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The Lament of an Artist turned Graphic Designer

My first recollection of knowing that I wanted to be an artist was when I was in early elementary and I drew a cartoon that the teacher thought was so good that it was published in an insignificant local newsletter, but it may have well been the front page of the New York Times to me.


There were other classes besides art that I enjoyed, but they were always subjects that engaged my creativity—classes like poetry, woodshop, or cooking class. But none of them stirred my excitement like going to art class.


I remember sitting in science or math and being entirely distracted in my mind because art class was just an hour or two away and I was already painting or drawing in my head as I waited for the bell to ring. Even when school was over I was in a perpetual state of daydreaming about my art project.


That passion and desire to express myself through art continued through my high school years but after graduation, I had to get a job to pay for rent and food, and while I still dabbled in artistic projects, I mostly stepped away from getting lost in a painting or a drawing.


Fast forward several years and I was introduced to Adobe Illustrator 2.0 on an Apple Quadra 650 as part of my job at College. I immediately was taken in by this new medium for creating things and I once again became undisciplined in my studies as I spent countless hours teaching myself Photoshop, Illustrator and QuarkXpress.


It wasn't long after this that I was offered a job at the college as their graphic designer. I worked there for five years before accepting a position at a publisher in North Carolina where I worked for 20 years as their lead designer/creative director.


It's been nearly three years since I moved away from that position and set out on a new adventure. During this time, I have had a little more time to reflect and one of my nagging laments is that I was once an artist who morphed into a graphic designer.


Don't get me wrong—graphic design has been a wonderful profession and I still wake up on Monday mornings with a spark or excitement to engage in my work. That alone is something to be incredibly thankful for.


I still enjoy taking a blank screen and creating a brochure, a newsletter or a website. But graphic design has slowly squeezed out any expressive artistry that I once had. While there are occasional projects that allow for a little creative expression, it is primarily a job that is about production and producing work that meets a specific need for my client. It is something that I take very seriously and I always give my very best to every job I take on.


While I sometimes miss the traditional art forms that first ignited my passion for creativity, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend my days creating through the medium of a computer. Graphic design has been a fulfilling and rewarding profession that has allowed me to use my artistic skills in unique and innovative ways. It may be different from the days of dipping a brush into paint and letting my hand express my imagination on canvas, but the digital realm has opened up endless possibilities for me to bring my creative visions to life. I continue to cherish the joy and excitement that comes with each new project, and I am grateful for the evolution of my artistic journey from an aspiring artist to a skilled graphic designer.

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