I began my day as normal. I wake up, pick up my phone, check my email for Indeed and Simply Hired job listings, picking the most promising leads, and then email them to myself. I check up on my hood in my latest favorite iPhone game, Crime City, to make sure no one stole too much from my thriving businesses. If they jacked me too much, then I would have to go on a ferocious rampage exacting my stone-cold vengeance as Black Simone, my fictional persona. But, no one was too mean to me today, so I grabbed my money and started my usual ritual of maxing out the levels of neighborhoods, robbing and looting as I please, and occasionally stopping to reinforce my expansive arsenal of cars, armor, and weapons (melee and guns). Once I’m out of energy, I deposit the remainder of loot, not spent on reinforcements, in the bank. In reality, I’d much rather keep it in my own personal military-grade ballistic steel safe in my crib, because banks are just corporate crooks, but I guess the developers of the Crime City don’t think the way I do.
After I finished up with Crime City, I move on to researching my latest infographic, an illustrated history of cannabis and possibly hemp, which to date remains unnamed. Unfortunately, my attention is divided between that and maintaining my blog, making edits on my latest post, and checking my updates on Facebook and Twitter. Periodically, I check back to my email to see what else comes in. I get numerous emails from Daily Infographic or various retailers/apps that I subscribe to mainly to look at the design of their emails, usually not to buy or read them.
Today, Daily Infographic highlighted an infographic about the recession’s effect on families in the UK and while reading through the graphic and digesting the content, I’m immediately remind to an article that I read a couple of months ago from the BBC about the authorities seeing a rise of dealers renting rooms in middle-class suburban homes because the UK homeowners’ disposable incomes are getting swallowed up by inflation in food and other living costs. I immediately retweet the infographic, the link, and my corresponding terse commentary using TweetDeck, then go about my business.
Sometimes I will come across some flight of fancy in my inbox that I captures my eye and then, I allow them to market to my sensibilities by reading and digesting the copy. Sometimes I’m engaged, most times I’m not. Copywriting has gone downhill a lot lately, so I’m not impressed enough with the writing these days to get idly inspired from their messaging. Today, I’m not engaged at all, so I don’t even bother to read the rest of my emails.
Loud latin music starts bleeding in from the rear of my apartment and I register that Rick, my boisterous roommate, is up. I don’t respond to his personal party, because I’m in the zone despite being distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing, my Cannibus research. After awhile, I start to hear Rick stomping around up and down the hallway, I call out my usual greeting, “Ricky!” He stops suddenly. In his surprised, but soft voice, he quizzically responds back, “Tam?” Then, I hear him stomp back in hurried steps back to the closet. He’s quiet for a few moments and then stomps back to the outside of my door. Hesitates for moment before opening the door slowly, peeks in and then says with a big smile on his face, “I didn’t think you were here. I thought you went out already.” Then he adds with his signature naïve, goofy giggle, “I’m so glad that you didn’t come out, because I wasn’t dressed!” Oh Ricky. I laugh at him, he closes my door and continues on with his usual routine of getting ready for work.
I then check GChat to see if my friend, John, is at work. I’ve only known John for a couple of months, but we’ve become fast friends. I chat with him almost everyday now. I can tell how busy or slow his day is by the length of the lulls between his responses. Today isn’t that busy, because we managed to get deep in discussion about our respective family issues. He’s a creative too, specifically a front-end web developer. So, we’re always shooting the shit about our usual gripes working in our individual fields, particularly working for non-creatives, the cons about working with agencies, etc. You know, the usual designer shit. He’s who I have to thank about setting off the bells in my head concerning my ultimate plan as a creative.
I’ve had this idea in my head for years and years to start my own creative collective. I’ve been talking about it off and on for sometime now, but I just started getting real serious about doing it since I moved to NY. My idea is called Col.lab. Col.lab is a launchpad for creatives (like Behance, Krop, or Design:Related) to discover other creatives and then collaborate with them. It’s an online platform for professionals (like Mediabistro) that comes to life off-line (like Meetup). I have many ideas on how to connect creatives to each other, the type of programming, events and projects I want to push and market. I’ve only just started telling my friends about it. I reached out to an acquaintance of mine, Freddie Pikovsky, recently and wrote him an in-depth email asking him for advice on my next steps, since he successfully launched his own kick-ass start-up, OffTrack Planet. Haven’t heard from him yet, though I eagerly await his response.
I’ve been dreaming up branding ideas in my head that I haven’t yet cemented digitally in Illustrator. It’s still fluid right now. I don’t want to put anything down yet until something REALLY epic hits me. Right now, I just have the clichéd visual metaphors that come to mind when I say the name, Col.lab, such as a lab, and all the typical items in a lab, like beakers, Bunson burners, test tubes, flasks, glass apparatuses, etc. I’m also thinking about visual metaphors for collaboration, such as some intertwining hands, puzzle pieces, revolving arrows in a circle, interconnecting gears, overlapping circles like in a Venn diagram, people in a circle, a handshake, etc. But, nothing pops. So, I’m gonna sit on it and let it marinate a bit.
Anyways, I digressed. What prompted this post was my conversation with John. We were discussing my latest infographic idea (one about the dangers of political correctness) and he asked me about the progress of my other ones. I get ideas all the time, but I can only work on them one at a time, because I get sidetracked all the time. Kind of like how I did today, by writing this post instead of continuing my Cannibus research. Oh well… That’s what tomorrow’s for, I guess.
Me and John talked about my research and how he thinks the prospect of research is boring and would much rather have someone do that part for him, while he just focuses on design. Whereas, I like researching. I learn so much from reading about various different things that it informs my insight as a designer. For example, when one of my regular clients was featured on an upcoming reality show, I volunteered to do competitive research on the prospective client that the agency was pitching to. I learned so much about building a successful brand and creating your optimal customer and then catering only to that customer, that I wanted to try to do that with my client’s clients. So, I created an email mockup for one of the brands that came to the agency for rebranding and designed it specifically for the type of customer the client should be targeting. I researched the latest industry trends related to the product they were pushing, so I could get into the mindset of what’s out there and hot, hot, hot, right now. I wrote the copy from the voice of a fashionista, yet with my signature edge. They loved the approach and design that I dreamed up for them, but when it came to putting the idea in practice, they fell short.
I then realized that not everyone is operating from the same insight that I am. I may be curious about the world around me, the industry that I work and play in, and the industries that I design for, but everyone else doesn’t see things in the way that I see them. I did the research and derived a different insight into building a brand than they did. Mine was strategic, but all they understood from it was the visual. So, while they are running with the idea to beautify and modernize their emails and keeping up the pace with their competitors, I was thinking like the brand leader that I was researching and trying to build an email that would attract the type of customer that the client wanted to reach.
But, as I write this, I’m beginning to see that it was my fault. I never explained my insight to my boss after I created it. I showed it to her and she fell in love with it right away and decided immediately to present it to the client at the meeting they had scheduled for later that day. Enraptured by the unexpected praise and ego boost, I lost my head and failed to tell her my insight behind the design.
Damn, I’m really digressing today… That’s what happens when you start writing with no real plan of what you’re aiming to talk about. Anyways… I will continue this tomorrow. I’ve got a dinner to doll up for and a prospective phone call with the visitor to be ready for, so I have to cut this short, meditate on my mistake and forthcoming solution, and then try again tomorrow.