The End of Incubator.

After considerable thought I’ve decided to mark a completion to Incubator and embark on the next chapter in my journey – one that I call Territories:

It’s very clear now that what I have been going through can be best described as a “valley”, although the period (2007-2010) can be described in both the positive and negative:

The Bad relationship failure . shattered dreams . borderline personality disorder . abandonment . loss . depression . post-traumatic stress disorder . downsizing . monetary loss . depression . therapy . loneliness . isolation . breakup . negative feedback . extreme stress . panic attacks . internal conflict . analysis paralysis . miscommunication . poor decision-making skills . poor sense of self . lack of direction . life crisis . past self-realization

The Good design . values . industrial design school . sense of direction . renewed sense of self . peaks and valleys realization . education . graphic design . portfolio creation . advanced creative thinking . writing . photography . illustration . exercise . talent . strengths

As it relates to “peaks” and “valleys”, the following key points have been added to my personal “rulebook” (from the book with the same name):

  • The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times.
  • The wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times.

I may never forgive but I am ready to forget.

The Black Box.

Over the past two years, I’ve contributed more than 100 posts spanning over 600 different subjects.  For me, writing has given me the opportunity to think about ideas, events and people in new ways.  It has also allowed me to heal.

In some respect, Incubator has been a black box.  The inputs to this “black box” have been my experiences and ideas.  The resulting outputs could perhaps be best summarized via the tag cloud located on the right-hand side of the page; as of the date of this posting, “awareness” and “design” are the two most popular themes.

However, to boil the past two years into this discrete summary would do some injustice to my contributions to date.  Thus, I think it’s important to call attention to several key outputs:

  1. You haven’t believed in yourself as much as you’ve should.
  2. You have a lot of talent, but you are not using it to it’s full potential.
  3. You fail very slowly.
  4. You have trusted others to “make” decisions for you.

To take a lesson from books I’ve read, it’s perhaps more positive to state these outputs in a slightly different way:

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Maximize your talent.
  3. Fail quickly.
  4. Make your own decisions.

Of course, these are four outputs – summarizing down to one leaves the following:

You can do better.

Out of Body Experience.

Earlier this month I was involved in a fairly serious accident while playing basketball at my local gym.  The player, who I actually do not know, went up for a shot and I was unfortunately too close – expecting a rebound opportunity.  Three days ago I had surgery to repair the two facial fractures that had resulted in that unfortunate collision.

In some strange way, time seemed to slow down just milliseconds before the impact occurred.  My mind told me that I was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The resulting impact was perhaps the most pain I’ve experienced to date – and it’s one limit that I would rather not exceed anytime soon.  Immediately following the collision I knew something was truly wrong.  My jaw – actually my entire face – felt like it had shifted.  Something inside my face had moved out of place.

Once I was able to walk off the court, my fears slowly creeped in and by the time I had left the gym I was in tears – not because I was in pain (amazingly), but because I was afraid and very much alone.  Those feelings quickly escalated once I made it to a local medical center to have my injuries looked after.  I was unable to speak to the receptionist and tried desperately to get my feelings stabilized.  Feelings of strength and confidence can be quickly erased when trauma occurs, and this was proof positive of that.

Soon after being looked after and an X-ray taken, I went to the emergency room for a CT scan (computed tomography).  It was here where my mind transitioned into another place – a place where my situation became less about my fears and more about the technologies that would help diagnose my condition.

As I was rolled into the CT unit I focused my attention at the multitude of red lights that scanned over my face and the mechanisms that resided within the clear circular frame.  I listened to the whirring of mechanical servos as the scan progressed and smelled the “magnetic” air that was a surprising byproduct of the procedure.  While others can feel claustrophobic in such a machine, I felt strangely at peace.  I was able to focus my attention outside of myself and into the overall experience.

When the day of surgery arrived, my anxiety was minimal to none.  While I had my family’s support available to me, my mind was again placed outside of myself.  My mind focused on the logistics of the pre-op room, the personalities of the nurses who interacted with me, the IV inserted into my arm, the layering of wavelengths that displayed on the screen above me, and the intermittent alarm when my respiration levels dropped below “normal.”

For some reason, I wanted (needed?) this medical team to remember me as someone who was thankful, cool under pressure and empathetic – qualities that I strive to possess but do not always achieve.  I wanted to build perhaps the most important self-fulfilling prophecy of them all – a prophecy where feelings of positivity and confidence allow for a speedy recovery.

By its very nature, trauma forces the inflicted to slow down and process thoughts with greater intensity and focus.  Slowing down allowed me to step outside of my current reality and find ways to stabilize my emotions in a way that was natural for me.  Being able to find and fabricate a temporal world where I was able to gain some emotional and physiological stability allowed me to gain the strength I needed to move beyond this accident and procedure in a positive and constructive way.

Plus ca change Plus c’est la meme chose

My mom recently shared a few documents from when I was in nursery school and kindergarten many years ago.  These documents essentially provide a glimpse of my behavior and personality at that time.

As I was reading through the narratives, I was intrigued (actually – amazed) on the behavioral similarities between then and now.  In some strange way, these narratives confirm what this multi-year journey has shown me:

Who I believed I was is indeed who I really am.

Nursery School

  • Even tempered, tolerant and friendly, Adrian is well accepted by the group and usually involved with social play most of the morning.  He is willing to try everything and especially enjoys blocks, dramatic play, books and woodworking activities.[2011 Commentary: My professional career and personal interests have spanned numerous and diverse areas, and will likely continue to do so for the remainder of my life.]
  • He has marvelous ideas, but is easily distracted and remains only semi-involved much of the time. [2011 Commentary: Exclusive focus in one particular area is still, and will always be, a challenge.]
  • When approached by adults, Adrian is friendly, spontaneous; responds well to suggestions and directions.  On the whole, he appears to be independent and self-reliant. [2011 Commentary: Perhaps too much so.]
  • Adrian takes pride in whatever he makes in school, e.g. when he does a painting or art activity, he often informs us he is finished and proudly shows us his finished product.  He likes to make constructive things out of the materials e.g. airplanes (out of the nuts and bolts; odd pieces of wood), buildings or boats out of hollow blocks.  He likes to work in a group, rather than on an individual basis.[2011 Commentary: The showcasing of work will always expand, although I do most of my best work when working independently.]
  • Adrian has most of contact with Benjamin and Billy because they also spend a great deal of time in the hollow block corner. [2011 Commentary: Exclusivity in friendship and relationships is still the norm.]
  • If he feels uncomfortable after a disagreement, he usually moves onto a different activity. [2011 Commentary: I don't like conflict and I tend to focus my energies on something creative or positive when I am able to.  Incubator started with this core personality trait.]
  • He is very capable of expressing his thoughts and feelings through language. He enjoys talking to others about experiences he has or something he has just made. [2011 Commentary: My written ability to share these thoughts is perhaps stronger than my verbal ability although I hope one day this will change.]
  • New situations don’t upset Adrian.  He is flexible and adapts to whatever is taking place in the room.


  • He is particularly fond of block building and art.  Adrian is also quite creative with materials. [2011 Commentary: Scary! :-) ]

If you have similar materials from your childhood, perhaps one day you will go back and take a closer look.  The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” may hold true for you as well as it has for me.

AcD: Digital Specimens – Sphere

One of the benefits, not just of Modo, but among nearly all 3D packages is the ability to utilize procedural textures when surfacing a 3D object.  In layman’s terms, procedural textures are small mathematics-based routines that simulate such surfaces as wood, marble and other natural (and unnatural) textures.

One technique that I recently learned involves the use of gradients as an input to the variables behind the procedural texture.  When you alter the gradient curve, you end up with varying points of “contrast” which allows for some very interesting and creative textures.

The result of this experimentation is what’s shown here – something perhaps that could be found under a microscope in the digital age:


Digital Oils.

After spending a month in Modo, I decided to switch gears and experiment some in Corel Painter.  While my digital illustrations created in the summer of 2010 were created using Photoshop, I wanted to branch out into a true painting application.  While it takes some getting used to, I am really impressed with the digital oil brushes that are just a few of the tools contained within the application.

Being able to use “natural” digital mediums is extremely helpful when attempting to visualize a concept without introducing the complexity of 3D into the picture.  The combination of the Cintiq and Painter’s digital oil arsenal makes for a very fluid and rewarding workflow.

While my latest injury has taken me off the court for the long-term, it will not steer me away from running!  In the spirit of footwear design, I sketched two sneaker concepts using digital oils.  The first is one I call “Y-Axis” and the second “H2O” given it’s clear origins to water and fluid motion.

(Coincidentally, I started using Painter in 1999-2000, but quickly abandoned the program when a few of my early paintings became corrupt after the program crashed.  Ironically enough, while this version does not exhibit this particular issue, it is still problematic.  Frankly, I’m puzzled why this program is still plagued with issues – particularly after more than a decade of experience.)

AcD: ION Arcadia I (Early Prototype)

This is another (science-fiction) concept focusing primarily on composition and scale.  You’ll see this theme fairly often as I find it fascinating!  This concept is a spacecraft that is used primarily for human transport.  If under attack, the ship can actually break apart on its own and then regroup into a single entity once the intruder has departed.  The ship can also hover while on land and does not require explicit landing gear (as shown below).

This craft is part of a larger “ION” world I have been thinking about over the past several weeks and thus, I decided to create an early-stage logo to reflect this new environment.

To see the original renders and full set, please visit my digital illustration site at Ink.

AcD: ION Intelligence Compound

While I’ve utilized a similar “cloned cube” composition in this concept, this is the first time I’ve combined 3D elements with a 2D matte painting backdrop.  While neither of these elements was overly elaborate in its complexity, I’m pleased with the resulting composition and color palette.  You can see a few final concepts below (incorporated in Adobe InDesign), but head over to Ink to see the original scene along with the remaining stills.

AcD: Lost Souls

It’s amazing what you can do with such a simple scene such as the one I’ve created here.  Again, in these examples it’s about the composition and the “look” rather than a heavy emphasis on the underlying models.  I call this series “Lost Souls” as it is about the vast cityscape and the isolation of the individuals who remain here.  I always hesitate to alter the name of my creations as I like to stick with the name that I start with.

Interestingly enough, this scene probably would not have worked if I did not include smaller references of the woman within the scene.  The key is to utilize familiar elements, such as this person, elsewhere in the scene to suggest a sense of scale.

Can you locate the human in the second piece?  If not, check out the original here.