I Miss My Cave

man cave
noun Informal .
a room or other area in a home that is primarily a male sanctuary, designed and furnished to accommodate the man’s recreational activities, hobbies, etc.

Dictionery.com

During my latter years at school while studying my GCSEs and A Levels I began to understand the need for a cave. Of course still being at school and living at home I had a ready made one – my bedroom.

As a teenager in the early days of developing an interest in design, that cave allowed me to create the atmosphere I needed to work. I had a drawing table set up where I would work on creative pieces and study for my exams. It had a light that bent over me shining a focused beam on my work space and plunging the rest of the room into darkness. I had some of my most productive evenings at that table. In fact I have long standing memories of working on my graphics coursework close to a deadline with the masters snooker on my little tv and that light beaming a zone of creativity onto my table.

Moving to uni I again had my own ready made cave. The room in my halls of residence quickly became the place for all my creative work. Angle poise shining on my desk, laptop on, a dark room and momentum building music on late in to the night. Then the bedroom in my shared house in the final two years at uni and the first year in employment had a similar feel, but replacing my laptop with my iMac.

I miss those caves.

Since I’ve been living on my own I’ve not really had a cave. A flat with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom doesn’t really lend itself to creating one. The living room is a place for relaxing, eating and hosting visitors. The bedroom is for sleeping and relaxing, I need it to be purely for that else I’ll never shut down properly to sleep.

The quest for a cave

Since I’ve no space for a desk and no closet I could convert into a cave I’ve been exploring ways to create an environment that can be quickly and easily set up, then easily removed when I have visitors.

I’ve always tried to zone my living room so that I have a lounge area and a dining area. The dining area is the only bit of my flat that I can sit down and do work at and so it’s become the centre of my quest for a cave.

The table lamp which used to sit on my dining table has been removed and replaced with my angle poise. My laptop now has a home on the table and my wired Apple keyboard and Logitech mouse have come out of storage. All of them can be quickly packed away when visitors are around and for the first time in a few years I’ve been able to begin creating that cave like atmosphere as I work by the light of my angle poise. I can even do it with my iPad instead of the laptop should I wish.

Whilst it’s not quite the same as a permanent cave, it’s a step in the right direction until I’m able to afford a place with room for a permanent cave. Most importantly it’s already having an impact on the way I’m working in the evenings on my own projects as well as on personal freelance clients.

But the lesson that I’ve learnt, in this little exercise is that actually it’s not necessarily about having a physical space, it’s about atmosphere. In order to foster creativity I need the right atmosphere, a permanent place makes that easy to create but the quest for my cave isn’t really for a physical space at the moment. It’s about a way for me to recreate the atmosphere of my early and original caves. It’s about developing a method that allows me to quickly set up at my dining table and focus. Events over the last few weeks have caused me to realise specifically that by my very nature I’m a night owl and not an early bird. Maybe that has something to do with my atmosphere…

That—in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him—God won’t ever stop loving his children . . . with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

Sally Lloyd-Jones on The Gospel Coalition.

Gods Love

Mountain Lion on Daring Fireball ›

“We’re starting to do some things differently,” Phil Schiller said to me.

No kidding, not only are Apple surprising us with this announcement, they’re surprising us with how they’re doing it. A one on one keynote to announce the next major version of OS X for a select number of writers. Apple really do know how to work things to give the best impact.

If Apple were trying to make Mountain Lion more like iOS we would be touching the screen of our computers to interact with out apps instead of using the keyboard and mouse.

Mountain Lion is about familiarity and integration. The new features and apps in Mountain Lion make sense for a desktop operating system.

(Via Jim Dalrymple.)

Mountain Lion is not more like iOS by Jim Dalrymple

And keep in mind that having a daily “quiet time” or “devotions,” without communing with Jesus, won’t keep your soul alive. Mere reading and studying won’t do it. By itself, new information about God—glorious as it is—won’t keep our hearts soft and our souls breathing. We need the person of Jesus himself whom we find in and through the Scriptures. Our souls long for a living connection with the living God-man. We were made for this.

David Mathis in Study the Word for More Than Words.

Study the Word for More Than Words

I think I would be more approving if someone told me that I’m “developing as a photographer” as oppose to stating that I’m talented because that would at least take into account the fact that I’m “developing” as a result of all the work that I do on my end but that you rarely see or hear about.

Jorge Quinteros on The Topic of Talent.

The Topic of Talent

Some Thoughts on the Jawbone Era by Benjamin Brooks ›

For a device that many states require a driver to use, if they want to talk on the phone while driving, it is pretty amazing how crappy most of the bluetooth headset offerings are.

I’ve had similar experiences with Bluetooth headsets as Ben does in his review. Currently I have a Jabra and it doesn’t fit my ear whilst suffering the same interference problems as the Jawbone Era.

Reading Stories, Food for the Imagination

I work as a graphic designer. Like many other folks in my profession I find it hard to turn off. I may not be thinking about projects from work all the time, but I’m always thinking about projects I’d like to do or reviewing the things I see all around me. I see every piece of design and mentally critic it, 99% of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it, but it’s there, almost like a 6th sense wondering what questions the designer faced.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in a restaurant looking at the menu only to realise I’m not looking at what’s on offer but the way it’s been typeset. What font did they use? What does it make me think of the restaurant? Does it make the food I’m reading about sound even tastier or does it make me think I’ll be left wanting more? Does the menu fit the surroundings or does it just feel like a designer somewhere threw it together because he didn’t get a proper brief?

It’s a pretty constant state of affairs. Right now I’m glancing at the empty can of San Miguel thats sitting on the dining table. Does it look like the taste? Does it make me want to lie on a hot beach in Spain? What the heck has a ship got to do with beer? Why did the designer pick gold as the main can colour and break away from the green and white that used to be there?

I can’t turn it off, and many a time I’ve amused good friends as I verbalise my critique.

Unfortunately relaxing is made all the more harder by it. I read to do my relaxing, mostly the blogs of a select few but they’re people who I’ve come to trust. I trust that the links they post are to interesting content, articles that can lead me on a chase around the internet looking at websites, new websites. Websites that start the inner critic on it’s familiar chain of questions. Questions that lead me to find another way of reading.

Books.

Mostly made of paper that smell of ink and aren’t displayed on a screen. However, in this age of constant stream of information that feeds a thirst for knowledge, growth and understanding, I find I need a book that doesn’t make me think too much. There’s no point going to bed to read only to lie in bed for hours thinking about the chapter I just read and the challenges or knowledge it imparts. I need a good story. Something that will make me keep turning the pages, compelling me to read. So it is with great joy in the last year or so that I’ve discovered an author I enjoy, one that draws me to read rather than watch inane tv shows.

It’s not the novels that I write this about though, it’s the impact they have on me. As well as helping me relax, they force me to use my imagination. When reading about the unravelling story I’m forced to imagine the scene, what people look like and where they are. I’m forced to stop asking the questions I ask all day long as I review and work on the various projects I have on the go. That time away from questioning and evaluating can only have one impact as far as I’m concerned, that is, to make my work better. Having time to just imagine frees me from the constraints that are so often put in place when working. They may be imposed on me by the projects, or by the presssures I put on my self, but the more I read and use my imagination in a completely unattached manner. The more creative I feel, the more my imagination is fed the more easily I find work.

In a time when the people around me seem to read more than they ever did, I seem to be the only person among my friends who reads novels. I’d like to encourage you to start. Take a short story and read it. Start small and find something that feeds your imagination, a story which gives it new life and see what impact it has on your work.

Hyperakt » Work » Studio 360 » Rebranding Teachers ›

Teachers are currently represented by uninspiring, childish visual imagery. Images like apples, chalkboards, and the ABCs neither revere the profession of teaching nor do justice to the intellectual and creative development teachers help guide in students of all ages.

I love everything about this, from concept to execution, it might be for America in concept but it would work everywhere.

(Via Brand New.)

It’s Just Stuff — Shawn Blanc ›

We live in a world so lost in what it consumes that many people find themselves continually trying to define who they are by the stuff they own. Something so deftly summed up by Shawn in his post:

Instead, look at how he (or she) treats his family. What is his character like? Look at his relationships and his beliefs and how he spends his time. These things — the metaphysical, the intangible — they are the true extension of the soul.

WHAT’S WANTED v WHAT’S NEEDED by Dave Trott ›

I can’t tell you how much I struggle with the notion of supplying a client with a few options for them to see. They invariably pick the one that’s weakest. Maybe it’s that perceived lack of gumption that stops me doing saying something a long these lines:

“I don’t think you understand how this works, Steve.
I don’t do options. I will solve the problem, and you will pay me. It’s up to you whether or not you use my solution, that’s your choice. But I don’t do options.
I will give you my solution, and you will pay me. That’s how it works.”

(Via David Airey.)

Wecloming 2012 and Setting a Few Targets

It’s that time once again when many people are posting reviews of the year just passed. I always enjoy reading these posts, seeing the people I follow who have achieved all that or more than they hoped to whilst hoping those who didn’t are able to in the coming year. I’m always drawn to writing something myself, and whilst my last year contains many highlights – my trip to Israel, a summer in North Wales and a deepening of friendships that have become increasingly valuable – I always feel somewhat hesitant to “review my year”.

I think the heart of that hesitancy lies solely in my feeling of a lack of accomplishment. I never feel I’ve achieved anything worth writing about or highlighting. I call it the curse of the Internet. It’s so easy to spend time looking and comparing what I’ve done to all the people who have achieved a great deal, all the people who’ve had the guts to sit down work hard and put themselves out there. I’m always left reeling at, what feels like, my complete lack of gumption.

I am learning though. Learning to not let that fear of failure or fear of no one noticing be the reason to stop myself from doing the things I want to. Thats why I’m writing this post, to set out three small targets to try and set me on my way this year. I think they are all achievable and am hoping they will set me on my way to accomplish something this year.

In the last year I’ve put weight on. Some people will argue that I needed to, I’ve always been a bit skinny, but in the last year I’ve put on a little too much. I weighed myself over the Christmas holidays and well the number at the start was too high. My first mission is to lose a stone in weight by exercising more regularly and cutting out those little treats which have snuck into my diet.

The past couple of years has seen my blog fall in to decline, significantly. I’ve always enjoyed writing for my blog, but the past couple of years has seen a lot of things change in my life and it didn’t feel right to be writing about them here. Nor did it seem right to continue writing about things which on reflection are quite trivial when compared to the loss of loved ones. But time is moving on, and I feel that it is time to pick up my pen once again and begin writing for my blog with more regularity. I realise I’ve said this before, and it’s gotten past January, February and into March before I’ve really realised I’ve not done anything I’d hoped to, so I’ve given myself a number to aim for. I’m going to try to write four posts a month. Not four link posts, but four article posts, although I hesitate to call them articles. There’ll be no word count, just original content, content I create because I want to and enjoy it.

The third thing I want to do is a little more open ended and probably something that everyone hopes to do. I’d like to use my time to greater effect.

I’ve always been a night owl, I like staying up late, the quiet cosiness of being up late with a small light on and my book, sketch book or Mac for company feels great. The problem is when you have a nine to five job that kind of behaviour is not really helpful. Hitting the sack in the early hours of the morning and then rising only a few hours later to go to work is a recipe for disaster. Burning the candle at both ends only really has one destination for me, running myself in to the ground and an onslaught of mouth ulcers. So in order to combat this tendency to waste my time, I’m resolving to give my self a bed time and get up earlier. My aim is to be up at six each morning in order to do a half hour of exercises, then spend time reading my bible, praying and whatever is left can be spent writing.

Re-reading that last paragraph makes it feel like a pretty big task, but I think knuckling down and doing it will help me to achieve the other two points. More than that though, having a set time to sit and read my bible without distraction will be the biggest benefit of all.

I’ve always admired those who are able to get up early and spend some time each morning to do this. While I’m away in North Wales for two weeks every year, I spend time leading a children’s holiday club. When I’m there, life is so different to my everyday life that I’m able to easily get up early and spend time each morning reading from the word. I’ve become acutely aware in the last few weeks that it’s all down to a matter of attitude. I’m so aware of how important it is in those two weeks to devote my time in such a manner, that it’s time to change my attitude and devote that time every morning rather than in the evenings when I find it harder to concentrate and often run out of time. It’s something that I enjoy, but often feel a need to do out of duty, yet, when I set time aside I’ve seen the benefits in my life and my relationship with Jesus. I want to do it more and so this attempt to change my sleeping patterns is motivated by that desire.

And so with that, please join me in raising my hot blackcurrent to 2012 and all it has in stall!