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  • Writer's pictureMark Talbot

Blood is dripping from my forehead

Updated: Feb 26, 2018

Great Design is easy. All you do is stare at the screen until blood drips from your forehead. ~Marty Neumeier

I've been a perfectionist for most of my life. It was a huge point of contention between me and my mother from a very early age. My frustration with not being able to get what was in my head out onto paper in the form of words, a drawing or painting was agony for me. And it usually got projected onto her - as if she could do anything about it.

In more recent times however, I have found a bit of refuge in bits, bytes and silicon. As of this writing, its been 31 years since I've been alternately gracefully calling forth and sometimes wrestling words, imagery and motion graphics from the Macintosh computer. Its been an interesting ride, seeing how technology has surged ahead in both its capabilities and its complexities. Despite what some might call mastery of this digital medium, I still have good days and some really bad days.

I've seen the GUI (Graphic User Interface) go from a blinking green cursor on the 9" screen of a squatty terminal hooked to a VAX mainframe, to some of the most elegant and intuitive tools like the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro.

I was working on a rough comp the other day in front of a client when they remarked something to the effect that "you can certainly push pixels at lightning speed!" I giggled a bit, as I was moving pretty fast and was having a beautiful 'flow-state' moment. It is so wonderful when that happens, as there emerges a sense that I'm not really doing anything - more just letting the design emerge on its own.

Despite all these tools, all these years of experience and empowerment, the creative process can still hand me my ass. There are those days where I sit, I stare, my hands are all thumbs on the keyboard and digital stylus, my work falls flat. I spin into a space of frustration, discouragement and low-grade depression. Then the negative self talk walks in - "You really suck, and are mediocre at best. You lack discipline, etc." Then its friend, 'comparison', walks thru the door: "Compared to_______, your work is really sub-par." Its at this point that I have not yet generated enough self-awareness of my state, and continue thrashing in an attempt to forge inspiration out of my knotted mind. Now things really get shitty, and that blood drip has become a massive hemorrhage.

"OK. Breathe. Notice. Stand up. Do a few barbell curls. Go for a walk, put your face in that Colorado sunshine. Come back, watch a Ted Talk. Keep breathing. Keep noticing."

And then it happens - and I am back in that flow-state once again, and Awareness notices that Mark is not really here doing anything - he's once again simply allowing. Its strange - there's a will here that has no subject - it is just the simple delight of creation happening spontaneously. And then bleeding stops.

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