Thursday, April 15, 2010
The joy of just doing
I've been a surface designer for a while now, long enough to have started my business back when every blanket and comforter I designed had to be painted by hand, full size, in gouche I mixed up in yogurt cups. I would sit for hours trying to get my paint swatches to match the imperious PMS color matching system, squeezing out more yellow, more blue, waving a hair drier around and begging the splotches to dry, please dry, please please dry. And then the colors always ran out in the middle of the project, or dripped in the wrong places, or cracked when the paper was rolled. It seemed endless.
Then came the Mac. And colors came as easily as a click, red could be changed to blue in a finger twitch. "Paint" was virtual and in endless supply. It didn't spill, it wasn't precious, I could change my mind, vanish mistakes, I could do anything, it seemed, instantly. Designing didn't get easier, but the actual doing of it did.
So what do I love most now, fifteen years in harmony with my computer? I still design in the day job this way, sitting, like most of us do, in front of a screen. But in my personal work, I fell back in love with making things, holding things, dropping things, sewing things up with needles and thread. I'm planted in front of a wooden table covered with beads and pom poms, paper scraps, scissors, yarn. I've accepted painful fingertips and broken fingernails, paint stains on the inside of my palms. The whole process gets started in the computer, in digital cameras and printers, and are indispensible now, part of how I make things up. But the joy comes from the hunching over the tabletop, the stiff neck and the eye strain. It comes with picking out impossibly tight knots and snapped thread. It's the mistakes that take hours to repair and re-do. It's the mistakes that lead to the ideas and the breakthroughs. I wouldn't have thought so years ago, but that's the wonderful surprise of it all.