03 October 2008
As I sit here, trying to write this artist statement about my experience in Germany, the pattern goes like this:
Think. Type. Backspace. Repeat.
It just occurred to me, that in a way, this perfectly describes the past year.
For me, my year in Germany was about exposure to new challenges and prevailing. Virtually overnight, everything in my surroundings became foreign. Every single day, in some way or another, I was exposed to something new. This often created a pattern of: Try. Fail. Try again.
This pattern was especially true artistically last year. Every minute thing that was relatively easy in America became slightly more challenging due to linguistic and cultural barriers. You never realize how many simple things you take for granted like having your Adobe Suite in English in the computer labs. The smallest things that you would never think twice about here became a challenge to overcome.
Do I write this negatively? Not at all. It is completely the opposite. All of these challenges made me more driven to achieve results I wanted. If you wanted to really understand, wanted to get something done, or just wanted to print a damn photo, you had to fight for it.
My body of work from the last year in Germany is about trying again and again and overcoming. Over the year the forward/backward pattern slowly evolved into more forwards and less backwards. What you are viewing today are the results of many backwards that eventually progressed forward into this body of work.
“Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life,” states famous graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, who has set up design studios in multiple countries. This is a belief he holds that has not changed throughout his lifetime.
When it comes to design I believe that growing as a person is just as powerful to a designer as actually learning various aesthetics about design. Ideation and research are just as important, if not more important than the actual physical design. If long hours of ideation and research are put into a project, it is bound to be strong. I have never been a fan of prettiness or added unimportant information. Having a strong contemporary sculpture background is something I try to relate into my design. Mixing Art with Design can have an interesting outcome. Spending a year in Germany opened me up to what I really wanted to do with Design, not what I had to do. Getting extra time to think of a concept can be very rewarding, more and more ideas pop through your head because the thought process is longer. Stress of thinking of an idea quickly can put a damper on your creative power, but can also be good for getting you ready for the real world. Seeing both good and bad of both sides has really shaped me as a designer.
Studying abroad at HAWK Hildesheim was an amazing opportunity for me to grow and develop as a designer. The class structure is quite different from a typical American college course, so the experience of solving design problems in another culture made me overall more flexible in my creative approach and opened my mind to new ways of thinking. However, it was the people I worked with that really had the greatest affect on my work. I would not have been able to complete either the amount of work I have nor the quality I achieved without help from all of the friendly and helpful students and professors. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will never forget it.¬¬
The beginning of my journey was a world wind of different emotions, which led to the drastic evolution from an artistic viewpoint. No longer did my view of a project become something that was a production line of work but it became a process of individuality and experimentation. I could finally take a step back and use my life, personality, and artistic outlook to really mold my work and my existence. Opening up to the world I lived in and wearing my emotions on my sleeve became my calm in the storm. Everything was and is forever changing, but as long as I stay true to my work and myself then my equilibrium will also stay strong.
The opportunity to study in Hildesheim, Germany, for the 2007-2008 school year was a critical element in my design education. The challenge of being immersed in another culture while continuing to study design offered unparalleled growth potential. I learned alternative techniques and ideation that has broadened my worldview and introduced me to new concepts expanding my global perspective. As a designer, all that I am and all that I experience contribute to the depth and breadth of my design work. Living in Germany provided me with a variety of new tools that I could get no where else while working with the professors and students over there, learning their academic system, and experiencing the art and design of Europe.
I went over to Germany expecting to study in a land of strict grid systems with Bauhaus- like instruction. Unfortunately this stereotype wasn’t true. However, it is still the land of good beer and this quickly drowned my disappointment, and aided my assimilation.
Over the course of the year abroad I made many observations, which inspired much of my current work. I was stuck in my own head, as the language I was surrounded with was incomprehensible to me ninety percent of the time. German started to sound like a static hiss and forced me to really indulge and overly research my own interests. Many of my projects reflect this, and are almost entirely unfiltered Ian. A good reason for this was that the teaching methodology was quite different than what I was accustomed to, so I quickly learned to teach and challenge myself.
Setting my own schedule allowed me to travel extensively, and I was able to see so much. From countless museums throughout Europe I took inspiration with awe, and from many of their citizens I gained character with respect. While traveling I accumulated a fair number of unique experiences thanks to this study abroad opportunity.