Technical or Creative

I’ve been meaning to write about this project for quite some time—seeing as how it was completed last Spring. But I think it’s taken this long to write it so I could have a few more experiences to reflect upon and tie into the story.

hydrocarbonsThe Project: Hydrocarbons & Jet Engines

Out of the blue, last Spring, I got an email from a local gentleman, who wrote,  “I need about half a dozen power points prepared of aviation turbine engines and chemical formulae.” I responded by letting him know, I’m not very experienced at PowerPoint and also wondered how he had heard about me. Turns out, when he was in our local print shop, Old West Press, he inquired about designers that could help him in this area and they referred me. I love a small town.

After meeting with him, very little involved PowerPoint—except for making sure the images I provided would import and display correctly. The project was straight forward, he had several jpg images of turbine engines and chemical diagrams of Hydrocarbons that were very low-resolution and needed something of better quality to use in his presentations. I was ecstatic to tackle this project on several fronts: graphic design, science and Bezier curves.

turbofancolor copy
engpartsclr copy
Turboprop_operation copy

I tried to show in these images how the originals (top) blew up to the same size as the finished image (bottom) which can be scaled to infinite sizes.

I took the pieces of the engine that I created in the previous image and tweaked them to compile this exploded parts view.

In this image you can see the original image at it's original size between the top and bottom images.

As I mentioned in The Designer, I started my journey as a Graphic Designer after taking a class at the local Vo-Tech. The main thing I learned in the time I was there was how to draw and trace using Bezier curves in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll explain in a moment how I’ve used this valuable skill in my career.

The Story: Designer or Artist

So here’s the other half of the story. I typically refer to myself as a Designer, not an artist (not that I don’t aspire to be one).

If I look as far back as my High School career, I was on a path of mathematics and science. AP courses in Calculus, Physics and Biology. I was (am) a geek in many areas of interest. I continued along the track  into college with a Biology degree.  But at the same time I nurtured my artistic side with personal arts and crafts projects and a long tenure playing trombone in pep, concert and jazz bands. About the time I was learning about Bezier curves, I played in the Trojan Pep-Band at UALR.

When I was offered my first job as a Graphic Designer, it was with Sportsrug.com to place collegiate logos on rugs. We also designed rugs for High School fund-raisers. Often the artwork we received from the high schools was a very small jpg image. The software we used to RIP the files to the printer, preferred the vector graphic that we could scale up to exact proportions. I did a lot of tracing (using Bezier curves to produce simple and clean images) and looking at stock artwork images (clipart) to figure out either how to trace it or use the layers to change the coloring and shades.

Is she ‘right-brained’ or ‘left-brained?’

I’ve also talked before about my work at Parelli, and the Art Director’s comments when she hired me, about my portfolio being more technical than artistic. I believe this still applies today. People are baffled by ability to stretch my brain for tasks in either direction, like how I design layouts for websites and then build them from code—and enjoy each equally as much! While I continue to work as a freelancer, I did entertain a few interviews for in-house work last year. Interviewers commented about the very equal balance in my technical and creative skills.

I’ve obviously had some time to reflect on this Hydrocarbons & Jet Engines project that crossed my path. Here was a project that combined my skills as a Graphic Designer and my love of science. While not entirely a creative project, it was a good one that reminded me how much I depend on this skill; and it was a good chance to practice it. Not only was I very happy with the results, but so was the client, which is the most important part.