by Rachel Gadson
“The taxi’s here!” shouted Shantou University instructor Sam Hui as I had just finished preparing a plate of leftovers from the night before. This type of “drop everything and go” interview may be second nature to journalists, but as a graphic designer it’s taken quite awhile for me to get used to. I hurried and rushed to grab my bag, camera, shoes and jacket and dashed out the door with my food in hand.
Pulling up to Euro Coffee, the only information gathered about this interview was that her name was Nadine and she works as an independent visual artist. As an artist myself, this immediately sparked interest.
After hearing about her work as a photojournalist, and even now as a freelance artist, the things she spoke of went from being just the story of her life to an inspiration for my life.
Often we’re brought up to seek the jobs we know will be stable and profitable as opposed to committing ourselves to the things we love. I always admire the life of an artist, solely because it’s the exact opposite of what most of the advice young people tend to get.
Even when she worked as a photojournalist with Mail and Guardian, a South African newspaper, she said that despite her editors’ occasional wishes for work that she might have felt uncomfortable with or didn’t agree with, she never was forced to produce such work. Having this ability to make crucial decisions on the vision of your work is essential to your uniqueness as an artist.
Hearing her success story opened my eyes to many battles I fight within when it comes to the work I want to do. With the world quickly adjusting to the web, I’m instructed by professors and various others that I should, too. But should I? I mean my first love was illustration, which then triggered a new-found love for print design. I want to walk down the street and see my work plastered on billboards, in magazines, even T-shirts, not searched for on the World Wide Web!
Just yesterday, I told one of my team members that I wondered what lessons learned I would take back from this trip aside from having experience with a World Cup and better understanding of South African culture. After this random encounter with Nadine I’m no longer battling whether I should hop on the web design bandwagon and leave my love for print behind. When I speak of my career to others, I want to speak with the same joy, passion and love that Nadine spoke with.
As a rebel against conforming to the “new way to design,” I’m completely comfortable in choosing my creative happiness over a paycheck.
Expect the Unexpected