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Dan Rose | 08.02.18

Adjacent A’s: The Origin Story

“Love What You Do.” For designers, these words have a twofold meaning: cherish the finished product, or adore the journey that gets you there. Understandably, many of us would like to have the former without the latter.

To be frank, the process of making something can be difficult (if you don’t believe us, swipe through our friend Mitch Goldstein’s musings). We labor over the first word we write into a blank document. We pore over the first mark on a blank sheet of paper. Knowing when to scrap something altogether or when to keep pushing through is a pain that can seemingly be felt physically. It’s rough out there.

New Year’s Resolution

In the same way one might run to get in better shape or lift weights to gain muscle, there’s value for designers regularly immersing themselves in the process of “making”. A steady diet of making things makes each successive process easier, and sometimes more informed—more making should result in better results.

While a typical client project offers opportunity to dive deep, “designing” for concentrated periods of time, there are also creative lulls. Even when project schedules align just so, creating a constant stream of making, it’s rare that the designer’s medium varies between, say, digital and analog.

So yeah, we set out the year determined to keep in shape.

My habit ain’t no habit, man, I do it on purpose.

Nelly Heart of a Champion, 2004

Creating the Habit

No doubt, we’ve been inspired by folks we’ve seen pumping out maker-y side projects for a while now. Tad Carpenter’s SUNday SUNS make us quite jealous, and fellow Upstate NY-er PJ Engel’s Resurrect Series had him sharing work on a daily basis.

And while creative exercise sounds good, without discipline, repetition, and accountability, it’s prone to fail. We started by committing to this idea of “making” to a schedule: once a week, alternating between Maribeth and me. This made for a reasonable constraint. Heck, it’d even give us dependable #content for social.

Better still, the idea that we’d be creating something on a regular basis was too good to pass up. Whether it ultimately turned into just an exercise or something far more interesting to repurpose as desktop wallpaper, drafting board fodder, or wall hangings, we were committed.

Selfies, But For Our Logo

Determined to keep the “what” of making simple, extendable, and meaningful, Maribeth suggested we home in on our logo. More specifically, the Helvetica “a”, which acts as the de facto abbreviated version, since our logo is solely type.

For an otherwise (intentionally) non-fussy typeface, the Helvetica “a” displays the most personality of the letterforms. Lucky us.

The format is to have the “a” as the centerpiece, but to modify it or its surroundings in refreshing ways, week by week. The challenge is to step outside of our respective wheelhouses by using different styles and approaches than we typically would on client projects. In fact, it didn’t take but two weeks before we dove into the analog world with snow sculptures and cookies.

We’re having a blast with our “a”, and we’re definitely feeling the burn, as they say. You can follow #adjacentays on Instagram.

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