Sometimes I feel as though I am a representative for two very disparate schools of endeavor. My coexistence in the art world as well as the business world leads me to an often asked question from both sides. Usually at shows, events, meetings, gatherings, what have you. This is how that question comes up:
Them: So what did you say you did again?
Me:Well I paint robots and also I’m a Digital Asset Manager?
Them: A what?
Me:Digital Asset Manager. (I’m guessing they understood the painting robots bit, though sometimes they ask me what color do I paint the robots…mouth-breathers.)
Them: Never heard of that, what does a Digital, did you say Asset…manager do?
Me: Yeah asset. D.A.M. Short answer, think IT librarian, thought its more complicated than that.
Them: OOOh.I get it.(when they say it like that...I'm thinking,no.) I give them a few seconds here just ‘cuz i love seeing that lingering confused look on peoples faces.
Me:Its like this, you take a lot of pics/videos on your cell phone.
Me: Well corporations have the same thing from marketing materials (posters, ads, banners…etc), event photos, even the pic for company employee badges. Thats a shit ton right there. Somebody has to sort it out and make it usable for groups in the company. In a nutshell thats what I sort out.
Them:Well hows the Robot thing fit into that.
Me: It doesn’t. That’s a separate passion. Though they help each other grow.
Them: I gotcha…you do what you gotta. Pays the bills. Nice. The painting is the passion…I get it. Wait...what do you mean by they grow each other?
OK. Here’s where depending if I like you enough to continue this conversationI would elaborate and explain fully the Janus syndrome I've acquired or just nod and agree.
Me: Yeah they help each other grow. Did you wanna hear how? (I will give anybody an opportunity to opt-out of my long winded diatribes whenever possible)
Them:Yeah, sure. Wait first, what is this digital thing again?(told you they didn’t get it)
Me:Ok, well. First let me explain how I got into it. I went to SVA for illustration, after that the first gig I landed, like most of my alumni, as a graphic designer. Which lead to a senior graphic designer, which lead to an art director, then during the economic downturn…back to designer, then freelance which then went again to blah blah blah.
However, because most of the companies I worked at had large repositories of images I found myself always sorting and cataloging these materials (assets) in some form or another. Specialized systems developed and as a result I became very fluent in these programs. Things like Chuckwalla, Canto Cumulus, Xinet…blah blah blah, lol… like you care. This experience landed me a crucial role in several very large firms that needed my expertise in this area. Then, whammo, this field which had always been there finally was given a name. DAM or digital asset management.
So this interest…and it is an interest because I actually enjoy not just organizing but creating workflows for designers to get their work done more efficiently. I had been on the design end and hated the frustration with mismanaged assets and stilted design flow. So you see it is kinda related since it started out in the design world.
Them:So why robots?
Me:I like robots.
Me:You need more? Like a goddamn thesis or something? Look I can mesmerize you with dizzying references of Orwellian future-scapes I think are gonna happen, or the collective conscious of a pop culture driven society as it relates to the human condition or even the androgynistic nature of robots as in reference to my thoughts about the numbing of both myself and society…I mean are you gonna see it in my work?
Maybe…especially after I tell you thats why I painted it…you will or you could say: "Wow is that Point Break with robots! Sweet!". I’d much rather you enjoy it as the latter.
Them:Uh, huh. Ok. So how do they help each other grow.
Me:Well this is a bit longer to explain…you game? (another chance for escape here)
Me:Ok, so a couple of years ago while I was living in Sacramento I stayed with my cousin. This hotshot bigdick Oncologist at some large medical center. Anyway, he said something to me that really stuck. When I asked him how he handled juggling the pressure of his work and raising a family. Instead of answering that question he took me to his Martial arts school and enrolled me into the Choi Li Fut Shaolin Kung Fu training program. Just like that, no answers…just a lets go for a ride…a long silent ride where I was thinking he’d bury me in a field near Folsom prison just for asking that question. He’s an odd bastard, so my fears were a little warranted.
So, after reaching the school and enrolling the classes, he told that he had been doing this for years and showing me his black belt said I take this as seriously as I do treating my stage 4 patients. It is a discipline that is wholly different from my work but requires that I give it my full energy and focus. Its doing this that keeps my work from absorbing my life and taking me away from my family.
Them: Ah, so Kung fu helped you, huh?
Me: Well, its not really Kung Fu, though I love the regimented methodology behind the training. Y’know I really love Kung Fu, it’s an art form thats beautiful to watch, thoughtful and spiritual. Unlike Krav Maga and all the other popular MMA’s that are out there, which are just an exercise into mashing another human being into wet paste. Wait, what was I talking about?
Them: Kung Fu helped you…
Me:Right…no. Well for me it was Choi Li Fut, but it was also the notion that any discipline that is structured…and this is the important part…wholly UNRELATED to your job or other primary focus will help restructure your thinking and increase your capacity for problem solving. What I mean by this is that in the number of articles I have read in med journals and Sci-Am (Scientific American:before it became the hodgepodge poor mans almanac and science rumor tabloid it is now – don't ask me why I read these damned things) that backs and illustrate this notion.
In directing your complete focus on to various structured activities can help form pathways in the brain to tackle challenges and problems more quickly. Something called neuroplasticity(maybe you have seen that insipid phone app that claims to do this via mini-games - I raise my eyebrow to that), same shit on the phone apps thing that claims to help you accomplish. Only this method requires you to put the damn phone down and get out of the fucking house.
More on this, If you like reading or are some kind of insomniac:
Then:Hows that work?
Me: Heres an example, when I’m working on a taxonomy problem for DAM or I’m having difficulty creating a base structure for a controlled vocabulary in the metadata. I will take a break and let my subconscious tackle it. Stop thinking about it and trust that my brain is still working on the solution. I know this works because in painting I use the very same tactic with similar results. Working on a series and I am having trouble with the color composition or lighting per se…I let it go and start a new canvas or work on another piece that I know what needs to be done.
I do this now for all problems I encounter with work and to a larger extent life. Rather than force a solution, I refocus my full attention onto another problem. I find that the removal from that road block and moving into another direction, fully. Then returning some time later will ALWAYS grant me a new vantage or option I was not able to see prior. This has been a gift and I am finding that it ALWAYS works for me. It’s SCIENCE bro…SCIENCE. I mean, I didn’t do an MRI on my brain but my results have not come up by themselves. This is what I mean by Painting and DAM helping each other.
Them:So its like, step away and chill then come back at it with fresh?
Me:Yeah, but more neuroplastiky-ish (deadpan) yeah thats a word... your brain creates new pathways that allow you to think faster and approach problems from different angles. But what I’m on about, neuropathways have developed for one field that helps look for solutions in the other. There is the 2 very different trains of thought that your brain goes through while working in both fields that drastically improve this phenomenon. In my opinion, when you shift your focus and full energy to another endeavor that is as deeply structured and complicated, you get your brain to start thinking faster by creating new pathways to retrieve information quicker.
I have noticed this in both areas of my work fields…the more I work at one the more the other starts to progress. The reason the subconscious works at this level is because there are more neuropathways for it to look for the solution, thus faster results. There are slow down times of course, i mean if you take that model at face I should unlock telekinesis in three months time.
Them:So you improving your brain by training yourself in 2 separate fields.
Me: 2, 3, 15 whatever as long as they are deeply structured and require your absolute focus.
Them: Wow, that sounds really interesting…(warried glance as if trying to discern my level of insanity...I have become very familiar with this look)
Me:I know, huh!
Them: So...you like strippers, huh?
Me:Depends...yeah. I mean,no...wait...are you a stripper? Where you going?