Watercooler Wednesday- A Journey of Design

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday's on Randy Elrod's site, Ethos. It's where the Creatives and Passionates meet each week to exchange ideas and thoughts on the creative life.

Thinking back through the years, I often wonder why I've ended up doing what I do. Yes, I'm a product of my environment and upbringing (in the church) but my particular bent toward creativity can't be traced to one element in my life. I used to worry about how many different artistic things I was interested in, thinking that I wasn't skilled to a depth in any discipline. Only after I began to appreciate the different experiences that I had in my life was I really able to see the steps that have led me to where I am today. I'd like to recount some of that in today's post.

Art - I can remember one of the first loves of my life was art class in elementary school. Whether it was drawing, crafting or sculpting, I always had my hands in something. I love to draw (doodle) and I guess the basic concepts of transferring what I was seeing in my brain to paper began here. (My claim to fame was a first place ribbon at the county fair for a chalk drawing of the desert. I used to have this---I don't know where it is now). I didn't stay in formal art classes, but I think I carried some of the principles into other areas below.

Music- Music has always been a big part of my life. One of my earliest family photos is me straining to reach the keyboard of our old upright piano in the living room. From my earliest memories I can remember imitating music that I heard on the radio or on the church. This carried on through 11 years of piano and now 37 years of playing keys. Thanks to early piano teachers I carried through with my practices and now today I enjoy the pleasure of making and leading music each week.

Photography- In my freshman year of high school I became interested in photography. With the purchase of a Minolta XG camera (do they even make Minolta's any more?) I quickly began to transfer those prinicples I learned in art of balance, proportion, scale, lighting, color and more to photographs for now forgotten yearbook annuals. I looked back at that first annual the other day--I can still identify my photographs--and they're not half bad.

Drama- I ended up in Drama class by a fluke and have never regretted being a part of this discipline. With the principles of staging, proportion, scale and color, I've been able to create environments within ministry because of my exposure to the stage. I know about production and technical theater. I continually thank Mrs. Hamilton (my HS drama teacher) for all that she taught me about drama. (She's still teaching school at Frenship High School)

Floral- During college I needed a job and ended up at a floral shop one day for a delivery position. That's all I wanted to do--deliver. However, this small shop needed a dual player and they shoved some roses in my hand and said "DESIGN" (the first time I had ever heard the word). This began a career in floral and floral arts that saw me through college, seminary and other periods of my life. I tranferred the principles of photography and art to this discipline and have used the skill for more than 20 years. Learning how to manage big events and big conceptual projects was one of the benefits of working in this industry.

Business- Early work experience post graduate led me to the world of retail where I learned about purchasing products and materials. Seeing how the large businesses treated products and displays gave me an insight to visual attraction that people had to stores and items. Never mind that I was given the responsibility of purchasing garments that I would never wear, I succeeded in understaning trends, colors and fads as they came and went. My achieving goal was purchaing 5,000 items on a re-order of a fast selling good, only to have them pepper me with them when I left the company at my going away party. (Sell through the second time wasn't so swift). I learned budgeting and organizational methods here.

Computers- If you knew me in college you would laugh today at my obsession with computers. I hated business computer class and couldn't understand the language (today I read XML, CSS and HTML for codes--go figure). I love computer stuff and spend a great deal of time with computers. My venture in this area began with an overpriced laptop in 1994 that had 32MB of memory and a black and white screen. Today I've upgraded to an APPLE. I guess knowing this area helped me jump the curve on the technology that landed in the late 90's for graphic design, web design and more.

Technology- One of the most recent things for me has been harnessing technology for use in design. I've been a devoted follower of SKETCHUP from Google for over a year and even carried a tutorial DVD with on my recent travels to Egypt. I've learned AVID video editing, sound editing, SWISH, FLASH and more not to mention a dabble in the ADOBE realm with Photoshop. I'm not expert--but I've conversant in these areas.

Travel- I've been blessed in the last 3 years to see some major part of the world that before I had only read about. Seeing the cultures of Mexico, Italy, India, Guatemala, Great Britain, France and Egypt as well as travel within the US have opened my design eyes in so many ways. Being able to appreciate the principles of design in these settings has increased my creativity a great deal.

Wow--that's a lot of writing and if you've successfully made it through the end of this post, I'd love to hear from you what your journey of design has been. What have been your influences?

Design photo by: Costi


Gordon Barnes said...

Drama was the huge one for me. Directing, acting, writing, lights, sound, stage management and stage design. Like the blog Jim! Mark told me about your meet up in Cairo. Just added you to my google reader! Blessings!

Jim Drake said...

Thanks Gordon.

Take care of Mark and his wonderful family. I taught him how to say "howdy" while I was there.


simple christfollower said...

I don't have a lot of detailed memories of the Arts in my early life, except music. I started playing piano when I was about 6 and then got hooked on percussion. I used to tap on everything in site (still do), but one day as I was tapping on the kitchen counter I accidently tapped on the, still hot, burner of mom's range cooktop.
I had wonderful white burn stripes on my hands! A silly, but memorable glimpse at my early arts career!