I don’t know about you, but I love my work and I can’t stop. There isn’t an aspect about it – besides unrealistic deadlines that force you into making bad decisions, (and that’s another rant…) that I hate. Since I learned to trust the creative process, I learned to love it. Part of that process is getting an incredible idea that comes out of nowhere when I least expect it and commit it to paper or pixels.
For example, I’ll be at a family gathering and during the course of a conversation someone will say something and suddenly an idea will jump in my head. It is usually an idea for a logo or a color scheme. Often a solution to a problem will suddenly come down on my head like a ton of bricks and I absolutely have to get it down on paper, period. That is when the fun will begin.
I will disappear for a moment and write it down on paper or I’ll fire up Adobe and actually try to get something done in a few minutes. Then my wife will catch me and ask the same question that always feels like a icicle to the heart; “Can’t you stop thinking about graphic design/your work for just one day?” Or “Can’t you keep away from that for two/three days?”
The absolute worst was the lecture I endured when I brought my laptop and full-sized Wacom Tablet with me to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
That’s not to say that my wife doesn’t want me to work; she’s my muse and biggest fan. She actually enjoys my company and wants to spend time with the man she married. If I am ever exhaled to a deserted island and I could choose anyone in the world throughout history to be with, I would still choose her. I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else but her and she tells me she feels the same but there are times when she wishes she could spend time with just Eric, not Eric The Graphic Designer.
What family members and friends do not understand is that the mere act of driving down the highway for hours just triggers and awakes a part of the creative process. I have come up with so many incredible ideas while speeding down the highway between my in-laws and our home only to look at a vacant office in a darkened building wishing I could be there to hammer this new idea out.
The mere act of being away from paper and pencil or laptop and Wacom tablet churns up the creative energy and there’s nothing I can do about it much the same way I could keep a spark from igniting spilled gasoline – both have their own laws of physics, consequences and reactions that can’t be stopped once the process has begun. Trying to extinguish either after it’s begun means you can’t start it up again is impossible since the moment and the resources are waste or diluted.
The hardest lesson of all is learning to balance work and personal time and make sure that one doesn’t intrude too much upon each other. Graphic Designers need to remember that there’s a time for design and there’s time for family, while our families have to understand that we can’t let a good idea go to waste and need a moment to save it. Both ends have to grasp the basic concept of balance.