Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Bankers Box

March 2009

Bankers Box is a brand name for those cardboard storage boxes business people use to keep 1) old files that the IRS says must be retained for however many number of years, 2) seminar notes that they’ll never refer to again but can’t seem to throw away because the binders are so nice, and 3) general everyday clutter that they swept into a box because some Big Cheese dropped by for a surprise office inspection.

Note: Said Big Cheese preaches that an organized desk reflects an organized mind because he (no offense, boys, but I haven’t met a she-Cheese who fits this description) doesn’t have any real work to clutter his desk and is thus free to annoy the staff with unannounced visits.

Compulsive Hoarder or Unrealized Artist?
When I packed up my office in June 2008, I filled 25 boxes with 17 years of this very important aforementioned “stuff.” These boxes joined the 32 boxes already residing in my garage to form a 57-box heap. It’s an embarrassing problem that I am trying to deal with and one that worries my dear friend Iris who periodically sends me notes, articles, and books on decluttering my life. (I haven’t had the heart to tell her that her notes, etc. all end up in the garage, and therefore increase the clutter, but that’s another issue.)

I don’t think the Mt. Everest I’ve built represents some unacknowledged mental illness because the rest of my house stays in pretty fair order. I do think, however, it has reflected my inability to say with certainty that I know what I want to do with my life. I mean, don’t we all cultivate multiple options when we’re just not sure where our paths will lead? So, how can I throw things away when there’s a chance I might need them?

The Foggy Idea That Comes in Week Six
Week one in InDesign ends with the class finding, saving, and modifying images to use in our eight-page artists’ books. Week two finds us learning how to use master pages, pairing images and fonts to best communicate a given word or concept, and testing varying resolutions in color and gray scale. By week three, I’m still thinking marketing and graphic design and have written a note in my sketchbook that reads, “Second career: CEO of Stone Bishop?” Stone Bishop is the name I’ve chosen for my business should I toddle in that direction. Marketing company names seem to fall into one of two camps: “clever” or “staid,” with “staid” always being a series of law firm-like names. Figuring that my potential clientele are likely to be financial industry companies and not skate board manufacturers, I choose “staid.” Since it’s only me, no partner, I select a second name that is geographical. I would have chosen Stone Pacific except that I’m not planning to sell tile.

The fourth and fifth weeks reflect InDesign basics and we start to design magazine covers. Mine is entitled, “Art & Books,” and features a front page photo of JK Rowling. Not particularly original, but more original than the handful of porno rags some of my classmates are working on. All the same (and apparently 19-year old boys are), the principles of good layout hold true whether the centerfold is Miss February or an article on organizing your library.

And then comes the foggy idea. It’s week six and we have two projects: one is a tri-fold brochure, the other a layered art piece constructed of multiple pages with portions cut away to reveal parts of the undermost layers. I whip through the brochure project—my Photoshop skills are still a little amateurish, but my layout is crisp and easy to understand. Brochures are a breeze (how many have I created over the course of my career?) and I’m totally bored.

The layered art piece seems much more intriguing. I put a spiral staircase in a brain so the viewer can descend through the human mind in the same way he or she would move from floor to floor at a major department store. First floor, psychoses and Belgian chocolate…

You Are Here, Digital Art, 8" x 14" (2009)

Thinking Outside the Bankers Box
We never realize how structured we are until we step outside of our boxes. (In my case, a bankers box.) In the movie Logan’s Run, life seemed pretty good until Michael York discovered what really happens to 30-year olds. Whether it’s a renewal ceremony or company awards banquet, the outcome is the same: conformity.

It was the beginning of March 2009 and I was just starting to understand that I was making a choice. I was venturing outside into the unknown wilderness that is Sanctuary.


  1. Wow - there is just too much for one comment - and I, too, have had too many bankers' boxes in the past - had shredding truck take over 40 one day last year - and that was the SECOND time...

    Insofar as the brain and the staircase - that idea is most thinking on it and will discuss further - soon.

  2. I love the brain and staircase. I also love "When a Door Closes." I have explained a new awakening many times to my friends as "walking through the window." It's as it you never thought of the window as an acceptable method of exit until that point and once you went through it you never see the world the same way again. Needless to say, I've walked through a few windows. I'm glad to see that you have had the experience as well.

  3. When we critiqued this piece in painting class, I explained to my 19-year old classmates that I had spent as much of my life going through windows as doors. I mean, didn't John Lennon say that life is what happens while you're making other plans? I think they understood--after I explained who John Lennon was, of course!

  4. I voted "no" on the removal of fig leaves because I think the fact that they were placed says a lot about the social mores of the time and how far we've come. I have no problem with nudity of any kind and think it's fairly silly the importance we put on covering the human body when everyone of the same gender has the same thing.

  5. I agree, Barb! I also voted "no." I don't think we should rewrite history to modern standards. The fig leaves represent a point in time that needs to be recognized. I likewise have no problem with nudity in art (although I will have to state that I think there's a lot of gratuitous nudity in art) and think the fig leaves shouldn't have been put there in the first place, but I still wouldn't remove them.