This post was submitted by Joel Eschenbach of Notion Design as part of my 30 Days of Thought Creative Writing Challenge.

Time is a measurement

It’s a tool that we use define the constant expansion of the universe. It puts a framework on something we don’t understand, a movement that never stops. Time is constantly pulling us forward, forcing us to change whether we like it or not. Time reminds us that we are headed somewhere and that we can look back and see where we’ve been.

We track time, we manage time, we try to control time, we try to make the best use of time. But like any other linear measurement system, it just tells us the same thing over and over. We say things like “time flew by” or “time stood still” – all the while knowing that time itself, the way we’ve defined it, hasn’t changed – just our perception of it.

“If we’re honest at the deepest levels, we’re afraid of time.”

– Joel Eschenbach –

Time is our frenemy

Time fights us every year. The older we get, the more we are aware that time is against us. When we were young, time couldn’t move fast enough… “I can’t wait until Christmas!”, “My birthday is only a week away!”… My kids are constantly asking me about future events and looking forward to time moving as fast as possible in their favor. But then at some point, we grow up and are faced with our mortality.

That’s when the quest begins. We begin fighting the curse of time on our bodies and minds. We work harder and faster, we try to eat better and workout, we invent all sorts of ways to trick ourselves into thinking that time has no affect on us. We discuss and fight over things like eternity, afterlife possibilities, and what happens after our lifetime is over to give meaning to time.

Time is a distraction

We’ve all had those moments (maybe more times than we’d like to admit) when we are here, but not here. When we are with the people we love but our mind is thinking about the future or the past. We time travel constantly in our minds. I think it’s part of the reason that time travel is so fascinating to our modern culture.

We think back to things we could have done differently in the past or, if you’re like me, constantly imagine the possibilities of the future.

Then, there are those other moments in life, the times when you are aware. When your mind/heart/soul/spirit are present and you feel and sense everything on a much deeper level. Cultures and religions throughout history have defined these experiences many different ways. Whatever you want to call it, being present in the moment is an amazing experience. It’s VERY HARD, but worth practicing.

Time has no beginning or end

Like a race, we sometimes think of time as having a start and a finish line. But really, it’s just that we started measuring time – and there may come a time when we stop measuring it. Even before the universe existed, time did – and long after us it will keep moving.

Our own lifetimes become the center of our personal universes. Even though we try hard to understand time and space objectively, at some point, it will always come back to our own lives. This is not a bad thing. It helps us define our existence. It gives us a way to think about our days that makes sense. It gets us up in the morning and tells us when to go to bed at night. It helps us classify and organize our experiences and gives us a measurable framework to look ahead to the future and cite from the past.

But, there might be something better than time…

What about rhythm?

The day begins, the day ends. The seasons come, then they go. There’s birth, then death. The leaves are green and vibrant and then they fade and fall to the ground. We breathe in and out. We work and play, strive and rest. We live and then we die. There is a rythym to everything.

What if we could view our lives and everything in our universe as a rhythm? Time has it’s place and is necessary, but rhythm… Rhythm gives us balance. It gives us a way to be present in the moment AND have times to think about the future. It allows us to stop obsessing about time and immortality and gives us the space to rest.

Our lifetime is a big metaphor for our small daily lives. We experience little deaths and new beginnings all the time, and rhythym gives us the assurance that the pendulum will always swing back again. What if instead of managing time, we worked towards a healthy rhythm in our lives? One that’s less defined by our phones and watches, but more defined by what’s important to us and others.

Time might be our enemy, but rhythm is our friend. The hope that even bad days will end and new ones will begin. The hope that years of difficulty will be followed by years of peace. The hope that pain is just one half of the story. We might measure our time in days, months, and years, but we measure rhythm in the back and forth, the push and pull, the give and take.

And, if the rhythm of the universe is true, we might find that when we reach the end of our time here, it might be just another beginning.

This post was submitted by Joel Eschenbach of Notion Design as part of my 30 Days of Thought Creative Writing Challenge.

Do you have something to say about time? Register for the challenge today, share your thoughts with us, and have your work featured right here on

Watch the creative prompt that sparked this conversation.

“In a world of fast-paced digital design, I fear that good old pencil thumbnails are being forgotten.”

Shawn O’Mara –

This article first appeared on the ocreations website. Read the original article here.

I have been in the field of graphic design for what seems ages, starting in 1990.  I have been a design student, graphic design instructor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, designer, art director and senior partner of ocreations design studio in The South Side of Pittsburgh.

I have always been a firm believer that designers need to be able to draw or bring their concepts to life on paper in order to sell their ideas to clients, art directors, designers, photographers and other people in the industry.  In the field of graphic design, the most important thing we are paid for are our original concepts. I feel that pencil thumbnails are the best and fastest way to take these concepts from inside your head to a format that others can view.

I wish I had $1 for every quick sketch on napkins, post-it notes, notebooks, notepads and desk calendars I did throughout the years. All of these super rough sketches are unleashed ideas. I honestly believe that if I waited until I developed them on a computer, they would either have been forgotten or become watered down.

If you are considered an artist or painter you are expected to be able to draw.  If you are a graphic artist you are also expected to be able to draw.  When you are labeled a Graphic Designer does that title make you exempt from the drawing portion of it? In my mind it does not.  I understand that the level of illustration and hand skills varies and that is ok. I personally do not believe that I am a fantastic illustrator but I know that I can still get my ideas across to people through my sketches.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s graphic design department hosts a meeting with industry professionals to hear what they would like to see more of in our graduate portfolios….

The answer now, more than ever, from these professionals is:

“We need to see more pencil thumbnails and original concepts.”

I personally was thrilled to hear this because it gave me support for my beliefs.

So for the non-believers who think the idea of pencil sketches is a thing of the past, here is where I feel they are a big help:

  1. Getting the idea out fast.
  2. For a designer to sell his ideas to an art director or team member.
  3. For an art director to give fast direction to a designer or copywriter.
  4. For a designer or art director to provide direction to a photographer or illustrator.
  5. For a designer to get on the same page fast with a client.
  6. To get the real idea on paper without the computer dictating your direction.
  7. To illustrate different concepts prior to computer variations on an approved concept.
  8. To keep the ART in Graphic Artist (sorry had to do it).
  9. To keep the client focused on the general concept and not allow them to get hung up on exact fonts, colors or images in the early stages.

I hope this endorsement helps sell my ideas and keeps pencil thumbnails alive.

If you are going to start doing pencil sketches or if you are already using them, here are some simple tips to consider:

  1. Keep your thumbnails in proportion to the actual size of the job.
  2. Use good contrast to allow things to POP.
  3. Do a good indication of type (serif vs. sans-serif, leading, justification etc.).
  4. If you do not provide a contact sheet for images, then do a tighter indication of the images on your thumbnails.
  5. Try different concepts to reach the client’s objectives and target market, not just variations of the same idea.
  6. Use a grid. This really helps on multiple page publications.
  7. For thumbnails of multi-page publications, show a cover and 2 spreads for each thumbnail set.
  8. Be original, be creative and have fun.

As the Senior Partner for ocreations I always practice what I preach and provide my designers, photographers and clients pencil sketches when needed. I hope that this post helps get the pencils back out in the field and keeps the ideas flowing.

Shawn O’Mara is the President and a senior partner of ocreations. A Pittsburg based design firm offering affordable graphic design and marketing solutions. To learn more about ocreations and explore more of their work be sure to check out their website and online portfolio.