Seth Godin Explains Why You Should Blog Daily ›

With the arrival of Micro.blog my interest in my blog has picked up considerably. It’s always been there bubbling at the back of my mind, but actively posting micro posts to it has me once again looking to post other content more regularly. CJChilvers linked to an article by Seth Godin that Explains Why You Should Blog Daily resonated deeply with me and the growing desire to post to this site more regularly. It’s both a creative outlet both and a mental outlet that I know will be good for me. I intend to mix the content I post between links, quotes and original articles/thoughts alongside the afore mentioned micro posts.

Tinker

The desire to tinker is strong in this one.

I have this problem when it comes to my blog. The more I start to post to it, the more I want to tinker. The more active I am on the site, the more I notice little things I don’t like and want to fix. The more I post to it, the more I want all my internet posting to originate on it. It’s like an illness.

It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and I confess it’s a side to blogging that I enjoy. The trouble is, the more I tinker the less I post. The more I craft the design, the less time I spend writing.

It’s a battle, although one I’m sure I do not face alone. It’s not just the battle of a blogger, it’s a battle of a designer. Most of the tinkering I do is design related, little details and quirks in my theme which I notice but very few others will. I also know from experience, that I will get to the point where I’ve caught the little tweaks I need to and they will be fixed. Then it’s just a case of resisting the bigger things I’d like to do. Or at least knocking off the major ones first, like finding a way to post photos here and on Instagram, displaying them in a way I’m happy with. The key though, is to keep the posts flowing. Keep to my challenge of posting everyday, and getting through the tinkering stage until I get to the point where I’m just posting each day and all my published content originates here.

Or is it just a pipe dream? Should I just keep posting and ignore the little bits that nag?

But I know I can’t just ignore the nagging. I’m a designer, I like details and its in my nature to keep refining bits until they’re gone. To keep crafting until they as close to perfect as can be, it’s just important to keep the perspective, to keep in mind that perfect doesn’t exist. It’s about getting things to good enough whilst keeping on posting each day and building momentum so that the writing takes over the tinkering and becomes a creative outlet in its own right.

Building a New Photography Workflow With the iPad Pro ›

Drew Coffman has some interesting observations in the opening paragraphs of his article about Building a New Photography Workflow with the iPad Pro.

“I’m just now realizing that the more and more I embrace each creative process, the less time I want to give to anything but the act of creating” 

So often we change things because we think we should, but in actuality we should only really make changes in workflows and apps we use with motivation similar to the above. To free us up to create more things.

I like my blog, I enjoy it from many angles, from creating the design to posting to it regularly. But on reflection I realise that the thing I dislike the most is editing and feeling the pressure to write well. I just enjoy posting or my blog, and I enjoy reading articles and sharing the ones which I think are most interesting. Hence why my posting rate has increased since I made it easier to share an article to my blog from my iPad or my iPhone. The change in workflow has allowed me to do more of the thing I most enjoy about my blog.

Freedom of page ›

So often when we think of a blank page we’re scared by it, it creates a fear, a fear of the possibilities. But maybe we need to turn that upside down and find freedom in a blank page, freedom to create.

To create doesn’t mean you have to draw the plans of a skyscraper or the physics formula for the unifying theory of the universe. It can be as simple as taking notes in a meeting or writing a journal entry. Every new mark on a page is a baby step, and before you know it you’re taking leaps. 

The Week in Links

After a brief break last week, I was on a mini-holiday, The Week in links is back with it’s 26th edition. This weeks take a look at how we work and think, how the design of the web is pushed a bit more. And then some furter thoughts on Apple Watch, headphones, cameras, and the often speculated Apple Car.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition continues the evolution of the The Week in Links. Rather than presenting a list of links of varying length I decided it was time to start adding a little commentary and injecting some more of my interests and personality into the column. It is after all my personal blog that it appears in.

This week covers some technology news, some views on Art and Creativity, Le Tour de France, how dressing could affect our approach to work and an incredible video that I highly recommend you watch with your Sunday morning coffee or evening glass of wine.

Cheers!

  • The story of Windows 10 from inside Microsoft – It’s been a big week for computing with the arrival of Windows 10. I’ve long been a Mac user, and will be for a long time to come, but I have to say this release of Windows has me intrigued. I’m interested to see how it does and whether it can bring any traction in the mobile space.
  • Approval & Art by David duChemin – I really identified with this when I read it, in particular this short paragraph:

    The problem is that safety, in many ways, is toxic to art. We get addicted to it. We cling to it and venture out less and less. We risk less. We repeat what “works” and avoid what doesn’t. But if what works is what holds us back, it becomes a kind of sabotage to keep doing it.

  • Taking on the Tour de France – With the end of Le Tour last week, this VSCO Journal is timed nicely. Rather than your usual photographic essay looking at Le Tour with a focus on the Peloton this one has a more interesting take looking at those who are watching as well.

Other Reads

Creativity’s Worst Enemy ›

What if we simply replaced moments where we had every right to complain, and created something instead? What would the world look like? 

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine what the world would be like if no one complained and instead created something?

It’s all about your mindset, something that I’ve been learning over the last few months. How we approach things has a massive influence on our behaviour. The more that we encounter something and complain or dwell on it, the less likely we are to respond to other things in a favourable way. With this in mind, it makes so much sense that the biggest enemy of creativity is complaining. If we complain we expect someone else to fix the problem instead of looking for the solution ourselves.

The Focus Course ›

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN IT COMES TO FOCUS?

I’ve been following Shawn and his blog for years. He was one of the first people I met when I started my first blog way back in 2006, whether he’s aware of it or not he’s been one of the people who’ve inspired me the most in the last ten years. It’s no surprise to me then how postively his new project,The Focus Course, has been met. I’ve been following with interest over the last year as he’s been putting it together and the content he’s be creating around it has been his best yet. Pretty sure the course will be even better.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links covers a rande of topics. There’s the usual dose of Apple things, some thoughts from Shawn Blanc on focus and creativity, an obituary to one of the greatest type designers of all time, a moving video from Israel and a moving story from the Welsh valleys.

With the edition also falling on Father’s Day it would be remiss not to mention my Dad. So just a quick note to him to say thanks for being my Dad, you support me, you help me and you guide me and as well as being my Dad you’re also a great friend. Have a beer on me tonight!

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links is packed with some great reads and a stunning video. It covers notebooks, Antarctica, workspaces, focus, learning and a stunning piece of branding. Grab a coffee, beer or glass of wine and sit back and enjoy.

Rediscovering the Personal Site

It’s been an interesting start to the year to say the least, but one positive from it has been the renewal of my interest in both my own blog and the blogs of others.

I’ve been reading blogs, or personal sites would probably be a more accurate term in 2015, since I came across them in my second year at university in 2006. Back then I loved the idea of people publishing something to the internet and quickly set my own blog up. I came across a number of great writers who like me were just finding their feet in the world of Web 2.0. In the 8 years that have passed since then, I’ve had a number of my own blogs and lost my motivation/desire to post to them all at various points in time.

In the early days of the blog, there was what felt like a strong community. A group of people writing about what interested them in a way which was new and exciting. It was inspiring to see others sharing in this way and it made me want to do the same. In the years since I left Uni in 2007 there seemed to be a change amongst the blogs I read. They became focused and somewhat same-y in their content, it felt like the blogs lost their personalities as their authors pursued a desire to be better writers. A few of them managed to maintain the personality that drew me to them in the first place, but, many didn’t and as a result the blogs either died off or my interest in them waned. It was sad and with that homogenising of content my own inspiration and desire to write also dried up.

Over the last few months I’ve started to notice something different. Perhaps it’s just that my own mindset has changed, or it could be that I’ve been finding a bunch of new sites, or a reaction to the likes of Facebook who seem to want to be the internet rather than part of it. But the personal site seems to be rising like a phoenix from the flames.

Many of the sites are specialised, with focused content, but they no longer seem to be of one voice talking about the same thing all the time. They have personality. The posts, whilst often being focused around a similar subject, are varied and seem to be a reflection of the people who write them. It’s both inspiring and a joy to read these sites. They might be writing about a pen, a notebook or a new Mac, but they are doing it in a way which is interesting and engaging.

These personal sites have the polish and high standard that the web in 2015 demands, but they seem to be returning to the personality and interest that was so apparent in the the rise of the blog back in the mid naughties. It’s refreshing and I’m thankful for it. I applaud those behind it and I hope it continues long into the future.

The Week In Links

This week’s edition highlights just four things I think are worth looking at. The first is something I’ve never really thought about, but on reflection and with my interest in typography, should’ve been high up on the list. Following that is a valuable resource for anyone with an interest in in typography, an insightful look into a cycle for generating meaningful content before ending with an imaginative glimpse into what impact the Apple Watch could have on people’s lives. Enjoy your Sunday evening reading.

Let me make a note of that

Ever since I got my first iOS device, a 2nd generation iPod Touch, I’ve been on a quest to work out the best way to take notes. I’ve tried a shed load of different apps, Simplenote, Evernote, Notesy, the built in notes app, NVAlt… in fact if you can name it I’ve probably tried it. I’ve always read with interest articles on note taking setups, how people use them, how their go to app on their iPhone works so well for them, and I’ve always struggled to figure out how or why that is.

You see I’ve tried so many times to get into the habit of using an app, or a suite of apps, to make my notes in. But for whatever reason I’ve never been able to stick with one. I’ll go through a spell of forcing myself to use them, to form a habit so that my first thought is to use my phone or the Mac app, but they never stick. I can never get to the point where I can declare, so and so is my goto note writing app.

Except, now that I think about it, I can.

My goto for notes sits right beside me on my desk. In fact for the whole of my working life it’s sat right next to me on my desk, or in my back pocket. What’s it called?

Well it’s called paper, or a notebook, and I make my notes on it with a pen. Try as I might I can not break the habit of using a physical notebook to make my notes.

The habit stretches back to my school days. I always had a notebook, or the back of my exercise books, which I would doodle and scribble in. Then when I was 16 I started a Saturday job in a family run hardware store which further ingrained the habit. I always needed a piece of paper and a pen in my pocket, to make a note of measurements, stock numbers, phone numbers, delivery addresses, you name it and it was on my note paper.

Then when I started uni the habit continued, my sketch book was always with me. I’d use it to make note of ideas for projects, to record comments from crit sessions with my tutors and when I got the odd freelance job, to make notes from client meetings. The way I use my notebooks has barely changed since then. When I meet a client I take my notebook and my iPad, but it never feels natural to pull out my iPad to make notes (I use it to show work). It does however feel natural to pull out a pen and jot down some comments.

There’s something about the convenience of a notebook and pen that an app and my iPhone just can’t break. The technology, which on the surface presents a far more superior experience doens’t seem to be able to break the hold a nice notebook and pen has over me. With my iPhone I can make a note, I can tag it, it’s automatically dated and I can search to easily find what I need. It should be the best way of making notes. Except it isn’t.

Tapping out a note on my iPhone, just doesn’t give me the mental connection that I need when making a note of something. It may be less efficient, in the sense that it might take me a little longer to find a note because I can’t search for it, but I do (generally) remember where on the page I wrote it and over time I’ve developed little quirks to help make things stand out. Tasks get a little box to the left of them, if I think it’s important when I write it, it’ll either get a star or often a box drawn around it. Information gets segregated on the page by lines, but more often than not, the simple act of writing it down is enough to commit it to my memory. It’s something which, in this digital world we now live, I fear we will lose. Processing something in an analogue manner can have a far more lasting effect than doing something digitally.

There’s also something rather nostalgic about using a notebook and pen. I have every single notebook from my professional life as a designer on a shelf. I can pick them up and look back to a certain moment in time and have an instant connection. I can remember where I was, who I was with and what was going on in my life at the time. Some of them are all neat and look like they’ve barely been used from the outside. Most of them are nicely worn, weathered with age they bulge in the middle. But I think most importantly, they present a physical instance of the work I’ve done in my life. The vast majority of it is created on my Mac, sure some of it’s printed, but the ideas and beginnings of it all are in my notebooks. You don’t get that with a list of files on a computer screen, you don’t get little sketches or doodles that seemed like nothing at the time but which turned into a substantial piece of branding. The throw away moments that are so commonly created in a notebook don’t even get considered in a notes app. Those are the very moments I can’t give up, the very moments I won’t give up. They’re the very moments that bring the best out of me and my pen and notebook are the most powerful tools I own.

State of Create Study ›

This fascinating look at the attitudes about creativity confirmed what I thought about the UK and what I thought about the focus of a lot of business people in todays society. We lag behind in creativity, and productivity (or making more money) outweighs being creative (or making things).

(Via Jim Dalrymple.)

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.