Sans Coffee Café is what I would like to use to start developing my skills as a graphic designer, a developer, a leader, and most importantly: a student.
I graduated from San Jose State University in the December of 2020. Being in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t have a regular graduation, so school really just “ended” for me. I was never a great student to begin with, but I did what I could to learn and be present. I passed my classes, and even though I was dissatisfied with the overall degree I left the university with, I still will be able to take home the things that I learned from the experience of school.
One of the tenets that I like to refer back to is “Complacency is a disease”. While those words are harsh, it worked for me because it translated back to the fact that something can always be improved. There isn’t something that a person has created that can’t be developed, refined, or expanded. Some things do reach their prime, like (arguably) the crowbar or the Swiss pocket-knife, because they serve their purpose and use the means of the trade or the limitations of physics. But it is at that point where things can get better for the developers of those tools. Make something in a different form factor, add things, sell different variations.
You might not agree with the sentiment that you have to keep things moving forward when you’ve already reached a prime, but even so, the engineers and the designers behind the best products all had to take a significant portion of time, effort, and expertise to get to the finished iteration.
This is the philosophy I’ve observed on almost everything that has remained relevant in the internet age. I am not an expert by any means on pretty much anything that I will be doing with Sans Coffee Café, but I know that the moment companies stop making new products, or when an influencer or YouTuber stops making original or inspired content, they will be buried by the people who keep making and keep giving.
The most important thing at this stage is to keep things coming.
My biggest struggle when it comes to projects is the maintenance aspect. Historically, I have found it difficult to maintain a constant flow of new ideas and new concepts brought to fruition. My first goal with Sans Coffee Café is to make sure that there is something coming down the pipeline at all times. That is developing an organizational structure, staying motivated, and most significantly being transparent about the work that I am doing and how I am getting from point ‘A’ to point’ ‘B’.
I am familiar with tools like Asana and Monday, and with calendars, anything that will keep me organized. Maybe it is due to the nature of the project or how small each project ends up being, but I found it difficult to use these because they did not meet the needs I had for the project.
Looking from the beginning of the job, it seemed like organization apps like Asana and Monday were the key for me to get started. But looking back, it was just a piece of the puzzle. One thing I noticed both of those programs emphasized on was the team collaboration aspect of the project. My eyes were always drawn to the “Make a team” and “Share” buttons on the screen (maybe by design, or maybe because I secretly wanted a team to work with and use this app’s power to the full potential), but after the point where I would set up my tasks, there was nothing around that would keep me coming back to update these tools. I was introduced to Asana by my IT job at SJSU, and that showed me how the program can be used to keep a team on track. However, after working on my own projects, either alone or with people who’ve never used the programs, I saw how it can just be distracting from actually working on the next task. Ultimately, those projects died because of the lack of momentum, which takes me to the next point.
At the beginning of every project, there is always a constant flow of energy and ideas that never gets harnessed into the project itself. The energy and the desires of the project pester you like a bug and by the time you get to a computer or a notepad, the ideas are gone and your energy is depleted.
I’ve dealt with this issue SO often. I remember back in university where I wanted to do a music video project in my video editing class. I had this idea where I would record the footage I needed and then over the course of the semester, I would trace over the frames, scan over the drawings, and the final product would look like the Take On Me video, but with my own “artistic flare” to it.
So I am going to do some simple math for you, because this was the sequence of thoughts that would run through my head constantly:
The song I wanted to make the music video for was 4 minutes and 32 seconds long.
4:32 equates to 272 seconds.
I considered this animation, and the “rule of twos” essentially means there are 12 frames/drawings per second.
272 seconds times 12 drawings would mean there would be a potential maximum of over 3,264 drawings for the entire video.
3,264. I haven’t drawn that many pictures in my entire life.
In fact, I was (an am) a terrible drawer.
I am also a slow drawer, and like for many other things in my life, I overthink my every action and pen stroke.
So I — an inexperienced, slow, and terrible drawer — was going to trace 3,264 drawings within a semester of school? All while attending and fulfilling the requirements of all my other classes? That was going to be a huge challenge.
Needless to say that I did a total of zero drawings.
I shifted gears very late into the semester and did not deliver on this project. I passed the project and class, but at what cost?
I had gotten people I care about involved, and I had taken time to record the base layer of the film that I would trace over, but in the end, it would just not amount to anything. That lack of anything to show was not only embarrassing for me to the people I’ve involved and expensed my good-will with, but it was also demoralizing. I can’t look back at that project with a good heart because of how much time I wasted, not only for me but more importantly for everyone else who took the time for me.
That is my importance on staying motivated. I want to use Sans Coffee Café to discover what will keep my momentum going past the ideation phase. Sans Coffee Café itself is an idea, and I have more ideas to branch out Sans Coffee Café, but those will not happen without getting the motivation, which is why the last point is the most important part for me.
This is the approach to motivation I am taking. Money sunk into projects doesn’t do it, time spent doesn’t do it, and interest doesn’t even do it. I’ve always been relatively inactive on social media and posting things online, but this is something that I want to use Sans Coffee Café to change.
My goal for Sans Coffee Café is not only to improve my own skills as a creator, designer, developer, and a leader, but also to see if that would help someone else along the way. I feel like transparency and finding the answers to my questions may help someone else who is in my shoes.
Sans Coffee Café is essentially therapy for me at this beginning stage of… whatever this is. I need it and I need to keep it going. I want to get to a point where I can involve other people with my personal projects again, and also develop the skills I need to be “good” at what I do by the time it matters, whether it is with a more refined Sans Coffee Café, or it is with a client or business that is willing to pay me.
The transparency will allow me to admit that I fail at something, and take the time to find out how I can improve from that failure. I am not looking for an audience, but I feel that if an audience were watching, it would make me need to do better.
This transparency will also allow me to put literally everything (non-compromising) that is related to Sans Coffee Café up online, including mission statements, or branding jobs, development progress, content creation, and all the problems I have along the way. The point is to keep creating, keep developing, and most importantly:
The mission of Sans Coffee Café is to always create an environment where I have to learn something new to make something new. Considering my perfectionist personality, that will come in time. But with Sans Coffee Café, my goal is to make it something that is the accumulation of my efforts, of the trades I have practiced, and of the skills I have built. Ultimately, I want Sans Coffee Café to be greater than the sum of its parts, where everything works together to make more than just a series of projects.
So I hope you stick along for the ride. I have a lot to learn, and I hope that I can learn from you, from the world around me, and the experiences I have along the way.
If you would like to keep up to date with this journey…
I would like to encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter and visit sans.coffee. As I am just starting out, I don’t even know how often I will be making the newsletter, or if it will even stick, but the point of it is for me to learn to be better at “Sans Coffee Café”, and I will assume that this will help in some way.