DESIGN GURU | Marian Bantjes

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Marian Bantjes is way good.  I don’t remember how I found her website.  I don’t remember what I was looking for.  All I know is that when I saw what she does, I realized that she has an amazing artistic talent – exquisite in it’s execution.  Her work is intricate.  It’s creative.  There’s an essence of  ‘quirk’ (I mean, really…cake?). 

But, what I most appreciate is that she is willing to explore her already-pretty-darn-good-at-it craft, continuing to grow and enjoying the process:

I do not know if I am lazy or driven. A little of both. While I tend to work every day, from morning to night (I’m frequently working past midnight), my days are relatively stress free. In the summer I tend to take a lot of breaks and sit in the sun or go for a walk. I spend a lot of time thinking. Just staring into space and thinking. Does this count as work? Sometimes. When I wake up in the morning with the perfect solution to a given problem, have I been working while I was sleeping? Perhaps. – (An excerpt from Ms. Bantjes’ About Me reflections)

I love that.  To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s character in that movie, Ms. Bantjes makes me wanna be a better designer/writer/whatever I’m calling myself on a given day.   Yes, Marian Bantjes is way good.  And in a good way.

Have a look!

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Marian Bantjes: Way Good.

Marian Bantjes - Way Good

Marian Bantjes is way good.  I don’t remember how I found her website.  I don’t remember what I was looking for.  All I know is that when I saw what she does, I realized that she has an amazing artistic talent – exquisite in it’s execution.  Her work is intricate.  It’s creative.  There’s an essence of  ‘quirk’ (I mean, really…cake?). 

But, what I most appreciate is that she is willing to explore her already-pretty-darn-good-at-it craft, continuing to grow and enjoying the process:

I do not know if I am lazy or driven. A little of both. While I tend to work every day, from morning to night (I’m frequently working past midnight), my days are relatively stress free. In the summer I tend to take a lot of breaks and sit in the sun or go for a walk. I spend a lot of time thinking. Just staring into space and thinking. Does this count as work? Sometimes. When I wake up in the morning with the perfect solution to a given problem, have I been working while I was sleeping? Perhaps. – (An excerpt from Ms. Bantjes’ About Me reflections)

I love that.  To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s character in that movie, Ms. Bantjes makes me wanna be a better designer/writer/whatever I’m calling myself on a given day.   Yes, Marian Bantjes is way good.  And in a good way.

Have a look!

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WRITING | 10 Basic Tips on Becoming the Best Writer Ever

So, one problem when you start a blog is that you realize that you’ll actually have to produce some sort of content for people to read. Sure, you could just put up pictures of kids and puppies for people to look at.  But, you should probably have something to say about said kids and puppies…

To help with the kid/puppy captions and whatever else you have to write, I’ve compiled a list of some starter points to help you improve your writing.  Having recently returned to school (real school…not the creative tinkering of the design studios of my past), I have found these tips to be helpful in writing the longest paper of my life (yes, I mean that literally):

THE LIST:

  1. RELAX.  Breathe.  Don’t freak out.  Grab a cup of coffee/tea/milk, get comfortable, and give some thought to what you want to say.  Jot down a few notes as you ponder so you can think freely.
  2. WHAT’S YOUR POINT?  This is important.  You’ll need this when you start writing.  Pick a point and write it down with a Sharpie so you remember to get to it – the Point – by the end of whatever you’re writing.  Note: sub-points are allowed, but there can only be one Point.
  3. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.  Don’t leave your reader in the weedy garden of your verbosity.  If you don’t know what you’re trying to say, the reader certainly won’t.  So, instead of writing, “Johnnie runs like a newly-liberated gazelle gliding through the grassy expanse of sub-saharan Africa,” just write, “Johnnie runs fast.”
  4. That brings up another point:  DON’T BE TOO SMART.  There’s no need to use long words when short ones will do.  Write to your audience.  Choose your words accordingly.
  5. SHUT UP.  Be succinct.  No one wants to read a sentence that lasts half a page and requires re-reading.  If you get lost writing it, your reader will get lost reading it.
  6. BE VOCAL.  Use your own voice.  If you have a conversational way of writing, go with it (if it’s appropriate for the audience).  If there’s a word you’re writing that you wouldn’t say aloud, consider whether it’s the right word.
  7. START OVER.  Not really.  But you should definitely give yourself time to edit.  Read it aloud.  Have someone else read it to you (I’ve never actually done that, but it sounds like a good idea).  Nothing points out the sticky points in your writing like tripping over the words as you say them out loud.
  8. REPEAT.  Seriously.  Once you’ve edited, do it again.  No need to do it right away, but definitely do it.  And don’t be afraid to cut things out.  Brevity is the new black.
  9. KEEP WRITING.  Practice writing.  Write poems, memos, haiku, whatever.  The more you write, the more you figure out about your process and what works for you.  Experiment with different styles and see what makes you comfortable.
  10. READ.  I don’t know about you, but I learn by example.  It helps to see how other people say things.  It’s good to read the experts – your Steinbecks, Wall Street Journals, and Dwells – but your peers aren’t slouches either.  Chances are, they have a good way of doing something that could make your work better.

Follow these tips and I bet that in no time at all, you’ll be a better writer and probably enjoy the process a bit more than you do now.  And, as always, if you have anything to add, please share!

10 Basic Tips on Becoming the Best Writer Ever

So, one problem when you start a blog is that you realize that you’ll actually have to produce some sort of content for people to read. Sure, you could just put up pictures of kids and puppies for people to look at.  But, you should probably have something to say about said kids and puppies…

To help with the kid/puppy captions and whatever else you have to write, I’ve compiled a list of some starter points to help you improve your writing.  Having recently returned to school (real school…not the creative tinkering of the design studios of my past), I have found these tips to be helpful in writing the longest paper of my life (yes, I mean that literally):

THE LIST:

  1. RELAX.  Breathe.  Don’t freak out.  Grab a cup of coffee/tea/milk, get comfortable, and give some thought to what you want to say.  Jot down a few notes as you ponder so you can think freely.
  2. WHAT’S YOUR POINT?  This is important.  You’ll need this when you start writing.  Pick a point and write it down with a Sharpie so you remember to get to it – the Point – by the end of whatever you’re writing.  Note: sub-points are allowed, but there can only be one Point.
  3. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.  Don’t leave your reader in the weedy garden of your verbosity.  If you don’t know what you’re trying to say, the reader certainly won’t.  So, instead of writing, “Johnnie runs like a newly-liberated gazelle gliding through the grassy expanse of sub-saharan Africa,” just write, “Johnnie runs fast.”
  4. That brings up another point:  DON’T BE TOO SMART.  There’s no need to use long words when short ones will do.  Write to your audience.  Choose your words accordingly.
  5. SHUT UP.  Be succinct.  No one wants to read a sentence that lasts half a page and requires re-reading.  If you get lost writing it, your reader will get lost reading it.
  6. BE VOCAL.  Use your own voice.  If you have a conversational way of writing, go with it (if it’s appropriate for the audience).  If there’s a word you’re writing that you wouldn’t say aloud, consider whether it’s the right word.
  7. START OVER.  Not really.  But you should definitely give yourself time to edit.  Read it aloud.  Have someone else read it to you (I’ve never actually done that, but it sounds like a good idea).  Nothing points out the sticky points in your writing like tripping over the words as you say them out loud.
  8. REPEAT.  Seriously.  Once you’ve edited, do it again.  No need to do it right away, but definitely do it.  And don’t be afraid to cut things out.  Brevity is the new black.
  9. KEEP WRITING.  Practice writing.  Write poems, memos, haiku, whatever.  The more you write, the more you figure out about your process and what works for you.  Experiment with different styles and see what makes you comfortable.
  10. READ.  I don’t know about you, but I learn by example.  It helps to see how other people say things.  It’s good to read the experts – your Steinbecks, Wall Street Journals, and Dwells – but your peers aren’t slouches either.  Chances are, they have a good way of doing something that could make your work better.

Follow these tips and I bet that in no time at all, you’ll be a better writer and probably enjoy the process a bit more than you do now.  And, as always, if you have anything to add, please share!

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Welcome!

Welcome to the inaugural post of FRIEND | FILES! 

As I began seriously considering starting a blog, I was plagued by that kernel of doubt that must certainly creep into the mind of any first-time blog auteur:  What exactly do I have to say?  After all, undoubtedly, someone has already thunk what I’m thinking and writ what I would write.  Right?  Well, perhaps. 

But as I pondered this question aloud in a phone conversation with a friend the other day, she pointed out something that should really be quite obvious.  That is, each of us has something to say by virtue of who we are.  Our experiences, our education, our family, our faith…all of it adds up and informs our unique perspective on the world in which we live.

So, in that spirit I invite you to visit FRIEND | FILES as a resource of information and inspiration.  To discover something new or to experience the familiar for the first time again.  You are welcome to share your ideas and observations…your perspective on the topics presented here.  You may have yet to find your own forum, but you do have a voice.  I invite you to express it here…