When I am grown up, i’ll be … a graphic designer ?
I want to start writing again.
Maybe “starting again” is a bit much since I’ve never really started writing in this way, but before handling images and symbols as I do today, I took a certain pleasure in handling words.
Finalizing today all my latest creative projects and the new website that will shelter them brought me (pretty logically, but to my surprise) to think about a quite simple straight-forward question :
Why are you doing what you do ? Why do you like doing that ? Where does it come from ?
And that’s exactly what I’m going to answer in this particular and quite personal post.
You’ll even discover why I wanted to write about this and all the other topics that will eventually populate this segment bearing the name of “THOUGHTS”.
Like all the kids born in the 90s, I had my dinosaur period.
But as far back as I can remember, my first true passion was Ancient Egypt, with its pyramids and pharaohs in their gold-plated sarcophagi.
Not only the fact that it’s the source of my fascination with all the mythologies of the world, but what I liked the most was all these little drawings that covered the walls : the Egyptians did not write at the time with letters but with images and symbols.
Of course, I didn’t know the concepts of ideograms and phonograms at all, so I couldn’t figure out how people had the idea of coming up with something like that, and how they could read it and understand it.
Let me tell you that when I learned who Champollion was and what he had done, I immediately found my idol and what I wanted to do when I’m grown up. Yes, at the great age of 9 I had decided that I would be an egyptologist, because it was the best job in the world and that I too wanted to talk with cool symbols that only people who loved Egypt as much as I did could understand.
In the meantime (as an occasional reader of fiction at the time), I got hold of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, devoured them, and quickly forgot the hieroglyphs in favor of the secret symbols hidden in the works of art.
It was a little later, in middle school, that appeared what I was talking about at the beginning of this post. Quite simply, I deeply loved the writing assignments where you had to invent something, be it a story, a letter or poem, give it meaning and a purpose. I was not necessarily very good in this kind of exercises, but I took a lot of pleasure in these creations and that’s when I realized that I had a penchant for writing. At that moment, I was slowly starting to think about a “real” job for my future, and it appears that I had just found an interesting line of thought.
Fast forward to high school, after an 8th grade internship where I spent a week writing articles for the website of the town hall.
Despite the beginnings of my new interest in movies, the job of screenwriter seemed totally unthinkable and I decided to continue my path by targeting that of the journalist. A choice supported by my involvement with the creation of the high school newspaper (which did not live one single day), especially in terms of layout because I had been then very recently familiarized with the Adobe softwares that all my friends at the time used in heaps of personal creative projects.
Then came college after my High School Degree.
Still aspiring to become a journalist, I had to find a degree in the communication field before being able to compete at the major journalism schools. As a stroke of luck, the university closest to my home offered such a degree. But I did not realize that this choice would actually make me totally reconsider my professional future, after the open doors of the university and the presentation of the diploma, which was entirely turned towards the culture of Images.
And this is where I first discovered the two words that would become the epicenter of my future professional world : GRAPHIC DESIGN.
A quick trip to the nearest book shop and I procured myself the first of a very long line of books on the subject :
To effectively apply the discipline of graphic design, as well as have it evolve as you grow as a creative individual, you first have to fully embrace that graphic design is a unique visual language with its own alphabet, lexicon and syntax.
— Richard Poulin, The Language of Graphic Design, 2011.
So nowadays, there actually is a professional field and job where words, images, symbols, colors, forms and their composition are used through our own creativity to build and transmit messages and imbue them with a deeper meaning.
At 18, I had just found my way.
Here I am today, almost 6 years later, looking back on all of that.
It’s been a quite a while for me now that it’s no longer about simply mastering every aspect of a particular software, or be on the look for the latest visual trends.
The more I discover my strengths and my professional appetites the more it seems important to me, capital even, to understand my job and what it must accomplish in our current society ; to not forget that design comes from designare : a drawing for a purpose, an idea and its representation.
It turns out that it’s mostly through words and reading essays, especially those of Michael Bierut and Steven Heller (79 Short Essays on Design, Now You See It, Graphic Design Rants and Raves) that I manage to deepen this understanding.
And that’s what drives me today to dust off that old creative muscle of mine that is writing.
To help me better organize, speak about and share what intrigues me in the world, via this singular discovery prism that is design.