The dreaded purple polka dot pants
I think that I have always been a designer, but it took me years to decide to pursue a career in graphic design. As a child, I liked to draw and cartoon and sketch fashion designs. I designed and sewed my own Barbie clothes, including a silk evening gown similar to the kind that Ginger wore on Gilligans Island. I graduated from doll clothes to sewing my own clothes purple pants with polka dots and a matching halter top, and a scandalously short orange mini-skirt were among my many creations. My fashion/design sense was rather flamboyant at the time; I like to think that it has mellowed by now. I no longer sew clothes for myself or dolls, but I wish that I had saved those Barbies.
College and the poisoned pen
I took drawing classes in high school. And in college at the University of New Hampshire, I dabbled in water colors and took a few more art classes, but my original major was English. I was enamored with beat literature and the lyrics Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Lou Reed and Patti Smith. I might have become a musician, but since I couldnt sing, I decided on a more practical path I was going to be a poet. This phase lasted only a couple of years and came to a complete halt when I dropped out of college and embarked on a road trip that ultimately landed me in California.
My hair was magenta and shaved on the side
My seven year stay in California was mostly misspent youth. I did, briefly, have my own business as a window dresser, but I was paid, more often than not, in clothing. This made it difficult to pay my rent, so I had to find an alternate source of income. I worked for a while as a bartender in a night club and got involved in the local music scene. In the heyday of MTV, I returned to school at the local community college where I studied television production and made music videos with my friends who were in punk rock bands. I got my first taste of art direction while rounding up clothing and props for our low budget productions. My punk rock phase afforded me the opportunity to exercise my, then, still outrageous fashion sense and try my hand at hairdressing which would be another twisted turn in the long road that led to my future in graphic design.
Beauty has a bad smell
In the late eighties, I moved back to Albuquerque (I had lived here as a child) where I met and married my husband, Jeff, who had attended art school in Colorado. Together, we started a short-lived silk screen-print business, Iguana Graphics. Around the same time, I decided to further my career in cosmetology by attending a legitimate beauty college. However, after seven months of smelling perm solution and acrylic nail-builder on a daily basis, I discovered that the beauty industry was too toxic for my tastes. I went back to bar-tending for the next few years while I tried to, once and for all, make up my mind as to what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Once again, I went back to school. I took layout and illustration courses through the extension program at the University of New Mexico and desktop publishing classes through Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute. I landed an internship at Starlight Publishing and began my official design career working as a production artist on magazines and the New Mexico Business Weekly (a newspaper that Starlight published). I stayed at Starlight for three years and eventually became the art director and later, de facto production manager of NMBW. I left the Business Weekly in 2001 after the paper was sold and embarked on my freelance career. The freelance career became a small, part-time business in 2002. That business is Word of Eye now a full-time, one woman, design studio that I run from my home so that I can work comfortably at three oclock in the morning. Except for the sleep deprivation, life is good, but I think that I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.