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Creative Mornings: Finding Your Color with Ash Huang

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Last friday was another Creative Mornings and I was lucky enough to get a spot. I say lucky because our Chapter Leader, Stewart Scott-Curran, mentioned that the tickets sold out in 60 seconds. The event was hosted again at pinterest. You can see the lovely decor in my previous recap about Failure.

This month’s theme was about color, one of my absolute favorite aspects of design and art. I had high hopes for this talk, and possibly even expectations on what the speaker, Ash Huang, would talk about. I half expected her to be one of those designers that are just known for their use of color, like the Wes Anderson of our Bay Area graphic design community. I was ready to fill my eyeballs up to the brim with inspiring visuals, maybe an insight on how she chooses color palettes, etc.  Instead, I got something completely different. And it was magical.

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Ash had promised animated gifs in a tweet about the event, and boy did she freakin deliver. Ash chose, like a lot of speakers, to take a very abstract approach to this month’s theme. Instead of talking about color and using it creatively, she decided to focus on “finding one’s color” or being a creative individual. I admit, I had trouble connecting the dots between all the humorous animated gifs and her talk and how it related to color until someone mentioned “finding your color” in a question. That being said, I think what she did have to say, was really meaningful and I think will resonate with a lot of creatives looking to find themselves.

That being said, I thought I would share some of the highlights:

She had three key points that helped her “find her color”.

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She talked a lot about learning to be alone, which translated more as “accepting yourself as an introvert” (if you are one). I know that there have been many articles and ted talks about introverts as of late, so this made a lot of sense. As introverts, we can sometimes be seen as “loners” because we prefer to be .. well.. alone. This isn’s a socially awkward thing, it’s a “needing-to-recharge-and-be-in-my-head” thing. Some introverts may feel a sense of guilt for preferring to spend their time at home, relaxing, than going out and socializing as do I. Ash basically said accept yourself the way you are and give yourself permission to recharge the way you want to.

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She also talked about analyzing your obsessions. I think every designer has something they obsess about, whether its a fad design style, or maybe a hobby. I’ve gone through my obsessions too. I remember in college I was really obsessed with that vintage look of lithography prints. It influenced the style of an entire quarter of my student work. Now I’m obsessed with donuts. Not eating them, but drawing them, sculpting them, and making them into icons. Ash too has this sort of obsession, but with family crests. Because she isn’t able to trace her own lineage, she decided to study the well documented european lineage and soon became obsessed with the stories behind crests, so she started the 100 Crests Project on tumblr.

Ash says repetition is interesting, and I think a lot of people agree. One of the most notable repetition series that I can think of is Jessica Hische’s Daily Dropcap, which served as an outlet for her creative obsessions about typography and gained her a ton of recognition in the graphic design community. I think the important part about making a series of work is to stick with it. My latest obsession has been with doughnuts. I’ve been drawing, painting and even sculpting them. I think this has a lot to do with the amazing color combinations you can get with them. I think my plan is to eventually make a series of these, once i figure out which medium i like working best in. I’d like to make them available for sale at some point. If you want to follow along on the donuts, follow me on instagram.
Donut Explorations.

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Lastly she spoke on optimizing for learning, which to me translated to “continue to learn new skills”. Ash taught herself how to make soap and how to be a better writer. She is now currently in the middle stages of writing a book. What hasn’t this girl done!? One thing she said that I think really hit home with a lot of people was to “never put yourself in a situation where you feel foolish for learning”, meaning you should surround yourself with a network of positive support while you learn and grow. You should never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. On the other side of the coin, you should always encourage your friends and be a positive force in their lives.

Overall the talk was full of chuckles and great wisdom. Thanks so much to Ash Huang for sharing your insights! As always I am grateful for this free event put on by creative mornings and pinterest.

They didn’t ask me to do write this but I encourage you to sign up with creative mornings if you haven’t already. It’s a really great resource for any creative (not just designers) and a way for you to easily participate in the community. They have a ton of videos from past topics to watch from all over the world. You can even upload a few projects for potential exposure. Best part? It’s all free!

Follow Creative Mornings San Francisco and follow the conversation on twitter with #cmsf.

Edit: here’s the whole talk

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