When I graduated from high school, the city of Des Moines contacted me to create a series of maps locating evey fallout shelter in the city. It would need to include major highways, roads and familiar landmarks. I had just graduated from a vocational technical high school where I specialized in graphic art, and later that fall, I would attend a graphic arts program at a local community college. A project like this made perfect sense, however, it also made my stomach turn. I didn’t do the project.
I’m very much an artsy-fartsy kind of guy, my brain works best in the visual/spacial/subjective realm. Don’t be objective with me, I’ll just be confused. Complicated maps, charts, and diagrams are not my thing. Fast forward twenty-something years later: I work full-time creating art like the map described above.
Here’s a snapshot of an hour from my Friday:
I had an hour to create an infographic that would illustrate the differences in voting demographics between two states. These graphics would need to include numbers dealing with population, racial breakdowns and election turnouts. Keep in mind that three hours before, at my home studio, I was in my seventh-heaven creating t-shirt designs which incorporated cute cuddly horses, cats, rabbits and doggies.
I didn’t have time to pout because I only had an hour before the reporter would be leaving for the day and I, too, had to leave. My son’s after school care was soon to close for the day and my wife, who usually picks him up, is at her office Christmas party. My boss handed me a sheet of paper with a long list of numbers. It was my job to sort through these, find the trends, and present them as a graphic using a combination of bar, feverline, or pie charts. With my dyslexic tendencies, my mind began to spin. But, there wasn’t time for panic. I just had to do the task, all the while, bombarded with questions from editors, reporters, and copyeditors. None of their questions had anything to do with this particular infographic. I deciphered the information the best I could, and created my graphic. Then I shot out the door to pick up my son, tossing the graphic on my bosses desk on my way out. The stress had been so high, I had chewed the inside of my cheeks to a shredded pulp, and my jaws ached from clenching them so hard.
When I returned, my boss informed me about the many mistakes. I turned my eyes from his because I knew he was frustrated, as well was I. The mistakes really came to no surprise to me because, like I said before, this type of work simply isn’t my thing. Cartography and the making of charts have never been included in my life’s mission statement. I’m an artist, specifically, an illustrator.
It’s Friday night. I’m headed home. I’m stressed. I think I’ll need an ice cold…Kool-aid. ; )