HOW’D I GET HERE?…
I’ve always loved to draw.
When I was a kid, I’d spend hours with my drawing pad and a massive collection of colored pencils and pens (my weapons of choice). As I got older, those drawings got more elaborate, some taking multiple days or even weeks to finish. But, I always looked at art as merely a hobby.
Eventually, I gave it up to become a scientist.
Years went by, and I barely gave art any thought. Then, around 2006, I was visiting my parents in Winnipeg, Canada. They’d recently downsized to a smaller home and, as I walked through the door, my dad’s face lit up.
“Guess what I found?”
He produced a torn up, dog-eared sketch pad I’d used as a kid. Some of the drawings I mention above (the ones that took days to finish) were in that pad.
The last (completed) drawing was dated March 31st, 1986. I would have been 16, and it was pretty good. But, my heart sank a little as I slowly realized it had been 20 years since I’d drawn for pleasure.
By that time, I was immersed in a career as a scientist – that same career I’d grudgingly leave in 2013…for art.
But, feeling temporarily inspired, I downloaded a free trial of Adobe Illustrator (CS2) after that faithful visit in 2006, and challenged myself to learn…something.
By that time, I was using our lab’s PowerPoint template to create science conference posters and Illustrator seemed like a natural progression. If I was going to waste my time learning new software, I might as well be able to use it for work-related purposes down the line.
But, roughly six months after opening up Illustrator for the first time, I started a small art website. Even though I took the odd commission, I didn’t make any money off that site. I was working full time in academia, it was only a hobby, and I was happy just to be back at it. In fact, I took my last commission in 2010, around the time the stress of working and being a new mom wiped out any remaining hours I had during the day. By 2011, my art was relegated to the odd, donated event poster. I was ok with that, too.
That site is long gone by the way.
But, it represents my first attempts at both digital art and entrepreneurship. I made a lot of mistakes, but I realize today that a snap decision I’d made in 2006 to download some software would ultimately be the largest determining factor that’s led me to where I am now. Illustrator is somewhat intuitive in that you can open it up and, without any instruction, you might be able to figure out how to draw a line or make a square. Little did I know back then that my getting comfortable (and eventually confident) with it would lead me to other, more challenging art and animation software. But, it all started with Illustrator CS2, some online tutorials, and this book.
Today, I make my living producing animations about science.
When answering “How’d I get here?” I’m not entirely sure how things fell into place. A lot happened between 2006 and 2017. And, really, you need only to know two things:
This path has been anything but linear.
My animation production company and this side ‘distraction’ don’t happen if it weren’t for my Dad finding an old sketch pad in 2006.
SCIENCE APP PROJECT
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