How I got into design

By August 4, 2012Blog, Design

I suspect I got into design for the same reason that many other designers did… I loved to draw. I wish I still had one to show you, but when I was a little kid, I used to draw some pretty elaborate farmscapes (house, barn, fences, livestock, rolling hills, sun, etc.). I could never really draw anything out of my head so instead always had to copy a photo or the object/scene itself. In high school art class, my attention to detail started to come out. I didn’t have an illustration style, but I did have a whole lot of patience. I mostly liked working with pencil, or with pen & ink (the dip kind, not the technical kind) and watercolour.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to take in university or college, I sort of wanted to be an archeaologist, but I mostly wanted to do something creative. I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to make it as an artist, so when a friend of my brother-in-law was visiting and told me about graphic design, I was sold. I still had no real understanding of what graphic design was, but I applied to two colleges (Medicine Hat and Red River College in Winnipeg) and was accepted into both. At my RRC interview, it was suggested that I attend the student Open House to see what it was all about. Seeing the work there made me decide to stay in Winnipeg. I remember being really inspired, and finally having a sense of what I was getting into.

I kept drawing through my three years of college… we always had an illustration class, and back then, many of our design courses were spent working with our hands, painting our assignments with the dreaded guache. My roommate during college was a fellow design student, and I remember our spreading out across the drafting tables, then spilling out on to the living room floor, with our pencils, paints, brushes, etc. into the wee hours, on an almost nightly basis. That, or spending many of our waking hours over at the college (at the time, we were allowed to stay through the night).

I’m sad to say though that although college gave me a love of design, and an appreciation of illustration/art, it beat the urge to draw right out of me. I no longer have the creative patience for it. Perhaps one day I’ll go back to it, but whenever I try, I lose interest pretty quickly. It’s really kind of sad. That said, I still most definitely have that attention to detail and creative patience when it comes to design.

The following are some of my illustrations and college design projects. Quite honestly, in terms of creative talent, I was a mediocre student at best. I had some amazing classmates, both on the design front and the illustration front, and I didn’t come close to their skill level. In terms of attitude though, I was a hard worker and I loved learning.

Grade 12 project, 30″W x 22″H, medium: pen & ink and watercolour

Grade 12 project, 24″W x 18″H, medium: pen & ink and opaque watercolour
This was very much inspired by Escher and aside from art class, I remember working on it during biology as well (instead of paying attention and taking notes). It’s hard to see at this size, but that center square is filled with frogs, the idea being that they were coming to life as they left the piece of paper.

1st year project, medium: guache

2nd year project, 17″W x 22″H medium: chalk pastel
This wasn’t my typical style — having to illustrate a live model taught me to be a little more loose and free with my approach.

2nd year project, illustrated for use in a brochure/em>

2nd year project, one of three art history posters, 17″W x 22″H, medium: guache
I believe I had intended for this to be rendered in the Art Nouveau style. As you can see, I didn’t pull it off.

Personal project, a drawing of my Dad digging post holes for a fenceline (likely done during 2nd year), 17″W x 22″H, medium: pencil

3rd year project, medium: pencil

3rd year project?, program: QuarkXPress and Photoshop
This was the first photo shoot that I directed. Brian Gould and Ian McCausland were kind enough to donate their time and studio so that we could work with custom photography for our ad concepts.

3rd year project, program: QuarkXPress
This was part of a class project, where each of us had to design a magazine spread in the style of a particular designer or artist.

If your reading this and are a fellow designer, I’d love to hear how you got into it. I’d especially love to see some of your early projects. Please share!

Also, if you’re interested in finding out how I got into photography, read here.

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