we talked about fonts, layout, theme, colors, words (to use and not to use), but the thing that still hangs on my brain about six weeks later is the concept of 'breathing room' in the portfolio. this is simply the idea of leaving some white space now and again and using three words in place of seven. or just allowing the brain to soak up one or two important ideas or concepts on a page rather then having to sift through six or eight to try to discern the important ones.
i found myself fascinated by this simple, yet elegant, principle in the following way - breathing room should be nurtured and fostered in nearly all (if not all) aspects of our lives! when i am in tune with myself, i find that i do this naturally.
in music, i am drawn to compositions with a lot of space in the sound - things like a nice wide band of highs and lows without too much competition for emphasis across the instrumentation of a particular track. in chamber music, for example, you typically hear a violin, a viola, a cello and a contra bass. these instruments certainly have some overlap in their registers, but each shines the brightest in zones where they are not competing with one another (in my humble opinion, at least). in music that one hears on the pop charts, one often finds a lot of competition for a relatively small register (maybe an octave and a half), which, for me, has the effect of invading my aural senses to the point of annoyance most of the time.
a good example of this is the chorus and bridge of 'since u been gone' by kelly clarkson. notice that it starts out with some nice separation...a catchy, simple beat in the low end and kelly's vocals toward the high end. as it moves through the song, though, it becomes highly competitive in both the mid-range and the high end (from the doubling and even tripling of kelly's voice). that's when i change the station or make some comment about how i prefer 'better' music...like clockwork.
a contrasting example would be the beta band's hit, 'dry the rain,' which is featured in 'high fidelity' - one of the greatest john cusack films (which is basically a genre by now). notice how this song starts off pretty crowded in the mid-range with the vocals and the guitars basically hanging out together for much of the beginning. later, however, a proper low end is added with the drum beat and a smooth bass solo. and even later, there is a nice addition toward the high end made by the horns. also notice the pace of the song. it's gentle. layers are added in succession slowly and i would argue that they're easier to process than the abrupt changes in 'since u been gone.' also the song builds to a climax in terms of diversity across the register and fades out at the top of this climax - think barry sanders v. brett favre in terms of retirement from the nfl.
in my life, i will often take a few breathing room days to unwind and / or rewind. this can show up as me going 'off the grid' for a few days / weeks and being very difficult to reach by modern communications (i know this can be frustrating...my apologies). or i'll sit down and write in my moleskine books for awhile, processing the inspirational ideas of the day. or i'll take 6 weeks off of blogging!!
my go-to is listening to records. this is both a release and an active experience as there is a need to change the record every 20 minutes or so. something new that i'm trying is drawing. both out of necessity and out of the interest in a new creative medium. as i get more share-able content ready, i think of putting a few drawings up in later posts. stay tuned for that. on vacations, one of the most luxurious versions of 'breathing room' is unstructured time. no alarm clocks, no appointments, no deadlines...just blissful obligation-less existence. you get the idea.
i'm currently in a state of breathing room at work. i've just landed in auckland, new zealand on my way to perth, australia to deliver a presentation at a conference. this is a breath in space, time, and activity. i'm doing something i don't normally do in a place that have never been at a time that is completely reversed in terms of days and nights than i am used to. maybe a bit on the extreme end of breathing room, sure, but i'm excited at the possibilities before me. i have been saving up several blog posts over the last few weeks for a time when i could really focus on the content. this may be that time!
wish me luck. and i hope you're enjoying your weekend wherever you are. i'm already 8 hours into sunday!