Confession: I have a Fine Arts degree

The time has come. With much trepidation, I am outing myself. I am divulging a professional secret that I have kept closely guarded from my colleagues in Technical Communications and even more so from colleagues outside of TechCom.

Never mind that almost every one of my generation came into technical communications from some other discipline by default. That is common knowledge. But for many, those disciplines were English, Engineering, Computer Science. Something that logically lent itself to the transition. How does one command credibility as a TechCom professional with an Art degree as academic background? What could be more frivolous?

Well, TechCom is my “third career.” The third incarnation of my professional self. But I earned a BFA in Fabric Design. There, I said it.

What the heck does one do with that? And more to the point, does anyone even know what it is? I’m still proud to say that I was privileged to work in my chosen field as a designer. I designed carpet for a major manufacturer. I actually got to use my degree to make a living!

My second career move was involuntary. I started the layoff roller coaster early in my professional life. I moved or fell into computer graphics pretty much at its inception. I cannot say that my Fine Arts degree was of much help in this field, but I can’t say that it wasn’t either.

And when I finally moved into Technical Writing, I was sure that my resume looked like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was no plan to it at all! But it began to feel right. And as I embraced that strange reality, I was surprised to see how it all fits together. It does make sense!

I am a writer now. I am an editor. But that does not mean that I’m not still creative! It doesn’t mean that my artistic ability and training aren’t brought into what I do everyday.

My canvas is still the same blank page.

Only my tools have changed. Words are my tool of choice. My skill is expressed in my very own unique combination and molding of words to my own device. Both professionally and personally.

To those with a limited perception of what Art is, I assert:

I am a writer and I have an Art degree.

I have an Art degree and I am a writer.

    • Steve Elkins
    • July 17th, 2012

    Paula, I feel your pain. Contrary to seemingly popular belief, among those acquainted with me,I do not work as a ‘Graphic Artist’. No, I toil away daily in the pre-press area of the print industry as what is known as a Digital Graphics Technician, Level 2 (which means, I earn a little bit more than a Level 1, but not quite as much as a Level 3- I digress).
    Basically, we take work put together by so-called “Creatives” who make it look pretty and we make the document ‘printable.’ Not too far removed from changing diapers on babies really. The pay is alright and the hours are decent (except for the last quarter off the year when we are neck deep in Christmas stuff and it’s a veritable All-You-Can-Eat buffet of overtime).

    ‘What’s my degree in’ you ask?

    🙂 😦

      • Paula Robertson
      • July 17th, 2012

      Ah kindred spirit! I have been waiting, hoping for one of our ilk such as you to ignite and engage! 🙂

      I did sense that you had a theatrical background from the talents you have shared with our church community. (Thank you for that.) In years past, I also have volunteered my talents to FPC projects as well as to several other local non-profits. They were gratefully accepted… and forgotten, their larger gift of inherent self incapable of being appreciated.

      I have a few years on you, Steve. I used to lament that I was betraying my education, my “fine” art calling. But I am now more or less content with the fact that I have been able to channel my creativity in another direction that is rewarding and–except for the periods of unemployment–offers a good living.

      In the end, we must be true to ourselves, and WE are the only ones who know what that looks and feels like.
      Peace, P

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