Brushes to Mice and Floppies to DVDs

mecalf Time moves fast and so does technology. I used to be very passionate about it and eager to learn everything I could. As a graphic designer/photographer, I feel like I have had to keep up with everything, but it just moves faster and faster. My interest grew from drawing and painting, photography and designing and painting signs. I've always been interested in art — it was always my favorite subject in school — next to math (yeah, really).  I grew up on a farm, so there was never a lack of subject matter.
Toby the Collie
Through high school, I did a lot of painting, first with acrylics, then oils. Buildings were of interest - churches, barns, a school, the bank, our many pets, cows and dogs. The old general store that my grandpa worked at for over 50 years won a statewide contest and reminds me of  the massive quantities of candy that was of importance as a kid: Beemans, Cloves and Adams Sour Grape gum, orange slices and Bun candy bars; and the other things that stood out: the meat slicer and the long arm grabber thing that reached the boxes of cereal high on the shelf. There was even a side room full of clothing and shoes, aging from years past in the dust. The old rolltop desk where records were kept. Vintage lighting and fixtures. You could even get embroidery floss in Livingston! I can still smell the inside of that store. But I digress...
Joe Allen's Store Painting
When I graduated from high school, I bought my first SLR camera, a Ricoh A100 with my graduation money and started "seeing" better as I took courses at UW-Platteville. I had a great professor who showed endless slide shows of photographs, explaining how the photographer was seeing. It was rather boring at the time, but very valuable. Learned about f-stops and how it affects depth of field, shutter speeds, dodging and burning. He was a great design/photography teacher and had a lot of influence on me. At the time, the degree was more of an overall communications degree, rather than being based solely on art and design. I still had an interest in agriculture, so I changed my major to ag business with graphics minor, hoping to one day work for an agricultural company doing graphic design.
Farm Auction Catalog
I took a job at the local shopper, as a pasteup artist, back in the day when typesetters output type, images were shot on a camera and it was all put together on a page. Soon, we moved into the computer age and that meant learning how to use a Mac, QuarkXpress and Photoshop. I dove in and was very passionate about learning. It was fun to be able to do it all on one screen. I bought books, I took a Mac class, I scanned the gazillion logos we had on tiny cutout PMTs, I trained others. I absolutely loved designing advertising, covers and tab sections. Gave me a lot of confidence, because I was working with creative people and able to figure out just what they needed to satisfy the customer. Work that never seemed like work.
Walnut Hollow Catalog Cover
After a short stint at a small company, I was offered a chance to come back to the same company that owned the shopper, working for a magazine as an art director. I designed advertising, composed pages, updated website. I had two old blue Mac G4s and I worked in Dubuque in a small group, which was nice. Then 9/11 happened, and I had the wild idea to quit my job and try to go on my own. If you know me, I'm not much of a promoter, and selling myself definitely is one of my weaknesses. So, it didn't work out very well. I bought a vinyl cutter, so I could do signs, which was great, but it took up a lot of room in my tiny house. But, I learned a lot about using Illustrator and more about myself. Not enough that I didn't try it again though.
Rewey sign
Village of Rewey Sign
Off to a prepress job I went, part-time. Checking file after file is not my idea of satisfying. I wanted to design, and it didn't offer much of that. Little did I know, the design thing would elude me again. So, after a couple years of that and an offer to make me full-time (I had benefits at 32 hours), I left...and, tried the business thing again. Guess what? I still couldn't promote myself! Next stop, Lands' End. By then, InDesign had taken over as the go-to graphic design software. I learned it. Did a lot of printing. Showed them that I do pretty well at Photoshop, so that became my main job. And after nine years, I'm still there, editing images. I work with some very talented people and have learned a lot.
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Image Editing- Before/After
As with any field these days, the technology has come a long way in a short time. Floppies, to dvds...Ricoh film to Canon digital...Macintosh LCIII to iMac, Quark to InDesign. Images have more and more megapixels, hard drives get bigger and bigger, computers can no longer be updated, and everyone tries to do more with less, it's crazy. And just what is "the cloud" anyway? So much money must be spent if you're going to keep up, that I wonder if it's worth it. After all, design still eludes me. But, I am still doing photography, so I guess that might be my destiny, if there is a destiny at 51. Maybe drawing and painting?

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