Earlier this summer, I began posting, on Instagram, a series of handwritten stories called Memories of a Girl I Never Knew. At first, I needed a creative outlet after it didn’t work out with a girl I really liked. As a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe, I took this a bit hard. I felt like a failure. After that experience, I began thinking a lot about my past relationships, the women I’ve dated, the way I’ve handled things (or didn’t handle things)—and I began to question where it all began, and where it all went…wrong. Then I started writing.
Many know my personal project, 40 Days of Dating, which I co-created last year with my good friend and colleague Jessica Walsh. The risk we took with that experiment—both professionally and personally—has since torn down a wall I’m no longer interested in having up as a designer. 40 Days enabled me to share my Memories series (featured in the slide shows on this page) with an ease that I wouldn’t have had before, and it’s since given me a certain capacity for vulnerability. And with all vulnerability comes the risk of failure. I’ve never felt more vulnerable as a human and as a designer, and I’m interested in sharing that experience.
For centuries, writers and filmmakers and artists have interjected their personal lives into their work. But you don't see that a lot in the design community. Each piece in my Memories series is a reflection on romantic failure: from my first crush, to my childhood fascination with La Toya Jackson, to all the “firsts” that happen throughout the beginning and ending of a relationship, to a girl who seemed so perfect I didn’t want to meet her for fear of ruining it. It’s been reassuring to see how much these stories have resonated with people on Instagram, which has also helped me in return (something I have jokingly been calling “insta-threrapy”). If we have an idea of how to inspire or to be inspired, then we can begin to connect to people, and I think connecting to someone through my work is one of the true joys of the human experience.
This summer, Jessica and I finished creating the 40 Days book (it will be out in January), and we’ve just recently begun another robust personal project that we’ll be working on all fall (it will be coming out in the spring of 2015). We’re interested in the idea of personal content creation because creating content allows for the possibility of the unknown—which, ironically, also allows for the possibility of failure. So many of our personal experiences and failures are universal—and as designers, I believe we have a unique way to share this with an audience.
October 7, 2014
Original artwork Timothy Goodman
Photo of the author Bryan Dale
Layout Shadi Moussa