The Heart of the Human Brand:
Design, Imagination and Beauty.
Notes on the point of the work: urge, passion, craft, the hand-made brand — a conference presentation in Portland.
THE NEW WORLD OF DESIGN: what is the nature of personal reflection in branding? If there’s a story, who’s telling it, and who cares about it? To the human brand, and the human potential, what story could be made to shine: the lustration of ideas, the illustration of the ideal?
A special dedication and thanks to Danielle Amato, for her graceful help in creating this presentation.
Brand strategies for living.
A friend of mine, that I’d not seen in decades, asked me to present a keynote to a conference of scientists, doctors, medical educators, students and technical illustrators at Portland State University.
The work of the presentation was about rethinking the relationships — the carrying of ideas — into a community of designers and illustrators, medical strategists in innovation and the emergent tools of newly building ways of healing and understanding the learnings of the human body.
But about the ideas of design — the storytelling in exchange — one thought, one realm of thinking carries to another. Story is history, story is layering — one sphere to another: embraced and held in the heart of new ideas.
And the ideas of the signature of the designer, in brand or in medicine, would be what is the heart of it all — what is design? Signing, the definitive movement – the scribing of description:
It is a sign. It is a signature — and that sense of design is entirely personal — it’s about you, how you draw that line, and what you listen to, in finding more, digging deeper:
But what of seeing? That links, in the ancient context of the phrasing — the seed roots of speech, thousands of years ago — it is about “saying” as well. As a designer, in looking into your Self, seeing, saying, story: image, signed in design:
That idea of the heart of design — the old design world is inherently the same as the new world — scratched in clay, the new: drawn with the fingertip on a digital tablet.
Ultimately, it is about the archaeology of self — what’s your drawing, the drawing of the wellspring of you. It is about what is beneath and how you — as a creative, a passionate, do that: dig in…
The expression of ideas will be about shining – the glow of implication, of explication and unfolding — for this is the centerpoint of illustration (lustration) — the polishment of thought, articulated in gesture. Draw me in…
Let me share a story, my history — and, in reflectivity — what might become your story, in sharing. For me, the story of science and my early work was about a love of nature — exploring the biological arts — and researching, moving into the interior of the soul of the experience. But science can be about destruction — and rather than continuing the path of vivisection in learning, I worked deeply into the journaling of ideas and visualizing the beauty of understanding.
And that journey, that digging into the archaeology of design, of creativity, that took me to the ends of the earth, and myriad creative explorations between — designing and creating for clients both big and small, round that world that circles the sun.
That lead to the intrinsic nature of storytelling, that spoke to an early encounter with corvids — and listening to the wisdom of the raven clan — to working with Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now) on my first brand identity project for motion picture industry (leading to more than 400 others, over time.) And finally, merging art and design — and considering the design of brand storytelling in place-making and retail enterprise.
And all the craft comes down to this ancient sequencing of word: content, the springboard of contentment, the sense of closure and making wholeness: containment, that can build the continent of ideals. The nature of this effort is a journey, and a journal of exploration:
The ultimate idea of containment — and of contentment — will be about the lonely run of exploration. You, as the creative, take that journey — which could be in the dream of the story well told, drawn or spoken, gestured or thought — newly discovered in the path way of your examinations:
In all the efforts of my undertaking these examinations — where I’ve been, what I’ve explored — it’s all about the person. Every brand starts with a human. No where else…because it is there that the archetype of exchange, of sharing, and the nature of the human mind and its magnetic draw into the character of narrative; one story — experienced in living — shared, becomes the telling of another.
As a designer, a creative, a passionate — it’s worthwhile to consider the notion of what lies beneath — what are you doing, what’s your story, how are you telling it. And in that, do you care?
One path, is documentation — the gathering of the collage of your personal experience — the prism of your own light, what can be found?
In my own studies — it’s about the engagement — what have I done, where have I been. Striding back to the beginnings of my career, I began working alone, then two, four, one small project, then larger corporate engagements, then teams, dozens of people working at Girvin, then a decade — the 90s — when Girvin, the firm, was the largest ever, the number one firm. But by that time, I’d completely disconnected from the power of the work — my urge, my passion — and why I was there. A collapse, then a rethinking — step by step, making a way to recovering the soul of Girvin, the person, Girvin, the firm. That lead from 80 employees to a smaller, crack team — lean, marvelous and passionate.
I retrace those days in the journey of the journal — a tablet of days.
That tracing creates a mapping, a way in which the work, the process, the inventions of exploration are a cartography of experience. Saved and savored.
That mapping suggests both a striding back in time — moment to moment, as well as the steps to the future. It is where you’ve been, and where you are, and where you can go. That tracery will guide that examination — the journal of the journey, the good, the bad, the light-filled and the darkening.
Every journal (and journey) offers a deepening and dimensionality of memory and experience — going back, coming to the present, and finding the unfolding of the future as it occurs — seeing the thread — takes you back, moves you forward.
I walk here:
Journal as tool and gatherer:
Journal as mix between content, meaning and illustration:
Digging into the symbolon, the icon, the archetype, the totem:
Exploring the sequencing of ideas: story-boarding your thinking:
The journal as a form of meditation — gathering:
Build a land, map the continent of you — from the dark, to the light, and the gray in between:
The staggering of word, meaning, notions and notations:
The acknowledgment of passage, passion, pathways:
The journal and the work that you do, and the work that you admire:
The passion of work is about an urge — the ancient etymon speaks to the brilliance of commitment — of passionate engagement and reflection. You’re either in, or out — where, in deed, are you?
I offer these closures in counsel – a definition that cries to the outcomes of these explorations — what’s seen, in scene, what’s found, in foundation:
The power of passion is the pain (Latin: pati = pain) of commitment and engagement. Passion is never easy — it’s the urge to drive, stay attuned and intentionally focused.
The sensation of design — the sign of experience, the signature of thought — is a holistic frame. You can’t turn it off, because it’s always on. This is the ancient way, this is the modern way — the lineage is wholly connected.
And in your creative empowerment, what lies beneath the signature of your expressions is:
Exploring brand team building, innovations and creativity:
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