Design School Skills I Still Use


Sometimes I will be working on a project and the voice of a professor from the past will pop up in my head with their favorite piece of advice. I was thinking the other day about the little bits that I actually still remember and use often.

1. Measure twice, cut once. You will save so much money and heartache.

2. Adhere it twice. When sticking two things together, adhere them using two different methods. For example, pin it together AND glue it. This will guarantee a strong bond.

3. Take a picture. Before I glue something together, or move something to a different workspace, or disturb it in any way whatsoever, I take a picture of it. I've probably tried a bunch of different compositions already, and if I take a picture and then something gets messed up I don't have to sit there trying to remember how it all went together. Don't trust your brain to remember what it looked like. Just take a picture.

4. Change the blade. When using an X-acto knife, you cannot change the blade enough times. Seriously. Paper and foam board dull the blades SO quickly. I change 'em out often so I don't mess up my project.

5. If you don't know how to do something, learn it! I once told a professor about my concern that my Photoshop skills were not very developed yet. He brushed this off, and told me the ideas are the most important thing. "You can LEARN Photoshop, but you can't learn how to think." So true. He repeated this idea frequently to the designers throughout my college career.

6. Shiny black paint shows every flaw. As a freshman in Industrial Design, we had to make 5 perfectly shaped spheres out of 5 different materials, and then paint them black. The professor intentionally chose a shiny black paint because it will showcase every dimple, every crack, dent or rough spot. I don't use a lot of shiny black paint, but I always remember that. (The balls were never returned to us, for fear of passing them along to other students. When asked what they did with all those spheres after the project was graded, the professors told us that they stood at the end of the hallway and bowled them down the hall for fun. I don't think they were joking.)

34 Things To Do Before I Turn 33.

There are always so many things that I want to do. This year I have a lot of art-related tasks on my list. They're pretty vague (draw more)...which can be dangerous, but allows me a little room to breathe around the more specific ones (read 1 book per month).

You can go back and look at my list from last year. I reposted it a few weeks ago and let me tell you, nothing has changed. Nothing more has been crossed off. I think this was the least success I have had with crossing things off of my list, and I owe it all to a particularly hectic and disappointing year. Hopefully this year I will have a little bit more luck...and if not, maybe it will be because we have a particularly joyful year. One can hope.

  1. Take walks in nature.
  2. Work in the studio every day.
  3. Establish a more rigid daily routine.
  4. Compost.
  5. Read 1 book per month.
  6. Get makeup done.
  7. Try Dry Bar.
  8. Watch Gone With the Wind.
  9. Eat at Lucia.
  10. Learn more about the artists that I admire.
  11. See more art.
  12. Eat at Dallas Grilled Cheese Co.
  13. Paint the studio.
  14. Host Craft Party: Brunch Edition.
  15. Plant something we can eat.
  16. Kombucha. Steady supply. Make it happen.
  17. House project of the year: nursery.
  18. Streamline and fine-tune my wardrobe.
  19. Work on my illustration techniques (for work).
  20. Draw more.
  21. Meatless Monday.
  22. Knit or crochet 1 square per month to make a 12-square blanket by the end of the year.
  23. High-quality goodies only.
  24. Go to a hockey game.
  25. Organize Kennedy's room.
  26. Become a "member" (ie the Perot Museum? Dallas Museum of Art? The Kimbell?)
  27. Go kayaking with Joy.
  28. Daily paintings.
  29. Visit David's college, finally, because he's been wanting to take me there for so long now.
  30. Shoot some hoops with David.
  31. Girls' weekend (Austin?)
  32. Meet/socialize with local artists.
  33. Take a class.
  34. Hang with my besties more often.

Favorite Music of 2014

Some unintended themes this year. Bands I Never Listened To Before This Year and Now I Love. Bands From Texas. Songs About Rattlesnakes. And so on. I had a lot more time to listen to music this year, and divided my time pretty evenly between new albums of 2014 and podcasts. Last year, I felt like there was a drought in good music and this year I was overwhelmed and didn't get to everything that I wanted to. A good problem to have! As such, a tough list to narrow down. These are the ones that got the most play on my headphones.

5. We're All Young Together - Walter Martin

This is a weird album to put on my list, because it is a children's album. It comes from one of the members of the Walkmen. I was so happy to hear an album that is as appealing to adults as kids. It is brilliant and sweet. Even though she is too old now for kids albums, even Kennedy got into this one. She really liked the song "Rattlesnakes," so here is a live version:

4. Adore Reissue - Smashing Pumpkins

I am such a sucker for these reissues. But this one is amazing! So much extra material. So great. I love to hear these demos. It's like looking at someone's sketchbook. Also, this is the album I have autographed by Billy Corgan and framed above my desk, and I pee myself every time I look at it.

3. Too Bright - Perfume Genius

We saw Perfume Genius and unfortunately fell into one of those annoying Dallas crowds. You know the type. I'm not even going to explain. Despite that, Perfume Genius has a great show, and a fine album.

2. And the War Came - Shakey Graves

I'm fond of Shakey Graves' first album, Roll the Bones, but I SUPER love his new album. It feels a little more confident. He is on my want list of people I need to see in concert. Here is one of my favorite songs:

1. St Vincent - St Vincent

Miss Annie Clark. I didn't really listen to her until the last couple years. I knew of her, of course; we just never crossed paths. Then came her collab with Mr Byrne, and then this album. Oh, I burned this album into my brain. So, so good. We saw her in concert early in the year and I was hooked. Oh, if I could be Miss Annie Clark with her frizzed out hair and weird choreography and mad guitar skillz. 

Honorable Mentions

Swimmin' Time - Shovels & Rope: I had a hard time not putting this on my Top 5 because I love this band so much. But I wanted to share other things. 

Half the City - St Paul and the Broken Bones: Just, yeah. Good stuff.

Don't Disconnect - Sarah Jaffe: Love this new sound. You go, lady.

Small Town Heroes - Hurray for the Riff Raff: Lots of praise this year, and well deserved. We saw them open for Shovels & Rope a couple years ago.

Fumes - Lily & Madeline: These girls are teenagers! Their voices are magic!

Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso: Jumped on this bandwagon too.


33 Things To Do Before I Turn 32

If you've followed my old blog in the past, before I got hooked up with this swanky site, you may remember my yearly to-do lists. Well, I didn't want to abandon that pitiful list, so I brought it over here. I thought it might be nice to have a little update with my progress so you guys can, you know, keep me accountable.

To refresh your (my) memory:

This year I want to live more fully, wholly, simply. I went back through my past lists and I found some things that I didn't do that I still want to do, so I added a few of those to the pile. Is that cheating? Heck no! It's my blog and I do what I want!

  1. Plant something. Make it survive.
  2. Less Facebook, more face time.
  3. Yoga.
  4. Compost.
  5. Master the hula hoop.
  6. Go to the drive-in.
  7. Learn to two-step.
  8. Fiddle more.
  9. Read some of the books I have acquired but not read.
  10. Volunteer for something.
  11. Make an apple pie.
  12. Finish my website.
  13. Get a new tattoo.
  14. Take a ride in the karaoke cab.
  15. Acquire rainboots.
  16. Smoke a cigar.
  17. Visit at least 1 art exhibit/gallery per quarter.
  18. Fill up the empty sketchbooks in my box of sketchbooks (there are a lot!)
  19. Figure drawing : specifically hands and feet. (Things most artists need to work on.)
  20. Visit the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
  21. Go camping.
  22. Attend a coffee cupping class.
  23. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
  24. Bring lunch to work more often.
  25. Be in nature more.
  26. Dance more.
  27. Find a hobby or past time to share with Kennedy.
  28. Acquire some more vinyl for my new record player.
  29. Try more of my collected recipes.
  30. Get Kennedy and David to drink more water.
  31. Befriend more people in Arlington.
  32. Set up my studio space.
  33. Work on making our new house lovely and a true expression of us.