From The Other Side

I have been silent for almost a year.   There are lots of reasons:  Being chair of the Theatre Arts and Dance Department, designing tough shows, dealing with a husband in Grad School, working on my book and more.   The real reason, I think has more to do with trying to figure out where I see myself in the future.  I spent a good chunk of the last year writing songs.   I spent time writing other things.  I spent time working for my family.   All important things.   I have come out of the year with a few decisions and revelations:

  1. I like being a designer (yes, this was in doubt)
  2. I like teaching students (this was never really in doubt)
  3. I want to do more academicy things (write articles, develop courses, maybe go get my PHD)
  4. I don’t like being even a quasi-administrator
  5. I want to write more theatre (plays and especially musicals)

I stepped down from being department chair (Point #4 taken care of, which gives me more time for #2).  I have just a few chair duties left.   I’m designing more (#1 being advanced), and I’m doing some more academic projects (#3).  I’m working on writing an original musical (#5 — as soon as I can figure out the complications on the second act I’ll be in great shape).

The real point of all of this intro is to talk about what changes I’m going to be making to my life to make #1 and #3 happen more.   I wanted to redesign my on-line portfolio, and I wanted to update the look of this site (and I wanted new business cards — but I’m not discussing that in this post).   To update the look and feel of the portfolio, I hired a web designer.   My old portfolio (still up, but out of date) was coded largely by me, with a bit of help from my husband who helped by creating CSS.   This was eight or nine years ago, which in web-years is a millennium or two.

I’m used to being the designer.  I’m used to working with the client (director, producer, etc.).  I’m not used to being the client.   From the start of this process it has been  a fight of two forces within me.   Force 1 is the “I’m a designer, I know what I want, I should be able to execute it.”  Force 2 is the “I don’t want to be that client (director, producer etc.) who tells me how to do everything even when that isn’t the best way or up to current standards or whatever.”    It is hard for me to relinquish control.

Once I found a designer I thought I wanted to work with, I did some research.  I looked at 30 or so theatrical designers’ websites.   I looked at big famous designers with Tony Awards.  I looked at designers who lit teeny tiny clubs in the middle of nowhere.   I took notes.  I examined trends.  I figured out what I liked and what I didn’t.   I wrote a memo.

You didn’t read that wrong.  I sat down and wrote a memo about what my goals and dreams were for the new design, and what my minimum requirements were for the new design.  I also included 4 or 5 designers’ web address with notes about what I liked and didn’t like.   Despite my fears of looking like the controlling-client-from-hell, I met with my web designer.   She took the time to look at the websites with me.  We talked about what I was looking for.  Then she went away and designed.

I know that design never happens fast enough for a director after we have had our concept meeting.  I also know that it takes time to design.   Not just to do the drawings/renderings (or in this case coding), but time to do the thinking, the experimenting — you know, the design.  I sat around on pins and needles waiting for my site to be created for me.

The great day came, and I looked at it.  I was thrilled.  I was overjoyed.  It was great.  Except for….   I had notes.   Some of the notes were major.  Some were minor.  Some were miscommunication.   I sent them.  And I waited.   Because I did not get a response is .023 nanoseconds I was sure I had offended my designer.  Darn it.  Luckily, she was not offended.  She made the changes.  They are wonderful.   We have a few tiny things to work out, and I have to start loading content.   (And content… And content… And content… And content.)

I’m planning for the website to go live on or about August 1, 2014.   I’m learning that I’d rather be a designer than a client.  And I’m hoping this keeps my writing, designing, and sharing my work with the world.

The Art Bug

In all honesty, I don’t use this blog as a blog.  I use it as a place mostly to post short articles on what ever topic I want to write on.  Today, I’m really writing about me.

I usually focus on design, not art.  Design is about creating items (in my life scenery or lighting) to support concepts or ideas developed by others (the script/the playwright).  The difference is art is about creating items to share your own ideas.

I have been working on  a project for the last year that I will hopefully be able to fully talk about soon.    A few years ago I did a 365 project.  A 365 project traditionally means creating a work of art everyday for a year.  What I really did was try to create 7 a week.  My work schedule meant that I got a lot of art done in tight blocks and then would go days without doing anything.

It was fun focussing on art projects that I wanted to do, that expressed what I wanted to express, that used techniques that I wanted to explore.   As much as I would like to do that again, I am no longer largely living on my own, my duties have expanded both at home and at work, and another 365 isn’t in the cards for me now.  However, the art bug is back.

I have a handful of small projects I want to do (and I suspect I will have a BIG project connected with the project I can’t talk about yet).  But over the next few weeks, I hope to do an art piece.  An art piece for me.

I have an idea — something I want the piece to be about.  I have a form I want it to be (a variation on a triptych).   I will have some experimentation of media and supplies to get the look I see in my head.  But for a change I working on art for me.

In the end the idea may not be earth shattering, and the methodology may not be as ground breaking as I think — but it will be momentous for me. . .

. . . Because I will be an artist again.

This is something I need in my life now.