Hilary, a new gal pal of mine, is an inspired fiber artist, teacher and mentor to many. She knows a lot of stuff about everything--and seems to have a beat on the right thing to do. She is very community driven and is beginning to be active with the positioning and thinking around her studio building (on our little old Main Street) and the visual arts community in Tburg. She wants to partner with the Art Trail Tburgers--and will be mounting a parallel show during those weekends around the idea of harvest and bounty (as evidenced in our fields and vineyards) this fall. We had lunch last week to chew the fat and both gripe about our experiences at Syracuse. Her roots go much deeper as her father was a professor, her brother involved in sports, and she got her undergraduate (and I think graduate) from SU. She has taught there--so she wears many, many hats. I was down on my thesis experience--and her response was for me to give her the paper and we would do our own review. Huh!
While we dug into lunch, she asked me some very pointed questions about where did my work come from, and from there, could we begin to peek into where it is going. Huh, again. I explained that my experience as a graphic designer was to create clean canvases, with ordered content and essentially creating windows to showcase visual content such as photography, graphics, or illustration. My job was to listen to what the client was really saying (not with their mouth) but often with things they point to or in the round about way that stories are told with messages and orientation. I view my presence as a designer essentially as the conductor. When one listens to a piece of music, one doesn't (unless you are very astute) immediately say, "Damn, what a conductor!". You are more likely to admire the showmanship or dexterity of the musicians, the interpretation of the music, or just hear the piece without question. I think this is true with my graphic design work. My clients don't immediately say "Damn, what a designer!". They are more likely to like how simple the piece is, easy to read, the type is elegant and legible, there is a flow with breaks and surprises, beautifully printed, gorgeous photography. But, as the conductor--I made all those choices--and put them together. Gorgeous photography badly printed or overlaid with a nasty palette of colors, horsy type or something over the top stylin' results in a collision, a visual car wreck. For me, not good design. So, I like to essentially be invisible--the silent one moving the needle, showcasing all the other talent--the copywriter, the client, the photographer--and making it all sing together as if it was intended to be.
I take great pleasure in that process, and gain a great deal in the relationships I build with my clients who become friends--and the synergy of a long term relationship grows as each project progresses. This is the best kind of work.
Now, along comes this illustration thing. I am no longer invisible. I am one of those folks that I like to create clean canvases for. It is my viewpoint, my image, my visual decisions that are out there...open for ridicule, open for critique, open to show really, truly what I think...not a processed version built on consensus with the client, the client's client and all the other parties that filter into the mix as a designer. I know that I can be quite outspoken as an individual...and I think there is a lot of fear in me to hide behind what's safe versus trying to put something more original, more me out there. It is a very brave thing. None of us like rejection--and that is the place I immediately go versus having the confidence to move forward. Why isn't my thinking and opinion as valid as the next guys?