June 29, 2024
Make Art or Die Trying

A few years ago, I was tuning into one of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible, when I stumbled upon the story of Vantablack and the artists feuding over it. This intrigue led me down a fascinating rabbit hole, where I discovered Stuart Semple and his mission to liberate colors, including Vantablack, from exclusive ownership. Semple quickly became a huge inspiration for me, especially in how he challenges the system and champions artists through his creative endeavors. Remember when Pantone and Adobe split, forcing designers to pay for colors? Semple swooped in with his own free version of Pantone colors for Adobe products. So, when I heard he was coming out with a book titled "Make Art or Die Trying," you better believe I preordered it immediately.

The title alone grabbed me. I often tell myself, “make cool stuff with cool people” when deciding on projects or seeking motivation. It has helped me say no to things that did not feel like a good fit and pushed me to try things that I have never done before "Make Art or Die Trying" was Semple’s personal vow when he faced a potential life-ending moment.

The book "Make Art or Die Trying" with an Adobe Express notebook and blue pen on a white background

After months of waiting, the book is finally in my hands, and I’m all in.Early on, Semple challenges the reader to commit to working through the book with the following promise:

“I, [Jen], solemnly swear to abandon all I know about making things look good, everything I believe about what is or is not art. I promise to cast aside all I’ve learned about composition, form, flourishes, and finesse. I know I can pick that back up later. For now, I will focus on ideas and ideas alone. How they take form is not my business.”

As an art school grad, that's both thrilling and a bit daunting. Stepping away from what I've learned about design and composition feels scary, but there's also a sense of freedom in prioritizing raw creativity over polished execution.

So, come along for the ride as I navigate my way through this book. I can’t promise it’ll be a quick journey, but I’m committed to seeing it through to the very last page.