I   W A N T   T O   B E   B E T T E R 
David Smith, designer at The Blksmith Design Co. & Benny Gold

This week, David Smith (@theblksmith) tweeted a very simple phrase which seemed to cut through the massive amount of banal encouraging statements flooding my feeds these days.   

I want to be better.

It’s a simple, straight-forward, and perhaps even assumed mantra of the designer.  We do what we do, time and time again, to be better at what we do.  Be it illustration, logo design, painting, or even playing the harmonica, we traverse the never-ending pathway that doesn’t ever seem to have a destination, only a beginning.  

So before I get too melodramatic, David’s tweet reminded me that I need to start.  Start somewhere, anywhere, but I need to start, if I’m going to get better at my craft.  From my early days in Architecture school, displaying my work thrusted me into a vulnerable place - after all, my designs are reflection of me and my ideas.  To hang them on a wall, open to criticism and mockery, can be difficult.  I guess I never lost those insecure feelings of my abilities and my ideas.  But as I wrote earlier, I need to start.

As I thought about what first piece or series of works I would document for people to see and hopefully journey along with me, I couldn’t bring it any closer to home.  I’m fortunate (at least in the winter months) to live in Phoenix.  While the city is relatively young, it did experience an explosive growth in the 1950s, leaving behind beautiful representational works of architecture from my favorite era in American history.

This is where I start - selecting various buildings from around the Valley of the Sun to illustrate, and display…who knows, maybe I’ll get a wild hair and sell them if there’s some interest.  Some buildings may be designed by famous architects like Al Beadle or Ralph Haver, others may be like the bank I see almost every Sunday that just has an attractive form to it.  However these pieces work out, my hope is to show some of the known and hidden gems around my town.  I mean, isn’t showing off your home, one of the most vulnerable things a person can do?!

james (jp) tanner