When I was 13 years old I started in high school, or secondary school as it is commonly known in Ireland. For the first year I have some hazy memories but one would have lasting impact on my life, even now. While the first school I was attending had been a local community school, no-one else in my class was moving on to this high school. My memory of why I chose to go to the school is just as hazy but I think it had something to do not wanting tp take a bus everyday. The year I started was the first year in the 100 plus year history of this school were girls were admitted; so there was some extra attention given to my year than there normally would have. I dont remember making any particular effort in getting to know anyone in school but I do remember having two friends in that first year. Mostly we kept to ourselves, the weird freaks and geeks in what would become an increasingly disruptive graduating class.
The one lasting memory of that year was when I was kicked out of art class because I did not have talent. The teacher said that it was due to being lazy and did not complete the homework in a satisfactory manner. I don’t actually remember if I was truely lazy but I will say that it was the only class where I ever got in trouble for not performing any homework as far as I can recollect. My memory is that I was asked to draw a trainer and when I presented my work to the teacher she was insensed, stating that I clearly had not tried. The work I handed in was shoddy, the lines where not straight enough and there was no perspective in the drawing at all. While this may be true it was not from lack of trying. Our year was split in two, half the year would be devoted to woodwork & electrical studies, commonly known as “Technology”. The other half of the year got to try art. After being removed from the class I was pushed to the other classroom, studying Technology for the remainder of the year. I recall taking this in my stride. I was much more comfortable with writing words than colours, or so I told myself. The funny thing is that Technology required quite a bit of technical drawing, and given some additional tools I was quite successful in these tasks. Granted one of the lasting memories I have of that subject later in my school life was leaning too far back in my chair and splitting my head open off the corner of a radiator, so remembering success is very relative. It wasn’t until the following summer that I ever tried to draw for fun again. I considered myself a failure at art and didn’t try, throwing myself into writing everyday instead.
New Old Lessons.
My point of reminicing about my formative year in high-school is not to create a pity party. While I did not try any art for school, about a year later I would begin drawing and painting in earnest. I spent a lot of time reading in the local library. A few kids from my school came in and wanted to take a book out. They were not of the appropriate age to take books from the adult section and when they saw that I was at the library, knowing how much of a book work I was, asked if I would get it out for them so they could read it. That book was Subway Art by Henry Chalfant. It would be the spark that ignited friendships, rivalries, and a love of art that I had thought crushed almost a year previous. I never equated my love of graffiti with aspirations of being a graphic designer. It wasnt until I completed a very short module on Lynda.com about typography that I even thought back to my years of painting letters to an actual profession. I had thought that it was a mildly rebellious act of art I persued due to friendships and as a thumb in the nose at the teacher who had kicked me from class. Graffiti to me is pure artistic impression. There are very few rules, mostly you do what you can to stand out in a realm saturated with colour. Typography morphs from logical expression of ideas to abstract art in the hands of even the most rudimentary artist.
Finding A Passion.
When was older I was forced to give up my hobby for legal reasons, not to mention that while I loved painting, it was an expensive hobby. I had bills to pay and I did not think to connect it with a legitimate career choice. I had been practicing the art for years but I still thought back to getting kicked out of art class. I thought that I was bad at it and did not have what it took to make a career out of my passion. I never thought to transfer my years of practice to an legal, marketable business. When I gave up on the hobby I also lost friends that I had made. We had different interests and went in seperate directions, as most people do after high school. I know some of them continued to practice and a few even took their art to university but I lost track of them after that. When I moved to Canada, after years of working in a corporate banking environment, I met a new group of people who encouraged artistic expression. I discovered graphic design as a career. While I have few regrets about the years in which I did not draw, contending myself with other creative outlets, I do wish I had of discovered this profession sooner. I wish I had realised that one teacher telling me I was not good enough did not mean that I had to give it up forever. I have just started a marketing and graphic design company, my trip down memory lane made me realize that making art, expecially typographical art, is one of the few things I have been passionate about. I wish I had realised this sooner.
You Do You.
I hope this tale of teenage angst doesn’t bore anyone. You should continue to persue your passions and dont let anyone tell you that you cant. You’re passions, provided they dont hurt anyone, will help you sustain a happier life. No one gets out of here alive so you may as well do what you love while you have the time.