How to become a designer: my story

When I was younger my mother made sure art was part of my life very early on. My parents were dancers and liked to tell people that they were pregnant with me during an advanced ballroom dancing examination. My older sisters danced and likewise I ended up dancing as soon as registration was possible… I ended up dancing ballet, ballet-jazz and hip-hop for 13 years straight. We took music lessons. I was in an acting summer camp.

That said, there was also arts and crafts in my house. We’d come back from vacation in Florida with seashells and sand dollars and paint them during birthday parties, or mod podge colourful paper onto rocks, or create picture frames with felt paper and dried flowers, or paint with our fingers. The possibilities were endless!

That’s what I learned art was. I could be and do anything.

Yet I was also always told to open all the doors of opportunity for myself. I’ve always been bookish and studious in school. I excelled in most subjects. In high school I decided to take Physics and Chemistry as my optionals, and I was originally placed in Advanced Math but due to lack of open spots was downgraded to Regular Math. This was all part of my master plan to leave myself as many doors open for my future. I wanted to have choices when the time came to make THE choice. For my future.

I cannot tell you how stressed I was throughout my last year of high school, wondering what I should do for the rest of my life. What was I good at? I mean, I liked Math well enough but I didn’t see myself counting numbers and solving equations for the rest of my life. I wasn’t so hot on Physics. I was passing but that was all the appreciation I had for it. I liked hands-on Chemistry but had no mind for it. I love love loved writing stories, but I didn’t want the bleak finances of a depressed, starving writer.

I knew I loved being creative. The stereotype of the starving artist was all I had to go on (re: starving writer!), and like I mentioned I didn’t want to be a starving artist living in a dirty one-room studio with the walls so close I’d feel like they were closing in. I’ve lived in a one-room studio in Korea and while I survived it, I didn’t want a repeat performance.

But I’d gotten into Photoshop, HTML and CSS at some point in high school and knew I liked all that. And I slowly became aware, from looking at websites being created by other people I admired, that I could probably make money from making websites.

So I decided to throw a look around and see where I could study. It turned out to be much closer to home than I had anticipated, and so I joyously applied, having the audacity to only apply to that one school despite the contingency. I had good grades! How could they refuse me? (I think every designer is slightly conceited sometimes, but you didn’t hear it from me)

Now, more than five years later, I realize that my studiousness translates into a love for details as a designer. My future is uncertain at this point (I have lofty dreams!) but fun and vibrant with possibilities as yet unexplored. I’m currently stuck in a windowless, dusty room feeling like the reject you need to hide away at my current position, but I’m honing my craft and my skills and paving the way to that dream.