Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working.

It’s been a while, eh?

I’ve actually been posting regularly… just not here. Most have my ramblings have come from the inexhaustible source of being in a new land. It’s still Canada but seems so foreign at times. Of course I can just babble on and on about the sights I see, people I meet and delicacies I try but in the end my life comes right back to where I dread – this bloody computer. It’s not even my work station. It’s Suzanne’s manic depressive Dell laptop. I’d like to say I’m a victim of my own choices but the term victim implies circumstances that are beyond one’s control. I’m just a guy who’s stuck in an inescapable rut.

It’s a sickening feeling for a creative person to not feel creative. I used to draw a lot. Constantly even. It didn’t matter what the content was, I sketched, inked and colored any kind of content. Lately however I’ve been losing that urge more and more. Last month I forced myself to draw something for Halloween. Something for myself. A project for my own delight and to see if I still “had it”. It was somewhat difficult to get back into the driver’s seat. Doing creative work for others for the past decade or so almost made me forget how to be creative for myself. I produced a piece of digi-art that I (of course) wasn’t all that impressed with despite many compliments from those who saw them. Yes. I’m one of those temperamental artists who is never satisfied with anything I make and always strives for perfection. Since perfection is an unobtainable goal, I’m forever overly critical of myself and bust my hump harping on even the slightest details. Some say that’s a good thing because it always forces you to put out quality work. I say it drains the very life out of me.

You see that perfectionist attitude transcended into my job as well. While many of you may think web design and graphic illustration are a natural fit for my skill set, let me make something very clear – I can’t stand it. In the beginning I did it because it was an easy way to earn a buck . I wasn’t making as much as the talentless hacks that slap a blotch of dog shit on canvas and call it art so I made a game time decision to make the transition. Back in the early days of web & graphic design just applying some aesthetic cohesion to a site amidst the sea of animated .gifs and scrolling marquees made a huge difference. All it took was just learning how HTML code and brushing up on some JavaScripting. Flash forward twelve years or so and now we have dozens of web programming languages, more browsers than you can shake a stick at and all kinds of web elements you have to be aware of as a designer. Not to mention the fact that we’re a mobile dominated society all of a sudden so you have to design for that platform as well. There are so many nuances to web design now that it takes more time making sure what you put out is compatible than it takes to design it. I for the life of me can’t understand why programming, scripting and web languages aren’t placed in the same echelon as linguistic languages. I’m multi-lingual by those standards. I’ve learned so many different electronic languages that I can’t even speak or write English too well at times. It’s far more knowledge than I ever anticipated I’d have to learn and at times I regret knowing what I know.

I guess I lost my motivation with the advent of Flash. Flash and I have always been at odds with one another. I’ve been using it casually since about 2000 or so. I remember I was on a long train ride to Buffalo, NY sitting next to an older gentleman who had his laptop out. I couldn’t help but glance over at his screen. He knew I was looking and casually introduced me to Flash animation. It was smooth. It was fancy. It’s was flashy… hence the name. It was unlike anything on the web at the time. I remember him saying to me “this is going to change the web in less than 5 years”. I didn’t think much of it at the time but in hindsight he couldn’t have been any more correct. It did change the internet. How? It gave number nerds and people with otherwise no ability to create anything from scratch the ability to dazzle and delight simply by learning how to use the scripting language the program used (called Actionscript). Yes, all those tech-heads who were stagnated doing back-end coding for e-commerce websites and such suddenly had an outlet for their uncanny ability to program and crunch numbers. That lead to the second coming of the ghastly .GIF Nightmare of ’98 which I so aptly dubbed the Flash Abuse Agenda. Traditional web programming was cast to the wayside in favor of the new hip and happening Flash-heavy websites. I like Flash. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very useful and powerful web element that has it’s place. Unfortunately when any yokel can bust out some awesomeness simply by being good at math, it kind of took the passion out of it for me.

Who needs creativity when you can program, right?

And so I sit here, in front of this crappy laptop, learning new things in order to keep pace with the ever-changing Net world. I complain, bitch, moan and vent but I get the job done. I made my bed and I’m sleeping in it. It’s when people stop working expect the world to stop and hear them whine where I draw the line. I criticize and vent towards the faceless masses because if I didn’t, I’d be on the front page of some local newspaper with my jacket covering my head as I’m lead away in handcuffs. Everyone bitches to someone about their job. I just do it here so I can get it off my chest and move on. I guess my animosity can be construed as jealously or resentment towards those who simply adapted to the changing times and took advantage of what was in front of them but it’s not about that. I harbor no ill feelings towards anyone who can earn a dollar by doing some work. How can you? I’m more pissed with myself for falling into this inescapable pit of net advancement. Sometimes I just wish I didn’t get so dejected when I got turned down by Marvel at the tender age of 16 for being too young. I couldn’t process it at the time that they only said I was too young, not untalented or unworthy. I just took it as plain ole’ rejection and got it into my mind that I’d never be able to do what I love to do and get paid for it.

If only I knew then what I know now. Isn’t that the story of life?

6 responses

  1. thank you for so clearly articulating what i’ve been feeling for months now!! while i’m on the writing side, i direct designers and web developers and have had to get up to speed–fast–on what’s going on for my current job, which i started a year ago.

    i was overwhelmed at the number of programming languages, nuances, choices, etc. it’s still maddening and has taken a lot of the fun out of the creative for me. the technology is cool, yes, but the technolgy brings headaches too–constant change, a bigger playing field with too many players and programs, and more checking to make sure something will work across the board than building something that is actually…creative.

    you put words to my growing sadness over some unspoken loss that i can’t quite put my finger on. it is good to learn, but as you said, not at this frenetic and constant pace. it’s overwhelming.

    i hope you give yourself more permission and time to do creative play–not work–just for you. you’ll find your creative spark again, but maybe you just haven’t found the right project yet. 🙂

    December 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

    • You hit the nail on the head with the word “overwhelmed”. That’s exactly what I feel. I didn’t even touch upon program costs in my post (which I’m glad you brought up). It’s like a vicious circle because you have to bust your hump to earn money to get these super expensive programs in order to keep pace yet you can’t earn that money if you don’t have the programs. It’s no wonder there’s so much bootlegging going on. Perhaps if these companies lowered their prices to reasonable prices there wouldn’t be so piracy. It’s getting to the point where there’s no such thing as a freelancer anymore. If you want the apps you almost have to sign on with a company in order to get them.

      December 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  2. I respect what designers and programmers do because I’d rather bang my head against a wall until I’m unconscious than be the one to use the mad skills I learned in my single Visual Basic course or learn anymore html.

    I do have to say that there aren’t many jobs in the world that have an awesome sense of satisfaction running through the entire process. If you find one that pays the bills, that’s usually the extent of the goal for the average George. I think that’s why I choose the things I love as hobbies rather than income because I think they’d lose the hobby-love status the moment it started becoming the ongoing, work drudgery.

    Goin’ to check out the Nunavut digs now.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    • No doubt. I feel like I’m in dire need of a brain upgrade or something though. My capacity to hold information is at its limit. I fear I’m deleting parts of my childhood in order to retain certain information. ;p

      December 1, 2010 at 9:25 am

  3. I feel your pain, Ian…

    I decided when I was eight years old that I wanted to be a writer…in the 41 years since then, there have been very few people who wanted to pay me for writing…I have had to either work freelance, start my own publication (and sell ads for it), or work a series of “real jobs” totally unrelated to writing in order to feed my kids. I made the choice not to go to university, and now I am competing against kids half my age for jobs which I could do with one hand tied behind my back. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it…blogging is saving what’s left of my sanity!

    One thing I’ve never stopped doing is learning…if you quit, as far as I’m concerned, you’re dead!

    Hope you get your “groove” back soon!


    November 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    • Thanks Wendy. It just drives me right up a wall when I see 7 out of 10 websites that all look virtually the same. It’s rare to find uniquely designed sites anymore which would make you think that there would be a nice influx of business coming my way, but unfortunately people are sheep and go with what’s trendy rather than what’s different. I could ramble on for days but I’ll just leave it at that.

      November 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

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