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Every second, of everyday design is surrounding us. To some of us, it greets us as an old friend, others a new chapter. And still some don’t recognize its presence. But to designers, it’s at the core of our being. At some point in our lifetime, design captured our hearts in a unique way and now it’s a part of our everyday lifestyle.

Below, are a few short stories from past and present openbox9 designers that tell of how their eyes were opened to design:

I wonder if these guys would have made Michael’s collection?

Based on the objects of my affection as a young boy, I knew I liked design even despite not knowing why. I collected cigar boxes and inside those cigar boxes I placed my collection of matchbox covers, bottle caps, and iron on patches… not ones that had a sentimental value but ones that looked cool (as defined by a sugar-cereal-obsessed-polyester-sporting boy with a mop for hair). Well intentioned grown-ups would give me their objects, for my collection, but have no clue of design… most gifts never made it inside the well curated cigar box gallery. Silly adults, design is for kids (at heart).

Michael Schafer

From the early days of crayons to Photoshop & Illustrator, Kerry has always loved to create!

All my life, I have loved art. My favorite after school activity always involved a coloring book. I took as many art classes as I could in high school and I actually enjoyed the art museums we would visit on family trips. But, when it was time for me to go to college, I never thought that my passion for art would go anywhere. Freshmen year of college I started taking communications classes (because when in doubt, major in talking…right?). One day I was doodling on my paper and a friend told me that I should look into Elon’s Digital Art minor — a slightly more practical outlet for my creativity.

I took her advice and signed up for my first digital art class the following year. I quickly realized that this class was heavily focused on art. The feelings my pieces evoked, the symbolism, studying famous artists and their work, etc. But that wasn’t really what I found interesting. I loved the programs we used. I think when I first used Illustrator I shed a tear, no pixels?! I was fascinated. I also loved the layout of what I was creating and obsessed over the tiniest of details. The colors had to be bold, the spacing of the text had to be exact and the fonts, the fonts had to convey a message not only though the text but by their unique style. I quickly realized that what I was passionate about was the design. Being a communications major, this realization worked out very well for me because I was able to combine these two worlds. As I am taught more about more about strategic communications, I have begun to pair that with design in order to reach audiences through a visual platform — and I love that design allows me to do that!

Kerry Greco

You never know what revelations you will have in a book store!

My first memory about graphic design as a career was when I picked up a Communications Design Annual at a Borders (RIP). As I looked through  advertisements, annual reports, posters, etc., I was astonished that people got to make this stuff for a living. Aside from all the eye candy, this was my first memory of thinking how art conveying a definitive message. This was when I started wrestling with the idea of art having a purpose and design being a “commercial art”.

Michael Flores

Even as a young lad, Nathan was an art director at heart!

The first time I remember designing something was when I was about 9 years old – I put together a “happy birthday” banner for a family member using our first family PC and Microsoft word. I printed it out on a dot-matrix printer and pasted the panels together to make one long banner. There were many other times I remember designing without knowing really what design was yet – drawing a logo for my youth group, making my own business cards or little web pages for made-up businesses, or even figuring out how to build a plane or ship out of legos to look like small models of the real-life ones. It wasn’t until I started college that I truly realized that there was a profession called graphic design that encompassed many of the things that I had always enjoyed doing when I was just playing!

– Nathan Fussner

Hannah’s billboard of design-inspiration!

Growing up in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC, we used to drive past a certain billboard every week on the way back from church. I don’t remember the first time I saw it, but it was very tall and prominent – visible for miles. It towered over the top-most noodle of the spaghetti junction of highways we traveled though. The billboard was a solid wall of fire-brick red except for large white (probably Helvetica) lettering that spelled a single word. The word was “Why?”.

I always looked for clues as to the sponsor of the billboard as we zoomed past it. Who put it there and..well, why was it there? More importantly, why would someone spend precious dollars to post that single question to the world? The billboard seemed content to disregard answering its own question. I never found out who put it up or why, but if that billboard taught me one thing it was the power of visual communication. I didn’t know what graphic design was back then, but I hoped that someday I could do something just as thought-provoking to others as that billboard was to me.

Hannah Hudson

Meryl’s attentive audience–she must have been a great teacher!

I became aware of my passion for design at an early age. I remember when I was a toddler, I lined up all of my stuffed animals in my room. I stood in front of them next to a white board that I utilized in an effort to teach them about color interaction. With markers and an arrangement of colored papers, I demonstrated how dark colors can make other colors appear lighter and how warm hues can make other colors appear cooler. I had a love for color theory before I could write my full name!

– Meryl Pritchett

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