My “career” in design didn't start at design school. It didn't start with computers. It started with pen and ink
This must make me old.
I didn't get into graphic art (as it was called when I left school) because of some slick tertiary marketing campaign. Or because of advice received from a well-meaning school guidance counselor.
I've never really known why I do what I do or why I might be good enough at it that people pay me money for it, until today.
It's just a theory but I'm starting to think that I became a designer because my mum gave me a set of Speedball nibs and the amazing but bewildering “How To Guide” that came with them when I was about eight. They had been in her family as she'd grown up so were old when I got them.
Hours were spent looking through my guide’s mystical pages but not much time practising the techniques described inside. Of course I didn't read any of the copious instructions and I didn't realise that I could possibly become a calligrapher if I put some effort in. I tried to copy the occasional stroke, but it never looked as good and as easy as it should have.
I loved that book...but didn't get it and eventually cast it aside.
Then I forgot about it. Until today when I found it on a table at my parents’ house. I think it was waiting for me to take it away...so that's what I did.
Looking through its pages has awakened a strange mass of memories and emotions. Frustration. Ignorance. Ambition.
I never got taught design and have always wondered where my feel for leading, kerning, spacing, letter weight, and letter character came from. I always thought it must have been instinct...but finding this beautiful little bible has put me straight.
Did the book's careful, handcrafted black lines burn themselves into my fairly empty and impressionable mind at just the right time? It feels that way.
Is a designer born or made? I have no idea, but I'm happy to think that a designer occasionally just happens along by chance. I think that's what may have happened to me. Then again...
When I got my first job as a newspaper designer, the bromide room was a refuge from the non-stop sausage factory that the art department often was. This blog is a nod to the value of taking some time away from the drawing board to just take a breather. True, the air was full of toxic fumes, but the conversation was usually good.