Painting with syringes, an exploration of metamodernism


Plato did not believe art to be a form of creation, but as imitation.
"Certainly not, he merely imitates".

Creativity is regarded as discovery. In which the artist is discovering things for the first time that already exist. However, my work has yet to be discovered since it has not existed before in history without the accompaniment of medical advancements. Therefore, the execution with the tools painted through unexplored emotions and techniques, as the creator, has not been discovered until now. Which means this isn't discovery of something that has existed previously, but the essence is being created for the first time. This metamodernist approach to defining the creativity in the work creates a tension between the sincerity of creating and irony of discovery defined throughout history.

My art work is the oscillation of attempting to create out of the tools, techniques and mediums, which cannot be replicated by another known figure in history. Since all people with my disease have died very young, it was not until the 1980's where my disease could be managed and live a somewhat healthy life. Therefore, I am creating new art work in history while imitating the erratic and chaotic artists via abstract expressionism.

The interesting part about this approach is that technically, without the medicine to keep me alive this long, I am using the same equipment that keeps me alive as the tools in which I create the work. The paint and colors are reflections of emotions and sincerity of life to color the canvas. There is tensions and beauty in this approach. Needles and syringes used to create bold and abstract pieces that otherwise should have never existed given my own existence technically shouldn't be in of itself.

My work is metamodern. Defined through the oscillation of the technique and the approach of the creative definition in history.

Art imitates life. Life imitates art.

Before birth I was diagnosed with a rare life-threatening hereditary immune deficiency called Agammaglobulinemia, or XLA. This disease is a genetic defect which makes my body unable to produce white blood cells. I have undergone expensive and extensive treatments my entire life through intravenous and subcutaneous medicine. It’s a constant process to maintain my health, but it gives me a very different outlook on my own existence and the world around me. In short, it’s the thing that drives me to create. A blessing and curse.

I have hidden this from the world for most of my life - for fear of being misunderstood, or rejected. But I have realized that this is the very thing that makes me who I am. Over the past year I have begun using this to drive creativity in a new way. Through paint on canvas.

Read more about my recent experience donating my stem cells.

Wabi Sabi approach to design

Nothing is perfect on the web. We are always changing, growing, and evolving. From the responsive design approach, the various available devices, the growing demographics of our audience, and the constant progression of technology; it’s time we have a Wabi-Sabi perspective of the web.

Wabi-sabi (???) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.


During the 1990s the concept was borrowed by computer software developers and employed in Agile programming and Wiki to describe acceptance of the state of ongoing imperfection that is the product of these methods.

As a designer, I believe it’s important to accept the constant changing elements of the web. By focusing on a solid process that allows for quick prototyping along with making foundational design decisions that have proven the test of time (such as: typefaces, grids, golden ratios); the ever-evolving imperfect web we are designing for will hold a timeless solidarity that will be more open and flexible to change.

The web is in a constant flux of change and impermanence. Design must be able to evolve and change with the web quickly and progressively. The closer we move towards a responsive and adaptive web, the more we must embrace a wabi-sabi philosophy with design.

Top 25 albums of 2016

My top list of albums for 2016.
Spotify playlist link

  1. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
  2. The Album Leaf – Between Waves
  3. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book / All We Got
  4. Russian Circles – Guidance
  5. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
  6. David Bazan - Blanco
  7. Tycho – Epoch
  8. Savages – Adore Life
  9. Beach Slang – A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings
  10. Deftones – Gore
  11. Frightened Rabbit - Painting Of A Panic Attack
  12. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
  13. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
  14. White Laces - No Floor
  15. Solange - A Seat at the Table
  16. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked for Death
  17. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love
  18. White Lung – Paradise
  19. Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness
  20. This Will Destroy You – Young Mountain (10th Anniversary)
  21. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
  22. Dinosaur Pile-Up – Eleven Eleven
  23. Basement - Promise Everything
  24. Happy Diving – Electric Soul Unity
  25. Trentemøller - Fixion

Inspiration is found everywhere but here

As a designer, it gets hard to become inspired. It’s one of those constant struggles where you look and search and seek to find inspiration in every place around you. This post is about how to find inspiration and what I do, personally, to become inspired. Hopefully this may, ahem, inspire you to find some inspiration as well.

I work on the computer constantly. This is my playground, my workstation and pretty much my life. Hours and hours of staring at the screen, looking over pixels and gazing at typefaces can become mundane and stale. Like most designers, musicians and artists, creative blocks happen all the time. Sometimes more often than we wish. But I have been doing an experiment for the past few months and I think, personally speaking, that I have found where my inspiration lies. I have found, specifically related to finding inspiration, that I need to get off the computer. I need to get out of my office. I need to get away from the coffee shop. I need to step out of my comfort zones and experience life and nature and be surrounded by things that have truly helped to inspire me.

I have made it a point to get outdoors. Go kayaking, fishing, hiking, put my feet in water and climb mountains. The inspiration in nature and our world is truly beautiful and organic. The past few months I have found that my level of inspiration with design has grown immensely since making an effort to get off the computer, turn off my iPhone and go experience the things that most of us find inspiring as we view it on our monitors or phones.

These experiences have influenced my recent work and helped to bring back memories and references of things I see in the natural world around me. My personal design style has a very natural feel to a lot of my work and being submersed in these settings and atmospheres have really caused the creative juices to flow and the distance between my creative blocks have diminished greatly. I encourage you, whether you are a designer, artist, musician or just looking for new things to experience in life, to get off the computer. Nothing is as breathtaking on a screen as seeing it in real life. There is something powerful about being in a kayak and watching bald eagles fly overhead while being followed by seals in the water. It’s amazing. Inspiration is out there; sometimes you have to go find it.

Word Cloud Inspiration

Kerouac. Whiskey. Beatniks. Cigarettes. Bonfires. Woodstock. Volkswagens. High end. Irreverent. Trouble makers. Whiskey. Mohawk. Chainsaws. Hunter orange. Punk Rock. Double action shotguns. Axe handles. Straight razor. Compass. Leather boots. Cigarettes. Indian Pale Ale. Fly rod. Engine grease. Camouflage. Mosh pit. Duck calls. Bow hunting. Deer. Buffalo stampede. Axe. Cabin. Salmon. French press. 12 gauge shotgun. Beer. Wood stove. Hike. Mountaineer. Bourbon. Scotch. Grizzly. Elk. John Muir. Campfire. Tent. Backpack. Denim. Tattoos. Mountains. Beard. Heavy Metal. Trailhead. Matches. Pocket knife. Baked beans. Wildfire. Guitar feedback. Kickflip. Kerosene. Anchor. Lantern. Breakdowns. Dive bars. Lewis and Clark. Oregon Trail. Goldrush. Klondike. Sailboat. Tsunami wave. Wagon train. Taxidermy. Tobacco. Rucksack. Canteen. Double kick. Daniel Boone. Teddy Roosevelt. Thoreau. Ansel Adams. 1972. Fossils. Skeletons. Animal skull. Death. Life. Love. Sex. Reproduction. Chemistry. Existentialism. Andy Warhol. Grunge.

Design functionality

Functionality without beauty is meaningless.
Today I listened to S. Sagmeister shares his thoughts on a podcast about how Design without functionality will be embarrassing to us in the future and that he compared it to Soviet design following the collapse of the Bauhaus era.

Beauty is a human element that is needed in all parts of design. Design without beauty and fully functional fails to address the empathetic human centered approach of design. Design is meant to make people happy.

The small details

One of the hardest things as a designer is to constantly have an eye for detail. It's like a disease that every designer is cursed with. But, with the increase of responsive design, I believe that we, as designers, are forced to change our process and with this comes the changing of our focus. Do not sweat the small things at first.

Over the years, I have learned to change how I look at the overall view of a project, especially in the beginning stages. Build, prototype, experiment and then revise the design later. Don't meddle in getting that perfect texture or gradient just yet. The arbitrary things that used to make design great can take a backseat to the importance of lightweight performance driven design. This is especially true if you are starting from a mobile first process.

Don't sweat the small details at first. Revisit the design and give it love after you have something that puts the users time, data and experience first.

Creativity is not magic

Creativity isn’t some magical measuring stick to determine who’s “special” in society vs. who operates at a lesser level. Many times I find people referring to me as “the creative” or the “most creative” or something along those lines. To be completely honest, I am no more “creative” than any other human on earth. This isn’t me trying to make some humblebrag statement or be overly generous with gratitude. It’s how I have felt about this topic for years. I am not creative anymore than anyone else - I just work hard.

To say that I am “creative” is to bless me with some magical gift that I was born with. It diminishes the notion that I have worked my ass for over a decade to sharpen my skills, create, fail and repeat that process. I have given up ridiculous opportunities to live a comforting life in pursuit of following my passion to get to a level where I have still not reached. Creativity is the evidence of hard work. You want to be creative? Fucking work for it. Every. Day.

Creativity and creative efforts mean different things for me. They hold their form in different ways.

The art of responsive design

Approaching responsive design requires more attention to detail than just scaling down images or text to fit within a certain screen size. It requires the art of understanding not only how a design will look at various viewports, but how it will be built in a way that will work flawlessly across any screen size.

Mobile first
I firmly believe in the mobile first approach because it forces you to design around the core features of what you need to provide to your audience. Good design is clean, but great design is nothing more than what is needed. Mobile design forces us to design in an environment where we can create perfect web design that scales from a handheld mobile device (with minimal real estate) all the way out to large beautiful displays.

Now, this isn't to say that the look can't be beautiful and full of great visual design as the scaling-up increases, but there is something beautiful about design typography, text, colors and content in a way way that makes us want to consume it all. The focus relies on utilizing the grid, golden ratios, balanced use of typography and color palettes.

Performance driven
Every second counts on a mobile device. Lightweight mobile experiences will keep readers coming back if you consider their data as well. Make it fast. Make it readable. Make it function.

"Mobile-first doesn’t mean starting with a 320 pixel wide design, it means starting with a low bandwidth experience." - Daniel Ryan, Frontend Director for Obama for America

People use their mobile devices to get information as quickly as possible. Don't be the barrier of getting people to the content by making poor design choices that will bloat the markup or add unnecessary javascript to a project.

Design for functionality
Consider touch, swipe, and tap experiences when designing for mobile touch devices. Touch events are becoming standardized ( and you should familiarize yourself with the capabilities that each device and platform will allow in a mobile browser. Hover isn't an option for mobile devices just as much as swiping isn't a viable experience on a desktop. Be pragmatic and intentional with the various devices you are designing for and make it functional for the audience experiencing your content on specific devices.

Design for code

Responsive design is about front-end development, UX, content and visual design working together seamlessly to provide a fast, performance driven experience that will deliver quality content on any device. Start with clean, beautiful code and keep it functional.

“Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.” - Albert Einstein

Design isn't just about making things pretty, its about making things work. Start with a stripped down coded version of your layout and work out from there. Keep it simple and make only necessary decisions from a visual perspective to add things at various screen sizes.