to the administration, to the faculty, to the world.

But its not. No, don’t worry. I’m sure that the statement came with very little thought. Its not a ‘thoughtful’ statement. I mean, it doesn’t seem like James considered what he might be leaving behind as his legacy, he didn’t consider this, I guess, to be an opportunity to tell a story, to tell his story to the world.

I hope these paintings aren’t supposed to tell his story on their own merit. They’re nice, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen them out in a gallery setting or 2. They could probably adorn just about any corporate wall out there without worry of offending the innocent random passerby.

Total mental giftwrap. Patterns that you might consider purchasing from The Paper Store. Maybe on a larger scale these paintings could translate well on the walls of your local Credit Union. Not really eye candy or anything, but there’s nothing all that telling about them. I actually felt that the artist himself emitted a little more personality than these artifacts of his time and studies.

I’m not sure if I should be offended. I mean, I needed to write a book. A researched book that included my work, my thoughts, my ideas and some notion of intellect. And James wrote a sentence. A bunch of interchangeable paintings and a sentence. Did he consider his time at MassArt to be a sentence? A sentence of unintelligible intellect? Was his time and the artifactual evidence of his time at MassArt ‘insignificant’ to James Ovid Mustin III? And does my MFA from MassArt feel a little less valuable when the comparison is made, when I see now that I could’ve done far less work to achieve the same end result and recieve the same exact piece of paper?

I know this is not the case. I refuse to compare, contrast or judge. I know my time at Dynamic Media Institute brought invaluable insight and intellectual rigor into my life. I met fantastic people embarking upon the same journey as me, digging into Design with a capital D, looking deep into our souls and examining the current state of the world to see something seemingly invisible. To discover, through a very personal lens of Design: what I am about; what my work is about; and to, quite literally, tell the story of my context in this world. Such an intense program of study. Collaboration, innovation, fun. And in the word Design we find the word ‘sign’ which, interestingly enough, is the root word shared in the word Significant. Design brings significance, meaning, confidence and, yes, intellect to what we do as creative people of the world.

I feel a little bad. I think James missed the entire point.

Whitewash and Art Protest NYC Outdoor | Creativity Online

Whitewash and Art Protest NYC Outdoor

Activist group covers allegedly illegal New York City outdoor ads with art.

From Google Creative Lab's Ji Lee.
From Google Creative Lab’s Ji Lee.

To clear space for public communication and highlight what’s believed to be the illegal use of public space in New York City, a local activist group whitewashed over more than 120 billboards and replaced the ads with art.

To spotlight allegations that media company NPA Outdoor doesn’t hold the proper city licenses for a number of street-level billboards in lower Manhattan, Jordan Seiler of the Public Ad Campaign organized the New York Street Advertising Takeover to reclaim those spaces. On April 25, armed with maps Seiler created to point out the allegedly illegal billboards, 13 groups of two went out to whitewash boards between Canal and 30th streets. Later, more than 40 artists—the “Delete” poster above is from Ji Lee, creative director at Google Creative Lab and former branding director at Droga5–followed to produce art work on the newly ordained public canvases. Two whitewashers, one artist, and one videographer were arrested during the event.

“I don’t think anybody is trying to suggest we replace advertising with art work, but that we understand that advertising is a preventative factor for visual communication in our public environment,” Seiler says. “If I have something to say as a concerned individual and that needs to written on the wall in some way so that the world knows about it, advertising often prevents that from happening.”

Seiler says the idea for the project sprang from his ongoing work with Public Ad Campaign, recent interactions with mashup artist PosterBoy and a personal investigation into the legalities of billboards.

Find photos of NYSAT art work, below, and more on Flickr.

Muybridge High Five by I Am.

Muybridge High Five by I Am.


By Aakash Nihalani.

By Aakash Nihalani.


by Peru Ana Ana Peru and Anera.

by Peru Ana Ana Peru and Anera.
in the war of art vs design … who will win? ;] … stay tuned to find out more …