It’s that time of year again. Where we salute to another revolution of the earth and look forward to bigger and hopefully better things in the next year.
Overall, 2016 was a bit of a game changer. In the sense that everything kinda of just fell apart then fell into place and worked itself into some sort of weird, magical, wonderful, refined crazy.
Despite the fact that 2016 had more than a few drawbacks, I think I’m finally coming to terms with accepting who I am and what I want to achieve in the future. It’s taken quite a while, but I think I am finally getting there. It’s a journey that started basically since I first started tinkering round on the computer and it blows my mind that I’m now doing what I found the most enjoyment in when I was a teenager. That is – designing with code, and coding with design. It’s a multi-disciplined process and I’m honestly loving every second of it.
It’s crazy to thing this time one year ago I had just finished my course in graphic design. One year on, I think I have definitely experienced a lot more of the design industry and developed a more refined taste for what I like and don’t like. Disclaimer: if you know me well, you know I don’t really like a lot of things. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just it actually takes a lot to impress me. Something can look good on the surface but if it doesn’t have any substance then what’s the point? I think about this a lot when I create something, and it’s actually one of the most important mantras I have. It has also helped me develop myself and my skills and creative output enormously – it is the x-factor in basically all of my work.
One of the biggest things that has happened this year is I’ve basically started coding full-time. It’s been a daunting, exhausting, satisfying process, but I have had a lot of support as well and that has no doubt helped me be better and more motivated as well. I’ve always liked to code, but always saw myself as a tinkerer rather than a full-on developer. Using and improving on my coding skills this year has been like an exponential growth-chart; I never expected to be this invested or this passionate about an industry which is actually very new to me. I’m still a newbie when it comes to many fundamental programming basics, but I have also learnt a lot and developed a huge interest in what I think is a rather exciting time in the coding world. There are so many new technologies and libraries and frameworks sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. To the point where you don’t really know where to start. Getting on with it seems to have worked for me so far though and I’ve actually surprised myself more than a few times last year with what I managed to achieve.
- I improved upon a pretty inventive CSS grid system (IMO) that uses table styles. I know you’re probably thinking- hah, another CSS grid, like we need more of those. And table styles no less. Really?! I would be thinking the same thing. But before you write it off, give me some time to write up a readme of why it’s so brilliant. It really is. There are no floats or clear fixes in sight, and not only can you align content on a whim you can also specify custom columns, gutters, and container widths on the fly. I’ll probably blog about it in a separate post sometime soon (so check back!) but it is something I am really proud of and believe could be a grid-system game changer.
- I learned how to use Gulp – it’s been an ongoing process but I see the beauty of it and why it’s so frickin amazing. IT’S AMAZING. I’m in the process of setting it up for some base templates at work. It amazes me how so many little building blocks can be put together to build amazingly useful things. That said though, the size of the node_modules folder always scares me.
- I developed more than a few websites, including Southbound which I did with my coworker. We also got round to getting Monk a new website – after 11 years! Sidenote: try typing ‘jakki’ when on the website.
- I developed my own WordPress starter theme, which I’m constantly developing with each project. One of the things I’m really happy with is the preloaded custom mobile menus I’ve created. I like them so much I am thinking of how I can turn it into a plugin at some point.
So yeah, coding-wise, a pretty successful and satisfying year. I have a lot of side-projects to get started on too which I am really excited about. I said before getting help from people has been key in motivating and encouraging me. It really has, and I do feel very lucky to be where I am right now. Despite this, there is also the fact that literally everyone I have met have never thought a person can really do both design and coding. Being completely honest, the hardest thing I find about it all is just being taken seriously as someone who wants to do both. Many people I talk to don’t even have a clue what I actually do all day- they assume I either draw pretty pictures, or hack the matrix to magically whip up a website clicking and dragging things round. That worries me. I don’t blame people for thinking that way – it’s just the fact that for the most part, I think most people see design and development as two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Every single person in my class doing graphic design wrote off coding straight away in the first lesson we had on how to set up an HTML document, just because it just seemed way too hard and out of their depth. “This isn’t design”, they said. Well of course it’s not in the graphical sense. However, the more I learn and do both, the more I realise how similar in philosophy they can be. It’s the problem solving I think, and different ways of doing things that makes code much like design, and design much like code. If you code you know there are many ways of achieving the same outcome. Everyone has different ways of working, and with each line of code you can see the beauty of that person’s methodology and way of thinking – very much like the style or expression of art and design. You could almost read code like poetry and feel the same amount of satisfaction and wonder as you would when you just “get” a piece of art. When the cohesion between the design and code is seamless, it really shows in the final outcome whether you know it or not. If there’s anything I learned this year (and trust me, I learned a lot) it’s that people notice the little things.
Being immersed in the design and development world has made me want to not just be capable, but be great at both disciplines. Self-doubt sucks, but it’s also so ingrained in me I think because I’ve always treaded the line between these two disciplines, interacting with people who only ever designed or only ever coded. I’ve never really met anyone who has a background here in Perth doing both, and I do wonder how many people actually do both job-wise or even as a hobby. To be fair, doing both is definitely not for everyone and it seems to be rare for people to have an interest in both disciplines at all. Being discouraged by other’s doubt and pre-judgement has been challenging and admittedly hard to overcome, especially when I’m such a new player in both industries. But- it has also been something that has motivated me to be better and just straight up prove people wrong, especially the ones who underestimate you Which reminds me of that iconic scene in Whiplash:
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job”
Whilst I don’t entirely agree with Fletcher’s sentiment – encouragement is ALWAYS important – I do believe in constructive criticism and brutal honesty. With a bit of tact and a sprinkle of motivation of course.
Design-wise, I’m still freelancing here and there but it was pretty quiet this year, mainly due to the fact I now work full time but also it’s become harder to keep track of expenses, contracts, and profits for tax purposes. Accounting was never really my strongest skill… As my time was consumed with learning and processing development languages and processes, I didn’t really draw much this year either. I was planning a new zine but that’s been put on the backburner for now due to other side projects taking priority. I definitely still want to finish it though. There are actually a few zines I want to work on, if only I had more hands and human-power to get started on them all!
Social-media wise, I’ve pretty much abandoned all my profiles altogether. I just don’t find much value in them- at least for now. Facebook’s colour-stripping makes me really mad, so I stopped uploading my drawings and sketches there. I would use Instagram but that requires me transferring images from my computer to my phone since most of my drawings are digital…and that is just way too much effort for a platform that is supposed to be mobile. That leaves Tumblr, which I’ve also neglected in recent months due to general inactivity and lack of interest. I may get back into it at some point but probably only for side projects or inspiration. Oh wells. I supposed I’m destined to be undiscovered forever.
I guess I’ll see where 2017 takes me- in the meantime enjoy these illustrations I did in the past few months More to come soon! Verrryy soon.