Category Life

30 things I’ve learned in the last 30 years

30 years old

Today is my 30th birthday, so I thought I would share 30 things I’ve learned over the last 30 years. 30 is a funny age. I don’t feel old, but I’m certainly not young anymore. I feel like I know a lot but I know there’s still so much to learn. Hopefully you find this list of odds and ends helpful in your own life.

1) Things get better with age. I remember myself at 19, 23, 26. I would never go back. The Bobby I am now is so much better than my younger versions.

2) William DeVaughn said it best, “Be thankful for what you got.”

3) Patience is a virtue – and a handy tool in the age of the Internet.

4) Right is always right. This was the logic for every video game I ever played growing up.

5) Your opinion is just that, your own. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Being open minded means being a good human being.

6) Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.

7) Change is the only constant in life.

8) Life is cyclical. Sometimes you’re at the top of the wheel, sometimes you’re at the bottom. No matter what though, the wheel continues to turn.

9) Being selfish can be a good thing, so long as it doesn’t hurt others. Knowing how to make yourself happy is one of the most important things in life.

10) Don’t do shots.

11) If you don’t think anyone understands you, trust me, there’s a song out there that knows exactly what you’re going through. And you will play that song on repeat until things are better.

12) Confidence is sexy.

13) To become an expert at anything you need to do something for at least 10,000+ hours. So says Malcolm Gladwell.

14) The desert looks like the ocean.

15) I’m a firm believer in karma. Do good, help people, and good things will happen in your own ife. It’s worked pretty well for me so far.

16) Spend more money on something nice that will last longer rather than wasting your money on something cheap and disposable. This is applicable in many ways.

17) Never underestimate a glass of champagne after a long week.

18) Good work takes hard work.

19) Social networks aren’t places to make “connections”, they’re places to make friends.

20) “You should always face what you’re afraid of.” – Jumanji

21) With the Retina-fication of the web, Illustrator will one day kill Photoshop. This bums me out.

22) If it takes you more than five words to order your coffee you might be doing it wrong.

23) In-N-Out is the best hangover food.

24) “Take your pleasure seriously.” – Charles Eames

25) I can listen to I Think Ur A Contra by Vampire Weekend on repeat, forever.

26) The future is what you make of it.

27) There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence. — Massimo Vignelli

28) Think before you act. This is especially helpful when commenting on something on the Internet.

29) Focus is hard to achieve but critical to succeed. The world provides so many distractions, focusing on what’s really important is critical.

30) Have fun and stop worrying about the future. You can’t change it anyhow.

Good advice from Swissmiss

Good advice from Swissmiss

When I was in New York a few weeks back I took an afternoon to head out to Brooklyn to visit with Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who many of you know as Swissmiss. Tina and I had only met once before, at the first Creative Mornings here in Los Angeles. We were familiar with one another though, we know the same people and run in the same, small design blog world. It’s not often that I get to hang out with someone who runs a blog like mine, someone I can actually relate to. Obviously Tina’s blog is way larger than what we do, so it was great to speak with her about being a blogger, what she thinks about certain things and how she does what she does.

One of the biggest accomplishments she’s had was creating Tattly, a designer temporary tattoo company. It was also meant to be a joke that turned into a successful business for her. Tattly turned 1 today, and thus she’s imparted some wonderful advice, sharing 7 things she’s learned in the past year.

1. Never hesitate to challenge a status quo

Temporary tattoos have been around forever. I didn’t invent anything new, but, I was able to put a new spin on it by having professional artists create the designs and making sure that they are produced in the US with the highest quality standards. I admit, I never expected the success we’re having, but now, looking back, it actually makes total sense.

Never hesitate to challenge a status quo of a product or service that already exists. Put your own spin on it, stamp it with your personality and you might redefine an entire industry.

A huge congrats to Tina and her endeavors. She continues to be such an inspiration to me.

The ‘Busy’ Trap, an op-ed by Tim Kreider


This op-ed piece from Tim Kreider about the current state of “being busy” came out a little over a week ago, and I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit lately, as I think many others have. I’ve selected a paragraph from the piece, which I thought summed it up quite nicely.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.

It’s funny, because after I read it I took somewhat of a different approach to the story. I could easily say that I’m quite busy. I have a full time job at Disney, plus I run The Fox Is Black, and I have a relationship, two dogs and wonderful friends. I could easily spend every waking hour doing something. What this article made me realize is that I began giving this default response when people asked me how I was, or what I did over the weekend.

“I’ve been so busy.” or “It was a really busy weekend, Kyle and I did so much.”

I wasn’t actually saying anything of interest, or expounding upon my busyness, I just was. After reading this piece I’ve made a concerted effort to stop doing that. I didn’t have a “busy” weekend, I went to art shows, I went to BBQs, I saw movies and I had an amazing drink which you should try. These are the appropriate responses you give people. It’s a small thing, but I feel like it an important distinction to make in our already second-to-second world.

P.S. I decided to use a Kozyndan drawing rather than the one from the story because it wasn’t large enough, and I felt like it did a good job of expressing the story.

Independence Day

Independence Day by Aled Lewis

We’re taking the day off today to hang out with our friends and loved ones in honor of the 4th of July. Regular posting will start tonight at midnight PST, so download some wallpapers or snag a mixtape you’ve never heard. And for those wondering, the awesome image above is from Aled Lewis, who kid of summed up the holiday quite well. Check out his Tumblr for more recently updated works.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

We’re off today for Memorial Day, but I thought I’d share this editorial piece from the New York Times, which I think frames this day of remembrance quite well.

It has always seemed fitting to mark the purpose of this holiday — honoring those who have died in our country’s service — at the exuberant end of May. The outburst of spring is just slowing into summer’s cadence, and yet you can still smell and feel the biological crescendo all around you.

Whether it consoles the people who are gardening those graves is for them to say. And these years, after a decade of two wars, there are many lost lives to mourn. But nature is doing all it can to comfort. Life, it seems to be saying, continues on from summer to summer. There are memories and sadness, but also a verdancy that makes us celebrate what we have.

Fanfare for the Comma Man

Fanfare for the Comma Man

I tend to get a lot of flack on the site for my writing. Punctuation and grammar aren’t really my thing, nor were they ever meant to be. I think a lot of people come to the site thinking I’m a writer who likes design, which is the opposite of the truth. I happen to be a designer who like to share what he’s into and happen to write a lot about it. But I’m a conversational writer, not a proper writer, and I don’t ever see that changing.

When I saw this op-ed piece about punctuation from University of Delaware professor Ben Yagoda, I kind of giggled because I feel like it sums me up what I do rather well.

I said earlier that personal preference and style play a big role in punctuation use, and this applies to some aspects of comma-by-sound. A modifying or transitional phrase at the beginning of a sentence can be followed by a comma or not, depending on your personal style, the meaning of the particular sentence and the length of the phrase.

So would you put a comma in the following sentences?

By this time tomorrow I’ll be in Poughkeepsie.

Generally speaking the Republicans win the Western states.

Late at night the visibility can get pretty bad.

There’s no right answer! It’s up to you! But you can see that the comma-less versions are no-nonsense and a bit brusque. With the comma, the feel is more deliberate and old-fashioned.

I’m just gonna’ keep writing like I speak. It’s worked for the lat 5 years, so I must be doing something right. If you’re into punctuation this is one you’re gonna love. If you’re not, then just enjoy the great illustration of Comma Man by Peter Arkle.

Fuck design, let’s set the world on fire

Fuck design, let's set the world on fire

We seem to have trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle—economic progress and innovation stagnated, except in information technology; which leads us to embrace the past and turn the present into a pleasantly eclectic for-profit museum; which deprives the cultures of innovation of the fuel they need to conjure genuinely new ideas and forms; which deters radical change, reinforcing the economic (and political) stagnation. I’ve been a big believer in historical pendulum swings—American sociopolitical cycles that tend to last, according to historians, about 30 years. So maybe we are coming to the end of this cultural era of the Same Old Same Old. As the baby-boomers who brought about this ice age finally shuffle off, maybe America and the rich world are on the verge of a cascade of the wildly new and insanely great. Or maybe, I worry some days, this is the way that Western civilization declines, not with a bang but with a long, nostalgic whimper.

For the past, I dunno, year or so, I’ve been trying to articulate my feelings about the cultural rut we’re in right now, never quite getting the words right. The paragraph above, taken from Kurt Andersen’s article You Say You Want a Devolution?, couldn’t embody my thoughts and feelings more perfectly. It’s everything that has been plaguing me for so long now, wrapped up so neatly and eloquently into a single paragraph. The problem is, that paragraph is only a prognosis, it doesn’t broach the idea of a cure. So how do we get out of this cultural toilet bowl we’ve find ourselves swirling around in? I’m still not sure, but I plan on trying my damnedest to figure it out.

As I was driving home I was toiling over the topic, and I came to one, rough conclusion – Design is to blame. For the past 50 or so years we’ve seen a rise in design, being conscious of design, trying to design things to be better suited for us. But maybe that’s the problem entirely?

The idea of design seems clinical these days. Pixel perfect design, perfectly executed corners, color-schemes that are pleasing to a majority of users. Should we be confining our lives and ideas into rigid modules, rules, guides and columns? When I think about the idea of design versus the idea of art, I have two completely different emotional reactions. When I think of art I think of expression. When I think of design, I think about perfection. Perhaps we need to stop worrying about perfection and worry about expressing ourselves fully through our work? Maybe we need to start making art again? Maybe we stop worrying about creating the one, perfect product that everyone in the world can love and do something that creates a truly emotional response in people?

Here’s what I think we need, my self very much being included in this idea. I think we need to fuck shit up. We need to make things that are uncomfortable to look at. We need to piss people off. We need to do things that seem fucked up and weird, that make no sense, that will be never be perfect and were never meant to be so. We need not explain ourselves or ask for forgiveness. We need to change this fucked up status quo of borrowing from the past and start thinking about our future. You and I both do it, we know we do. How can we proud of our work when it’s already been created?

I know our generation can create radical change, we just have to hurt and bleed and fight and scream to make it happen. Here’s where I begin to try.

Editor’s Note: I should have ended this post with, “Actions speak louder than words.”