It seems as though my commute lengthens with each passing day of nice weather. When I used to take the El every day, I would simply pack a book or something else to occupy myself with…but I hear that is frowned upon when driving a car on the highway. Luckily, a couple of weeks ago I rediscovered iTunes U and also broadened my list of Podcasts. Bam! Interesting commute + not falling asleep in all of the bumper-to-bumper traffic = a good drive had by all. Plus, it has the added bonus of helping me achieve some of this year’s Design Resolutions. The best part is that they are all free! Below are a few of my favorites from the past two weeks:
Josh and Chuck crack me up: they’re like your two favorite guy-friends who hang out all the time talking about random things like the history of the Muppets. Except they have a podcast. They actually DO have an episode on the history of the Muppets that a friend sent to me…and then I found myself listening to them banter about ninjas, Tourette Syndrome, castles, pirates, the history of Braille…
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Also from HowStuffWorks.com, this podcast focuses on all of the fun parts of history class minus the pop quizes. You know…the stuff they never teach you because it would be too interesting. The episodes on the Book of Kells and Michelangelo are particularly interesting if you’re an art history buff.
The University of South Florida has created audiobooks for hundreds of classic titles. If you like classic literature, I highly recommend this as a resource. Currently, I’m listening to Peter Pan since I’ve never actually read it.
Oxford University’s Lectures from Medieval English
literature, linguistics, art history
Dr. Stuart D. Lee’s lectures on Old English in literature and in context are fascinating to me. They are a great mix of linguistics, art history (pertaining to illuminated manuscripts), world history, and literature. Plus, I love seeing the similarities between Old English and modern German.
Building a Business
Also from Oxford, this lecture series focuses on starting your own company. Although mainly geared towards the technology industry, the lecture can apply to any business sector. The first episode on taxes and accounting was a little dry and didn’t pertain to entrepreneurs in the States, but the following episodes are of interest.
This post may be totally off-topic, but I just needed to put it out there because perhaps others struggle with the same issue. So I’ve been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis (to quote John Mayer) on and off for the past year. And in helping my sister make some decisions about whether she should double-major, I seem to have thrown myself back into indecision about my own future.
You see, I’ve always had a hard time narrowing down my passions into a career path. How do you know what you are “supposed” to do? My friends and family are probably tired of me wondering that over the past ten years or so (if you’re reading, sorry to bombard you with it again). Basically it comes down to this: I’m passionate about many things…none of which really seem to interrelate.
For one thing, I’m immensely passionate about design: one of the reasons why I started this blog and have gotten involved with our local AIGA chapter. I love book design and would love to one day work at a publishing company. Screen-printing and letterpress open so many options not available in digital technologies, and I can’t wait to explore all of the ideas bouncing around my head. Likewise, I’ve noticed I have a totally different aesthetic in my approach to web-design, and want to learn more, more, more.
Similarly, I’m absolutely and totally in love with animation—have been since I was about 5. I could bore you with long rants about how Sleeping Beauty is one of the most perfect films of all time. Listening to the Animation Podcast episodes and reading blogs like Animation Treasures or Colorful Animation Expressions are enough to have me ready to go back to school. But I really am in love with traditional 2D animation (and maybe claymation), so it’s hard to find outlets for that in the current industry. (Unless James Baxter is hiring right now…I would kill to meet him and pick his brain over a cup of coffee.)
On a totally unrelated note, I’m a (not-so-) secretly reformed science nerd. Sitting at our brother’s Regional Science Olympiad tournament, my sister and I were discussing what was wrong with the two of us for not going into something that we both obviously loved to do. Chemistry/geology…I can’t get enough of both of them—even now. And after coaching my brother for the past several months of tournament season, I’m ready to go spelunking. I think I almost died of happiness just visiting the Rock/Mineral section of the Natural History Museum in D.C. last month. The discovery that there are actually people who do forensic qualitative analysis to determine the make-up of pigments used in illuminated manuscripts was almost enough to drive me back to a college admissions office. (Btw, art history is another of my favorite subjects…)
Yet another interest of mine is linguistics: specifically European languages. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ll know I’m a German-phile. After taking German since middle-school, I found that I missed it too much in college and had to add it as a minor. If I had known that the field of linguistic anthropology existed, I probably would have switched my major. Luckily, an internship over seas with a German design firm allowed me to combine the 2 passions…and I never fail to get energized by the reunions we’ve had every year since. Particularly because all of us are from such diverse educational backgrounds. Each year, I come back wanting to educate others about German-American relations. Currently, I’m trying (slowly!) to teach myself Czech so I can better articulate my appreciation for the kolač.
Mind you, this is all very much an internal conflict, so no need to worry about me making drastic life changes. (And short of designing a German book based on an animated film about the rock cycle, I doubt I’ll ever be able to use all my passions at once.) But I often ponder just how things might be different if I had gone to college for a very different path… But what all of this has taught me is that it’s perfectly okay—if not necessary—to have interests outside of your line of work. They give you inspiration, motivation, and a unique perspective to approach it with. Milton Glaser addressed my classmates and I during a college trip to NYC. The biggest thing I took away from that talk was him saying how important it was to have interests outside of design: how it will fuel your creativity. He then followed that up with the advice to “always be astonished by what you see around you.” I think about that quote a lot: you don’t have to eat, breath, and sleep one thing for the rest of your life. There is so much wonder in the world and so much to be passionate about.
I was surprised to find so much inspiration while walking around D.C. Honestly, I never really had much desire to visit the city aside from wanting to see the Smithsonians, but it really is quite charming. This is the second in a series of posts I’m writing for both here and Stickers and Donuts (the first was on the Pepsi Campaign). Between the reunion’s scheduled activities, sightseeing with friends, and visiting museums, there was a ton of Typography inspiration to be seen:
One of the first places we visited when we had some down-time was the National Archives. I was struck by the beautiful calligraphy on many of the displayed documents.
- One of the copies of the Magna Carta was on display as a part of a special exhibition: though the photo is a little blurry, I thought even the sign for it was quite nice.
- A close-up of the script on the Magna Carta: I had a hard time prying myself away to get to the Rotunda.
- Script on the Constitution: I was a little dismayed to see how faded both it and the Declaration of Independence were.
- More script on the Consitution
- Typesetting on Response to the King’s Proclamation by the Continental Congress
- Hand-written script on letter written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- Hand-written script, although I couldn’t make out the title card in my photo
The last place I stopped at was The National Gallery of Art. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, I was in such a hurry that I didn’t grab all of the title cards for each photo. I’ll update if I can decipher anything from my notes.
- Altar piece
- Altar piece
- This is totally not from the National Gallery: it was a sign I saw on Adams Morgan while we were out one night, but I liked how the counters were filled in.
- Scroll on the back of Da Vinci’s Ginevera
- Latin along the bottom of a frame
- Latin along the bottom of a frame (a piece by Lippi?)
- Shield on an altar piece
Since this week’s Sunday Type was focused on Czech Type, it reminded me that I have been meaning to post about this site for a while now: The Little Czech Primer.
In my “spare” time, I’ve been trying to learn more Czech. There doesn’t seem to be as many resources for learning Czech on the web (if anyone knows of a good podcast, let me know), but in my searching, I stumbled across this little gem. LCP is basically a cute little flash card site, and I really like the simple illustrations:
When your mouse hovers over the word, you see its English equilivent. What fun, simple line drawings! I’m not sure if they are original to the site, or pulled from other language resources (some seem to have Russian in the background). It reminds me of some of the fun illustrations that were in my German textbooks while in school: wouldn’t a foreign language book be a fun project?
This past month, my family went up to Nebraska for a family reunion. Although I’ve shared the German-love in past posts, I’m actually more Czech than German. The region of Nebraska that both sides of my family are from was heavily settled by Czechs during the late 1800’s, and they brought not only their language, religion, and delicious food, but also a wealth of culture. In fact, you can still hear the cadence of spoken Czech in the way some small towns pronounce their English.
The reunion was held in a small community center belonging to the local church where I snapped some pics of these amazing velvet banners:
The banner in red is for the Society of St. Lucy, while the gray banner is for the Rosary Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both were used in parades, etc. What amazing embroidery! They’ve both held up well over the past century.
Also displayed were these beautifully lettered/illustrated certificates:
Unfortunately, they were a little faded from age and the sun, and when I took the picture, I couldn’t get rid of the glare from the glass. The more elaborate one was labelled as a proof of insurance, but I’m not sure that was labeled correctly: I think it has something to do with the Catholic Workman chapter. The middle one on the right wasn’t as old, but also wasn’t labeled.
Coming up later this week: Weekly Reader and my thoughts on Wallâ€¢E