Justin Childress
Designer & Creative Director

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Daily Record

August 2nd, 2017

Remembering the Right Things

“The danger for the leader comes if you cannot truly love yourself. If you are at war with yourself then you will be unable to lead others with empathy & compassion. You may pretend—but you will always be found out.” — Alan Moore DO/ DESIGN

As I was flipping through Alan Moore’s very pleasant book “Do/ Design: Why Beauty is Key to Everything” last night, I settled on this passage, and found it to contain a brief observation that perhaps defines my last couple of years more aptly than most. The last year especially has been an exercise in coming to glaring terms with my inadequacies, both personally and professionally, and it is only recently that I have been able to begin to more objectively recognize the often self-imposed dissonances, conflicts of self-identity or labeling or striving, that have made it difficult not only to seek “Happiness,” but to even recognize that “Loving One’s Self” (i.e. Happiness) is a thing that is particularly valuable. Or, perhaps, a thing that even really exists (in contrast to Achievement, or Virtue, or Legacy, or Impact). It’s easy to forget that your strengths (especially when it comes to leadership) are solely defined by your relationships to people, especially in an inherently human discipline like design. Empathy, compassion, kindness, and helpfulness are all purely relational concepts, and the cultural core of not only a good “design practice” (as if that caveat is necessary), but of everything.

This is easy to forget, though. Your insufficiencies, in contrast, are easy enough to identify even in a void, especially if it’s one of your own making.

I hope I’m getting better at remembering the right things.

May 28th, 2017

Breaking the Rules

In design, or any discipline of making, there is a distinct difference between “breaking the rules” and simply being naive of the rules. A reactionary rejection of formally “trained” approaches, the result of conceiving of the these approaches merely as the manifestation of a thoughtless, common vernacular, as nothing but the historically-dictated precedent for popularly “purposeful” design, is not within itself something to be admired. This attitude breeds its own form of anti-intellectualism, and aligns itself with a type of uncritical abandon that these same practitioners would defy in other quarters. Even “breaking the rules” should be a purposeful exercise, which necessitates a fluency in the language that is ultimately being rejected. Willful ignorance isn’t admirable in any venue, even in design or (gasp) art.

March 3rd, 2017

The Topography of Typography

  1. The words on the printed surface are taken in by seeing, not by hearing.
  2. One communicates meanings through the convention of words; meaning attains form through letters.
  3. Economy of expression: optics not phonetics.
  4. The design of the book-space, set according to the constraints of printing mechanics, must correspond to the tensions and pressures of content.
  5. The design of the book-space using process blocks which issue from the new optics. The supernatural reality of the perfected eye.
  6. The continuous sequence of pages: the bioscopic book.
  7. The new book demands the new writer. Inkpot and quill-pen are dead.
  8. The printed surface transcends space and time.
  9. The printed surface, the infinity of books, must be transcended. THE ELECTRO-LIBRARY.

— El Lissitzky, 1923

It never ceases to amaze me how dependent cultural movement is on the Forcefully Declared Techno-futurist Opinion. My inability to claim objective truth in overtly subjective realms (in this case, the realms of medium and execution) cements my temporality as a designer, I’m afraid. History doesn’t smile on the flexible.