Unbound sketchbook

What do you do when you find a 15-year old sketchbook with at least two dozen blank pages at the end of it? This sketchbook was something used many years ago to compose page layouts ideas.

It may be that as a young graphic designer I required the use of pen, ink, and paper to organize thoughts and ideas before turning to the digital tool of computer and software to complete a magazine page layout. Or a book layout. Or whatever design project it was that I was working on at the time.

Even back then, a lot of creatives were skipping the hand-drawn phase of graphic design and moving to digital sketches. I was one of those designers too. It did not take long to adapt to digital sketches using Quark Xpress or PageMaker. External and internal clients did not understand these hand-drawn sketches. I quickly understood that these initial sketches were best served between fellow creatives. A form of pictorial shorthand.

Sketches using human figures engaged clients. A point of connection. Composing advertisements and editorial layouts was enjoyable. Even when it was poorly drawn it was pleasurable. It was exciting to explore and play out ideas on pages. To balance text and image. To push the elements toward asymmetrical tension.

Sometimes referred to as “mock ups” or “work ups,” these comps (jargon for compositions) often featured ad copy or editorial headlines that I wrote. I preferred writing my own copy rather than using dummy copy, greeking, or some other form of gibberish used to represent where text was to be placed in design compositions.

These sketches bring back a lot of memories. Projects completed. Projects that never were approved. Abandoned. Like the craft of sketching designs and ideas.

I needed something to prop up the office laptop computer in order to avoid a kink in my neck as I work on print and web design tasks. MacBook Pros are not ergonomically designed. An old keyboard was located. And then a Kensington trackball mouse. And an old, unbound sketchbook. That did the trick.

This work-from-home solution is not ideal. There are days when my children see that I spend most of the time reading and replying to emails, joining video conferences, and moving file icons across the desktop to various folders synched to cloud-based servers. Graphic design looks so different from the point at which I joined the trade. It is less tactile.

The national safe-at-home quarantine allowed me to build a wood desktop and a wood stand-up-desk solution for the laptop, keyboard, trackball workplace arrangement. And the 15-year old sketchbook? Well, paging through the collection of ideas and designs. . . after a long hiatus, I began sketching and drawing on the empty pages at the end of the book.

Returning to Twitter

Two months ago I returned to Twitter.

After logging into the account through a web browser I was mildly amused. The mobile app was then downloaded to a new late-model mobile device.

The first couple weeks I explored a lot of the Twitter feeds. Shared work-related tweets. Kept it professional. Nothing too personal. But mostly, I searched for friends I once communicated with on a daily basis. They seemed to have disappeared from Twitter. Or maybe I missed them amid the ceaseless flood of poising, posturing, and promotional tweets.

A comment from a kidlinger ceased this activity. The level of profanity used on Twitter is obscene. I had tuned it out, but young eyes saw a string of vulgarities. Kidlinger asked who said that. I did not say. They knew the person. And that individual would never speak like that in front of my children.

Then the pandemic hit. And the tsunami of Covid-19 tweets and updates was both helpful and harmful. But ultimately overwhelming.

Sometime during the past weekend I discovered Twitter’s new preference features and was turning some on and others off to see how the feed was impacted. Late Saturday night, before I went to bed, I checked the Twitter on the mobile device. I was shocked to see someone posted or shared some extremely graphic adult material. It should not have surprised me. Too tired to figure which preferences I needed to reset, I deleted the app from my mobile device.

Before the weekend was over I considered unfollowing everyone I followed on Twitter. Or deleting my Twitter account entirely. My argument was this. With all I have to manage in between work and home, removing Twitter would be one less thing I have to deal with.

My return to Twitter was an attempt to emerge from a self-imposed social media quarantine. To reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. But the debauchery and viciousness I observed on Twitter causes me to wonder. If people are essentially good, than the evidence on Twitter points to the contrary.

I plan to cull those I follow. Half have already been unfollowed. My goal is to cut the list down to 40. It is possible that I have not given Twitter enough time to prove that there are good, virtuous, and honorable people using the social media platform.

The hope was to engage with people on Twitter who enhanced and elevated the lives of those around them. Something inspiring. Something like Andrea Bocelli’s Music of Hope.