100 Days is an annual project at New York City’s School of Visual Arts that was founded by Michael Bierut. Each year, the students of the school’s Master’s in Branding Program spend 100 days documenting their process with a chosen creative endeavor. This year, we’re showcasing each student in the program by providing a peek into ten days of their project. You can keep an eye on everyone’s work on our SVA 100 Days page.
Our identities result from an endless juxtaposition of abstract ideas and beliefs that condition our behavior and human experience. With self•labels, Gabriel Porras peels away a hundred of those layers in an attempt to uncover what lies beneath. He deconstructs the labels we use to define ourselves in regards to age, body, class, gender, intellect, lifestyle, and more to build an introspective pathway toward the human essence. He presents this exploration as a minimalist cabinet of curiosities, where each curated object comes to life by embodying one of the many facets of the self.
Gabriel is a multidisciplinary creative currently based in Melbourne, Australia. He is interested in crafting provocative stories to challenge cultural conventions and exploring the social constructs that define and condition the human experience. He has recently worked on multiple projects and campaigns for brands such as Virgin, Audi, Volkswagen, and Qantas.
Young at Heart
If you think and act like young people, and are active with lots of energy, you are Young at Heart. And according to Sinatra’s song, “Fairy tales can come true… if you’re young at heart.” But whether or not you believe in fairy tales, how can our age define how we think or act?
When it comes to relationships, nothing is sweeter than a Sugar Baby. The label originated in the Roaring 20s, referring to young individuals who are financially supported in exchange for companionship or “intimacy.” On the other hand, there have been many examples of couples with a significant age difference since the dawn of time. So why is it that with this label, beyond trying to apply moral judgments about people’s interests, are we trying to establish what is the acceptable age gap between two adults who are in a relationship? Is that any of our business?
Person of Color
Color has the strongest attention effect on our perception. Perhaps that is why we have put so much effort into creating so many labels that attempt to define and classify the human race by its different shades of color. One of the latest and most politically correct is Person of Color, which attempts to group everyone except Caucasians into a single category. Many believe in this term as a source of identity, but I can’t help but wonder why we need to use it. What is the advantage of this type of labeling? Aren’t we perpetuating a dominance system by validating it and making it our own? And isn’t that use of language conditioning us to behave in a particular way? Beyond the color of our skin, why can’t we focus instead on our true colors, the ones we all have, and the ones that are the doorway to authentic and meaningful connections?
Beach Babe describes a beach lover who enjoys beach activities such as surfing, boogie boarding, long walks, skimboarding, swimming, and sunbathing. It also can infer a particular gender (female), age (young), and appeal (attractive), which subliminally, ultimately gives the label a reason to be. In the ’90s, TV shows like Baywatch broadcasted this idea into the collective consciousness, influencing people’s expectations about body types, behaviors, and attitudes associated with just being at the beach. But once those associations are made in our minds, how can we undo them?
In the consumerist society, being Wealthy is synonymous with success. Although the term refers to having the freedom to do what you want with your time, we associate it more with having the power to buy a limitless array of material things. The ideals of freedom and abundance are almost instinctive in us, but achieving them through consumption is a more recent concept that is not necessarily that fulfilling. And as we are constantly bombarded from all fronts with messages that perpetuate these associations, how successful can we truly be at seeing that the source of true freedom and abundance is within?
Almost all of us have a digital presence, so using it to create a flexible, lucrative career built on aspirational content that can connect and persuade an audience presents itself as an alluring possibility. That possibility has manifested into the Influencer, one of the most sought-after digital occupations amongst young people. Influencers have fashioned a new class of celebrity that has affected other industries, such as sports and filmmaking. But as this type of influence is built on constant comparison with the idealized versions of others, it can also distort our perceptions and world views. So as we pursue our need for self-expression and connecting with others, how can we also cultivate our self-esteem in a way that can keep us from falling into the social media conditioning trap?
Androgynous is a word used to describe someone who engages freely in what is seen as masculine or feminine behaviors through their gender identity and gender expression. They have the characteristics of both men and women, and may subvert those roles within the realms of established social expectations. People who identify as Androgynous tend to disregard the culturally constructed traits specific to males and females, and instead focus on what behavior is most effective within the situational circumstance. The Androgynous look has been gaining more prominence in popular culture in the West and Asia, as depicted in K-pop, J-pop, anime, manga, and the fashion industry. But beyond the looks, how can we all see our gender expression beyond the socially constructed dimension to behave more freely and authentically?
Silly describes a lack of common sense, judgment, frivolous, trivial, or superficial attitude. In television, film, and the circus, Silly characters such as clowns and jesters portray these traits in exaggerated, funny behaviors to amuse audiences. Silly, therapeutic clowns work in hospitals and deliver positive cognitive, physiological, social, and emotional effects on patients. Beyond the proven outcomes of humor as a form of therapy, perhaps having a Silly attitude can also empower us by helping us take ourselves less seriously and navigate life’s challenges with more empathy towards ourselves. But how can we be more aware of this superpower, and use it to our advantage when we most need it?
Vegan describes someone who follows the diet or philosophy of abstaining from using animal products. Dietary Vegans refrain from consuming any animal-derived substances, while Ethical Vegans also oppose using animals to avoid the cruelty and exploitation inflicted on them. Environmental Vegans also avoid animal products based on the damaging and unsustainable effects of industrial animal farming on the environment. Veganism has been steadily rising at an accelerated rate, which shows how many people’s environmental concerns and compassionate attitudes are becoming top of mind. If we understand what is triggering this shift in our basic human motivations, could we apply those learnings to other areas of our lives for our common good?
Yuppie is an acronym for “young urban professional,” or “young upwardly-mobile professional.” The label came out in the early 1980s to describe young professionals who worked in the city. At its inception, it began as a relatively neutral demographic term, but by the mid-to-late 1980s, the term began to be used pejoratively due to concerns over issues like gentrification. Yuppies have appeared in numerous films and portray a lifestyle of excess that gravitates around the fetishization of wealth and consumption. Although today’s young generations are broadly less concerned with those ideas and values, many still see the Yuppie status as synonymous with success. So how can we help shift the cultural discourse from economic growth as a measure for individual and collective progress to incorporate metrics that gravitate around a holistic human/environmental wellbeing?