An origin story... but sadly no superpowers
So, what got you into graphic design?
A simple enough question. One of those conversation starters that can pop up occasionally when chatting with new clients/suppliers/elderly relatives.
For me, the simple (and uninspiring) answer would be that I really enjoyed art and design at school and I thought that going to college or university would help me develop my skills and abilities in a way that would enable me to make a practical living from something I enjoy. YAWN.
An open, honest (and slightly more brutal) answer would include a motorbike, an inquisitive 18 month old child (me) and surgical reattachment!
Taking the more traditional route (like me) to establishing a career as a graphic designer usually involves a few years of higher education and/or practical work-based training to develop that “particular set of skills” as Mr Neeson might say. Before that you often have several years in education to learn basic life skills. Before THAT you generally need to develop your own basic motor skills so that you’re physically able to write and draw etc. That’s where my problems were first discovered but not where it all began.
Cue the dream-sequence-style squiggly lines and sounds.
As the story goes… while making minor repairs to his upturned motorbike in the back garden one afternoon, my dad stepped away from the running engine for just a moment. That very same moment I toddled out of the patio door to see what all that noise was about. Confronted by this strange and noisy beast for the first time I did what most toddlers would do in this situation… it was too big to put in my mouth so I just made a grab for it!
It — in this particular case — just so happened to be the spinning, oil-covered motorbike chain! Which, as you might imagine, took my right hand very swiftly through the cogs, virtually severing my little finger and making quite a mess of the rest of them.
I’ll just leave you with that image for a moment…
Anyway… Jump forward a few years and the little finger had been successfully reattached and the hand was fully healed, albeit with some serious scarring. But scars are cool, right?
It wasn’t really until I reached infant school that problems were first discovered. Initially dismissed as being slow to learn or just plain lazy, it became evident that I was struggling to complete simple tasks with my hands due to my basic motor-skills and coordination not being anywhere near where they should be at that age.
Never conclusively proven, my mishap with the motorbike was believed to be a major factor…
The theory being that the neurological link that carries signals from the brain to the hand had been damaged as a result of the accident, either physically or psychologically.
The medical diagnosis to this was never divulged to me but I do know that my parents very much took things into their own hands (excuse the pun). Soon followed a prolonged period of physiotherapy over several years, lovingly administered by my mother as page after page after page… after page of squiggly lines eventually became joined up letters scrawled across a series of old school notebooks.
Encouraged at every opportunity to make marks on paper I progressed from writing to drawing and pretty soon began sketching inanimate objects for actual fun! Due to the focus and attention required for me to actually do this I discovered that the drawings soon began to greatly resemble the subject matter. This was a huge achievement for me and the confidence I gained from the appreciation and praise for each new drawing only served to drive me on to do more.
And more I did. At home, at school and then eventually at college. Leading me back onto that previously mentioned traditional route and after a few years at college/university I seemed to naturally find myself on the path towards a career as a graphic designer.
So it may be more than a decade down the line, my pencil work may have faded a little due to lack of practice, it’s still the same focus and attention to detail that I continue to carry through into the work I do today. Finding that one thing (or things) that differentiates the subject matter from everything else so that it is both instantly recognisable yet distinctly individual.
Whether it’s something that I’ve always had and developed over the years or something born from personal experience, it’s my creative thinking and the need to look a little deeper that has the most impact on the work I do today.
** Final conclusion removed due to some silly statement about using design as an actual superpower. Ridiculous! … it’s more like magic! ;) **