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Roll with the Changes

I have been a designer for over 20 years.  During this span, industry technology has changed wildly.  When I graduated from Univ. of MI School of Art & Design, the Mac was somewhere between its infancy and adolecscence.  There was a small computer lab where we shared 5-6 computers with grayscale monitors, 1 scanner and a black-and-white laser printer. We had PageMaker and Photoshop (probobably v1 of each!) and  we mostly used them to create galley type so we didn’t have to go to outside typsetters.  We did old school paste-ups with rubylith and hot wax or spray mount.  We have the Xacto scars to prove it.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’m working at a design firm in Miami, FL.  They had 2 Macs and no one really knew how to use them. I knew a little and lied that I knew more.  When challenges arose, I jumped right in and learned out of necessity (or panic, depends who you ask).  This is my point, and I do have one (thank you, Ellen).  Times change, technology changes — roll with it.

I moved to Atlanta in 1991 and began working as art director at a small printing company.  I was the whole art department.  They had a Mac (grayscale monitor and some weird little black-and-white monitor), a typesetting machine and a useless (to me) PC.  I did all of the design work on the Mac and outsourced for linotype paper and film as camera-ready art or plate-ready film.  I was on the cusp of the technology as it was emerging.  There was no one to teach us.  I started reading Mac magazines to learn tips and tricks and about software and hardware.  The second week I was there, the Mac crashed and there was no one but me to deal with it, and I did.  Keep on Rolling.

I started Orange Star in 1993 — by now the Mac had grown up quite a bit.  I had a nice 17-inch color monitor, Quadra 700, a scanner and a laser printer.  I was cooking.  Having never taken a course about using the Mac, I learned eveyrhing on the job by trial and error.  I had no mentor.  There was no internet and no Google.  I befriended and asked questions of my colleagues at the printers and service bureaus that handled my files —  questions about best practices, how to format things for them, what resolution, etc.  We learned from each other.  We all kept rolling onward together.

It’s 1995 and I am now on AOL (I know, I know). My friend and soon to be admin asst. (who had previously spent time at the MIT Media Lab) moved me to Mindspring.com (a local Atlanta ISP at the time which later became Earthlink) and I was exposed to the web, the real web, beyond AOL.  It was exciting new technology. I wasn’t sure what would come of it or what my role would be but once again, I jumped right in.  I taught myself html from a book, I bought GoLive Cyberstudio (Adobe later bought it and renamed it GoLive) and I designed and built my first website for recording artist Michelle Malone.

Technology changed and progressed at amazing speeds, it was hard to keep up.  It still is — and that fact is the only constant.  The thing that strikes me as I look back is that I rolled with the changes, always learning new things, self educating, jumping in and trying things myself, hiring others to do what I coudn’t or shouldn’t etc.  I don’t know what the technology of 2020 will be but I know I will use it as best I can.

Yesterday’s hot topic was Web 2.0 (user driven content like YouTube, for example).  Today’s technology of the moment is social media. You simply can’t get away from it so naturally, I’ve Twittered, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Linked-In.  Many will ask, so, now what?  As it’s an emerging technology, no one really knows what happens next.  What’s most interesting to me is how forward thinking businesses have begun leveraging social media like Twitter, Facebook and Linked-in to their advantage.  At Orange Star, we’ve embraced it, and have been studying it and experimenting with it.  Once again, rolling with those ever-present changes.

Bottom line is, if you want to do more than just survive but thrive in a constantly changing environment, one must continually learn new skills, embrace new technology, and, most of all …KEEP ON ROLLING!

Did i mention that I just designed the concert shirts for the Styx, REO Speedwagon, .38 Special tour?  rotfl.  really!

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