BRS Tshirt

Design and Me

BRS Tshirt Most people who read this blog have scouted the about page and know I’m currently taking a course in graphic design. To my family, this was predictable, but I never expected it. Nevertheless, I’m half way through it and I wanted to talk about how I feel about design.

When I stated this blog, and when I signed up for the course, I was really excited about design. I read blogs on it and took on every single opportunity I could to exercise my opinion or knowledge (which was sought out in my circle of friends and co-workers). I was passionate, hungry, and excited. I felt like I didn’t have an outlet for all the excitement inside me and that’s why I created this blog and signed up for the course.

Today I feel very different about design than I did back then. I still have 101 opinions on designs I see, and people still seek me out for advice…but I don’t feel like I’ve grown at all, which is extremely important to me.

This is probably going to be a horrible analogy, but I had a revelation a few weeks ago. I feel like I’ve walked into a shiny new wood workshop. There’s tools lining the walls and machines scattered throughout the floor, and a storeroom full of wood. I feel like I can look at a drill, and know how to make a hole in the wood. I can look at an iron and know how to use it to make a dint in my wood go away. I know all of the tools very well, I know how to use them, I know what they do. But I don’t know how to make a table… or anything else for that matter.

I feel like I’m missing a set of instructions that’s supposed to get me started or guide me. I feel like I have all of these tools around me that I can use but I don’t have a clue what to do with them. It’s like I’ve been taught to use the tools but no one’s taught me how to make a table. Without knowing how, I can’t experiment to make my own way, or make horrible mistakes and lose fingers inside machines (grow).

I wondered if I was having trouble because there’s so many choices and I didn’t know what to choose, or because I was lacking ideas, planning, or confidence. I think it’s safe to say it’s confidence and instructions…

Just before my course started I had moved back to Australia from the United States, after living in the States for 6 years. I’d also said goodbye to my boyfriend of x years just days before the course started. I still have no idea where I am on the map or how to navigate the public transport system. I don’t have a clue what’s where, and when I started this course all I had going for me was I knew how to use the tools before most people in the class.

I don’t admit it publicly (except now), but I feel like I went to the states in the prime of an impressionable period (for lack of better terminology). I don’t feel like I fit in either country because I left my home and assimilated somewhere else, only to be slapped back onto my home turf after I was beginning to get used to things. I still have so much influence from America that I feel a little out of place here.

EVERYTHING I know about design, and all the products, services, and companies I absorbed as part of my world are US based. I can’t reference companies in class without some sort of visual because they didnt “grow up” with it. They don’t know who the major banks are and what their logo’s look like, they havent seen the advertisements McDonalds has over there, none of the design things I absorbed are relevant anymore. To make matters worse, when they reference I feel like an idiot because I don’t know what they’re talking about because I didnt grow up with it. I hope they just think I’m weird and don’t feel like that when I do it.

After I started the course I also discovered I couldnt design things like the other students could. I don’t know what it is; I want to design the things they do, but I just can’t. For example, one of the students created a poster with diagonal bars incorporated into part of the design. They looked amazing. It’s the sort of thing I want to do but never seem to be able to pull off. Another one did an entirely flat two colour cartoon picture that I found myself asking for a price on because I wanted a copy. I could do that, but I couldnt pull it off like he did. Another student hand painted parts of her design, and another made her whole design look like it was cut out and hung up in a room. I have the skills to do all of these things but I just can’t seem to pull it off. I don’t know why.

After I presented my poster, which was a wanted poster (work in progress), two students ran into me outside class and commented on how they loved it. I felt really good because I was terrified it was nothing compared to their work, and it made me more confident and I worked harder on my next assignment, which helped my confidence grow too.

I went into this course confident and excited….but so many things happened and it built up on me and I let it get me down. I cannot rely on other people to give me confidence; I must find it within myself. I’m going to work at alleviating my issue with missing instructions, lack of “Australian knowledge”, and confidence over the next few months until I’m back on my feet. It’s a tough hurdle but I’ll find my way over it.

Here’s a list of how I’m going to try to defeat this hurdle:

  1. I’m going to exercise and eat properly, because that will make me feel better and if I feel better I’ll design better and become more confident and excited again.
  2. I’m going to research different design styles. This might help me understand what makes each style unique and may help me figure out how to make it work in my work.
  3. I’m going to work harder and more organised in the second half of this course.
  4. I’m going to take a photo of a design at least once a week on my way to/from school and comment on what I like and don’t like about it, with at least 5 points for each….and I’m going to visit the companies website and list 5 interesting facts about the company and get to know the logo.
  5. I’m going to re-subscribe to design blogs and read up on the train to and from school or when I get time.

I’ll let you know how I go, and if you have any advice or suggestions for me please feel free to comment!

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Robyn Leeds
Robyn Leeds
10 years ago

“I donโ€™t feel like I fit in either country because I left my home and assimilated somewhere else”

I have the same problem. Having left my home 11 years ago, I don’t think I would fit back in easily, and I’d probably end up feeling like I should never have moved back there to begin with. Having said that, now that my marriage is beyond repair, I have nothing left here and no one to turn to for support of any kind. It’s a lot like my family actually … I’ve never felt truly accepted by my biological family, and my adopted sister rejected me after Dad died.

So what’s the answer? There IS no answer! We either adjust and learn to live in one place or the other, or we move to somewhere else entirely different and go through the same issues. The third alternative is to win the lottery, go buy our own island, name it Jarobville, and let everyone ELSE have problems assimilating!

Love Mum.

10 years ago

Interesting read. I empathise with some points. I must mull before I make further comment, or perhaps it would be best that we discuss this over lunch at all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut. I could bring a map and point you out on it. And I am the Queen of public transport, so I can take you on many adventures until you are trained :p

PS. The analogy was good. I empathise.

PPS. There is an art exhibition I like to go to every year called Top Arts, which is year 12 students’ work. There is also Top Designs which I haven’t been to, but would like to. I find it inspiring. Perhaps you would like to join me.

10 years ago

Your designs have been so good imo that you should take them to the companies you designed with, they were better than what they use already ! ๐Ÿ™‚
Public transport is like a cake you dropped on the floor,
messy, you now you want it, but it takes so long to find that bit you can use.
I think like all creative people, that you can look at someones work and be impressed because you see a finished, polished product. With your own, you work through each stage and hope others will like it in the end.
We are so proud of you and your designs, we are lucky to see all the hard work you put in and are amazed by your “finished product”

You Rock Girl,grrrr go get’em

10 years ago

I find that I sometimes have no idea if a design of mine is good or not because I’ve been staring at it so long, and it’s so hard to be objective, regardless of whether you think your own work is awesome or if you think it’s crap.

Robyn Leeds
Robyn Leeds
10 years ago

Tankwizz … yes, she DOES rock, doesn’t she? It’s genetic you know, she got that from my side of the family! ๐Ÿ˜€

Leesa … if at all possible, PLEASE take Jade to the “Tops” exhibits, because not only would she enjoy it, but I think she’ll see a bit more clearly just HOW awesome her drawings are!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Jade … love you beautiful girl, who will ALWAYS be Mummy’s baby no matter HOW old she getsw!! ;D

Love Mum.

Adrian Malacoda
Adrian Malacoda
10 years ago

Well I can’t say I know how it feels to be that “out of place” because I’ve lived in one city for most of my life, but I do wish you luck on your endeavors. I must say though that that poster looks excellent. I wish I were that skilled ๐Ÿ™‚

6 years ago

I just read this post and I realize that it was posted a few years ago (four actually). The fact that the blog still exists must be thought of as a hopeful sign. The young lady who wrote this somewhat heart wrenching post must have overcome some of her shortcomings or it is unlikely that she would have kept going with a blog that shows off her ability to design. It is refreshing to hear of someone struggling with so many setbacks still willing to go the distance to make their ambitions come to light. I will have to look at more of this blog to see if I am correct, but I suspect that the perseverance the blogs author shows in her list of things she will do to get past her concerns with her work and her ability to adapt to Australia, has served her well and she is doing well in all her endeavors. Here’s to hoping I’m right!

Josรฉ Moreno
Josรฉ Moreno
6 years ago

Reading this, then seeing what you’ve done with the blog, your designs, and to hear you’re really happy with what you do is very motivating. I’m on my second year of college (3 years left) in my own country (I’d love to go outside, getting out of your comfort zone can lead you to enriching experiences, but no money to do it now), learning something that you English speakers know as “Computer Science”. I will learn some coding techniques like the ones you name, but there’s no way I can do designs like you.
As you say, finding your way in life can be hard, but feels so good when you find it.
Hope you keep having success in your life. Best wishes ๐Ÿ™‚

6 years ago

You are right that confidence must come from within. Im self taught in how to crochet. I know how to use my “tools” and I even have ideas on what I want to design. It is just a matter of learning new techniques to bring to life what ever it is I like. I notice that whenever I learn a new technique, this is what gives me the ability to do new things and maybe the same holds true for others. They know what they know, have the tools handy, and may even have ideas popping into their head. They are just missing, something. Like one person simply slapping some paint on a canvas vs another using different paint strokes to produce the image you like. Both would have the knowledge plus tools, but one has an advantage over the other.

5 years ago

I get what you mean about leaving your country, coming back and not fitting in. I felt the same way upon coming back from England and, I admit, it was a great struggle for me, but you’re going in the right direction and you’ll feel at home in no time. I still don’t really fit in, but that isn’t a problem anymore, you find good people everywhere and find that fitting in is impossible wherever you are. I wish you luck for the future ๐Ÿ™‚

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