Website Redesign Underway

In the last year I have reinvented myself. My career path has evolved from design to strategy and social media. My personal website has yet to convey that evolution. Just to let you know, I’m trying my best to tackle this challenge, but with my contract work, it’s getting difficult to find time during the day. I think I need more hours.

There are a few things that I need to tackle when redesigning the site.

1) Message:
Quite important when establishing (or reestablishing) any brand. I know what my personal and professional message is, however, I need to actually get it on paper, or more specifically, typed out. Lately it seems that my clients’ messages have been taking front seat to my own.

2) Design:
Once my message has been established and typed out, I will design the aesthetic of my newly evolved personal brand and establish the flow of the site. I’m halfway there already; it will mirror the aesthetic you see here on the blog.

3) Linking it Up:
Integration of select inbound links with my site, is essential in my job. I suppose this will be apart of the “Design” process.

4) Getting the Message Out:
Once the message has been drafted, design completed, and the inbound links established, promotion begins. Whether it be through the inbound links, in-person networking, or another aspect of promotion, I’m uncertain at this junction. But, what I do know, is it will require a firm SEO strategy.

So, that’s where I’m at right now with my personal site. I want to make it clear, that when I’m discussing the “personal site,” I’m not referring to the blog you’re reading now. So, please be patient, it’ll be live soon.

Gotta get back to work!

OpEd: What Makes a Good Designer?

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this lately. Perused the design blogs, the design portfolios online looking for the answer to the question, what makes a good designer. What makes a great designer? I have come to the conclusion that the majority of designers are good, few are great. I’m not saying that I’m a great designer, or you need to be a great designer to see who isn’t. It’s merely the social order of things. Everyone can’t be great, if they all are great, then there is nothing bad; we have no way to judge good design from bad. Good design, not great. Yes, most designers are “good.” Every once in a while do designers make great designs, but for the most part, they are just good, average, adept. This by no means is not a bad thing, these are the designers that help make the world go round. The cooks in the kitchen if you will. It is also important to realize that probably 25% of designers are not good, 74% of designers are good and 1% of designers are great. I have noticed there are ways to judge this, judging through aptitude, passion, integration and evolutionary insight. Let me explain…

Aptitude
Strictly speaking, this level of critique is based solely upon education of whatever sort in the field of design. Gestalt, color theory, history, form and function. This proves to be the foundation of design and the designer. Lack of knowledge in this department is noticed quite readily in the designs. Red serif type on Black provides an immediate conclusion. Granted, some argue that design is visceral. It can be, yes. But, only after a designer has learned the basics of design, can the designer be adept at designing intuitively. Most designers have this already under their belt and from a foundation standpoint, helps make them a good designer.

Passion
Design is an art. Art requires passion. If a designer doesn’t have passion for their work, or at least passion for the ideal of design, then they’re in trouble. Enough said on that.

Integration
To judge a design and thusly the designer, an integration of aptitude, passion and solution of design must be presented. Taking the knowledge of design, applying it to the job or project with a passion is how we work. This is where most designers are in the world. If the designer can integrate everything they have and know into their designs and overall thought process while maintaing a passion for what they do, most likely you will find good design coming out of it.

Evolutionary Insight
This is the the precipice of designers. These designers incorporate Aptitude, Passion, Integration along with something else. That spark. That whole understanding of how things work now and how they will work a year from now. They are the trend makers and the elite. These designers are the ones that set the standard for the good designers. Example: The web2.0 look or the reflection look, each were most likely thought of by one designer. One. Now, it is such a trend that everyone is doing it. Most likely they have moved onto something else that we as good designers will see in a year. These designers have that insight into the evolution and trends. They know what will work. They are the top 1% of designers in the world.

It is important to understand that my intention is not to insult the average designer, nor interrupt their dreams. It’s the whole notion that we all can be president. In truth, we all can’t be. There are limitations in life. We can strive to become that top 1%, but it takes time, talent, passion and drive. Not all of us can be the pacesetters. There is NOTHING wrong with being good. In fact, there is everything right about being good. Good designers are hard to come by. Also, like I mentioned before, good designers are those who make the world work. I would love to be great. I strive for it. I know my place too, I’m a good designer.

Son of Erik Mixtape Release: Innocent Idealism

This mix is all about music that I listened to when I was younger. Music that is aligned with the feeling of idealism from back in the day when I still had my innocence. There are a few contemporary tracks in this mixtape as well that help reinforce that nostalgic feeling. I’m sure you may not get the same feeling, however, this is more of a personal look back at a time long-lost.

I have provided a link for you (at the bottom of this post) to download the mixtape. (If you would like it split into tracks, let me know, and I’ll provide.)

The track-listing is as follows:

If Everybody Looked The Same – Groove Armada
DARE – Gorillaz
Do Your Thing – Basement Jaxx
Audacity Of Huge – Simian Mobile Disco
The Creeps – Camille Jones vs Fedde Le Grande
Let Forever Be – The Chemical Brothers
So Many Times – Gadjo
Poppiholla – Chicane
Right Here Right Now (Redanka Mix) – Fatboy Slim
No Air (Jason Nevins Remix) – Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown
Love Island – Fatboy Slim
Tao of the Machine – BT & The Roots
Dealing With The Roster – Junkie XL
Never Gonna Come Back Down – BT
Stop The Rock – Apollo 440

Download Innocent Idealism Here

These mixes are not intended for sale or reproduction. Son of Erik does not and will not receive any proceeds from the production of these mixes. Please respect the copyright of the original artists that have been listed.

A Chicago Experience

My recent trip to Chicago proved to be a lot of fun despite the disappointment I encountered on Thursday. One of the purposes of me extending my stay, was to figure out how I would interact with the city that I love.

Day-to-day, I started to feel immensely comfortable. Not just because of the amazing generosity of my friends James and Laurie for setting me up for a few days, but because I started to find a rhythm in a city where you can’t afford to not have one. I even started having a feeling that I lived here, a few blocks away from my friends. Weird. Public transportation is key in moving around Chicago. I was able to travel, with ease, around town. I didn’t really explore a lot of the town, but I’m starting to get perspective. I’m starting to understand my sense of direction and starting to get a feeling of security on top of that serenity.

Cell services are a bit lacking though. Not to say that I don’t have a signal here, it’s just a bit less reliable. I’m assuming that is due to the number of people on my network. I’m not thinking it’s going to be a major issue.

I was telling friends that the cost of living is just a bit above that of Milwaukee with rent and transit. However, things are more expensive as illustrated by me wanting to buy sponges for painting with Laurie. They were retailing for $3 each at Walgreens. That’s sort of expensive for something I’m just going to throw away. Something to think about I guess.

Overall, I found it very welcoming. Overall people here respond to kindness and gestures of friendliness. But, you have to pull it out of them or initiate it first. I don’t think that will be a problem either. Chicago is a great town and filled with life.

I want to give a shout out and a hearty “thank you” to James and Laurie for being so generous in welcoming me to stay at their pads. (I need to find a time to come down when the weather isn’t so crappy.)

Artwork: Discovering the Past

So, yes I have neglected this blog a bit in the last few days. Sorry, it wasn’t my intention at all. Been sort of busy lately.

One thing that I have been doing, is transferring all my Zip discs to my MacBook. I thought there would be a lot more information on them, but it turns out, all the information on the 15 Zips totals 600MB. Laughable today, but by the standards of yesteryear (yes, I said yesteryear) it was a ton of information.

Needless to say, it was a walk down memory lane. I saw projects from early on in college, typography experiments, party invitations and various other assignments. But, the gold medal find was my work from high school. There is a lot of junk in there, but I think some of the work shows progress. Or at least, a desire to learn more about the graphic arts. I guess, early on, I knew where I wanted my life to go…

Let me know what you think. (Keep in mind, these are from 1999 when I was only 18.)

Daring To Leap

Everyone has those turning points in their lives. You know what I’m talking about; those “leap” points. The times that arise when you realize that in order to do something, you must take a gigantic leap, almost a blind leap.

I’d like to think that those leap moments are the catalyst for change as well. As a way for us to move forward. These leaps can be anything from change in lifestyle, to buying a car or house, moving, engagements, and the like.

I believe that I’m at a leap point in my life right now, a point at which I am not allowed to advance until I take the specific leap that is plaguing me. I know what the leap is, I just can’t seem to bring myself to jump. How does one do that anyway? Do I over-think things too much? Do I analyze every action into too much detail? I do actually, so I guess those aren’t the questions I should be asking myself. How do you overcome over-analyzing everything in your life? That’s the question right there. Leaping with blind faith, in the hopes that it might work, or ideally work, is something I haven’t done since I moved up to Milwaukee in 1999.

Perhaps this is the catalyst that I need to move beyond my current situation? Perhaps I need to leap headfirst and believe that it will work. I need to overcome the idea that money is the main motivator in the decisions of my life. Remember back when we were younger when money wasn’t all that important than happiness? I believe if I tap into that idealism that we once had, I can overcome this inability to believe that I can attain that which I want to, that which I need to.

However, all this talk of ideally taking the jump relies on one thing. Once I have established that “one thing,” I can move forward. I can take the leap, because after that, everything is beautiful and doesn’t really matter. After that “one thing,” I can be at ease with any decision I make.

In the end, I need to be bolder. I need to be comfortable with asking the tough questions and engaging in difficult decisions.  Otherwise, I am just going through life and wasting it right? That which I truly want, and don’t strive after, becomes a wasted opportunity and a wasted time.

Media Saturation: It’s Time To Move On

There are so many things that saturate the media and are overhyped (and using the term ‘overhyped’ is an understatement) to the point of being annoying. Kind of like when a radio station over-plays your favorite song. You know how it goes, it’s really interesting and cool to talk about, but after a while, you sort of want to move on.

Below is a list of the items I believe are overhyped and done. Items that we should just move on from.

1) Avatar: Yes, I know it’s a triumph of special effects and Cameron’s masterpiece to date. And yes, it has grossed a lot of money in the theaters. I will be honest, I haven’t seen it. I wanted to, but with everyone so infatuated with it and all the non-stop talk about it, now I don’t want to see it. I’ll watch Sherlock Holmes instead.

2) Tiger Woods: Yes, he cheated. Yes, he’s no longer a model athlete or spokesperson. And yes, it’s time to move on.

3) American Idol: Not another season. The show never changes and the latest winners aren’t doing anything of “Idol” note. Also, the Bachelor(ette) belongs here too.

4) Nexus One, iPhone, Android OS: These are amazing devices that make me believe I live in the future. However, the technology has been around for a while now. Let’s move on to the next big thing in cell phones: complete integration.

5) The Packers Playoff Loss: They lost. They didn’t play like a Super Bowl team should. The season is over.

6) Mark McGwire: We all knew he took steroids. He just admitted what we knew already. Do we really have to dwell on this?

7) Cigarette and Cigars: If it’s detrimental to the health of everyone, don’t keep taxing it, don’t pass ordinances saying you can’t smoke in most places. Just make it illegal. How about that for a solution? (I should run for office)

8) Sarah Palin: Releasing a book, getting a tv show, going on the lecture circuit. Why is this constantly on the news?

9) Snow in Wisconsin: Wisconsin says it all.

10) Unemployed Numbers: We all know it’s still bad out there. People are still losing jobs and having a hard time getting new ones. The numbers won’t bounce back overnight either. Let’s try a positive outlook for positive results?

So, this is maybe a dark type post. It wasn’t my intention. I’m actually a very happy guy. I just have been saturated by things.

What are the things you think are overhyped?

100% Slew

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ABzMVEkpQ0]

As you may or may not know, I’m always on the hunt for a great piece of music. Recently, my brother turned me onto the Slew. What an awakening that was, to be sure.

These guys produce some of the most raw and unadulterated tracks of mastery. Heavy beats, thick mixes along with impressive turn-table scratching. Overall, when you listen to them, you get a sense of badassery. Yes, that is a word. Well, a word I made up to describe the emotion one gets from listening.

I guess Kid Koala and Dynamite D were approached to develop and score a film that was being filmed. Sadly, the film was sacked. However, the score remains. The Slew was born. They released the album 100% and proceeded to tour only once. (Yes, this is a sad realization.)

Needless to say, it’s a great album to “get.” (If you know me, you know why I quoted “get.”) My recommendation: somehow obtain this brilliant score, listen to it, bop your head in enjoyment, and welcome in 2010 with a bad ass band.

The Inaugural

So I wish I could come up with something a bit more poignant and well thought out for my first post on ebreakdown, but I really can’t. I can tell you the events that have lead up to this blog, however.

The name ebreakdown came about 10 years ago now. It’s a shortened version of elegantbreakdown which is the moniker that I go by. The name was developed after listening to INXS’ Elegantly Wasted album. I was in love with that band and fell in love with the album name, but the word “wasted” is a bit risque. So, “breakdown” came about. This blog is simply the next and most recent step in the evolution of my online presence. I have had many blogs in the past and what I have realized is that it’s just too many to keep track of and consequently I failed at keeping track of them. I then decided to create one master blog for myself. One that I can feed most, if not all, of my satellite blogs, social sites, and other environments into. So, this is what we have here. The master blog. This is the place to go to find out what I’m up to.

I provide this sort of service to many of my clients. Basically a new media package. A funnel of information into one site that can be fed into satellite platforms. It only made sense to do it for myself, right? I had sometime today to make that happen. Believe me, it’s no easy task. There are way too many sites, some with two-way integration and others with one-way integration. It took a while, but I made it here.

So, what will you find here? You’ll find Twitter updates, RSS updates from my Google Reader, Last.fm updates of music that I’m listening to, photo posts, location posts and many other things. What sort of content am I going to post? Well, a whole myriad of things really. Items relating to design, art, branding, music, technology, movies; elements of my personal life including places I go, people I meet, things I get and you get the idea.

So, I guess that’s it for now. I now have to get some food and get ready for a party tonight. A sparkle party at that. (No, I don’t own anything that sparkles)

My name is Leif.