what really gets me:
couples in supermarkets
what really gets me:
couples in supermarkets
we gave good bones
and skin within
the globe, despite
my hummingbird heart.
one center, two extremes.
two paths, twice converged.
and yet, yet now:
is my heart where
is my body
Every once in a while, a book of poetry comes along and smashes your brain, occupies your psyche, and corrupts your vernacular. James Schiller is the author of that book, and I amazingly got to design it. Or as James said, “make the kill suit fully operational.” Both true.
The book will rip through your soul – if you let it. It’s scorchingly modern, inquisitive, and a beautiful reflection of what language is today.
Matt did an amazing job on the cover, inspired by the stuff people threw away in Second Life. Jesse made the smart recommendation to use Frank Grießhammer’s Quixo, which (after searching around) was a perfect voice for James’s work. And Slope Editions published it in square form. Yes!
Special thanks to mutual pal Margot who made the connection. Special thanks, Margot.
When you have a vision and you begin to achieve a little bit of traction, the notion of scale becomes clearer, becomes manifest.
My vision for the Designtrepreneurs series of conversations is to create the space for designers, entrepreneurs, and the LGBT community to coexist, connect, and share their stories. It’s a magically delicious trifecta of passion, professionalism, and perseverance.
Design and entrepreneurship are parallel practices: we go where the world can’t yet see, we bring form to things we believe need to exist. Similarly, the LGBT community has always questioned the way things are; our difference is but one of our strategic advantages.
Last night was the fourth time I’d curated and moderated a panel of stellar storytellers, all Designtrepreneurs in their own way. It took place at WeWork Soma, in the midst of SFDesignWeek. Over 150 attendees – the most we’ve had to date – gave their rapt and undivided attention to the panelists’ personal, raw, and unedited stories about being persistent, navigating difficult feedback, leveraging your network, emerging from fear, and being kind. In one story, we learned how to turn deeply personal challenges into viable business models.
I’m so gratified the panelists felt empowerment, freedom, catharsis. And the volunteers from the StartOut SF chapter who helped produce the event said that I was “doing great things for this city.”
What’s next is turning the series into a light and even more scalable template, not unlike the CreativeMornings model. Onward!
Today, for the second time, I led a two-day workshop in Visual Design at General Assembly (GA) San Francisco, as part of the User Experience Design Immersive. Nearly 60 students got a crash course in visual design fundamentals: concept, content, composition, typography, color, voice, tone, and what makes a brand. And that was Day One.
The workshop is a mix of theory and practice, principles and project examples. GA’s teaching model is “I do, we do, you do” — so the course content is a balance of lecture and facilitated group discussion, before individuals are equipped to implement on their own or in teams.
Day Two is all about activation — applying the lessons learned to a deliverable. Following a short recap, we democratically voted on a topic of interest to all students, knowing the constraint of the in-class assignment was to design a poster in under two hours. The topic selected by this cohort was the California drought — something we can, sadly, all relate to — and a matter of some urgency. The students are divided into teams of 10, with each team focusing on one aspect of the topic. Grouped with people they may not know, they learn how to do by doing.
I enjoy teaching for so many reasons: working towards the lightbulb moments, encouraging guided discovery, facilitating conversations, making connections, learning from each other. I enjoy teaching at GA because the students are diverse in age and experience, and they are all genuinely interested in the subject matter.
And the workshops? It’s an extraordinary environment in which something is experienced together, and experienced only once.
I was thrilled to be asked by Debbie Millman to be one of 75 designers creating an original print commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Print Magazine. I collaborated with Nick Sarno, owner of Press: Works on Paper, a nifty shop for print & ephemera in my ’hood. We worked with two constraints: we gave ourselves one hour to complete the project, and we were limited to using only materials available in the store. The N is formed from two notebooks, and the R from Richard Avedon’s Portraits. The eyes in I all happen to be female, and the dot at the top is the eye in the wooden sales counter.
A few weeks ago I had the maximum pleasure of attending an evening conceived of, curated, and hosted by James Buckhouse — called Sensorium. Prior to the event I’d only seen two dance performances in my life — one traditional ballet, and one at Jacob’s Pillow, which featured Stephen Petronio Dance Company. It was seeing the latter company together on stage that — for a moment — I saw the dance, not the dancers; I saw every body moving as one unit. But even that slight reorientation didn’t prepare me for Sensorium. In increasing order from most traditional to most modern, Buckhouse’s movements were intentionally interspersed with moments of pause. There was his intro, his personal story about being first moved by dance, delivered in a very Laurie Anderson cadence. Then, a moment to tweet about and share our impressions of the evening using #HopeCadenza. The final moment was a nearly 20-minute powerhouse piece, Hummingbird, beautiful to hear and see and behold. Colors and light were as minimal and intricate as the accompanying Glass score. (Philip remains one of my favorites — it’s deceivingly simple.)
What moved me beyond words was the narrative expressed through the body. What moved me beyond words was how that narrative was translated through the body and through space and time, how the story was expressed without using words. Two sets of main characters (as I saw them, identified through their clothing) moved together and moved apart. They were intimate and connected, feeling each other’s presence (lifting each other up), and then they were not (pushing each other away). Supporting characters (again, different clothing, and more of them) interacted and entwined, then drifted. I thought about my love in Brooklyn, about his body and how he moves through space, and moving through space together with him. I thought about how he and I originally connected, and how years later our paths crossed again, and are crossing, still entwined.
James’s hypothesis was that after seeing dance, we would express taking it in with shaking it out — so he booked a DJ to spin in the basement (I caught several songs with dance in the title or lyrics, but couldn’t stay for the length of the party). I had the opposite response — I had to go rest my body, yet my mind was spinning about the evening until 2am (rare for me to be up that late, but I was moved and parts of me still moving).
Bodies are false boundaries. Ultimately, we are all made of light and return to light. One masterfully curated evening has made me (re)consider how bodies are (and aren’t) subject to gravity. And it made me love dance.
More on James’s creation of the event here.
cord of black pigeons
on a gray building, gray sky
fog city morning
falling folds of gray
careening off a building
all of the light from the day
When we move through our own constructs, when we speak from the heart and not our thought-ideologies, we create joy for each other. We present our true selves. It is from this space we can truly love one another. When you see or feel this, express it. Share it. Be it.
toenail polish like headlights
talons blind mine eyes
It’s been a banner week.
I curated and hosted a panel of creative LGBT entrepreneurs at SVA. It’s called Designtrepreneurs, and this was the third in the series (and the first in New York) after two successful events in San Francisco. With almost 100 in attendance, moderated by the incomparable Debbie Millman, and featuring panelists Ben Watson, Executive Creative Director at Herman Miller; Mary Taylor, founder of Salt & Olive; Thomas Page McBee, author of Man Alive; and Ryan Fitzgibbon, Founder & Publisher of hello mr., I was thrilled that they participated, and that so many connections were shared across their individual experiences. Common themes were: living with vulnerability and courage, aligning head with heart, and having faith in your own life.
Two days later, the news of Tim Cook coming out as the first out CEO of a Fortune 500 company — let alone the most valuable company in the world — made me cheer at my 7am Twitter feed. I immediately texted Jonathan Lovitz, spokesperson for StartOut, and other leaders from that org, that we were +1, to a total of 3 out CEOs. Because Tim’s doing it, that sunlit path got a lot sunnier for others to follow suit.
And if all that weren’t enough, I launched an updated landing page for my new biz, and got a fantastic new apartment in the newly minted Potrission (Potrero + Mission) hood.
The more I live, the more this quote is becoming resonant with me. I clipped it from the NYTimes many many years ago, as if it called out to me in advance, aspirationally. The mind is a chatty thing.
what is there to say?
the Pacific ate our words
swallowed us slowly
nature doesn’t ask
the purpose of the flower.
pick any reason
when i die, happy explosions will be yours.
we tried so hard, these tiny
atoms of consequence.
a billion letters never sent,
words i couldn’t express:
all will resolve, calmly
forming an other’s
quest for meaning.
[with apologies to Edna St. Vincent Millay's Recuerdo]
it was very sunny, it was very hurried
we drove back and forth across the city
and i rented a mini, and drove it down lombard street
and i tried not to think it was like us:
lush, brief, beautiful, pretty;
popular attractions among many.
it was very foggy, it was very quiet
at the pho place with delicious complexity
like a library, a chain of libraries,
a template of noodles and tea.
during the day we sent postcards to our mothers
and pointed down at greenways hiding cars.
it was very brief, it was very sudden
the snap of a sheet, a city engulfed in flames
but to know i got close makes my chest hurt less.
it came close, but it came.
it was all for you, lover. my all, and all that i had.