I have always had kind of blurry vision, but I never wanted to admit it. Admittedly, it wasn?t that bad; I could still function without any challenges. In fact, it wasn?t until I actually got my first pair of glasses that I realized how bad my vision had been, and how much I had missed out on.
My adolescence was spent in the great state of Wyoming, which makes up for in open space what it lacks in people. One of my favorite things to do was to drive up near the mountains and stare up into the sky on a clear spring night. Since there are very few densely populated areas in Wyoming, getting away from light pollution is pretty easy, and the sky takes on a whole new character. It?s like the universe is close enough to touch, and one at once feels the bigness of Creation and the wonder of having the chance to perceive it all.
But yet, I still couldn?t see very well. I ended up moving down to Tucson, Arizona for a few months to try and sort my life out as I was emerging into adulthood. I finally got to the point where my eyes were starting to bother me, and I was getting unbearable headaches. So a trip to the optometrist was in order. Forty-five minutes later I emerged with my first pair of glasses, and it wasn?t long before I was ready to look up into the sky again.
Tucson is somewhat unique in that once the sun goes down, there are almost no streetlights. A nearby observatory ensures a local ordinance that tries to crack down on light pollution, and so it is possible to get a wonderful view of the heavens from within city limits.
My first view of the stars with glasses was filled with both awe and regret. I was able to see things I had never seen before, as if a whole new world was opened up to me. I also realized that I had wasted a lot of time and missed out on so much because of my unwillingness to accept my limitations and grow beyond them.
In many ways, any career field is like going through adolescence; there is the awkwardness of finding oneself, discovering one?s gifts, and coming to grips with one?s skills and limitations. Very few of us begin anything knowing exactly what we?re supposed to do or being an expert at it. Rather, we usually fumble our way through it like gangly youths trying to become comfortable in our own skin.[quote]Very few of us begin anything knowing exactly what we?re supposed to do or being an expert at it.[/quote]
For design, developing one?s own style is kind of like coming out of adolescence and entering adulthood. It?s that moment when one has reached maturity and discovered one?s own personality and self. It doesn?t come easily, but takes a lot of hard work and determination. So how do we grow up and find our own style?
While there are some artistic prodigies, most of us will scrape and claw our way into any sort of aesthetic proficiency. And in spite of the marketing for design software, which promises an unleashing of creativity, we all quickly realize that the tools of the trade will not actually do that much for us. Most of it is gritting it out and fighting through the dark periods of ?uncreativity? and looming deadlines.
Experience is perhaps the most important tool in developing one?s style. For while we all like to talk about how we value creativity and taking risks and whatnot, the truth is that a whole lot of good design is knowing what works and, more importantly, what doesn?t. It?s a natural fact of the creative field that we all go through ebbs and flows in style?which often mimic the things we see around us. I have about six months of work that invokes a lot of grungy sunbursts and halftone patterns, which were hot in 2006 (unless I came late to the party). And while there is nothing wrong with remaining current with design trends and learning from what is popular, it can severely limit one?s own style development if it is used as a crutch rather than as a launching pad.[quote]Inspiration comes from many sources. But it?s meant to be inspiration, not the basis for one?s creative endeavors.[/quote]
Inspiration comes from many sources. But it?s meant to be inspiration, not the basis for one?s creative endeavors. Experience can take the things we see around us and shape and mold them into our own particular vision, which can only happen if we are willing to look around, utilize our experiences, and transpose them into something else.
Developing one?s own style is thus kind of like putting on glasses to see something that you?ve never been able to see before. It?s letting new worlds open up to you even though they might be the same ones you?ve seen a thousand times. We can try to grit out our own particular style, but more often than not it comes as a response to what we see and experience. It?s a reaction of gratitude to the gift of life and beauty that fills up the universe and surrounds us on every side.
True, this sounds a bit esoteric. But look up at sky in the middle of the night on an empty road in the middle of Wyoming and tell me if the grandeur of Creation evokes any other response. To be sure, such sights can be analyzed to death and seen from many different angles until the wonder is sapped out them. But the essence of the creative vision is gratitude, to consider oneself blessed just to be able to take a part in such overwhelming beauty.[quote]The essence of the creative vision is gratitude, to consider oneself blessed just to be able to take a part in such overwhelming beauty.[/quote]
In this light, a personal style is no longer about getting likes on Dribbble or being featured in Computer Arts or receiving accolades from those we want to enjoy our work. Those things are nice, but they are not the essence of a personal style. While a style can be developed, I am convinced that first of all it must be found. And that discovery happens as a result of letting beauty and wonder affect us deeply, so much that we cannot help but place our own efforts into describing that effect.
After all, when you can finally see what you?ve never seen before, you cannot help but want to see more.