Discover more from The Dan Catt Pen Plotting Newsletter
📙 #016 Lessons from The MEG 2
Solving one problem at a time, except when we're solving two problems at a time.
# Scratching an itch - making business cards
One of the joys of being able to write code is solving small occasional problems. One of the downsides is ending up with many different solutions dotted around the place, but that's its own problem for another time.
Recently I had two problems I could solve in one go. The first is that when I ship out prints or plots, I'll include a couple of postcards or business cards, and I'd recently run out of both.
Second, I have a slowly growing stack of experimental pen plots and prints that need cutting up.
In an attempt to stay organised, I have a "process" table where all of these go, then once or twice a week, the plan is to go through them, sorting them into:
Sell - occasionally, I'll pop something new into the shop; I should get better at this.
Send - if it's something fun and exciting but not quite suitable for the shop, I'll send it off to someone; see the OUTGOING section of Newsletter #006 for more details.
Cut-up - turn the plot or print into postcards or business cards. This mainly happens when the ink has run out halfway through a plot. There are areas I like, but the thing as a whole doesn't work.
Recycle - if it's too far gone, off it goes to be recycled.
This works pretty well, although on hold during the studio move; just starting it back up now.
However, the Cut-up thing just hasn't been happening, even before the move, because measuring up the paper to cut, making the marks and so on is so tedious (and honestly annoying) it just doesn't get done. Hence both the running out and the backlog of mis-plots hanging around.
It took me until last week to remember that I had both a pen plotter and maths on my side, and this was an easily solvable problem.
Generally, I keep these tools to myself because, frankly, the time it takes to put something online & document it, especially when that thing is just making regularly placed crosses, is more than making the tool itself. But in this case, I decided to sink a couple of days into putting the effort in.
The tool is up over here: https://www.fxhash.xyz/generative/slug/gnrtr-card-cutting-marks-v2/explore-params using fxhash and params to make my life easier; it turns out this is a pretty fun way of hosting things like this.
I also made a video about it here:
I now have more business cards than I will ever sell plots.
# Lessons from The Meg 2: The Trench
Twice in the film Jason Statham talks about problem-solving in the role of Jonas Taylor. Both times in response to someone worrying about much larger problem X.
Jonas will say, "We'll find a way out of this room, then get to [some safe place]," and someone else will worry ", But what about the giant killer shark outside?". Then Jonas will go something like "We solve problems one at a time", or some such; in this case, there's no point worrying about the giant shark because the current problem is the stuck door.
The advice was simple, good and felt slightly out of place in the film. Like there's all this nonsense going on, and here's this sparkling gem of practicality dropped in, not once but twice!
Enough for me to suddenly pay attention and go, "Oh, I'm going to have to remember the exact wording on this because it's just so perfect" the first time it popped up, and think ", oh yeah, I'm totally going to remember this now" the second time it happened.
Then Statham drop-kicked a Megalodon from a jet ski, and it all went out of my head, and I am NOT going to go back to get the exact quote, so we'll have to wait until it's on a streaming platform. And it feels wrong to pin some personal growth on a half-remembered truism.
But now, if you watch The Meg 2 (and you should), you'll spot what I'm talking about.
Along with Letterform Variations from Nigel Cottier.
One of the problems of loving simple, rules base, minimalistic graphic design is that the very nature of things being simple means they've already all been done. They're building blocks to take, modify and remix together to generate something new., but I love just making the very basic things.
The other problem of being a coder is immediately looking at it and figuring out how to make the same thing with code, assuming the original wasn't already made with code.
The trouble I have is squashing down the need to keep adding bits to prove the thing I've just done is original and new, at which point it's no longer simple and minimalistic. While really, all I want to do is put some simple lines or circles together.
The correct answer is, of course, to not worry about it. Or was it to face it one problem at a time?
ACTION ITEM: You should totally pre-order Wrong Way by the Internet's Joanne McNeil after reading this first...
I don't know Joanne. However, I know people, who know people, who know Joanne, and that's good enough for me.
Or put another way; I'm very happy being an artist tucked away up in the Shire in the UK, away from cities, East Coasts and West Coasts, no longer moving in circles.
But when I did move in circles, those circles were always Joanne adjacent; I definitely kinda know/knew someone who knows Joanne. Anytime Joanne was mentioned, it was always with glowing admiration and so on. So it's no surprise that I've recently seen her new book being mentioned with great frequency from various newsletters and corners of those old circles.
So this is my hot tip; it will be excellent and worth reading.
# Fading out at the end
I still haven't figured out a standard format for this Newsletter, let alone the snappy calls-to-action and where-to-find-me bit at the end.
There's very little point finding me over on Twitter, where my AI PA "Kitty" has taken over - more on that another day; threads are ticking over, so I guess the best way to find me is YouTube and here in this Newsletter.
Much of my work has been digital the last year, and I'm pretty confident I've said, "Hey, I'm going to be doing more pen plotting soon" in each Newsletter. Clearly, that hasn't happened yet, so I'm going to go with it; it's about 50/50 now, but the urge to put ink to paper has been increasing, so there's that.
I love you all, and I'll catch you next time.