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What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Updated: Dec 11, 2018

What is Digital Design? When I first started working my way into the field, technology and design was evolving so rapidly it was impossible to understand, especially first coming into the classroom. To me, being able to use Photoshop

made you a Designer. This is back when Photoshop first came out and Adobe wasn’t controlling the souls of every designer. Maybe I should say, controlling the wallets. Just to be noted, I love Adobe and I’m grateful for all their programs, I’m just stating some of the hard facts.

I’m talking about a time when Quark Express was the layout software for printed publications and teams of volunteers and artists would come together to create a small spread, like 21-pages max. An entire district in the heart of the city, creating a magazine that meant everything to them. A collaboration of thoughts, expressions and ideas all bound into a treasured message for the people. A team of hardcore creatives ranging from photographers doing street photos, artists writing music about their lives, graffiti artists putting their skills to the basics of digital design software. These were the dreamers, the shakers and the movers of the underground coming together in a collaborative space designed to keep city kids off the streets. I remember a time when artists would celebrate when an additional page would be printed in full color. Those were the days. Nowadays, this beautiful spread may have been overlooked by the massive growth of our visual world in such a small amount of time.

This was also a time when Animation Master was the best program colleges were teaching for 3D modeling and animation. Ask a young Designer what that is and they may know, or they may stare at you with a blank face as they’re crushing it at the age of 20 in an Undergraduate program at the leading University sitting next to you as a grown adult. An animator at the age of 20 using state of the art programs like Maya and Cinema 4D, while being potentially scouted by Pixar themselves. If that didn’t just provoke a series of stressful and competitive thoughts, then you’re not a Designer in industry, or you’re not pushing 40 as a single Mother trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, (still).

I had absolutely no idea what the industry held, what it was. I had no idea there were so many components, so many pathways, so much technology! My friends at the time weren’t sure about my desire to become a Graphic Designer, they felt it was a dead-end job and a waste of time and money. I begged to differ. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I understood I was getting into a competitive market, going up against so much natural talent. It wasn’t until I spent over 12 years working as a Designer to realize I was more interested in video. What did that even mean> Was I suddenly interested in making films or special effects? YES! The problem was, as I grew into video and expanded my education, I found I was making more corporate videos than anything. Is this the direction I wanted to go? What am I really good at if anything? Where does the fire truly burn? I really never felt stuck in one area which made it hard to dial into one craft, one thing to master. Why can’t I just become a master of something? Why am I not ready? This made me feel a little uncertain about the future, and still does.

I do not lack creativity or imagination. I’m a strong leader. I’m a visionary, yet I do not see my feet planted in any specific area yet. How has an industry that was once so simple, has now become an industry that calls out to me, offering up a multitude of artistic endeavors and opportunities. I can’t stay in school forever, or can I? Does this industry require a lifetime of growth and education? I don’t think the economy will allow for me not to choose something sooner than later.

It has been competitive. Here I am, after all these years never giving up. When I started in the basics working through Animation, and eventually gravitating back to Graphic Design, only to shift my focus to video and now to interactive design. What does all that mean? What is Digital Design? It’s also a lot to think about as a creative trying to become a professional, paying the bills, but still barely getting by 20 years later.

What does Kristina truly want to do? The true struggles in life leave me to question things differently when we think about stability. Raising a family on your own is constantly tapping you on your shoulder to make the right decisions, the ones that last. The heart as a creative says to never give up, and never lose the passion. It will all come together in the end.

To answer the question of what Digital Design is, it’s forever changing. Hope you can keep up.

Kristina Robbins


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