Friday, August 30, 2013

See Beauty Everywhere

I found out about this TED Talk from a friend on Facebook linking this article.  Rick Guidotti is a former fashion photographer who finds beauty in genetic difference.  As a fashion photographer, he was told what beauty was his whole career and asked to go out and shoot it.  But one day, he came across a girl with Albinism and realized that she was stunning.  And he ran to the local bookstore to find out about this condition, and was shocked at what he found.  All the images in medical textbooks portrayed the people with these conditions as sad, even as ugly.

Rick says:
“It’s terrifying. There’s other ways to present this. I’ve spoken to so many genetic counselors who have a family in front of them and say ‘Ok, this is what your daughter is going to have. Read this.’ And they cover up the photograph because it will freak the family right out.. There’s gotta be something else we can do. There’s gotta be another way to present that information to that family.”
So he went about shooting kids with genetic conditions and showing them their beauty.  As a result, these kids have better self-esteem and are convinced of their own self-worth in a world that typically treats them as "other" at best, and ugly and freakish at worst.

Rick also has a social mission - he's starting support groups for these kids across the globe in their communities.  I wish we weren't judged so easily by appearance, but until we're not, we greatly need this work.  I love this.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Memory vs. Experience

Daniel Kahneman’s TED Talk, entitled “The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory”, was fascinating to me.  Literally, I couldn’t look away, couldn’t turn it off, not until I’d listened to the whole thing.

In his research as a psychologist, Kahneman studied how we experience and remember different feelings and he discovered a pretty amazing thing—that our experiencing self is very different from our remembering self, that our remembering self is a storyteller, and that how a story ends is how we remember it.

For many of us, we think of the future as anticipating memories.  We anticipate savoring moments of joy on vacations.  The truth is that we weight memory heavily over experience, and we can influence the outcome of our memories by telling ourselves better stories about them.  There’s a classic case of colonoscopy patients in there that made me giggle and cringe in equal measures.  It turns out that a varied experience that ends well leads to the best memories, so the next time you have to do something you dread, make sure it ends well at least.  And the next time you plan a vacation, make sure you have a varied schedule of events and that the vacation ends as well as it can.

Also, ask yourself how happy you are day-to-day, moment-to-moment?  How pleased with you with your life as you actually remember it?  It may turn out that your memories are happy, but your day-to-day is drudgery, or vice-versa.  You might be happy IN your life, or you might be happy ABOUT your life, or optimally, both.

There’s also a difference between the reflecting self and remembering self—in thinking about life vs. actually living it.  I’m guilty of this with documenting experiences as they happen, rather than putting the camera or phone away and giving myself up to the full experience of whatever is happening in the moment.

Kahneman also found out that it’s our relationships that influence our happiness most.  If you’re not happy in your life, the best way to change that is to work on being satisfied in your relationships with people you like.  All-in-all, one of the best talks I’ve seen, TED or otherwise.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I know, I know!  I said I didn't want to talk about packaging all the time anymore.  But!  Look at this adorable snack packaging designed by Lacy Kuhn:

So cute.  And subtle.  Let's shove those honey squares in our mouths, y'all.  RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Want to Talk About Ideas

I want to talk about ideas, and not just the packages they come in.  I still consider packaging and design to be incredibly important, because they influence us to take action.  If you didn't like the way a gift was packaged, would you be as inclined to open it?  What causes you to choose one product over another?  How you package yourself is likely to aid in an interviewer's decision to hire or not hire.

But, and there's no way around this: I've lost my fervor over design reviews.  There are a billion other blogs that do that, and it's less interesting to me.  I'd rather talk about ideas.

So with that in mind, I've tasked myself with watching 20 TED talks over the next few weeks.  It's a small step towards the person I want to be - someone who looks and thinks big, and shares delight.

My first one is from Julie Taymor.

A visual genius, Taymor is a Director of film, theater and opera.  She was the first woman to win a Tony Award for directing a musical. She's known primarily for the theatrical production of The Lion King, but my favorite piece of her work is the film, Frida.

Her talk centers around the artist finding the balance between creating art for their own sacred purpose and also making art for an audience.  It's going to be different for every medium, but you have to find a balance.

Also, she says that the mechanics of telling the story is just as important as the story told.   That's why the props and emblems of representation are so important - because you understand something about the story without having to be told directly.  And this, I think, leads to more surprise and delight for the audience.

We all like filling in the blanks.  We love discovery.  Having emblems and images, hints and clues, keeps us on our toes, and sparks our curiosity and imagination.  In writing classes we're told to show, not tell, and this is a step beyond that: we are given a puzzle and allowed the pleasure of discovering the total work at the end.