I have always been fascinated with process. I love those "How It's Made" shows, or seeing a builder take raw sheets of metal and form them into masterful tanks and fenders. It's incredible. Process is so important to understand in order to truly appreciate the things we hold and use – even the things we see.
While working on a recent poster design for a collaboration between Iron & Air and Dime City Cycles, I noticed my design unintentionally starting to take on a form and feel reminiscent of legendary designer/typographer, Saul Bass. For those of you that don't know the name, you surely know the work. Bass created countless movie posters, title sequences, logos and more from the early 50's to the late 80's. Though the similarity was unintended, I must have drawn it up from my inner psyche and there it was staring me dead in the face. Because I knew I didn't bite it on purpose, and it wasn't copied from anything that actually existed, I decided to keep rolling with it. I mean, Bass was the fucking man.
Prior to this, the early stages of the poster had me struggling. What I was stoked on, others were not – my wife included (she's brutally honest). So I pressed on – through frustration and exhaustion – to come up with a design I felt strong about, which was the design I mentioned above (you'll get to see it soon). After some tweaking with Brett and getting the verbiage locked in, we both had that "hell, yeah" moment and that was it.
Struggling with design pisses me off. It's frustrating because I often feel like I should be able to do it faster, more creatively, with less process and more product. I blame the internet for jamming massive amounts of design and art into our brains and eyeballs everyday. Often it's more harmful to the process than helpful. Seeing work that guys like Bass did back in the day, made me wonder what they went through to create and design the work they did. I came across a great article on The Fox is Black (I guess the internet isn't all bad) that featured Bass' poster design process for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It is incredible to see the work that lead up to the final poster design. It is easy to look at how utterly simple it is and curse over Saul Bass' grave at how good he was. As it turns out, director Stanley Kubrick made Bass go through nearly 300 variations of the design before finalizing the poster below (in yellow).
My point is, without seeing the process and inherent frustrations and struggles that go into the things that surround us, it is easy to let them overwhelm you and force you to give in to the pressure. I go through it with every issue of the magazine that we put out.
Every. Damn. Issue.
When this happens, it's imperative that you stop, walk away, stay off the internet and look for inspiration elsewhere. Go for a walk or a ride on your bike. Call your mother. Read a few chapters of an old book you enjoy. Do some push ups. Talk to an elderly neighbor. Clean out your fridge. Pray. Oil your boots. Fix that door that isn't closing right. Tell someone you love them.
It's the moments between the mundane where creativity thrives. It's important that we learn to understand and respect the importance of these moments – after all, it's part of the process.