Books, records, films – these things matter!
telling stories using other stories; exploring the connection between reader and writer – what is given and what is taken
Well, it just wouldn’t be in my nature to not change my mind last minute once again, but after what seems like an eternity of forcing myself to fit a certain criteria, for reasons which are still a mystery to me as well, I’ve decided to ditch the bullshit and return to the chase, to explore the means before I start obsessing over the ends. A few weeks ago, I watched Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity (which as I Google right now, am finding out it actually based on Nick Hornby’s novel by the same name) and this one quote really stuck with me. “I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films – these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth.” In some weird, (probably) cliche way, those strings of words pulled my head out of my own (desperately minimal swiss-esque) designed ass and made me realize that just because I admire the aesthetics of a certain style, doesn’t mean I have to personally embody every single aspect of it in everything I do.
For quite some time now, I’ve been crudely shoving what seems like a square into a space made for a different shape altogether. I’ve made things more challenging than they have to be, I’ve lived and design by a self fulfilling standard of rules that no one but me put there in first place. In the process, I lost a great deal of genuine zest for graphic design, but it stops here now. What I’m trying to say is that I want to spend my seminar exploring again, learning again, telling stories again. I want to spend this year taking advantage of the things I like, not creating a disadvantage for myself with crippling aspirations of what think I should be like.
What do I like? I like books, records, and films. (see above quote – ...these things matter!) I loved the Poster Design class, the Design Stories class, hell – I even lost my marbles back in the prerequisite Information, Images, and Ideas class. One of my all time favorite experiences here at Montserrat was creating book covers; a type only cover, an illustrated cover, and a photographic cover. I was thrilled with the concept of creating a visual that not only summarized the story I experienced in three different approaches, but also enticed another enough to pick up the damn book and read it themselves; the notion of revealing just the right amount of information without giving away any secrets. I chose Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for this project and it really made me think about why this particular story was so appealing to me, why I felt like certain parts of the novel were crucial and clever enough to be on the cover.
I’ve always been an avid reader, I have more books on my shelves currently than I have food in the fridge. The written language has always fascinated me; the ability to create an organic stream of conscious thought, a mental movie if you will, from words on pages is a beautiful, beautiful thing. My plan (currently) is to a.) redesign and produce new copies of books that have created an impact on me, books that have taken me to far away places without ever making me leave the comfort of my bedroom, books that brought me solace and comfort when I was still desperately trying to teach my voice box to sound out foreign English words, books that broke my heart and put it back together again- books that I really freakin’ liked and still love, and to then b.) create something similar in nature to that of autobiography using mostly (using nothing BUT, if possible) the lines and phrases from these books. I’ve been entertaining the idea of writing a biography since I attended a young writers’ conference back in high school, and after seeing the sort of work designers Chip Kidd and Peter Mendelsund do, I am more than inspired. Coincidentally enough, Kidd has designed covers for one of my favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs and Mendelsund has created a redesigned a “modern and minimal” cover for one of my favorite books, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I would redesign the covers of books that stuck with me throughout the ages, and given respective permission of text, produce a new copy of the particular novel.
Nothing is set in stone yet as I have a lot research, planning, reading/re-reading, learning about copyrights to do. This proposal calls for a long term commitment which is great because it allows for me to let the project change and evolve; it's something that I can definitely grow with and learn from. In the most general terms, it's something that I feel comfortable with approaching and working on all year. It brings together my strengths in design and typography, my bilingual abilities, and my love of language while still leaving room for other strengths to develop in the process.
22 August 2016
earlier proposal (May 2016) —
When I moved to America at the ripe old age of 6, I had left not only my war-torn country, but a fraction of myself buried beneath the city ruins of Gorazde. I had to make room for my new American self: my hot dogs for dinner, i-before-e-except-after-c, extra cheese, American dream. But no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many speech classes passed by, there was always this gap between me and reality. My reality was a different language at home than the one at school; my reality was speaking in English but thinking in Bosnian, panic attacks the first three 4th of July's, dinner at 10:00pm, crepes for snacks.
I used to think that the gap between me and reality was a curse, but I've realized that it's actually a blessing. To have a second language is to have a second soul, or I've read something somewhere along those lines. The fact of the matter is that language has been a prevalent factor in my life for as long as I can remember, and since I began exploring the possibilities and projects of graphic design here at Montserrat, language has been just as much as an influence in my work. My brain is never quiet, there's always some sort of chit chatter in some sort of language bouncing around in my brain — perhaps this is why I've become so drawn to clean, crips design. It's the opposite of my internal struggle; it's balanced, it's simple, but it still speaks volumes. But how are others who speak a second language influenced by it? What sort of lens are they seeing the world through? What does their word even look like? Do they speak a second language because they lived in a different country before? Why did they leave that country?
This is something that I would love to explore my senior year and portray my findings through a medium whose purpose is to close "the gap" — the place where our internal reality, and others', don't often collide. In the words of Paula Scher, "It's through mistakes that you can actually grow. You have to get bad in order to get good." This is a proposal that has room to grow, a proposal that allows me to use my passion for photography as well. This is something that I can explore and appreciate the process along the way. But also, it's about communication; it's more than just me sitting behind a computer screen by myself, it's about exploring the world around me and the way others around me see it. I hope to be able to create something that can come to life from that middle.