June Recap

We’re off for a two-week summer vacation by train to the Pacific Northwest. That means the studio's closed (even our inbox). It’s an exciting time for Trischler Design Co. because of adventure ahead and because there’s a lot of great work to look forward upon our return. But, let's not get too far ahead ourselves. Instead, here’s a few good things to reflect on from an abridged month of June.

 Painting by William Schickel

Painting by William Schickel

William Schickel on The Web

We were introduced to the late artist William Schickel earlier this year. It was on a visit to the William Schickel Gallery run by his son Joe Schickel in Loveland, Oh. We were immediately struck by the depth and array of William’s work. There was great excitement when we were asked by Joe to make a website for the gallery. Up until this point, he hadn’t been much of a web presence. The goal of the new site (created on Squarespace) is to introduce people to William's life and work, make it simple to schedule a visit the gallery, and to sell resources, prints, and merch via an online shop. Ultimately, we hoped to give others a glimpse into a man's life who, in only a few months time since our introduction, has had a profound impact on us both inside and outside of the studio. 

 Photo:  D  aniel Smyth

Welcome to Pamland!

If you live in Cincinnati and don’t know Pam Kravetz, well… you should. Pam’s one of the Cincy's greatest cheerleaders along with one of it’s most dynamic artists and educators. We launched a Squarespace site for Pam earlier this month to help her share her story and works with a broader audience. Meg Farmer worked with us on the copywriting. Beyond words, Meg  helped push the site design to another level. Collaboration for the win.

breakthrough-cincy.jpg

New Work!

We’ve been working with Breakthrough Cincinnati on their 2018 Annual Report (as mentioned last month). It was printed and shipped last week. For those of you on their mailing list, keep an eye out for a square envelope. The rest of you can link over to the work section of this site to see images.

cincyflags-skyline.jpg

Looking Forwards/Backwards

My fellow Northside Depot studiomate, Chris Glass, and I joined a group of Cincinnati based designers to create flags for Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods. The project will crank up in July with neighborhood convenings where designers will listen to community member stories, and perspectives. In the meantime, please go to the Cincyflags website to share what makes your neighborhood unique.


P.S.

Here's what we enjoyed reading and listening to in June. 

Was introduced to Michael Chabon’s writing after listening to an interview on FreshAir about his new book on being a dad/son, “Pops, Fatherhood In Pieces.” Proceeded to get that book from the library, enjoyed it immensely, and grabbed a couple others for vacation (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Werewolves In Their Youth). Feeling good about fiction-only books for the next two weeks of travels.

This article on personalism by David Brooks was a captivating short read on the complexities human beings. It’s a call to not treat each other as “data points” or stereotypes, but instead as equal individuals. Complementing this article well is a podcast interview of Brooks by Tyler Cowen. It’s a deeper dive into his spirituality and political viewpoints. There’s also some especially good thoughts on vacation and calling shared.

Last but not least, one more long, but good podcast. Hadn’t listened to Tara Brach before. Wishing a connection was made sooner. Her episode on radical self-honesty was a breath of fresh air. The premise, that we need to connect with the realities of our life (both the hard stuff and the good stuff). Meditation or mindfulness is a way to do that.

How does this all connect to design? Maybe it doesn’t. Perhaps it does. We’re whole people, not just our titles/stereotypes. What we read, contemplate, and consume influences what we produce whether it’s a logo or loving-kindness towards a neighbor. All that to say, and without getting too deep, remember, you are what you eat.

Enjoy, 
D.J. 

Learn Through Making
 Spring is here in Cincinnati. Maybe...

Spring is here in Cincinnati. Maybe...

Last year I heard Don Norman lecture at the University of Cincinnati. One thing stood out more than anything else he shared. He suggested design can be research and research can be design, that the two don’t have to be separate. In my experience, one usually follows the other, and typically it's research first, then design. My process often looks like this: Do a lot of research, collect a bunch of information, and glean loads inspiration that will inform the design (graphic design in my case). But if design can be research, and research can be design, as Norman suggested, why do I always lead with one over the other?

Something about starting with design (sketching, drawing, making) doesn’t feel right. It’s a lot like a painter beginning with a blank canvas. Where does one start? 

If I’m honest, I usually have an initial hunch at the beginning of a project. Why not follow that intuition? 

That’s certainly what I learned from the Soul Collage class at The Hive. To begin the creative process through intuition; by following the gut more so than the mind, at least to start. It was a fruitful and liberating process. Never before have I created so much in so little time. 

What if I started my design process, as the Soul Collage process, with intuition instead of information? That’s what I ended up doing this week. I began a couple of projects in my sketchbook with markers. It was hard. Several times I wanted to hop on the computer and make a project brief. I thought, “I should probably think about the audience, define my desired results, or see how others have approached similar challenges.” I ignored that urge. With a Crayola marker in hand, I began to make; I started to play. As intuition guided my hand, I observed with delight what showed up on the page. New ideas formed that I hadn’t considered. The imperfections of the medium led to happy accidents. I was able to quickly draw and explore different solutions rapidly. 

My experience in the sketchbook reminded me of what one of my wife’s professors, Sue LaPorte, at CCS used to tell her, “Learn through making.” Which is not unlike what Norman said about design being research and research being design.

In the end, I’m not suggesting one approach over the other (that would be dualistic). In reality, learning happens both through research and making. Whether one starts with research or design is determined case by case. As much as I wish there were, there’s no one size fits all approach. 

And now for the weekly links. 

Enjoy, 

D.J. 


How To Think Like An Anthropologist (Book)
While some argue that a designer should learn how to code, I'd like to learn how to think more like an Anthropologist. 

Architects without Architects (Book)
This quote struck me as incredibly pertinent for being written about a century ago: “the expectation that every new discovery or refinement of existing means must contain the promise of higher values or greater happiness is an extremely naive thought... It is not in the least paradoxical to say that a culture may founder on real and tangible progress.”  –  Johan Huizinga 

Death of Stalin (Movie)
During the credits, the lady in front of me turned around and said I had a wonderful laugh. That's because I couldn't stop laughing. The movie was hilarious. I highly recommended it in combination with the book "A Gentleman in Moscow." 

Kudos to Tyler for suggesting "How To Think Like An Anthropologist" and Megan for helping me hone and communicate my ideas. 

I Don't Know, But I'm Willing to Learn.
 Book Cocktail – How To Think + Awareness

Book Cocktail – How To Think + Awareness

I intended to write a post dedicated to how much I cringe when designers use the "E" word (empathy) and argue that what we designers really need is humility. Then, this week, I was humbled and rethought my approach. Instead, I’ll talk about what I learned from being humbled.

I started this week coming off of a fantastic conference where was I made aware of the many blind spots in my personal perceptions. While that should have been a humbling experience, and it was to an extent, I felt enlightened. In my mind, I was above others with my newly found awakening (hello ego). It was from that position that I found myself in the middle of a conversation defending a stance that I didn’t have much ground to support. Upon reflection, I was forced to confront the fact that I wasn’t an expert on the topic, but most importantly, that I didn’t possess the humility to learn from my fellow conversationalists.

And that’s when I rethought my approach to this post. Who am I to protest against the "E" word and promote humility when I’m the opposite of humble on any given day. Pretty arrogant, right?

So, I’ll use this opportunity to remind myself this: practice the art of saying and living out, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn."

Those words, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn,” imagined in the context of design are refreshing:

“I don’t know if this logo makes sense, but I’m willing to show it to several people.”
“I don’t know if this is the best answer, but I’m willing to do the research.”
“I don’t know if this comes across bias, but I will ask.”
“I don’t know you or much about your culture, but I’d love to spend time with you.”
“I don’t know if the website flows well, but I’ll share it with people to see how it works.”
“I don’t know if have the best lens for this problem, but I’m willing to collaborate.”
“I don’t know anything about this subject, but I have a library card.”

With that, I’ll leave you with the weekly links. I haven’t consumed much online information this week, but I’m in the middle of two excellent books that have paired well together (a “book cocktail,” as I like to call it) and influenced my learning this week.

Enjoy,

D.J.


Awareness by Anthony De Mello 

"And so in order to wake up, one thing you need the most is not energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something new.”

How to Think by Alan Jacobs

"The fundamental problem is the orientation of the will: we suffer from a settled determination to avoid thinking. Relatively few people want to think.”

Bonus Links

Meg and I were in the car, traveling south, this weekend and caught up on several hours of podcasts.

The following three 99 Percent Invisible episodes on how arrogance–an overdose of confidence or the opposite of humility–can drive designers to make bad decisions that have detrimental effects on the people they hope to help.

Ep. 298 - Fordlandia
Ep. 296 - Bijlmer (City of the Future, Part 1)
Ep. 297 - Blood, Sweat & Tears (City of the Future, Part 2)

 

Thanks to Austin Kleon for promoting How to Think, Father Bob Ross for recommending Awareness, and Megan for proofreading and encouragement.