2018 Halloween Animation no.3: “Watch out for Susan in accounting … I hear she’s a real witch.”
In the creative industry, one always looks for different ways of doing things. In the past, I’ve lugged around a traditional leather-bound portfolio which safely guarded the few print pieces I’ve kept over the years. And, of course, I have this here website to update with projects that I’m proud of and want to share. But as social media becomes the dominant presence in the digital age, I felt I needed to update and showcase my work in a different way.
With a bit of inspiration from fellow designer Ji Lee, I am re-imagining how to showcase my body of work.
Visit and follow my new creative grid portfolio at instagram.com/obladacreative for the full experience.
2018 Halloween Animation no.2: “There’s cake in the boardroom”.
While brainstorming and sketching the series of animated gifs I created for Halloween this year, I knew I wanted to incorporate a backdrop not traditionally known for horror. I wanted to skew our perception of familiar, perhaps banal, locations with an air of sinister unease. I finally settled on our workspace, initially concepting the series to include varied occupations like retail and hospitality but finally settling on an office. With a touch of inspiration from Caravaggio, one may now wonder what lurks behind those cubicles.
Years ago when I was starting out, I was approached by an editor who wanted to include a poster series I created in an upcoming publication he was overseeing. At the time, I was ecstatic. Getting to see my work in print for a potential world-wide audience was (and still is) a big deal and the book itself—a higher end coffee table tome featuring artwork by several well-known figures in the industry—seemed a prestige piece that could only enhance my portfolio and professional reputation. High on the possibility of exposure it could entail, I naively agreed to remuneration of just one copy of the book.
I never received a copy of the book.
After attempting to contact the editor numerous times, I instead shelled out sixty dollars (plus shipping and handling) to add it to my library myself. It led to virtually no further work. No art directors were ringing me up. Its milestone in my career was instead a two-fold lesson learned:
1) compared to the other pieces included, there was no doubt I was still a junior in the industry. I needed to cultivate my style and personal brand.
2) exposure means shit. My work, and time, were still deserving of being compensated fairly.
I recently came across a very similar situation to mine after reading reviews for a book I wanted to order:
The review continues with more evidence that the book was put together by someone who did not value (or properly acknowledge and compensate) the contributions of the people who actually created the content. Needless to say, I immediately took it off my WishList.
I think about this practice often in the new era of “content creation” and how creative professionals have ever more enticing carrots dangled in front of them, all for the possibility of something which may not be defined and often doesn’t come into fruition anyway. It’s a situation ripe for exploitation. People are being conditioned to work for less and to settle for it. The promise of exposure and all it entails, such as new followers, is certainly a form of clout … but the best clout to receive in business is still financial.
Writers, photographers, designers and other artists deserve to be shown the money.
Meet Me In The Bathroom
Written by Lizzy Goodman
I was never a huge fan of The Strokes but other bands of the early noughts rock scene were a huge part of the soundtrack of my youth (and continue to take up space on playlists today). Interviews with key players of the era from Jack White (of The White Stripes) to Mark Ronson (Producer) to Rob Sheffield (Journalist for Rolling Stone magazine) fill this addicting read and give great insight into what makes a rock star from the raw talent and ambition required, to the behind-the-scenes mechanisms of the industry. I couldn't put it down and got through all 600+ pages in record time.
Favourite line: "From the beginning, we wanted to write those songs, you know, those songs that change people's lives, a song that encapsulates a moment for people, rather than, like, "Oh, I like this song. I hear it on the radio sometimes."
Salt, Sugar, Fat
Written by Michael Moss
Food can be a drug. Often, it is engineered that way. ‘Salt, Sugar, Fat’ explores how General Mills, Nestle, Kraft, et all do just that by hiring teams of scientists, researchers and marketers to propel their goods from a mixture of processed additives into something humans can’t help but crave. Containing interviews with those in the industry—notably none of whom admit to actually eating the food they produce and/or market—this book is at turns a fascinating and disturbing read on modern grocery habits and how much influence Wall Street has on them. I recommend this book as a pairing to ‘Fast Food Nation’.
Favourite line: “It is a shame entire generations have lost the ability to cook a good meal from local ingredients because money was shifted to corporate farms to underwrite the growing of energy dense, nutritionally deficient grains that require supplementation to justify its inclusion in the guidelines, unpronounceable preservatives to last on the shelf, and sugar/HFCS [high-fructose corn syrup] to be palatable.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Written by Mark Manson
This book came as recommendation from several friends and I can see why. In an era of increasing stress and an inferiority complex exacerbated by social media, apathy has a certain desirability. This self-help book embraces that in a healthy way, offering readers a glimpse into a "counterintuitive approach" to life. It's funny, it's profane, and it was relatable enough that I saw myself in the author's shoes. I especially liked the final chapter, "...And Then You Die"; we are all truly fortunate to have lived. It's never too late to start living well.
Favourite line: "But while investing deeply in one person, one place, one job, one activity might deny us the breadth of experience we'd like, pursuing a breadth of experience denies us the opportunity to experience the rewards of depth of experience."
As a holiday winds down, the sadness of its impending end can temper the joy of the remaining days. Not having anything to look forward to can rob one of living in the moment of the experience. For this road trip, I wanted something to anticipate. I wanted to end on a "bang".
And I found it.
The Black Swan Inn in Pocatello, Idaho is one of the most amazing hotels I've ever stayed at. It is themed and the attention to detail in each unique suite is truly impressive. For our penultimate stay, we booked the Mayan Rainforest Room which included a walk-in shower in the base of a "tree trunk", the branches of which hid the second floor jacuzzi tub. Next to the leopard-print bed was a 15-ft waterfall with a live koi pond. Even the bathroom was painted in murals that made it seem like one was deep in the jungle. I cannot recommend this place enough and am definitely going to plan future roadtrips to navigate through the area so I can return. Whether one's stay is for a romantic evening or honeymoon, it is a gem.
Fun fact: Pocatello, Idaho, is also home to the Museum of Clean.
Our final night was spent getting back to nature again - comfortably - in a deluxe cabin at another KOA campground in Great Falls, Montana, where we used our fleeting holiday time to wine and dine on a barbecue feast while watching the golden tones of sunset pour over the vista of prairie and mountain laid before us. I felt contentment in the moment. I felt renewed from the journey, despite its brevity. I was born to explore. To learn. To live. I am so thankful my father instilled this curiosity and love of travel within me. I thought of him often on this trip; in solitude I've shared the details with him, hoping my whisper carries on the air to wherever his spirit resides.
As the evening came to a close, I tried to enjoy the ambient noise of the whirring overhead fan while fighting the urge to turn on the television to catch up on world events. While my partner showered, I figured sneaking in ten minutes of numbing my brain wouldn't do too much damage and searched for the remote. The only channel with reception was showing a wrestling match but it wasn't WWE; in fact, I didn't recognize any of the characters on screen ... until I did.
"Holy shit", I said to myself.
Years (and years) ago, when I was a teenager, a colleague had taken me to watch her boyfriend wrestle in a local Winnipeg league called Top Rope Championship Wrestling (TRCW). Growing up with Hulk Hogan and the like on Saturday afternoons, I immediately got into it. The skill, the theatrics, the swagger all appealed to this shy girl who was looking to break free from her high school rep of being a wallflower. So when I was asked to valet their tag team, I took up the offer. It might not be a Toastmaster event, but the experience definitely instilled a confidence in me to command a crowd and not be so self-conscious. Anyway, there was one person who always stood out at TRCW. A curly-haired teenager armed with a steely resolve (and an apparent closet full of Hawaiian shirts) who could maneuver around the ring with technique that was lightyears beyond his older, more seasoned opponents. I recall even mentioning to others that if anyone could make it in the big leagues, it would be him.
So to my surprise and delight, there he was—on the tiny television in my cabin in Montana— Kenny Omega, Heavyweight Champion for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Sports Illustrated's tap for next big thing in sports entertainment.
One never knows where the journey in life will lead.