Little pieces of me

billboard There it is. Loud and (thank the good lord) clear at the edge of town.

I can’t take all the credit as it was such a collaborative piece. I am very thankful that I got to play a small role in it as it has been a real learning curve. Printing something A4 size is totally different to printing something F*%#ing Huge size (pretty sure that’s a technical term right there).

One of the drawbacks of working freelance straight out of … ok, almost finished … Design College is the huge learning curve that sometimes feels more like a tsunami.

I do wish there was an opportunity to work somewhere local as a Junior Designer so I could pickcar the brains of fellow workers when sticky projects come up because my current go-to knowledge base is Google and my study notes. In other words, precious little.

Unfortunately, I believe I’ll have to leave town to get the opportunity to work in an actual agency and whilst that’s not the shittiest idea in the world (I would gladly move southwest – closer to the coast and further from the heat), NIH has a great job and is very happy. I don’t want to shake that tree just yet when I can still get by on doing what I’m doing.

It has been kinda cool to see some of the projects I’ve worked on get finished off and start appearing around town, even if they are just tweaks of original designs (with permission, of course) rather than entirely my own originals. I guess I’m the carpenter equivalent of a handyman – I may not build the house but by gum, I can fix that hole in the wall, no worries.

I’m slowly getting the gist of what I really like doing design-wise. Whilst images are cool and all, my real love is the ol’ formatting of Final_Gone but not forgotten-1documents. Another project I’ve just finished involved a local exhibition to commemorate ANZAC Day.  The design section was quite simple and low-key and it was the formatting of text in the document that took the most time.

Funnily enough, nothing gives me more satisfaction than perfectly presented text.  I think that’s the proofreader in me coming out.

My next big project is designing the collateral for Queensland Public Library Association’s upcoming conference in October. It involves everything from the initial branding design to creating programs, forms, website and bits and pieces.

Seriously, how awesome is that?

 

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Designing a logo

Souzou Designs blogOtherwise known as “What in blue blazers do I want to call myself that doesn’t sound cliché or pretentious or dorky?”, it’s a process that hasn’t been very easy for me.

After much internal debate, internet searching and musing in the wee hours of the morning, I decided to focus on something Japanese, since both my better half and I have a bit of a love affair for the country, its people and philosophies.

Souzou in Japanese means ‘imagine’ or ‘imagination’, which I thought was rather fitting since I need to use so much of it with some of the jobs I do. I chose cherry blossoms, or Sakura, as they only flower for a very brief period of a few weeks (we were so lucky to time our week trip right at Cherry Blossom time this year!) and are thought to represent the ephemeral beauty of life. Hopefully the fleeting nature of its flowering won’t in any way relate to my business!

I drew the cherry blossoms with pencil then traced over with felt tip pen. I scanned the design into Photoshop and painted the colours in. I had to buy the Japanese calligraphy for ‘souzou’ but it was cheap and worth it to make sure it was legit!

I really like it – which is rather important since this is my ‘brand’ now. Funny though – it’s one thing to come up with a logo but entirely another to register it as a business name and then start using it. I guess it’s commitment to myself as a business entity and the logo is a rather large chunk of me up on display. Very personal and a little unnerving … but they say that growth only comes when you step out of your comfort zone.

I’m a fake

brains

Techno overload

It’s true. I am. I pretend to be a Twitter user but I’m not really.  I know – now you’re all gasping in disbelief and unliking my posts and defollowing me. But before you condemn me, hear my pleas for mercy!

You see, I’ve had this Twitter account for several years. And every 18 months or so, I brush off the cobwebs that remember my password (not that hard, I only have two … oops, shouldn’t have said that) and get back online and try to be a Twit ..Tweeter … whatever it is. And I fail. Miserably. This is attempt number four. Hopefully, this one will stick.

Maybe it’s because I’m *cough* older. Maybe it’s because I discovered blogging and Facebooking first and there’s not enough capacity in my brain to take on Tweeting as well. Are Tweeters Facebookers too? Is it like Chocolate v Strawberry milkshakes? What is it about Twitter that’s so cool? High-profile entertainers seem to love it … in hindsight, perhaps that’s not such a great thing though. They seem to get themselves into an awful lot of trouble with just 144 characters. You’d think people who make their living via communication would be better at it … oh, wait. They have scriptwriters, don’t they? And you never hear of a scriptwriter getting themselves into trouble by saying dumb things in writing in front of millions of people (you can delete it all you want, Justin Bieber, but it will always be there screensaved on people’s phones, you sad has-been at such a young age).

I know that Twitter has street cred. I can see that, just by the reach this silly little blog has gotten in a few posts – far more than my old one did four years ago. I was so pleased the day I had more than four followers and one of them was not my family. It was a strange and exhilarating experience to think that complete strangers liked what poured out of my brain and onto the screen.  It’s like all those likes you get on a Facebook comment that you’ve crafted carefully to sound smart and witty and self-depreciating so that people will hear what you’re saying but noone will ever take offence or think you’re boasting (except for those seven weeks travelling through Japan and Europe – pretty sure people got offended at our boasting then. But screw them, we were on our honeymoon and our lives are generally too dull to post).

I just don’t know how to use Twitter effectively. Anyone got any tips? Why do you use Twitter? How does it fit into your daily life? I’d really like to know.

Where does creativity come from?

live large

I always need a push when it comes to leaps of faith …

At the start of every project, almost without fail, I look at a blank screen and wonder just how the f*#k I’m going to come up with something decent. Does everyone concerned with creating something feel the same way?

Back in the good ol’ days of full time yet tedious and incredibly stressful work, I used to relish doing the monthly report because it didn’t require creativity.  You ran a few reports on the computer, you added up visitors/circulation/amount of money spent on internet (divided by 4 to get number of hours total), you put calculations into a spreadsheet and set up the chart to work automatically … and voila! The monthly report.

Methodical. Formulaic. Safe. Fantastic for control freaks.

Nowadays, I don’t know if I’m going to be busy next week or be twiddling my thumbs (actually, I still have heaps of assignments to get done so technically I should NEVER be twiddling my thumbs but procrastination seems to be my middle name). I don’t know what type of job will be coming in or even if I’ll be able to handle it! Of course, in my more gentle, less critical moments, I realise that I always find a way to get it done. It may take longer than I thought (and I never charge the client for my own  ignorance!) but I always deliver in the end.

It’s just the process that is a struggle. I’m always super-sensitive to infringing copyright and would never blatantly copy someones work and pass it off as my own, but when I get stuck I go web surfing. I guess back before the internet, people massaged their creative juices by looking at the world around them.  I bet the first caveman didn’t worry too much about intellectual property when he fingerpainted that deer onto the wall of his cave.

Perhaps you can already tell I am procrastinating over a job.  It should be simple yet because it’s slightly left of what I usually do, I’m struggling with it. So much so that whilst I thought I had solved the problem and come up with something creative that the client would like, my brain woke me up at 2am with a loud and clear message that by changing it to a jpg file (as they’ve requested), the background that I don’t want filled in will, in fact, be filled in and it will look all boxy and now I have to come at it from a different angle.

Sigh.

I think it’s time to do a little surfing …

Turning points

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Turning points … almost like a rebirth

It’s always easier looking back and seeing the turning points in our lives. We rarely see the corner coming and odds are we never accurately predict what that corner will bring.

The big ones are pretty easy to recognise and semi-prepare for – leaving home; getting married; having children.

I never saw the dissolution of my first marriage coming … although looking back, it seems pretty goddamn clear that it was years in the making.  Likewise, my second marriage was a bit of a surprise but a really good one.

However, it’s the almost inconsequential happenings in our lives that often bring the most surprising results. Take as an example the story of how a dedicated librarian turned into a graphic designer …

We moved often in my first marriage – partly because he was in the Army for the first 7 years of it, partly because the man could not sit still to save his life. And library jobs are hard to come by. As any good librarian knows, you have to wait for someone to die or leave town before an opening comes up (preferably the latter … otherwise it’s just awkward).

Hence, in my not so huge working career (three kids are a handful on their own without a work schedule demanding your attention as well) I have completed a Bachelor of Library Science and a Graduate Diploma of Info/Library Science plus worked as: weekend Cash Office for Woolies; Learning Centre coordinator; Barmaid; Canteen convenor and Casual Typesetter/Graphic Designer for two local newspapers (not at the same time) in between the rare and precious library jobs in a primary school, private high school, TAFE college and public library.

I think the varied experiences and different locations made me a better librarian – at least, I was able to relate to people from many walks of life!  But who would have known that the first stint in a newspaper doing Graphic Design (which I got because I’d done Colour Theory and basic brochure design as part of my library technicians course) would, 12 years down the track, put me on the path to being a qualified Graphic Designer?

And the second step in that road would be feeling trapped in a library management position plus the misery of multiple miscarriages forcing me to find something to distract myself with and looking into online study courses.  Initially I was going to do Bookkeeping (methodical, controlled, useful) but Graphic Design popped up … and that was that.

I’m struggling to finish the Diploma in time as I’ve had a wedding and a long honeymoon in the middle of it to totally distract me, but there’s the option of extension and I already have clients that are happy with my work. How awesome is that?

If someone had told me 18 months ago that I would be happily married, out of the management role, working freelance and enjoying all aspects of my life, I would not have believed them. But looking back … well, it seems inevitable.

Change is good … right?

digital colour uglist dog

Copy of Bruce Whatley’s ‘Ugliest Dog in the World’ for Illustration assignment

For years I studied for first my library degree and then graduate diploma in information studies whilst raising small, incessantly noisy children.
We shifted a fair bit so I waited patiently in each new town for a library staff member to retire, leave … or die. Finally, I scored the job as manager of a library service, stretching across 10 branches and 60,000 square kilometres of Central Queensland.

And then I quit.

Well, ok. There was a tad more to it than that.
I underwent massive personal growth (read: shitty shitty times) and decided that what I needed to get me through was to study again. Study is my happy place.
Originally, it was going to be something boring but useful like bookkeeping.

But then I spied the CATC school’s online Graphic Design course … which is why I now work from home as a graphic designer and proofreader.

Change is hard. Very hard. But ultimately, it is a good thing.

What’s this blog about? I’m really not sure, to tell you the truth.  I can tell you what I want it to be.  Funny and … huh.  That’s probably about it.

And possibly I’ll throw a few arty things in, just to make it look like I’m creative (like the illustration above that I did with pencil then scanned and coloured just to play around with Photoshop a little) when actually, what I do best is putting together dry old documents and bedazzling them just a little so people won’t want to slit their wrists when they have to pretend to read them. I’m good at that.  I’m also good at being a grammar nazi, but that’s a whole other post.