As you have all seen, this blog was recently redesigned. I could not have done it if it weren’t for the talent and vision of Anoki Casey. Anoki is a graphic designer by trade, do gooder by free will. He is the brains behind Buddha Badges and Dharma Dots. He also recently redesigned the site of the Blogisattva Awards. No, these are not the name of Buddhist themed bands silly, there are fantastic online projects!
Recently, I e-mailed a quick Q&A over to my now good friend, Anoki, asking him to explain his background, the ideas behind the sites and well, just wanted to know a little bit more about the genius behind these projects. So without further ado…
PM: What’s your background in the graphic design field? How long have you been doing this?
Anoki: According to recent estimates, it seems I have been doing this for the last 14 years of my life. I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Graphic Design, and I work doing print, marketing, and web design for different non-profits, small businesses, and organizations. I’ve done this around the country in cities like New York, Philadelphia, New Brunswick, and now I do freelance in San Diego.
PM: Your work is definitely quite your own, has your signature all over it. What approach do you take when you come up with a design?
Anoki: Unknown! As a designer, my style has to take the shape usually of what the project at hand yields. It’s the do’s and don’ts and where’s and why’s that I’m in control of. I just have to allow myself to listen to the situation at hand and make myself available to adjust things when needed. However, I can say that I was an artist before I became a designer, and every artist develops a certain way to render things… especially people and faces. It’s natural.
PM: Program wise, which do you find to work the best for you and what programs do you prefer to use as your medium?
Anoki: Well, I’m very much stuck in Adobe land as I need to keep things standard for business, so I use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash. For web design, I do things by hand so I code using a simple editor. I guess my best program I use is the one hard-wired into my brain that turns inspiration into ideas. That one I got for free.
PM: Outside of the web, do you paint, draw,etc?
Anoki: The work I do on the web and for clients has necessitated me to put a lot of focus on digitally-rendered stuff, so my hand-drawn skills were the first to be put into hibernation. Every now and again I’ll pick up a pencil, but most of my external expression comes in some form of craft. Badges for example.
PM: Your work on the web is not only a job, but you donate quite a bit of time to some causes, specifically from a Buddhist angle. Your site Buddha Badges sells pins in hopes of raising money for different causes. How did you come up with this idea and how has it worked out?
Anoki: From a previous creative project I completed a few years ago I had a left-over badge making machine with only a few badges left. As it was sitting doing nothing, I wanted to put it all to some good use and going a Buddhist route was an obvious direction so it all pulled together rather nicely. Using overlapping imagery from different practices to keep in line with the juxtaposition and blending I see in many modern young Buddhists today, I sold a bunch of these little guys to raise enough to make more, start the site, and get things going. So far things are going great! Just sent in the largest donation BuddhaBadges has made to date and are about to have a major BuddhaBadges making session with volunteers from a local sangha.
Anoki: Dharma Dots is a daily Dharma aggregator website and Buddhist news feed hub created to highlight in one location the latest headlines, blogs, news articles, quotes, pictures, and websites of the online BuddhaDharma. Basically, on one page, it’s brings you a friendly, growing list of the latest daily news links of all things Buddhist and Dharma-related, touching also on world news topics, outreach, support, meditation, inspiration, and health. Presently there are about 31 “Dots” so far and growing, each having 6 articles updating daily and weekly.
PM: Delving a bit deeper in Buddhism, how long have you been practicing and do you follow any particular lineage/ tradition?
Anoki: Raised by wild hippies in the woods, I was brought up going through many different religious and philosophical practices as a kid. From Baptist to Hare Krishna, we practiced everything under the sun and came to Nichiren Buddhism for a while, which I thought was more fun than Sunday school. I liked the chanting and the stories. Some time in college I picked up on Buddhism again when I re-heard the story of Avalokiteshvara. I read tons and sat, was really into the Beat poets, “Free Tibet”… then it faded after graduation. Avalokiteshvara appeared again on a postcard to me on vacation, which prompted me to start sitting and reading again. After taking a trip to Thailand and Cambodia a while ago, it’s been non-stop. As far as a particular lineage, I’m some sort of Western Dharm-Mutt I guess. I’m not running toward any particular affiliation, nor have I ever felt a pressure to. Every tradition has things to learn from and are beautiful. But I do feel strongly for Shambhala and Dzogchen stuff. Zen is also very rad.
PM: Do you find the internet to be a valuable tool in spreading the Dharma to places it may not otherwise be exposed to?
Anoki: If I remember correctly even when I was in college I was able to find a healthy sampling of Dharmic information on the then-seemingly-new internet. As of late, the web has become a primary source for me to gather and disseminate all this good stuff, and I’ve met some really great people, like yourself, that I never would have had the chance to. Sure there may be a bit of electricity and wiring between the lot of us, but it’s the energy that’s exchanged that’s important. And I am thankful that the internet has become a platform—in whatever way—for people to find out more about what’s going on, who’s out there, and how to help.
PM: I asked another question here but was outright snubbed! Ok, so I wasn’t “snubbed” but maybe this Q&A was starting to strike a nerve. OK, so I wasn’t striking a nerve, Anoki just didn’t want to answer this question and THAT is the truth!
PM: Buddhist, and otherwise, where do you see the internet going in the future?
Anoki:Into your brain, man, directly into your brain. In 3-D. But before that, it seems to be going more mobile, more touchscreen, more application-centric, more online storage, more ways to connect, more ways to share. Which is all good, Buddhist and otherwise.
Thanks for the time Anoki, I hope I am able to draw a little more attention to the things you are involved with. Your work is highly appreciated by myself and others in the online dharma community!