Wabi-sabi Aesthetic

Illustrated Icons

Aesthetic taste is subjective.  Two people may stand in an art gallery looking at the exact same exhibit and have completely opposite experiences; and yet neither of them are incorrect in that which they feel.  There are no universal rights or wrongs when it comes subjective perception, just different experiences.

With that in mind, I would like to speak a bit to what I appreciate.  As an artist, my personal preferences don’t always align with the dominant ones.  Currently, a popular trend is absolute perfection.  In life, perfection is an unattainable ideal; fixation upon which leads to inevitable disappointment.  However in the world where we can utilize computers to create perfect vectors and graphics, it is now possible to attain it on a small scale.  But, is this beautiful?

Again we hit a point where our answer to this question is subjective.  Often it is one we only subconsciously answer in the form of a positive or negative reaction.  As creators however, I believe it is important to consider these things more consciously.   Only then can you develop your own unique vision and style.  Only then can you move beyond being a trend follower to doing something truly unique.

Back to the idea of perfection.  Personally, I find perfection to be incredibly boring.  To me, a zen circle smeared in paint has so much more character than a perfect circle created by a mathematical formula.  I see beauty in imperfection.  Imperfection is the detail that sets something apart.  Imperfection hints at an underlying story of its very existence.  Imperfection is something to appreciate rather than loathe.

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese concept of appreciation and acceptance of imperfection and impermanence.  It is seeing the beauty of a handmade ceramic cup.  It is the melancholic ache evoked in the seclusion, imperfection, and frugality of Japanese gardens.

I subscribe to this concept, and with it in mind I am designing my next mobile application to include many human imperfections.  Graphics will be images scanned from an illustrator’s pen and paper, to be put together to form an interface more reminiscent of working on a pad of paper than a phone.  It is nearing completion (expect more information and an October 2014 release) and I can honestly say that even just the app icon really stands out on the iTunes’ store.  I can’t say how someone else might react to it, but to me it is beautiful and refreshing.  I eagerly look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Pictured above: A glimpse of some rough scanned illustrations for an upcoming app named Idea Spark