Brian Singer, graphic designer for Altitude and creator/funder and engine behind the 1000 Journals Project summed up the general feeling in his final words to the group, “You have ideas. If you don’t take the initiative, if you don’t make it happen....you have...right......Nothing”. Brian Singer, also known as “Someguy” knows this to be true as this is his modus operendi for his graphic design and independant project work. Brian Singer does projects to engage the world, or as he terms it broadly, “marketing an environment”-- setting up public conversations in unusual and noteworthy ways. His dog poop project is one such example.
Singer, as a way to engage the community in expressing their distain for George Bush and his administration, established a website (www......com) with photographs of his litttle civic installations. Singer would search for dog poop which seems to be plentiful and a metaphor for his feelings about the former President--and stuck little chrome yellow flags with Bush’s face on them into the fecal matter. Photographs of these vignettes along with downloadable flag graphics were put up on an internet site (www. com) and the community engaged in the discussion. This project along with his art making from the poster and graphic detrius were just the warm up to his current project, !000 Journals.
Singer created a concept over a five year span, to drop a thousand hard bound journals into the environment allowing people to express themselves freely without limits or public expectation. The concept was inspired by the graffiti Singer read in the public bathrooms while he was in college. Singer felt that the expression and messaging in these environments created open ended, anonymous conversations that gave permission to people to express themselves freely. The journals were to take that free expression to another level--having it become part of an individual’s journey, to hand it off or leave it for another, and so on. To create an open environment to communicate and then, in the end, to have these books return for further understanding. There was a system for the these numbered classic Canson sketch books to be scanned and quoted on an independant website whenever possible,
Brian Singer had no end plan. He wanted to get the books out through handing them to friends, leaving them in places, introducing them quietlyto see what would happen. He had no expectations about what was next. He had no expectations for public relations or image building for him. From his modest and self effacing demeanor, his passion was not necessarily for the outcome, but for the process, for the project and for the communication with the world at large. This project is where he put his money and time with no plans at all.
Four years later, thirty of the books have been returned. A documentary film has been created. He has been noted in the media from National Public Radio to television. There is an exhibit on display of a few of the journals that Singer was engaged in helping to design at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Much of the news puts the project first with Brian Singer as the orchestrator and concept artist. I believe this is intentional on his part because for him, that is what is important.
Brian Singer believes that an artist must “engage through inspiration' using personal work, self authorizhip, fine art and professional work. He feels that all four aspects of this engagement must all happen in order to drive better work and thinking and cannot be allowed to languish. Singer lives up to this high expection of private and public voice to nspire us through his actions, words and projects.
I agree with Singer’s four prong approach to one’s work and career. I have repressed personal work, self authoring and fine art to exclusively focus on my professional work as a graphic designer until entering the ISDP programs at Syracuse and The University of Hartford. In hindsight, this is time lost. I believe that in developing personal projects, self authoring and fine art exploration through blogging, the creation and distribution of zines, web creation, on demand printing, drives personal projects, personal expression and a sharpening of a personal message, brand and understanding. To force this self expression beyond the boundaries of a job or a profession allows me to better understand what makes me tick, where my boundaries are, sharpen my communication skills and to delve into ideas. This personal expression has fed my professional work as a designer and has permitted me to better understand my own vision in addition to that of my clients.