Author: Monstress

The doldrums are ever ready to snatch our momentum away…

Uhg. I’ve been so down the last 2 days,and I am fighting like hell to get out of it. I figured one way to make this worth going through is by coming up with a list of anti-dejection methods you might find useful. I don’t know about you, but my doldrums come in distinct flavors. This time, it’s the my-work-is-meaningless one, all juicy and fetid and festering. It is a whopper for me, very seductive in lulling me to my inner rocky bottom. I am, for all my aw goshery, really rather ambitious. I’d like to matter to a few people, be a resource for others in my field. This is slowly, SLOWLY happening to be sure, but there are times when my demons decide that it’s never going to happen: I’m destined to reside in obscurity forever, all my work is for naught, the only way I can get people to look at my work is to give it to them for free… The inner chorus continues and I spiral down to my most …

Help me design the Game of Love! Make Monstress history!

I am working on the next big Monstress product: the Game of Love. Right now, it is in board game form. I have decided that I will try to tap the power of crowdsourcing, just as I did with Here & Now. I will send out prototypes of this game to anyone who cares to try it out and will then adjust the design according to the feedback I receive. The way I used to work went like this: I would get an idea, run off to my studio for a few months to perfect it in secret, then spring it on the world. The work was cute, idiosyncratic… it was okay, I am proud of it. I want to push myself past my own limits, I want to make something that could truly reach a mass audience. Some will say I risk losing that special touch of personality, but I don’t think so, not if I approach the process the right way.  So I am looking for some testers. I will be testing the …

I create because I believe people are essentially good.

Before you click away, just wait. I’m not saying every person in the world behaves in ways that are always good. That is not possible, and I know that. I am saying that each and every one of us has the potential to be and do good. That’s the whole reason I get out of bed in the morning, make stuff, and generally live. It’s important to check in with your core motivations once in a while–that way you can tell if you are still on course, as it were. My logic goes like this:  People have the potential to be and do good. In fact, unless we are stunted in some way, we just naturally tend to do and be good. Any person can do good by reaching out and helping others learn to tap that potential.  The entire world gets incrementally better the more #2 happens. There will come a day when everybody born will have a reasonable chance to be and do good. This is all fine and dandy, but what does the word …

Use the tools you were born with before the ones you buy.

I was born short, gay, near-sighted, chubby, and slightly odd all around. Oh, and female. What the hell was I going to do with that in a sexist, homophobic, pro-skinny world? As it turns out, just about anything I damn well please. The biggest hurdle I always have had to conquer is my underestimation of self. Society can be prickly at times, but in reality no one person usually gives enough of a damn to hurt someone else. We are all way too concerned about ourselves to mess up another person’s day–unless we are obsessed or imbalanced in some way. I have been the target of haters, so yes, it is possible to evoke active resistance from other people. It just isn’t all that likely. Society may like to whisper some poison nothings in our ears, but it’s up to each of us to give them life by believing them. I chose to believe the crappiest stuff for a long time and ended up feeling alientaed, frustrated and generally miserable. I’d like to share my …

Having children will make my career more meaningful.

My partner Jen is 5 and a half months into her pregnancy and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of our daughter. I have to admit when we learned she had gotten pregnant, I had this flash of terror that my career, for which I had worked so hard, was over. It was going to be subsumed by diapers and play dates and burping, I was going to lose all touch with who I was, the whole bit. I rode out a few little waves of aftershock for the next couple of hours as I got my head around the idea and became more and more overjoyed with the news. It all got me to thinking, and then I happened upon Tina Roth Eisenberg: The Power of Side Projects and Eccentric Aunts, a talk given by Swiss Miss earlier this year. In it, she speaks about using the births of her children as inspiration for her work. She said that when each of her children were born, she used it as an opportunity to reassess and …

Bread-and-butter work can make or break a designer.

Think of this as a primer for the novice designer and a call back to arms for the experienced art director.  For those of you unfamiliar with design work, there are different chunks to be done. There is the high-level thinking where you come up with ideas, there is sketching where you develop your ideas visually, and finally there is production, where most of the thinking has already been done and all you do is implement the design. In general, production is viewed as the least challenging from a design point of view, and it usually falls upon the lower-level employees to complete it. For the most part, I call the routine, lower-level stuff bread-and-butter work as it puts a lot of food on the table. I used to work in a small agency where I handled all of the interaction design. Occasionally, I had access to interns who could do the grunt work for me, and certainly, these were respites from the crush of jobs. I started to think that perhaps I needed to find …

Since becoming a designer, I have become a better person.

Since becoming a design instructor, I have become a better designer. And amidst all of this, I have become a much better artist. I am incredibly lucky to be caught in this particular upward spiral, and I hope to help others find their own cycle of growth through teaching and writing. I started out as a fine artist, specifically a printmaker. My work was diaristic in nature, a lot of pictorial navel-gazing. Nothing much remarkable happened until I got to grad school and switched unexpectedly (involuntarily, even) to graphic design. All of a sudden, I had to confront and examine all these presuppositions I held about the act of cultural production. Here are a few I have successfully unraveled: You have to be obscure to have street cred I had always seen myself operating on the fringes of society, speaking to a select few. In the graphic design department at school, the designers were all striving to reach entire strata of the general population. Speaking to the mainstream in any way seemed like an immediate …