5 Ways to Stay Current as a Creative

September 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm (Art Event, Design, Design Events, economy, Education, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, marketing, Miami, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized, unemployment) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

gaping1You’ve been downsized, laid-off, or decided it was time to strike out on your own and try the world of full-time freelancing and consulting…Now what? In school we’re taught that “no one designs in a vacuum”, but lets face it, when your whole company consists of you, your computer, and maybe a pet, you are not constantly surrounding by other creatives that provide inspiring stimuli. Have no fear, here are five ways I’ve found to keep myself  out of the vacuum and up to date while working as a design consultant:

1. Stay in the loop through social media
Social media can mean different things to different people, but what it comes down to is forging relationships with people online who you may not have otherwise met or stayed in contact with. Though reluctant to it at first, I have found Twitter to be one of the most informational and beneficial social media hubs. The reason for this is because I follow other professionals, media outlets, and design related companies and websites through Twitter. Here’s an example of a tweet from Smashing Magazine:

“@SmashingMag: 30 Amazing Retro Posters and Flyers – http://bit.ly/nG9i4#retro #inspiration

If I’m interested in the topic I don’t have to search through the website, because the link is right there. Other good online networking and portfolio sites are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Behance, and Coroflot.

2. Socialize and network in real face-to-face situations.
If you are on Twitter or Tumblr you might want to attend a local tweetup, where twitter members gather to have real conversations. Refresh and barcamp activities are usually free and informative. The open platform allows for a wide variety of topics to be covered by several presenters. Meetup.com is another great resource. You can find social groups for just about anything. I’ve written several posts about the Shoot Miami photography group that I belong to, but there are groups for WordPress, photoshop, young professionals, etc.

You can also go to art galleries, design events, museum openings, and other social events. Mix with a new demographic, tell them what you do, and maybe you’ll generate some new business contacts.

3. Read industry (and non-industry) related publications:
You don’t have to subscribe to the publications because most of them are online. Some of my favorites for inspiration are: Smashing Magazine, Inspired Magazine, Freelance Switch, Web Designer Depot, and Wired Magazine, and I still receive printed versions of Event Design Magazine. Computer Arts Magazine is a great resource that I check out when I go to book stores, and Smithsonian Magazine and Reader’s Digest are a great resources for escaping from all the creative stimulus when you want a well written and engaging story.

4. Start a blog:
Having a blog and actually trying to write interesting, topical, and engaging information everyday really helps to change your thinking. You start looking for new technologies, techniques, events, and anything else worthy of note to add to your blog. Pick a general topic you are interested in and write about it. As our good friend Benjamin Franklin said: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

5. Expand your creative horizons:
While working full-time you probably hit a comfortable stride. You knew what your boss wanted to see, how things should be done, and what type of clientele you were dealing with, so shake it up a little bit! Do projects outside of your comfort zone; this helps you expand your design reach. Be careful not to over extend yourself, but look for a project that is in a different style than what you are used to, or a new industry that you haven’t explored. E.g. I recently created a logo for a cake decorator. Most of the concepts I did were feminine with script fonts. This is not my usual style at all, but it expanded my design style a little further.

Another great thing you can do is volunteer. Find a museum or charitable organization within your field to help support with your time. You’ll feel better about yourself, have access to industry developments, and make valuable contacts all while doing some good in your community.

Hopefully these 5 little tips will help to keep you out of that design vacuum. Good luck in this new phase of your life, and remember to enjoy the journey.

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Home Brewed Dialect

August 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm (Art, Art Event, Design, Design Events, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, Gallery Opening, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dialect

Dialect – a monthly art and music event at Brew Urban Café in the Himmarshee area of Downtown Ft. Lauderdale – was alive tonight with music, beverages …and spray paint. Live music was provided by the DJs of Twilight Notes, drinks were being crafted and poured at the café, and down the street artists were decorating the walls of the soon-to-be-open 18 Rabbit Gallery. If you have never had the opportunity to watch a group of artists transform a drab wall of CMU and boring paint into a masterpiece of color and inspiration, then you should jump at the next opportunity. A good reference is the international graffiti documentary Bomb It by Jon Reiss, but there is no substitute for watching these artists at work – truly amazing! The event, also sponsored by Enticement Design, continued through the night with an after party at The Brick. I can’t wait to see more of these events – Please, liven the Ft. Lauderdale scene with some more of the Miami Graf!

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Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Party!

August 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Florida, free, Miami, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Pizza-TweetupThis evening was the Pizza Tweetup held at Pizza Volante in the Miami Design District – a special thanks to @Lapp and worstpizza.com for organizing the event. The restaurant offered an intimate space inside, and sidewalk dinning outside allowing for conversation with many groups of people. I always enjoy a good face-to-face discussion with people every once in awhile. Tonight was no different; some of those I carried on conversations with were: @Ines, @jarret23, @jeffreycohen, @valpass, @IamNezer, @alexdc, @johnnybond86, and of course @Lapp. The food was delicious, the company was good, and the bar was serving, so it was great night.

Check back on PizzaTweetup.com for the next event. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make tomorrow night’s RefreshMiami, but there are plenty of upcoming events for the South Florida social media community like Nuvo Tweetini, Herald Tweetup, a hands-on social media training workshop, and rumors of a Beerup (unconfirmed).

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Unmasking the Avatars – Tweetup @ Brio Tuscan Grille

August 19, 2009 at 11:47 am (Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

brio-tweetup

Last night I attended my first tweetup. It was sponsored by the Sun-Sentinel and hosted at Brio Tuscan Grille at the Shops at Pembroke Gardens. Brio had some really good food and drink specials for the group. The food was good, the conversations were engaging, and there were a lot of prizes raffled off. I spent some time talking with @pokengirl about the benefits of using pokens – little characters that “high-four” to transfer contact information instead of everyone having to write each other’s name and information down, the data is then transferred to a privately accessible rolodex-esque database. I had some good conversations with @Murrayiz, @ctiedje, @pbabanes, and @rsm4lsu about everything from work related topics to the use and direction of where social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc) are headed.

It was nice to meet the people behind the twitter avatars last night. I hope to see everyone again, and maybe some new faces, at the PizzaTweetup at Pizza Volante on August 25.

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Monster Jam Summer Heat “…Be There!”

August 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm (Florida, networking, photography, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Monster-Jam

What weighs 5-tons, has four 5’6” tires, an ethanol fueled 1500 horsepower engine, and has wrestling aggression and showmanship? MONSTER JAM! Monster Jam Summer Heat rolled into the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Shoot Miami was there for the ride.

The day started off with the camera club meeting in front of the arena. I guess the ticket takers were a little intimidated by the size of the lenses carried by some of our members, because at first they were reluctant to let us in. After a little finagling by the group’s organizer we were allowed access – sans tripods.

The pit party was fun. This is where spectators are admitted onto the show floor prior to the event to see these behemoth machines up close and personal. Fans get the chance to meet their favorite drivers and take pictures with them in front of the trucks. Driver George Balhan even set up a black leather couch in front of his truck, An Escalade, for fans to meet him. For our crew it allotted the chance to document every conceivable angle of an MTRA monster truck – I’ll admit to climbing under El Toro Loco for some shooting.

Post party, the arena floor was cleared and set up for the show allowing some down time for lunch and people watching. At 2 p.m. the main event started with national anthem and a salute to our armed forces. The first competition was the sky wheelie contest, which was won by Gunslinger (middle left photo at the top of this article); then An Escalade defeated Madusa in the race category. In the donut competition George Balhan put on a good show, holding his steering wheel outside of the spinning truck during competition, but Grave Digger pulled away with the win. Grave Digger piloted by Randy Brown proved triumphant again in the Freestyle round.

Between monster truck competitions there was a highflying motocross show with riders performing mid-air stunts like the Superman, Cordova, and Christ (center photo). To help anticipate the arrival of the stunt bikes, the arena was introduced to two robotic vehicles, Gallactron and Reptar, “from outer space.” The skit was corny, but there were pyrotechnics involved and the kids seemed to like it – and the show really is for the kids, right?

It was a fun day. There were a lot of photos taken, and we got a great show. The only thing missing was a truck flipping over or loosing pieces, and the old radio and TV ads saying “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! ….Be There!”

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Social Butterflies – Free Sundays at Fairchild Gardens

August 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm (Florida, free, Miami, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Fairchild

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida is “one of the world’s preeminent botanic gardens, with extensive collections of rare tropical plants…” The 83-acre garden has been accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1981, and now you get to experience it for free. Yes, FREE admission on Sundays for the month of August!

Almost 70 photographers from Shoot Miami descended on the historic gardens this morning. It was my first time visiting the gardens, and the mix of horticulture was quite striking – exhibits range from rainforest to arid, there is a sunken garden, butterfly garden, and even works by Chihuly are spread throughout many areas of the site.

After a few hours of wandering on our own, or in small groups, everyone met back at the Garden Café for some much needed rehydration and shade while we discussed our findings and different camera techniques. Overall it was a great day – hot, but fun.

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Obon – Get Lit

August 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm (Florida, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Obon

Instead of the Miami Design District’s Art & Design Night we decided to do something a little different this month – Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden’s Bon Festival. The annual event sponsored by the Sun Sentinel is Morikami’s annual event “Inspired by Obon, Japan’s traditional three-day holiday honoring ancestors and thanking them for the quality of life enjoyed by the living.”

The four-hour event included food, free parking, and Ennichi (games for the kids). The highlights of evening were the dancers performing the Bon Odori (Bon Dance) and Taiko Drum Performances by Fushu Daiko. The evening culminated in the Toro Nagashi, or floating of the lanterns, which began “at sunset when Morikami Pond [was] transformed into a tranquil sea of lighted lanterns which, in accordance with Japanese custom, guide the departure of ancestors’ souls who have come for a brief visit among the living.” A fireworks show polished off the evening.

The event was fun, and packed – as if all of South Florida had come to join the festival. It begs the question “has the current economy fueled a resurgence in public interest in inexpensive art and cultural events?”

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Drive By Shooting

August 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm (Florida, Miami, networking, photography, social event, Social Events & Networking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Fara

August 1st and 2nd was the Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA) race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As part of Shoot Miami I was awarded an all-access press pass, allowing me full admission to pit row and past most of the safety fences.

FARAUSA was established in Florida to allow amateur and beginning drivers to compete with more experienced drivers. August 2nd included not only racing for MP1 – MP4 and F01 & F02 class cars, but also a demonstration by a top-fuel dragster, racing bike, drifting competition, and even the Tour de FARA – their charity bicycle race.

After 6 hours in the sun and taking over 750 pictures I was ready to head home. The event was fun. The event was fun! FARAUSA’s next event is September 26th and 27th, and their endurance race, 24 HRS OF MIAMI, is scheduled for November 6th through 8th. If you enjoy racing, you’ll enjoy this event…just bring sunscreen and ear protection.

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Photo Walk’n – South Beach Winner

August 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm (Art, Art Event, Design, Design Events, Florida, free, Miami, networking, News, photo walk, photography, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sorry for the procrastination, but I am happy to announce the winner of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk, South Beach edition. The winning photo was taken by Michelle Brecher:

Cameo

The competition was stiff! Other photographs of note are shown here:


All the entries can be viewed on the Photo Walk page, and all the photos from the walk are available for viewing on our Flickr page. Thanks to everyone who participated in the photo walk, it was a lot of fun!

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Fine Arts & Fantasy Gallery Opening

July 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm (Art, Art Event, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, Gallery Opening, Graphic Design, Illustration, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Radford_hunt

This evening heralded the opening of the much overdue and deserved gallery exhibit for two of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale’s most respected and talented faculty, Jon Hunt and Jim Radford.

The two masters are displaying their recent works in various media including oil, watercolor, ink, graphite, digital, and sculpture. This show does not disappoint. Though the two have very different styles, the pieces illustrate each artist’s strengths and talents in a cohesive and awe inspiring way.

Jon Hunt concentrates more on digital media, producing art for image comics, book illustrations, and collectible card games. Jim Radford has a more traditional style reminiscent of some of the great portraiture artists of the past.

During my time at AIFL I had the privilege of being under Jim Radford’s tutelage for a short time. He retired in 2006 after 28 years at the college. I will never forget that we described him as the Bob Ross of anatomy to those not in his classes. He would utter things like “Happy little occipital protuberance” while whipping out an image of a human back and head with such ease it would make an anthropologist jealous.

These two artists are amazing in their craft. If you have a chance to visit the Mark K. Wheeler Gallery at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale I would highly recommend it. The exhibit is up through August 31.

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