#25: How to Fill Your Blank Pages { “All this to say” – Sleeping at Last }

BlogPost#25_Lyrics#5
I was listening to an older album by Sleeping at Last this week, (Storyboards, 2009). The last song on the album is called “All this to say”, Ryan O’Neal sings about how our future is a blank page, and that we “pause and carefully trace” and “articulate everything we find”. This made me think about what it means to trace and how that relates to following and how that translates to what ends up filling up our “blank pages” by articulating what we find; literally and figuratively. As designers we are always articulating based off what we find, what we look for, and who we follow.

Our creative, professional, and personal future is yet to be written on still blank pages. When we begin learning, we mimic, we follow; in fact, when we are young we are encouraged to do things like our parents, or teachers, or siblings. As we get older we are discouraged to “follow”, and being a follower tends to grow to have a negative connotation. Even to me, I have always wanted to “be a leader, not a follower.” As if following makes you weak; I have discovered that it is only weakness if you follow without questioning. The social worlds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Behance, LinkedIn and any number of blogs have given new meaning to the word follow.
We follow family members to keep up with their lives, we follow friends to see what they’re up to, and we follow interesting people for entertainment. But as creatives, we should have a more intentional group of individuals to follow.
Just as it is important to surround ourselves physically with people who will push, encourage, and inspire, and challenge us, it is equally important to have your social world be filled with the same kind of people.
The word “follow” doesn’t have to mean that you mimic someone or follow in their steps necessarily, although that can definitely be a good thing when you have a great leader. Follow can now just mean someone you watch, or admire, or care about because they do something that inspires you. To follow someone who intrigues or inspires you is not the same as tracing their footsteps. Much like going on a hike with someone and  following behind, the person ahead of you is technically “leading”; but instead of stepping in their footprints, tracing their steps, you make your own set of tracks, doing their thing your own way while still seeing where they are going.
Surround yourself [digitally] and follow a wide array of interesting people who will help you fill your own “blank pages”.
As a creative, we all need idea books in our arsenal. A diverse group of people to follow online creates a virtual “idea book” to keep our ideas fresh and make us innovative. I primarily use Instagram as my source of inspiration, and motivation. The people I follow run the gamut from authors and speakers, to designers and tattoo artists. Seeing such different work on a daily basis makes me want to do more with what I have and make great new things. Although I am a graphic designer, and I have been focusing my design efforts lately on lettering, and on designing for bands and musicians, I am interested in a lot of different creative things that I don’t share but that are important to me. So I still follow the people that makes things that I aspire to, like photography, or painting, etc. Here are a very few of my favorite people (on Instagram) that I follow closely and why they are important to me as I articulate my creative story.

JonAcuff

  Jon Acuff

(author/speaker/blogger) @jonacuff

Jon Acuff is one of the funniest and most motivating people I follow. His constant encouragement and “can do” attitude mixed in with his sarcasm and ability to be real make him invaluable. He is one of a select few people that were the reasons I finally got the guts to start this blog to begin with. The other, is Sean Wes.

seanwes

Sean Wes

(letterer/motivator/podcaster) @seanwes

Sean Wes is a robot. Well not really, but you might be tempted to think so by his ability to memorize his podcast episodes and recall them by number. Besides that, he is a brilliant lettering artist, and his podcast is the single most influential part of my professional toolbox. He keeps me on my toes.

RyanOneal

  Ryan O’Neal

(musician/writer/composer) @sleepingatlast

Ryan O’Neal creates some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear. His lyrics are like poetry and I consistently use his songs when I am at a loss for ideas. Something about how he composes his songs is like reading a beautiful story with your ears. His feed is full of amazing lyrics and beautiful album art.

JamesVictore

James Victore

(graphic designer) @jamesvictore

James Victore is one of the best graphic designers I follow. Not because his work is perfection, but because of the attitude he has about what design is and how designers should work. He makes art and design and mixes in some serious attitude and humor. His work might seem effortless but I assure you, his philosophies on  design will make you work.

ScottyRussel

Scotty Russel

(illustrator/letterer/motivator) @perspective_collective

Scotty is one that I follow because he makes lettering work that makes me feel like I have a long way to go, and this is a very good thing. I tend to be a perfectionist and following someone like Scotty will make you want to do better too.

JeremyCowart

Jeremy Cowart

(artist/photographer) @jeremycowart

Jeremy Coward takes photographs. He takes photographs of famous people and beautiful things. His lighting and attention to detail brings an emotion to his photos that I aspire to. His feed is a constant flow of amazingness.

JessicaNdesigns

Jessica Numbers

(maker/coffee lover) @jessicandesigns

Jessica makes spoons with fun sayings. This is one that I like because it is something that is so simple and unique and her work reminds me to find a way to be creative in the “normal” things.

tomdelongchamp

Tom DesLongchamp

(serious Crayola artist) @tomthinks

To be honest, I love the work Tom does because he manages to create  fun and colorful likenesses of people. These portraits are some of my favorite things. His work shows me over and over that the tools don’t matter, it’s whose hand they’re in. Maybe someday he’ll do my portrait.

frankchimero

Frank Chimero

(designer) @frankchimero

Frank Chimero is another colorful designer. His work is interesting and geometric. I can pick his work out from a mile away. I love how he incorporates color and shape into every single thing.

dominicsedillo

Dominic Sedillo

(illustrator) @dominicsedillloillustrator

Dominic is an amazing illustrator. He illustrates comics, zombies, and as of late, has been focusing on caricatures of famous people. He has a unique perspective on creating a likeness and you will not be disappointed if you follow him, I promise.

markvanleeuwn

Mark van Leeuwen

(letterer/typographer) @markvanleeuwn

Mark is only 16 and is already leaps and bounds ahead of many lettering artists/designers I know. His skills and style are fun to follow especially knowing that he is so young. His work reminds me that age doesn’t matter, but passion and hard work do.

LindsayLetters

Lindsay Letters

(hand letterer/maker) @lindsay_letters

Lindsay is a brilliant lettering artist. Her work is being sold at Hobby Lobby and her style is hard to miss. She is a mom and a creative and she uses Bible verses and motivational sayings for her work. I love to follow her because she makes me remember that being a mom and an amazing successful creative is actually something that can happen.

jasonmunn

Jason Munn

 (gig poster designer) @munnjason

Jason Munn is by far one of my all time favorite gig poster designers. His work is simple, clever, and clean. He has designed posters for everyone from Sufjan Stevens to Death Cab for Cutie. He is my style icon for gig poster design. His work is so engaging and different for every band he works with but is identifiable as unmistakably his every time.

victorvegas

Victor Vegas

(tattoo artist) @victorvegastat2

 Victor is a local tattoo artist here in Albuquerque, New Mexico (my hometown). I follow him because his work is amazingly precise. He recently won an award for “best geometric tattoo” and although I am not a huge fan of geometric patterns, his tattoos are beautiful and interesting and are just another facet of the things I want to have to inspire me.

So there you go, some of my favorite people to follow and how their work, ideas, and creativity help fill my own “blank pages”. I hope you’ll check them out and share with me who helps you fill your pages. Another part of today’s song says, “layer by layer, the framework was formed on an epic of paper: we breathe to explore. fast-forward motion will gracefully show the flickering story that all of our sketches unfold.” This song inspires me so much because this bit of lyrics especially reminds me that “layer by layer” we build up our ideas, our sketches, our creations; creations that have come from the exploration of everything around us and the people we surround ourselves with.
Our creative story can become something epic if we understand that we need to “concentrate”, to let our “minds create” in order to fill up our blank pages. We will have so much to say, and we will want to continue to say it. When we have people to follow who pave the way for us and encourage us to be brave, and interesting, maybe someday soon we will be someone that others will want to follow, because we weren’t afraid to do it ourselves. Design and music is a wonderful world, I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.

“All This To Say”

All this to say, our future is a blank page that we chose to pour ourselves into when God pressed play.
and we’ll drag our pens into these parallel lines to record and to articulate everything we find.
as decades unlace, we’ll pause and carefully trace; our shadows are puddles of ink that our memory saves.
layer by layer, the framework was formed on an epic of paper: we breathe to explore. fast-forward motion
will gracefully show the flickering story that all of our sketches unfold.
before we were born God gently told us the truth, but understanding is something that stops as our bodies bruise.
so we’ll concentrate, constantly rewinding tapes. was the ghost just a glare on the lens that our minds create?
our minds create… when God pressed play.
layer by layer, the framework was formed on an epic of paper: we breathe to explore. fast-forward motion
will gracefully show the flickering story that all of our sketches unfold.
before we were born God gently told us the truth, but understanding is something that stops as our bodies bruise.
so we’ll concentrate, constantly rewinding tapes. was the ghost just a glare on the lens that our minds create?
our minds create… when God pressed play.
layer by layer, the framework was formed on an epic of paper: we breathe to explore. and fast-forward motion
will gracefully show the flickering story that all of our sketches unfold.
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