Aug 12, 2014

The Forces that Shape Us - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

The Forces that Shape Us

Sorry to get all existential on you, but... (you know what that means, right?  "But" is basically like saying "I'ma do it anyway")

I've been wondering how I turned out the way I did.  How did I get so opinionated and when did I start questioning every damn thing?

It wasn't my parents.  I had this conversation with my mom and she said, "You can't question everything.  There's not enough time."  My father, on the other hand, finds time to question things, but his questions are mostly, "Why didn't you do it this obvious and normal way?"  Kidding, somewhat, but he tends to define success by being successful in other people's eyes.  And my sisters, while open minded and supportive of whatever choices I make, don't seem to have the loud-mouthed zealousness that I've found within myself recently.

So I looked to the other people around me.  Who else cares about these issues?  Who else adamantly insists that female name change is antiquated, and wedding customs grossly overblown, and traditional gender roles exist only to be challenged?!  No one.  Within my intimate circle of friends, that is.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  My friends, like my sisters, are open-minded.  Even if they tend to be more traditional than myself, they listen, and we exchange ideas.  And I think that's one of the best qualities you can have in a friend.  Not to be the same person, but to both be willing to agree to disagree.

So at this point in my musings, I was confused.  Did I just turn out this obnoxious all on my own?  But no.  A faint memory flickered.

"Default is always wrong."

"Question everything.  If there's not a good reason for it, don't do it that way."

Graphic design classes.  I remember how mind-blowing those lessons seemed the 1st couple semesters.  "There's nothing wrong with black text, but don't just use it because it's the default.  Use it if it matches your color scheme."

Our instructors taught us, not just how to do something, but how to think for ourselves.  They taught us to challenge everything, to learn where the box was, so we could decide exactly how far outside of it we wanted to go and in what way.

I don't know if these lessons were intended only as part of our graphic skill set.  I don't know if they realized how far-reaching this way of thinking could become.  I don't know if they realize that at some point I've internalized these lessons and use them to analyze my daily life and make more informed decisions.

It's kind of insane to think that these people who have shaped my life so profoundly, I don't know well enough to know if they challenge the rules in their daily lives also.  But it doesn't matter.  Regardless of intent, I am immensely grateful for this lesson that shattered my view of things and taught me to choose the person I want to be.  That person might be strongly-opinionated, and those opinions might not be things that everyone else approves of, but I like that person and I'm proud of what I've become.

So even though they aren't in my life anymore, and even though I don't design every day, I'd still like to thank the Visual Communications professors at Deltech from the bottom of my heart.  Because your lessons were far more all-encompassing than I ever realized they would be and the most important one is this: I like me.

Thank you.  (my friends and family thank you too, but maybe in a more sarcastic way)

Bonus: My Favorite Lessons from DTCC

  • Papyrus and Comic Sans are wildly overused and abused (also HoboStd)
  • If something is quality, it's worth paying for (in reference to stock photos - freebies only get you so far)
  • Graphic designers don't need math (except when they do - I had a paneled pamphlet design with each page a slightly different length and I struggled to figure out exactly what width each page would need to be.  Finally Sister3 wrote an algebra equation for me)
  • Every rule has an exception
  • But you have to know what the rules are, in order to break them properly
  • Credit your sources.  Which is what today's post is all about.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on who you are?  What important lessons did you learn in college?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. I often wonder how my sister and I turned out so differently having been raised in the same household with the same experiences.

    I think my parents divorce affected me in a way it didn't her because she was so young, but I wonder if that can be the only thing that made us so different.

  2. I am definitely far more outspoken than anyone else in my immediate family and one of the most outspoken amongst friends.

    My great grandmom was very similar to how I am, I learned a lot at her feet and in her kitchen!


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