When I opened figma I instantly closed the tab and said: nope!
I know this assignment is all about creativity but I’m actually terminally avoidant of overly blank canvases. I preferred mmm because it had a ‘smaller’ canvas and I was able to really consider what I wanted to do within the confines of those restrictions. I drew out a little starting point to get the mental juices flowing.
Back in 2012 my college had this mandatory freshman orientation where we were basically kept awake from dusk till dawn the week before classes started. It was, as I was later told, partially a way for us to get used to the campus but also a way to keep us from becoming homesick that first week and having a breakdown. It was torture and the summer was especially hot so we were baking in the sun for our “week of pre class fun”.
The one reprieve was the daily ‘workshop’ we were each allowed to choose a class that seemed interesting and go with a small group to participate. Some chose soccer, theater, or some kind of science experiment. I ended up choosing bookbinding. I had no idea what it entailed as I had never previously bound a book but the professor who ran the workshop that day was also a professor for the art program, not someone hired in or borrowed from another campus.
She was completely at ease as she showed us around the classroom and explained the process of what we would be doing that day. Each of us was presented with the components for a book: thicker cover paper, multiple sheets of interior paper, a needle, and thread to bring it on home. But we were also presented with a massive stack of magazines to peruse. I was initially confused but the professor went on to explain that the book needed a cover and a part of the exercise would be to cut out and paste these clippings in a way that spoke to us.
Now I weirdly have this fear about collages. I hate to cut things out of magazines because I feel like it ruins the magazine and destroys the “perfection” of a thoughtfully arranged piece of print. Exacto knifing out a tangerine felt like punting a baby penguin to me. Easy, but unimaginably traumatizing. I cannot explain to you in words how difficult it was to make that first cut. I truly agonized over it.
But cut I did. And after the first one, it was easier. There was no more sanctity to protect so I went through looking for things to pull together to suit my vision. The piece is now lost to time but I put together a sort of sunset using a single actual sun and a collection of unrelated images that came together just so to trick the mind into thinking “wow. This is the sky.” I felt so happy and proud during my little show-and-tell session at the end after we’d all sewn our books.
I couldn’t get quite the same feeling from this assignment as I decided to tackle a different anxiety: scrapbooks. I love scrapbooking. In theory. In practice I have the same fear of imperfection like “what if I lay this doilies lace around this photo so wrong that my house burns down?” I don’t know what God of Scrapbooking I would have to offend to make that happen but it lingers all the same. I collected a few images that were related to my interests and then combined them with little stickers that mmm provided.
While I tend to have a similar concern about the daunting permanence of sticker placement in the virtual field I felt as free a bird. Placing and replacing with ease as I made my design come to life. I knew I was done because it just made me happy to look at in the end.
Everything had color and movement and flowed well to me. It reminded me of the brief period when I would decorate my laptop with stickers (until I found out it tanked the resale value).
You asked what it means to be alive. Maybe nothing, honestly. Not in some, “Woe is me!” sort of sense but in a cosmic sense. Maybe being alive has no meaning. It’s like the wind and the rain and the sun. Life and being alive happen because they must. All things have their cycles and the part that makes me happiest is that we as humans get to make our own meaning. We get to decide what our lives mean, and what our loved ones mean to us. Whether or not to even have loved ones. I’m still discovering what my life means. It might not mean anything to the greater cosmos but maybe the discovery is the point. Maybe my purpose is to learn and keep learning and sharing that knowledge. Either way, I’ll be the one to make my own meaning for myself in this life.