08.31.2023-On Making Art

a meditation on my professional experience as a growing graphic designer

i got my first real job when i was 16 or so, as a 'graphic design intern' at this nonprofit organization that my sister-in-law worked at. for two summers, i worked on (aka dicked around) making event posters and playing with a wysiwyg website editor. i drank a lot of iced coffee from lee's sandwiches and i got to mess around with the adobe suite and most importantly, i got paid a bit to sit around in an air conditioned building.

from there, i went off to college and got a normal job working for the dining commons the first two years, but was able to transition to working with a student life org as...a graphic design intern. for two more years! one of those years was the quarantine year. i spent my time making flyers, making newsletters, making insta posts, and updating the website. i also got my hands on a beautiful little canon dslr for a hot sec (i still think of her...)! then i had to graduate, so i had to say goodbye to that.

now, i can say my title is 'lead graphic designer' for a goofy year-long situation, and i get to spend my days staring at an ipad drawing murals for middle schools! what a ride it's been to get here, to say that i've got multiple years of experience doing this sort of thing. i can't believe that just a year or two ago, i really thought that i didn't have what it took to be a 'real' graphic designer just because i didn't go to school for it. i was ACTIVELY designing campaign stickers and editing photos like, wow how can i even make a living off of this? insane. now, it's crazy to think that my art will be up in los angeles for years to come, that hundreds of children will end up growing up with this little piece of my life i've left behind with them. it's a lot of power and responsibility. i have a lot to learn.

most of the time, i have this incredible guilt within me-that i've gotten the luck to be where i am at all when my family never got to have that when they were my age. survivor's guilt, one could call it. why them, why not me? when it comes to my work, it manifests as this inability to see what others see in my art. honestly, i don't get why what i do has any value. not because it's art, but because it's my art. it isn't hard to me to make designs like this. it doesn't contribute meaningfully to someone's basic needs. thoughts like these spin around and around in my washing machine heart and i get in my surly little moods.

the other day, though, i spent time with my coworkers. and one of my coworker's roommates came through, and she was such a sweetheart. she looked at the art i made and said she'd never seen anything like it before. she looked so genuinely surprised and genuinely grateful with the designs we had made. and i dunno, maybe she was just playing it up to be kind, but the face she made...it was enough to convince me for a second that it DID matter. (man, i need to be like that. so straightforwardly kind) that was enough to make me really, REALLY look my work in the face, see what i had been unable to see.

i am so accustomed to seeing art as only aspirational, as only the things made by those better than me that drove me into spirals of inspiration laced with jealousy and longing, as famous and rich and all the other traits i'll never be...but really art is in everyone and everything. there's beauty in creation, and everyone creates. suddenly, i feel so intertwined within this idea, this collective of people just...making art. i have no clue if i'll get to keep creating this way, but wow. somewhere along the way, i fulfilled kid me's dreams. and i didn't even know it.