A beginner who forgot a beginner’s mind

As I wrote in a previous post, I often “practice” graphic design on a crowdsourcing web service. I have not learned graphic design. I just like it. As far as I remember, my earliest selected graphic design work was the cover of a “publication” of my fourth grade class. I think it was a collection of compositions. Everyone in the class submitted a “design”, and mine was voted as the best one. One of my nicknames during my elementary-school days was “図工の先生 (art-and-crafts teacher)”. By the way, in my earliest memory (probably it was before going to my kindergarten), I was drawing imaginary cats, like cats fishing on a boat. My parents proudly and generously posted those drawings on a wall of our living room, if I remember it correctly.

Today I revised some pages of my portfolio web site, and revisited some pages that I have not revised for a long time, including some early “design” works that I made before learning industrial design at the University of Calgary which is my first official design education. Those works include early “graphic design” works like this one, this one, or this one. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), those early works look way nicer than the recent works that I submitted on the crowdsourcing service like those ones. Why? Probably because I forgot a beginner’s mind. Now I focus more on technique than design itself. But this expression is a little weird because I am still a beginner, or even “less than beginner” since I have not learned graphic design.

It sounds like now it’s time to go back to basics.

August 26, 2013Permalink

Technology, Time, and Design

When I was learning English in Japan, an American teacher showed students an interesting Hollywood movie. It is a story about a creature visiting our planet earth from the outer space. It is widely known that the Voyager aircraft brings messages for extraterrestrials, and in the movie, the creature visits the earth because he (or she?) gets the message and it goes “come visit us”. The creature, which originally did not have a shape, gets a man’s body, and gradually learns one of the earth people’s languages, which is English.

But according to this article, it won’t happen in the near future: Voyager left solar system last year, new research shows. Voyager may or may not in solar system now, and it will take a long long time to have a chance to encounter an extraterrestrial.

A fascinating fact is that the aircraft was launched in 1977 and still sends signals from the “edge” of solar system to the earth daily. How many people own a vehicle that was made around 1977 and still works properly? Probably not many. Some people may own a car from that era because they have cultural values (may not be as valuable as those from the 30s, though), but I guess not many of them use it daily.

I often wonder which is better, making products that will last long, or making products that meet the needs of a particular time. There is no single answer. It depends. In terms of environmental impact, of course, it is generally better to make products that will last long. But technically, it generally costs more to make such products (I bet a Voyager aircraft is way more expensive than a typical vehicle!). More importantly, people generally like to have new things. Is this good or bad? If all the human beings give up to have new things, does it mean all creative people have to turn their interest toward something conservative?

I just looked around me and thought what is the oldest thing here. It’s a Japanese folding fan. I bought it in 1997, and that type of folding fan has been used in Japan for more than a millennium. Ideally, I want to design something like that.

August 25, 2013Permalink


As I wrote in a previous post, I often “practice” graphic design on a web service. It’s called DesignCrowd. I just wondered how easy my profile page can be found, and googled “DesignCrowed designer Hiro Shibata”. I seem the only Hiro Shibata on the service, and it’s so easy to find the page. What was more interesting was the suggested search term.


Apparently, many people have googled “DesignCrowd bad for designers”. I wondered what can be found with the search term, and found this article: Crowdsourced design is a risky business. In a nutshell, some “designers” copy other people’s designs and submit them to increase the chance of being selected, and the clients bear the risk of stealing someone’s intellectual property. The people who run DesignCrowd seem aware of this problem, and there is a function to “report an issue”.

As I wrote in the previous post, I do not expect to make money on this service, and use it to practice graphic design. So it does not make sense at all to me to copy other people’s designs. But I can easily imagine that some people do it.

When comes to dishonesty, some people may think of China which is known as one of the world biggest producers of pirated products and fake food. Recently I found a fascinating internet article: Chinese zoo angers visitors by passing off hairy Tibetan mastiff dog as lion. They displayed a large hairy dog and labeled it “lion”, displayed another dog and labeled it “wolf”, and displayed a white fox and labeled it “leopard”. It’s so easy to fake things in that way, and it’s equally easy to loose the trust.

Dishonest people may think they are cunning but in fact they are only unwise.

August 16, 2013Permalink

Practice makes perfect?

I’ve been a full-time job seeker for a few weeks. It sucks. Really. One of a few “part-time” things I do now is to submit graphic designs on a web service; clients post a design brief, and choose one winning design from tens or 100+ designs submitted by freelance designers. From designer’s viewpoint, it’s a series of design competitions. It’s literally competitive; only one winner, out of tens or 100+ designers, earns money. I cannot easily expect to make money on this web service, and I cannot call myself “freelance graphic designer” until I win. From a different perspective, this is a good way to practice graphic design; you can submit as many designs as you want for free. You can find examples of my graphic design on my profile page.

Practice makes perfect. I found an inspiring internet article, “Want to conquer a new skill? Do it every day“. New skill? Yes. I have not learned graphic design. In a nutshell, quantity is more important than quality because it eventually improves quality. If you want to learn something new, do it everyday. The article introduces an impressive YouTube video to show an example, “Girl learns to dance in a year“. This is what I need now. I mean, practicing design everyday.

By the way, dance is one of other things that I want to learn. This will be one of next steps after getting a full-time job.

August 6, 2013Permalink