The Fine Line of Graphic Design

{a random striped object for your amusement}

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fine lines between different jobs. Sometimes it’s so easy to tip over into a career that’s related to your interest but doesn’t fit you exactly. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about graphic design. Many artists seem to end up in the graphic design realm because it seems like a more viable career. A few years ago, I started studying graphic design in earnest, only to realize that it was really my second choice. It wasn’t my passion—sure it might fit better than being a data entry clerk, but wouldn’t it be better to give the real thing a try? Actually try to be an artist first?

Now, I’m not knocking graphic design—there are lots of people who are meant to do it—in fact, one of my graphic design teachers confessed that she had started out in fine art, but really didn’t feel right there. Later on, she figured out that graphic design was where she belonged, and she absolutely loves it—I mean, it knocks her socks off {and she’s an outstanding teacher because of it}. But it’s also quite easy for artists to end up there by accident—trying to be practical, or because they can. Lately, I’ve been tipping into that realm for a few projects (despite my realization a few years ago), and while I do somewhat enjoy it, I start to get cranky if I spend too much time away from creating art.

To an innocent bystander, it might seem like graphic design is creating art, and on some level it is, but the question is more: what is the purpose of the creation? Art is all about your own personal vision and expression, whereas graphic design is about expressing other people—representing them to the world. It’s a really amazing thing to help people represent themselves well, but if you long to create from your own wild imagination, you will no doubt start to feel stifled.

{another random striped object for your further amusement}

I find that these kinds of jobs exist all over the arts (and surely in other fields too)—say you want to be a fine art nature photographer, but you end up doing portrait photography, or you’d love to write, but you end up teaching English, or you want to be a chef, but you end up managing a restaurant. Again, I’m not knocking any of these jobs—there are people whose passion is to be a portrait photographer, English teacher, restaurant manager, but if you just end up there (with no intentions or moves towards leaving), what’s the point?

This has quickly turned into another one of my motivational rants about living your dreams. Please forgive me, this line of talk seems to be hard-wired in my brain, and it was especially riled up today as I just decided to turn down some graphic design work because I really REALLY need some time to let my creative brain wander!

I just wanted to share these ideas with anyone out there who struggles, as I do, with turning down work—because couldn’t we all use a little extra cash? But sometimes, it’s just not worth it—you can’t put a price on your freedom. It’s OK to say NO, in fact, it’s a blessing and a giving act, because then someone else who would really love to do the work can step up to the plate.

Perhaps I am naive to think these things—to think that you can make a living at whatever your heart desires. But sometimes it’s good to be naive—sometimes you need to be naive in order to do the impossible. Happy Creative Day!


3 Responses to “The Fine Line of Graphic Design”

  1. 2 Kerri June 10, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Oh I know, I KNOW! I feel the same! After many many years working with children (which I did not love) I decided to be ‘sensible’ and study floristry. Well I worked my butt off in sydney, got my qualifications and moved to a small town in New Zealand. Were there any florist jobs there? No. Not one. And while some people insist I should have continued to knock on doors until I finally got a (non advertised) job in a florist, I can’t shake the feeling that the universe had the last laugh! I’m not a florist, I’m an artist and it seems I can’t escape that, and to be honest I’m quite pleased about it! If I had gotten a florist job I don’t think I would be where I am now, because I needed a serious amount of job hate to get me to this point!

    • 3 bluebicicletta June 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

      Amen Kerri! I also wouldn’t be where I am without serious amounts of job hate. There is something to be thankful for in the misery of working a job that makes you physically ill—it forces you into a new gear! I have often had the sense that the universe is laughing at me too, and when I really started to go towards art, it was just so darn obvious—How could I have kept missing it for so long!?

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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