see it bigger (all apologies to those whose caricatures I botched and to Anne! I misheard her name as “Leann”)
Last night was the fourth VizThink Austin get-together, which was held at the Conjunctured house: we had a gallery walk, where our members presented their work and talked about their philosophy, practices, and challenges when using visual language. As always, when you get a group of creative people in one room and get them talking, the conversation is fantastic.
Jason Molin started and ended the evening with his songs. “I’m more of a word guy,” he said. But I say: words create images.
Frank Ragan showed his photography and talked about “what to do when you get stalled…how to find that jumping off point.” He quoted somebody (I forget who…he digs Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, so maybe one of those two) Michael Clark as saying, “When you get stuck, there’s two things you can do. 1) Take more photos 2) Take a vacation.” In other words, when you get stuck, work more, or walk away.
Anne Webb showed her work with Austin Voices for Education and Youth, some of which you can see here. She said her work is about “teaching students what it’s like to be a human being,” working with others and collaborating on art.
Greg Claxton showed an example of his work on neighborhood planning for the City of Austin. He talked about the “tension between what’s there and what could be there,” and struggle of giving folks enough detail to help them think “big picture” about what they want their neighborhood to look like, but not so much detail that they get bogged down on particulars. Abstract maps seem to be the tool that makes this happen. (This made me think about a recent article I read on web design where the author proposed thinking of web design as cartography vs. architecture.) The detail of the picture you show people depends on what kind of thinking you want them to do.
Sunni Brown showed her information design work, and talked about a recent experience with a client, the problems of reading the flow of a chart, and being so close to something you can’t tell whether it sucks or not. She said it’s good to be “dumb” about the subject you’re designing for. You want to look at it like an outsider, and ask questions that an amateur would ask to help your client step back and think “big picture.”
Then I blathered on about my work, and showed around some top-secret never-before-seen poems, including a few broadsheets. Somebody had the idea of doing a flipbook in the margins of the book to show a poem being made…I liked that idea!
Honoria Starbuck showed her graphic recording and 1-minute life-drawings. I don’t remember the context of this quote about graphic recording, but I liked it: “finding haikus in conversation.” She also gave me a ride home. Thanks, Honoria!
Eric Beverly showed his paintings and talked about painting on non-traditional surfaces. His dad’s a painter, and he learned how to paint by painting over the paintings his dad didn’t like! He had a great quote from Bob Dylan on songwriting: you get the first line, then it’s like riding a bull…either you stick with it or you don’t.
Last but definitely not least, my buddy Lindsay Wolff Logdson talked about her HR work for Frog Design and the struggle to convey linear, text-heavy information to visual thinkers. She showed us her stick figure drawings of HR processes, and how she visually explains taxes and health plans. It was really rad, and a great way to end the night.
For the next meeting, we’re talking about doing a collaborative artwork, something like a visual exquisite corpse. You should come!