Monday, July 22, 2019

Kiefer, Instagram Influencers & Tokyo 2020

Weekly Update 2019-26: Super-cute snobless jazz from Kiefer, the unprecedented power of Instagram Influencers and the brand for Tokyo's 2020 Olympic Games.

Music: Kiefer
Fresh outta last week's Inspiration comes my new favourite alternative jazz sensation Kiefer. Los Angeles based Kiefer Shackelford has been slowly but surely erasing the snobbery associated with jazz and basically just doing his thing with a piano, some drum tracks and a bit of synth. It's perfect music for rainy days, doing the dishes or walking your dog down a tree-lined sidestreet.

I have a bittersweet relationship with networking events, but I do really appreciate the way BrainStation ran their summer event to celebrate their teaching staff. I don't get the chance to meet with my fellow faculty too often, and it was lovely to learn more about the backgrounds of my "team". I also completed the marking for my third semester - which always comes with a sigh of relief. It's a lot of work and I try to give students as much actionable feedback as I can.

BrainStation hosts their events in a really cool outdoor space downtown.

After a very long wait since buying tickets last Winter, this past weekend was the 90s Nostalgia Music Festival. I was super excited to attend with Larissa, since we grew up with all the bands at this show. Aqua, Prozzak, (some of) S Club 7, Right Said Fred and my personal favourite Vengaboys. Larissa even got her wish to do the special dance during Aqua's Dr Jones, and some strangers even joined in! The power of music is limitless.

With June comes Toronto's annual Pride Parade, and this was the first year I was able to attend. Not only that, but TDot Batu was asked by Via Rail to perform and march in the parade as well. So for my first year, I ended up experiencing the parade from the middle of it all. What an amazing display of love, acceptance, bright colours, and smiles. I tried to look every audience member in the eye and smile at them to share in the joy of the day.

As a bonus, Kaylin marched in the parade with me the whole time! Super special.

The Pride spirit continues with a Pride-themed meetup on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It'll be held at Connected's office, which I'm pretty excited to see in addition to all the great content and speakers.

Some of my band will be postering down Dufferin Street for our upcoming show next Sunday, and having a drumming bbq to celebrate summer. For this reason, I'm going to make a lot of salads. I kind of forgot how great it is to make simple summer salads to eat, Winter really brainwashed me into thinking casseroles are the only easy food to make. If I try to turn my oven on anytime between Canada and Labour Day, my kitchen might burst into flames.

Random Thought: Instagram Influencers
With the introduction of Instagram into our daily lives (Instagram or it didn't happen), there is a very special subset of people who use Instagram for their main source of income. These influencers are able to obtain many things for free that us "normal people" would have to pay for - food, hotel stays, air fare, admission to events, the list goes on and on. Yes, it is a form of advertising for the businesses that provide these goods and services, but things have gotten a little out of control when these influencers are demanding them for free.

It's no better than when people offer creatives "exposure" in lieu of actual payment for their services. Will exposure pay my rent, or keep my lights on, or put food in my fridge? No, it won't. Take a look at the email received by a hotel manager in Dublin, Ireland.

Of course, this request was not accepted and the hotel has now placed a ban on any and all influencers staying at their hotel. Have these incessant Instagram trends gone too far?

It reminds me of how a Canadian sunflower farm began to promote themselves as an Instagram attraction, only to have their fields ruined in a matter of weeks by disrespectful visitors trying to get the perfect photo.

Everyone wants a cool photo for their Insta profile, but at what cost? Maybe it's all about perspective and taking advantage of the situation for travel businesses. For example, Bali has promoted itself as a luxury travel destination for influencers with its famous jungle rope swings. My friend who visited told me that the photos make it seem much more beautiful than reality; people are waiting in line at each swing to take the same picture as everyone before them, and not really enjoying the nature or the country itself.

Looks can be deceiving.

At least new spots like Toronto's Happy Place have cropped up - allowing Instagrammers to do their thing in a place made especially for them. Yep, you can now pay admission to enter a building where you basically stand in lines waiting to take photos of yourself and your friends in kooky, artsy scenarios. They do make for excellent eye candy and don't require special photography equipment, and I suppose no natural sights are being ruined in the process, so maybe this is the future of Instagram travel. I wonder if they waive the admission fee for Instagram accounts with lots of followers. 

Inspiration: Tokyo 2020
With all the hubbub surrounding the Olympics, I always take a little joy in seeing how the branding of each new season will be designed. Here's the official logo for Tokyo 2020:

There are many rules and guidelines that must be followed in creating the logo; constraints are a designer's best friend of course. But in this case, an unofficial logo has been sweeping the internet with its simple style and ingenious use of the five Olympic rings:

Designed by Daren Newman, it's quite ingenious and beautiful in its use of the rings the complete the year 2020, as well as the red circle paying homage to the Japan flag. I certainly prefer this logo over the official one, though there are certainly some design rules that have been broken here. You can check out the official brand guidelines here.

It's a wonderful exercise in simplicity, but a perfect example that designing without brand guidelines or real-world constraints can lead to unrealistic outcomes. Even beyond the design of the logo itself, this has brought up an interesting discourse in the online design world over the value of designing without constraints.

Yes, this logo is beautiful and perfectly balanced, but if it doesn't meet the brand guidelines for the Olympics, how successful can it really be?

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