Episode 103

Intention Setting To Power Design

This week on Overtime, let’s talk about how to set the vibes to get your best design work done. Plus, get the inside scoop on the latest art restoration gone totally wrong, as we question what would happen if the same thing occurred in our design industry. Finally, is feel-good social media even possible? Let’s discuss!

Take a moment to slow down and set your intentions for this block of time of working. What you want it to feel like? What do you want to accomplish?

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Meg: Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! I feel like I started singing at the beginning of these intros forever ago and now I can’t stop. Welcome back to Overtime. Hi, it’s me your host, your buddy, and not so gracious person Meg “Sleepy but Powering Through” Lewis. Hi. Welcome back to Overtime. This is Dribbble’s weekly podcast where I deliver design news and give you the tips you need to create your very best work, I promise. This week on Overtime, I talked about that hilarious art restoration that went wrong in Spain. Did you see it? Oh, and I really wonder what would happen if the same thing happened in our design industry? And is feel good social media possible? Yes, maybe. But also, probably not. But yes, at least a little bit. I don’t know. Oh, plus my tips for setting the best working vibe in order to create your very best work. Let’s go!

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Let’s get right into it: the old Potato Head of Valencia. That’s what people are calling it. Did you see that art restoration in Spain that went all wrong? Well, I did, and it gave me a feeling of joy that I desperately needed. And I’m just so happy that it happened, although I’m sure that many are not. So, if you didn’t see it, it’s this original piece of, you know, a sculpture on an old bank from 1923 of this smiling, kind woman in a country scene. It’s on the outside of this bank, it’s very old, and it got restored recently. And the restoration, let me just explain to you what it looks like, everything’s fine, I think, except for the face. So, the face looks melted. It has two little round, sort of thumb prints for the eyes, if you imagine somebody just sort of pressing their thumbs in to create eyes, no additional effort paid, I’m sure they did, I don’t know what actually happened here. There’s a little mound where the nose might be, and then there’s another little hole for a mouth, so another little thumbprint, maybe mouth-shaped thumbprint happening in the mouth region.

And it’s hilarious and there’s no other detail put into the face area besides those four markings, two eyes, a nose and a mouth And it’s just really derpy looking because the eyes are off center, everything’s just, oh it’s beautiful. It’s just a perfect work of art to me now. And it’s the latest at a series of art restorations in Spain that have been similarly ridiculous looking. Remember that fresco Jesus from way back in, like, 2012 that was equally as derpy looking? I don’t know, I think that this potato head of Valencia is actually derpier, if you can believe it. And if you’re not familiar with what these are, please look them up because it is worth your time. You deserve to feel a little bit of lightness and have a little chuckle. But it also made me ask myself what if this happened in our design industry? What if somebody designed something or created a brand, and then somebody else was like, “This needs to get fixed. I’m just going to make it a little bit better,” and then they just ruin the whole thing and it looks hilariously bad. I’m sure that has happened, right? We get redesigns all the time that looks totally botched, right? I don’t know. Do you think that? I’m curious to know if you can, you can’t call in right now, but if you could, let me know somehow, contact me. Let me know if you think that there’s a redesign or perhaps something that’s happened in the design industry of, largely just saying graphic design here, of this happening and something that you think is as similar as possible to this situation happening in our industry, I would love it. I would love to know what, perhaps a redesign is, that is totally botched to [this] level of hilarity. I think we tend to take our work extremely seriously, so whenever somebody does botch something, it’s more of an outrage, a collective outrage that everyone feels [is] less than hilarious. And maybe the reason why this art restoration is so funny is because it’s not in our industry, and we are a level removed from it, so it becomes more funny.

But I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, because just thinking back to things I designed 10 years ago, I’m embarrassed at what I did, and this piece of art was from around 100 years ago, that got restored. So, I don’t know, just thinking back to it, something that I made a long time ago, or the maybe one of the first few designs that I made, because it was, you know, a while back, if somebody happened to tinker with it and then ruin it, I wouldn’t be mad because, truly, I would like all of the things I designed 10 years ago to just disappear altogether, because I’m that embarrassed about them. And I’m sure that a lot of us feel that way about our work. But when it comes to fine art, I’m not sure if the same is true, is it? Do you get as embarrassed as a fine artist about the things you made a long time ago? Probably, I would assume yes. We’re all evolving and changing and growing, and we learn a lot as we go. And so, I think it’s kind of natural to get a little bit embarrassed about things you made a long time ago. So, I don’t think I would be personally offended if somebody was like, “Oh, doodidoo, this ancient piece from Meg Lewis, let me just quick fix it because it’s fallen apart over the years,” and then they make it real bad, I wouldn’t mind at all.

But I do think that’s particularly unique to me, because I have an item that I just designed that’s very similar to this where I took Matisse’s famous “Blue Nudes,” these beautiful collages that Matisse made a very long time ago that are very trendy right now, and I made an intentionally derpy version of it for my online shop. And you know, I’m just thinking like, is this rude? Is it rude to take art forms and make them intentionally derpy? Probably. Am I being rude? I might be but I enjoy it, so I’m going to say it’s only rude on a case by case basis. I take all of the things I do on a case by case basis and decide if it’s rude or not, and then make a decision based on that. Am I actually rude? Am I a rude person? Oh, maybe I am. I now might be having some sort of existential realization, so let’s move on.

It’s in the news, people are talking about it, I would say it’s trendy, but I don’t know if it is. I don’t think it’s coming and going; I think it’s here to stay. We’re talking about TikTok, people, we’re talking about social media and social media platforms. People love TikTok, but also people really love to hate TikTok, even though they’re not on it. It’s fascinating to me. I think a lot of the main critique is that it’s for young people, and if you’re over the age of, I don’t know, I guess it’s a generational critique is what people are making, so if you’re older than Gen Z or too old for it, you won’t understand. And I highly disagree, you’re entitled, of course, to your own opinion and can disagree with me, but I’m on Tiktok and I love it. I don’t find that the people of TikRok are too young for me or too old for me or anything, there [are] all kinds of people on there, doing all kinds of things.

And the reason why I love TikTok so much this year, especially, is because it feels better to me, it makes me feel good when I look at it and not bad when I look at it. It doesn’t make me compare myself to others as much, it just makes me feel light-hearted, I laugh a lot, I enjoy it. And that’s probably a direct, you know, relation to the types of content that TikTok feeds me, but it makes me feel good and I love it so much. And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that every Friday, I do little TikTok compilations, and it’s because I spend a lot of time on TikTok, which I will say is the thing I do not like about TikTok, is how much I enjoy it, which then sucks up a lot of my time. But the reason why I do compilations on my Instagram is to bring the magic of TikTok over to that platform so people can have a little bit of its lightness and joy along with me, which I think is a good thing on social media right now, to just find ways to feel good. We need to feel good this year because this year often feels quite bad. So, any way that we can find a little bit of lightness and joy is a good thing, right?

And TikTok has also taught me a lot of design tips too. So, I learned that in Procreate, you can drag an image into procreate’s color palette, and it will magically create a color palette based on that image’s colors, which is amazing. I also just recently learned that you can set your iPhone settings to where you can tap on the apple on the back of your phone, and it will, you know, you can make it do different things, have different actions based on what the tap is. And so, for me, I have to take screenshots a lot on my phone for work, and so I have it set to where I double tap my apple and it takes a screenshot, and TikTok taught me that. So, my silver lining brain is telling me that I love TikTok because it teaches me things, and it really does, it’s easy.

I’m sure if you’re on TikTok, this happens to you a lot, to assume that everybody who’s telling you things on TikTok is an expert, when really you might just be looking at a 15 year old who is talking to you about epidemiology. Sometimes, I take their advice a little bit too [much] to heart, which is not good, I will say, don’t necessarily do that. But research things properly after you read about them on TikTok to see if it’s actually accurate, because there’s a lot of false information that spreads on there just as it does on any social media platform. What a bummer that happens, isn’t it? It really is.

But my favorite thing about TikTok is that it really normalizes weirdness. And as we know, on different social media networks, like Twitter or Instagram, there are trends that emerge with those platforms. Like, Twitter is notorious for being snarky and for being a little bit more negative, whereas Instagram is notorious for being a little bit toxically positive. And I mean, Instagram has changed a lot this year, and so it’s going in new directions and new territories, but we know what the Instagram aesthetic is and what’s popular on there, for sure. But TikTok’s, at least the TikTok that I’m on, is extremely weird and strange and funny. And people are doing weird, strange, and funny things and being who they are in weird ways, and I love that. If I had that platform when I was younger, it would have changed everything for me to just see people being weird and being themselves. Whereas, I think what happens with most social media platforms, like even thinking back to the ones from when I was that sort of coming of age time, like MySpace or Zynga for me were those, there was a specific kind of person on those platforms. And it really, when you’re that age, seeing what the options are for people is how you formulate what kind of person you become, and that sucks. But this is how humanity is, right? You study what your options are for the types of person you can become, and so the more types of people we can see, the wider our pool of options are. The more expanded our worldview is, the better. And I personally have found that TikTok surfaces the most types of people to me the easiest.

So no, no social media platform is perfect. TikTok has major trolling issues, as do all social media platforms. And it’s such an inspiration to see how people respond to trolls on TikTok. I’ve learned a lot from them, because this is something I’m not good at doing. I take things very personally and to heart every time it happens. I’m working on it, it’s very hard, and seeing people respond to them on TikTok, they kind of laugh at themselves and make fun of the troll. It’s really inspiring for me to watch how people take this in stride and handle it. And yeah, so I learned a lot about design, a lot about life, I learned a lot about what the options for types of people are, that I can become something, I just expand my worldview, which I think is a good thing, and I’m really happy that it exists. And if you’re not ready to join TikTok, you absolutely do not have to. Follow my Instagram and I’ll show you every Friday a compilation of the things I saw that week that were my favorite and you can just have a little bit – about an ounce of joy. Just sprinkle a little tickle of joy for your weekend to start with because this year is rough.

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Okay, let’s tickity-talk about setting a working vibe. So, a few weeks ago, I can’t remember, time is so strange to me lately. Are you feeling like time moves at a bizarre pace? I sure do. I don’t remember when I said this, but a few episodes ago, may have been two episodes ago, may have been 30 episodes ago. I don’t remember, but some time ago I talked about this little piece of information I learned from artist and illustrator Shawna X, which was to set your intentions for what you want a block of time to feel like and to look like, and then get it started on the right track by setting intentions and then decide what to do from there.

So, I think that the same can apply to our working situation. So, whenever you’re sitting down at your desk, or wherever you work, before you get to work, make sure that you’re setting your intentions for how you want to feel. Do you want to feel really productive? Are you just going to poke around on the internet and have some fun for a little bit? Are you trying to just play with your work at the moment? So, take a moment to slow down and set your intentions for what this block of time of working, what you want it to feel like, what do you want to accomplish, and then take some actions to make sure that you set yourself up for success.

So, we can do that in a few different ways. I think my favorite way is through music. So, what I like to do is decide do I want to feel really productive? Am I going to be writing during this time? Do I just want to have fun and see what I can create when I’m in the best brain space possible? I ask myself that question first, of what I want my work session to feel like, what I want to get done during that time, and then I pick the best possible music to set the vibe for that intention that I’m setting. So, sometimes I’m just working really hard, I have my head in the zone and I just need no sort of music that has words to it, so I will listen to something that’s more electronic. If you’re looking for something that’s—I’m going to give my own personal recommendations here – if you’re looking for something that’s closer on the electronic side, if you’re a Spotify user, the artist Four Tet, first of all their music, yes, but if you search for the user, Four Tet, the artist Four Tet has a user account where they make playlists. They have one that’s a bunch of playlists, that’s a string of emojis, it’s like a 12-hour long playlist of all kinds of music, a lot of it is electronic, but not exclusively. And I love that one because it’s a ton of hours of music, it’ll last all day for me, and it is ever evolving as well.

But then other times, it’s just a normal day where I’m responding to emails, doing a little bit of design, nothing [where] I have to have my head in the computer, it’s not too intense, then I’ll listen to something that’s feeds my soul [a little bit more] and is a little bit more exciting for me. And my favorite, just to give you a little bit of a recommendation – oh, that was a major voice inflection and it wasn’t forced, I promise, this is just who I am – Is if you go on to Soundcloud. You know Soundcloud is a treasure chest full of DJ mixes, but my favorite is that artist named Chances with Wolves. Chances with Wolves is on Soundcloud, and they do a bunch of mixes basically, the music is my kind of music though. It’s like, deep cuts, soul funk music from all over the world, I love it so much. It makes me feel really great. And I think you’ll discover a lot of music that way through listening to Chances with Wolves as well.

So, if you have time, listen to that. You don’t need to, they’re my favorite. Also, I find that listening to playlists from people that I love, or people that I like, or people that I’m a fan of, or people that inspire me is really helpful because it helps me get in the brain space of them and channeling them and their energy, and so, I find that to be really interesting. It’s kind of like the concept of watching a documentary about one person. Every time I watch a documentary about an individual, it makes me fall in love with them. I think you learn the beauty and the complexity of every single human, and I just love them so much. And so, I think playlists from people make me feel the same way. You get to peek inside of their brain for a little bit of time and it makes me feel so good. And one of my favorite playlists from a single person is Frank Chimero on Spotify. He has a playlist that’s called “The Full Frank.” I love Frank’s playlist the most because he is very serious about them every single month. For the last handful of years, Frank has made a playlist and I know he takes these very seriously, he curates them impeccably based on what he’s loving that month, and “The Full Frank” is 415 hours long. And it is a compilation of every single playlist from every month for all of these years, so it’s a journey all over genres, all over time and space. And it’s not necessarily one genre specifically, it’s just what Frank likes, and that makes me feel really good.

So anyway, I put the music on, and maybe a seasonal [playlist], sometimes I find in the winter because I live in a snowy city, if it’s snowing, I listen to more jazz. If it’s raining, I have certain musicians I listen to, it makes me feel really good and comforted and warm. Comfort music is a thing for sure.

So, after you finish setting your music vibe, make sure that your physical environment around you is also helping you with that intention that you’re setting for how you want to create the work you want to make in that moment. So, for me, if I need to use my brain at all, if I’m diving into a problem, I’m the kind of person that has to have my desk completely clean. Everything around me has to be perfect and perfectly inspiring to me and just the way I like it, so that way I can work distraction free. And that really helps me to set the vibe. But for you, if you have a chaotic brain where you like all of the things around you because they help remind you of what you need to be doing, then do that. We’re not the same person.

So, you need to make sure that your desk, your environment, wherever you’re working, is set up the way that you like it. And for me, this is pre-pandemic, but I used to move around to different environments or different places, depending on the type of work that I was doing. So, if you have the freedom, and it’s safe to do that, then try it to see if you need to go outside, because if it helps you with your intention that you’ve set for yourself, do it. So, set your mood lighting on, clear your desk space, get it all ready. And then I also find that my computer too, if I’m working on a computer, it’s a reflection of the intention I’m setting. So, like my desktop, my physical desktop, I clear it off, but I also clear off my computer’s desktop so that I just feel like my brain is clutter free. I get things nice and organized, I do the updates on my computer and on my browsers, so that way nothing is distracting me. Everything’s distraction free, and I can help myself with that intention that I’m setting.

But if I’m just looking to party, I put on something like If you’re not familiar with, is a thing, it’s an app, it’s free, you can have it on your phone on your desktop, it started as a website, it’s really fun. It’s a playlist/visual experience, lots of things to do there. But is hilarious to me. It’s a website, clearly that was a URL, so go there, check it out, have some fun, just dance a little bit. It’s great. But I put that on and don’t care so much if my desktop is cluttered, and I just dance around at my desk and have a good time. And that’s an intention to set for certain times of the day. Heck, yes.

Ah, so do what you can to set a working vibe for you. And I’m also really curious to know what the best working vibe for you is. Is it different from [mine]? I think the overall point I’m trying to make is to just slow down. Think about what your intention is and make sure that your workspace, your environment around you, matches that, so that you help set yourself up for success at the beginning. I think so. So often we jump in to work so quickly, we move so fast that we feel like we don’t have time to set these intentions and to go slow and put things right in place where we want them before we start working. But we do, we have time for that. We do, you do, I do. So, let’s take a deep breath, set some intentions and get to work.

Well, that’s it for this episode of Overtime. We did another one! I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day. I’m glad I could provide you with some companionship and you sure did help me too today. So, if you want to continue the conversation on the internet, use #DribbbleOvertime or make sure to tweet or tag because I believe I asked you a few questions in this episode. And I’m really curious to know what your answers are. So, reach out to me, my handle is @yourbuddymeg. Okay, byebye, hear me next week.