I’ve always been a creative person. I was always one of those kids who was excited about art class, always drawing, seeing my artwork on the fridge (thanks, mom). This turned into a love of music as I got older.
I decided that being a rock star was what I wanted to do. In fact, to this day, I consider myself not necessarily working a day job, but instead fleshing out an elaborate backup plan just in case the rock star thing doesn’t happen. Still dreaming.
High school me, rocking the flying V. I designed the logo on the bass drum and the backdrop behind the band. This guitar makes the sounds in the clip above.
So I played guitar in bands, graduating later to bass, and I was always the one creating the flyers, coming up with the T-shirt and logo designs, and the banners behind the stage. The visual element to music and promotion was something that always fascinated me, and it was something that I just always enjoyed doing. I would cut words out from newspaper headlines, or pictures from magazines, then arrange them into the name of the band and the name of the venue. Little did I know I was teaching myself layout and typography. I was just having fun with it.
I’d kept on making flyers for my bands’ gigs and other bands’ shows, then I get into college. And that’s when I discovered I had a knack for writing. Turns out you have to write a lot of papers in college. In fact, I went to college to major in art, but the program, while good, had a way of breaking you down then building you back up their way, and I just wasn’t having any of that. It took the fun out of creating. But I didn’t know enough about writing to be put off, so I majored instead in English, and along those lines, I was hired by the university newspaper in the features department, reporting and writing a couple of stories each week.
I also minored in communications, which meant more writing. This was while also taking classes like creative writing and expository writing, while at the same time having a story or two due for the paper every week. I found it to be like working out – the writing mindset is a muscle to be developed.
Some examples of my early print graphic design work.
But amid all this writing, at the newspaper I saw how it was laid out: electronically. You mean you can just scan in a photo, scoot it around with a mouse, then arrange the text in just the right size all right there on the screen? Genius. This was the mid-‘90s, and this turned me on to the world of modern graphic design, using a Mac running Aldus PageMaker (ancestor of Adobe InDesign). And this opened up a whole new world for me, rekindling my love of layout, typography, and all the things I had been doing for years by hand with my gig flyers. Hello, career.
My Web Design Portfolio at Behance.net
From there, I just taught myself. I had a passion for this. I would dive into software, using tutorials — that’s how I learned Adobe Illustrator, by going through the exercises on the application CDs. Also, I began recreating graphics and advertisements on my own just to understand their principles and build my portfolio. Gradually I built enough experience and projects to turn my passion into a professional career, including learning html and CSS for web design. And to this day I’ve had a great run as a graphic artist, web designer, and writer.
Just in case I don’t become a rock star.
What do you think? Has your passion led to a career, or the other way around? Let us hear from you in the comments.