Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From yearbook to intern to prepress and beyond...

(Or, really just "About Myself")

I began my journey into graphic design in high school. I kind of just fell into it. I can't even remember exactly how, but for some reason I ended up signed up on the yearbook elective my sophomore year in high school (maybe a natural progression from being on the newspaper in Jr. high?) and it stuck. For the next 3 years, yearbook was a big part of my identity. Although we did use Macs to do layout, we also worked with the old tried and true paper graphing layout techniques. We were involved in just about every aspect of putting the yearbook together, and as part of the "People" section (aka the "Mug Shot" section of the yearbook, I was also part of the annual school picture days.

We came up with the ideas for and wrote the stories, including conducting the interviews, we took the pictures (although we did have a designated "Yearbook Photographer" who did most of the more professional-ish shots), we wrote the captions. We even sold ads to local businesses and manned the table for the purchase of yearbooks. And, early the following year before school even officially began, we were at the school manning the table for yearbook pick-ups - because the books printed during the summer - which also meant we had to produce a smaller "memory book" for the students to have at the end of the year for a momento until they could get their actual books.

From my yearbook experience, I came to love the creation process - coming up with a concept and following it through to the finished product. There was just something about holding in your hands the actual thing that you had spent so much time and effort on. There was pride, which made the job more than just work to be done but something you enjoyed and something that mattered. I had no idea how to translate this into real life, but I knew that THIS was something I wanted to do.

Fast forward several years later, and I was blessed to get an internship at a print shop local to the college I was attending. I interned there for several years until my immediate boss left and began his own company, which I transferred to soon after. There, it was a a 3-man operation. My boss, a part-time pressman, and myself. It was amazing. It was chaotic at times. It was frustrating and there was a huge learning curve on a regular basis. And I loved every minute of it. over time, the business grew, and eventually it took over the original print company we had both come from, and business was steady. Life was good.

But, I missed my home and family. I was currently in NC but had grown up my whole life in VA. So, with my new husband's blessing, we decided to leave and go back to VA. I found a relatively large print shop in VA and applied. They didn't have any openings for my line of work, but they did have something for customer service, so I took it. Besides, I knew the business (sort of), so that should be a piece of cake, right? Well, mostly it was. But it wasn't doing the thing I loved. But, I was content for a while.

After being at this new job for several years (and after being paired up with a salesperson that I obviously could not handle), a position opened up in both the art and prepress departments. They decided to give me a shot. I "tried out" for the art position, but ended up deciding that prepress was really where my heart was, so I ended up back in the prepress department with "my people." Funny thing about this was that I was the first female in an all-male department in years. So, at least kind of "my people!"

I stayed there happily until we had our first baby, after which we decided I would stay home. Which was great, and I was completely on board with that decision, but I still missed my work. About 6 months after my son was born, I mentioned my desire to do something to an old colleague from the print shop and it was quickly worked out for me to do some work on the side for them as needed. And, thus my graphic design company was born, and I've been doing the work from home, slowly growing my client list and workload for the past 6 years.

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