ugly

I will be giving a talk this coming Friday which is really great and really not so great, here’s why. Really great: Cleveland, Ohio has been awarded a Creative Mornings and this Friday is the first event! I’m so happy that Cleveland has a monthly event (in addition to AIGA Cleveland) to bring creatives together. Not so great: I’m your typical designer. I like to be in my office behind my monitors getting work done with music in my ears. I have a really hard time speaking in front of people. I force myself to do it because I’m very passionate about my presentation topic: How Culture Affects Typography. Creative Mornings has a different theme each month that unites all the chapters across the world together. For the month of January, the theme is UGLY. I immediately thought “Crap, what am I going to do with that?!” My type talk won’t work and I only have 20 minutes. What is ugly to me, might be beautiful to you. Plus, it’s an ugly word, right? For some reason a bunch of Yo Momma jokes just popped into my head. Anyway, after giving it a lot of thought, I’m nervous excited to present on 7 lessons I have learned as a graphic designer: the good, the bad and the {not so} ugly. I feel good about sharing these lessons and hope they help in some small way.
But, there is something about the word ‘ugly’ as it pertains to the pictures I take and my love of typography that has stuck with me. After much thought I have reached this conclusion:
The way to overcome ‘ugly’ is with confidence.
The best example that comes to mind are my obsession love of manhole covers. Most people that roam the planet think these are ugly. They are probably right. They’re usually in the middle of the street or sidewalk, getting run over and covered with dirt or cigarettes. Gross. I am one of the very few people who think that manhole covers are beautiful. I’m also that person who was greatly affected by the plastic bag scene in American Beauty, so there’s that. Some people would see that bag as ugly trash blowing around. To me, it looks like poetry in motion just like manhole covers are works of art. Here’s proof:
Albuquerque, NM:
abq 1
Stop laughing at my purple shoes. You might see dirt and rocks, I see that killer Q.abq 2
Austin, TX:
austin city markerThis cover was teeny. Like teeny TINY. I may or may not have had to get on the ground to get this picture. Gross right? Who cares, that star is awesome and is very much specific to the city it is located in. For me, this was a jackpot find.
Lisbon, Portugal:
Gaelle Jolly lisbon
Big thanks to Gaelle Jolly for sharing her picture. It is so nice to know that other people find these covers beautiful as well.
Miami, FL:
miami drainThis was taken in South Beach and is a tribute to the art in public spaces. Another cover that is unique to the city it was found in.
Syracuse, NY:
syracuse drainThe yellow in this picture doesn’t do the color justice. The letters looked like they were floating.
Tampa, FL:
tampa 1I have never seen a cover cracked in half, I love what the crack did to the letters. I am 100% confident that there is beauty in these. No one will change my mind or make me feel bad for admiring them. In confidence, there is beauty.

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