Since I was a child, I have always loved to create. I drew, colored, and painted from the time I could walk. As I got older, I began taking art lessons afterschool, and that training has never left me, nor has the impact it made upon my ability to see the world in different, abstract ways. My design thinking, in this way, began when I took my first lesson at 8 years old, learning to see through shape, color, and form, to see light and shadow, and recognize the power of space. I learned from a young age to iterate and push compositions as far as they could go, and the way to arrange elements in a way that was both elegant and digestible. These lessons, combined with that joy creating has always brought me, have powered a life-long love within me for drawing, painting, and making, and I have never been too far from a piece of scrap paper or a sketchbook.
These lessons and life-long dedication to art and creation have also given me an appreciation of design and art through history. It has taught me to be able to look back and study the basis for our design and art today, and to apply those lessons forwards, adapting them to the models of today, or imitating them to invoke elements of the past in new ways. It has also taught me to adapt styles and mediums from studying the works of others, allowing an application of new ideas and creatives that would be impossible without these lessons, and allowed me to blend real with imaginary such as with the cover of a Chinaberry catalog drawn in chalk and applied to a photo of a model.
I have carried this ability to illustrate, draw, and create outside typical design practices into my design projects. I have found ways to tie illustration and design thinking together, using these abilities to solve design problems or create deliverables in ways that either skill on its own would never allow me to do. For example, I created the Paper Dolls and a Campsite for them for Nova Natural Toys & Crafts activity center, a steadily building resource of free, print and create activities I created for our customers and their families. Applying styles of illustration to create a fun, playful looking style, design and user experience thinking pushed me further, trying to consider the dolls from the customer's point of view: Assume they don't have cardstock, will the dolls stand? Not well with flimsy paper, so I made the bases slot deeper. Will a kid enjoy a flat cutout of a tent or a fire pit? Probably not, it inhibits their ability to imagine and play. But if the tent could stand—with two bottom folds to help it stand when made of normal paper—and the fire was turned into two slotted pieces so it could stand on the pit in 3D, then it's much more fun and engaging. Can anyone print this family out and see their own within it? I simplified the family's hair, shapes, and features until they were more generic, careful to consider my own bias when designing their appearance. As important as it is for designers to never stop challenging their own thoughts and designs, it is just as important to apply the same concepts to my own illustrations and other creative works.