The Lifelong Traveler

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Linus Lee

The more I engage with business, technology, and design, the more I come to realize how helpful the arts is as a form of self-expression and a hobby. Although I've become less of an artist per se with time, I still enjoy the occasional brushstroke or arpeggio from time to time.

What we hear

I compose primarily on the piano. I've dabbled in composition through some of my other instruments like the flute and the cello, but I come back to the keys because of my familiarity with it. I can sit down and write notes on a staff, but I mostly improvise, because I find that improvisation minimizes distraction. In the middle of a piece, I lose myself behind my closed eyes, my consciousness only lightly resting my fingers. It's a feeling I can't find anywhere else, and it's a moment of escape I love.

I generally don't perform professionally, unless you count the occasional paid gigs for friend and family. But I'm planning on releasing an EP of original piano music at some point in the next year.

What we see

"When you think about how people communicate, it's visual first. We should all be fluent communicating with images." - Georg Petschnigg, Fiftythree

Georg Petschnigg is one of the founders of Fiftythree and one of the creators of the iPad app Paper, a beautifully designed drawing and note-taking tool. As he says, in our culture, there's an unreasonable imbalance in the way in which we emphasize math and science over the arts. And even within the arts, the visual arts is perhaps the least appreciated form, below literature and the performing arts. I don't really understand why that is. It's the one form of arts that's the easiest to get started with and the one with the lowest barrier of entry, and yet, it's also the most ignored way of expressing human emotion and thoughts. The beautiful thing about visual arts is that unlike literature, which depends on mutual understanding of a language*, or music, which depends heavily on personal taste and proficiency, art is almost completely universal. Literally anyone can create and appreciate the visual arts.

Paper by Fiftythree, one of the best all-around drawing apps for iPads.

In that way, drawing and painting are universal languages of sorts. We can do with colors and shapes what we can never do with a pattern of symbols across the page. That's what fascinates me about drawing -- that it can be both simple an accessible, and still be a powerful tool of expression.

I mainly draw abstract things, with the biggest excuse being that nobody can actually accuse me of being inaccurate when I draw imaginary structures**. In all honestly, though, I like abstract structures because I'm not limited by what I already know on what I can create. On actual paper (as opposed to a digital canvas), I use anything that's available, whether that be a pencil, a sharpie, or some colored pens. A lot of them end up involving repeating patterns of closely packed lines and some half-three-dimensional squares. Regardless, a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, so I have a collection of my doodles in the Gallery, for whatever you may want to do with them.

The other half of the time, I use my iPad, simply because it eliminates having to set up and clean up afterwards when dealing with more complex tools. I use Paper, and I've started to get used to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, although that's taking some time with its steeper-than-normal learning curve. One of the things I love the most about Paper is that it gives you the ability to use realistic tools without all the mess that come with actual paint and brushes. The algorithms in the app are phenomenal in eliminating hand jitters and emulating the precise look of a real brush/pencil/pen or whatever the tool may be. It's a different kind of a working environment, but I like it.

What I like about drawing is that it can accomodate an incredible range of skill levels. Literally anyone can pick up a crayon and make a doodle, but it also takes much more to find that perfect balance, color, or place for the perfect stroke or line. It's like an infinite puzzle, where you don't know what it's supposed to look like until it's finished. And I usually end up having lot of fun in the process.

* Incidentally, language is one of the most complex tasks any brain, artificial or biological, can participate in.

** Cue laugh track after lame joke --