Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Graphic Designer or Artist?

I've always been a creative person. I took lots of art classes growing up and went off to college originally to study painting. Somewhere along the line I was told that painting was not a legitimate profession and that I needed to choose a more useful, money-making career. I took this advice to heart and moved to Seattle to study graphic design. Graphic design school was much more technical- mostly about learning computer software and the 'rules of graphic design'. I found it very difficult to fit my creative heart into the constraints of photoshop, color theory, and layout and ended up abandoning most of my artsy-creative making to focus on becoming a 'superstar graphic designer'

My last term of college we had to create a senior project. It was the first time our instructors allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do! At first I was stumped. After 3 years of being told exactly what kind of logo to design, what type of layout to create, it was startling to be given the chance to come up with something of my very own. I spent a lot of time reading and soul-searching to create my project and ended up reviving my creative painting ambitions and starting a path to self-discovery. 

For my senior project I redesigned the Girl Scout Cookie box with original illustrations I created with acrylic paints and hand-lettering. I remember feeling so satisfied using my hands and not my computer for this project.

I also created a handmade book illustrating my journey of self-discovery. Through this book I was able to revive my art-journaling-teenager-self and create something that expressed who I had become as a degree-holding college graduate. Upon graduation, we had to display our project and portfolio in a room with all the other graduating students for family and potential employers to view our work. Let me tell you my cookie boxes and art journal didn't impress many 'potential bosses' but I distinctly remember a first-year student looking at my work and saying, "I didn't know we were allowed to do stuff like this!" 

I'm telling you all this because for a while I felt like that first year student- like this sort of work wasn't allowed in the grownup world. Now, five years out of college, I am working as a freelance graphic designer and have found myself merging back into my creative/artsy self more and more. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful to have the knowledge and technical skill of a graphic designer- it's something I use every day, even when I'm doodling in my art journal or working on a new painting. But I have found my true voice and self was in my artsy-creative side all along- no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. I may not have become a "superstar graphic designer" with a high-paying job at a fancy ad agency, but I'm much happier as both a designer and artist to have found my own voice and style.
Card illustrated for Camp Smartypants
Pattern illustrated for Cheezburger, Inc.
Designed for Child & Family Services, NY

See more of my work here.


alisonml said...

Thanks for sharing- this is one of the reasons I find being your friend so rewarding. I think you have opened my eyes (over the years) to so much possibility in life.

You're great.

Unknown said...

Likewise! Thanks Ali! ♥♥

Graphic Design Artist said...

Thank you for some great insight into an artist's world. I have always loved being artistic but never pursued a career as an artist because I was also told there was no money in it. So I'm glad to see that pursuing a career in the graphic art industry may stay allow me to use the art I so dearly love.

Jess Buckley said...

Your art is soo pretty!

Teach me? :p

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