I’ve never lived in the South. I have cousins that live there and my brother moved to Alabama a few months back, and that is about as deep as my relationship to the southern United States gets. I know the south has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and I know that the confederate flag is a symbol of controversy for many living there and not living there. It is a symbol that has long been divisive and polarizing, occasionally popping up in the news when there is a call to ban or abolish it from public use by a state or local government. So I can’t imagine the challenge of designing a new symbol for the south that would be inclusive, embrace the traditions and heritage of the region, and not spark arguments from those that believe the confederate flag is sacred.
Last year PRI and WNYC asked 70k ft to do just that, and they did. Below is the imagery that they created and some of the thinking that went into the redesign. The embedded links go to the South website and to the PRI site where the team discusses in detail the process, the thinking, and the reaction to the new symbol for the southern portion of the United States. It is an interesting read and listen if you have the time. I have mixed feelings about the end results. I like the new symbol better than the tired old confederate flag, but I’m not sure it will resonate with southerners. It’ll be interesting to see if this new symbol takes hold and develops traction in the future.
A while ago, actually quite a while ago when I was in art school, I was sitting in a critique for one of my lithography classes. I don’t know how the class got on the subject, but we switched from talking about the nuances of each others work and began talking about why we were in art school to begin with. There was quite a bit of discussion about learning how to make this or that, and about developing a critical eye. The standard art school bull shit. At one point though I had an epiphany.
I didn’t go to art school to learn how to draw or paint. I didn’t go to develop a critical eye for things. I knew those things, or I had a pretty good idea about them. My epiphany was I went to art school to learn if I wanted to do this everyday, and to learn how to get rid of the crap I was making as I strove to hone my skills and be a better artist.
I think this is one of the most important things I learned in the four years I was there. I needed to figure out if I was going to be able to make things every single day, and I needed to learn how to edit my work. To get rid of the stuff that wasn’t so good. To learn from why it didn’t work, and improve on it.
If you are going to be in a creative field, some of the most important things you will need to learn are “Can I do this everyday and still love it”. “Can I see the things that aren’t working, and get rid of them”. “Did I learn from what didn’t work, and can I improve upon it”. Ironically this along with how to make money are things they don’t really emphasize in art school.
The videos below are from PRI. They are Ira Glass from This American Life talking about storytelling and creativity. He does a much better job of explaining what I tried to.