From the time I was a kid, I knew that a career in art would be in my future. It wasn’t until college that I had a concrete idea of how exactly that would translate into actually making money!
My first computer art class was like a revelation – I finally felt at home, marrying my intuitive grasp of technology with my love for all things creative. How freeing to have the benefit of moving something a bit to the right or left without starting a piece all over again, or even better, the ability to undo! While in college, I learned a lot about the concepts of good design and the basics of software packages. I wouldn’t trade that foundation for anything and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing professors who shared their wisdom. But if I’m being honest, while they did the best that anyone could have done to prepare me, I think I learned more about actually making design work in the real world in my first two weeks on the job. It’s just impossible to lesson-plan the diversity of scenarios two weeks in a pre-press position will teach you. College-age me didn’t love the idea of starting off in pre-press, I wanted to be a designer! Now I understand that was the absolute best place for me to start out.
I was blessed to have an amazing mentor at my first job. She was committed to teaching me all the wealth of knowledge she had acquired over the years she’d been in the business (from the days where they did things by hand and computers were just a glimmer in the distance!). I learned from her how to work efficiently and with purpose (hello keystrokes!) and also learned many of the things that, in my opinion, are what take a project from a good concept to polished and professional.
My first job in graphics involved a bit of design work, and we worked on everything from separations for screen printers to business forms and signage, but the majority of what I did was pre-press, which basically means I was the person at the printing company who got files from designers who needed things printed. I output their files to film for plate making and had the VITAL experience of seeing how things translate from file to printed product first-hand. I also had the challenge of troubleshooting things that didn’t output correctly, but in hindsight, that was a key part of my growth, since I learned how to avoid those issues in my own work. Also, since it was a small company, during slow times I did more than just what my job entailed, so I gained experience in mailing, bindery & even helped the pressmen by stripping negatives and burning plates. Times have changed since then, and so has technology, but that foundation is still a source of great insight.
Also of great benefit is my experience in a corporate marketing department, working my way up to Art Director. I learned about what it’s like being on the other side of the fence – being both the customer AND the designer. I did much of the design work, but with the scale and amount of work being done, we outsourced projects as well. I also broadened my experience in areas I’d never worked in, such as trade shows, events & conventions, Website content management systems (DNN and later, WordPress), Powerpoint presentations, Word & Excel templates for forms & letters, Outlook signature templates, you name it… I’ve always been a jump in and figure it out sort of person, and my personal and professional life has taught me much!
I consider myself blessed to have the professional foundation that I have, and the freedom to freelance, to form lasting partnerships with many businesses to offer them in-house design experience with as-you-need-it freelance convenience. How can I help you?
Leave A Comment