Watching them soar!

Well, we survived the Hurricane Irene mess. And might I say, there is still quite a mess. While the storm itself didn’t really amount to as much as they said it might, the aftermath in my world has been just plain messy. No power for the last 28 hours. A tree broke in half and landed right on a transformer that took out the entire street. Stuff is starting to get a bit too warm in our fridge. So we stuffed it with huge bags of ice. I feel like when I was a kid and we had in old Ice Box in the camp we summered at. Great memories!

Anyway . . . it has put a damper on my design business since I cannot use my computer. But thanks to Panera Bread and places like it and to a wonderful niece, Phoebe, who has power, I can get by.

There was a time when we didn’t use computers for design work. I can remember the “old timers” in the business telling me that they used to have to use colored pencils and charcoal paper for their layouts. They told me that what I used (tracing paper, and Pantone papers and markers and photostats) was so far superior and yet . . . they managed to create beautiful layouts for ads and brochures and calendars and annual reports and books and everything else.

Now we use computers. But you know what the best computer is? Not an IBM or a Dell. Not a Compaq or an Apple. The best computer is the one attached to your shoulders. Always was and always will be.

Your head and the brain inside it is the best way to come up with ideas. A computer may be fast but it is not creative. You are!

A computer may give choices of colors and techniques and styles of typography. But it doesn’t put it all together in a creative way to communicate. You do!

The more I learn about computers the more respect I have for them. Yet I have even more respect for people like some of the students I used to have. I recently retired from a local college but will admit that I miss the teaching. What I miss most is what I like to call the “Aha Moment!” The part in a student’s life when they get what you are talking about. Here is an example; I had an entire class one year that were all illustrators when I taught at a local art school. I do not remember how that happened but there was one very talented young woman who was petrified of Typography. She got incredibly uptight when she had to render type on the page of a layout for brochures, advertisements, etc.

As I said, she was very talented as an illustrator. So when I encouraged her to think of the type or words as yet another thing to illustrate, she gave me the weirdest look. Then that look changed to the “Aha Moment!” She GOT IT! After that there was no place for her to go but up.

When I started teaching at a community college there were no computers in the college at all. Then they started having special classrooms just for computers. My classes were taught in an art studio. Slowly but surely the students wanted the use of computers to do their art projects. Eventually we were transported into the computer labs where all graphic design classes are held today.

But those first years were painful. I was there to teach about design and the creative process. Some students knew about computers and more of them did not. Those years of growing pains are a thing of the past. Pains because I watched students struggle with the technology while trying to learn about the design process as well.

But we got through it okay and many of those students are now in the business of design in many ways, shapes and forms.

It is an awesome responsibility to teach people, be they child or adult. It is an even more rewarding realization to be the one to send them out into the world and know they are soaring!

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