I had two blogs before this one, but they both went to R.I.P in the electronic forever after. On this one, I wanted to focus on challenging my writing skills. Any challenge is good enough for me. The frequency of regular and creative posting might trigger the mojo inside to squeeze and ooze the good stuff out to smile for the camera. I agree that this last imagery might not be my best metaphor to date but you get the picture. I now consider myself equally an illustrator as much as a writer. But it hadn’t always been the case.
I wanted to share with you what eventually made a difference in my life as for the perception of one’s own abilities. And that sometimes you need an outsider’s heartfelt opinion to realize your own potential, because as we all experienced it at one point in our lives, we are sometimes our own worst judge of character. I can remember the time I was working for a corporate identity company as a drone graphic artist, doing hundreds of adaptations on a theme. You know, the company logos on everything but the kitchen sink type of thing? We had a long time employee move to California (I’m from Montreal) and I volunteered my skills to format a farewell package to send her off to the ever so sunny southern part of the Americas. I was given the reigns to take the direction that would have her send-off, a success. Together with a few photo-shopped funnies of the protagonist in various compromising situations, I concocted a California dreaming cliché package and a farewell praising speech. And , to my surprise they nominated me, the deliverer of that speech.
The problem was, that my skills as a public orator were and still are, to put it bluntly, as effective as a flint on wet wood as a fire starter. I might have to join one of toastmaster’s group someday. I broke down on the first few lines of the delivery and had to delegate the speech, to the dismay of the next poor soul in line. But, what made the difference was that, afterwards, that same person came to me privately and told me, I was in the wrong business (graphic design in this instance). She had tears in her eyes. I didn’t even have to ask her why, I knew intrinsically what she meant and it stirred me to my core. At that point in time, in my life, she made total sense to me without even knowing it. She turned my life on a dime in an instant. I had composed and delivered lyrics for published songs before, but never considered myself a full fledged writer. My art was at the forefront, not my writings. And she turned it upside down right there. It made me question my priorities and my direction. But in the long run, thinking about it now, it equalized everything. Smoothed the whole thing out like peanut butter on hot toast. Both had the right of way in my life, they just had to find their respective spaces. And that’s the day I became an illustrator SLASH writer.
I remember when I told my peers that I was going to pursue a degree in graphic arts, they were a little skeptic. At that time I was in the music business and although I had been drawing even before I picked up my first instrument at the tender age of 12, my life’s path surely did not include drawing professionally in its plan. But to be honest, I always heeded my parent’s warnings to have a back up career just in case that rock star music thingy didn’t work out. It did go quite a ways in music before I was confronted with that decision, but that’s a story for another blog. I wasn’t even sure myself if I had the potential to make this drawing thing an official job. Someone suggested a degree in fine arts and I cringed, looking at Rembrandt, Van Gogh and the like. No way my brush strokes had that kind of finesse. No, graphic arts for me was a more prudent choice. And plus my color blindness was really apparent in all matters of life. Coordinating my clothes and making room paint colors scheme, I left that to the better judgement of a keener eye then mine. Not that I hadn’t tried searching for a better alternative career considering my shortcomings , one that would not need a discerning color vision to be efficient. But it always got back to the same answer, else for music what would be something sustainable and pleasurable as a choice, and not one that in the long haul, getting to middle age, I would want to gouge my eyes out from their sockets, hating my job so much.
Graphic arts it was. Didn’t Albert Uderzo, the famous co creator of the famed Asterix series was colorblind and he still made great art, he had people color his drawing for him? He was my inspiration and my hope and faith. I knew my handicap would be a giant hurdle to compound. But since it was a second career and for me, my music came first, the pressure was greatly reduced. I was only doing it as a backup. But then schooling was about to begin and that first day was looming and it scared me more and more as the day approached. I was able to hide it pretty well with different methods that I developed over the years. But I would enter the classroom every day with a dreadful fear that I would be uncovered by being asked to identify a color. If that would happen I thought I would die of shame and crawl under a rock. The only thing that kept me going was that I would get the education that would bring my art to a higher level. And that was motivation enough for me.
I graduated without even my closest classmates ever knowing. I also did quite a few jobs afterwards involving color management and I went trough them with flying colors, if you pardon the pun. I even got a rave from one client whom I dared suggest a color scheme for their site and later, in a bout of remorse, confessed to her my little secret. She did thought it was all little odd at first, but most original, it worked perfectly for the purpose. And I don’t like that term, colorblind, I don’t see in black and white by no means, I would rather call it, color selectiveness. My point here is, don’t get sidetracked and don’t ever let society’s pre defined principles put a burden on your dreams and aspirations. Carve your own wake. Hey, I’m a
colorblind color selective artist, and I function pretty well. Be all you can be and thrive no matter what. Never be afraid of breaking the mold. Do what you want and don’t let anybody tell you different, as long as it’s legal to do so. Off the soapbox now!.