The Place Where Ideas Go To DIE

Today’s blog marks one week past this blog’s eighth week of existence! It also marks the first time I’ve ever been able to blog about WHATEVER I want. Which is a bit daunting, actually – having to come up with a new idea every week would be a STRUGGLE. And incidentally, this is kind of what I want to talk about this week: the relationship between inspiration, ideas and creation! In each Digital Media Lecture we talk about all sorts of interesting aspects of the creative process and view lots of lovely examples of the concepts we’re discussing. Every Tuesday morning after the RTA 102 and 103 double whammy, I leave feeling totally FULL of motivation to create things. And then, usually… I don’t. And it’s not for lack of ideas, because I feel like at any given moment I’m full of 100. It’s just that I get stuck when I come to that natural next step of actually executing the idea; making something out of it. And I think a lot of people have the same problem.

Why is this? I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. At the root of every rad piece of digital media we view or experience, there’s a great idea. If I want to improve in this field (which I do), and get more experience producing media (ditto), and enjoy making things (yup), then what’s stopping me from taking my ideas and turning them into something?

I think there’s a couple things:

  1. Most of my “ideas” are really more like shadows of ideas – they have decent potential, but they’re not really fleshed out. It takes work to make a sub-par idea really great, and time and dedication that a lot of people aren’t wiling to put in.
  2. On which note, the classic “time” excuse: we just don’t have enough! This is maybe a little true, actually – most people are trying to succeed in school and/or work, have a social life, and some time left over to actually relax and SLEEP. Still, most of us (ME) are totally guilty of wasting time – time that could be put to better use on creative projects?
  3. And finally, it can be hard to have faith in your ideas! I definitely get a bit (totally) intimidated by all the madly skilled people I’m surrounded by; like, “There’s no way anything I make could ever be as good!” It’s actually a really exciting place to be, because, what a totally swell opportunity to learn from people! But intimidating, because it can be hard to have faith in your creative voice when you’re feeling your skills are wildly inadequate to those around you. HOWEVER, what I and all my similarly plagued comrades have to remember is that if you DON’T practice, you NEVER get better. Have you ever had that fantasy when you discover you’re a natural talent at something? ’Cause I totally do. Sadly, THAT’S NOT REALITY, FOLKS!

So, how does one overcome this kind of creative blockage? There’s the totally obvious answer, of course, which is, JUST START. But personally, I’ve always found that advice to be kind of obnoxious because YEAH YEAH YEAH whatever, whoever’s giving that advice is obviously now quite successful, so easy for THEM to say! But not so easy for whoever’s staring at a blank Photoshop page, despairing how they’re ever going to fill it up, and what’s more, in a way they can be relatively proud of! So I’m going to attempt to give myself some superior advice:

  • When you have an idea, write it down, even if you think it’s awful. It might have potential!!
  • Let your ideas just chill for a while, and then come back, and work on them.
  • Make a plan: HOW are you going to execute your idea? What skills might you need to acquire, and how will you do that (Can I get a Lynda.com??)? When?
  • If you fail, give up for a while – drown your sorrows how you see fit, etc. – but try not to give up forever.
  • Ask all the cool talented people you know for help. Try to avoid the ones who will ridicule you. (PSA: actually, if you think they’ll ridicule you, they’re probably not all that cool and you should leave them some passive-aggressive post-it notes to communicate this.)
  • HAVE FAITH, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN YOU!! Cool? Cool.
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DON’T JUDGE A BLOG BY IT’S BANNER…

… But DO judge a film by it’s opening credits!! Or a least, judge the opening credits, period. Because good opening credits, and, more broadly, good motion graphics in GENERAL can be SUPER RAD. There are about a thousand super cool things you can do using motion graphics and most of the time, you probably don’t even 100% realize that they’re going on! If you actually consider the many, many steps that go into making a cool motion graphics sequence, it’s pretty mind-blowing.

SPEAKING OF COOL MOTION GRAPHICS SEQUENCES! Here are some examples!!

I love the opening credits of Juno (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20PQBtyfNZY). I debated putting them here, because I did struggle with the question of, is this truly a good example of motion graphics? But actually, I do think that it is. (Do you disagree? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!!) I did some reading on the difference between the two because I wasn’t totally clear, and this is what I came up with:

“Animation is something where a non existing character is created by the modelling artists with a computer and a story is framed by several other artists…

…Whereas, Motion Graphics or Visual effects are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the setting of a live action shot…” (http://www.editingcorp.com/difference-between-animation-and-motion-graphics-or-visual-effects/)

So, Juno is definitely more the latter! Though the footage looks as though it may be original animation, it’s probably live-action film that’s been edited and altered, with text and effects overlaid on top.  As for WHY this sequence is so effective: it’s so quirky and playful, really setting the tone for the entire movie. It grabs and holds your attention and makes you curious about the character you’re seeing. And the fonts and the music all work together cohesively to further set the mood. It just makes you feel good!! You want to keep watching because it’s so delightful!

I am also quite fond of the opening sequence of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbEsSsiozNU). It’s sort of pulpy and full of poppy, intense colour, all of which really nicely riffs on the film’s comic book origins. The frenetic movement of the text follows the beats of the music, which accentuates its role as an important element in the film. I especially like the way that the graphics that appear next to each actor’s name relates to their character in some way. It’s like a cool subtle little bit of foreshadowing without giving too much away in the way of plot.

Watching all these motions graphics clips get me very excited to make my own, but, I must be honest, I haven’t the FOGGIEST what I want to do. There’s just SO MANY OPTIONS!!!! And so little time!!! I always feel a lot of pressure at the start of a new project: I want to learn the software and I want to make something AWESOME, so I better not waste all that time making something uninteresting and sub-par. It’s a bit like reverse artist’s block: we’ve watched so many cool, beautiful videos and I’m just feeling inspired from so many directions that I don’t know which way I want to go!!

I do really like the examples of movie opening credits I’ve seen, so although obviously I don’t have that much time to work with, I think I may do something with typography showing a short quote from the film and then the title. One example that I’m thinking of is, for the film “Bottle Rocket”, having the line “On the run from Johnny Law… Ain’t no trip to Cleveland” pop up on the horizon over an empty road. Then a car shooting fireworks out the window drives up the road, kind of “knocking over” the text. Then it zooms in on the car’s back license plate, which reads “Bottle Rocket”. Of course the big hitch with this idea is that I have NO IDEA how I would execute it!!! Perhaps by drawing some of the elements, like the horizon and the car, on paper, and using a combination of the scanner and photos, kind of stop-motioning them? Well, you know, one step at a time. I really like the idea giving the viewer a good sense of the film in a very short, concise clip. It’s a cool challenge. And I love “Bottle Rocket”, which is such a weird, dry film, so I’d get a kick out of using it for this project. Right now, it’s just exciting to consider all my options!

Dear Digital Diary… + Bonus Infographics!!!

Keeping a digital diary was rough. Usually, you know, if you have like 2 minutes to kill while you’re waiting for a friend or something, you just check Facebook. But then WAIT! You have to WRITE IT DOWN: October 6, 10:05am, checked Facebook for 2 minutes. Right away, I noticed a lot of those “checked Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/email” entries showing up. Which is not exactly surprising to me. I KNOW I do it a lot. I notice it every time I go on Instagram and am like “There’s nothing new to look at!!!!” and then realize that it’s because the last time I looked at it was only 30 minutes ago. OOPS. Time to unplug perhaps?!?

Having said that, realistically, probably not! Unplugging isn’t really practical or realistic, and that’s not necessarily a BAD thing, that’s just reality.

Another common activity in my digital diary was “Logged into D2L” because I need to use it to stay on top of classes, get information and review lectures. The internet in general is also basically the most useful resource ever and it’s accessible with just the click of a button.

I also text and/or phone people very very frequently. Real talk: how am I supposed to be social without texting?? I know that’s a very MILLENIAL attitude, but seriously. That’s how it’s done nowadays! I didn’t text all that much in high school, because I went to school with all my friends so I knew exactly where to find them for 5 days of every week and if we wanted to make plans we could usually just do it in person. But now, everyone has different schedules, and, especially with friends who don’t live in my building and aren’t in my program, they can be very difficult to track down! And if you meet someone, but God forbid, FORGET to get their number, it is quite possible that you will NEVER see them again! How tragic! I present to you this hypothetical but entirely possible situation: It’s Saturday night and I’m at a party. I go into the hall for a breather, because it is quite hot inside and smells like LeBron James’s gym bag. I strike up a conversation with the girl standing next to me in the hall and it turns out we both share a love for Montreal bagels and the films of Bill Murray. What an amazing coincidence!!! Clearly our friendship was meant to be, so we decide to meet up the next afternoon at the Bagel House. Then her friend, who signed her in for the night, shows up and drags her off to another party, so we part without swapping numbers. The next day I arrive at the Bagel House on Yonge Street at the prescribed hour. After half an hour she still hasn’t arrived. I am feeling quite indignant. Then my indignation morphs into shame and annoyance as I realize that we never agreed upon WHICH Bagel House to meet at and she could be at either of the two other locations!! And by the time I get to either of them she will probably have already given up and left!! Or maybe she DID just decide to stand me up??? I’ll just have to text her and… ALAS NO!!! I NEVER GOT HER NUMBER!!! And she doesn’t live in res and I never learned her program and I have no recollection of who her friend was! I will never find her again!!! My potential soul mate!!! Shaken by this distressing realization, I go purchase myself a poppy seed bagel and wander morosely along  Yonge street, wailing her name and crying salty tears into my delicious snack.

the end.

This is a CULTURAL AFFLICTION!!! Texting and other social medias make life SO MUCH easier, but also a lot more stressful! Unless you are a very self-assured, self-actualized person (in which case GO YOU) it can be hard to spend more than like four or five hours all by yourself, just doing stuff, before getting a bit freaky: Why has no one texted you?? What’s going on with everybody?? There’s no way everyone is just doing their own thing too?! Everyone is probably hanging out without you!!! But then, on the flip side, it’s really nice that it’s super easy to connect and share your life with your people! It makes staying in touch with the people you care simple, and when something sad or exciting or weird happens to you and you want to share it, you can.

This has gotten quite lengthy, but I’m not quite finished yet. Before I go and leave you once again to your sad, caps lock-void existences, I will share with you some lovely infographics I found specially for your viewing pleasure!!!

This first one was done by Copenhagen-based graphic designer Peter Orntoft (all his work is very cool and you can check it out here!!).

The project, ‘Infographics in context’, was created for the Danish company Selfinitiated to compare social interests of Danish people. He used an expertly composed photograph to demonstrate his data in a way that immediately catches the viewer’s attention and is very easy to understand. The image beautifully relates to the data and the story it is telling and the issue related in the image is extremely topical and relevant in many parts of the world, not just Denmark, making it very shareable.

I’m also really fond of this “Where We Live” infographic, which illustrates population density in the United States in a way that is instantly understandable and eye-catching. It communicates large amounts of data very quickly.

If you want to learn more and go into detail, there are captions to read, but you can still take a lot away with just a quick glance. It tells a story of growth is pleasing to the eye, as well as relaying relevant and interesting data!

A Poster for a Music Festival that I Have Always Wanted to Go To

But alas!!! So it goes that I have never quite been able to attend. But over the years, I have heard lots about it and been most enchanted by the lovely descriptions and whimsical name. However now having created this poster, it’s almost as if I have attended in spirit!! And I’ve read enough about it over time/researched it thoroughly enough to validate that all my previous suspicions about it were correct that I feel quite confident presenting to you my poster as a good representation of this lovely event. And who knows, maybe this summer I’ll finally go! It kind of seems like I have to now…

qbradshaw_poster

The following is the poster’s accompanying artist statement! (To clarify, that is to say: me. I am the artist. You’re welcome.)

This poster is for Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Sudbury, Ontario’s annual music and arts festival. I tried to create a design that would capture the spirit of the place and the event and appeal to the target audience. This festival has a strong focus on independent Canadian art so I created an image of pine trees because they quintessentially northern Canadian. As they are found in boreal forest they also relate to the name Festival Boreal. It was important to me that my design had a whimsical, aesthetically pleasing look because this festival is a community-focused and family friendly event, and I wanted my design to communicate this – I didn’t want it to be something that would ONLY appeal to teens who like partying, or parents looking for a mellow family outing. As this event is marketed to people of all ages I wanted my design to be something that would appeal to a wide range of individuals, so I settled on a “Nature” theme because it is something that all people can relate to on some level. It is also an important feature of this festival, which is outdoors on the shores of Lake Ramsay, so I thought it was an important element to include. I put the trees on a dark background to evoke the night sky because I wanted to connect the design to the “Northern Lights” part of the name. It also contrasts really well with the light-coloured text and the yellow sky above the trees. The colour choices were important to me. The bold, bright colours contrast and stand out nicely against each other but don’t clash or overwhelm the viewer. I also tried to make use of complimentary colours – for example, the red underneath the green trees. I painted the trees to get brushstroke texture because, as this is an arts festival, I wanted to appeal to people who enjoy art. The font I chose, River Drive, similarly has a painted texture, again because I wanted to create that connection and also because I wanted to repeat the brushstrokes texture of the trees. I tried to repeat elements where possible, such as using the same simple font, Futura, centered at the very top and bottom of the poster to communicate event details. I chose to use a second, cleaner font because if I had written everything in River Drive, it would have been too hard to read as in a smaller size and taken away the impact of the event title.

To assemble this poster, I started by painting and scanning the trees. Then, using masks, I created a multi-layered effect. I also used several effects and tools such as the blur tool, paintbrushes erasers to smooth out edges, enhance colours, and add in additional. My ultimate goal with this poster is that it will draw people’s initial attention, attract a wide spectrum of people to the event, and communicate the pro-art, nature and community tone of the event to viewers.

(Don’t) Put Your Foot In It

You just made a digital footprint on my blog – OH MY GOD I PAID LIKE $2000 FOR THAT COMPUTER I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST STEPPED ON IT!!!!!

Chilllll.

I’m KIDDING!

Allow me to introduce me to the concept of a digital footprint. Everything you do online, like visiting websites or Googling or logging in to Facebook or watching funny cat videos on YouTube, contributes to your digital footprint. So, by visiting my humble lil’ blog, that’s become a part of your digital footprint. Neat-o! My personal digital footprint is probably like at least 75% composed of social media activity: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and also, perhaps kind of shamefully in this ~modern age~, email. I also do my fair share of Google searching, Netflix watching, and I like to read food blogs in my spare time like a 30-something year old woman.

I have a pretty low-key online presence. In the past when you image-searched my name, a photo of my Dad would appear a good four or five rows above the single picture of me that would turn up. Since getting Twitter, a tiny image of my profile picture will come up higher up in the results, but that’s about the extent of it. Meanwhile, a generic web search of “Quinton Bradshaw” turns up the typical lists of possible Facebook profile matches, none of who are me, and my Vimeo page, which, given my program and the fact that I’m not embarrassed of any of the videos on it, I’m pretty happy about.

My take on digital identities is probably somewhat different than most people my age, because my mom runs a business (shameless promo: www.bizpixplus.com! Check it out people!) focused on helping people create a professional online identity. So I’ve definitely always been fairly aware of the value of being careful of how I come across online and trying to monitor that. Because of that, I’ve never really posted anything stupid or embarrassing or gotten involved in any vicious Internet feuds.

That’s not to say that I think we should all be Internet hermits and never put ourselves out there, because I definitely see the value in that, especially as an artist or a creator. Sharing your work online is a great way to gain a following and build your reputation. Having a visible online presence also allows you to network and meet other like-minded individuals. As long as you’re smart and mindful bout what you’re putting out into the world, then if you want to, you should go for it!! From a personal standpoint, as a creative person hoping to enter the media industry, I wish I had a stronger online presence!

In the meantime I’ll settle for this blog and my expertly curated insta, though – baby steps, right??