One of These Things is Not Like the Other

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

[This post is a section from Dustin Triplett’s upcoming book, “By The Wayside”.]

Back in 2004, I found myself with an abundance of free time on my hands. Dropping out of school seemed like the smart thing to do – and it may have been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life – but it never felt very smart when I was bouncing my head off of the springy faux wood paneling of my solitary confinement.

If someone would have told me that I would be bored out of my mind, I never would have believed them, laughing in their face as I skipped away from my academic responsibilities and spiraled downward through the nine circles of boredom.

Eventually, in my apathetic existence, I stumbled upon some online gaming forums. They were linked to this social network called “Myspace”, which you may or may not have heard of. The incredible thing about Myspace, back in the day, was the user’s ability to make and customize forums (officially called “groups”) through means of basic HTML and CSS code manipulation. They didn’t know any better, but the open-ended nature of their platform planted something deep inside of me.

My interest in the creative arts of coding and design sprouted to life as I was lying in bed, sucking down Cheetos like they were a fluid. Something as simple as changing the HTML color code from “FFFFFF” to “FF0000” made all the difference in the world. What was once white was now red, drastically changing how my little corner of the Internet was perceived.

And just like that, I was addicted. I have no problem admitting my problems with addiction. Addiction takes many forms, it’s a part of all of us. I didn’t become a hardcore drug user, abusive alcoholic, or any other stereotype you can find outside your friendly neighborhood trailer park. I became a god damn code monkey of one of the most rudimentary programming languages known to man, but it kept me entertained. By today’s web design standards, I volunteered several thousand dollars’ worth of my time to “pimping out” my friend’s profiles, groups, and so on. It was never anything too impressive, even then, but all my friends thought I was the shit. At least I like to think they did.

The other day I found a remnant from Myspace’s ancient past. It was a logo I made for a weekly gaming show I had planned to feature in one of those groups I moderated. “This Week in Games”, the logo read in an italicized font from the bargain bin of a popular free font website, haphazardly aligned on a solid black circle with a ska-band influenced checkerboard background — to drive the point home that I didn’t know what I was doing. The left-hand edge of each letter was blurred to give the illusion of motion blur, of speed, of a design going nowhere fast.

The general premise of the show was to regurgitate the news into a video format that would fill people in on all the major happenings in gamer culture that they may have missed that week. Today that concept is done to death, but in 2006 it was revolutionary. I was a forerunner of what would eventually become an internet norm, but interest fizzled out. Not just mine, but that of my cohorts as well.

That logo – that goddamn logo – is atrocious. I have no problem admitting that now. As a creative individual, I’m a sensitive little flower, but criticism is something I welcome with open arms these days. I have no problem admitting my faults – and that logo has more problems than someone using Comic Sans on their resume.

As Bob Ross would say, “we don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Despite everything wrong with it, a part of me loves that logo. Yes, it is complete shit – but it’s my shit; something I created from nothing with no prior experience. The fact I was able to whip up anything at all without managing to burn down the house is nothing short of a miracle.

Resuscitating that logo from a hard drive previously pronounced dead was a “happy little accident” in itself. Upon its rediscovery, it taught me that every mistake has the potential to be the starting point for greatness. Of course, I have plenty of mistakes to go, but the the benefit of making those mistakes can already be seen in my work. I’ll continue to nitpick my work to death, but can’t help but feel proud of the things I create.