Day 11: SXSW, Angela’s TakeSaturday, March 8, 2003
Women Who Kill Tigers
I attended “Women Who Kill Tigers: A panel about following your passion to do the work you love.” The speakers were Lynda Miller (www.neonrose.net), Ana Boa-Ventura (www.boa-ventura.com), and Anita Pantin (www.anitapantin.net). For reference, the title of the session comes from a Latin-American expression. “Killing tigers” means taking on freelance gigs to support artistic work.
I was especially interested in Ana Boa-Ventura. The illustrations she used in her presentation — even the layout of the presentation itself — inspired multiple ideas I’d like to try. One thing I’m curious about — she teaches a Intro to Digital Media class at UT, and she showed us the web page for that class. I’d like to find out if that page is publicly available … Some of the design ideas I’d like to try out are using black & white close-up pics (iStockPhoto) as a background for the navigation; using lines/shapes from sketches like da Vinci’s with colors added; and using a quilt background for a crafts page. I was really disappointed Boa-Ventura didn’t get to speak longer, both because the designs she showed were inspiring and because her work in exploring memory through bar codes sounded intriguing.
Anita Pantin probably spoke most directly to the topic. She emphasized the importance of “protecting your passion” — that is, making time daily for the thing that you love to do. If you spend time on your passion, you’ll be happier and do better with the part of your life you are forced to do to pay the rent. Pantin stressed the importance of discipline within the passion. “If something is important to you, discipline yourself to do it.” She mentioned an example from her own life where she spent a month creating a painting every day — no pressure for it to be good, no chance to go back and rework it tomorrow — just 30 chances to create 30 different pieces of self-expression without any expectations or consequences tied to the finished works. She said it was a life-changing experience that really helped her grow as an artist. I’d like to try something similar to this, for Smart Goat and/or Crafty Goat. For Smart Goat, it would probably take the form of creating various web designs/templates, perhaps taking inspiration from other sites or from pics on iStockPhoto. If any of them end up being designs we like, they could be reshaped & improved upon later to be on the website as examples of our work. Otherwise, it’ll just be an exercise in improving our artistry and expanding our creativity.
Pantin wasn’t handling her own screen presentation; the moderator was displaying her works as she spoke. So Pantin didn’t really expand on the things that were showing. But one of the things that displayed was what looked like song lyrics or poetry scrolling across the screen against a background. Digitally-enhanced poetry? I’m not sure if that’s what she was doing or not, but it’s an idea I’d like to experiment with, probably using Flash. Somebody must be doing this already — I probably just need to look in the right place.
Boa-Ventura mentioned she met some of her contacts while looking into the problem of accessibility. There are quite a few sessions this week on accessibility, and I definitely want to make at least one. Smart Goat really needs to get to work on this, perhaps even specialize in it. We can add a page to our site informing our potential clients about accessibility and why it’s important — we could even offer a free consultation with folks that have existing websites, demonstrating how their current site performs, and offering to help make it more accessible. We’ve been looking into niche areas where we could write articles for local web groups or teach free classes at the local community center, and this might just be it. One of the session descriptions says users with disabilities make up a 1 trillion dollar market — it’s ridiculous for companies to keep ignoring that market.
I’d like to try some collages (iStockPhoto again?) on a Flash background. Perhaps even design some Flash templates to sell? If possible, it would be nice to make them such that the end user would only have to change a text file to change the content, buttons, etc. More things to learn about Flash!
Finally, a comment on networking. During the Q&A segment, a woman from the audience asked how to best conquer fear of pursuing a passion. One of the answers, I believe from Pantin, was that we often feel as freelancers that we need to handle everything ourselves. Her advice was that you should have a network of people that are good at various things, and when a project comes along that’s too big for you… well you know a few people that can help out. I hadn’t really looked at networking like this before. It’d be worth knowing some folks in OKC that are good in the areas we’re not, and letting them know we’d be happy to work alongside them, each of us complementing the strengths of the other.
Overall, a very inspiring session (part brainstorming session for me). The only things I was disappointed in were that Boa-Ventura didn’t really get a chance to finish her speech — and it seemed so interested — and that all of the women seemed to address their “passion” and their “tiger-killing” (rent-paying duties) as separate. It didn’t really seem like any of them were to the point of making their “passion” pay the rent. I know that there are some people in that situation, and it’d be interesting to hear how they got to that point.