As designers, our job is to find solutions to a problem that was given to us in the form of a brief. These questions never have one answer. It maybe ends with a final solution (that the client has chosen). However, it never starts with one. There are multiple answers and depending on the designer’s experience and interpretation, these can vary from one individual to another. The process changes as well, but there is one thing that is the same for everyone: creative block.
There are several ways to deal with it and overcome it. The technique that I use isn’t the best nor it is the worst. It is just the one that works best for me. Whenever I feel that I can’t work, find a solution, or am going in circles, I just take a break. However, I do not go outside, read a book or go and sit in front of a mirror to slap my face hard whilst screaming to myself “Moron!”. Instead, I just sit back, relax and listen to some good old jazz. Something along the lines of Miles Davis, Sun Ra or Benny Goodman. Basically, anything that can free my mind from thinking. I then focus on the music.
But why jazz in particular? Probably because it is the freest form of music that you can listen to. I believe that it is for that particular reason that it will free your mind – actually, mine – from the struggles of a design job. The fact that I put my focus on something that isn’t visual helps me in rebooting my brain. It is kind of like when I go on holiday.
At the end of the day, the simple fact that you disconnect yourself completely from the environment you’re in makes a huge difference. Thus, listening to jazz gives me a boost of energy, and that is because it actually brings me joy. We all know very well that we can’t get anything done if we are in a bad mood. So I’d say this, if you’re in doubt or you feel that you are in that weird space where you can’t get anything done, go to a happy place. Be it by watching a film, reading a book, going for a run or listening to jazz.
It is at the beginning of the early 2000’s that I started to give Hip-Hop a lot more attention. I was reading books and magazines about the culture, as well as watching documentaries about it and listening to rap. There is something that stroke me while learning about the culture. Logos. The logos that rappers, rap groups, clothing brands and crews had been unheard of – to me. I was astonished by the aesthetics involved in Hip-Hop’s visual identity. One of the logos hit me more than any other. Wu-Tang Clan’s “W”.
This logomark fascinated me and still does today. I remember being obsessed with it, spending hours drawing it from memory on any piece of paper that I had. It was like if I was possessed. There was a certain satisfaction in being able of (massively) reproducing such an iconic logo. I would then try to draw the different variations of it. I did this because I had found something that spoke to me. The thing is that I had not yet heard any of their music, but was able to still understand the importance of the mark. Not what it meant but more what it represented: the strength in numbers and that the unity of the rap group was as strong as the roots of a 300-year-old tree. It was just like in the old Kung-Fu and Shaolin flicks that my uncle used to watch. It is a symbol of truth, unity and honour and remains one of my favourite logos out there. Not only I have a strong connection to it due to my love for Hip-Hop, but it is also a logo that remains relevant after 20 years of existence, which is the most important that a logo has to do. Stay relevant.
Why do we do what we do? Why do we enjoy things that others don’t? Why do certain things in this world fascinate us? Why do we ask “why”? To be honest, I am not sure why. What I do know is that we are curious beings. No matter what it is, we will discover it, research it, read about it, then, we’ll talk about it. We’ve been through these stages several times in our lives. It is the time for me to go through those again.
Yes, this is an article about Los Angeles. A Los Angeles that has fascinated me for years. I am talking about the Los Angeles from Flying Lotus’s album cover “Los Angeles”. I remember the first time that I listened to it. It was at the time when I was studying graphic design in Saint-Etienne, France. I would visit my family and friends in Lyon during the weekend. I was at Thomas’s apartment, who is a great friend of mine. We were listening to music. He started to play the entire “Los Angeles” album. As much as I enjoyed listening to it, it was the cover that caught all my attention. I was puzzled and intrigued. I thought that it was a better version of the famous Massive Attack album cover. Even though I am a trained designer, I was never able to figure out what is on that album cover, until last year.
While researching for a blog post I was writing for work, I found the answers to my questions. It was right before my eyes. I was happy to find out what it was, yet, I felt disappointed. For a while, I considered the image to be the photograph of a Grace Jones type of woman, wearing a strange leather mask covering her whole face, apart from her lips. Later, I moved on to the idea that the black shape on the white background could be a painting or a piece of 3D rendering. It turns out that I was wrong. Unexpectedly, it was a sculpture. I couldn’t believe it. All the images that my brain imagined didn’t exist. None of it was real. The sculpture that Timothy Saccenti photographed for the cover is, however, very real.
I understand why “Los Angeles” looks this peculiar and memorable. I also know why it was so hard to get my head around it. I am happy to know that my brain still sees different things, even if I know that the represented object is a real sculpture. Los Angeles is real and so is my imagination. How is yours doing? I’d love to read about the album cover that made you imagine things that aren’t what they actually are.
As people, it is very common to enjoy simple things. A nice smoked piece of meat, a great song, a sip of freshly squeezed juice. Basically, anything that is good to us. I get to enjoy these things, but I also things such as the shape of a letter. This might sound strange to some people, but for designers and other like minded folks, this is pretty standard. We all have a few favourite fonts but when it comes to letters, it is a different story. I love Gotham Black’s uppercase G!
I remember the first time I saw that letter. It was in a documentary by French filmmaker Jean-Baptiste de Laubier entitled “Hooligan Disco”. The font was used on a black background in between sharp cuts of Para One’s US touring footage. It was there to introduce the viewer to the upcoming chapter. As simple as it was, I witnessed it’s extreme efficiency and was instantly blown away!
From that point on, I did my best to hunt down that font until I got it’s name. Gotham. A font named after the imaginary city of Batman was amazing to me. Actually, it still is! This is why knowing it’s name filled me with great joy!
I was still a student at the time, and couldn’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a font. I managed to “acquire” a copy of it through a friend’s friend. Once I installed it, I opened Illustrator and typed in the words “Gotham City” in Gotham Black. I remember staring at the capital G. Trying to understand it. Analyse it. I couldn’t break the reason why it is so perfect. Eventually, I gave up and realised that some things aren’t meant to be decoded and understood. Some things are just meant to be admired.
Sharing is something that is dear to me, which is why I started blogging. I have held several blogs now and this was when I started blogging. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually committed to one blog, and a few years back I started Hello Sounday.
A year ago, I was let go because my skillset wasn’t the right one for the company I was working for at the time. They hired for my skills in logo design and visual identity whilst they were mainly focused on web design. This made me think about what I really wanted to do and I’ve had a lot of doubts. I still do, but then, who doesn’t. I’ve realised that it’s ok to question yourself. I know that it has been just over a year since I last updated Hello Sounday, and that I abandoned it because “I was too busy doubting”. I guess that I was afraid of committing to it. Silly thought I know! All because I questioned myself. You know what? Deep down, I’ve missed writing! I’ve missed writing about the little things that I enjoy. Not to mention that I miss writing for you. Which is why I would like to spend more time researching a subject matter and write about it. I miss using my curiosity for something bigger than me. I also miss writing stuff that makes sense (to me).
So here we are! Hello Sounday is back and this time, I will do my best to create better content than I used to because there is always room for improvement. If you are happy to know that I am back and have special requests content wise, please do let me know.
Welcome back and have a sound day!