Just a warning, this is the longest post I have ever done but it does sum up who I am at this point.
Who am I? A rather existential question I know, but one that I am fine tuning. As I see myself through others' lens, it has become clearer to me as to what my true basic strengths are.
Am I a creative graphic designer? Absolutely. I have created many print and web assets for myself and my clients over 25 years.
Am I an instructor? Yes, and one who is deeply interested in my client's success.
Creative? I took Creative Problem Solving courses in Design School and eventually taught a Creative Thinking course at Fanshawe College for 2 years. Lateral thinking is how I automatically think.
A collaborator? I am happiest when I am working with a cohesive and collaborative group. Am I am mentor? Well that comes with being an instructor. Again, I really care that a person gets what I am trying to teach them.
Great sales person? Yes, I had success early in my life with cold calling businesses and achieved top sales for a campaign for Canada Trust.
English geek? I graduated with 2 grade 13 english courses. As my children were growing up, they called me the Grammar Queen. I never let them get away with anything in that matter.
Experience being on the bleeding edge? With my work on the original EasyWeb design for Canada Trust and also for creating icons for CTConnect, it was all a wild west mentality in the advent of the web. I feel very blessed that I had these opportunities.
In 1994 I was in San Francisco with my husband because Canada Trust won an award for the first web banking website in Canada. While he was at the conference, I had a rental car and ended up driving down the El Camino Real asI headed to San Jose. I met with a manager at Adobe and was shown around. I drove by Apple (lots of basketball courts out back), saw Netscape Headquarters, and generally enjoyed being in silicon valley.
In the early years of our family, my husband was travelling across North America for his work, I did a lot of the daily routines myself. As our children grew up, they were both in various extracurricular activities, I was on a non profit board, I also continued doing graphic and web design work and volunteered extensively. In other words, I like being busy. I volunteered at my children's school for many years as well and created graduation videos for their respective classes.
I was on a non profit board for over 11 years which included being on the executive team. Here I lent my hand at creating graphics and web content for them. I learned a lot about consensus building while I was here. I learned a lot about dealing with others who had different ideas as I had. Overall, I am very thankful for those experiences. They taught me to really listen to others and keep the dialogue open always because eventually, nuggets of truth come out and issues can be resolved.
My husband and I were general contractors on designing and building our dream home. We dealt with many trades at the same time and with crazy timelines. I sourced out most of the items needed. Spending many months researching, pricing, validating, verifying , and communicating with potential trades and resources,
With our house building project, I learned that I enjoyed making sure every stone was turned, every option exhausted, Doing my due diligence is something that I enjoyed. If there is a possibility of something being done, I will find out how to make it happen, and I have on many occasions.
I am at a very exciting time in my life where my children are grown up and I can focus again on what interests me. I look forward to new opportunities that utilize my skill set.
Back in the early 2000s when I was teaching at the Design School at Fanshawe College, I co-taught a course on Creative Thinking to Graphic Design students. One of the topics covered in the course was Lateral Thinking. This is the opposite as Linear or Vertical thinking where you start at A and then go to B and on to C, etc.
Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono who wrote many books on the subject. Examples of lateral thinking include brainstorming, random associations, mind maps, analogies and metaphors; ways to think broadly or sideways and eventually come back, fine tune and come up with some final options. There are other methods of Lateral Thinking to solve problems such as the Triz method. The TRIZ method depends on previous experience and logic/research rather than unpredictable thinking.
Lateral thinking is helpful in every type of creative endeavour, whether it is UX interface design, graphic, industrial, landscape and actually any type of design you can think of. It can also help with non design dilemmas such as what are you going to wear to a special function. If you are trying to figure out a solution to a problem. there can be many tools in your toolbox.
As a student of Industrial Design, during all three years, we took a course called Creative Problem Solving in which lateral thinking was but one of many tools taught to us. It has helped me to shape my thinking skills for every aspect of my life. Before I started Industrial Design, I could always do but did not have as much confidence in idea generation. After my graduation though, I was a fountain of ideas and it enriched all aspects of my life.
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things."
Let me start with the quote from Red Adair that states, " If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
In the 1990s there were two main corporate training companies in London, Productivity Point and Executrain. I was the Graphics instructor for both companies. I also taught for Fanshawe Cont Ed, Fanshawe Design, Western FIMS and Continuing Studies, and for lots of companies in London and throughout Southwestern Ontario.
London used to be a vibrant hub of corporate training. Yes, really! With the advent of desktop publishing, companies, required people from their marketing department to suddenly create in-house flyers, ads, and other designs. I was brought in to help them understand the software and design process and to make them successful. Every one had their own computer set up, whether it was a stand alone, Mac or PC, or on a network.
I remember teaching scanning techniques at 3M. Discussions of what the proper resolution for print and presentation of scanned images were at the forefront. Yes, we needed two folders, one for high res and one for low res images going to their proper output, either print or presentations respectively.
I get it that the entrepreneurial attitude is to keep costs low and do everything themselves. What they don't realize is that if they need to speak to a designer or printer, they may not have the tools to talk to them in a meaningful way. Having a professional that has experience in hundreds of different configurations of how software and hardware is used can cut through the time needed and come to point of clarity in a much shorter amount of time for the client.
At a networking meeting before Christmas attended by graphic designers and marketers, I sheepishly told them how I wanted to restart teaching design to the masses and I got an overwhelming "YES. PLEASE", with comments of their frustration of working with companies that had no idea about colour space, resolution or grids.
In my previous post, I stated that there is a form of amnesia in London as to the validity of corporate training. I have found myself explaining this phenomenon to people I meet who end up being slack jawed and slightly glassy eyed, not being able to understand the concept. I have some work to do.
I have my own experience of going to Toronto for training. I taught a 2 day Illustrator course for a very large graphic training company in the early 2000s. I was very successful there and they wanted me back but I did not enjoy being away from my family and they had to put me up at a hotel. I got the feedback from my clients later that they too did not want to go to TO and were very happy that I could help them locally.
Since this post is getting too long, I will continue in a new post soon as to my effectiveness as an instructor and how it doesn't have to be a long term commitment. I will also discuss how the concept of learning online can be very ineffective.
There is an old adage that time flies...well it sure does!
24 years ago, in the month of February 1992, I created the first 30 hour Adobe Illustrator course at Fanshawe Night School. I was only given a couple of weeks heads up that it was a go. An advantage of youth is to say yes and figure it out as you go along.
I created the curriculum week by week. I had a lot of help from Adobe with their "Classroom in a Box" packages. When a school bought many licences for a product, there were teacher videos and books to aid in the teaching. There were no such things as textbooks on the subject back then (or any other graphic software, for that matter) so I created the handouts myself. This is where I worked on understanding how others learned and at what pace. This started my journey of being a curriculum developer.
2 years later, in 1994 I created the night time, Adobe Photoshop course, also 30 hours in length. It was very customary for my to have students come to me at the end of the first night and say they learned more in the first 3 hours than they had in months or longer. At this time I started using the Visual Quick Start Guides from Peachpit Press as textbooks.
That same year I created Electronic Graphic Design, a 54 hour course that went the gamut from design theory, typography, colour theory, then through Illustrator, Photoshop and PageMaker (before InDesign was created). I then taught students how to take their designs and send them to a printer, the web and presentation software.
From 1992 to 2002, I taught not only at Fanshawe Continuing Ed but at Western FIMS, Western Continuing Studies, corporately in London and throughout Southwestern Ontario. My last 2 years I taught at the design school at Fanshawe showing Urban Planning students how to take their CAD files and bring them into graphic software programs and create portfolios for print, web and presentation.
As a graduate of BealArt and Fanshawe Design, I have 5 years post secondary art and design training. I still am up to date on my software and love learning about new technology.
I am very grateful for the opportunities that have come my way, and even though 24 years is a long time, I am looking forward to many more years learning new things and sharing my experiences. The teacher in this body just isn't ready to give up.
I am looking forward to new experiences.
This blog is to showcase my ongoing work.