So, for a while now, I’ve been doing this graphic design freelancing thing. Last year it was my main gig. This year, I actually joined a company based in Washington where I’m helping with some technical migrations for DNS and email. Interestingly, it’s during this time that I discovered exactly what I want from and love most about graphic design.
Surprise: it’s illustration.
Why is that a surprise, you ask? Well, I have been learning the tools of my trade . . . particularly InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Learning these tools takes time. Time goes on and peels itself away in layers until you reach a moment where you realize a certain level of comfort with such tools. When you reach this comfort level, you begin to experiment, to think more creatively, to branch out — all because the fear of not knowing how to use the tool has diminished.
You’re not afraid of the pen tool in either Photoshop or Illustrator anymore. You know how blending modes work. InDesign’s master pages, spreads, and styles no longer seem to be complicated processes, rather time-saving tools. Overall, you see the tools in a different light.
The comfort with the tools then leads you to understand what it is you’d really like to be doing with them. I found myself looking at sites like Behance where creatives post their works and for a ProSite membership, you can even create a portfolio website of your works. I discovered The Mighty Pencil, perusing various artists and admiring the quality of their work, especially drawn to illustrations created digitally. I voraciously consumed with visual fervor the so-many artists who are striking a consummation between hand-crafted and digital art.
It’s funny when you experience an epiphany that basically had been slapping you in the face your entire life. When I explained to my wife what I really wanted to do, she nodded knowingly and we both agreed that illustration was not only an integral part of who I am, but basically had pervaded my life from my earliest memories until now. Pencils, crayons, and paint now found their way from paper and canvas to the screen of my iMac where I have been working diligently to discover my own creative voice.
Moreover, as a believer, God has been gently nudging me toward this truth in His own enigmatic, but fully revelatory fashion. He has shown me what I hunger for. He has given me a hunger. Along the way, I’ve parsed out where He has been showing me and prodding me and patiently waiting for my eyes to open. At Fellowship, we’ve been walking through Nehemiah, which is a fantastic examination of a calling, a plan, a ministry, and the fulfillment of God’s desire in one’s life. This has helped focus my vision and strengthen my resolve. I have prayerfully considered how to proceed and am planning the next steps.
There are still many unknowns. But who cares? The beauty of this truth is that I’m going pursue something I’ve loved my entire life. I’m excited about learning and discovering more about illustration. I want it to be a labor. I want it to be challenging. I want things to come through thought and creativity that blossoms after immersion in prayer and consideration of art. I want this to be something that I leave behind me that arouses curiosity about how I viewed the world around me. I want others to look at my illustration and wonder what I was thinking, why I chose this color, what motivated my hand.
It’s not as if I am predestined to experience success in this thing I love. Well, that is, as the world measures success. I do believe that there is success in providing for one’s family and in worshipfully creating art, employing the gift that God has given me. And ultimately, using that gift and those resources to serve the world, to help those in need, to become something more than a fixture in this world. Fixtures can be replaced. Men and women with purpose, drive, and a heart for the Lord cannot. They live forever.
But one thing that is common among dreams and purposes and visions and plans for the future is this: the beginning starts at the beginning.