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No Design Juices
Anyone else feel absolutely insane?
People can’t be trusted to remember anything these days, even the things that are good for them. I’m one of those people. Take this very newsletter for example: I’ll forget it exists for months; remember to post; forget again; repeat. I think I’ve always been this way, and I’ve only started noticing it because my friends will ask for the 411 on something I talked to them about the last time we were together, and between then and now, my brain has managed to discard everything of said thing. “So how’s it going with that guy you’ve been seeing?” And I’ll be like, who? And then they have to remind me. Or I’ll speak to them about an exciting new design client and the same thing happens. I like to fancy myself a rememberer, but it seems like I only remember things about my friends’ lives and not my own. (Is there something psychological about that? Maybe. But I’m not there yet.)
It happens on dates, too. The dashing new man, with his furrowed brows and Deus Ex coach jacket, will ask me about the show I was talking about the day before, and my brain will short-circuit trying to (a.) recollect what I’d said about the show, and (b.) what the show’s about in the first place. (So maybe it’s not psychological but rather merely a biological failure on my hippocampus’ part.) (Though, I don’t know, my hippocampus at the same time conveniently never fails to remind me of cringe-worthy times, like that time I got too sauced at a company party.)
At any rate, I’m too young to be an amnesiac. If God won’t give me 20-20 eyesight so I can be a graphic designer without putting contacts on, then the bitch owes me memory sharp enough to remember deliverable deadlines.
The upshot is this: in living in the moment and celebrating the here and the now, I’ve landed at a place where a (good, bad, in-between) moment vacates the real estate it occupied on my mind as soon as it passes. And that’s not good. I want to be able to remember that I got a feature on It’s Nice That last month without someone having to remind me. I want to remember what happened in the last episode of Love and Death without watching the flashbacks. I want to remember that I put up new posters on my Print Store and that I need to market them or else no one would buy them.
And I definitely want to remember that I have an invoice 24 days overdue to remind a client about.
I’ve opened up about how ho-hum and stagnant I’ve felt about my Instagram, mainly about it feeling more like a chore than a craze lately. I’m crazy about graphic design, and it drags me down that I can’t think of anything to design. It’s an inherently crummy feeling, and while I’d love to cast blame on the May Gray of it all, I think it’s more of a me thing than a my-mood-and-productivity-is-influenced-by-the-weather thing. (Please gasp as I, a Leo male species, actually recognize my shortcomings as opposed to spinning it around.)
I’m not a niched-out online presence, so inferentially I should be able to create posters on topics all over.
Whenever someone asks me about my personal process of designing a poster, my typical reply is: “I come in without a plan or even any inspiration. I just crack Photoshop open, set the canvas to 1080x1350, and let it take me where it takes me.” In the past two years of my sharing my posters on the internet, this is the first time the design juices wouldn’t squeeze themselves out from my fingers and onto the canvas. It’s wearying, and even though it is true that this feeling is transitory and that I should just let it run its course, it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still not a good state of mind to be in.
This is where stepping out of yourself, steps in. The pressure we put upon ourselves to always be the way we have functioned is, at least, glib, and, at most, grim. At that moment, looking at the drab canvas on my screen with design juices nowhere on their way, it didn’t matter that it made sense I felt depleted because I had taken on more client work that week, or that I had been with company the day before—all that mattered was that I couldn’t design even when I wanted to. It was selfish, dangerous, and unfair—to my own self! It made me insane.
Feeling insane has elected itself to be my default setting. Let it be my increasingly busy schedule (thank you to fun AF summer plans and groovy AF new clients), or maybe it’s my illuminating satori of “why say no when you can say yes”, coupled with my mission not to succumb to California June Gloom—or all of the a-fucking-bove—it doesn’t matter.
By design, our culture has subscribed to the notion that “doing the most = feeling insane = not good”, and there’s a lot of truth in that, but there’s also something to be said about the opposite; sometimes, doing the most does you good.
Sometimes, doing the most does you good.
Getting to a place of an unabashed, unconcealed sense of function has taken a lot of self-work. I used to give so many damns about how doing this one thing would resort in that, or how if I started doing this, this way then it would result in that. And it was exhausting. I spent more energy, time, and fucks to give thinking about doing it than I did doing it. What a horror show—and one that needs to be turned off. To quote the song of a defamed Real Housewife of Beverly Hills: “How many fucks do I give? NONE—not one! Zero, zero, zero—DONE!” (I don’t agree with a lot of her points now given what’s come to light about her, but she ate that one thing.)
Is there a causality between my dwindling memory and my mushrooming commitments? The answer is yes. Am I gonna do anything about it? The answer is no. Is this a wise decision? The answer doesn’t matter.
Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe it only makes sense to me. And I’m cool with that. Let me say this: our life only needs to add up to ourselves. Don’t be like me and spend energy, time, and fucks on shit that’s ultimately neither here nor there. But do be like me enough to say alright, that’s enough wasteful worrying for a lifetime. Close your laptop and go outside. You owe it to yourself to feel the chaos of it all.
chaos fuel ⛽️
In recognition of AAPI Heritage Month coming to an end, a bulk of this month’s chaos fuel will be fueled with works I love that are created by and/or feature AAPI genius and brilliance. Labeling them with 🥤.
Sorry, Chow Mane 🥤
Right There, Nicole Scherzinger (Give my girl her flowers!) 🥤
OUTTA MY MIND, Monsune 🥤
T’es belle, Fils Cara
ROTTEN, Jack Harlow + EST Gee
On My Mind, Diplo + SIDEPIECE
📺 Telly + Film
BEEF (2023) 🥤: If not for the poignant storytelling on the innards of the Asian-American panorama of life, then watch it for Ali Wong’s fluctuating coifs and Joseph Lee being the himbo househusband I aspire to be.
Severance (2022): WOW. Holy shit. The universe-building in this one is, in a word, arresting. The budget was high. Would die for Season 2.
Poker Face (2023): If you know me personally, I’ve most very truly highly likely talked your ear off about this show. They should, at this point, put me on the marketing payroll given the amount of beaming word-of-mouth I’ve given them pro bono.
Love and Death (2023): Lizzie Olsen with an axe? Hot. I’m sat.
Stay True, Hua Hsu 🥤
Gay Bar, Jeremy Atherton Lin 🥤
Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong 🥤
PicNic by Velvetyne Type Foundry, Quiapo by Aaron Amar 🥤, Cageroll by Jorge Villareal
Copywriting Examples – I nerd out on great copywriting, and this site has loads that you can filter by tone, audience, and type.
Font Brief – a personality font, but make it fonts.
De Soi – I know this kind of packaging identity has garnered some haters of late, but idgaf. I like what I like.
Alt Museum – if pieces at museums didn’t have dumbass titles like “A Study in Feminist Mentality” when it’s just a girl named Mona Lisa
Oh, and one last thing: can we get some fanfare for the rebrand? Hit me in the comments about what you think of it (and anything else we talked about in this email!)
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