I’m actually pretty good at compartmentalizing my life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Everyone, by design or by happenstance, compartmentalizes their life to one extent or another. You don’t necessarily include your grandmother when you’re out with your friends on a Saturday night, and you don’t generally include your boss when you go on vacation. For some people it’s more than that- the walls are more deliberate; not part of the ordinary social dance people do unconsciously on a day to day basis.
I compartmentalize a lot. A whole lot. I’d say that if you were to look at a spectrum analysis I’d be way, way off to the side somewhere.
As I said I’m pretty good at it.
It’s when things overlap (cue the Venn diagrams… again.) that things get muddy. Like this post. Because I actually didn’t know what blog to put it in, since it overlaps a bunch of different areas of my life. But ultimately it wound up here because the reason I’m writing this post rather than working (which I’d rather be doing) or sleeping (which I’d also rather be doing) is because design skills aren’t transitive.
I should explain.
My friend Val is a graphic designer. In fact, she’s a really awesome graphic designer. She is so awesome she has won 11? (I think it’s 11) national graphic design awards. She knows what she’s doing. She is not someone flailing around in gimp. She’s the real deal.
For some reason, people keep coming to her asking her to help design their house. Or their furniture. Or the order in which pictures should be hung on a wall. The color of pillows.
This makes Val want to stab herself in the eyeball with a shrimp fork. Why? Because she’s not an architectural designer. She’s not an interior designer. And she’s damned sure not a decorator. She’s a graphic designer.
Hold that thought.
I am not a graphic designer. Honest. Really. I swear. I took one *required* course in graphics for interiors when I was in design school, taught by a guy who was in his last year before retiring, had no idea how to use a computer and tried to teach us the history of fonts for 15 weeks. This, my friends is the sum total of my graphic design experience.
On the other mitten, I can use Photoshop and InDesign just fine- they’re things I’ve needed for design work. Just not graphic design work.
If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me to do graphics work for them I’d be a millionaire. (I’m looking at you, Andreas.)
“But you’re a designer!”
What some people know: I am also a DJ.
What fewer people know: I used to be a musician.
Many (many, many) of my friends are musicians. Musicians, much like artists (ahem) are generally short on cash, but long on charm.
I like my friends. I will in fact, do graphics work for them (usually for the low, low price of free) if they ask me. Because they’re my friends, and being a musician is hard enough (I remember it all too well, thanks, that’s why I am not a musician anymore.)
But the reason your designer friends try to talk you out of asking them to do something out of their discipline is not because they don’t want to help you. It’s because they wind up writing blog posts at 8:20 in the morning because they’re waiting on information that if they were IN their own discipline, they probably wouldn’t need.
In my case, I’m doing the latest CD art for my good friend John Montagna and his wacky rockabilly Beatles cover band band Hay Jude. I’m happy to do it (John, if you’re reading this, seriously, I’m happy to do it. Stop being paranoid.) But I’m stuck, because I don’t know what fonts were used on the cover art I was handed. So I can’t do the *back* cover art with all the song titles, or the spine text, or the title headers for all the booklet pages.
I can’t help but think that if I were, you know, an actual graphic designer, I’d know what the hell fonts these were and wouldn’t be sitting here feeling like an idiot twiddling my thumbs waiting for the info.
Design skills aren’t transitive. Really. Just because someone is a web designer doesn’t mean they can design a coffee maker. Just because someone is a graphic designer doesn’t mean they can design a sofa.
And whoo boy, am I not a graphic designer.
…waiting on font names….