Yet again, WAY more than you ever wanted to know about me

Cyndy said … : I’m very curious about your design ‘stuff’. I always like your headers and buttons. Did you study design in college? Are you self taught? What computer programs do you use? Do you have a “design philosophy”? I was a graphic design major just before graphic design moved to the computer. I’ve kinda been out of it for awhile and I’m trying to update myself…oy that could take awhile…phbbt!

You know what? There is a really sad story that answers your question. I may have even eluded to its answer here before. But I am dealing with a sore throat today and so I’m not going to search around for it. (not sure what a sore throat has to do with searching around through my old posts. But apparently, for me today, I’ve got issues with it.)

Here is my sad tale:

(*warning: it is long and I applaud you if you stick through and read the entire answer)

I have always loved art. In fact, I was in a lot of art programs throughout school.

In middle school, I was pulled out of class to be a part of special artist-in-residence programs. In high school I took AP (advanced placement) art classes, working on a portfolio for art school. I was also in a Visual and Performing Arts Program through my school district. You had to audition, like Fame, but without all of the dancing in the hallways. Though we did manage to rock the big hair.

To audition for visual art meant going in on a Saturday (EARLY) and drawing all day and presenting your portfolio. Once in the program, it meant that all morning, every school day, I was in art classes – art history, art theory, drawing, painting, sculpture etc. I carried a drawing pad with me everywhere.

I had big plans for myself. My art teachers had big plans for me too.

But for some reason, during my senior year, I got nervous about going to an art school. (I really really really reaaaallllly wanted to go to Maryland Institute College of Art or Corcoran College of Art and Design. REALLLLLLY.) I don’t know why. I must not have been as sure of myself as my teachers were.

I ending up going to the local community college, with plans of going for two years and then transferring on to an art college for my last two years.

My first year of college, I took mostly graphic design courses, with some English and math splattered in there, for good measure. This was in 1989, so, like you, Cyndy, it was right at the beginning of using computers for design. The only thing we used computers for was to print out text for our mock ups. Everything else was done by hand – all of the drawing and scaling and measuring. And cut and paste meant, well, cut and paste – with real scissors and glue.

You had to know how to draw, as well as how to place things on a page.

My first year went really well – worked my butt bottom off on projects. A couple of my professors were a little loopy. One loopy professor dragged us out to llama farms to draw and paint the llamas. Do you know what llamas do when they are agitated? They spray the most rancid spit. And apparently, they become agitated quite easily.

My second year started well. I even took piano that year. Second semester, I took a course with a professor who a well-known artist. It was a small class and we all enjoyed working together and discussing our projects. This same professor single-handedly put an end to my aspirations of becoming a graphic designer. (I hate to give him that much credit though)

Here’s a novel idea that was driven home that semester: If you are a professor or teacher, please clearly state the requirements for projects/student work and then grade accordingly. When you grade based on your emotions and not the actual work, that is hard for this self-conscious emotional a girl to take.

Grading artwork is totally subjective if you don’t grade by a set of requirements. We all know that four people can look at the same piece of art and have four different reactions to it.

Here was his grading system, as it became apparent as the semester progressed: Same drawing style as him? : A/B Different drawing style from him? : C-/D+… maybe a good solid C if the sun was shining properly that day.

I felt like a spoiled brat letting him hurt my feelings like that. And I knew I needed a dose of reality before I went before some board to present my ideas only to have them hate them all and make me start over. But waaaaaaahhhh!!!! it was a struggle all semester. By the end of the semester, I was so worn down from trying to create work he would appreciate, that it had removed almost all of the joy I felt when I created art.

I did not pick up a drawing pad or paint brush for over 10 years. I couldn’t face not doing what I had set out to do. So I stuffed that down and ignored it.

10 years.

During that time, I tried to pretend like I was not a creative person. It just made me depressed.

When we lived in Wisconsin, I needed an outlet; a hobby. I started quilting. This was a small step back to allowing myself to be creative. Eventually, because of a weird series of events, I ended up with a part time job at a design studio/print shop.

It may sound overstated, but it was like removing a blindfold. Or getting the proper prescription for eyeglasses after wearing the wrong pair for years. That is one of the reasons I named my business Fruition Designs. It is the realization of a goal I had years ago.

Computers have opened my original path back up to me. Now, I am free to create and design. And it pleases me to no end!

andthat’sallIhavetosayaboutthat. Amen.

As for the last part of your question (aren’t you so sorry you asked?!?) I am self-taught when it comes to using the computer for my designs. I use CorelDraw Products and have used it since vs. 9. I love it. I’ve used Photoshop and Illustrator. In fact, I have them. But I find CorelDraw products to be much easier and you get the same results. (Paint Shop Pro is every bit as good as Photoshop and it’s $60.00. I’m not kidding – it does everything Photoshop does, and you can use many of the Photoshop plug-ins)

Somewhere along the line, PCs and anything but Photoshop/Adobe products became the ugly stepsister of graphic design. Maybe it is just my rebel streak… but I prefer PCs and Corel Products. I think it is foolish to spend way more for a similar product.

andthat’sallIhavetosayaboutthat. Amen.

Oops – And didn’t you ask my design philosophy? (Are you even there anymore? Is that snoring I hear?)

Can’t say I have a design philosophy. I just create what I like. I try to keep it fresh and clean. There is a lot of busy-ness in design trends right now. And, while I really like it and am visually drawn to it, I also know that for certain platforms, it is distracting – like the awful background on my blog here. The one that I can’t manage to take the 2 seconds it would take to remove and save my retinas from bleeding one more time when I open up my blog.

andthat’sallIhavetosayaboutthat. Amen.

Aren’t you sorry you asked, Cyndy?


  1. American Mum says

    You clearly have a gift! My favorite thing to do after the kiddos go to bed is play in photoshop. :) I just found your blog and I’m sure to be back.

  2. I really wasn’t bored by your story. I wasn’t ever ambitious with my gifts, but I have experienced a lot of that angst and the rejection of art teachers. I’m glad life finally came full circle for you in that area.

  3. LOL, Karla. Thanks for sharing this story. That makes me sad. You are so talented. I’m so glad you’ve found your inner artist again. :-)

  4. Precious girl :-)
    I’m not sorry she asked! Thanks for the heads up and all the information. I enjoyed reading they whats and whys of you :-)

  5. R.L.Scovens says

    We have alot in common. I’m in school right now studying Web Design. I too have photoshop and Illustrator. I used a VERY OLD version of Corel back when I was in the Army as a graphics specialist! It was back when Harvard Graphics was out. You may not even remember that one!

    Graphic design is the other end of web design. I’ve taken graphic design classes and I LOVE the products, but it’s not me. All of the printing process and technical stuff drives me mad!LOL So I decided on web design. Now that I enjoy!

    I’m gonna have to bookmark your site though since you have blog designs coming soon. I’m looking to hire for a blog makeover right now…can you recommend anyone?

  6. Nap Warden says

    Well…I am a Photoshop, and an Illustrator worshiper. It’s nice to know what other products are out there though!

  7. Hi! Not sorry a bit I asked…and if it seems I took a long time to make a comment it’s because I was stuck in traffic for two hours yesterday after a six hour drive to our neices H.S. graduation…oh you didn’t need to know that did you? (giggle :D)
    Anyway, I TOTALLY understand the art teacher thing…been there, done that. I attended a state university design program and felt as though I was in way over my head most of the time even though I got decent grades and my teachers all told me I had a “good eye” for design. Then I had a really bad first job experience and left design for being a receptionist, getting married and learning how to tole paint.
    Recently I have been doing a lot of flyers and etc. for our church which has really peaked my interest. Blogging has done that too.
    Thank you for telling your story, I knew we must be creative kindred spirits! :)
    Thank you too for the software info. I’ll be looking into the Corel products as PhotoShop is priced way out of my budget. I’ve been limping along with Microsoft Publisher which works great for hard copy publishing but doesn’t translate very well to the web.
    BTW – I actually received my diploma in 1989 and I truly know about all that cutting, pasting, tracing, etc., etc., etc., (I think I traced type until my eyes bled all over the light box!)
    Okay, I’m done talking now since I’ve succeeded in co-oping your comments page!!
    Thank you again!

  8. I enjoy learning stuff about people so I really enjoyed this post. It made me sad that you did not do art for 10 years. But I am so happy you are doing it again.

    Also thanks for the tips on the computer programs. I have not bought Photo shop b/c for a novice it just seems so expensive. It is nice to know there are alternatives.


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