There was a brief moment in my undergraduate career where I flirted with the idea of studying graphic design. My mother always fluffs my ego by presenting me to her friends as some sort of technological goddess, but I frequently have to remind her that any human under the age of 35 knows how to sync an iPod.
Nevertheless, in my quest to find a suitable minor of study, I stumbled into the design communications field for a couple of semesters. I have always considered myself a creative person and I am moderately proficient in computer speak, so I thought it would be a good idea.
It became immediately apparent in my first course, Digital Imaging, that my creative abilities did not lend themselves to digital forms of art.
In this course, we were to purchase Adobe Creative Suite and learn the basics of the different applications, including Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash. In my head, I assumed I would be on the same, beginner level as the other students in my class. This was the lowest level of design communications so I figured the other students would be just as ignorant as I was.
I was wrong.
Throughout the semester, we were required to print out our projects and paste them on a large bulletin board. A volunteer would pick her favorite piece and talk about why she liked it; the creator of that piece would then pick a piece, and so on. Frequently, I was the last or second to last piece chosen. I tried not to get my feelings hurt because it became clear most of the students in this class were intimately familiar with Photoshop, but it did sting a bit.
But please, whatever you do, do not feel sorry for me. I am very confident when it comes to skills that I know I am good at, but I also know when to bow out and accept that some skills just do not come naturally to me. Technically, I learned how to use Photoshop, but I lacked the artistic skill that the other students clearly had.
My favorite example of this comes from one of the later projects in the semester. The assignment was to create an environmental poster to raise awareness of pollution in the ocean. Immediately, I had an idea pop into my head. I thought I would Photoshop a turtle in the ocean eating what he believed to be a fish, but turned out to be a piece of trash. It would be heart wrenching—I even hoped it would inspire tears.
I imagined the look on my face I would have to craft when my piece was chosen first from the board. “What, this old thing?” I would breezily say. “Oh, it just came to me. What? Of course I’m sure I didn’t copy it from the Internet. Stop it, you!”
While I had the idea in my head, for some reason, I could not get it to translate into Photoshop, no matter how hard I tried. What I ended up turning in not only got me chosen dead last from the board, but also caused the teacher to schedule a meeting outside of class with me to help with my project.
So after completing this course, I got the reputation of “that girl who kind of knows how to use Photoshop.” My bare-bones knowledge of the application turned me into some sort of ITT technical genius in the eyes of my peers, which, if I’m being honest, I didn’t mind. I would get ludicrous requests at all hours of the night, from Photoshopping my friend’s sister in photos with Taylor Lautner to Photoshopping a baby with a middle finger driving a car (both, I swear, images I still have on my computer).
But, as usual, my number one advocate has always been my mother. Whenever she hears of a request that may involve Photoshop or some sort of poster creation, my name is always eagerly offered, much to my dismay. While I love my mother dearly and don’t mind helping, I typically feel bad since I know that a) I don’t really know how to use Photoshop, and b) I have no artistic abilities. Typically, projects end up like this:
“Kate, I need you to create a poster for Caresse’s talk on feminism.”
“Mom, I’m not good at doing that.”
“Yes you are, you’ve always been creative. Just do it.”
All that being said, if there are any individuals out there who have any specific Photoshop requests, please do not hesitate to email me. My specialty is Photoshopping friends in absurd photos (which, for the sake of both their dignity and my own, I will not post), so let me know if you ever need a mediocre Photoshop job.