Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three sides to every story

I had a fun meeting with (hopefully) a future layout design client this week. He's getting close to finalizing a new layout space, excellent modeler, knows his prototype really well, has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish. And that prototype is new to me, fairly unique with a lot of character. All in all, a project I am genuinely looking forward to.

Generally, I think he and I share the same overall concept and vision of the layout. But even so, we have significant differences of opinion on the inclusion of some scenes over others. (Needless to say, the client always has the final choice, although I try to make my case well in the discussion.)

It is always fascinating for me to see how two relatively knowledgeable people can take the same prototype, givens and 'druthers, etc. and distill different visions of a layout. Our vision for a layout design is influenced both by the way we see and by the way we visualize -- two words that seem the same but are mirror images of one another.

His vision comes out of many years spent studying and admiring the prototype and designing his own earlier successful layout. There are towns and scenes he wants because he wants them. More justification isn't possible -- or necessary. Those towns are the sine qua non* of the prototype and region to him. At the same time, from my outsider's perspective, there are different towns and scenes that hold a particular appeal because they communicate something especially unique about the prototype. Well, and OK, a couple of them just fit better in the space.

There are three sides to this story: the historical reality of the prototype -- where it went and what it did; my client's heartfelt vision and visceral understanding of the line; and my own inclination toward choosing scenes that tell a unique story of the prototype and era (and oh by the way, will fit!).

The creative tension between these "three sides" of the story will ultimately result in a better layout. And selfishly, the challenge and reward in coordinating these many different elements is what makes layout design so much fun for me.

* from the Latin: "Without which, not; an indispensable condition"

My musical listening has finally moved back into this century with Steve Morse's Major Impacts. Morse is an incredibly gifted guitarist, beginning with the Dixie Dregs, then his own solo career, with some time out as "hired gun" guitar slinger with later-day incarnations of Kansas and Deep Purple. (Those two gigs alone tell you something about his range.) Major Impacts is unique -- Morse plays his own original tunes written and performed in the style of his major influences. Thus, there's a song in the style of the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, etc. (not covers, but original compositions). In a couple of interesting cases, Morse links some performers together in a single tribute, such as Jeff Beck/Alex Lifeson (Rush)/Eric Johnson. Listening to these multi-artist-inspired tunes is very interesting because one hears not only their influences on Morse, but on one another. And the Leslie West (Mountain) inspired tune sounds like Morse is channeling West's heavy licks note for note and tone for tone. Amazing instrumental virtuosity!