Ray Masaki

In the middle of a crosswalk, I expanded a balloon

In the middle of a crosswalk, I expanded a balloon is a collection of essays paired with visual experiments created as a way to navigate the ways in which I contend with running my own design practice. Over my career, I’ve absorbed and normalized many unhealthy behaviors and habits, and this book is a collection of my attempts at wading upstream and fighting these ingrained tendencies.

In the past, I’ve treated others transactionally. I’ve put my work before my own mental and physical health. I’ve at times placed advancing my career over friendships and relationships. I’ve done numerous projects for ethically dubious clients just to be able to have a cool brand or company added to my client list.

I don’t necessarily think that’s who I am as a person, and some of those actions were out of necessity to make ends meet, but a couple years ago I became frustrated with myself and felt lost. Up until that point, my career had always taken such a priority in my life, so when I finally came to the personal conclusion of how meaningless it all felt, it was as though I no longer had a compass to guide me in a direction I wanted to go in.

In the middle of a crosswalk, I expanded a balloon was started not as a way to repent about my past or about finding a better way to pursue my career necessarily, but as a way to come to peace with the uncontrollable, care about myself more, and rekindle some of the joy that I had lost. The writing doesn’t provide any answers, toolkits, or solutions, but I hope that it does offer some sincere and honest ways to reflect and question one’s relationship with work.

Ray Masaki is a designer, writer, and educator based in Tokyo, Japan. He teaches at the Professional Institute of International Fashion in Shinjuku, and runs design studio RAN.

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