Warning: another “woe is me” MFA/Thesis post.
Above is my proposed logo for our 2011 PRATT MFA Exhibition. Last week we (mostly) agreed on the concept of “New” for the theme. Our program is new, our degree is new, we are all new designers, new ideas, etc. I love the theme and think it’s a great idea. I spent a few hours creating mock-ups of a poster and logo applications. Then on Friday, per usual, my shinning bubble of optimism is quickly popped, stepped on, and thrown out the window.
The professors referred to my concept as “stickers.” It’s a marvelous feeling having something you put a lot of thought and time into, to be reduced to stickers, and brushed aside. I’m trying not to be a sore looser, but this serves as another prime example of how my interest in design has no place in my program. It’s not about my design not being chosen, I feel like my work never translates. I spend a lot of time and effort on the work I do, making it look as good as I can. Which routinely gets me no where. It gets me a B-
Last weekend I finished reading the Happiness Project, and felt I turned the corner to begin thesis writing and exhibition design. I felt so accomplished and happy. Then I get an email about another student who’d designed this amazing flawless pdf of her thesis ideas fully articulated (and designed). One step ahead … ten steps behind. I spent all Sunday and Monday night reworking my thesis project into mentioned pdf format. While this took hours, it was incredibly helpful, and I encouraged my other studio mates to do the same. I show this said pdf to one adviser and my list of issues continues to grow. My bibliography is light and I need new sources, despite my aversion to academic reading – this is still a terminal degree, and I have to take everything more seriously and academically. The working abstract statement one teacher approved, another finds issue in. One step ahead … ten steps behind.
Last week I tired to convince myself that I’d made the right choice, but now I don’t know anymore. We’re spending so much time on the verbal/written part of our thesis process, and so little on visual. I can’t constantly redo my writing and still hope to move forward on visuals. My whole thesis is supposed to be on the joy of creation, experience, and making. None of which I’m doing. Or at least I’m finding absolutely no joy in this experience. There are moments of happiness, but I’m quickly brought back to reality with something else that is due, how far along someone else is, why my thesis isn’t academic enough. It’s wrong to compare myself to others, a losing battle, but I’ve yet to receive positive reinforcement from professors. It sounds stupid, but time to time I need encouragement, I need a “gold star,” as Gretchen Rubin says in the Happiness Project.
I like the work I’ve produced, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. As much as I try to say that’s enough, during this dark and stressful period, it’s not. Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but I’m so emotionally on-edge, an email from my adviser almost brought me to tears. One step ahead … ten steps behind.
Maybe “One Step Ahead .. Ten Steps Behind: A Thesis on my Joy in Design,” should be my new title …
// End bitching.