On this blog, we talk about how Design can do many things — improve business, communicate with the masses, or entertain us — but one thing we haven’t discussed lately is the more personal side. Design can build lives just as it builds businesses. I’ve watched many around me struggle to survive in jobs they hate, while I get paid a semi-comfortable salary to do something I enjoy and truly believe in. I’ve also found Design is a great way to give back to the community, too.

This started as a conversation between Amber and I at the latest AIGA Jacksonville Cocktails & Creatives, and others got dragged in as they passed by (Jessi, Russel, Ron and a few others). I’ve started this post in the hope they and others would type up their stories, too.

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5 Responses
  1. Lisa C

    I always loved art and computers, but… I didn’t think I was good enough to make a living at either, and it never occured to me there was anything in common between the two. I spent most of high school thinking of going into architecture, because it was the only “creative” job I could find.

    I slowly discovered graphic design in my senior year, mostly through a recruiter from a two-year art school in Miami. She gave us a logo quiz during one of her visits (guess the company by their logo with the name removed; I tied for first place out of all the art classes all day), and then later she invited a few of us to a weekend at the school where I was introduced to Page Maker and Photoshop.

    About a month before school started, I realized I couldn’t find enough scholarships or financial aid to go to any of the private art & architecture schools I had been accepted at. I decided I’d go to UF with the in-state money I qualified for, because they had a well-respected architecture program. Three weeks before classes started, I drove to Gainesville with a friend to register. As we walked to the architecture building, I saw the art complex right next door. I asked my friend if we could stop to talk to the art advisor. Turns out, they had a well-respected graphic design program, too. I signed up for a semester of art classes on the spot. I never made it to the architecture building.

    My parents were bewildered and confused when I got home, but they always supported my love of art when many other parents didn’t, so they weren’t angry. About two years ago, after working in the field for four years, my mom and I talked about the “sudden” change. To me, it seemed gradual and natural, but I guess I never really discussed it with anyone around me, so they surprised at the time.

    However, my mom told me a story that had helped her make sense of it all. As I very small child, I always knew which store we were at, what kind of cars I saw in the parking lots, or what brand of food or clothing we had in the house. I couldn’t read, but I always recognized logos everywhere we went, and happily entertained myself and those around me by identifying them.

    If I believed in destiny, I’d say I had one with design.

  2. J. Douglas

    I remember our first computer well. A Tandy 1000 with 256K of RAM of memory and a cassette tape drive. Floppy’s weren’t out yet. I drew a map of our neighborhood using MS-DOS characters. I also loved to dial in to my local BBS, sort of an early internet Web site. Around the same time I got into comic books, and began drawing the characters, well tracing them really, because I was never as good as my friends.

    As high school came to a close, I found myself lacking direction and my only interest beyond skateboarding was art. Of course everybody knows you can’t make a living as an artist. So I decided to pursue this career called commercial art, which I realize today is illustration. After 2 years of attendance in a liberal arts college in Virginia, I decided to move on to a school that had a “graphic design” program, because the school I was attending was still teaching the methods of pasting up mechanicals and I had heard that designers were starting to use computers.

    After a brief hiatus at a community college, I started at Flagler College in St. Augustine. It’s there I learned about design principles and the power of ideas. They had a Mac lab and at the time was running the top-of-the-line Macintosh LC with a 2mb hard drive. Adobe Illustrator, and realized that for the first time that tracing was an acceptable and even encouraged practice. Booyah.

    I had an epiphany. What type is to design, paint is to canvas. Say, I can do this…

    Then I joined AIGA. Attended conferences Met design heros. Formed a visual language and aesthetic. Graduated and got a job. Got fired and started my own company.

    Now I draw maps, trace stuff and create BBSs.  You know, commercial art.

  3. Jaxopolitan

    Everything printed in the newspaper is crap.

    Crap crap crap.

    At least, that’s how I felt about my high school newspaper.

    I decided that I could either sit around and shout “crap!” repeatedly six times a year, or I could join the newspaper staff and make it Better. Stronger. Faster. Rebuild it. My high school newspaper was my Lee Majors.

    After a short while, though, my attention span started to fail me. I started turning in articles later and later. I spent hours in front of the computer screen, but it wasn’t in Word. It was in Pagemaker and Photoshop.

    Eventually I was named Graphic Designer.

    Adn then it was time for college. I had to stay in FL to keep many of my scholarships. I desperately needed to get out of Orlando.

    Flagler College. Saint Augustine. A caffine-powered booze-filled sprint through the design program.

    Four hours of sleep per night was considered a luxury. Late to class? Carry two coffees: one for yourself, one for the instructor. Fill up credit hours with studio assistant time, so you don’t have to take classes that distract from your book. The ultimate rush for a Type A personality.

    That being said, everything printed in the newspaper is crap. But at least it’s a little prettier.

  4. Anonymous

    Well it all started in middleschool using Kid Pix on my moms 2E, then creating birthday cards and what not in Coreldraw 4, Then my highschool offered some graphic production classes using Aldus Pagemaker. Needless to say I was in love with the whole concept of this graphic design thing.

    I went to college and majored in Music Merchandising. Between music theory and accounting classes which are both completely different languages I realized that (with the exception of performance classes) this was not the carreer for me.

    I looked into graphic design at the college. The head of the department was on leave to relearn the industry and restructure the program but wouldnt be back for another year. Another private college I looked at had no instructors and the computer lab wasnt built yet! But they were doing a great job promoting the school.

    Off to Florida!
    I went to FCCJ and with the help of an exceptional program, instructors, and adjuncts. I learned and improved my discipline day after day and loved every second of it, eventually taking an internship at he Jax Symphony Orchestra.

    I graduated and thought now what? So I looked into Ringling Brothers art and design school in Tampa but ultimatly decided to move with my girlfriend (now wife with 1 dog, 1 cat and 1 baby) who was getting her masters at SIUE in Edwardsville Illinois, right outside of St. Louis. I got a job at a mfg plant creating graphics for flexographic plates for printing on boxes. Got laid-off due to poor financial problems the company had.

    Moved back to Florida! got a job creating crappy real estate ads for a magazine which I dare to say is crappier than newspapers. And finally am at a small but reputible Ad agency as a “Senior Designer” (not any different from just being a graphic designer but it came with a raise lol).

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