Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A New Direction

Today I have a pretty big announcement. It's probably bigger than "Pretty Big" actually. It's kind of huge.

I am changing my major. Actually, I have changed my major. It's pretty much a done deal now.

It all started a few weeks ago in Drawing class. I have been having a terrible time there. It's not that I didn't understand anything. I understood everything. I know absolutely everything they were teaching. It was all extremely basic stuff. I've been doing this for years. The problem is having enough time to get what you know to come out in your drawings. The goal of the class is to produce realistic drawings, and I have never been good at that without spending a LOT of extra time on them. Time I do not have, and that was where the problem started.

In the class we are required to draw from still lifes (Lives?) that the teacher has set up. These constructions are made of a bunch of random junk. A dented rusty tin can next to a box with a wine bottle and a vase on it, beside a large wooden stool, topped with a large metal tub, with tiny clay pots hanging off, surrounded by all manor of rusty teapots, old liquor bottles, a baby's sippy cup, a tipped over wine glass, and who knows what else. The drawings are interesting, I suppose, but they are not fun. I was not enjoying trying to draw this mess.

What made the class so unbearable, was the teacher's insistence on EXACT accuracy. Without the use of rulers. We had to draw by sight only. Maybe if I had had lessons of this kind as a kid it might be easier now, but I'm 27, and I've been doing it "The wrong way" all my life. It's going to take a very long time to "Unlearn" everything I already knew. Not that that's impossible. It's not impossible at all. What IS impossible, is the insistence that we only draw that one still life for class. Nothing else would be acceptable for grading, and we only have around 6 hours of class time each week.

The teacher told us that we would need to spend, at the very least, six hours outside of class drawing. That would have been fine if I could have drawn in my spare time. The problem was, I could not draw whenever I had time, I had to draw, at school, in that room, and only when there weren't other classes there. In order to finish our projects, it was an absolute necessity to come back at night and on the weekends to draw when there were no classes taking place. I don't know what fantasy land the teacher lives in, but some of us have jobs. Not everyone is getting their way paid through school by their parents. There was absolutely no way that I would be able to complete the projects by the deadlines and have them look good.

I thought my teacher would be understanding if I simply explained my situation, but she was not. She actually told me that I should just drop the class. (A class which is a foundational requirement for any of the design programs.) As tempting as it is, I'm not trying to paint her as a witch. I'm just saying that she just could have been a little more understanding about things. Part of the problem lies in why she was teaching. She's actually probably around the same age as I am. She's a graduate student there herself, and in order to graduate, she is required to teach some classes. I suspect that she is just "Doing her time," and doesn't really want to be a teacher at all.

Initially I was determined to stick it out. I don't like quitting anything, and I needed that class in order to move on in school. But as the semester wore on, it was getting harder, and I felt like I was falling behind. The deadlines kept getting shorter, and the still lifes became more complicated. Finally after a particularly tough day, I started considering dropping the class. But then, if I did drop it, what would I do? I could pick it up again in another semester and hope for a better teacher, but there's still the issue of how much time I'd need to spend drawing. Unless I found a Fairy Godmother who would give me all the money I'd need to pay bills etc, I couldn't make that big of a time commitment. Because even if I only spent six extra hours drawing, that hasn't even begun to factor in the time I would spend waiting for the other class to get out so I could use the room, not to mention the time spent waiting for, and riding on, the bus. That alone is at least one extra hour total each day. There really is no way to pass this class unless you don't have a job, or are already extremely talented.

So I started thinking about other options and suddenly it hit me. Writing. I love to write. I love writing just as much as I love art, but until that day I had never even considered it as a career possibility. When I went to ITT Tech I had no goal, other than the fact that I knew I liked art, and I thought that graphic design was a surefire way to get a job. *Derivative Laugh* It led nowhere.

After three years of dead-end jobs, I decided I wanted a career I could love. I hated hating my job. I wanted to learn art. I loved art, and I wanted art-related opportunities that I wouldn't get in the middle of nowhere Iowa. So I decided to go back to school. I've never given anything else a thought, because I've always loved art, and I wanted to be an artist.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I love both art and writing, but I really feel like I am a better writer than I am an artist. Most days when I would have other school work to do, all I would think about was how much I would rather be working on my blog. I really love writing, and unlike art, it comes pretty easily to me. I love art, but I really have to work at it, and sometimes that takes a lot of the fun out of it. Especially when you're not allowed to draw what you want. With writing, even when I'm writing about something that I don't necessarily enjoy, I can still get through it relatively easily.

With that in mind, I started thinking about how I could translate writing into a career. My only writing experience, other than school, is this blog. And on this blog, I do all sorts of different kinds of writing. When I first started, it was mainly about me. What I liked, what I was doing, your basic boring blog. In the last year or so though, I've really branched out into a lot more creative writing. With my "Real Stories" fairy tale series, and my Facebook Friends posts, among others. Given these facts I thought that maybe I should look into getting a degree in creative writing. But then again, I needed to be thinking about money. As much as I absolutely hate money, it is an unavoidable fact that I need it, and unless I somehow managed to get published, or gain fame in some other way, creative writing is probably not going to yield that many job opportunities.

I started to think of the other ways that people earn a living by writing, beyond just writing books. My first thought was journalism, and as soon as I had the thought, I knew that was it. Done. The decision was made instantly. It was perfect. I wanted to be a journalist. I love to travel, and I love to write about what I've seen. If I could get paid to do that, I'd be set.

After coming to that conclusion I started to get things moving with all the different departments at school, and as of a few days ago, I am now a journalism major. I don't know exactly where this will lead me, after all, newspapers are slowly dying off. Such a shame, as I do love the thought of having the same career as Clark Kent. :) I'm thinking I will probably look to something more along the lines of a magazine. Or, more likely, an online magazine. Part of the journalism degree includes photojournalism, and I think that if I could combine photography with writing, it would just be the icing on the cake.

What does all this mean for my long-wished-for career as an artist? Well, I am not going to completely give that up yet. No one ever said you could only be ONE thing when you grow up. I am still going to get a minor in Design, and I am actually almost there right now. With all the classes I took at Iowa Western, I only need two more to get the Minor, so I decided to just go for it. Thankfully the drawing classes I took at Iowa Western are enough and I don't need to take any more here. I won't have to worry about taking that terrible class! The main thing I'll need to do is take an upper level art history class. One other upper level class after that, and I'll have the minor. Not sure what I'll do with it, but I think it's useful to be able to say that you know how to do a variety of things.

So, that's where I am right now. I know writing probably seems like it should have been an obvious choice, since I write so much more than I draw, but for whatever reason, until a couple weeks ago, it had literally never once crossed my mind to pursue it as a career. Now that I am, I can't wait to see where it takes me!

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome, Jonathan! I'm so glad you thought of it because I think it will fit you well. :) Good luck!