the story of how I got into graphic design, part 1

Photo from  I Love Typography.

I'd like to tell you the story of how I got into graphic design.

It actually begins back when I was a kid, but I'm not going to get to that part for a bit. (Because I didn't realize that that's where the love started, until much later.)

Where I thought it began was: 2007. 

I had moved back in with my mother at the age of 23, having left university in my third year. I had had depression. My energy was totally depleted. I was living at my mother's house, and I remember becoming totally entranced with typography of all things. Specifically, with a website called “I Love Typography” -- and I cannot remember now how I found it. 

My computer monitor at the time was a big bulky thing. Flat screens weren’t yet mainstream. (This was 2007.) I had the computer set up in my brother’s bedroom, upstairs, which was a small room with a high ceiling. I would sit there, crammed in between a high shelf that held books and random bits of my brother’s life (he was in Ukraine then, I think), and his bed, at a small desk I’d inherited from a friend, which was wobbly and painted a weird green. I'd sit up there, and scroll and scroll through this website. I was discovering: Typography was a real thing, and I loved it!

It seemed so magical. I’d always loved letters. I’ve always read voraciously, and loved design, kind of from off at a distance… I didn’t know I loved it, the way I do now, but I knew that a beautifully designed book or magazine had a certain something that just brought the reading experience to a whole new level. I learned the term “ligature”, which means when two letters ajoin, like “fi”. I learned about letterpress printing, which seemed like another kind of magic to me. From the belly of an inky, noisy beast could come this crisp white paper with an ever so slight indentation, and a beautiful design on it. I wanted to try it. I tucked that desire away like a precious stone.

Work came again to me. Once I had my strength back, I taught seniors how to use computers at the local library, and worked for a non-profit that runs computer sites in rural communities. Part-time work was good for a while but then I wanted more money. I went looking for a full-time job and ended up at the local marina. Now, I am not a boat person. I do not long to tinker with jibs and mains, or refinish the wooden deck of a sailboat. I do love the water, though. And I love people. And my job had me in the store, working with boat parts, selling them, arranging them in the store.

I stayed at the marina for three years. But somewhere in the middle of those three years I started looking for what was next. I looked at the local community college, NSCC, which has campuses in thirteen towns across the province. I looked at their landscaping and gardening program, in the Annapolis valley. I looked at their Office Administration program, thinking I did well in office work and wouldn’t mind some sort of credential for it. I lined up a visit to the local campus, signing up for both the Office Admin tour and the Graphic Design tour. When I was in the cafeteria with all the other students, though, and it came time to actually go on the tour, to pick Office Admin or Graphic Design, I went with my gut and I went with the graphic design teacher. Being in that classroom for the first time – ah, I can still feel the way it felt! The excitement. The feeling of “I need to be in this place!” They took art and letters – my first loves – and gave it a sacred space, a room with desks and tables, a dedicated workspace for each student to do their work: try, to create, to explore. To make drawings and posters and test out ideas.

I was hooked.   

(Part 2 to come... sometime.)