Why I Chose Design

I stepped out of high school ready to pursue a career in mathematics. I always had an appreciation for making art (music, drawing, photography, or just messing around in 3ds Max), but it was always only a hobby in my mind. I was sure I wanted to be a mathematician or a physicist. So that's the path I chose when I started college in 2012.

I have attended Tarleton State University for the past 4 years and it's been… terrible. I won't get into too much (I'm sure I'll go into way more detail sometime), but basically college isn’t what I was told it would be. In my opinion, it is indeed a glorified Day Care center, as I've heard many call it. Cafeteria food, fake money (Texan bucks), being pandered to by the staff (not really the professors, though), minimum wage for jobs requiring expensive skills and knowledge, it is all despicably childish. Maybe because Tarleton is such a small and neglected University and in such a small town, it hasn't been able to develop into a real learning center like other colleges. However, from what I have heard about other universities across the US, they aren't much better, and Tarleton actually stands above them in at least one respect. In terms of the growing regressive PC movement on campuses, Tarleton has been very slow to follow (not because it sees the error in that movement, but because Tarleton is too small for that movement to really care about it). I won't try to denigrate my University much more, but its… crappiness is a big part of what drove me to make the major decision this post is about.

I love mathematics and science and logic and reason. The ideas those subjects show and teach are absolutely enlightening and at times beautiful. I have a theory that most people don't enjoy them only because they have had at least one terrible teacher who ruined those subjects for them. Anyway, I basically didn't think I was going anywhere with it. I looked at the types of jobs I would have with a mathematics degree from Tarleton, and the best I thought I could hope for was teaching, or something along those lines. Not that teaching isn't a noble and rewarding calling, I just don't feel quite suited for it.

I had already been through two years of a math/science heavy curriculum, but I had a decision to make. One cannot submit to the sunk cost fallacy during such important times as deciding what one should do with one's life. So I asked myself… Should I stay on this path and finish with something I don't really want, or should I finally call it too unsatisfactory? I did the latter of course (I'm sure the title gave it away). And all my credits in Math and science became "unused credits."

I have loved art and design I think ever since my mother introduced me to the basic concepts at a very young age. I always enjoyed art classes and making things (and more than that, exploring what I could make). I think it's very fitting that LEGO were my favorite toys growing up. They had all the creative freedom artist-me needed with all the right-angles and fitting togetherness that scientist-me needed. I continued to enjoy different mediums of art (photography, drawing, paper folding, music, etc.) throughout my life. I found them inspiring and enlightening (in a way not unlike but also somehow different from the way math/science did. I guess one could say Ǝ X | X ≠ ∅, X = enlightnmentart ∩ enlightenmentmath). Plus I found it all very fun and it was premium fuel for my terrible shopping addiction. Photography and 3D design can be very expensive hobbies if you let them.

In my last few years of high school I found a wonderful piece of software called 3ds Max. I saw the icon on the desktop of the computer in my engineering classroom (we usually used Autodesk Inventor for that class, but the entire Autodesk suite was installed on the computers). I am curious by nature, so I opened it. And I immediately had an idea what it was having seen the behind the scenes of many animated movies. I explored around the program UI for about 5 minutes and then I was sure. If you aren't already familiar with 3ds Max, it is basically a 3D modelling/animation software. I finally found the tool of my favorite medium. What I've always wanted to be a part of (or so I though at the time). I spent hours every day just exploring that massive application and learning as much as a could about it (even to the detriment of my other studies). Since, 3ds max has always been installed on my computers and has been my go to tool for any piece of art I fancy to make.

But product praise aside, that program was what made me finally use Photoshop which got me into the rest of the Adobe Suite, which all eventually turned me, whole-heartedly, into a graphic designer. I couldn't get enough of it. Designing fake logos for companies, fooling around with random animations and graphics, taking tons of photos with any camera I could get my hands on, and making wallpaper after wallpaper (I could never decide on a canvas size to start my work, so I always went with a 1080p wallpaper size. Really… I just made way too many wallpapers). Then, in my second year of college, I switched my major from Mathematics to Digital Design. Many other factors had gone into the decision. I got a job at Student Publications, which is a division of Tarleton responsible for the newspaper and the yearbook as well as other design services. Except for designing parts of the yearbook, I mostly did the "other design services." Booklets, brochures, magazines, postcards, and more (some of which you can find in my portfolio) designed by me for the university and the students attending. That experience made me question my mathematical path in the first place. Then I started doing freelance work and saw how fun and easy it could be to make enough to afford to eat. I started investigating the job market and there are just… uncountably many more opportunities for graphic designer than a mathematics graduate.

The Digital Design degree program is new to Tarleton and, I'm not going to lie, it's not great. It's bad actually. Very bad… There are few teachers, little knowledge, much confusion, and many mistakes (I will give it credit for giving me a good introduction to After Effects, which I use a lot now). But, design is what I want to do. I have a design job at the very University which is (allegedly) teaching me design skills. And I have done freelance design for many people across the towns of Granbury and Stephenville. Through both those outlets and my own personal projects, I have made things I'm proud of. Things I can put my name on. Things which I hope a lot of people can find a superficial appreciation and in which some may find a more meaningful appreciation. I love it.

I do miss the lovely Mathematics and the Dashing science every now and then. But there's no reason I can't keep exploring those fields in a non-student capacity. After all, I learn basically everything I know about design from the internet, books, and my own explorations of the field (seriously, college is worthless guys…). Plus, good design does involve a fair amount of mathematical and scientific knowledge. Surely, I can make math and science my hobby while I keep art my profession. And so that is what I will do!

Thank you for reading the first post of Deswritigning. More will come as soon as I can think of what to write about, write it, edit it, record it, and post it. Don't forget to subscribe to get updates and posts right to your inbox.

–PJ