Tuesday, April 24, 2012


a friend of mine posted a picture on twitter showing a graphic the today show ran of the "top five 'useless' majors."  they were:

  1. fine arts
  2. drama and theater arts
  3. film, video & photographic arts
  4. commercial art & graphic design
  5. architecture

trust me, as an architectural intern, trying to make it in this business, and having personally been laid off because of the economy, i know first hand how tough these professions can be.  i, along with most of my friends found humor in this list, thinking, “yeah, if i only knew then what i know now…”.  however the humor wore off and looking at the list more seriously i find it to be…bullshit.

i love architecture, and as hard as it can be to try to make it in the working world, i wouldn’t trade the skills i learned in college for any of those found in “the most useful majors”.  like architecture, all these majors focus on art and creativity. since when did art and creativity become useless?

i say that, but looking around at our society, cities, buildings, television and movies, maybe it’s not that hard of a stretch.

all of these majors, at their root, teach lessons far more important than their names suggest.  first of all, they focus on the ability to make something out of nothing.  be it a building, a musical, a photograph, video, or graphic design, all of these take absolutely nothing and turn into art.  thought, time, knowledge, and creativity, bring that “nothing” into something beautiful.  secondly, all these majors focus on the ability to take a series of problems and challenges, and solve them creatively. whether it’s spatially or graphically, the ability to look at a problem in a variety of directions will always yield a better result than when it isn't.  along with that, the ability to see a problem at its different scales, from the tiniest detail, to the overall picture is something not stressed nearly enough in other majors.  next, all these majors focus on the organization of thoughts and tools to achieve a vision.  knowing when to use what tool when it’s the most beneficial in order to produce the best product.  finally, everyone of these majors requires the ability to communicate ideas.  to take something as abstract as a "thought", and through, speaking, drawing, sketching, dancing, film, video, paint, or plaster, bring that idea into a medium so those less imaginative can understand and relate to it.

i would argue that all of these skills, not only help you in their respected professions, but also help you to achieve a successful and meaningful life.

it could be said “art” is not a necessity, it’s a luxury, something one doesn’t need in order to live, and just maybe that’s why this list of majors was deemed “useless”.  in a world were arts programs are being deleted from schools, and funding is being cut at the state level, it’s not hard to see most people have this opinion. however, as an soon-to-be-architect, and fan of the arts, i believe art is what makes life worth living. 

pablo picasso said, “art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life”.  to state these majors as useless, and possibly discourage anyone from entering into these fields, would not only be a sin, it is admitting you’re prepared to live in a dirty and dusty world.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

the [sketchbook] experiment

i am not a great sketcher, i fall more into the "doodle" category, but i wanted to improve.  i remember the words of one of my professor who told us to "sketch, something, everyday."  taking his advice,  i started a new sketchbook two years ago.  i've had several others in the past but was discouraged with horrible sketching.  i felt every blank page had to be turned into a work of art with perfect sketches, which basically defeats the whole reason for having a sketchbook.  this one would be different.  i decided early on i would not be afraid of anything i put in the book, it would be an experiment, an experiment to see if i improved.

i kept it open at my desk and started filling the pages with anything and everything.  sometimes it was used as a day planner, other times a memo pad, but mostly just scratch paper. i'd sketch architectural details, take notes on projects, or make reminders for myself.  sometimes i'd fill two pages in a day, other times i'd go weeks without making a mark.  slowly, i worked my way through the book.  when i found myself in a block, i'd clip out pictures of buildings from magazines and paste them on the page.  eventually, any photo i found inspiring was clipped out.  soon, song titles, lyrics, thoughts, and quotes started appearing.  anything that might spur a sketch became a contributor to the book.  then a funny thing happened, the pages started to became less about work.  project notes and details were replaced with sketches and drawings more personal.  the book that was suppose to help me stay more organized at work, started to become a way to escape the job for a few minutes.  a short little vacation on a beach of white paper and an ocean of blue ink.

the transition was unintentional, but a pleasant surprise.  i found myself wanting to sketch, looking forward to the occasional five minute break.  in a way, it became a stress reliever.  as i started nearing the end of the book, i found myself filling every square inch i could, not wanting to end this two year journey.  a few days ago, however, i filled the last bit of white space and the experiment was done.

it was interesting to go back and visualize how the book had evolved and changed over the course of a couple years.  is my sketching better? not really, but looking back over the pages, i feel the larger benefit of this experiment is the fact i enjoy the process of sketching much more than i did, and just maybe, that's more important than a pretty sketch.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

a [few] good men

last weekend my college friends and i gathered in st. louis to celebrate the wedding of one of our own.  we all helped each other make it through the late nights, and tough critiques of  architecture school, and we've supported each other as we tried to survive our recession battered profession.  it only seemed right to all be there for our friend as he took the next big step in his life.  i can't say anything more this picture doesn't already exude.  the celebration was a blast and was on par with any of the best weekends we had in college.  congratulations aaron and meredith.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

taking [the big apple] to prom

 i always get into a bit of a funk after coming back from visiting new york.

it's such an exciting city.  there's so many people everywhere, so many sights to see, its a whirlwind of constant activity, which can make coming back to the midwest seem....well...kind of boring.  spending a weekend in new york city is like being the guy from the high school marching band taking the most beautiful, craziest, wildest girl to prom.  she's dancing, spiking the punch, sneaking cigarettes, yelling, making a total mess of everything she touches, and the whole time you're thinking, "this is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy, i'm out of my league, what am i doing here!" after a night filled with whiskey shots, midnight raves, car chases, bar fights, an altercation with the cops, a wrecked car, a depleted bank account, and being scared for your life the entire time, you wake up the next morning back in your dull, boring life.  as crazy as the night was, and as thankful as you are to still be alive, you sort of miss the excitement.  

for a brief moment, you were out of your element...and that can be a good thing.

(sounds like a plot from a john hughes film)

well, i'm the guy from the marching band, and new york was my crazy prom date.

now it's time for me to go back and practice some sousa, but please enjoy a few prom pics.