Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not What I Expected

What I like about homework files is you can steal from your own stuff. This summer I thought I’d be doing just that: picking favorite parts of old projects and turning them into portfolio pieces. I meant to sneak in beach trips and poolside reads, too. Let’s just say the summer didn’t turn out as I expected.

In last semester’s design class, our final assignment was to redesign a storefront using a fifties theme. Admittedly, my choice wouldn’t be hard to improve upon. Every time I realize someone gets paid to create a sign like this one, I whimper to myself a little:

The assignment didn’t go as expected. Before I began my digital renovations, my father passed away. The teacher gave me the option to skip the project, but somehow within the gust of funeral details and travel pains, homework seemed comforting.

My building makeover turned out okay, but again – not what I expected. Nothing I’d show off in a design portfolio. I planned to use the piece later as inspiration for another retro style illustration. Summer was coming and everything would be better, right?

From the first hum of air conditioning units being fired up to the drying of grasses by the riverbed, it was a weary summer. There were heartaches and legal hassles, along with family issues and life-sucking paperwork. Terms like ‘fiduciary’ and ‘codicils’ stabbed my brain behind the eyeballs. I tried to fend them off by remembering childhood friends and rummaging through old photos.

I discovered that no matter how old you are, when you’ve lost both parents you can feel like an orphan. In my dreams, everything is harder than it should be: I go to the store to buy dish soap and realize when my feet hit the cold floor that I’ve forgotten my shoes; I try to find my way home but I travel the wrong way down a one-way street, and all the exits on the monstrous freeways are out of reach.

Last week I stole a few moments to work on that illustration. Grief and paperwork can step outside for a smoke once in a while - the bastards don’t have to breathe down my neck every second, do they?

A project can be a breath of fresh air, a leisurely stroll. Say, for instance, in a newly renovated, retro style neighborhood. It’s even better if you have no expectations.